Page:Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison Vol. 1.djvu/51

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HARRISON: MESSAGES AND LETTERS


Amongst the variety of objects which engage my attention, as peculiarly interesting to our territory, none appeared to me of so much importance as the adoption of a system for the sale of public lands, which would give more favorable terms to that class of purchasers who are likely to become actual settlers, than was offered by the existing laws upon that subject: conformably to this idea I procured the passage of a resolution at an early period of the session for the appointment of a committee to take the matter into consideration. And shortly after I reported a bill containing terms for the purchasers as favorable as could have been expected. This bill was adopted by the House of Representatives without any material alteration; but in the Senate, amendments were introduced obliging the purchaser to pay interest on that part of the money for which a credit was given, from the date of the purchase and directed that one half the land (instead of the whole as was provided by the bill from the House of Representatives) should be sold in half sections of 320 acres and the other half in whole sections of 640 acres. All my exertions, aided by some of the ablest members of the lower house at a conference for that purpose, were not sufficient to induce the Senate to recede from their amendments; but upon the whole, there is cause of congratulation to my fellow-citizens, that terms as favorable as the bill still contains have been procured. This law promises to be the foundation of a great increase of population and wealth to our country; for although the minimum price of land is still fixed at two dollars per acre, the time for making payments has been so extended as to put it in the power of every industrious man to comply with them, it being only necessary to pay one-fourth part of the money on hand and the balance at the end of two, three and four years; besides this odious circumstance of forfeiture, which was made the penalty of failing in the payments, of the old law, is in entirely abolished and the purchaser is allowed one year after the last payment is due to collect the money, if the land is not then paid for, it is sold and after the public have been reimbursed, the balance of the money is returned to the purchaser. Four land offices are directed to be opened—one at Cincinnati, one at Chilicotha, one at Marietta and one at Steubenville, for the sale of lands in the neighborhood of those places. In a communication of this kind it is impossible to detail all the