Richard M. Young to Abraham Lincoln, 14 June 18481General Land Office,
June 14, 1848.Sir,
On the first and second pages, you have a copy of the law, concerniug which you made enquiry this morning.Very Respectfully &c.[etc]R. M. YOUNG,
Commissioner.Hon. A. Lincoln, H. of Rep’s.
Note.—The land thus provided for, may be selected and reported to the General Land Office by any person or agent who may be appointed by the proper county. After which the selection thus made will be submitted to the Secretary of the Treasury for his approval; and the proper authorities of the county afterwards notified of the result.2R. M. YOUNG.
AN ACT to appropriate lands for the support of Schools in certain Fractional Townships not before provided for.
Sec.[Section] 1. Be it enacted &c. That to make provision for the support of schools in all townships or fractional townships for which no land has been heretofore appropriated for that use, in those States in which section No. 16, or other land equivolent thereto, is by law directed to be reserved for the use or support of schools in each township, there shall be reserved and appropropriated or granted for that purpose, the following quantity of land, to-wit: For each township or fractional township, containing a greater quantity of land than three quarters of an entire township, one section; for a fractional township, containing a greater quantity of land than one half, and not more than three quarters, three quarters of a section; for a fractional township containing a greater quantity of land than one quarter, and not more than one half of a township, one half section; and for a fractional township, containing a greater quantity of land than one entire section, and not more than one quarter of a township, one quarter section of land.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted,—That the aforesaid tracts of land shall be selected by the Secretary of the Treasury, out of any unappropriated public land within the land district where the township for which any tract is selected may be situated; and when so selected shall be held by the same tenor, and upon the same terms, for which the support of schools, in such townships, as section No. 16, is or may be held, in the State where such township shall be situated.
Aproved May 20, 1826.3
1This letter appeared in the newspaper beneath a letter from Abraham Lincoln to Richard S. Thomas, June 15, 1848.
2 Federal law policy regarding school land rested on provisions of the Land Ordinance of 1785, which reserved the sixteenth section of each full thirty-six-section township to support public schools within the township. The Land Ordinance of 1785 did not address the issue of fractional townships with no sixteenth sections or partial sixteenth sections, so various state legislatures and Congress often had to pass laws or make special provisions to allow for the sale of fractional sixteenth sections or substitute sections for public education.
During the first session of the Thirtieth Congress, Richard S. Thomas and numerous other citizens from Cass County, Illinois, had sent a petition to Congress requesting a law allowing the county, which had townships with worthless sixteenth sections or fractional townships without sixteenth sections, to select other land in lieu thereof, and the lands to be selected to be granted by the United States to the state of Illinois for the use of the inhabitants for schools. On March 30, Abraham Lincoln wrote Thomas that the House of Representatives had referred the petition to the Committee on Public Lands.
In his letter of March 30, Lincoln noted that the House Committee on Public Lands had decided against taking action on the petition unless it involved fractional townships that had no sixteenth section or only fractional ones, and noted the existence of an existing law covering the issue. In another letter written on June 13, Lincoln reiterated his belief that the House and Senate Committees on Public Lands were satisfied with existing law on the subject, and expressed his doubt that additional legislation would pass, but promised to inquire at the General Land Office on June 14 and inquire into the matter and write Thomas again. On June 15, Lincoln wrote Thomas as promised and sent him a copy of the 1826 law that Commissioner Young sent to Lincoln.
“An Act to Appropriate Lands for the Support of Schools in Certain Townships and Fractional Townships, Not Before Provided for,” 20 May 1826, Statutes at Large of the United States 4 (1846):179; An Act Providing for the Sale of the Fractional Sixteenth Section, in Township Six North, Range Twelve West, and Such other Lands as Have Been Selected in Lieu of the Sixteenth Section in the Fractional Townships, on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, in Green County; An Act Granting a Half Section of Land for the Use of Schools within Fractional Township 19, South of Range 18 West, County of Lowndes, State of Mississippi.
Copy of Printed Transcription, 1 page(s), Beardstown Gazette (Beardstown, IL), 12 July 1848, 1:3.