[YAZOO LAND FRAUD]
In the Senate of the United States...In Pursuance of the Act of Congress Entitled An Act for an Amicable Settlement of the Limits of the State of Georgia, and Authorizing the Establishment of a Government in the Mississippi Territory...
Washington, D.C. 1814. Folio, uncut. (13 1/2 x 8 inches). 9pp. Gathered signatures, stab stitched. Ink ownership signature of "Thomas Worthington, Esq." at top of first page.
A Senate slip-bill printing of language eventually included in the final act of the United States Congress governing the Yazoo land scandal. The first time in American History that a Federal Court had overridden a state law.
In 1795, the Georgia legislature granted much of the land in the present state of Alabama to four land companies, which in turn sold shares to numerous investors all over the country; however, charges of bribery were raised and the grant was rescinded the following year. This left the investors high and dry, and many of them sued Georgia to prevent the rescinding of the sale which had made their investments worthless. The State of Georgia tried to void the fraud-induced sales, but in 1810 the United States Supreme Court ruled in Fetcher v. Peck that the voiding of the sales was unconstitutional, the first time in American history that the Federal Court had overridden a State Law. Finally, in 1814, the federal government took over the lands and paid off the claims. The present work is concerned with paying off those claims. By 1814, the Federal Government took charge of the claims involved in the Yazoo land scandal, in order to settle the issue once and for all. The proposed legislation here amends the 1803 Act of Cession, and was issued as a committee report by Senator John Taylor of South Carolina, who submitted it to the Secretary of the Senate, Samuel A. Otis on February 21, 1814. The language here acts much like a modern-day class action lawsuit. The first section calls for all claimants to Yazoo lands to report claims by a given date. The second section establishes a board of commissioners to examine the claims. The present slip-bill belonged to Thomas Worthington, who signed his name at the top of the first page. Worthington was at this time serving his second term as a United States Senator from Ohio. He would resign from the Senate later this same year, on December 1, 1814, after being elected Governor of Ohio. The work here includes a handful of ink emendations, including a couple of dates written in ink in Section 2. These were presumably added by Worthington as he consulted with his colleagues in the Senate on the legislation. The slip bill is docketed on the verso of the final leaf, "Bill on Yazoo," presumably in Worthington's hand. Shaw and Shoemaker list two pieces of slightly-earlier legislation relating to the same act, both of which are held by institutions listing them in OCLC. The present document is not listed in OCLC, and likely only survived in the hands of Senate committee members, like the present copy.