Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 1.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
Friend Richard: Washington, June 13, 1848

In my anxiety for the result, I was led to attend the Philadelphia convention; and, on my return, I found your letter of the 1st. I have entered the names you sent me, on my book, and commenced sending documents to them. In relation to the School land questions, the land committees of both Houses, are of opinion the law is already ample in relation to fractional townships. To make sure of the matter, I shall go to the Gen'l Land office to-morrow morning, enquire into the whole matter, and write you again. [2] As to the report you saw in the Baltimore paper, on inquiry, I think it must have been a report of the Senate. No such bill has passed the House; but Breese [3] says he reported such a bill to the Senate, which he supposes has passed that body. I think I wrote you once before, that I thought no such bill could become a law, and gave my reasons for the opinion. Lest I am mistaken in my recollection, I now give you those reasons briefly. The justice of such a law rests upon the principle that every township should have a section of equal value with every other township, in proportion to its capacity for population. Now, to adopt this principle, and practically apply it, would entirely break up the present system, in relation to school sections, and require an amount of agencies and labor, more than equal in expense to the whole expense of the present land system. Seeing this, members of congress are disinclined to do a very little, and leave undone very much, of a matter all standing on the same principle.

It is now obvious, that in the beginning of our land system, one thirty-sixth of the proceeds of the lands should have been given for school purposes, instead of giving the land itself; and then the States could have distributed the fund or the interest of it equally.

Wisconsin, on coming into the Union, has managed to adopt this plan substantially. Should the bill from the Senate, come upPage  479 in the House, of course I shall not use the above argument, or any other argument, against it; but on the contrary, shall do what I can to have it passed. Still, I doubt its ultimate success. Yours forever