via the American Lands Council
Compelling Congress to honor to today’s western states the same promise that it already kept with Hawaii and all states east of Colorado will take real, courageous leadership – not more of the same political pragmatism that has gotten us into this mess!
Fortunately, we have the example of one such leader in Thomas Hart Benton, a U.S. Senator from Missouri who, through his persistence and leadership, changed his home state of Missouri and Illinois, Arkansas, Louisiana, and others, from nearly 90% federally controlled lands for decades to less than 5% federally controlled lands by compelling Congress to honor its promise to transfer title to these lands for the good of the nation.
It’s no wonder President John F. Kennedy featured Senator Benton in his best-selling book “Profiles in Courage!”
Who is Thomas Hart Benton?
Thomas Hart Benton was born in 1782 in North Carolina and died in 1858 in Washington, D.C., after a 30-year tenure as a Democratic Party leader. How was this lawyer and patriot able to make such a substantial difference? Because he knew the law, knew the facts, and wasn’t afraid to stand alone.
Benton, in his memoirs Thirty Years View, shares the following:
“The time…found me doing battle for an ameliorated system of disposing of our public lands; and with some success. I resolved to move against the whole system, and especially in favor of graduated prices, and donations to actual and destitute settlers: I did so in a bill, renewed annually for a long time; and in speeches which had more effect upon the public mind than upon the federal legislation …
“In the new States it was different. The federal government held the primary disposition of the soil; and the majority of Congress (being independent of the people of these States), was less heedful of their wants and wishes. They were as a stepmother, instead of a natural mother: and the federal government being sole purchaser from foreign nations, and sole recipient of Indian cessions, it became the monopolizer of vacant lands of the West: and this monopoly, like all monopolies, resulted in hardships to those upon whom it acted…
“But the members in Congress from the new States should not intermit their exertions, nor vary their policy; and should fix their eyes steadily upon the period of the speedy extinction of the federal title to all the lands within the limits of their respective States…” (See entire article here.)
Last week, we began to review the White Paper commissioned by the Federalist Society (an organization of 40,000 constitutionally-focused lawyers, scholars and others throughout the nation). This legal analysis of Utah’s HB148 – The Transfer of Public Lands Act, shows that we still have the law on our side. If we will be successful, we must do all we can to share the law and the facts with as many potential Thomas Hart Bentons as we can. We must find those leaders who are not afraid to stand up – and stand alone if need be – for as long as it takes.
Who will be our Thomas Hart Benton today? Who will care more about bringing to pass the only solution big enough for our country than just the next election? Who will stand alone until others have the courage to stand with them?
Remember, just TEN committed Senators can shut down the appropriations process until Congress deals in good faith with this critical issue. TEN Thomas Hart Bentons. Is it your Senator? Is it you?
Thank you for taking time to learn and share. Thank you for your love for our country. Thank you for doing all you can do.
Ken Ivory, ALC President
P.S. Click here to discover how you can stand with the American Lands Council, and help this work move forward.