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Collection Title: U.S. Congress. Committee on the Public Lands Report

Collection Number: M227

Dates: May 29, 1812

Volume: 1 item

Provenance: Unknown

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Great Britain controlled the Mississippi Territory from 1764 to 1780. By right of conquest, the area then came under Spanish control. This arrangement set the northern boundary of the Mississippi Territory at the 31st degree north latitude. In 1783 and again in 1785, Spain acknowledged the 31st degree as the northern border but continued to exercise control of the area between the 31st and 32nd degree north latitude. The United States took a renewed interest in these lands after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, which gave this section a significance it had not had before (strategic areas on the Mississippi River could be utilized to facilitate the transportation of produce to market). Conflicting titles to the land were the result of the area having changed hands frequently.

Scope and Content:

This collection consists of a pamphlet entitled "Report of the Committee on the Public Lands on a Resolution to Inquire into the Expediency of Confirming Claims to Land in the Mississippi Territory Founded on Spanish Warrants of Survey," dated May 29, 1812. Many persons who held land did so only by warrants or orders of survey. They were ignorant of the transfer of the country to the U.S. or any defect in their titles and had therefore failed to obtain proper patents for their land. The land was being held in reserve until a decision was reached by Congress. The Commissioners' report states that a person who actually settled on land in the Mississippi Territory and farmed it could keep the land, even though they had no legal claims other than Spanish warrants or orders of survey. The United States was extending this privilege to actual settlers only.

The report also mentions that a "donation" of 640 acres was granted to each person who had inhabited the Territory when it was evacuated by the Spanish troops.

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