Letter from Central Committee of the National Reform Association, 20 April 1844
Central Committee of the National Reform Association (John Windt, Egbert S. Manning, James Maxwell, Lewis Masquerier, Daniel Witter, and Ellis Smalley), Letter, , New York Co., NY, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 20 Apr. 1844; in “Minutes of a Convention Held in the City of Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, May 17th 1844,” Nauvoo Neighbor, 22 May 1844, p. .
Sir,—The subscribers, the Central Committee of the National Reform Association, in accordance with a duty prescribed by their constitution, respectfully solicit an expression of your views, as a candidate for public office, on a subject that, as they think, vitally affects the rights and interest of their constituents.
We see this singular condition of affairs that, while wealth in our is rapidly accumulating; while internal improvements of every description are fast increasing, and while machinery has multiplied the power of production to an immense extent, yet with all these national advantages, the compensation for useful labour is getting less and less.
We seek the cause of this anomaly, and we trace it to the monoply of the land, which places labor at the mercy of capital. We therefore desire to abolish the monoply, not by interfering with the conventional rights of persons now in possession of the land, but by arresting the further sale of all lands not yet appropriated as private property, and by allowing these lands hereafter to be freely occupied by those who may choose to settle on them.
We propose that the Public lands hereafter shall not be owned, but occupied only, the occupant having the right to sell or otherwise dispose of improvements to any one not in possession of other land; so that, by preventing any individual from becoming possessed of more than a limited quantity, every one may enjoy the right.
This measure, we think, would gradually establish an equilibrium between the agricultural and other useful occupations, that would ensure to all full employment and fair compensation for their labor, on the lands now held as private property, and to each individual on the public lands the right to work for himself on his own premises, or for another, at his option.
An answer, as soon as convenient, will much oblige