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Answer of Alvah Hunt to further interrogatories propounded to him by
the committee of the House of Representatives to examine into the alteration of the Minnesota land bill.
Astor HOUSE, NEW YORK, August 4, 1854. 1. Answer. Being confined to my room by sickness, I have not been able before to answer the last series of interrogatories received from your committee. And in answer to the first interrogatory, I say no; but if a grant was made by Congress of lands to Minnesota, I wanted it made on such terms that the railroad I was interested in might have an equal chance for its benefits with other roads.
2. Answer. I knew nothing about any railroad company by name; and all I wanted was, that the grant, if made, should inure equally for the benefit of the Tête de Mort route, if that should prove to be the best route on an accurate survey.
3. Answer. None whatever. I did not know there was such a bill pending, or revived, until after it had passed the House. This I learned from the newspapers, being absent in Iowa at the time, although I had heard that a new bill was to be brought in after the defeat of the first.
4. Answer. I answer in the negative.
5. Answer. I never had any conversation with those persons, or any other person or persons, on the subject of money to be paid in connexion with the Minnesota land bill.
6. Answer. I answer in the negative.
7. Answer. Some time after the passage of the Minnesota land bill, inquiry was made by Mr. Harrington whether his draft on Mr. Roberts, and I think a Mr. Griswold, for $5,000, (I think this was the amount,) would be honored, adding that George W. Billings had made the arrangement. Having nothing to do with the subject, I did not respond; and this is all the knowledge I had in relation to this matter. I never told Mr. Roberts, or Mr. Lowber, or any other person, that I wanted money, or influence of any kind, to aid in the election of Mr. Washburne, of Minois. I never thought of such a thing, never heard of such a thing, and never suggested it to any person. It was never suggested to me by Mr. Washburne, or any other person, either by conversation or correspondence, that he was to derive any pecuniary or political advantage by the passage or de feat of the Minnesota land bill, or any other bill. I have no recollection of ever seeing or conversing with Mr. Lowber more than once or twice in my life. I always understood from Mr. Washburne that he was strongly in favor of the Minnesota land bill, but that he wanted it so framed that the grant might inure equally to the benefit of both roads running through his district. In looking at a letter I wrote to Mr. Washburne on the 24th of April last, I am enabled more distinctly to recollect the contents of his letter to me of the 23d, which I cannot now lay my hands on, being confined to my room. In that letter he stated, in substance, that the Minnesota bill to be introduced would provide for future legislation, and exclude all companies, and leave all on an equal footing; and would doubtless be satisfactory to me and my friends. That letter was very brief, and entirely on
that subject. If Mr. Washburne wrote me any other letter, it must have been done during my absence in Iowa, and I never received it. I was absent West during the whole month of June.
Sworn before me this the 5th day of August, 1854.
ORISON BLUNT, Alderman of Third Ward.
33d CONGRESS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. S REPORT 2d Session.
JAMES L. HICKMAN.
FEBRUARY 23, 1855.–Laid upon the table, and ordered to be printed.
Mr. ROLAND JONES, from the Committee on Private Land Claims,
made the following
ᎡᎬ Ꮲ 0 Ꭱ Ꭲ .
The Committee on Private Land Claims, to whom was referred the pe
tition of James L. Hickman, asking Congress to grant him two thousand acres of land “out of any unappropriated lands in the States of Indiana, Illinois or Missouri, or such other relief as Congress may deem just and equitable,” beg leave to report :
That the said petition discloses the following facts: That some time in the year 1765, one Thomas Hickman removed from the county of Albemarle, in the then colony of Virginia, and settled in West Florida, at that time under the dominion of Great Britain, where he acquired two thousand acres of land on the bay near Pensacola, where he continued to reside until the month of February, A. D. 1771, when he was accidentally drowned, leaving James Hickman, his brother, then of Culpeper county, Virginia, his heir-at-law.
The petitioner alleges himself to be the grand-son of the said James, and to have received, by gift, from said James, the above claim. The petition further states, that in the year 1784 the said James sent two of his sons as his attorneys in fact to Florida, to claim the estate of Thomas Hickman in the name of the said James, as heirat-law; that they arrived at Charleston, S. C., but were there advised not to proceed any further, as the country (West Florida) then belonged to Spain, and they would be in danger of being committed as spies, and probably die in jail, and they consequently returned to Virginia.
The petitioner states that he has had the records of Florida searched, and no title can be found on record in favor of Thomas Hickman to this land. He further states, that from the lapse of time and the long occupancy of Florida by Spain, it is probable that the land has passed into other hands by grant from Spain, and cannot now be recovered, even could it be identified.
These facts, together with the fact of the cession of Florida to the United States, seem to be the basis of the petitioner's claim for relief at the hands of Congress. Admitting every fact stated in the petition to be proven, your committee are totally unable to see any reasonable ground for the relief sought; but nowhere in the papers accompanying the petition is there any evidence of title in Thomas Hickman to anv lands in Florida.
There is a letter on file dated Pensacola, April 2, 1771, signed “ John Firby,” in which it is mentioned that Thomas Hickman "had taken up two thousand acres of land.” This letter seems to be the only evidence of title in the possession of the petitioner, and the only evidence which has ever been in the possession of those who claim through Thomas Hickman, and the petitioner states that he has searched in vain the records of Florida for further evidence.
The committee are of opinion that relief ought not to be granted to any one ; but if they were of a different opinion, the petitioner has exhibited no evidence to show that he is entitled to it.