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by these enactments essentially differ; and if the claimant under a pre-emption law fails to perform the condition which it enjoins, he should incür the consequences of such failure.
Authority should be given to the bead of the department to close up the iucal office, and transfer its archives, where the lands in a State are nearly all disposed of. The powers vested in the local officers might be conferred upon the Commissioner of the General Land Office, to enable him to give title on the sale of the remaining tracts.
A few tracts have been entered in California at the minimum price of twenty dollars per acre, under the supplemental act of March 3, 1865, for the disposal of coal lands. The propriety of reducing this minimum, where the coal is of inferior quality and cannot be obtained without difficulty, is submitted for consideration. The area of tho coal lands of the Uuited States is estimated at two hundred thousand square miles.
Land offices have been reopened in Florida, Alabaina, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkan. eas. By the act approved June 21, 1866, public lands in these States are reserved exclusively for homestead entries; and for the period of two years from the date of its passage, only eighty acres can be entered by one person. The opinion of the Attorney General that patents for lands sold under the revenue law's must issue from the General Land Office will govern the action of this department.
The law forbids any incumbent in the General Land Office to purchase public lands. I suggest the propriety of extending it so as to include every officer in any way connected with the administration of the laws relating to them.
The grant to lowa for the improvement of the Des Moines river has been fully satisfied. It embruced cight hundred and thirty-threo thousand and scventy-uine and ninety-dundredths acres.
There still remain unsold seventy-seven lots, situate within the Fort Howard reserve, in Wisconsin. They will be disposed of in accordance with the act of July 4, 1866.
Up to June 30, 1866, forty three million two hundred and four thousand seveu hundred and seventy-four acres of swamp lands had been patented to the several States, and the ag. gregate indemnity to them on account of such lands sold or otherwise disposed of by the United States was, in cash, five hundred and ninety-seven thousand two hundred and one dollars and thirty-seven cents, and, in other lands, four hundred and seventy-eight thousand and thirty-six and ninety-threc-hundredths acres. It is recommended that the time for making selections of such lunds be limited to two years after the official plat is received at the local office, and that the purpose of Congress in relation to this subject be explicitly declared.
Instructions have been issued to the surveyor general and the local officers in California to give full and summary effect to the provisions of the act of July 23, 1866, “to quiet land titles in California."
The registers and receivers act as agents of government to prevent trespassers on the public lands from removing tinhber therefrom. By imposing fines, and compelling the offenders to enter the tracts trespassed on, the government has been, to a considerable extent, protected in its rights. A bona fide settler is allowed to appropriate the timber on his claim only so far as niay be necessary for indispensable uses. The Commissioner presents the importance of promoting by legal enactments the planting and growth of trees on the public domain, and he suggests the mode by which that object may be accomplished.
Under the donation laws, patents for one million two hundred and eighty-two thousand four hundred and twenty-three and ninety-three-hundredths acres of land in Oregon have been issued. Additional legislation is recommended to enforce the survey of donation claims on which settlement was made prior to the public surveys.
Twelve hundred Indian patents were issued during the last fiscal year, for two hundred and vinety-eight thousand two hundred and fifty-six acres of land.
Attention has been repeatedly invited by this department to the immense value of the deposits of precious metals within our territorial limits. The mineral lands on the l'acific slope belong to the government, but it has not provided for the disposal of them, or for the development of the treasure which they contuin. In the absence of legislation of Congress, aud with its trcit consent, these mines have been worked by individuals, vast expenditures made, and a species of possessory right acquired which has been recognized by State Inw's and maintained and vindicated by Sinto tribunals. The act of February 27, 1807, declares that no action in the courts of the United States for the recovery of any mining title, or for damages thereto, shall be affected by the fact that the paramount title to the land on which such mines are is in the United States, and the Supreme Court has held that mining interests, apart from the fec-simplo rights in the soil by patent, existed before that act, with ihe implied sauction of the federal government. The exploration and working of these mines lave largely contributed to the national wealth, and our legislation should, I submit, bo controlled to sonie extent by existing rights and interests, which are the legitimate results of our policy of innc. tion. The wisdom of Congress can deviso nicasures which, by placing this vast interest under the coutrol of positivo law, will reuder it tributary in a greater degree to the publio prosperity.
Copious details aro furnished and many topics connected with the public lands ably dis cussed in the interesting and elaborate report of the Cominissioner.
COMMISSIONER OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
General Land Office, October 2, 1866. Sir: Pursuant to the resolution of the Senate of the United States, adopted February 28, 1855, I have the honor to subinit the following as an abstract of the accompanying annual report, which shows :
1. The operation of the public land system in favoring settlements.
2. The proceedings whereby the right of the United States was rendered absolute and complete to the western lands.
3. The area of western lands at the date of the treaty of 1783 with Great Britain, defining our limits.
4. That all the public lands within our original limits have been completely surveyed; contrast in this respect with the British islands.
5. The early measures for restoring the right of the United States to the Pacific, in virtue of the law of continuity, followed by the French, Spanish, and Mexican cessions.
6. The extension of territorial limits to the Pacific, and on the Gulf of Mexico; whole area of public lands 1,465,468,800 acres, with sea-coast on the Atlantic, the Gulf, Pacific, and Puget sound, equal to 5,120 miles.
7. The localities of public domain.
8. The origin of our surveying system, and the principles which control in extending the public lines on the earth's surface.
9. The political subdivisions over which surveys have already been completely extended, viz., in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and nearly so in Louisiana and Florida, and those in which this system has further to advance, viz. Minnesota, Dakota, Montana, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado,· New Mexico, Arizona, Idalio, Utah, and Washington Territories, and the States of Oregon, Nevada, and California; suggesting further legislation for the adjustment of foreign claims.
10. The aggregate area surveyed in all the States and Territories to June 30, 1966, 474,160,551 acres ; unsurveyed, 991,308,249 acres.
11. The aggregate in miles which have been run and marked on the earth's surface, in establishing these surveys, being 788,420.
12. For the past fiscal year the cash sales, bounty land locations, quantity taken under homestead act, arca for swamp in place, for swamp indemnity, for railroad grants, and agricultural college scriv, are equal to 4,629,312.87 acres ; cash receipts for sime period, $824,645 08; the theory of conceding for actual scttlement in preference to cash sales exainined, and prominent authorities mentioned who have favored the same.
13. The quantity surveyed on June 30, 1866, including private claims, is equal to 831,250 farms of 160 acres cach, or more than a million and a half of 80-acre tracts.
14. The difference between the agrarian system of the ancient empire of civ. ilization scven hundred years after its foundation, as compared with the United States.
15. In addition to the surveyed region, the unsurveyed is now open to preemption settlement in advance of surveys.
16. Besides the munificent concessions for military service and internal im. provement, thero have been granted for schools, scminaries of learning, univer. sitics, agricultural and mechanical colleges, 21,645,000 acres, while the estimated area destined to pass for educational purposes in territory west of the Missis. sippi river is 56,485,000 acres.
17. The area alrcady awarded for rail and wagon roads, with that yet to be egregated, will be equal to 157,835,794 acres; somo l'or the construction of great highways of travel to the l'acific, and others to link together interincdiate points.
18. The facilities in making settlements un:ler pre-eniption and other laws by the aid thus conceded for internal intercommunication.
19. A sketch of the pre-emption system from 1801 to 1841. 20. The general pre-emption laws of 1841 and 1843.
21. Pre-cinptions under act of 1853 are allowed on even-numbered scctions along tlic line of railroads, when settled upon and improved prior to final alot. ment of granted sections; also to lands where covered by French, Spanish, or other grants declared invalid by the Supreme Court. The act of 27th of March, 1854, recognizes settlements made prior to the withdrawal of lands from market.
22. The muncipal town-site law of 1844, and the pre-emption provision in the graduation act of 1854, have given way, the one to the town-property and coal-land laws of 1864 and 1865, the other to the homestead laws of 1862, 1964, and 1866.
23. l'roperty in lands to be one of the first institutions of the State. That the development of the public land system makes further legislation desirable; to fix periods of limitation for the consumination of interests, to generalize and give greater efficiency, and to render the pre-emption and homestead principles independent of cach other.
24. The principles of the homestead laws.
25. The town and coal property on the public domain. · Suggestions as to localities and values.
26. The three broad belts stretching across the country and containing the i precious metals. The distribution of coal, iron, copper, lead, tin, and zinc.
27. Petroleum in California.
29. That the lands offered at public salc in the last fiscal ycar amount to 6,423,954 acres; in addition to which other lands, heretoforo withdrawn from sale or entry, have been restored to market.
30. Changes in boundaries of land districts, and in the location of land offices.
31. All accounts of receivers of public money, and disbursing agents, adjusted to the close of the fiscal year; all five per cents. due the land States adjusted as far as accrued. The system which controls in adjustments of receivers' and disbursing agents' accounts. The relation this class of officci's hold in regard to the acquisition of title by purchase or otherwise of public lands; recomiends that the interdict in this respect that applies to General Land Office employés shall be made general in regard to all cmployés in land administration.
32. The duty devolved on the General Land Office of issuing patents for sales made under revenuc laws. Returns from the treasury of sales, required on the filing of original certificates of tax sales as the basis of patents.
33. Des Moincs grant. Special certificates havo issued fully satisfying the claims, which, under the acts of 8th August, 1846, joint resolution of 21 March, 1861, and act of 12th July, 1862, amount to $33,079.90 acres.
34. Fort Iloward rcscrvc, subdivided into 316 lots, of which 239 have been Bold; residue to be disposed of under the special act of July 4, 1866.
35. That iucompleto cutrics uuder the lato graduation law may be consum. mated, in the absence of proof of settlement and cultivation, by the payment of the difference between the graduation price and $1 25 per acre. . 36. Sketch of legislation relating to swamp and overflowed lands. Decision of the General Land Office overruled by the Attorney General's opinion of April 20, 1866. Aggregate arca selected to June 30, 1866, 58,649,217 acres, of which 43,204,774 acres have been patented. The aggregate indemnity granted for lands of this character to the 30th of Junc, 1866, is, in cash, $597,201 37 ; in oiler landx, 478,036.93 acrcs.
37. The principles which control in the protection of timber, with suggestions to further its growth.
38. Donation claims in Oregon and Washington; certifieates received up to June 30, 1866, covering 1,637,688 acres ; patents have been issued for the greater portion, embracing 1,282,423 acres. Further legislation necessary to fix a period of time within which parties to be required to pay for their survey shall come forward and do go, otherwise their claiins shall be located in accordance with the lines of the public surveys.
39. Duties devolved by law on the General Land Office in regard to Indian matters. The extent to which they have been discharged in the last year by the issue of patents.
40. The ingislation in regard to foreign titles, Spanish, French, British, or Mexican, and the proceedings required of the land department.
41. The report is accompanied by a special communication respecting surveying archives of Missouri, Iowa, and l'isconsin, containing historic details relative to the French and Spanish administration in Upper Louisiana. It is also accompanied by returns of the surveyors general complete, exhibits of sales and locations, of the extent of surveys in each political division of the United States, also of all the land grants inade for canals, and rail and wagon roads, with maps of the several land States and Territories, and a connected map of the United States slıowing the progress and extent of surveys. Respectfully submitted :
JOS. S. WILSON,
Commissioner: Hon. O. II. Browning,
Secretary of the Interior.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
General Land Office, October 2, 1866. Sir: Prominent among the indications of the growth and prosperity of the republic is the gradual expansion of actual settlements over the immenec fields of the public domain. Our liberal system of land legislation has extended, and still continues to afford facilities for opening new farms, founding new cities, holding out incentives for immigration from the crowded capitals of the older Stntcs and from abrond by stipulations for the acquisition of real estate, either agricultural or city property, on terms so casy as to enable the industrious to sccure homesteads almost at nominal ratcs. That system founded by the illustrious statcsinon of the Revolution has been cnlarged under the lights of experience to meet the wants of incrcasing millions of settlers by successive legi-lative acts, from the ordinance of 1785 for the disposal of the public lands to the legis. lative cnactinents of the ycar 1866. It has not restricted its benefits to merely opening rich and boundless ficlds to individual scttlement; investing title in local communities for school purposes in every township of six miles equnrc; in giving means for thic endowmcri of seminaries of learning and univerzitics; but it has made coucossions, on a stupendous scale, for internal improvements,
for opening ordinary ronds, for spanning the North American continent with railwayx, and still further, in inceting tho wants of diversified localities by liberal provisions for works of this class to connect contrcs of trado, and afford rapid means of intercommunication.
The landed cstate of the Union is the great inheritance of the Amcrican people. How was it acquired, and what is its extent ?
The people of the United States, in emerging from the war of independence, were the holders of extensive regions of country falling within the out-bounda. ries of the United States, as acknowledged in the definitive treaty of peace in 1783 with Great Britain. These rear or western lands were claimed by several States on the Atlantic, on the ground of exclusive title, in some cases from ocean to ocean, and in others to an indefinite extent in the wilderness.
These conflicting interests gave rise to controversies and discord. The State of New York, now the centre of trade and affluence on this continent, destined in her career of prosperity to reach a pinnacle of greatness second to no com. mercial power of the globe, readily yielded her claim to the undefined ter. ritory, and, responding to the appeals of the revolutionary Congress, all other like adverse interests were surrendered, whereby the proprietary title of the United States to these western lands became absolute and complete,
The United States held no public lands in any of the original thirteen States, except for public uses, fortifications, arsenals, light-houses, and dock-yards. Vermont was uot a party, as a State, to the Union of 1776, her territory having been claimed by New York and New Hampshire, but was admitted as a State in 1791, while Maine, which had been claiined and governed by Massachusctts, did not enter the Union until 1820.
Kentucky was originally part of the Territory of Virginia, but in 1792 wag admitted, having no public lands within her limits. Tennessee, which formed a part of North Carolina, became a State of the Union in 1796, but the general government now holds no public lands within the limits of that State, the same having been relinquished by acts of Congress.
Excluding the area of all the States above mentioned from the surface of the republic as it existed in 1783, with limits extending from the northern lakes to the thirty-first degree of latitude, and from the Atlantic to the middlo channel of the Mississippi, the residue constitutes thc public lands of that year, cqual to about 354,000 square miles, or 226,560,000 acres.
The whole of this arca, overy acre of it, has been completely surveyed, and the field-notes recorded, while accurate pluts have been protracted cxhibiting in legal subdivisions the entire surface, and all in exact accordance with the rec. tangular system. That system stands in marked contrast with irregularities as to form in the landed estate of the parent country, in which, although under the direction of men of exalted science, a cadastral survey, after the lapse of centuries of civilization, has not yet been completed, it having beeu estimated in 1863 that it would require an appropriation of £90,000 sterling a year, for twenty-one years, to extend such survey over the whole of the British islands.
Having thus shown the extent of our public lands as originally acquired, it is now in place briefly to trace their extension to the present limits.
By the treaty of peace in 1763, between England, France, and Spain, it was agreed that the western boundary of the Anglo-American colonies should be fixed “irrevocably" by a line drawn along the middle channel of the river Mississippi, thereby relinquishing, in favor of France, all the territory claimed by the latter in the region west of the Alississippi.
This line consequently was received in 1783 as our western boundary, but within twenty years thcrcafter, a greater statesman (Mr. Jefterson) than the King who had acceded to this restriction took means to strengthen our claim to the region beyond the Rocky mountains, by restoring to us thic important link of continuity westward to the Pacific, which had been surrendered by the treaty