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parties, as this would be a violation of the fundamental condition on which the grant was made. The action of Congress was an exceptional one. The Yosemite Valley being an exceptional and in every way remarkable locality, it was the object of the Act by which it was donated to the State to make of it something of the nature of a public park, a place of resort where, unlike other famous objects of natural scenery, the visitor would not be bampered with petty exactions and tormented by extortionate demands-a place of resort which should be preserved in all its pristine beauty and not be shorn of some of its attractive features, according to the whims and caprices of wanton or malicious visitors or malignant settlers, but which should be made and kept accessible and attractive according to a general and far-seeing plan.
By actual survey there are found to be only eleven hundred acres of land in the Yosemite Valley, inside the debris of rock fallen from the walls, and of this only a little over seven hundred are arable land. The assignment of six hundred acres and over to private parties, supposing such assignment to be confirmed and made valid by Congress, would therefore be absolutely equivalent to putting the whole valley under the control of those parties, as no general plan could be adopted for the preservation and regulation of the premises which would be of any effect. So largo a portion of the valley being withdrawn from the action and supervisory power of the Commissioners, the trees cut down, the flowers destroyed, and the natural features of one balf the valley defaced, the result would be fatal to the beauty of the whole.
If Congress is to be asked to confirm the action of the State Legislature giving away six hundred acres or more, then it would be better to go still further and demand that the grant be absolutely revoked, and that the valley be thrown open to squatters and claimants of all kinds, to settle it among themselves, by process of law or otherwise, how it shall be divided. Either the State must abandon the valley entirely or it must retain exclusive control of it, as provided for in the grant by Congress, and as it has fully bound itself, by the Act of its Legislature, to do. In the latter case, it abides by its pledged faith; in the the former, it seeks to evade the performance of a bigb obligation to the public, which it has voluntarily assumed in the presence of the nation, and with Congress as one of the parties to the agreement.
The Commissioners have carefully examined into all facts connected with the history of the early settlement and the present occupation of the Valley, and are aware that there are several claims of parties to different portions of it, some of which they believe to be as equitable as that of Mr. Hutchings. Tbey are fully convinced that none of these parties have any legal claim, under any law of the State or of the United States, to any portion of the Valley, on the one hand, as they have never fulfilled the requirements of the Pre-emption Law of the State; while on the other, the land bas never been surveyed, and could not, therefore, be pre-empted under United States laws. Wbat tbe claims of these parties may be in equity is another matter, but they should not be acted on without careful investigation; and then, if the bona fide holders of these claims are to be remunerated for supposed damage done them by the action of the State and the United States, it must be done by a grant of money, since the State is estopped by its own action from making any grant of lands for tbat purpose.
The Commissioner would call the attention of the Legislature to the fact that the grant of the Yosemite Valley and the Big Trees to the State by Congress is a munificent one and one which will ultimately be
come of great pecuniary importance, if faithfully and liberally managed with an eye to the interests of the public in the future, and not heedlessly thrown away almost at the very moment of its acceptance. Retaining possession of these unique and wonderful localities and freeing them from the drawbacks usually attending a visit to such places, by wisely refusing to private parties the right of levying toil on the beauties of nature, the number of persons who will be attracted to the State from all quarters of the globe to enjoy this stupendous scenery under such favorable circumstances will be greatly increased from year to year, and be the means of bringing a large amount of money and a very desirable class of visitors—some of whom will be induced to become residents, while others will send their friends to visit the scenes in which they bave found so much enjoyment. Let the Legislature persist in the shortsighted policy which the proposed bill contemplates, and this stupendous Valley will become in time as notorious as Niagara Falls and many other places in this country and in Europe now are for the extortions practiced on travellers.
It is not true that Messrs. Hutchings and Lamon bave furnished the only accommodations for visitors to the valley, and that they thus have earned a claim to remuneration from the State. On the contrary, Mr. Lamon has never kept a public house in the Yosemite, wbile as good ones as any bave been sustained by persons who are willing to recognize the rights of the State, and who are not permanent residents in the valley. There are now, indeed, several applications on file for leases for sites for public houses in the valley.
It is decidedly advisable that as few persons as possible should reside in the valley during the Winter, as the amount of land is limited and the destruction of trees and flowers by wandering stock is very great. Fully as good accommodations have been furnished to travellers by parties coming into the valley for the Summer as by persons permanently residing there.
It is not true that the Commissioners have acted barshly towards Messrs. Lamon and Hutchings. On the contrary, these gentlemen have been offered the greatest privileges which it was in the power of the State to grant-namely, a lease of their premises for ten years, rent free. And when we consider how greatly the value of land in the Yosemite Valley will be enbanced by the action of the Commissioners, if their doings and plans are sustained by the State, and how largely the travel will be increased under the new system of things, it must be conceded that, under the circumstances, their offer was a munificent one, especially when it is considered that Mr. Hutchings had only moved into the valley about one month before the cession of it to the State, and that all bis improvements have been made under protest of the Commissioners and with a full knowledge of all the facts in the case.
Finally, the Commissioners respectfully suggest to your Committee that they, being in full possession of all the facts in the case, should be consulted and heard in this matter, that it may not be laid to the charge of your Committee that they have acted on a subject of great importance to the State without availing themselves of all the sources of information wbich it was in their power to obtain.
Respectfully submitted, by order of the Commissioners to manage the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove.
J. D. WHITNEY, Vice President. H. W. CLEAVELAND, Secretary.
MEMORIAL OF J. M. HUTCHINGS.
To Hon. Francis GILTNER,
Chairman of Assembly Yosemite Committee : SIR: Inasmuch as some of the Commissioners of Yosemite bave thought proper to make to you a statement that is not substantiated by the facts of the case, I invite your attention to the following:
It is not for me, or they, to decide whether the Legislature of California, in concert with Congress, the original owner and grantor of the land in question, can or cannot unite in disposing of a portion, or even the whole of said valley, if they see fit, both being parties to the original bargain. Nor does it now become a question whether or not Congress, after throwing open all unreserved public lands of the United States, whether surveyed or unsurveyed, to the bona fide settler, under the general Pre-emption Laws of the United States, can or cannot revoke that right after the settler has, in good faith, entered into actual possession, without a violation of at least an implied contract. That is not for the Commissioners or myself to decide, but the Supreme Court of the United States.
But, in justice to myself and Lamon, it is my duty to say that “it is not true that we, as settlers, “on the one hand, have never fulfilled the requirements of the Pre-emption Laws of the State.” The State has no Pre-emption Law. While, on the other hand, it has never been sur, veyed, and could not, therefore, be pre-empted under the United States laws." Before Vice President Whitney or Secretary Cleaveland state the above axiom as a fact in law, I respectfully refer them to the United
I States Statutes at Large, eighteen hundred and sixty-two (page four hundred and ten, section seven), where the following words are recorded : “And be it further enacted, That in regard to settlements which by existing laws are authorized in certain States and Territories upon unsurveyed lands, which privilege is hereby extended to California, the
preemption claimant shall be,” etc. The Act goes on further to state the • duties required from pre-emptors after the land has been surveyed by
the United States. But as the land in question, according to the testimony of the Commissioners, “has never been surveyed,” there were no duties required from us except actual residence upon the land in common with all other settlers. This, I presume, those gentlemen will not deny. Therefore, the statement that we have "never fulfilled the requirements of the Pre-emption Laws” is simply untrue. At the most, it would have been but a technical quibble if the statement bad been true.
Then, again," it is not true," as stated in their communication, that “there are several claims of parties to different portions of it (the valley); some of which they believe to be as equitable as that of Hutchings Now, although the above wording is very unique in its deceptiveness, the Commissioners know that in point of fact it is "untrue.” They know that Lamon and myself are the only actual settlers; they know that we are the only persons against whom suits of ejectment bave been commenced. And wberefore? Simply because we were the only actual residents, and consequently the only bona fide settlers who could bave any claim under the Pre-emption Laws. It is true, however, that Black bas interests there which he rents during the season to different parties; but Black resides some thirty miles from Yosemite.
The Commissioners therefore “believe” that he is a settler, and enti
tled to the same rights as those who bave lived permanently upon the land. I think not. The wonder is that they should stoop to such a misrepresentation of facts.
Further, the Commissioners say “it is not true that Hutchings and Lamon have furnished the only accommodations to visitors.” Did we ever affirm that we bad? Were I to say that "it was not true that Professor Wbitney bad swallowed an antediluvian fossil and the stony composite had worked its way into his heart,” by implication it might appear that he or some one else bad said as much ; but would that make it a fact? I repeat, therefore, that we never made such a statement, and consequently such should not have been implied.
Again, they remark, “It is not true tbat the Commissioners bare acted harshly towards Hutchings and Lamon.” Here I hope they will allow me to say that, in doing their supposed duty, I believe no harshness was intended; still, when a man receives from them such a threat as the following he is apt to think that it might bave been more kindly put, considering his long and earnest services in the cause : “ Please inform bim (meaning myself) that (if I refuse to take a lease, etc) the Com. missioners will, during the coming Winter, take such steps as they see fit for procuring a suitable tenant' for the house he now occupies, and will take all necessary measures for installing bim (the new tenant) in possession carly in the coming Spring." In other words, they would let the very bouso I live in-my bouse—the bome where my family resides, with all my outbuildings, orchard, garden, etc., to some one else. Now that may be a very kind way of putting it--but I don't see it. For inasmuch as those things were mine-not theirs-not even the land, if the Pre-emption Laws mean anything, and inasmuch as the Constitution provides that no person shall be deprived of his liberty or property without due process of law,” such a threat was, to say the least, a little premature. "To my ear and beart it accorded more with the language of highwaymen tban of considerate gentlemen who, having a painful duty to perform, did it reluctantly.
I do not wish, however, to think harshly or unkindly of their action. They might have felt that they simply did their duty. But there is one thought and feeling ever present io my mind—the duty I owe to my family. I an striving for a bome-now endeared to me by so many happy memories and pleasant duties--and I would be unworthy of the sacred trust if I faltered one iota in seeking to obtain by all bonorable means one little spot of land-the birthright of every American citizenwhere my family and myself can dwell together in contentment and peace.
Then, again, these gentlemen speak of the munificent offer of a lease of ten years at a nominal rent. It
may be a "munificent” offer; but inasmuch as, according to their own report, “ keeping a public house bas not been, nor is likely for some time to be, a matter of profit,” I cannot see the munificence of the proposal. Besides, it will take ten years to make such improvements as the public wants require. Our orchards will then be, most likely, at their best stage of productiveness. To wbom would they and all other improvements belong-to us or to the State ? To lease for a term of ten years would be virtually to "alienate” the portion leased for the time being. This would continue, doubtless, for wall time," unless the State should go into the business of hotel keeping, etc., on their own account. Therefore, where is the advantage over owning the land ? Then, again, I think there are but few men living, and I frankly confess that I am not one of them, who could, or would, work and manage as well upon other people's land as upon their own.
If, too, as the Commissioners think, there is going to be such a wonderful increase in the number of visitors, the amount of forage necessary for animals must be increased. For instance: out of the one hundred and sixty acres which I ask for, but little more than balf is good land, and of that balf there are not over twenty acres that produce good grass. Eight tenths of the "good land” is covered with a dense growth of fern, that would require an expenditure of from seventy dollars to one hundred dollars per acre to prepare and seed it with grass. I should like to ask those gentlemen who tbink so much about a "lease,” bow many acres of such land would probably be broken up under a ten
In conclusion, I would respectfully suggest to the Commissioners that it would better comport with the foelings and education of gentlemen if they were to discuss these questions fairly and honorably, upon their own merits, than to seek to injure either Lamon or myself by misstating of facts, either directly or by implication, whereby they perpetrate a wrong, not only upon us, but upon themselves. Our memorial is before the public; it is sworn to by us, and its truthfulness is attested by over one hundred of the most influential citizens of Mariposa County, to whom the facts, doubtless, are as well or perbaps better known than to many others further away from our beautiful valley.
J. M. HUTCHINGS.