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been disposed of, though considerable areas remain in Michigan, Wis. consin, Alabama, and Mississippi. Taking into consideration the gradual decrease in the size of the farms in the States east of the Mississippi, there is reason to believe that the public land therein disposed of under the land laws has formed the basis of nearly or quite a million of separate agricultural properties. The preëmption policy was inaugurated at a sufficiently early period largely to affect the disposal of the public lands in these States.

By the operation of the treaties of 1803 with France, and of 1819 with Spain, there was added to the public domain the entire area of Florida, amounting to 59,268 square miles, or 37,931,520 acres, together with those portions of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana south of the thirty-first parallel and east of the Mississippi River, amounting to about 350 townships, or over 8,000,000 acres, making a total addition of nearly 46,000,000 acres. Of this addition, a very considerable area in the southern part of Florida yet remains unappropriated by actual settlement. It has, however, probably given rise already to 150,000 separate homesteads.

It will not be far out of the way to estimate the separate land pro. prietorships that have been created by the public land system east of the Mississippi at 1,100,000. This conclusion is confirmed by comparing the number of farms in the public-land States east of the Mississippi returned in the seventh and eighth census reports, respectively. The aggregate number returned in 1850 was 448,405, and that of 1860, 690,253, showing an increase of 241,848, or nearly 54 per cent. in ten years. Applying this rate of increase to the decade just closing and we have an aggregate of 1,052,780 farms in 1870. But the rate of increase has been very considerably accelerated in the late slave States since the war, in the division of the old cotton and rice plantations, and in the very large appropriation of unoccupied public lands in 80-acre tracts under the homestead law. The estimate of 1,100,000 is, therefore, believed to be correct.

The public-land States and Territories west of the Mississippi have been under the operation of the preëmption system in some form almost from their first settlement. The public lands have generally been disposed of in small portions, adding enormously to the aggregate of proprietorship.

Of these political divisions, only Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Minnesota, Oregon, California, New Mexico, and Utah are represented in the seventh census. The number of farms returned within these limits was 107,155 which, by the reports of the eighth census in 1860, had increased to 243,530, or 127 per cent. in ten years.

In the absence of the returns of the pending ninth census, which will probably not be given to the public till some time after the publication of this report, it will be safe to assume that the number of farms in the States and Territories is not less than 500,000. Kansas, which was not repre. sented in the seventh census, and exhibited in the eighth but 10,400 farms, has at least 50,000 in 1870. Nebraska, Nevada, Colorado, Dakota, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Arizona will add at least 50,000 more, making the grand aggregate of separate rural proprietorships almost 1,700,000 in the States and Territories erected out of the public domain. These are mostly the fruit of our liberal land policy.

Full instructions as to the different modes of obtaining titles under various laws will be found in the appendix to this report.

The beneficent results of the preëmption policy, in the settlement of

the western lands, are thus seen in the great diffusion of land ownership. Of our population, one-eighth are actual owners of the soil, while abont one-half, including the families of landholders, are therein directly or in. directly interested. The wonderful stability of our free institutions finds a satisfactory explanation in such facts as these. Our social and political system broadened its base by enlisting a larger scope of private interests in its preservation and permanency. It has developed, as the ruling class of our population, an intelligent, self-reliant yeomanry, whose steadiness in the exercise of self-government for nearly a century shows the influence of free civilization.

A still more liberal disposal of the public lands is found in the homestead law. It is becoming more evident every year that the rapid settlement of our western lands is of far greater importance than the revenue derived from their sale. Hence the donation to actual settlers of farms not exceeding 160 acres has been devised to stimulate immigration and to facilitate the transfer of the Government title to private ownership

The requirement of five years' actual settlement and cultivation prevents the abuse of this law for purposes of speculation. In the opera tions of this homestead privilege we see the incentive to a still more rapid movement of immigration. The social evils of Europe are driving a large portion of the population of that continent into emigration. Our free institutions, practical social equality, facilities for acquiring a subsistence, and for accumulating wealth, with other advantages, are attracting the bulk of this emigration. While we may deplore and reprobate those evils, it will be very difficult to refrain from congratulating ourselves upon reaping collateral benefits. They seem like the systole and diastole of the world, driving its life-blood of population to circulate over its whole surface.

Instead of deploring the spread of civilization and the absorption of the areas of wilderness in the world, we should rather hail the day when the last squalid remnant of savage life shall have given place to industry and commerce, to a complete and normal system of production and exchange, in which the means of subsistence will be abundant and diffused, and the one-sided activities which now disturb the markets of the world be superseded.


At the close of our Revolutionary War the statesmen of that age real ized the importance of giving a liberal land subsidy in aid of a general system of education, regarding it as essential to the perpetuation of free government. Accordingly there was inserted in the land ordinance of 1785 a stipulation, that the 16th or central section of 640 acres in every township of six miles square-23,040 acres-should be granted for the support of schools.

As settlements advanced westward from the valley of the Mississippi and on the Pacific slope, upon the expansion of our national boundary, new communities arose distant from the center of our political system, and in regard to these the legislature since deemed it proper, by suitable enactments, to enlarge the school allotments to two sections, or 1,280 acres in each township. The general principle recognized in our legislation in this respect is this: In the case of Territories the school sections are merely held by law in reservation and exclusion from disposal for any other purpose, but when a Territory becomes a State, and as such is admitted into the Union, the school grant becomes absolute and indefeasible. The aggregate endowments for the support of common schools already set apart and added to the areas which will pass for that object under the principles of existing legislation, in aid of instruction in higher branches of learning as taught in colleges and universities, and including the agricultural and mechanic college grants, by act of 2d July, 1862, may be set down at 78,576,802 acres, and should the benefits of said act of 1862 be extended to the several existing Territories when they become States, the area will be augmented to 79,566,802 acres, a greater surface than the aggregate areas of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and, as heretofore reported, of larger extent than the territory in the British European islands. By such means are the higher elements of social order secured and an impulse given beyond estimate to American civilization.


Among the earliest measures of land administration was introduced the principle of granting bounties to the officers and soldiers of the Revolutionary War, thus recognizing, in a graceful and substantial manner, their inestimable services in the cause of freedom. This principle has been extended to services in the war of 1812 with Great Britaiu, with Mexico in 1847, and for services in Indian wars from the year 1790, and prior to the passage of the military bounty-land law of March 3, 1855.

The total quantity of land granted for military services, including scrip, into which many Virginia military warrants have been commuted, and the grants made in the Virginia military district, (Ohio,) may be summed up as follows:

Acres. Act of September 16, 1776, revolutionary..

2,095, 120 Act of February 18, 1801, Canadian refugees

57, 860 Scrip acts of 1830, 1832, 1833, 1835, and 1852.

2, 459, 511 Act of August 10, 1790, Virginia military district, (Ohio). 3, 669, 818 Act of May 6, 1812, war of 1812 ..

4, 846, 720 Act of March 5, 1816, Canadian volunteers. Acts of ?347, 1850, 1852, and 1855, all wars.

60, 259, 110 Aggregate granted for military services from the earliest

period of our history to the end of the last fiscal year... 73, 463, 961

75, 792

The recognition of this principle of reward to our national defenders has been still further recognized, and brought down to the present day, in so modifying the original homestead law by section 25 of the act of Congress of July 15, 1870, that officers, soldiers, and sailors who have served in the Army and Navy of the United States for ninety days, and remained loyal to the government, can enter for actual settlement and cultivation, as required by the homestead enactment, 160 acres of the United States reserved sections, or double minimum lands, along railroads, instead of 80 acres, the latter being the quantity to which civil. ian settlers are restricted.


By the acts of Congress approved August 8, 1846, and August 3, 1854, a grant was made to the State of Wisconsin - to aid in the im. provement of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers, and to connect the same by a canal.” This grant has been finally adjusted, and under the same 683,728.42 acres have been transferred to the State. The grant "to aid in the construction of a breakwater and ship canal at the head of Sturgeon Bay to connect the waters of Green Bay with Lake Michigan” has been finally settled, and the full quantity duly certified to the State of 200,000 acres.

Congress, by the acts of March 3, 1863, and July 3, 1866, granted to the State of Michigan 400,000 acres “to aid in building a harbor and ship canal at Portage Lake, Keewenaw Point, Lake Superior,” to be selected in the upper peninsula, and of lands to which homestead or preemption rights did not exist. Of this quantity 325,108 acres have been duly transferred to the State of Michigan, leaving a residuum of 74,892 acres yet to be certified, and which is in process of adjustment.

The grant made July 3, 1866, as heretofore reported, for 100,000 acres “ to aid in constructing a ship canal to connect the waters of 'Lake Superior with Lac la Belle" has been finally adjusted and closed.

By the act of Congress approved February 9, 1867, the 500,000 “internal improvement” grant of September 4, 1841, was extended to Nebraska. Tais concession, it has been ruled, should not be charged with the quantity granted by the act of April 19, 1864, (13 U. S. Stat., p. 47,) because, as this last-mentioned grant was for purposes distinct from those embraced in the act of 1841, under this grant to Nebraska, the State has made selections equal to 386,967 acres, wbich are in process of adjustment. The liberality of Congress in aid of internal improvements is showu in the grants for that object.

Acres. Under the grant of September 4, 1841, (5 U. S. Stat., p.

453,) there will inure, when fully satisfied, the quantity of..

7, 306, 544. 67 To this add prior 'grants for roads and improvement of rivers ...

623, 716. 14 Des Moines improvement in Iowa

833, 079. 70 Fox and Wisconsin improvement.

683, 728. 42 Canal purposes

4, 405, 986.00

Total ...

13, 853, 054.93

Estimated for wagon roads

3, 857, 213, 27 Evidence of title already furnished in aid of railroads .. 23, 220, 984. 15 To the above may be added the estimated area yet to

inure under existing laws in aid of the construction of railways and wagon roads...

198, 165, 794. 67


Grants by acts of March 2, 1849, September 28, 1850, and March 12, 1860. (9 U. S. Stat., pp. 352, 519; ibid., vol. 12, p. 3.)

The work of adjustment under the different grants relating to swamp and overflowed lands has been prosecuted with diligence. During the year ending with this report, there have been selected 142,281.88 acres, inaking the aggregate selections now on our files since the first swamp concession of 60,459,868.84 acres. The details of office labors show that since last report there have been approved 474,598.87 acres, and that 657,733.81 acres have been patented to the States properly entitled. The work on swamp claims in the Southern States-log held in suspense-has been resumed, and the unadjusted swamp interests of that region are in process of examination, looking to a speedy and definitive settlement.

Under the indemnity acts of March 2, 1855, and March 3, 1857, there have been indemnity awards made within the year amounting to $16,139 51 cash, and 7,039.44 acres. The total amount of indemnity adjusted since the passage of the indemnity act is $728,491 16 for cash entries of swamp, and 637,261.81 acres for swamp located with bounty land warrants and scrip, by which the States entitled to the same can locate that quantity of land in lieu of swamp lands disposed of by the United States. By the ruling of the Secretary, in his letter of the 21st June last, in the Green County case, the lands for which indemnity is sought must affirmatively be shown to be swamp by the field notes of public surveys, in addition to the ex parte testimony in such cases heretofore submitted. The effect of this just and salutary ruling will, it is believed, reduce by one-half the indemnity awards.

The act of 230 July, 1866, to quiet land titles in California, has introduced into our operations a class of cases unlike any from other States, and is giving occasion for expensive and laborious investigations on the part of the surveyor general. This is, in a measure, owing to the anomalous climate and peculiar characteristics of the soil in that State, which make it the more difficult to decide what lands are and what are not confirmed by the act referred to. In some investigations, heretofore held, instances have occurred wbere lands have been claimed as unfit for cultivation, by reason of periodical overflow at the planting season, which are under a system of irrigation.

As in previous reports, we cannot but reiterate the necessity for such legislation as will more clearly define the class of lands intended to be conveyed by the swamp grant. So long as the Executive Department is left to the indefinite terms of existing laws, controversies, entailing expense and embarrassment, both to individuals and the Government, must continue to occur. The commendable motives which gave rise to the swamp grant have not, it is to be regretted, met with that realization in the fulfillment which its projectors hoped for.

In addition to the reclamation of isolated swampy regions, and the consequent improvement in climatic and sanitary conditions, the greater and more national benefit was sought in controlling and directing the waters of that great channel of inland commerce, the Mississippi River and its main tributaries. With each succeeding year, and in proportion to the growth and development of the nation, does this question increase in magnitude. It is a question not of local interest alone, but has an importance affecting the national weal second to none of the internal improvements which have claimed the attention of our legislators. To meet the exigencies of the case requires the most critical engineering skill, with reference to the physical obstacles to be overcome, while the best statesmanship of the land is required to frame such regulations as may satisfactorily bring about the results sought for.

In this connection it may be pertinent to refer to some of the plans adverted to in our annual reports for 1867 and 1868, which, in the discussion of this subject, have been recommended for the accomplishment of this desideratum, to the end that the public mind may be directed to the importance of the project, and led to a realization of the mag. nitude of the results to be attained.

MINERAL RESOURCES OF THE UNITED STATES. The extent of our mineral resources is in general but imperfectly

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