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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,

General Land Office, October 26, 1872.

SIR: In accordance with a resolution adopted on the 28th of February, 1855, by the Senate of the United States, I have the honor to submit the following as an abstract of my annual report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1872, viz:

Disposal of public lands by ordinary cash sales...

Military bounty land warrant locations, under acts of 1847, 1850, 1852,

and 1855.....

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Acres.

1,370, 320, 15

389, 460.00 4, 671, 332. 14 693, 613. 37 3,554, 887.58 465, 347. 21 714, 255. 19 5,760.00

11, 864, 975. 64 10,765, 705, 39

1,099, 270.25

$3,218, 100.00

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List of papers composing the annual report of the Commissioner of the

General Land Office.

1. Surveys of public lands, showing the progress made at the close of the last fiscal year, and giving a list of United States surveyors general and the districts under their immediate supervision; also a list of the United States district land offices.

2. Synopsis of the surveying service in the seventeen surveying districts, including the surveys of Indian reservations, State and territorial boundaries, and of private land claims.

3. Of Pre-emption laws and rulings under the same, recommending a

consolidation of the principal features of the pre-emption and homestead laws into one statute.

4. Town sites.

5. Homestead laws; operations and instructions under the same. 6. Graduated lands, recommending further legislation by which suspended cases may be disposed of.

7. Public sales of timber lands, under the proclamation of the President.

8. Timber depredations, showing action of this office to prevent the same. 9. Swamp and overflowed lands, accompanied with instructions of March 18, 1872, issued under the act of March 3, 1855, and amendment. 10. Sale of morass lands on the Little Calumet River, in Indiana. 11. Useless military reservations ordered to be brought into market under act of February 24, 1871.

12. Educational land bounty, showing operations under different acts granting lands for educational purposes.

13. Railroads, progress of transcontinental lines and of roads in States and Territories to which subsidies in land have been granted.

14. Mining statutes; regulations, rulings, and decisions under the

same.

15. Private land claims; recommending further legislation to provide for the adjustment of all claims emanating from foreign governments, and advising repeal of section 3 of act of May 30, 1862, requiring claimants to pay for the survey of their ranchos.

16. Tree culture, suggesting legislation to encourage tree planting. 17. Reports of surveyors general, numbered from A to Q.

Tabular statements accompanying Commissioner's annual report.

No. 1. Tabular statement showing the number of acres of public lands surveyed in the States and Territories at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 1872; also the total area of the public lands remaining unsurveyed at that date.

No. 2. Statement of public lands sold; of cash and bounty land scrip received therefor; number of acres entered under the homestead law of May 20, 1862; of commissions received under the sixth section of said act; also, land located with scrip under the agricultural college and mechanic act of July 2, 1862, and commissions received by registers and receivers on the value thereof; and statement of incidental expenses thereon in the first half of the fiscal year commencing July 1, 1871, and ending June 30, 1872.

No. 3. Statement showing like particulars for the second half of the fiscal year ending June 30, 1872,

No. 4. Summary for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1872, showing the number of acres disposed of for cash; for bounty land serp; by entry under the homestead laws of May 20, 1867, and June 21, 1865, with aggregate $10 homestead payments; homestead commissions; also, locations with agricultural college scrip under act of July 2, 1862,

No. 5. Statement showing the quantity of swamp lands selected for the several States under acts of Congress approved March 2, 1849, September 28, 1850, and March 12, 1860, to September 30, 1872

No. 6. Statement exhibiting the quantity of swamp land aproved to the several States under acts mamed in table. No, to September 30, 1872, No. 7. Statement exhibiting the quantity of swampland patented to The several States under acts approved September 28, 1860, and March

12, 1860; also, the quantity certified to the State of Louisiana under act approved March 2, 1849.

No. 8. Statement showing the State sélections under the internal improvement grant of September 4, 1841, to the 30th June, 1872.

No. 9. Exhibit of bounty land warrant business under acts of 1847, 1850, 1852, and 1855, showing the issues and locations from the commencement of operations under said acts to June 30, 1872.

No. 10. Statement showing the selections made by certain States of lands within their own limits under the agricultural college and mechanic act of July 2, 1862, and supplemental acts of April 14, 1864, and July 23, 1866; also, the locations made with scrip under said acts.

No. 11. Statement exhibiting land concessions by acts of Congress to States for canal purposes from the year 1827 to June 30, 1872.

No. 12. Statement exhibiting land concessions by acts of Congress to States and corporations for railroad and military wagon road purposes from the year 1850 to June 30, 1872.

No. 13. Estimate, of appropriations required for the office of the Commissioner of the General Land Office for the fiscal year ending July 30,

1874.

No. 14. Estimates of appropriations required to meet expenses of collecting the revenue from sales of public lands in the several States and Territories for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1874.

No. 15. Estimates of appropriations for the surveying department for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1874.

No. 16. Estimates of appropriations required for surveying the public lands for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1874.

No. 18. Connected map of the United States from ocean to ocean, exhibiting the extent of surveys, land districts, seats of surveyors general and district land offices; also, localities of railroads of general interest, and of mineral deposits, this being the map the plate of which is especially referred to in joint resolution No. 2, approved January 26, 1863, (12 Statutes, page 822.)

During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1872, there were received and registered 55,672 letters, and 45,963 were written and recorded.

In my last annual report I referred to the fact that when I assumed control of the General Land Office in February, 1871, nearly every branch of the business was largely in arrears. The returns of local land offices remained unposted for periods ranging from several months to two years. The adjustment of registers' and receivers' accounts was in a similar condition. The field notes of township surveys, to which it is necessary to make frequent reference, had not been indexed for ten years. About forty-seven thousand pieces of agricultural college scrip, which had been located, remained on the files of the office uncanceled, and, consequently, in such a condition as to involve the risk of its being abstracted and disposed of fraudulently. Notwithstanding the current business of the office has increased constantly and rapidly, all these arrearages, and many others, have been brought up, and such progress made in the disposition of suspended and contested cases as to justify the belief that, by the end of the present fiscal year, they will be adjusted, and that, thereafter, parties who purchase lands of the Government will not, as heretofore, be subjected to the suspense, anxiety, and loss consequent upon a delay of half a dozen years or more in the adjustment of their entries. These results are mainly attributable to the industry and faithfulness of the clerks employed in the office, many of

whom not only performed what was required of them, but voluntarily contributed much of their time, after office hours, to the service of the Government. .

I beg leave to repeat the suggestions made in my last annual report in relation to the reorganization of the clerical force and appointment of special agents.

When the vast extent of the public domain is taken into consideration, and when it is remembered that the validity of title to each and every tract, on which a home may be made, depends upon the accuracy with which the first details of transfer from the Government to its grantees are executed, the importance of exercising critical care in the adjustment of all matters pertaining to the disposal of public lands will be apparent.

There is not an owner of a home in many of the States in the prosperous valley of the Mississippi, nor in the rapidly growing regions beyond that river, who does not depend upon the records of this Bureau for evidence to complete the chain of title by which his home is held. Even from those regions of the West which have been peopled for the greatest length of time, this office is in constant receipt of applications for certified transcripts of records affecting the validity of title to lands, which for ten, twenty, and even fifty years, have been under cultivation. Were every acre of land now owned by the Government sold or otherwise disposed of, there would still be ample necessity for the perpetuation of this Bureau, with a clerical force by no means small, to afford information and furnish papers respecting the original transfer of title from the Government. In many instances the necessity for these transscripts of records arises from errors and inadvertences, either in construing laws or in the execution of the details of transfer, both of which inevitably lead to expensive and protracted litigation.

With a view to prevent, as far as may be possible, the further occurrence of such cases, I am impelled to call your attention, with the hope that proper legislation to meet the case may be invoked, to the great importance of placing within the reach of this Bureau the means of securing such clerical aid as may be equal to a proper adjustment of the important questions constantly arising before it.

The work of the Bureau should not only be done, but it should be done well. When performed imperfectly it requires double labor to make corrections, and parties are subjected to vexations delays and unnecessary expense in matters which it is the duty of the Government to render as speedy, simple, and inexpensive as possible. A knowledge of the laws and rulings of the land system cannot be acquired in a day, but it takes as long and careful study as to acquire a knowledge of any of the professions, and also much experience, before the necessary degree of proficiency is attained. When clerks have once gained this knowledge and experience their services are invaluable to the Government; but it is difficult to retain them, for the reason that the utterly inadequate salaries now paid too often fail to induce the more competent clerks to remain in the Bureau after becoming fully conversant with the laws and departmental rulings relating to our land system, there being always more advantageous opportunities to exercise that knowledge in legitimate pursuits outside of the office at rates of compensation with which the Government, under existing laws, cannot compete. The statutes relating to public lands are numerous and complicated. In construing them and in the adjustment of adverse claims arising under them, the questions this office is required to decide are sufficiently intricate to demand the best legal ability. T

ests at stake are almost

invariably of great moment, in most cases involving the lawful and peaceable possession and enjoyment of the lands of men struggling through poverty to secure, by hard industry, for themselves and fami lies a home. To dispose of these questions in a proper manner, competent clerks should be employed and retained. This cannot be done for the compensation now allowed by law.

The heads of the various divisions of the Bureau are charged with a responsibility second only to the head of the Bureau, and should, in my opinion, receive a salary of not less than $2,400 per annum. The number of clerks of the higher grades should be increased; a proportionate number could be taken from the clerks of the first class. Under a reorganization like this the work will be done better, and there will be an actual saving of time and money by the avoidance of errors in its execution.

In the offices subordinate to the General Land Office-the offices of surveyors general, registers of district land offices, and receivers of public moneys-a growing necessity exists for some new system by which a more direct control can be had of the details of business pertaining to those offices, and by which irregularities may be corrected. It is a matter due alike to the public at large and the officers concerned. A constant source of annoyance is found in the frequent complaints alleging official malfeasance on the part of land officers, which come from every part of the country where the land system extends. It is but just to say that in many instances these complaints emanate from designing men or disappointed speculators, and are often utterly groundless when subjected to investigation. They nevertheless come in such shape as to require the time, trouble, and expense of a formal recognition and investigation. On the other hand, the charges are often well founded, and the protection of this office is invoked to prevent practices oppressive to the people. In either case the facilities of this Bureau should be sufficient to enable it to acquit its subordinates of charges when wrongfully made, or to fasten upon them the evidence of their malfeasance where they have been rightfully accused. Under present statutory provisions there is no adequate method by which satisfactory investigations can be made. It is true that a register can be called upon to report as to the alleged misconduct of a receiver, or vice versa ; but the official relations of those officers are generally such as to render these investigations unreliable. Even when a special agent is delegated to examine into alleged misconduct, which can only be done at great inconvenience and expense, he finds himself embarrassed by his want of authority to compel the attendance of witnesses. What is needed, and for which I respectfully ask, is the authority to appoint two special agents, to be constantly in the employ of this Bureau, who may become familiar with the land laws and regulations, and who shall, subject to orders from this office, visit the different land districts with a view to examine into and report upon the manner in which the business is conducted. A salary of $2,500 per annum should, in my opinion, be affixed to such office, and, in addition, the actual expenses of the agent while on duty should be borne. It is a system not new to other Departments of the Government, and it is believed to have been productive of a salutary effect in its workings.

That such a system, if adopted in connection with the administration of affairs of the Land Bureau, would result in subserving a good purpose, I have no doubt. Not only would the General Land Office be kept in closer rapport with the district officers; the officers be afforded an opportunity of explaining any false charges which might be brought

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