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The writings and speeches of Grover Cleveland; (Volume 1) online

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improve, and the proofs multiply that the transforming change,
so much to be desired, which shall substitute for barbarism
enlightenment and civilizing education, is in favorable prog-
ress. Our relations with these people during the year have
been disturbed by no serious disorders, but rather marked by
a better realization of their true interests, and increasing con-
fidence and good-will. These conditions testify to the value


of the higher tone of consideration and humanity which has
governed the later methods of dealing with them, and com-
mend its continued observance.

Allotments in severalty have been made on some reserva-
tions until all those entitled to land thereon have had their
shares assigned, and the work is still continued. In directing
the execution of this duty I have not aimed so much at rapid
dispatch as to secure just and fair arrangements which shall
best conduce to the objects of the law, by producing satisfac-
tion with the results of the allotments made. No measure of
general effect has ever been entered on from which more may
be fairly hoped, if it shall be discreetly administered. It
proffers opportunity and inducement to that independence of
spirit and life which the Indian peculiarly needs, while at
the same time the inalienability of title affords security against
the risks his inexperience of affairs or weakness of character
may expose him to in dealing with others. Whenever begun
upon any reservation it should be made complete, so that all
are brought to the same condition, and, as soon as possible,
community in lands should cease by opening such as remain
unallotted to settlement. Contact with the ways of industrious
and successful farmers will, perhaps, add a healthy emulation
which will both instruct and stimulate.

But no agency for the amelioration of this people appears to
me so promising as the extension, urged by the Secretary, of
such complete facilities of education as shall, at the earliest
possible day, embrace the teachable Indian youth, of both
sexes, and retain them with a kindly and beneficent hold until
their characters are formed and their faculties and dispositions
trained to the sure pursuit of some form of useful industry.
Capacity of the Indian no longer needs demonstration. It is
established. It remains to make the most of it, and when
that shall be done the curse will be lifted, the Indian race
saved, and the sin of their oppression redeemed. The time of
its accomplishment depends upon the spirit and justice with


which il shall be prosecuted. Lt cannot be too soon for the

Indian, nor for the interests and good name of the nation.

The average attendance of Indian pupils on the schools
increased by over 900 during the year, and the total enrollment
reached 15,212. The; cost of maintenance was not materially
raised. The number of teachable Indian youth is now esti-
mated at 40,000, or nearly three times the enrollment of the
schools. It is believed that the obstacles in the way of inst 1 u< 1
ing are all surmountable, and that the necessary expenditure
would be a measure of economy.

The Sioux tribes on the great reservation of Dakota refused
to assent to the act passed by the Congress at its last session
for opening a portion of their lands to settlement, notwith-
standing modification of the terms was suggested whi< h met
most of their objections. Their demand is for immediate pay-
ment of the full price of $1.25 per acre for the entire bod) of
land the occupancy of which they are asked to relinquish.

The manner of submission insured their fair understanding
of the law, and their action was undoubtedly as thoroughl)
intelligent as their capacity admitted. It is at least gratifying
that no reproach of overreaching can in any manner lie against
the government, however advisable the favorable completion
of the negotiation may have been esteemed.

I concur in the suggestions of the Secretary regarding the
Turtle Mountain Indians, the two reservations in California,
and the Crees. They should, in my opinion, receive immediate

The Apache Indians, whose removal from their reservation
in Arizona followed the capture of those of their number who
engaged in a bloody and murderous raid during a part of the
years 1SS5 and 18S6, are now held as prisoners of war at
Mount Vernon barracks, in the State of Alabama. They
numbered, on the 31st day of October, the date of the last re-
port, S3 men, 170 women, 70 boys, and 59. girls, in all 382 persons.
The commanding officer states that they are in good health


and contented, and that they are kept employed as fully as is
possible in the circumstances. The children, as they arrive
at a suitable age, are sent to the Indian schools at Carlisle
and Hampton. Last summer some charitable and kind peo-
ple asked permission to send two teachers to these Indians, for
the purpose of instructing the adults as well as such children
as should be found there. Such permission was readily
granted, accommodations were provided for the teachers, and
some portions of the buildings at the barracks were made
available for school purposes. The good work contemplated
has been commenced, and the teachers engaged are paid by
the ladies with whom the plan originated.,

I am not at all in sympathy with those benevolent but in-
judicious people who are constantly insisting that these Indians
should be returned to their reservation. Their removal was an
absolute necessity if the lives and property of citizens upon
the frontier are to be at all regarded by the government.
Their continued restraint, at a distance from the scene of their
repeated and cruel murders and outrages, is still necessary. It
is a mistaken philanthropy, every way injurious, which prompts
the desire to see these savages returned to their old haunts.
They are in their present location as the result of the best
judgment of those having official responsibility in the matter,
and who are by no means lacking in kind consideration for
the Indians. A number of these prisoners have forfeited their
lives to outraged law and humanity. Experience has proved
that they are dangerous and cannot be trusted. This is true
not only of those who, on the warpath, have heretofore actually
been guilty of atrocious murder, but of their kindred and
friends, who, while they remained upon their reservation, fur-
nished aid and comfort to those absent with bloody in-
tent ?

These prisoners should be treated kindly and kept in re-
straint far from the locality of their former reservation ; they
should be subjected to efforts calculated to lead to their im-
provement and the softening of their savage and cruel instincts,


but their return to their old home should be persistently

The Secretary in his report gives a graphic history of these
Indians, and recites with painful vividness their bloody deeds
and the unhappy failure of the government to manage them
by peaceful means. It will be amazing if a perusal of this
history will allow the survival of a desire for the return of these
prisoners to their reservation upon sentimental or any othei



From the First Annual Message, December, 1885.

The public domain had its origin in cessions of land by the
States to the general government. The first cession was
made by the State of New York, and the largest, which in
area exceeded all the others, by the State of Virginia. The
territory, the proprietorship of which became thus vested in
the general government, extended from the western line of
Pennsylvania to the Mississippi River. These patriotic dona-
tions of the States were encumbered with no condition, except
that they should be held and used "for the common benefit of
the United States." By purchase, with the common fund of
all the people, additions were made to this domain until it
extended to the northern line of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean,
and the Polar Sea. The original trust, "for the common
benefit of the United States," attached to all. In the execu-
tion of that trust the policy of many homes, rather than large
estates, was adopted by the government. That these might be
easily obtained, and be the abode of security and contentment,
the laws for their acquisition were few, easily understood, and
general in their character. But the pressure of local interests,
combined with a speculative spirit, has in many instances
procured the passage of laws which marred the harmony of
the general plan, and encumbered the system with a multitude
of general and special enactments, which render the land laws
complicated, subject the titles to uncertainty, and the purchas-
ers often to oppression and wrong. Laws which were intended


for the "common benefit" have been perverted so thai In e
quantities of land are vesting in single ownerships. From the
multitude and character of the laws, this consequence seems

incapable of correction by mere administration.

It is not Cor the "common benefit of the United States" that
.1 large area of the public lands should be acquired, dire< tlj
or through fraud, in the hands of a single individual. The
nation's strength is in the people. The nation's prosperit) is
in their prosperity. The nation's glory is in the equality of
her justice. The nation's perpetuity is in the patriotism of all
her people. Hence, as far as practicable, the plan adopted in
the disposal of the public lands should have in view the orig-
inal policy, which encouraged many purchasers of these lands
for homes and discouraged the massing of large areas. Exclu-
sive of Alaska, about three-fifths of the national domain have
been sold or subjected to contract or grant. Of the remaining
two-fifths a considerable portion is either mountain or desert.
A rapidly increasing population creates a growing demand for
homes, and the accumulation of wealth inspires an eager com-
petition to obtain the public land for speculative purposes. In
the future this collision of interests will be more marked than
in the past, and the execution of the nation's trust in behall oi
our settlers will be more difficult.


From the Second Annual Message, December, 1886.

The recommendations of the Secretary of the Interior and
the Commissioner of the General Land Office looking to the
better protection of public lands and of the public- surveys, the
preservation of national forests, the adjudication of grants to
States and corporations and of private land claims, and the
increased efficiency of the public -land service, are commended
to the attention of Congress. To secure the widest distribu-
tion of public lands in limited quantities among settlers for


residence and cultivation, and thus make the greatest number
of individual homes, was the primary object of the public-land
legislation in the early days of the republic. This system was
a simple one. It commenced with an admirable scheme of
public surveys, by which the humblest citizen could identify
the tract upon which he wished to establish his home. The
price of lands was placed within the reach of all the enterpris-
ing, industrious, and honest pioneer citizens of the country.
It was soon, however, found that the object of the laws was
perverted, under the system of cash sales, from a distribution
of land among the people to an accumulation of land capital
by wealthy and speculative persons. To check this tendency
a preference right of purchase was given to settlers on the land,
a plan which culminated in the general Pre-emption Act of 1841.

The foundation of this system was actual residence and
cultivation. Twenty years later the homestead law was devised
more surely to place actual homes in the possession of actual
cultivators of the soil. The land was given without price, the
sole conditions being residence, improvement, and cultivation.
Other laws have followed, each designed to encourage the
acquirement and use of land in limited individual quantities.
But in later years these laws, through vicious administrative
methods and under changed conditions of communication and
transportation, have been so evaded and violated that their
beneficent purpose is threatened with entire defeat. The
methods of such evasions and violations are set forth in detail
in the reports of the Secretary of the Interior and Commissioner
of the General Land Office. The rapid appropriation of our
public lands without bona fide settlement or cultivation, and
not only without intention of residence, but for the purpose
of their aggregation in large holdings, in many cases in the
hands of foreigners, invites the serious and immediate attention
of Congress.

The energies of the land department have been devoted,
during the present administration, to remedy defects and cor-
rect abuses in the public-land service. The results of these


efforts arc so largely in the nature of reforms in the processes
and methods of our land system as to prevent adequate e ti
mate; but it appears, by a compilation from tin- reports of the
Commissioner of the General Land Office, that the immediate
.■Red in leading cases, which have come to a final termination,
has been the restoration to the mass of public lands of
2,750,000 acres; that 2,370,000 acres are embraced in investi-
gations now pending before the Departments or the courts, and
that the action of Congress has been asked to effect the res
toration of 2,790,000 acres additional; besides which lour
million acres have been withheld from reservation, and the
rights of entry thereon maintained.

I recommend the repeal of the Pre-emption and Timber-
culture Acts, and that the homestead laws he so amended as
better to secure compliance with their requirements of resi-
dence, improvement, and cultivation lor the period of five years
from date of entry, without commutation or provision lor
speculative relinquishment. 1 also recommend the repeal ot
the desertdand laws unless it shall be the pleasure of the Con-
gress'so to amend these laws as to render them less liable to
abuses. As the chief motive for an evasion of the laws, and
the principal cause of their result in land accumulation instead
of land distribution, is the facility with which transfers are
made of the right intended to be secured to settlers, it may be
deemed advisable to provide by legislation some guards and
checks upon the alienation of homestead rights and kinds cov-
ered thereby until patents issue.


The Rights of Settlers.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, I). C, April 25, 1SS7.
To the Secretary of the Interior:

Dear Sir: I have examined with much can- and interest
the questions involved in the conflicting claims of Guilford


Miller and the Northern Pacific Railroad Company to certain
public land in Washington Territory. The legal aspects of
the case have been examined and passed upon by several offi-
cers of the government, who do not agree in their conclu-

Miller claims to be a settler upon the land in question,
whose possession dates from 1878. He alleges thai he has
made substantial improvements upon this land and cultivated
the same, and it appears that he filed his claim to the same,
under the homestead law, on the 29th day of December, 1884.

The railroad company contends that this land is within the
territory or area from which it was entitled to select such a
quantity of public land as might be necessary to supply any
deficiency that should be found to exist in the specific land
mentioned in a grant by the government to said company in
aid of the construction of its road, such deficiency being con-
templated as likely to arise from the paramount right of private
parties and settlers within die territory embracing said granted
lands, and that the land in dispute was thus selected by the
company on the 19th day of December, 1883.

A large tract, including this land, was withdrawn, by an
order of the Interior Department, from sale and from pre-
emption and homestead entry in 1872, in anticipation of the
construction of said railroad and a deficiency in its granted
lands. In 1880, upon the filing of a map of definite location
of the road, the land in controversy, and much more which
had been so withdrawn, was found to lie outside of the limits
which included the granted land ; but its withdrawal and reser-
vation from settlement and entry under our land laws was
continued upon the theory that it was within the limits of
indemnity lands which might be selected by the company, as
provided in the law making the grant.

The legal points in this controversy turned upon the validity
and effect of the withdrawal and reservation of this land and
the continuance thereof. The Attorney-General is of the
opinion that such withdrawal and reservation were at all times


effectual, and that they operated to prevent Miller from ac
quiring any interest in or right to the land claimed by

With this interpretation of the law and the former orders
and action of the Interior Department, it will be seen that their
effect has been the withdrawal and reservation since [872 of
thousands, if not millions, of acres of these lands from the
operation of the land laws of the United States, thus placing
them beyond the reach of our citizens desiring under such laws
to settle and make homes upon the same, and that this has
been done for the benefit of a railroad company having no
fixed, certain, or definite interests in such lands. In this
manner the beneficent policy and intention of the government
in relation to the public domain have for all these years to that
extent been thwarted.

There seems to be no evidence presented showing how
much, if any, of this vast tract is necessary for the fulfillment
of the grant to the railroad company, nor does there appear to
be any limitation of the time within which this fact should be
made known and the corporation obliged to make its selection.
After a lapse of fifteen years this large body of the public
domain is still held in reserve, to the exclusion of settlers, for
the convenience of a corporate beneficiary of the government,
and awaiting its selection, though it is entirely certain that
much of this reserved land can never be honestly claimed by-
such corporation.

Such a. condition of the public lands should no longer con-
tinue. So far as it is the result of executive rules and meth-
ods, these should be abandoned, and so far as it is a conse-
quence of improvident laws, these should be repealed or

Our public domain is our national wealth, the earnest of our
growth and the heritage of our people. It should promise
limitless development and riches, relief to a crowding popula-
tion, and homes to thrift and industry.

These inestimable advantages should be jealously guarded,

43° THE l'Ui; L/C DOMAIN.

and a careful and enlightened policy on the part of the govern-
ment should secure them to the people.

In the case under consideration I assume that there is an
abundance of land within the area which has been reserved for
indemnity, in which no citizen or settler has a legal or equita-
ble interest, for all purposes of such indemnification to tins
railroad company, if its grant has not already been satisfied.
I understand, too, that selections made by such corporation
are not complete and effectual until the same have been
approved by the Secretary of the Interior, or unless they are
made, in the words of the statute, under his direction.

You have thus far taken no action in this matter, and it
seems to me that you are in a condition to deal with the sub-
ject in such a manner as to protect this settler from hardship
and loss.

I transmit herewith the papers and documents relating to the
case, which were submitted to me at my request.

I suggest that you exercise the power and authority you have
in the premises, upon equitable considerations, with every
presumption and intendment in favor of the settler; and in
case you find this corporation is entitled to select any more of
these lands than it has already acquired, that you direct it to
select, in lieu of the land upon which Mr. Miller has settled,
other land within the limits of this indemnity reservation, upon
which neither he nor any other citizen has in good faith settled
or made improvements.

I call your attention to sections 2450 and 2451 of the
Revised Statutes of the United States, as pointing out a mode
of procedure which may, perhaps, be resorted to, if necessary,
for the purpose of reaching a just and equitable disposition of
the case.

The suggestions herein contained can, I believe, be adopted
without disregarding or calling in question the opinion of the
Attorney-General upon the purely legal propositions which were
submitted to him.

Yours very truly,

Grover Cleveland.


From the Fourth Annual Message, December, [888.

I cannot too strenuously insist upon the importance oi
proper measures to insure a right disposition of our publi<
lands, not only as a matter of present justice, but in forecast
of the consequences to future generations. The broad rich
acres of our agricultural plains have been long preserved by
nature to become her untrammeled gift to a people civilized
and free, upon which should rest, in well-distributed owner-
ship, the numerous homes of enlightened, equal, and frater-
nal citizens. They came to national possession with the
warning example in our eyes of the entail of iniquities in
landed proprietorship which other countries have permitted
and still suffer. We have no excuse for the violation of prin-
ciples, cogently taught by reason and example, nor for the
allowance of pretexts which have sometimes exposed our lands
to colossal greed. Laws which open a door to fraudulent
acquisition, or administration which permits favor to rapacious
seizure by a favored few of expanded areas that many should
enjoy, are accessory to offenses against our national welfare
and humanity, not to be too severely condemned or punished.

It is gratifying to know that something has been done at last
to redress the injuries to our people and check the perilous
tendency of the reckless waste of the national domain. That
over eighty million acres have been arrested from illegal
usurpation, improvident grants, and fraudulent entries and
claims, to be taken for the homesteads of honest industry —
although less than the greater areas thus unjustly lost — must
afford a profound gratification to right-feeling citizens as it is a
recompense for the labors and struggles of the recovery. Our
dear experience ought sufficiently to urge the speedy enact-
ment of measures of legislation which will confine the future
disposition of our remaining agricultural lands to the uses of
actual husbandry and genuine homes.

Nor should our vast tracts of so-called desert lands be
yielded up to the monopoly of corporations or grasping indi-


viduals, as appears to be much the tendency under the existing
statute. These lands require but the supply of water to
become fertile and productive. It is a problem of great
moment how most wisely for the public good that factor shall
be furnished. I cannot but think it perilous to suffer either
these lands or the sources of their irrigation to fall into the
hands of monopolies, which, by such means, may exercise lord-
ship over the areas dependent on their treatment for pro-
ductiveness. Already steps have been taken to secure accu-
rate and scientific information of the conditions, which are the
prime basis of intelligent action. Until this shall be gained,
the course of wisdom appears clearly to lie in a suspension of
further disposal, which only promises to create rights antago-
nistic to the common interest. No harm can follow this
cautionary conduct. The land will remain, and the public
good presents no demand for hasty dispossession of national
ownership and control.



Of an Appropriation for Celebrating Decoration Day*

Buffalo, May 8, 1882.
To the Common Council :

At the last session of your honorable body a resolution was
adopted directing the city clerk to draw a warrant for five hun-
dred dollars in the favor of the Firemen's Benevolent Associa-

This action is not only clearly unauthorized, but it is dis-
tinctly prohibited by the following clause of the State Con-

Online LibraryGrover ClevelandThe writings and speeches of Grover Cleveland; (Volume 1) → online text (page 36 of 48)