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Oklahoma City has a population of about 5,000, and is proportionately as well provided as Guthrie with churches, schools, and newspapers. Other towns and villages having populations of from 100 to 1,000 are scattered over the Territory.
In order to secure the peace of this new community in the absence of civil government, I directed General Merritt, commanding the Department of the Missouri, to act in conjunction with the marshals of the United States to preserve the peace, and upon their requisition to use the troops to aid them in executing warrants and in quieting any riots or breaches of the peace that might occur. He was further directed to use his influence to promote good order and to avoid any conflicts between or with the settlers. Believing that the introduction and sale of liquors where no legal restraints or regulations existed would endanger the public peace, and in view of the fact that such liquors must first be introduced into the Indian reservations before reaching the white settlements, I further directed the general commanding to enforce the laws relating to the introduction of ardent spirits into the Indian country.
The presence of the troops has given a sense of security to the welldisposed citizens and has tended to restrain the lawless. In one instance the officer in immediate command of the troops went further than I deemed justifiable in supporting the de facto municipal government of Guthrie, and he was so informed, and directed to limit the interference of the military to the support of the marshals on the lines indicated in the original order. I very urgently recommend that Congress at once provide a Territorial government for these people. Serious questions, which may at any time lead to violent outbreaks, are awaiting the institution of courts for their peaceful adjustment. The American genius for self-government has been well illustrated in Oklahoma; but it is neither safe nor wise to leave these people longer to the expedients which have temporarily served them.
Provision should be made for the acquisition of title to town lots in the towns now established in Alaska, for locating town sites, and for the establishment of municipal governments. Only the mining laws have been extended to that Territory, and no other form of title to lands can now be obtained. The general land laws were framed with reference to the disposition of agricultural lands, and it is doubtful if their operation in Alaska would be beneficial.
We have fortunately not extended to Alaska the mistaken policy of establishing reservations for the Indian tribes, and can deal with them from the beginning as individuals with, I am sure, better results; but any disposition of the public lands and any regulations relating to timber and to the fisheries should have a kindly regard to their interests. Haying no power to levy taxes, the people of Alaska are wholly dependent upon the General Government, to whose revenues the seal fisheries make a large annual contribution. An appropriation for education should neither be overlooked nor stinted.
The smallness of the population and the great distances between the settlements offer serious obstacles to the establishment of the usual Territorial form of government. Perhaps the organization of several subdistricts with a small municipal council of limited powers for each would be safe and useful.
Attention is called in this connection to the suggestions of the Secretary of the Treasury relating to the establishment of another port of entry in Alaska and of other needed customs facilities and regulations.
In the administration of the land laws the policy of facilitating in every proper way the adjustment of the honest claims of individual settlers upon the public lands has been pursued. The number of pending cases had during the preceding Administration been greatly increased under the operation of orders for a time suspending final action in a large part of the cases originating in the West and Northwest, and by the subsequent use of unusual methods of examination. Only those who are familiar with the conditions under which our agricultural lands have been settled can appreciate the serious and often fatal consequences to the settler of a policy that puts his title under suspicion or delays the issuance of his patent. While care is taken to prevent and to expose fraud, it should not be imputed without reason.
The manifest purpose of the homestead and preemption laws was to promote the settlement of the public domain by persons having a bona fide intent to make a home upon the selected lands. Where this intent is well established and the requirements of the law have been substantially complied with, the claimant is entitled to a prompt and friendly consideration of his case; but where there is reason to believe that the claimant is the mere agent of another who is seeking to evade a law intended to promote small holdings and to secure by fraudulent methods large tracts of timber and other lands, both principal and agent should not only be thwarted in their fraudulent purpose, but should be made to feel the full penalties of our crimiual statutes. The laws should be so administered as not to confound these two classes and to visit penalties only upon the latter.
The unsettled state of the titles to large bodies of lands in the Territories of New Mexico and Arizona has greatly retarded the development of those Territories. Provision should be made by law for the prompt trial and final adjustment before a judicial tribunal or commission of all claims based upon Mexican grants. It is not just to an intelligent and enterprising people that their peace should be disturbed and their prosperity retarded by these old contentions. I express the hope that differences of opinion as to methods may yield to the urgency of the case.
The law now provides a pension for every soldier and sailor who was mustered into the service of the United States during the Civil War and is now suffering from wounds or disease having an origin in the service and in the line of duty. Two of the three necessary facts, viz, muster and disability, are usually susceptible of easy proof; but the third, origin in the service, is often difficult and in many deserving cases impossible to establish. That very many of those who endured the hardships of our most bloody and arduous campaigns are now disabled from diseases that had a real but not traceable origin in the service I do not doubt. Besides these there is another class composed of men many of whom served an enlistment of three full years and of reenlisted veterans who added a fourth year of service, who escaped the casualties of battle and the assaults of disease, who were always ready for any detail, who were in every battle line of their command, and were mustered out in sound health, and have since the close of the war, while fighting with the same indomitable and independent spirit the contests of civil life, been overcome by disease or casualty.
I am not unaware that the pension roll already involves a very large annual expenditure; neither am I deterred by that fact from recommending that Congress grant a pension to such honorably discharged soldiers and sailors of the Civil War as, having rendered substantial seryice during the war, are now dependent upon their own labor for a maintenance and by disease or casualty are incapacitated from earning it. Many of the men who would be included in this form of relief are now dependent upon public aid, and it does not, in my judgment, consist with the national honor that they shall continue to subsist upon the local relief given indiscriminately to paupers instead of upon the special and generous provision of the nation they served so gallantly and unselfishly. Our people will, I am sure, very generally approve such legislation. And I am equally sure that the survivors of the Union Army and Navy will feel a grateful sense of relief when this worthy and suffering class of their comrades is fairly cared for.
There are some manifest inequalities in the existing law that should be remedied. To some of these the Secretary of the Interior has called attention.
It is gratifying to be able to state that by the adoption of new and better methods in the War Department the calls of the Pension Office for information as to the military and hospital records of pension claimants are now promptly answered and the injurious and vexatious delays that have heretofore occurred are entirely avoided. This will greatly facilitate the adjustment of all pending claims.
The advent of four new States—South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Washington--into the Union under the Constitution in the same month, and the admission of their duly chosen representatives to our National Congress at the same session, is an event as unexampled as it is interesting
The certification of the votes cast and of the constitutions adopted in each of the States was filed with me, as required by the eighth section of the act of February 22, 1889, by the governors of said Territories.
respectively. Having after a careful examination found that the several constitutions and governments were republican in form and not repugpant to the Constitution of the United States, that all the provisions of the act of Congress had been complied with, and that a majority of the votes cast in each of said proposed States was in favor of the adoption of the constitution submitted therein, I did so declare by a separate proclaration as to each-as to North Dakota and South Dakota on Saturday, November 2;* as to Montana on Friday, November 8, † and as to Washington on Monday, November 11.
Fach of these States has within it resources the development of which will employ the energies of and yield a comfortable subsistence to a great population. The smallest of these new States, Washington, stands twelfth, and the largest, Montana, third, among the forty-two in area. The people of these States are already well-trained, intelligent, and patriotic American citizens, having common interests and sympathies with those of the older States and a common purpose to defend the integrity and uphold the honor of the nation.
The attention of the Interstate Commerce Commission has been called to the urgent need of Congressional legislation for the better protection of the lives and limbs of those engaged in operating the great interstate freight lines of the country, and especially of the yardmen and brakemen. A petition signed by nearly 10,000 railway brakemen was presented to the Commission asking that steps might be taken to bring about the use of automatic brakes and couplers on freight cars.
At a meeting of State railroad commissioners and their accredited representatives held at Washington in March last upon the invitation of the Interstate Commerce Commission a resolution was unanimously adopted urging the Commission “to consider what can be done to prevent the loss of life and limb in coupling and uncoupling freight cars and in handling the brakes of such cars.” During the year ending June 30, 1888, over 2,000 railroad employees were killed in service and more than 20,000 injured. It is competent, I think, for Congress to require uniformity in the construction of cars used in interstate commerce and the use of improved safety appliances upon such trains. Time will be necessary to make the needed changes, but an earnest and intelligent beginning should be made at once. It is a reproach to our civilization that any class of American workmen should in the pursuit of a necessary and useful vocation be subjected to a peril of life and limb as great as that of a soldier in time of war.
The creation of an Executive Department to be known as the Department of Agriculture by the act of February 9 last was a wise and timely response to a request which had long been respectfully urged by the farmers of the country; but much remains to be done to perfect the organization of the Department so that it may fairly realize the expectations which its creation excited. In this connection attention is called to the suggestions contained in the report of the Secretary, which is herewith submitted. The need of a law officer for the Department such as is provided for the other Executive Departments is manifest. The failure of the last Congress to make the usual provision for the publication of the annual report should be promptly remedied. The public interest in the report and its value to the farming community, I am sure, will not be diminished under the new organization of the Department.
* See Pp. 5455-5459.
+ See pp. 5459-5460.
I See pp. 5460-5461.
I recommend that the weather service be separated from the War Department and established as a bureau in the Department of Agriculture. This will involve an entire reorganization both of the Weather Bureau and of the Signal Corps, making of the first a purely civil organization and of the other a purely military staff corps. The report of the Chief Signal Officer shows that the work of the corps on its military side has been deteriorating.
The interests of the people of the District of Columbia should not be lost sight of in the pressure for consideration of measures affecting the whole country. Having no legislature of its own, either municipal or general, its people must look to Congress for the regulation of all those concerns that in the States are the subject of local control. Our whole people have an interest that the national capital should be made attractive and beautiful, and, above all, that its repute for social order should be well maintained. The laws regulating the sale of intoxicating drinks in the District should be revised with a view to bringing the traffic under stringent limitations and control.
In execution of the power conferred upon me by the act making appropriations for the expenses of the District of Columbia for the year ending June 30, 1890, I did on the 17th day of August last appoint Rudolph Hering, of New York, Samuel M. Gray, of Rhode Island, and Frederick P. Stearns, of Massachusetts, three eminent sanitary engineers, to examine and report upon the system of sewerage existing in the District of Columbia.
Their report, which is not yet completed, will be in due course submitted to Congress.
The report of the Commissioners of the District is herewith transmitted, and the attention of Congress is called to the suggestions contained therein.
The proposition to observe the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America by the opening of a world's fair or exposition in some one of our great cities will be presented for the consideration of Congress. The value and interest of such an exposition may well claim the promotion of the General Government.
On the 4th of March last the Civil Service Commission had but a single member. The vacancies were filled on the 7th day of May, and since then the Commissioners have been industriously, though with an inadequate force, engaged in executing the law. They were assured by me