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day. The rush for these lands was accompanied by a great deal of excitement, but was happily free from incidents of violence.
It was a source of great regret that I was not able to open at the same time the surplus lands of the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Reservation, amounting to about 3,000,000 acres, by reason of the insufficiency of the appropriation for making the allotments. Deserving and impatient settlers are waiting to occupy these lands, and I urgently recommend that a special deficiency appropriation be promptly made of the small amount needed, so that the allotments may be completed and the surplus lands opened in time to permit the settlers to get upon their homesteads in the early spring
During the past summer the Cherokee Commission have completed arrangements with the Wichita, Kickapoo, and Tonkawa tribes whereby, if the agreements are ratified by Congress, over 800,000 additional acres will be opened to settlement in Oklahoma.
The negotiations for the release by the Cherokees of their claim to the Cherokee Strip have made no substantial progress so far as the Department is officially advised, but it is still hoped that the cession of this large and valuable tract may be secured. The price which the commission was authorized to offer -$1.25 per acre-is, in my judgment, when all the circumstances as to title and the character of the lands are considered, a fair and adequate one, and should have been accepted by the Indians.
Since March 4, 1889, about 23,000,000 acres have been separated from Indian reservations and added to the public domain for the use of those who desired to secure free homes under our beneficent laws. It is difficult to estimate the increase of wealth which will result from the conversion of these waste lands into farms, but it is more difficult to estimate the betterment which will result to the families that have found renewed hope and courage in the ownership of a home and the assurance of a comfortable subsistence under free and healthful conditions. It is also gratifying to be able to feel, as we may, that this work has proceeded upon lines of justice toward the Indian, and that he may now, if he will, secure to himself the good influences of a settled habitation, the fruits of industry, and the security of citizenship.
Early in this Administration a special effort was begun to bring up the work of the General Land Office. By faithful work the arrearages have been rapidly reduced. At the end of the last fiscal year only 84,172 final agricultural entries remained undisposed of, and the Commissioner reports that with the present force the work can be fully brought up by the end of the next fiscal year.
Your attention is called to the difficulty presented by the Secretary of the Interior as to the administration of the law of March 3, 1891, establishing a Court of Private Land Claims. The small holdings intended to be protected by the law are estimated to be more than 15,000 in number. The claimants are a most deserving class and their titles are supported by the strongest equities. The difficulty grows out of the fact that the lands have largely been surveyed according to our methods, while the holdings, many of which have been in the same family for generations, are laid out in narrow strips a few rods wide upon a stream and running back to the hills for pasturage and timber. Provision should be made for numbering these tracts as lots and for patenting them by such numbers and without reference to section lines.
The administration of the Pension Bureau has been characterized during the year by great diligence. The total number of pensioners upon the roll on the 30th day of June, 1891, was 676,160. There were allowed during the fiscal year ending at that time 250,565 cases. Of this number 102,387 were allowed under the law of June 27, 1890. The issuing of certificates has been proceeding at the rate of about 30,000 per month, about 75 per cent of these being cases under the new law. The Commissioner expresses the opinion that he will be able to carefully adjudicate and allow 350,000 claims during the present fiscal year. The appropriation for the payment of pensions for the fiscal year 1890-91 was $127,685,793.89 and the amount expended $118,530,649.25, leaving an unexpended surplus of $9,155,144.64.
The Commissioner is quite confident that there will be no call this year for a deficiency appropriation, notwithstanding the rapidity with which the work is being pushed. The mistake which has been made by many in their exaggerated estimates of the cost of pensions is in not tak. ing account of the diminished value of first payments under the recent legislation. These payments under the general law have been for many years very large, as the pensions when allowed dated from the time of filing the claim, and most of these claims had been pending for years. The first payments under the law of June, 1890, are relatively small, and as the per cent of these cases increases and that of the old cases diminishes the annual aggregate of first payments is largely reduced. The Commissioner, under date of November 13, furnishes me with the statement that during the last four months 113, 175 certificates were issued, 27,893 under the general law and 85,282 under the act of June 27, 1890. The average first payment during these four months was $131.85, while the average first payment upon cases allowed during the year ending June 30, 1891, was $239.33, being a reduction in the average first payments during these four months of $107.48.
The estimate for pension expenditures for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1893, is $144,956,000, which, after a careful examination of the subject, the Commissioner is of the opinion will be sufficient. While these disbursements to the disabled soldiers of the great Civil War are large, they do not realize the exaggerated estimates of those who oppose this beneficent legislation. The Secretary of the Interior shows with great fullness the care that is taken to exclude fraudulent claims, and also the gratifying fact that the persons to whom these pensions are going are men who rendered not slight but substantial war service.
The report of the Commissioner of Railroads shows that the total debt of the subsidized railroads to the United States was on December 31, 1890, $112,512,613.06. A large part of this debt is now fast approaching maturity, with no adequate provision for its payment. Some policy for dealing with this debt with a view to its ultimate collection should be at once adopted. It is very difficult, well-nigh impossible, for so large a body as the Congress to conduct the necessary negotiations and investigations. I therefore recommend that provision be made for the appointment of a commission to agree upon and report a plan for dealing with this debt.
The work of the Census Bureau is now far in advance and the great bulk of the enormous labor involved completed. It will be more strictly a statistical exhibit and less encumbered by essays than its immediate predecessors. The methods pursued have been fair, careful, and intelligent, and have secured the approval of the statisticians who have followed them with a scientific and nonpartisan interest. The appropriations necessary to the early completion and publication of the authorized volumes should be given in time to secure against delays, which increase the cost and at the same time diminish the value of the work.
The report of the Secretary exhibits with interesting fullness the condition of the Territories. They have shared with the States the great increase in farm products, and are bringing yearly large areas into cultivation by extending their irrigating canals. This work is being done by individuals or local corporations and without that system which a full preliminary survey of the water supply and of the irrigable lands would enable them to adopt. The future of the Territories of New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah in their material growth and in the increase, independence, and happiness of their people is very largely dependent upon wise and timely legislation, either by Congress or their own legislatures, regulating the distribution of the water supply furnished by their streams. If this matter is much longer neglected, private corporations will have unrestricted control of one of the elements of life and the patentees of the arid lands will be tenants at will of the water companies.
The United States should part with its ownership of the water sources and the sites for reservoirs, whether to the States and Territories or to individuals or corporations, only upon conditions that will insure to the settlers their proper water supply upon equal and reasonable terms. In the Territories this whole subject is under the full control of Congress, and in the States it is practically so as long as the Government holds the title to the reservoir sites and water sources and can grant them upon such conditions as it chooses to impose. The improvident granting of franchises of enormous value without recompense to the State or municipality from which they proceed and without proper
protection of the public interests is the most noticeable and flagrant evil of modern legislation. This fault should not be committed in dealing with a subject that will before many years affect so vitally thousands of our people.
The legislation of Congress for the repression of polygamy has, after years of resistance on the part of the Mormons, at last brought them to the conclusion that resistance is unprofitable and unavailing. The power of Congress over this subject should not be surrendered until we have satisfactory evidence that the people of the State to be created would exercise the exclusive power of the State over this subject in the same way. The question is not whether these people now obey the laws of Congress against polygamy, but rather would they make, enforce, and maintain such laws themselves if absolutely free to regulate the subject? We can not afford to experiment with this subject, for when a State is once constituted the act is final and any mistake irretrievable. No compact in the enabling act could, in my opinion, be binding or effective.
I recommend that provision be made for the organization of a simple form of town government in Alaska, with power to regulate such matters as are usually in the States under municipal control. These local civil organizations will give better protection in some matters than the present skeleton Territorial organization. Proper restrictions as to the power to levy taxes and to create debt should be imposed.
If the establishment of the Department of Agriculture was regarded by anyone as a mere concession to the unenlightened demand of a worthy class of people, that impression has been most effectually removed by the great results already attained. Its home influence has been very great in disseminating agricultural and horticultural information, in stimulating and directing a further diversification of crops, in detecting and eradicating diseases of domestic animals, and, more than all, in the close and informal contact which it has established and maintains with the farmers and stock raisers of the whole country. Every request for information has had prompt attention and every suggestion merited consideration. The scientific corps of the Department is of a high order and is pushing its investigations with method and enthusiasm.
The inspection by this Department of cattle and pork products intended for shipment abroad has been the basis of the success which has attended our efforts to secure the removal of the restrictions maintained by the European Governments.
For ten years protests and petitions upon this subject from the packers and stock raisers of the United States have been directed against these restrictions, which so seriously limited our markets and curtailed the profits of the farm. It is a source of general congratulation that suc cess has at last been attained, for the effects of an enlarged foreign market for these meats will be felt not only by the farmer, but in our public finances and in every branch of trade. It is particularly fortunate that
the increased demand for food products resulting from the removal of the restrictions upon our meats and from the reciprocal trade arrangements to which I have referred should have come at a time when the agricultural surplus is so large. Without the help thus derived lower prices would have prevailed. The Secretary of Agriculture estimates that the restrictions upon the importation of our pork products into Europe lost us a market for $20,000,000 worth of these products annually.
The grain crop of this year was the largest in our history-50 per cent greater than that of last year—and yet the new markets that have been opened and the larger demand resulting from short crops in Europe have sustained prices to such an extent that the enormous surplus of meats and breadstuffs will be marketed at good prices, bringing relief and prosperity to an industry that was much depressed. The value of the grain crop of the United States is estimated by the Secretary to be this year $500,000,000 more than last; of meats $150,000,000 more, and of all products of the farm $700,000,000 more. It is not inappropriate, I think, here to suggest that our satisfaction in the contemplation of this marvelous addition to the national wealth is unclouded by any suspicion of the currency by which it is measured and in which the farmer is paid for the products of his fields.
The report of the Civil Service Commission should receive the careful attention of the opponents as well as the friends of this reform. The Commission invites a personal inspection by Senators and Representatives of its records and methods, and every fair critic will feel that such an examination should precede a judgment of condemnation either of the system or its administration. It is not claimed that either is perfect, but I believe that the law is being executed with impartiality and that the system is incomparably better and fairer than that of appointments upon favor. I have during the year extended the classified service to include superintendents, teachers, matrons, and physicians in the Indian service. This branch of the service is largely related to educational and philanthropic work and will obviously be the better for the change.
The heads of the several Executive Departments have been directed to establish at once an efficiency record as the basis of a comparative rating of the clerks within the classified service, with a view to placing promotions therein upon the basis of merit. I am confident that such a record, fairly kept and open to the inspection of those interested, will powerfully stimulate the work of the Departments and will be accepted by all as placing the troublesome matter of promotions upon a just basis.
I recommend that the appropriation for the Civil Service Commission be made adequate to the increased work of the next fiscal year.
I have twice before urgently called the attention of Congress to the necessity of legislation for the protection of the lives of railroad employees, but nothing has yet been done. During the year ending June 30, 1890, 369 brakemen were killed and 7,841 maimed while engaged in
M P-VOL, VIII-17