« PreviousContinue »
country, particularly the trans-Mississippi they purchased the timber rights—since the region. Like all beneficent laws, it has not land was actually not worth the taxes. escaped abuse. Within the last few weeks has been discovered that these despised lands Attorney-General Knox and the Secretary of grow as fine potatoes as can be produced, and the Interior have unearthed a gigantic system the last few years have seen a steady influx of land swindles in Idaho and Montana. They of farmers, largely Scandinavians, and a promptly got out ten indictments for perjury resultant remarkable rise in prices. It is and subornation of perjury in matters of estimated that 150,000 settlers moved into land transfer, and suits have been entered the Northwest last year, and a larger number against some millionaire landholders over still, probably fully 200,000, will be added to rights involving some hundreds of thous the population during 1901.
This has reands of acres worth several million dol sulted in creating a very brisk market for farm lars. Strenuous efforts are being made to properties, till it is now quite common for the drag off these alert public officials by a owners of land worth $50 to $100 an acre to political leash, but the scandal has been given sell out and move further on to a less desufficient publicity to make this extremely veloped region, or even to the edge of the improbable.
wilderness again-richer by some thousands The methods upon which these North- of dollars. western land grabbers have operated have
THE TORRENS LAND LAW been so barefaced that they must have been brought to justice long ago but for political OF
F course the speculators have seen their influence and in all probability direct bribery.
chance in this activity, and have vied There have been cases where fifty men
with the farmers in land buying and selling; have settled on contiguous sections, swearing and the business has assumed such proporthe land was for their own use, and then, have
tions that special attention has been called to unanimously sold out to a single lumber com the recent adoption by the State of Minnesota pany. No sane man could doubt that the so of the Torrens Land Law, which goes into called independent locators were really the operation in September. employees of the company; and yet the agents By this system—which like the secret of the local land office have often been re
ballot is an importation from Australia—the markably blind or inert.
business of transferring land is so simplified It is to be hoped that these prosecutions that it is well nigh incredible the plan has will be pressed to the utmost. Leaving out not been universally adopted in the United of the question the criminality of the act, we
States. Its fundamental idea is that each cannot longer afford to be prodigal of the
land title is registered at the Register's office, public lands; for though there are nearly a
and the state, having thoroughly searched the billion acres still vacant and subject to entry, title, issues a certificate of ownership to the only a small proportion of this is suitable forholder. All subsequent transfers, liens, mortagricultural purposes without irrigation, and gages or conveyances of any sort are entered no privilege of the nation should be more upon this certificate, duplicate records being
The jealously safeguarded than that of offering to kept, carefully indexed, by the officials. every citizen the chance to make a living from Government guarantees the titles to the the soil.
holders of these certificates. The total
initial expense is only $24, and of subsequent OTHER MOVEMENTS OF POPULATION registration only $3.
Under the present sysIN Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan tem, whenever a piece of land is transferred
settlers are attracted not only by the or a mortgage is given, a lawyer must be emstill plentiful homestead lands, but also by the ployed to search through a voluminous mass cut-over timber lands and by the railroad of records, often in a shocking state of congrants which the companies—especially the fusion—and if the same parcel is sold again Northern Pacific Railroad—try to dispose of next year, the whole process is once more as rapidly as possible. There are lands in gone through with from the beginning. The Northern Michigan which were considered so system is inconceivably cumbersome, antiworthless a decade ago that lumbermen would quated and expensive. Until the advent of not take deeds to the properties on which the private title guarantee companies the
purchaser of a piece of property had no hours, or too little pay; the Association met security whatever of the validity of the the officials of the sheet-steel and tin-plate transaction. He was compelled to depend companies with the one demand, that a union entirely upon his confidence in his lawyer. scale be signed for all mills, or they would tie In New York City alone there are each year up every plant controlled by the United nearly 15,000 land conveyances, amounting to States Steel Corporation. Many of these well over $100,000,000: no city in this mills are operated by non-union workmen country has more to gain from such a simpli- under special agreements between company fication, for in no other city is the number of and laborers : to unionize them in the face of transfers in proportion to the total number of these contracts would have been grossly unholdings so large. Yet this reform, long
Yet this reform, long just to both; and after offering everything tested in Australia, and in use in many parts possible except this, the ultimatum was reof Continental Europe for hundreds of years, fused. The very success of the strikers in which has been adopted in Massachusetts for calling out men from unionized mills would in the last two years, which has been tried with the end have proved the ruin of their cause, eminent success in Chicago, which Minnesota for their resources were pitifully inadequate will put into operation this month, which is even for their immediate organization during under consideration in half a dozen other a protracted term of idleness, and the grim states, and the adoption of which in New realities of need have always proved too much York was agitated fifteen years ago—seems after a while for the men, except when they as far away as ever at this date.
were sustained by public opinion and the conIt has been objected that the original sciousness of resistance to unfair conditions. Torrens Act gave a judicial and discretionary Both were lacking in this case, and as this is power to the Register not in conformity with written the talk of settlement is upon a basis American law; and this caused the law in less advantageous to the workmen than that Ohio and the first Chicago statute to be pro- offered them a month ago. nounced invalid by the courts. But the neces
THE REAL ISSUE OF THE STRIKE sary adaptation to American institutions is really a simple matter and has been success HERE has been a larger crop than usual fully carried out elsewhere; and the causes
customary hot for the slowness of adoption seem to be the troubles. The sweatshop tailors in New usual extraordinary conservatism of legal York, the Reading firemen, the iron foundry enactments, and the fact that the people who workers at Derby, Conn., the machinists in know most of the absurdities of the present half a dozen cities, the Frazer river salmon law, the lawyers and title guarantee com fishers, the miners of Colorado and Washingpanies, are constant beneficiaries by its pro ton, the Troy collar makers, the egg candlers, visions. A general change to the Torrens the teamsters, longshoremen, packers, porters, system would inevitably drive out of business warehousemen and dock workers of every kind the private companies who guarantee titles, in San Francisco—all have been on strike and it would make the services of a lawyer during the past month; in Chicago a large quite unnecessary in land transference. Few force of carpenters struck because they were classes of men can believe desirable any change not allowed to have as much lemonade as they in long-established custom which would dis wanted. But none of these had the signifipense with their own services; but it is an cance of the steel strike, in which the powerevidence of the hurry and absorption of our ful Amalgamated Association tried to wrest time and country, as well as of the lack of from the largest combination of capital interest in public matters, that the people in the world the right to manage its business have not before this demanded this reform. affairs. Had it succeeded, a long step would
have been taken towards the trades-unionism AN UNREASONABLE STRIKE
which has for years throttled English inTHE failure of the great steel strike on dustry, reducing labor to a dull dead level,
the platform advanced at the start by putting a premium on mediocrity, resisting to President Shaffer of the Amalgamated Asso the uttermost the introduction of labor-saving ciation was inevitable. There was no charge machinery and latest improvements in manuof any injustice to the laborers, of too long facturing — by which alone can industrial