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The public domain is rapidly growing less, which means that it is
being occupied and used. Of the two hundred and odd million acres left, 12,000,000 acres have already been
classified as coal bearing, over 4,000,000 as probably carrying oil, and 2,600,000 as phosphate lands. The most valuable discovery made in recent years as affecting the public domain is that
the semiarid regions may become abundantly productive under dry-farming methods. The Territory
of Alaska, containing perhaps 400,000,000 acres, is now the great body of public domain. It is heavily mineralized and is a land of unknown possibilities. One gold mine there has recently erected a mill of 6,000 tons daily capacity, with ore in sight to run this mill for 50 years. The waters that flow idly to the sea could be made to support not
less than 50,000,000 people if turned upon the land that otherwise will remain pasture land or altogether
worthless. The demonstration has been given that the lands of little rain can be made more fruitful than those where the rainfall is abundant. Land and water we have; the problem of bringing them together is one only of money. When the war in Europe shut off certain chemical supplies, one
of our chemists, Mr. Rittman, found a new process Scientists.
which has been given to the public by which benzol
and toluol, the foundation of aniline dyes and explosives, and gasoline may be made from crude petroleum. Mr. Parsons and Mr. Moore have devised and proved a process for the reduction of radium from carnotite ores. An oil expert, Mr. Pollard, was put to the task of saving the billions of feet of gas wasting daily into the air from the oil wells of Oklahoma, and was successful. Mr. Cottrell has devised a method of taking solids and liquids out of smelter smoke, such as sulphuric acid, arsenic, zinc, and lead. During the past 50 years the people of the United States have
uttered two-thirds of all the revolutionary epochInventora. making inventions of the world, ranging from the
telephone and the incandescent lamp to Wright's aeroplane and high speed steel. Each day we issue an average of 200 letters patent to American inventors, and the number of inventions is increasing with the years.
There are over 20,000,000 boys and girls in the
public schools of the United States. These, then, are the assets of the United States as revealed in but this one department—lands and waters and mines, inventors and chemists and engineers, and a new generation coming on which
1 The list furnished is as follows:
1876 1878 1885 1880 1878 1885 1890 1888 1893 1881 1891 1888 1896 1887 1869 1889 1885 1881 1887 1888 1884 1896 1871 1879 1888 1870 1860 1875 1875 1887 1873 1901 1894 1872 18841887 1891
As compared with this list, note the following list of important laventions that have been made during the same period by foreigners, which has been compiled from information furnished by the 43 examining divisions of the Patent Office:
will add still further to the adventurous annals of peace. What has been our policy with respect to these? How may they be the more highly put to use? These questions are seen to be more vital than ever before. And at the outset let me say that I find no need for a change of policy, but only for its expansion.
THE ERA OF SPLENDID GIVING. We have given of our resources as no people ever did before or ever can again. Within 50 years we gave in subsidies to our railroads public lands that exceeded in size a territory seven times as large as the State of Pennsylvania. We have given to the States, for the sustaining of their schools and other public institutions, an amount that our records do not accurately state, but this we know, that 13 western States were given over 67,000,000 acres. In addition, the Federal Government gave to the States all the swamp and overflowed public lands within their borders, amounting to 64,000,000 acres by roughest approximation, upon condition that they used the proceeds to reclaim the lands, a condition which it may be idle to state has been only in part complied with.
Every country has found itself in embarrassment at the close of a great war. From Rome under Cæsar to France under Napoleon the problem arose as to what could be done with the men who were to be mustered out of service. No such embarrassment, however, came to the United States at the end of the Civil War, for out of our wealth in lands we had farms to offer the million veterans and better use was never made of any land. Even to-day this “soldiers' scrip” is recognized and is filed to secure choice bits of forest lands or power sites.
Indeed, the peoples of the world were called in and tendered homes, until now, out of an acreage within the United States of a
1 The land grants to States were as follows: Acres.
Acres. Arizona--10, 489, 236 North Dakota..
3, 163, 476 Colorado 4, 431, 778 Oregon
4,087, 92 Idaho. 3, 631, 778 South Dakota.
3, 432, 604 Montana. 5, 867, 618 Utah
7, 414, 276 Nebraska.. 3, 457, 911 Washington
3, 044, 471 Nevada--2, 723, 647 Wyoming
4, 138, 569 New Mexico.----
12, 406, 026 In addition, 5 per cent of the net revenues from the sale of public lands goes to these States, and this amounted to $1,254,670.20 up to July 1, 1914. The Federal Government also appropriates $50,000 to each of these States in aid of an agricultural college.
full billion and a half of acres of public domain, we have left as public lands subject to disposal as homesteads and otherwise, less than 280,000,000 acres,' not one-half of which, it may safely be said, will ever prove to be cultivable. There passed out of this office last year 61,979 patents to land, some for 160 acres and some for 320 acres—donations from the Nation to the courageous pioneer.
The man who finds gold or silver or iron or lead or copper, or any other of the so-called metalliferous minerals, has it for the asking, sans money and sans price, a prize for discovery. We expend $1,500,000 a year now in the making of geological and other studies of the country that we may know what we have.?
And all the revenue from the sale of public lands (less 5 per cent, which goes to the States) goes into a fund for the building of irrigation works to reclaim the desert. A hundred million has been so spent, which is, however, no more than a loan to the farmers. However, before attempting the governmental construction of such works the Federal Government said to the States through the Carey Act: “If you will irrigate the lands of your State, or if there are private individuals who will do this work, we will give you whatever land you desire up to 1,000,000 acres each and set it apart for 10 years while you try the experiment." Yet but a small portion of these lands were ever called for by the States, and a still smaller portion have been irrigated, although a number of these projects have been extremely successful. In some parts of the West, however, the desert is dotted with the deserted homes of those who were lured onto these lands by promising financiers, some promising in good faith and some in the spirit of Mr. J. Rufus Wallingford.
Was there ever a more generous method taken of populating and developing a new land ? Surely there has been no niggardliness on the part of the Government, which has not asked from those who took its lands even so much as the cost of their administration.
In doing all this with so lavish a hand the Government has been expressing the generous instinct of the people and their absorbing determination to “go forth and find.” For a hundred years and a
1 When the grants to the States are satisfied this amount will be diminished by over 15,000,000 acres.
* As a utilization in most practical form of these studies there have been published during the past year four books of an original character-geological guidebooks along the western railroad lines, one along the Northern Pacific, another along the Union and Central Pacific, a third along the Santa Fe route, and a fourth along the Southern Pacific coast line. These tell by map and picture in simple and untechnical language the story of the formation and character of the land through which the tourist is passing.
little more this quest has been the drama of our life. It has given color to our civilization and buoyancy to the hearts of the people. It has been a century of revelation, and as yet we have only the most superficial knowledge of what this land is, of what it will yield to research, and how it may best be used. Its development has only begun.
TO USE, NOT TO HOLD OR WASTE.
But in all our giving we have been guided by a purpose—the land that we gave was to be converted from wilderness into homes, or from rock into metal. We gave to the States and to the railroads, with a reservation of minerals. We gave to the homesteader, with a condition—the land was to be used. We gave our swamp lands, but to be reclaimed. We found our coal lands going as farms and we put a price upon them. We saw our forests being swept clean or monopolized and we held them out from the mass. Use! Use by as many as possible! The superior use ! These were the things we wished and these gave form to our legislation. No homesteader receives all the lands he wishes, or even all he might use.
One hundred and sixty acres was the limit, not a full section. But now he may have 320 acres if it is dry farming or grazing land—and for the latter the size might still be increased. And he can not have it as a speculation. It must be made a home and brought into the body of the world's producing area by cultivation. The Government was generous, but it had no intention of being a spendthrift. When it found itself being imposed upon it stayed its hand and drew back. So it came about that lands were withdrawn from entry—the Alaskan coal lands, the oil and the phosphate lands, dam and reservoir sites for power plants, and a few water holes which commanded the adjoining miles of desert. The Nation stayed its hand and drew back, so as to make sure of the right course. It wished use-use by as many as possible and the best use.
And now we have come to a point where it can said that if Congress will pass
two bills now before it there will be no resource in reserve, of all its vast treasure in lands, save national forests and national parks.
1 The map on page 13 shows the amount of lands already given to the States and to private individuals, the amount reserved as forests, and the permanent reservations, such as national parks and Indian reservations.