Imatges de pÓgina

other business of my office; but since the last named period I have been compelled, in justice to myself, to discontinue those disbursements.

The clerks in this office, three in number, have continued since in the performance of their duties, upon the expectation that an appro• priation would be made for their payment at the ensuing session of Congress; and if Congress should adjourn without realizing this expectation, I shall be left without assistance, and the business of the government vithout that attention which is indispensably necessary to its successful management. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. I concur in the necessity of appropriations by Congress at its next session for the objects indicated in the foregoing letter.

United States District Judge presiding in the

Northern District of California. We, the undersigned, commissioners to ascertain and settle private land claims in the State of California, concur in the necessity of an appropriation by Congress at the ensuing session to supply the wants of the public business arising from appeals to the United States district court from this commission in land cases, and recommend the same.


SAN FRANCISCO, October 21, 1854. S. W. Inge, esq., U. S. District Attorney,

To Andrew Glassell, Dr. To services in the office of the U. S. district attorney for

the northern district of California, as assistant attorney and clerk, from the 1st day of June, 1853, to the 1st day of June, 1854, at $300 a month

$3,600 00

Received payment in full, from S. W. Inge, esq.


S. W. Inge, esq., U. S. District Attorney,

To John A. Godfrey, Dr. To services in the office of the U. S. district attorney for

the northern district of California, as assistant attorney and clerk, from the 1st of October, 1953, to 1st of June, 1854, at $300 per month....

$2,290 00 Received by cash from S. W. Inge, esq..

900 00

Balance due ..

1,390 00

Aggregate amount actually paid in cash by S. W. Inge, esq., U. S. district attorney for the northern district of California, for the above

services and during the said time: To Andrew Glassell...

$3,600 00 To John A. Godfrey

900 00

4,500 00


Personally appeared before me Andrew Glassell, who, being duly sworn, dleposes and says that the within amount of $3,600 was duly received by him, in full satisfaction of the account as therein rendered.


Subscribed and sworn to before me this 21st day of October, A. D. 1954.


U. S. Commissioner.


Personally appeared before me John A. Godfrey, who, being duly sworn, deposes and says that the within amount of nine hundred dollars was duly received by him, and he relies upon the remainder, of $1,390, from the government, according to the account as therein rendered.


Subscribed and sworn to before me this 21st day of October, A. D. 1854.


U.S. Commissioner.

In response to the objection that the California Board of Land Commissioners has occupied already too much time in discharging the duties imposed upon them, we give a compendious statement of the commissions created at previous times by Congress. This will establish, beyond cavil, that no board of commissioners have ever had such onerous labors imposed upon them, and the short time allowed the California board is without precedent in the history of our government.

The government of the United States had scarcely been fully organized before the necessity for the enactment of measures for ascertaining and settling private land claims became obvious to Congress.

In 1764 (nearly a century ago) the King of Great Britain caused an instrument to pass under the great seal, fixing the northern boundary of West Florida by a line drawn from the mouth of the river Yazoo, where it unites with the Mississippi, due east to the river Apalachicola. In that year he commissioned Governor Johnston to hold jurisdiction within said limits.

In 1777 the British superintendent of Indian affairs quieted the Indian title in what was called the Natchez district up to the northern

line, and such was the northern line of the province until May, 1781, when the province of West Florida was conquered by Spain.

From 1764, when the British governor was commissioned, until his successor, Governor Chester, in 1781, surrendered the province, locations of lands within the Mississippi limits, and patents for the same, were granted under the authority and protection of the British governor.

The commissioners of the United States, in 1793, made a representation to the court of Spain, that the southern boundary of Georgia was fixed, in 1763, by the King of Great Britain, at a time when no other power had any claim to any part of the country through which it run, beginning on the Mississippi in latitude 31° north, and running eastwardly to the Apalachicola.

The same representations were made in the negotiation with the Spanish court in 1795; and by the treaty concluded in that year between the United States and Spain, our southern boundary was recognised as it is described in the provisional articles of peace in November, 1762, between the United States and the King of Great Britain, and as confirmed in the definitive treaty between said governments, concluded on 3d September, 1783.

We have stated that during the British domination in the Mississippi Territory, to wit: from 1767 until 1751, they made grants of land in that region of country; and such also was the case with their successors—the Spanish authorities—who made numerous concessions of land in that Territory, and even subsequent to the Spanish treaty of relinquishment in 1795.

Congress, in the discharge of a necessary duty, passed an act in March, 1803, for the purpose of ascertaining and settling the British and Spanish grants, and other claims, down even to those resting not upon written title only, but also those founded on settlements merily, which existed at the evacuation of the territory by the Spanish troops. By the above law of 1803, they created a board of commissioners, with suitable compensation, to adjudicate them.

After this another law was passed on the 27th March, 1804, authorizing the Board of Commissioners to employ an agent, at a liberal salary, to appear before the board to investigate claims, and oppose fraudulent ones; also to employ an assistant clerk, and translator of the Spanish, stipulating for the various employés adequate compensation; and on the 21st April, 1806, another law in regard to the subject was enacted by Congress.

Upon the acquisition by the United States, by virtue of the treaty of the 30th April, 1803, with the French republic, of the ancient province of Louisiana, Congress saw at once the importance of early legislation, and on the 26th March following erected Louisiana into two Territories; and in that first act of legislation, took care, in denouncing grants made by Spain without authority, to stipulate for the protection of bona fede legal grants and settlement claims; and in less than a year thereafter, viz: on the 2d March, 1805, passed “ An act

for ascertaining and adjusting the titles and claims to lands within the Territory of Orleans, and the district of Louisiana.” By this law a Board of Commissioners, clothed with proper authority, was created ; clerks were authorized,

and three agents provided to protect the interest of the United States, at $1,500 a year for each, a sum at that day worth more than four times what it is now in California.

Then followed the acts in 1806, 1807, 1811, 1813, 1814, 1815, 1816, 1818, 1919, down to the act of 3d March, 1819, conferring power on the registers and receivers, as commissioners, for the adjudication of claims for the country now falling, in part, within the limits of the present State of Louisiana, and part within the present limits of the States of Mississippi and Alabama, giving them authority to appoint clerks, or translators, at $1,500 per annum, and a like sum to each of the commissioners for their services in relation to such claims.

We also find that in the intermediate years, and in some instances in the years already mentioned, Congress passed laws for the adjudication of claims, stipulating compensation in the Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan Territories; and returning to Louisiana, which opened a wider sphere of governmental action, have continued their legislation through successive years down to the last session of Congress.

In like manner when we acquired the Floridas by the treaty of cession in 1919, Congress also created a Board of Commissioners for the selilement of foreign titles; and on the 26th May, 1824, passed a law referring to the courts, with appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, claims within what was known, under the Spanish régime, as Upper Louisiana, embracing the present States of Missouri and Arkansas. This law makes provision in the way of compensation to district attorneys, United States marshals, and judges.

Then, also, Čongress, by a law passed the 230 May, 1928, conferred jurisdiction on the superior court of Florida, for the adjudication of claims arising from foreign titles, with a right of appeal to the Supreme Court. The 10th section of the act made it “lawful for the President of the United States to appoint a law agent, whose special duty it shall be to superintend the interests of the United States in the premises, to continue him in place as long as the public interest requires his continuance; and to allow such pay to the agent as the President may think reasonable." And the 11th section of the same act declared it " lawful for the President to employ assistant counsel, if, in his opinion, the public interest shall require the same; and to allow to such counsel, and the district attorney, such compensation as he may think reasonable.” Such assistant counsel, we understand, was employed, and the record of the proper department will no doubt show that liberal compensation was awarded.

Then, again, on 17th June, 1844, Congress passed an act extending the provisions of the act of Congress approved 26th May, 1824, to Lou siuna, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama, conferring jurisdiction on the courts for the examination of foreign titles, and carrying with it all the emolument provisions necessary to the object, and opening an immense field of litigation, by which claims, after ihe lapse of more than half a century, were brought before the highest court in the Union for final settlement.

In the mean time look at the enormous expenses the United States necessarily incurred in creating the numerous commissions all over the country, where the foreign titles and ancient settlements existed, when

the new order of government supplanted its predecessors; in organizing federal courts, and in managing and defending the interests of the United States. Then consider the vexatious and harassing effects upon citizens and the States, and the officers of the general government, which ensued in settling titles in the above-named Territories.

The system adopted by this government for the settlement of claims in California, looks to a speedy and final settlement; and if Congress will give the means and the timely aid asked for, the whole business will soon be at an end, the record closed, and Congress released from further importunities.

Your committee have given the whole subject a careful investigation, as it was the wish of the Secretary of the Interior that the commission should be continued, as will appear from the annexed extract from his annual report for 1854:

" It will be necessary again to extend the time for the completion of the work of the commission to ascertain and settle the private land claims in California. It expires on the 4th of March next; and if the time is extended, it is desirable it should be done sufficiently early in the session to enable the department to advise the commissioners to continue their labors. Notwithstanding the indefatigable exertions of the commissioners, their labors cannot, with a due regard to the public interests, be closed within the time allotted."

For the above considerations, your committee respectfully recommend the passage of the bill upon which this report is predicated.

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