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settlers? It is true, perhaps, under the occupying claimant law, they may get the value of their improvement. But is this the measure of justice that should be meted out to them? They were purchasers in good faith, and although their misfortunes are the result of the laches of Federal officers, rather than that of the State, yet simple justice demands, under the circumstances, that the State should at best do all it could to have these lands confirmed to them. This can now only be done by negotiation.
I would respectfully suggest, where any of these parties are unwilling to take a reasonable compensation for their improvements, and surrender the land, that if they will pay to the Des Moines Navigation & Railroad Company, the price for which the State sells other school lands, that then the State will make up the residue of the purchase money to said Company, either in cash or land; provided the purchase can be made of said Company on just and reasonable terms.
A special agent might be commissioned to effect the negotiation on this basis, properly restricted in his powers.
At all events, the whole subject is submitted to your better wisdom, earnestly expressing the hope that it will not be overlooked.
SWAMP LANDS.-The grant of these lands for purposes named in the act, has been the source of much trouble to the State, and vexation to the people of the counties who were intended to be made by an act of the Legislature, the recipients of the same. large quantities of these lands had been selected agreeably to the rules prescribed by the proper department, and approved by the Commissioner of the General Land Office as such, they were permitted to be entered or located with land warrants at the Government Land Offices, upon a bare representation that they were dry lands. A remonstrance from the State against so unjust a proceeding, resulted in the passage of an act by Congress confirming to the State the swamp land selections as they had been made.
Before this, however, Congress had, by an act passed for that purpose, recognized and confirmed the title of purchasers and locators of such tracts as had been selected as swamp or overflowed lands, but made provision, at the same time, that upon due proof by the authorized agent of the State, before the Commissioner of the General Land Office, that any of the lands purchased were swamp lands within the true intent and meaning of the act aforesaid, the purchase money shall be paid over to the State, and when
the lands have been located by warrant or scrip, the State should be authorized to locate a quantity of like amount, &c.
The General Assembly, at its last session, made an appropriation of $2,000 to defray the expense of selecting the swamp and overflowed lands in twelve counties then unorganized, and the sending of an agent to Washington to settle the preliminaries of the proof required under the act of Congress alluded to, as well as some other open questions in relation to the manner of listing and patenting these lands to the State. The Hon. James Thorington was commissioned for this purpose, and an adjustment was effected, under which the General Government has, up to this date, certified or listed to the State 507,811.30 acres. The report of the State Register will show in what counties these lands are situated. The lists have been examined, corrected and approved, and patents requested to be issued to the State for the same, which is now in process of being done. 61,812.43 acres of the above amount, embraced within the Fort Des Moines and the old Iowa City Land District, have recently been patented to the State, and which I have caused to be patented to the counties in which they are situated. It is believed the above lands will all soon be certified by patents to the State, and they belong to that class of swamp lands about which there is no controversy, the title being, as I have before stated, confirmed to the State by an act of Congress dated March 3d, 1857. But in addition to these lands, there has been listed to the State 124.332 76-100th acres falling within the Ft. Des Moines and Chariton Land Districts, which had been wrongfully permitted to be entered by cash or with military land warrants, the title whereof has been confirmed to the several purchasers and locators, but indemnity for which is to be given to the State, provided it shall be proved in the method prescribed, that they were swamp and overflowed lands within the meaning and intent of the act granting the same at the date thereof, or at the time of their selection. Forms of the proof, with the requisite instruction, have been forwarded to the Judges of those counties where these lands are situated, that the work of establishing the swampy character of the same may be commenced.
The General Land Office, at Washington, is unwilling to adjust this grant with any other party than the State authorities, which devolves upon the Executive greater duties than it is possi ble for him to perform with his other official labors. The exami
nation and correction as they are forwarded, which is only done by land Districts, the division of these lists into counties, and transmitting to such counties, those which are to be patented, and those which have been entered by cash, and those which have been located with land warrants, in separate lists, that the requisite proof may be taken in regard to their character-and supplying the counties or other agents with all needful information they may require concerning the manner of conducting the proof-examining and correcting these proofs, when taken, before they are transmitted to Washington for approval, will require more labor than one individual can bestow should he give his entire time. Hence I felt it my duty to employ J. B. Stewart, Esq., of Des Moines, a special agent to assist in these labors. But I am now satisfied, that although the Register of the State Land Office and his deputy have already as heavy duties as they can well perform; this swamp Land business should be transacted in his office under the general supervision of the Governor, and that the Register should be authorized to employ one or more competent persons, as the necessities of the case may require, whose time aud labors should be given exclusively to this branch of the public service and whatever amount the State should be required to pay the agent or agents thus employed could and ought to be refunded to the treasury out of the moneys obtained from the General Government for Swamp Lands sold. This would hasten the final close and settlement of this troublesome business, which is very much desired by the counties interested, and the cominencement of which thus fairly made, has cost the Executive Department of the State unremitting labor and attention.
There is however another obstacle to the early completion of this service, which I should not omit to mention. The four land grant railroads in this State claim the right to impeach the Swamp Land selections so far as they complied with their grant, notwithstanding near three years ago, these selections whether their real character were swamp or dry, were by a special act of Congress confirmed to the State. This right upon application was conceded to these companies by the Commissioner of the General Land office with the consent of the Secretary of the Interior, without giving the State a hearing upon the question. Hence the Swamp Land selections found upon odd sections, falling within the description and limits of the railroad, (being fifteen miles on either
side of each line) have not been with other swamp land, certified to the State. On being informed of these facts I proceeded to Washington and made an urgent personal appeal to the Secretary of the Interior for a reversal of this decision, for reasons which were named, but he declined to do so, yet expressed a willingness to require the rail road companies to designate at once the tracts claimed to be dry and to submit proof that should at least be equivalent to the evidence furnished that they have swamp lands, otherwise they should be certified to the State, and to this effect did he so instruct the Commissioner. Still I have heard of no such designations-the lands still remain uncertified to the State. I have been unable to learn from the Commissioner what course he designs to pursue in reference to the instruction of the Secretary of the Interior. And the question recurs where is this matter to end? If the contest goes on it must necessarily be protracted and expensive to the people of the counties, whilst it will prove in the end detrimental to the rail road companies themselves. It is obviously their interest to profitiate the favor rather than the hostility of the people, in pushing forward their several enterprises. The counties deeply feel the want of rail roads, and many of them would be willing to give or subscribe their swamp lands to attain so desirable an object, but they are not thus willing to be deprived of them, without their consent, or subjected to the other alternative of proving them up a second time at great cost and trouble. The rail road grants were made to the State in trust for certain rail road companies. The State as I read the act has already made a declaration of this trust in favor of the companies in question, subject however to the conditions and restrictions contained in the act of Congress granting them. One of these conditions is, that the lands shall only be sold as the construction of the roads progress, that is after one hundred and twenty sections have been sold another like quantity shall not be sold until the Governor of the State shall certify to the Secretary of the Interior that twenty continuous miles of any of said roads have been completed. Now in order to put an end to this unhappy controversy which has been the source of so much complaint in the State, I cannot but feel that it is my duty to recommend the adoption of a joint resolution by your bodies instructing the Governor to sign no more certificates of the description spoken of to any of said companies until they shall file in his office a written relinquishment of their
supposed right to contest the swamp land selections that may fall within the limits of their grants, and a consent on their part that the Commissioner of the General Land office may proceed to patent them to the States as other swamp lands, &c.
STATE PRISON.-This institution merits a distinct notice. The facts and suggestions contained in the reports of the Board of Inspectors and Warden should attract your special consideration.Since the last General Assembly some eighty-five have been added to the number of convicts. On account of this unexampled increase the appropriation made for the general support of the Prison proved wholly inadequate. It did not indeed hold out a year.The price of provisions kept up, and being scarce and commanding a ready cash market, could not be obtained on so long a credit except upon terms at once exorbitant and inadmissible. An attempt on the part of the Inspectors to effect a loan of money for this purpose proved unsuccessful. I was forced to the necessity of opening the prison doors or furnishing the requisite supply. This latter alternative was adopted, but only accomplished through the co-operation and indulgence of the Auditor and Treasurer of the State, who permited me to take some six or seven thousand dollars of the revenue whilst intransitu from the county collectors to the State Treasury upon my personal receipt. It will be necessary for you to legalize this transaction, I apprehend, and have the treasury credited with the requisite amount, and this I ask may be done. Whereby oversight or miscalculation the appropriation has failed to meet any emergency of this discription, I submit whether it would not be well to authorize the census Board or some other agency or power to supply the deficiency until the sitting of the ensuing General Assembly. I regret to make known the fact that there has been some misunderstanding and disagreement among the officers of this institution and between them and Prison contractors, which have led to much irritation of feeling, complaint and finally itigation. It is unnecessary for me to express any opinion upon the character of these difficulties with a view of determining where the blame lies. But it does appear to me that if the Warden was not dependent upon the Board of Inspectors for the term of his office, and the duties and powers of each were clearly defined by law, it would seem to check abuses, and tend to secure both harmony and independence of action.
Representations made to me last May touching the discipline