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October 15, 1867. Sir : In accordance with the resolution of the Senate, dated February 28, 1855, I have the honor to present the following as an abstract of the annual report of this office for the year 1867:

1. The area of the public lands, exclusive of the Russian purchase, is 1,465,468,800 acres. The extent of that purchase is estimated at 577,390 square miles, or 369,529,600 acres, making a total of 1,834,998,400 acres.

2. The aggregate of public lands which have been surveyed is 485,311,778 acres, leaving a residue of 1,349,686,622 acres yet upsurveyed..

3. The quantity of public land disposed of during the last fiscal year is 7,041,114.50 acres, of which there were sold for cash 756,619.61 acres; located with military bounty land warrants 476,760 acres ; taken for homesteads under the acts of 1862, 1864, and 1866, 1,788,043.49 acres; approved to several States as swamp "in place” 1,030,020.22 acres ; for indemnity swamp selections 36,429.93 acres ; titles vested in certain States under railroad, wagon-road, and ship-canal grants for 533,168.52 acres, and located with agricultural and mechanic college scrip, together with selections made by States within their respective limits, 2,420,072.73 acres.

4. The amount received on cash sales, pre-emptions, military scrip received as money, homestead payments, and commissions, fees for locating agricultural college scrip on military warrants, and railroad selections, commissions on preemptions, and donations and proceeds from furnishing transcripts under act of July 2, 1864, is $1,347,862 52.

5. The excess disposed of over the previous year is 2,411,800 acres. 6. Explanation of the public surveying system is given, indicating the structure

establishment, since the adoption of the system in 1785, of twenty principal bases and twenty-three principal meridians, extending into all the States and Territories carved out of the public domain, except the Russian purchase, aggregating in length 1,476,673 lineal miles, the locality of each base and meridian being designated.

7. The public surveys have been extended wholly over Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and nearly 80 in Louisiana and Florida

8. Outline sketches are given of the rise and progress of each of the public land States and Territories, with their areas, and the advancement of surveys therein; commencing with Ohio, where the system had its initiation, to the Territory of Montana, where that system was inaugurated in 1867.

9. Landed property ; the rise and progress shown of the pre-emption system, with results ; number stated of farms under actual cultivation; also of urban settlements. 10. Homestead policy considered with homestead rulings; results shown.

11. Relation of foreigners to real estate in the United States. Laws respecting naturalization.

12. Legislation making provision for schools, seminaries of learning, and colleges; extent of such concessions.

13 Extent of grants shown for military services since the foundation of the government.

14. Operations of the General Land Office, in connection with Indian rights; sketch of Pueblos.

15. Foreign titles ; effect of laws of 1860-'66 explained in regard to the adjudication of a certain class of claims, including not only those under governments which, de jure, preceded the United States, but also those from gov. ernments de facto.

16. Legislation shown respecting the discontinuance of surveying districts.

17. Laws respecting discontinuance of land offices; the new offices established; proclamation of sales..

18. Military reservations; legislation recommended so as to confer authority for the sale of such as may be abandoned.

19. Account of surveyors general, deputies, receivers of public money and disbursing officers, reported as settled to the end of fiscal year.

20. Transcripts of archives reported as furnished to supply lost records in the southern and other States.

21. Laws respecting the suppression of timber depredations and measures taken in that respect.

22. Proceedings had i especting certain special improvement interests, viz: the Fox and Wisconsin, Des Moines, Portage lake, Sturgeon's bay, and Lac la Belle.

23. Swamp and overflowed land concessions; results submitted ; further legis

24. Riparian interests considered; rights of the United States to the islands in the Mississippi, which, although not navigable according to the theory of the English law, yet are so in fact, and in virtue of acts of Congress.

25. Geological survey of Nebraska; results reported under legislation in that respect.

26. General views as to the extension of such explorations.

27. Proceedings had for the establishment of the boundary lines between Colorado and New Mexico, California and Oregon.

28. A revival of the laws recommended in regard to the right of way, which was conceded in past legislation, for railroads and turnpikes.

29. Pacific slope; its extent; also its importance shown in an agricultural, mineral, and commercial point of view.

30. Roads and railways considered ; legislation in respect to the same, and progress made.

31. Relation of the United States to the trade of the East.

32. In the papers accompanying this report will be found an account of the gold and silver producing countries, the amount taken from the mines since the discovery of America, with a summary of the mineral wealth of the United States.

33. The report is accompanied by the returns of the surveyors general of the number of acres surveyed, total unsurveyed on 30th June, 1867, area of the public domain remaining unsurveyed, cash sales, homestead, extent of swamp

34. General tabular statement exhibiting the disposal of the public lands, under twenty-two different heads, from the commencement of the land system to 30th June, 1867

35. Historical and statistical table of the United States and States of North America.

36. The report is accompinied by maps of the public land States and Territories, a connected map of the United States, as it existed prior to the Russian purchase ; also a map of the world on Mercator's projection, showing our territory, including the Russian purchase, and the relations of the country to important points of trade in the Eastern and Western hemispheres. Respectfully submitted :


Commissioner. Hon. 0. H. BROWNING,

Secretary of the Interior.


October 15, 1867. Sir: The public lands, including the Russian purchase in northwestern America acquired by treaty of May 28, 1867, are now equal in area to........................

... 1,834,998,400 acres. From the beginning of the land system to the end of the last fiscal year the aggregate of surveyed lands is.... 485,311,778 acres. Leaving unsurveyed...

.. 1,349,686,622 acres.


756,619.61 476,760.00

During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1867, the total cash

sales embraced..................... The aggregate of military bounty-land warrant locations ..... The total quantity taken by homestead for actual settlement,

under acts of 1862, 1864, and 1866 .................... In the same period there were approved swamps

“in place" to several States as grantees under

acts of 1849 and 1850 ................. 1,030,020.22 And selected as swamp indemnity ........ 36,429.93



Making a total of swamp lands or their equiva

lents, confirmed to States, of.......................... In same fiscal year titles under railroad, wagon-road, and ship

canal grants have been vested in certain States, for the quan

tity of ............... ............... ... The agricultural and mechanic college land-scrip locations under

act of 1862, and supplementals of 1864 and 1866, with selections by certain States within their respective limits under said acts, make an aggregate of....




Making a total of public lands disposed of during the year end

ing June 30, 1867, of.......


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The moneys received in the same period for ordinary cash sales, pre-emptions, in military scrip received as money, for the ten-dollar homestead payments, for homestead commissions, for fees in the locating of agricultural college scrip, for same on military warrants, and on railroad selections, for commissions on preemptions, donations, and for proceeds from furnishing transcripts under act of July 2, 1864, make a cash aggregate of $1,347,862.52 received during the fiscal year ending 30th June, 1867.

By these results it appears that in virtue of the cession by treaty concluded on 30th March, 1867, between the United States and the Emperor of Russia, an enlargement of the national territory has been effected equal to five hundred and seventy-seven thousand three hundred and ninety equare miles, or three

dred acres, possessing extensive belts capable of yielding food for the support of man, mineral resources, important fisheries, and extending our possessions toward the continent of Asia and by the chain of the Aleutian islands equal in length to one thousand and sixty-five statute miles, bringing us, comparatively speaking, to the vicinity of the Japanese islands.

These results further show the disposal in round numbers of two millions four hundred and eleven thousand eight hundred acres in excess of the quantity for which evidences of title were granted during the year ending 30th June, 1866, caused by the cash sales being nearly doubled, by additional bounty land locations, by a very large increase in selections under railroad grants, also by nearly a quadruplication of the quantity in the previous year in locations and selections under the agricultural college grants, the cash receipts for the last year having exceeded those of a like previous period by a sum considerably in excess of half a million of dollars.

Among the most important principles in the transfer of landed property are certainty and brevity of description in the conveyed premises.

The public land or rectangular system is pre-eminently valuable, and in that respect stands unrivalled.

It was adopted on 20th May, 1785, and has been modified and enlarged by subsequent laws until it has reached its present proportions and completeness of scientific structure.

Under that system base lines are first established, corresponding with latitude. These are then intersected at right angles by principal meridians in coincidence with longitude. From such bases, townships of six miles square are run out and established with regular series of numbers counting north and south from these bases, while the ranges are counted by like series of numbers as running east and west of the meridians.

The six mile square townships are divided into sections of one mile square or 640 acres, again into half sections of 320, quarters of 160, half quarters of so, and quarter quarters of 40 acres.

Since the adoption of the system, covering a period of eighty-two years, twenty principal bases and twenty-three principal meridians have been permanently established, and it has been initiated, the Russian purchase excepted, in all the land States and Territories of the Union, in several of which it has completed the work of surveying. In its progress the whole of the surveys everywhere, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, are referable for the identification of any division or subdivision, great or small, to the initial points or intersections of the surveyed base lines with the principal meridians.

The first principal meridian dirides the States of Ohio and Indiana ; the second is a controlling line in the surveys of Indiana, and in part in Illinois, the third also governing to a certain extent in the latter State; the fourth traverses the western part of Illinois, extending through Wisconsin and Minnesota to our northern international boundary; the fifth, passing through Arkansas, Misgouri, and lowa, with a common base line running due west from the St. Francis river in Arkansas, governs the surveys in these States, also in part of Minnesota west of the Mississippi, and in Dakota west of the Missouri ; then there is the sixth principal meridian, the initial point of intersection being coincident with the fortieth parallel and 92° 13' weat longitude from Greenwich. Upon this line depend the surveys in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, and that part of Dakota West of the Missouri.

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