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LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL.
No. 18 WALL STREET, NEW YORK, N. Y.,
December 17, 1884. Hon. C. W. SEATON,
Superintendent Tenth Census, Washington, D. O. SIR: I have the honor herewith to transmit the census volume devoted to Mining Laws, Rules, and Regulations. It consists of, first, a collection of the federal laws under which citizens may obtain title to public mineral land, together with the departmental rules and regulations now in force; second, the various state and territorial laws pertaining to the initiation and perfecting of mineral claims; and, third, the local district rules and regulations enacted by the various miners' organizations.
These local enactments cover the whole period of western precious-metal mining, and follow closely the entire geographical distribution of gold and silver within the United States. They are of extreme value as covering the inception of a very large number of titles to important properties.
It is not claimed that this collection covers by any means all the mining districts which have been organized. Many were of the most temporary character, organized one day and abandoned the next; and even among the more prominent districts which have yielded a large quota of the country's wealth of precious metals, records have been either accidentally or purposely destroyed. But the attempt has been made, and fairly well carried out, to assemble here all the important district laws which can now be obtained and authenticated. Very respectfully, yours,
Special Agent Tenth Census.
UNITED STATES MINING LAWS, AND REGULATIONS THEREUNDER.
REVIEW OF FEDERAL LEGISLATION ON MINES.
“The motive underlying the earliest congressional legislation touching the public mineral lands was to secure a revenue therefrom. To this end the system of leasing the lead and copper mines was adopted in 1807, with its attendant agencies, accountings, etc. After a trial of nearly forty years, the system was pronounced a failure, and in 1846 the mines were offered for sale, with a preference right in those who had leases or were in the occupation of the mines. When the gold mines of California were discovered, and the varied mineral wealth of the Pacific coast was brought to the attention of Congress, several revenue bills were introduced at different times and earnestly debated; but the notorious failure of the lease system in the Mississippi valley, and the difficulties in the way of securing a.revenue otherwise, gave success to the friends of free mining in 1866.
“Except in a few states, the object of congressional legislation since 1866 has been to prevent the disposal of mineral lands to states and railroads, or in large quantities to individuals. Exploration of hidden mines is encouraged, and no efforts are used to compel miners to expend money in securing government title. The mining law of May 10, 1872, is essentially a poor man's law, and has been the source of incalculable wealth to the country, and indirectly of vast revenue to the government.
“CoNTINENTAL CoNGREss-The ordinance of the revolutionary Congress of May 20, 1785, reserved ‘onethird part of all gold, silver, lead, and copper mines, to be sold or otherwise disposed of as Congress shall hereafter direct’. And in the grant or patent prescribed by the act the wording is, ‘excepting and reserving one-third part of all gold, silver, lead, and copper mines within the same for future sale or disposition.” (Public Lands, &c., Part 1, 13, 14; Yale, 325.) This ordinance continued in force until the constitutional Congress in 1789.
“FIRST CoNGRESS.—The plan for the disposition of the public lands, reported by Alexander Hamilton in July, 1791, is silent on the subject of mineral lands. (1 American State Papers, 4, 5.)
“LEAD MINEs.—In many instances, from 1807, where land was authorized to be sold in particular sections of the country, lead mines were reserved from sale, and by the act of March 3, 1807, the leasing of lead-mines for a period not exceeding five years was authorized, and a grant of land containing a lead mine discovered before the sale was declared to be fraudulent and void. In United States vs. Gratiot (14 Pet., 526) the Supreme Court held that Congress has the power to lease as well as to sell the public lands. By the act of March 3, 1849, the powers of the Secretary of the Treasury over lead and other mines were transferred to the head of the Home (Interior) Department, created by that act.
“PRE-EMPTION LAws.-The tenth section of the general pre-emption law of 1841 excluded from its operation all “lands on which are situated any known salines or mines'. In nearly all the pre-emption acts prior thereto minerals were reserved. In the several pre-emption acts relating to California special care seems to have been taken to prevent the appropriation of mineral lands by settlers. The act of July 23, 1866, to quiet land titles in California, further protected mineral lands in that state. The Oregon donation act also excluded mineral lands from its operation.
“RAILROAD GRANTs.-In the earlier grants to aid railroads mineral lands are not mentioned in terms; a general clause is inserted excepting all lands reserved for any purpose or by any act of Congress. In the renewal of the railroad grants in Alabama, by act of April 10, 1869 (16 Stats., 45), mineral lands are excluded. In the grant in aid of the Iron Mountain and Saint Louis railroad (July 4, 1866, 14 Stats., 83), mineral lands not coal and iron are excepted. In this latter form the mineral lands have, since 1864, been excluded from railroad grants in the mining states and territories,