« PreviousContinue »
and charges of sale, and five per cent. penalty added. By section 3 of an act in relation to school land,” approved March 19, 1853, it is made the duty of the commissioners, whenever any of the school or university lands shall have been forfeited for the space of six months by reason of the nonpayment of principal or interest, to advertise in some newspaper published in the county in which such lands lie, &c., that such forfeited lands are subject to private entry by any person applying therefor, and the minimum price for such tracts or parcels of land so forfeited, shall be the amount due thereon at the time of such re-sale, together with the costs of sale.”
Under this section the lands are subject to private entry as soon as they advertised on the terms stated in the section.
We are of the opinion, that this law disregards both the interest of the original purchaser and of the school fund.
The law upon this subject, before it was repealed by the foregoing section, was much the best; it provided that all forfeited lands should be offered at public sale, before they could be subjected to private entry. Sec. 27, chap. 24, revised statutes. By this provision the purchaser has abundant time and opportunity to redeem his land, and in case it should not be redeemed, the fund could realize the increased value thereof. Besides, the failure to pay interest is often the result of mistake, and in many cases while the purchaser supposed his interest was paid, and while he was in the quiet possession and enjoyment of his property, it has been sold.
This law should, at least, be so amended as not to allow such lands to be sold until the delinquent list has been advertised for the period of three months at least. By this means an opportunity would be afforded to correct errors and mistakes, and to pay tho interest, in most cases, where parties interested desire to do so.
Under the power given to ns by section 101, of chapter 24, revised statute, we have, in several instances, when we were satisfied that the failure to pay interest was in consequence of some mistake or misunderstanding, re-called the certificate issued on the Tesale of forfeited lands, and allowed the original purchaser to retain his land by paying the costs of advertising and the five per cent. penalty.
By an Act approved April 1, 1854, the governor and commissioners of the school and university lands were authorized and empowered to reorganize the manner of conducting the sale of these jau is, and of keeping the accounts of the funds arising therefrom. Accordion about the first of July, a chief clerk, Walter H. Besbey, and a suificient number of subordinate clerks were appointed for the transaction of the business. The re organization contempla’ed by the act, which was commenced as soon as practicable after providing the books required for the purpose and additional office room, had become absolutely necessary for the proper management of the multiplied and continually increasing transactions growing out of the sales of land and the investment of funds, and there was a large arrearage of tork to be brought up from the transactions of former years—an arrearage occasioned by the want of sufficient clerical force to do the duty required by law. An examination of the affiairs of this office will show the necessity for the provision made by the act referred to, and will further show, we hope, that the intention of the legislature has thus far been faithfully and successfully answered. We earnestly recommend that perinanent provision be made for the expense of a competent number of clerks, and that appropriation be made at as early a period of the session as possible, to meet the expenses already incurred.
The number of subordinate clerks may be reduced, after a short time, without inconvenience, a larger number being requisite at present than will be needed when the work for which they have been employed, shall be further advanced, and the press of the business in the first months of the year shall be over. gest that these expenses are properly chargeable to the school and university fund income, and that their payment be directed accordingly.
Seo. 52, of chap. 24 R. S., vests in the commissioners “the general care and supervision of all lands belonging to this state, and of all the lands in which the state has an interest, or which are or may be held in trust by the state unless the superintendence thereof is vested in some other officer or board."
We also sug:
Sec. 49, of chap. 134, makes it “the special duty of the superintendent of schools in each town, who may have knowledge of, or who may receive information of” trespassers upon school or university lands, "to forth with inform the district attorney of the county in which he shall reside of the trespass committed, of the name of the trespasser or trespassers, and of the name of the witness or witnesses," and then directs the district attorney to prosecute.
Under the power given by the first cited section, the commissioners have the care and superintendence of the swamp lands belonging to the state, and they have received letters at various times within the last three months, informing them that trespasses were daily being committed on such lands, and, particularly as to those lying near the Mississippi, that preparations were on foot for extensive trespasses during the present season, in the cutting and carrying away of timber. We have been urged from different sources to appoint agents to attend to the interests of the state, and prevent, if possible, the commission of such depredations.
The provision made by section 49, chap. 134 R. S., above cited, is evidently altogether inadequate to affect any good result in sparsely settled counties, and in those it is, chicfly, that such trespasses are committed. A more effective mode of prosecution should also be provided than that indicated in section 47 of the same chap. for the poosecution of trespassers upon school and university lands, and should embrace in its operation cases of trespass upon every description of lands belonging to the state.
In conclusion we feel it to be our duty to press upon the attention of the legislature the fact, that during the five years that this vast fund, amounting now to nearly two millions of dollars, has been under the management of commissioners, the representatives of the people have never made it matter of investigation whether the business relating to it has been done prudently, honestly, and according to law. The people are entitled to know whether it has been so managed or not, and a thorough investigation is especially due to the officers who have had charge of it, that their honor and
integrity may be vindicated. Moreover, in a business so extensive
ALEXANDER T. GRAY.