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GRANTING PUBLIC LANDS TO THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA
WEDNESDAY, MAY 21, 1930
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will now consider H. R. 11133. I will say to the committee that we have followed the practice of waiting until the member introducing the bill made request to have it referred down for report; and this was not done until too late to get a report this morning. But there are some witnesses here whom the committee will hear on the bill, and the report will not be filed until the department is ready to submit its regular report. We will hear from Judge Garber.
Under the conditions of this one, it might be well to incorporate the bill in the hearing: The bill reads as follows:
[H. R. 11133, Seventy-first Congress, second session]
A BILL Granting to the State of Oklahoma two hundred and ten thousand acres of unappropriated nonmineral land for the benefit of its agricultural and mechanical colleges, according to the provisions of the acts of July 2, 1862, and July 23, 1866, and authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury, upon the Secretary of the Interior certifying the number of acres available and that there are not sufficient lands in the State of Oklahoma to comply with the provisions of this act, to pay to the State of Oklahoma in lieu thereof the sum of $1.25 per acre for the number of acres due said State
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the act approved July 2, 1862, entitled "An act donating public lands to the several states and Territories which may provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts" (12 Stat. L. 503), on the basis of thirty thousand acres of nonmineral land of the value of $1.25 per acre for each Senator and Representative in Congress from each State, and the act of July 23, 1866 (14 Stat. L. 208), extending the benefits of said act of July 2, 1862, to any Territory which may thereafter become a State and be admitted to the Union, are hereby made applicable to the State of Oklahoma, and the said State is hereby granted two hundred and ten thousand acres of unappropriated nonmineral public land within the State of Oklahoma: Provided, That the State of Oklahoma, by its governor and secretary of state, shall file with the Secretary of the Interior, within six months after the approval of this act, its acceptance of the terms and conditions of this grant as specified and contained in said acts of July 2, 1862 and July 23, 1866.
SEC. 2. In the event the Secretary of the Interior finds there is not a sufficient number of acres of unappropriated public lands in the State of Oklahoma to carry out the provisions of this act, then he shall certify to the Secretary of the Treasury a statement that there are not sufficient lands in the State of Oklahoma to comply with this act, giving the number of acres available and the number of acres that will still remain due said State; and the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized to pay to the State of Oklahoma, for the benefit of its agricultural and mechanical colleges therein established under the aforesaid acts, the sum of $1.25 per acre for the amount due said State according to the report of the Secretary of the Interior, which shall be a full and complete satisfaction of the grant made by said acts giving to new States thirty thousand acres of public land of the value of $1.25 per acre for each Senator and Representative in Congress.
SEC. 3. Acceptance of the grants made in this act shall be a full and complete satisfaction of all claims against the United States, according to the terms of the enabling act admitting said State to the Union.
It is a bill granting to the State of Oklahoma 210,000 acres of unappropriated non-mineral land for the benefit of its agricultural and mechanical colleges, and so forth.
STATEMENT OF HON. MILTON C. GARBER, CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE FROM OKLAHOMA
Mr. GARBER. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, we appreciate the opportunity of this hearing at this time, and the willingness of each member to consider the matter.
In view of the brief time at our disposal I will offer evidenc through witnesses who have made a thorough study of this question and who are qualified to present it to you, so that you may clearly and quickly understand the points which may arise in your consideration of the proposed measure.
It so happens that the senior Member of the Oklahoma delegation previously introduced a bill in the exact language of the bill now under consideration, and presented it to your committee in the year 1917. He did it so well that he convinced every member of the committee that the legislation was fully warranted by the facts in reference to the State of Oklahoma.
Mr. EATON. Have you any information as to the amount of public land remaining in Oklahoma?
Mr. GARBER. Not definitely; no; but the public land office. reported as of July 1, 1915 only 42,177 acres of vacant public lands remaining.
It will be recalled that the act under which the claim for Oklahoma is made in the provisions of the pending bill, was an act donating public lands to the several States and Territories which might provide colleges for the teaching of agriculture and the mechanical arts. It granted to the several States an amount of public land to be apportioned to each State in quantities equal to 30,000 acres for each Senator and Representative in Congress to which the States were, respectively, entitled by the apportionment under the census of 1860; that the lands so apportioned, whenever there were public lands in a State subject to sale at private entry at $1.25 per acre, should be selected from such lands within the limits of such State and in States in which there was not a sufficient quantity of such public lands for this purpose, land scrip to the amount in acres for the deficiency of its distributive share was to be issued to such State.
Section 4 provided, among other things, that all the moneys derived from the sale of the lands thus granted or from the sales of the land scrip issued in lieu thereof should be invested in stocks of the United States or of the States, or of some other safe stock, yielding not less than 5 per cent upon the par value thereof, and that the moneys so invested should constitute a perpetual fund, the principal of which should remain forever undiminished (except so far as was provided in section 5 of the act, which permitted the investment of not exceeding 10 per cent in sites for buildings) and that interest on which shall be inviolably appropriated by each State which may take and claim the benefit of this act, to the endowment, support, and maintenance of at least one college where the leading object should be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and
the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the respective States might prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life.
The above act was undoubtedly the most important act for the promotion of higher education ever enacted in all history. We specifically request each member of the committee to carefully study the provisions of the act and to observe how closely and wisely it is drawn to provide for its ultimate purpose, namely, the grant of a permanent endowment which should never be diminished but should continue on forever as a continuing heritage to succeeding generations. I might pause here to call the attention of the committee to the construction that has been placed upon the act in its administration. The act requires the investment of the moneys so as to yield not less than 5 per cent. That was considered a reasonable rate of interest at the time of the enactment. Since that time the rate of interest has decreased to 34 per cent on bonds of the United States, but the law is construed and administered so as to require the interest rate to yield 5 per cent and where it does not, the State by appropriations must make up the deficiency. Construction and administration, in equal degree as rigid and strict, has protected unimpaired the endowment to each State so that to-day 68 noble institutions are rooted in the soil of the several States as a result of this legislation promoting higher education and specializing in the arts of agriculture and mechanics. All the States in the Union, with only one exception, are enjoying the benefits of such endowment. That exception is the State of Oklahoma and the pending bill before you for consideration is designed to extend to this State the benefits of the act now enjoyed by her sister States.
The provisions of the act of 1862 were extended by the act of 1866 so as to include any Territory and in the following language:
Provided, That when any Territory shall become a State and be admitted into the Union, such new State shall be entitled to the privileges of said act of July 2, 1862, by expressing the acceptance therein required within three years from the date of its admission into the Union, and providing the college or colleges within five years after such acceptance.
Did Oklahoma take the first prerequisite step to secure the benefits of the act? That question must be answered in the affirmative. Oklahoma was admitted to the Union November 16, 1907. By Senate Joint Resolution 3, approved February 23, 1910, Oklahoma accepted the provisions of the act of 1862 as amended and obligated itself to comply therewith. This acceptance was 2 years 3 months and 17 days after the admission to statehood, which was not only within the time limit prescribed by law, but 3 months and 17 days earlier than actually required. The State had five years from the date of her acceptance to provide a college or colleges where the leading object was the teaching of such branches of learning as were related to agriculture and the mechanic arts in such manner as the legislature of the State might prescribe. This requirement was fully met in the establishment of the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College, at Stillwater, Okla., by the Territory in the fall of 1891, and the resolution of the first legislature of the Territory to accept the conditions of the second Morrill Act of 1890. This resolution was
passed on December 25, 1890, and the college has ever since been maintained by liberal appropriations by the State.
If the committee finds that the two requirements-first, the acceptance of the grant within three years after the admission of the State, and, second, the establishment of a college as required by the act, within five years from the date of its acceptance, were fulfilled, then the committee must find also that the conditions have been fully met and that the State is entitled to receive the benefits of the act of 1862. Having thus found such compliance with the act, any delay ensuing in the State's realization of the benefits thereof can not change the status thus fixed. There is no statute of limitation when once the claim is brought within the provisions of the act.
Why Oklahoma has not received the benefits of the act when she has fully complied with the terms thereof may be a natural inquiry, but one that is not material in affecting her rights thus fixed. The officials of the State were of the opinion that after full compliance, the Secretary of the Interior had the authority to issue an order granting to the State its apportionment of public lands provided for in the act. At the time of statehood in 1907 the State filed an application to enter lands in the Guthrie, Lawton, and El Reno land districts under the act of July 2, 1862, and the act of July 23, 1866. The application was refused and an appeal had to the Commissioner of the General Land Office. This being denied, an appeal was taken to the Secretary of the Interior who rendered his decision, holding that because the land was to be apportioned according to the census of 1860, at a time when the Territory had no population, it was an indeterminable measure of apportionment and, therefore, not within the jurisdiction of his department, that it was a matter of legislative jurisdiction and, therefore, a question for Congress to determine. He cited numerous cases of States having secured the benefits of the act by legislation similar to that provided for in the pending bill.
Subsequently, bills were introduced in Congress and finally culminated in a unanimous report by the House Committee on Public Lands of H. R. 15156, Sixty-fourth Congress, second session, of which the pending bill before you is a copy. The bill was favorably reported and placed upon the Consent Calendar. Objection being made, it failed of consideration and passage. On February 5, 1917, objection was again made and it was stricken from the Consent Calendar. The intervention of the war precluded further consideration until the introduction of a bill by Representative Howard in 1924, upon which no hearings were held, the economic policy of the administration being so rigidly enforced as to fully justify the delay in the creation of an obligation which would undoubtedly have been disapproved by the Director of the Budget.
The author of the present bill introduced a similar bill during the Sixty-ninth and Seventieth Congresses. This brief recitation of the history of the legislation, if deemed material, might be supplemented by a complete recitation of facts filling in the intervening periods, but would not contribute anything toward the material considerations here presented. That Oklahoma has not received the benefits of the act would be the final consideration, if it had not already been so conceded by all the agents of the Government having to do with the administration of the act. The Treasurer of the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College, having charge of its revenues in
the administration of his official duties during the past seven years, testified that the college received no moneys under the land grant act of 1862, and the reports of the Secretary of the Interior Department and of the Bureau of Education fully corroborate that statement. The House Committee on Public Lands held extensive hearings during which it was unanimously found that the State had not received any lands in lieu of the grant of lands provided for in the act of 1862 or in the amendments thereto. The Bureau of Education, in its Bulletin No. 13, issued in 1918 on the subject of "The Land Grant of 1862 and the Land Grant Colleges," at page 41, states:
In the State enabling act of 1906 Congress granted to the State for the Agricultural and Mechanical College and for the Colored Agricultural and Normal University one-third of the thirteenth section grant and for the Agricultural and Mechanical College alone, 250,000 acres of land. It does not appear that either of these grants was in lieu of the grants to the State under the act of 1862 or that they had any of the conditions of the 1862 grant attached to them.
Section 12 of the enabling act specifically provided that the grant of 250,000 acres to the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Oklahoma was in lieu of the grant of land for purposes of internal improvements made to new States by the eighth section of the act of September 4, 1841, and of any claim the State might have under the act of September 28, 1850, and section 2479 of the Revised Statutes, making a grant of swamp and overflowed lands which was not extended to the State of Oklahoma.
From a casual glance at the contributions to the State at the time of her admission, the uninformed might receive the impression that Congress had provided liberally by the several grants to the new State and that these in toto should be construed as in lieu of the lands provided by the act of 1862. That such lands were not made in lieu of the endowment provided by the act of 1862 fully appears when you analyze the items of contribution made to the State. Investigation will show that considering the disadvantages and the limited source of revenues of the new State, Oklahoma was given less in contributions than any other State admitted to the Union.
What were the actual conditions at the time of her admission? Congress required the inclusion of the two Territories, composing the State. The Indian Territory composed the east half and Oklahoma Territory composed the west half. The east half was occupied by the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians and consisted of 19,840,000 acres of land, not one single acre of which was subject to taxation. It belonged to the Five Civilized Tribes, was inalienable and by former treaties made nontaxable, and all that which was allotted to the Indians was nontaxable. This solid mass of contiguous territory was about 150 miles running east and west and about 250 miles running north and south. Its population exceeded 700,000 people. Its land was chained to the existing ownership. It could not be sold. No title could be conveyed. It was not taxable. There were no public schools, no public improvements, no county court houses, no county jails, no bridges. In all this vast scope of territory with its population composed of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians there was no public improvement of any kind or character and no civil organization.
To all the States admitted to the Union since 1805 Congress had granted sections 16 and 36 to each incoming State for public school purposes. There were no sections 16 and 36 in the Indian Territory