OCR Interpretation


The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, January 16, 1914, NOON EDITION, Image 2

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1914-01-16/ed-1/seq-2/

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recommended by this office June 9, 1886, to recover said mineral lands to
the United States."
In a letter dated June 21, 1886, Secretary Lamar, -writing to the chair
man of the Public Lands Committee of the Senate, said: "I concur with
the views expressed by the commissioner and in the conclusion arrived at
r- by him relative to the-institution of suits."
For reasons which can be guessed by persons familiar with "practical
politics" and departmental jugglery, these suits were never started. In
stead, Commissioner Sparks was discovered to be a disturbing and "imprac
tical person and after anopen rupture with Lamar he was ousted from the
department.
These are the lands in the upper Michigan peninsula which constitute
a large part of the wealth of the copper baroha They are the lands to which
Secretary of Labor Wm. B. Wilson
has reference in his published state
ment that the company has extracted
profits to the amount of $200,000,000
on an investment of $1,250,000. It is
the "ownership" of these mines
which the mine operators continually
quote as giving them the right to
"protect their property" by import
ing militiamen and gunmen to car
ry on their campaign against the de
mands of the men who work in the
mines, who are asking a living wage
and decent working conditions.
Title to these mineral lands goes
back to a grant by Congress to a pri
vate corporation which in return was
to build a ship canal, harbor . and
breakwater on the upper peninsula of
Michigan on the neck of land known
as "The Portage." As matter of fact
the company never properly con
structed the canal and works, but
when confronted with a congres
sional inquiry and a threat of for
feiture of the lands which were the
price of the work they got from the
governor of the state of Michigan a
certification that the work had been
properly done. The company was
originally given two years to com
plete the work, but this by two sub
sequent laws was extended to eight
years.
On the last day before the eight
years expired the governor gave a
qualified certification, his qualifica
tion being based on the fact that the
company had permitted its officers
to take title to these lands in their
own name.
Aside from the question whether
the canal and breakwater were built
so as to conform to the terms of the
grant, the company violated the
grant in selecting the lands; and here
was the monumental fraud. The
grant specifically exempted all lands
which had been designated by the
United States as "mineral," and in
structed the ship canal company to
select- lands in odd-numbered sec
tions, such locations to be from un
selected lands nearest to the location
of the ship canal. The report of
Commissioner Sparks shows that the
company violated both provisions.
They selected 93,712.88 acres of
lands "which were not at the time of
selection those nearest the location
of the canal;" and they selected also
68,647.47 acres of lands "which had
been proclaimed and offered as min
eral prior o the passage of the grant
ing act." .
There was no question as to the
designation of these as mineral lands.
They had been offered by the gov
ernment for sale as "mineral," hav
ing been designated in part by agents
and by the geological officers.
In February, 1886, Senator Pres
ton B. Plumb of Kansas introduced a
bill (Senate 1507) "to reclaim to the.
United States certain lands improper
ly and illegally listed to the state of
Michigan for the Portage Lake and
Lake Superior Canal Company."
(The successor to this company was
the Lake Superior Ship Canal, Rail
way &. Iron Co., and the title subse-

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