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TIUS AID VOOATSa
7 ONE OF THIS MANY 8CHOIS IN WHICH CONGRESS 13 ENGAGED. In The Advocate of September 10, 1890, a Washington correspondent calls attention to a scheme contem plating the purchase of a large tract of land in the District of Columbia to be converted into a public park It was proposed as a part of the scheme to extend the streets of the city in that direction some six or eight miles outside the city limits, at an expense of $2,500,000, a bill for which was in troduced in the senate by the late Senator Ingalls. The true inwardness of this scheme, and the influences that are behind it, have been brought more clearly to light as the successive steps in its progress have been de veloped. The tract of land selected for this proposed park embraces the homes of something over eighty citizens of the District of Columbia, who have pur chased and paid for the lands and built upon them in the belief that they would have the common right of American citizens to occupy their possessions. The act of congress establishing the park was approved September 27, 1890. From a published circular re lating to this act, and to the steps taken to carry out its provisions, we obtain the following facts: The first section ct the act provides that com missioners should be designated to secure "a public park or pleasure ground for the benefit and enjoyment or the people of the United States' The second section appropriates tl,200,0C0 for the cost of land and expenses incidental to tak ing the same for the park. The park commission selected 1,980 acres of land extending along Bock creek a distance of four miles, the average width exceeding one mile, and embracing, as stated above, the hornet of over eighty citizens of the district The commissioners were empowered by the act to estimate the value of the lands to be taken and purchase them from the owners. In the event of their falling to agree with the owners as to the value of their lands, the act authorized their condemnation for public use. But three owners agreed to accept the prices offered by the park commission. Proceedings for condem nation were then had. Appraisers were p- pointed by the court. The ap praisers mad) their award December 19, 1891. These more than eighty homes are thus seized by the government for a public pleasure ground, and the own ers and occupants are forced by legal process to vacate and relinquish their titles for such award as the appraisers saw fit to make. The justice of this award will appear later on. The first question that naturally suggests itself to the mind of the reader at this point is, who was ask ing for this park? "What particular portion of the people of the United States demanded this great public pleasure ground f We imagine the reader to say, why, the citizens of Washington and the District of Co lumbia, of course; who else would have any great interest in it? You are wrong, gentle reader; these peo ple did not ask for it 'To whom, then, is the country indebted for this great boon to the dear people? Ah! right here, in the answer to this ques tion, is the whole milk in the cocoa nut. A short distance from the lands selected for this park, and stretch ing along parallel with it, but sepa rated from it by a few intervening farms, is a strip of land of somewhat greater extent than the park itself which is owned by a syndicate of speculators. The wisdom of this sep aration of intervening farms will ap pear as our story progresses. On April 13, 1891, President' Har rison filed the official order approving as reasonable the values fixed by the appraisers upon the lands and homes seized and condemned. The public will be able to judge of the reasona bleness of these awards from the following facts. The lands pur chased by the syndicate of land'spec ulators before 'referred to, stretching along parallel with the park, and which are said to be inferior in value to the lands embraced in the confis cated homes, were purchased at pri vate sale at an'average cost of $1,200 per acre, while the price awarded to the owners of homes, with all their improvement?, in the park grounds averaged $680 per acre. Now, it was the land syndicate that worked up the park scheme, and the shrewdness of the entire plan com mands the highest admiration of all who appreciate human gall. Con gress and the president fell into the scheme with a readiness that must impress the reader with a favorable idea of the willingness of our public officials to aid their fellow men when in need. Let us now turn our attention briefly to some of the details of this scheme. Let it be remembered that there was no demand on the part of the people of the United States for such a park. The citizens of Wash ington and of the District of Columbia did not want it They already had 3,429 acres of publio parks, and there was no demand for any increase, ex cept from the little band of patriots who owned the syndicate land a short distance from the proposed park. They felt the need of a great publio pleasure ground where the children of the people of the United States might go out and read the signs "Keep Off the Grass," and learn to be patriotic citizens of this great coun try; and congress was not slow to ap preciate the importance of such a school of patriotism. Accordingly the act was promptly passed for this pur pose. As before stated it appropriated 81,200,000 ,toward the purchase of the land and the incidental expenses necessary to have it condemned and taken in by the board of commission ers. It did more than this. Section 6 of the act authorizes the commis sioners to make an assessment upon adjacent lands should the appropria tion fall short in order to supply the deficiency. This was justified on the ground that these adjacent laads will be "especially benefitted" by the park improvements. Of course the appro priation fell short. The commission ers were not required to give bonds, and no one to-day 'kknows how much money they have expended or for what purposes it has been paid. The reader will now be able to see the wisdom of the syndicate in secur ing lands not absolutely adjacent to the park. They are near enough to be immensely increased in value by the park improvements, and yet far I enough away to escape the assess ment. The result is, the farms and homes lying immediately adjacent to the park have been assessed beyond the ability of. many of the owners to pay, and this assessment will eventu ally result in a confiscation of the property, which, will be taken in by the patriotic syndicate for the amount levied against it and the costs inci dent to its collection. As one of the incidents of the ex ecution of this scheme, we quote the following from a Washington paper, which explains itself: The subjoined correspondence will be read with Interest bordering on excitement. Mr. Ilarvey L. Page, the well known architect. Is the owner, and has been for several years, of a suburban home In the district recently con demned for the proposed Kock creek park. As everybody knows, the price of all the property so condemned has been fixed by the appraisers and sanctioned by the courts, and the appro priation to pay for the same was made by con gress over a year ago. But, as fno money has yet been paid or even tendered to the owners, and as the latter are still taxed on their prop erty, they naturally assume that, for the present at least, they are constructively In possession. Upon this Issue the engineer officer In charge of this barmeclde park has entered into a contro versy with Mr. Page's attorney, Mr. Samuel Maddox.wltu what result the following corre spondence will partially disclose : District or Columbia, ) Rnoixicrb Dbpaktmknt, V Washington, D, C. May 28, 1393. ) Afr. Earwy Page, Washington, D. C: Diab Sib: I am Informed that you have taken possession of one of the houses In Rock creek park. Please inform me by what authority you have done so. Very respectfully, O. J. FlEBRUIK, Captain of Engineers, U. 8. A. Ex-officer R. C. P. Com. 462 Louisiana Avinuk, I Washington, D. C, May 31, isoa. j CavL O. J. FUbtrger, Captain of Engineers, U. 8. A., x officer If. C. P. Com.: Dkab Sib: Mr, Ilarvey L. Page has referred tome for answer your communication of the 28th instant, inquiring by what authority he has "taken possession of one of the houses In Rock creek park." . In reply I beg to say that Mr. Page bought and paid for the particular house In question many years ago, and is under the impression that it belongs to him. True it Is that for more than a year there has been much talk on the street corners and In the publio press of this city, and likewise In the courts, about the establishment of a public park along Rock creek. But when the time of pay ment came, it was discovered that the treasurer of the United States did not have the requisite funds to meet the award of the appraisers. Thereupon there was a conference between the secretary of the treasury and the chairman of the house committee on appropriations, and a scheme was devised to postpone payment, with out advertising to the world the country's in solvency. . There is a rumor current in the region of the city hall that the matter has been referred to the attorney general to report; whether or not the corps of engineers, U. 8. A., may not take pos session of the lands Included within the limits of the so-called park without the formality of pay ing or tendering to the owners of these lands the respective values thereof as ascertained by the appraisers. But it seems that the attorney gen eral, in glancing casually through the constitu tion of the United States, has discovered that in time of peace private property cannot be taken for public use without compensation. No ex ception seems to have been made la favor of the corps of engineers U. 8. A., at least none has as yet been discovered by the distinguished law yer from Indianapolis, who at present presides over the department of Justice. Pending such discovery I have taken the liberty to advise Mr. rage that he may safely seek refuge under his own oaks from the efful gent rays of summer suns, especially now that the dangerous denizen of the Zoo the lamented grizzly is no longer in a condition to do damage la that locality. The cool character of your com munication will add further comfort to the grate ful breezes and the musical murmurlngs of the water. I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant, Samuil Maddox. The law of the land is, however, supreme, and all resistence to the powers that be is futile. The com missioners will obtain possession of all the land, they will levy sufficient assessment upon the adjacent farms and homes to enable them to be taken in, they will obtain all needed appro priations for improvements from con gress, and the whole scheme as origin ally planned by the syndicate will go through. We might go much more into detail and give many more of the facts and incidents relative to the scheme and the several steps of its execution, but we have given enough to convey a fair idea of what is being done by the servants of the dear peo ple at the beautiful capital .city of this great republic Millions of voters all over the land have demanded of congress an act re storing silver as a money metal, and such other legislation as would re lieve the depressed condition of American industries, but it has been impossible to secure such legislation. While this is the case, a private land syndicate, composed, at most, of a few individuals, is able to secure just the kind of legislation it desires for the advancement of its private purposes. The great and powerful government of the United States, through its con gress and executive, thus enters into a deliberate conspiracy with this syn dicate in a scheme of robbery of an other class of American citizens by which some are compelled to part with the homes they have made for their families for 50 per cent of their value, and the homes of others are likely to be confiscated through the assessments authorized by the act cre ating the park. And for such purposes do the people of this great country elect representatives to congress. If one could believe half the things that are said of Jerry Simpson by the press reporter?, he would have to ad mit that Jerry is the most wonder fully "diversified" man in the world. Of late they have been painting him as a bicycle dude who has lost all hia sympathy for the laboring men. Now they have him transformed into a blood-thirsty, rip-roaring anarchist, who carries an arsenal, makes incen diary speeches, and dances a ji on the speaker's desk when he hears of an assassination. Next thing we know they'll be making a modern Claude Duval out of our Jerry. Well, that Republican ticket is surely a nauseating mess to dish up to honest voters. A soulless dema gogue for governor; a defaulter and an all-round scoundrel for congress man at large; a gambler and a'scab tradesman for treasurer. Then to complete the dose, in the Third dis trict they have Hamphrey, who under took to trade the senatorship off for a seat in congress; in the Second, Fog horn Funston, and in the Fifth, J. R. Burton, whose reputation smells loud enough to drive a dog out of a tan yard. It was not nice of Sidney Cooke, the Democratic nominee of the Fifth district, calling Harrison a bunco steerer just after Jerry Simpson had charged the administration with running long horned steers into the Cherokee strip for the benefit of the campaign fund. It is probably Guer illa Elkins who does most of the "steering."