History of America’s One Percent – Episode #17

hogaf-logo-wip2In this podcast series we dive into the long and shadowy history of America’s ruling elite through the works of authors who were either silenced, suppressed, or forgotten, to discover the origins of the 1% and from where their power and wealth was, and still is, extracted.

Each recording will be approx. 1 hour in length to allow for easy consumption of the material.  The narrator will only interrupt the reading to provide insight, spell names, read informative footnotes, or provide definitions for archaic words.

In this episode – Continued reading of History of Great American Fortunes by Gustavus Myers.  Includes Part III, Chapter I:  The Seizure of the Public Domain, continued.  Corruption Totally Out of Control in America.  States Convene Constitutional Conventions in the 1850’s.  They Attempt to Amend the Constitution to Rid Themselves of Nonstop Corruption.  Two-Thirds of All Property in Massachusetts Owned by Corporations in 1853.  The Complete Impotence of the People to Stop Corruption.  155,000,000 Acres of Land to the Railroads.  Land Given On Strict Condition of Railroad Completion.  Railroads Bribe Congress to Extend Construction Periods.  Railroads Sell Off Land Instead of Building On It.  Only 607,000 Acres Recouped by the Government for Failure to Complete Construction.  These Small Forfeitures Overturned by the Judicial System.  The Supreme Court Legalizes Fraud.  Coal and Iron Declared Not to Be Minerals.  Railroads Relieve Themselves of Property Taxes Through Lobbying Government.  The American Aristocracy Emerges.  Laws Passed For Supposed Benefit of the People, Really Benefit Corporations. The Desert Land Law, The Stone and Timber Act, The “Cash Sales” Act, and The Exchange of Land Law.  National Forest Reservations: The Creation of Railroad Corporations?  Government “Accidentally” Includes Worthless Railroad Land in Forest Reservation Area.  Railroads Swap Worthless Land for Mineral, Timber and Agricultural Land.  The Plundering of Mineral Wealth Via the Coal Land Act.  Oil Companies Become Hotbeds of Bribery and Corruption.  Every Administration and Political Party Since the American Revolution Corrupted.

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[12] Ohio Convention Debates, 1850-51, ii : 174.

[13] Debates in the Massachusetts Convention, 1853, iii : 59.

[14] Constitutional Debates, Iowa, 1857, ii : 777.

[15] The Principal of those decisions was that of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Schluenberg vs. Harriman (Wallace’s Supreme Court Reports, xxi : 44).  In many of the railroad grants it was provided that in case the railroad lines were not completed within certain specified times, the lands unsold or unpatented should revert to the United States.  The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States practically made these provisions nugatory, and indirectly legalized the crassest frauds.
The original grants excluded mineral lands, but by subsequent fraudulent official construction, coal and iron were declared not to be covered by the term mineral.
Commissioner Sparks of the U. S. General Land Office estimated in 1885 that, in addition to the tens of millions of acres the railroad corporations had secured by fraud under form of law, they had overdrawn ten million acres, “which vast amount has been treated by the corporations as their absolute property, but is really public land of the United States recoverable to the public domain.”  (House Executive Docs., First Session, Forty-ninth Congress, 1885-86, ii : 184.)  It has never been recovered.

[16] “Labor, Land and Law” : 338-339.

[17] Report of the Secretary of the Interior for 1883.
Reporting to the Secretary of the Interior Lamar, in response to a U. S. Senate resolution for information, William A. J. Sparks, Commissioner of the General Land Office, gave statistics showing an enormous number of fraudulent land entries, and continued:
“It was the ease with which frauds could be perpetrated under existing laws, and the immunity offered by a hasty issue of patents, that encouraged the making of fictitious and fraudulent entries.  The certainty of a thorough investigation would restrain such practices, but fraud and great fraud must inevitably exist so long as the opportunity for fraud is preserved in the laws, and so long as it is hoped by the procurers and promoters of  fraud that examinations may be impeded or suppressed.”  If, Commissioner Sparks urged, the preemption, commuted-homestead, timber-land, and desert-land laws were repealed, then, “the illegal appropriation of the remaining public lands would be reduced to a minimum.”—U. S. Senate Documents, First Session, Forty-ninth Congress, 1885-86, Vol. viii, Doc. No. 134 : 4.

[18] “Within the cattle region,” reported Commissioner Sparks, “it is notorious that actual settlements are generally prevented and made practically impossible outside the proximity of towns, through the unlawful control of the country, maintained by cattle companies.” —U. S. Senate Docs., 1885-86, Vol. viii, No. 134 : 4 and 5.
Acting Commissioner Harrison of the General Land Office, reporting on March 14, 1884, to Secretary of the Interior Teller, showed in detail the vast extent of the unlawful fencing of public lands. In the Arkansas Valley in Colorado at least 1,000,000 acres of public domain were illegally seized. The Prairie Cattle Company, composed of Scotch capitalists, had fenced in more than a million acres in Colorado, and a large number of other cattle companies in Colorado had seized areas ranging from 20,000 to 200,000 acres. “In Kansas,” Harrison went on, “entire counties are reported as [illegally] fenced. In Wyoming, one hundred and twenty-five cattle companies are reported having fencing on the public lands. Among the companies and persons reported as having ‘immense’ or ‘very large’ areas inclosed . . . are the Dubuque, Cimarron and Renello Cattle [companies] in Colorado; the Marquis de
Morales in Colorado; the Wyoming Cattle Company (Scotch) in Wyoming; and the Rankin Live Stock Company in Nebraska.
“There is a large number of cases where inclosures range from 1,000 to 25,000 acres and upwards.
“The reports of special agents show that the fraudulent entries of public land within the enclosures are extensively made by the procurement and in the interest of stockmen, largely for the purpose of controlling the sources of water supply.” —”Unauthorized Fencing of Public Lands,” U. S. Senate Docs., First Session, Forty-eighth Congress, 1883-84, Vol. vi, Doc. No. 127 : 2.

[19] Fraudulent transaction,” House Ex. Doc. 47, Part iv, Forty-sixth Congress, Third Session, speaks of the phrasing of the act as a mere subterfuge for despoilment; that the act was passed specifically “for the benefit of capitalists,” and “that fraud was used in sneaking it through Congress.”

[20] House Ex. Doc. 47 : 356.

[21] Report of the Commissioner of the General Land Office for October, 1885 : 48 and 79.

[22] “The Railways, the Trusts and the People” : 137.

[23] In a letter to the author Senator Pettigrew instanced the case of the Northern Pacific Railroad. “The Northern Pacific,” he wrote, “having patented the top of Mount Tacoma, with its perpetual snow and the rocky crags of the mountains elsewhere, which had been embraced within the forest reservation, could now swap these worthless lands, every acre, for the best valley and grazing lands owned by the Government, and thus the Northern Pacific acquired about two million acres more of mineral, forest and farming lands.” (See subsequent chapter on the Hill fortune, dealing with the immense timber holdings of the Weyerhaeuser interests. P. 661.)

[24] Nor did it yield. Roosevelt’s denunciations in no way affected the steady expropriating process. A controversy, in 1909, between Secretary of the Interior Ballinger and U. S. Chief Forester Gifford Pinchot brought a great scandal to a head.  It was revealed that several powerful syndicates of capitalists had filed fraudulent claims to Alaskan coal lands, the value of which is estimated to be from $75,000,000 to $1,000,000,000.
At a session of the Irrigation Congress at Spokane, Washington, Gov. Pardee of California charged that the timber, the minerals and the soil had long since become the booty of corporations whose political control of public servants was notorious.

[25] Annual Report. Attorney General of the United States, 1935 : 97.

[26] Annual Report, Secretary of the Interior, 1931 : 27 et seq.

[27] “The tract books of my office show,” reported Commissioner Sparks, “that available public lands are already largely covered by entries, selections and claims of various kinds.” The actual settler was compelled to buy up these claims, if, indeed, he was permitted to settle on the land.— U. S. Senate Ex. Docs., 1885-86, Vol. viii, Doc. No. 134 : 4.

[28] “State Land Settlement Problems and Policies in the United States,” U. S. Department of Agriculture, Technical Bulletin No. 357, May, 1933 : 27.

[29] The Resettlement Administration,” September, 1935 : 9.

[30] “State Land Resettlement Problems and Policies,” etc. : 127.

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