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uous residents, and that which is sought by purchasers for the value of the timber thereon, or some other marked and apparent advantage, which can be sold. Why then should this land be put into market at a price graduated by the supposed value of that which is at present unsaleable and nearly valueless, and entirely unfitted for any purposes of utility?
The committee believe, therefore, that a minimum price of five dollars, with the proper exe: cise of care and sound discretion on the part of the commissioner of the State Land Office ic the sale of lands, the value of which in many instances may far exceed the minimum, can be productive of no injustice or injury to any part of the State. While the valuable portions of these lands, which have been already too long with. held from market, will find their way into the hands of actual settlers, other portions less suited to agricultural purposes, will (as the various contemplated railroads progress) be continually increasing in value, and a fund, under the conditions of this bill continually increasing, especially set apart for re-claiming and rendering valuable that class of lands now worthless and pernicious.
The subject of the disposal of the proceeds of these lands has been one of no less perplexity to your committee than of solicitude to the people of the State. And in this respect, your committee cannot fail to appreciate, and commend that feature in this bill which provides for funding the principal, and the use of the interest only, and by making this bill a law the possibility of defeating the object of the grant or of seriously impairing the fund, by misapprehension or misapplication is to a great extent avoided. By using the interest only, an inadvertent error of one year, or one session, by which an appropriation may be misapplied or perverted can readily be corrected at the next; and in a period of a very few years, an amount equal to the whole principal will have been expended in drainage improvement, and such other meritorious objects and purposes, as the wisdom of any future Legislature may deem expedient, and the productive source of all this benefit remain unimpaired in its pristine faithfulness.
Of the interest of this fund twenty-five per cent. is set apart by the bill
, for the purpose of drainage improvements; should this proportion seem too small for that purpose, it must be remembered that the State has as yet no settled system or matured plan of drainago established or even devised.
While the State recognizes the obligation imposed by the conditions of this grant, and is morally bound to secure the ultimate reclamation, drainage and improvement of the lands, and should not in the slightest degree seek to evade or avoid its responsibility in this respect, the grant does not fix the mode by which this is to be performed. Indeed the drainage, (as your committee believe), is not a condition precedent to the title of the State to these lands, and the manner and time of draining of necessity must vary with circumstances, and is left by the grant under the exclusive control of Legislative enactment.
The lands sold heretofore, under the operation of the law of 1851, if retained by the purchasers, and the lands hereafter to be sold under this prospective law are, alike by the terms of this bill, subject to drainage by the purchasers. This seems but just and equitable, and your committee deem it desirable to dispose of all lands in this grant, under this condition and subject to the same liability.
When this is found from practical experience, to amount to an absolute restriction or prohibition of the sale, it then becomes an act of prudence as well as justice, that the State should drain all such lands, susceptible of reclamation before offering them for sale. The sale of these lands, however, with the definite understanding upon the part of the purchasers, that all such purchases are made of the lands subject to drainage by the purchasers, (it is believed) will avoid almost endless dissatisfaction, and much serious future Legislative annoyance.
But how much of this land shall be drained ? how shall it be drained, and when? are questions which require much preliminary investigation to effect any accurate solution of this difficult problem.
Should this bill become a law, the interest appropriated to drainage purposes, small as it is, can only be left unproductive in the treasury, until some feasible plan can be devised and adopted for its safe and prudent application. And should the twenty-five per cent. ultimately prove inadequate or insufficient for that purpose, future legislatures can remedy the evil, in the light of greater information, than is now possible for this body to obtain.
The balance of the interest, or seventy-five per cont. of the interest of the entire fund, this bill devotes to the support of primary schools, leav
ing the principal (as before observed) under the control of subsequent legislation.
Your committee are deciedly of the opinion that this disposition will best meet the wishes, and subserve the interests of a large majority of the people of the entire State.
Our primary schools are the foundation of our entire educational system, and the application of this part of this fund to this most popular branch, will therefore confer its advantages most universally, and contribute most directly to benefit the whole people.
While your committee rejoice in the high character of the various public and private institutions of learning already established, and concur cheerfully in the Executive recommendation for the establishment of additional normal schools, and a college for the education of females, they firmly believe that no general system of education will shed its blessings upon, and benefit the masses of the people, except through the system of common schools now established in this State, and
other application of this surplus fund must, of necessity, be to a great extent local and not universal in its benefits and blessings.
After a long and anxious review, careful examination and due delib. eration on this part of the subject, your committee have been unable to discover any plan for the disposition of the surplus proceeds arising from these sales, so just and equitable in itself, and conferring such universal benefit, as to appropriate the same exclusively to the support and benefit of the primary schools.
Your committee believe the net proceeds of these lands prudently managed, will eventually amount to at least six millions of dollars, the interest of one-fourth of which will give to the drainage fund nearly one hundred thousand dollars per annum-expressly set apart for that purpose—and three times this amount annually distributed with the interest of the Primary School Fund, will enable the State to educate overy child within its borders at the public expense; an achievement almost udparalleled in the history of our sister States. And your committee be lieve that by adopting this policy, the people will be better satisfied that their interests have been consulted and promoted than by any other course, and that time cannot fail to demonstrate the wisdom and justice of the measure.
All of which is respectfully submitted with due deference to the adverse opinion of the majority of your committee.
AMOS C. BLODGETT, Minority of Committee on Public Lands.