Grover Cleveland

Veto Message

February 28, 1896

To the House of Representatives:

I herewith return without my approval House bill No. 2769, enitled "An act to authorize the leasing of lands for educational purposes in Arizona."

This bill provides for the leasing of all the public lands reserved to the Territory of Arizona for the benefit of its universities and schools, "under such laws and regulations as may be hereafter prescribed by the legislature of said Territory."

If the proposed legislation granted no further authority than this, it would, in terms at least, recognize the safety and propriety of leaving the desirability of leasing these lands and the limitations and safeguards regulating such leasing to be determined by the local legislature chosen by the people to make their laws and protect their interests.

Instead of stopping here, however, the bill further provides that until such legislative action the governor, the secretary of the Territory, and the superintendent of public instruction shall constitute a board for the leasing of said lands under the rules and regulations heretofore prescribed by the Secretary of the Interior. It is specifically declared that it shall not be necessary to submit said leases to the Secretary of the Interior for approval, and that no leases shall be made for a longer term than five years nor for a term extending beyond the date of the admission of the Territory to statehood.

Under these provisions the lands reserved for university and school purposes, whose value largely depends upon their standing timber, and in which every citizen of the Territory has a deep interest, may be leased and denuded of their timber by officers none of whom have been chosen by the people, and without the sanction of any law or regulation made by their representatives in the local legislature. Even the measure of protection which would be afforded the citizens of the Territory by a submission to the Secretary of the Interior of the leases proposed, and thus giving him an opportunity to ascertain whether or not they comply with his regulations, is especially withheld.

It was hardly necessary to provide in this bill that these lands might be leased "under such laws and regulations as may be hereafter prescribed by the legislature of said Territory" if the action of the legislature was to be forestalled and rendered nugatory by the immediate and unrestrained action of the officers constituted "a board for the leasing of said lands" pending such legislative consideration. These are inconsistencies which are not satisfactorily accounted for by the suggestion that the time that would elapse before the legislature could consider the subject would be important.

The protests I have received from numerous and influential citizens of the Territory indicate considerable opposition to this bill among those interested in the preservation and proper management of these school lands.


Grover Cleveland, Veto Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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