Grover Cleveland photo

Veto Message

January 17, 1894

House of Representatives:

I return without my approval House bill No. 71, entitled "An act for the relief of purchasers of timber and stone lands under the act of June 3, 1878."

This bill permits the proofs and affidavits which under present statutes parties desiring to acquire certain public lands are required to make before the registers and receivers of the land offices within which such lands are located to be made before any commissioner of the United States circuit court or before the judge or clerk of any court of records of the county or parish in which the lands are situated.

A similar bill was passed by the Fifty-second Congress and was disapproved by the Commissioner of the General Land Office and the Secretary of the Interior. The successors of these officers oppose the present bill on the ground that in its operation it would open the door to fraud and to a perversion of the intentions of the Government in relation to the public lands.

It is difficult, with the most scrupulous care, to guard the alienation of our public lands from fraud and illegal practices. It is perfectly plain, however, that the prospect of accomplishing this result is better under present laws, which require the necessary proofs to be made before land officers who are appointed for that purpose and who are under the control of the General Land Office and amenable to its regulations, than it would be by substituting other officers over whom the Land Office has no control.

Certain rules and orders of the Land Office are now in force which regulate the taking of the necessary proofs and permit oral examinations by registers and receivers. These regulations are of the utmost importance if our land laws are to be justly and honestly administered.

I fully concur in the objections made to this bill by the officers having charge of the public lands in the last Administration and by their successors who are now charged with that responsibility. I am convinced that such a relaxation of our existing land laws as is contemplated by the bill under consideration would not be in the interest of good administration.


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

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