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Page:Quarterlyoforego10oreg 1.djvu/404

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F. G. Young
  1. gon through act of March 12, 1860; e, tide lands through sovereignty of state; f, five per cent of the net proceeds of the sales of public lands within the state by the national government. At first 10 and now 25 per cent of the receipts from sales of timber from reservations within the state.

The measure of wealth that the people of Oregon have in common today for the support of the public activities absolutely essential to a democracy has been determined by the policy they permitted in the disposition of the grants of land made to them by the national government. The social conditions involved in the distribution of land ownership are to a certain extent resultants of the same policy. That policy either supported or opposed the forces making for wide and uniform distribution, or for uneven and massed holdings. Even the speculative mania was fostered or starved. Oregon's administration of its various grants reflects the ideas and spirit of the people during the first 50 years of statehood.

For what transpired in connection with the grants made by Congress of public lands lying within the borders of Oregon to railroads and wagon road companies this state has not been largely responsible. In connection with these the most that devolved upon the state legislature, aside from memorializing Congress for the different grants, was to designate the corporation that should be the beneficiary of the grant, or upon the executive to pass upon the construction work as to whether or not it fulfilled the conditions under which the title to the lands was to pass to the corporation.

The disposition of the lands of which the state did become the owner will be traced mainly for the purpose of illustrating the results of the presence or the absence of the requisite civic spirit and foresight to conserve the common weal of the present and coming generations. Considering the fact that only a mere remnant of the lands are still held, and the bad taste left from the transactions of a decade or so ago, the matter may appeal to some as merely a "spilled milk" episode. It is, however, of transcendent importance that the lesson it teaches