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Finances of Oregon

purchasers under the act of 1878. But alas, the Legislature of 1870 had been too pliant. It had legitimized the application by any purchaser of an unlimited amount of swamp lands at a price of one dollar an acre. Notwithstanding the repeal of the law of 1870 by the act of 1878 before the state had approved lists of swamp lands above a few thousand acres, the enormous areas applied for by one or two parties under the conditions of the act of 1870 had to be delivered. So ruled the state land board of two successive administrations of the eighties. This was the most preposterous part of the whole swamp land transactions. A single party — the tool of foreign capitalists — received a deed to at least 350,000 acres on the ground that filings had been made for that amount before the law of 1870 had been repealed. These filings were for lands which the state at the time did not own and on which not a cent had been paid before the law under which they were made was repealed. Yet the administrative officials held that they had the force of contracts which neither the Legislature nor the Governor could set aside. A pretty result we have in this of the status and strength of private property rights as against the power and general welfare of the people.

The purpose for which the swamp land grants by the national government to the states was initiated received only nominal recognition in the first Oregon legislation pertaining to the grant. In all subsequent acts this purpose was completely ignored. The morale exhibited throughout in connection with the handling of Oregon's swamp land grant was about as follows: After an ineffectual effort by the first Governor to develop the state's claims to its swamp lands the matter lay in abeyance some ten years. Then, beginning with 1870, Governor Grover makes the realization by the state on its different land grants his leading activity. His attitude, however, suggests strongly that he felt that all the public domain of right should have belonged to the state unconditionally, though he outlines no large purposes that might thus have been served. The several Legislatures, with their attention directed to these resources of the state, seemed mainly susceptible to