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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
RAY LYMAN WILBUR, SECRETARY
PUBLIC LAND STATUTES
THE UNITED STATES
A COMPILATION OF THE GENERAL AND PERMANENT
Sunt Docs 11-3-31 24003
The framers of the Constitution preconceived the importance of the public domain in their declaration in paragraph two, section three of Article IV that “ The Congress shall have power to dispose of the waste and unappropriated lands of the United States.” Thus Congress has exclusive jurisdiction over the public lands. It provides the machinery for their disposition. It has intrusted to the Secretary of the Interior the supervision to make its mandates effective. Running through the statutes of the United States, beginning with the organization of the Government, is a series of laws for the disposition of the public domain of varied character and purposes. This volume is a compilation of the general and permanent laws relating to the public lands administered by the Department of the Interior, as enacted to the close of the second session of the Seventyfirst Congress, with numerous citations to special acts of considerable importance. Some laws that have become obsolete have been included in view of their close relation to existing laws. The statutes and treaties relating to the Indians have been limited to such as relate to the disposition of ceded lands, and with the allotting, alienating, and patenting of reservation lands. Inasmuch as the forest reserves are now under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture, those laws that are solely administered by that department have been omitted. Parallel citations have been made to the corresponding sections of the United States Code. Omission of citation to the code indicates that the particular act has not been codified. This compilation also contains copious footnotes as an aid to cross reference in order that related statutes or different sections of the same statute occurring under different headings may be readily found.
The statutes in this volume have been construed and interpreted from time to time in circulars and instructions issued by the General Land Office and in the published decisions and opinions rendered by the Department of the Interior. The following references are here given as a guide to those interested in ascertaining the departmental interpretations of those statutes:
Brainard's Legal Precedents in Land and Mining Cases, volumes 1 and 2; Lester's Land Laws, Regulations and Decisions, volume 1 (1860) and volume 2 (1870); Copp's Land Owner, volumes 1-18 (1874-1892); Copp's Public Land Laws, edition of 1875, 1 volume, edition of 1862, 2 volumes, edition of 1890, 2 volumes; Copp's Mining Decisions (1874); Copp's United States Mineral Lands, second edition (1882); Land Decisions, published by the Department of the Interior, volumes 1-52; Digest of volumes 1-50 of the Land Decisions, part 2, edition of 1927, containing citations to the acts of Congress and Revised Statutes construed by the Department of the Interior in its reported decisions; Circulars and Regulations of the General Land Office, a complete compilation, edition of 1930; Federal Reclamation Laws Annotated, edition of 1927, compiled by the United States Bureau of Reclamation.
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