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Secretary of State;' after 1812 the patent was countersigned by the Commissioner. Since 1836 a secretary, appointed by the President, signs patents in his name, and they are countersigned by the Recorder.
The government price of land is one dollar and a quarter an acre. Previous to 1820 the price was two dollars. For alternate reserved lands along the line of railroads within the limits granted by any act of Congress, the price is two dollars and fifty cents an acre. From was sold at reduced rates.
lated by special laws.
1854 to 1862 land long in market The sale of mineral lands is regu
The Receiver receives money or land-scrip from the purchaser, giving receipts therefor, which are passed over to the Register.
The Commissioner of Indian Affairs.-Until 1832 the business of the government relating to the Indians had been managed by the clerks in the War Department. In that year Congress authorized the President to appoint a Commissioner, who should, under the direction of the Secretary of War, have the general superintendence of all Indian affairs. Since 1849 the Secretary
of the Interior has had charge.
The Commissioner has the di
1 Three patents to the Ohio Company for 1,228,168 acres, dated May 10th, 1792, are signed by Go Washington, and countersigned by Th: Jefferson. These patents, with one exception, the first issued by the government, are in the library of Marietta College.
rection of the eight Superintendents, and a large number of agents and sub-agents, under whom are many teachers, mechanics, laborers, etc.
The Superintendent of the Census.-The census is taken once in ten years. The office of Superintendent is not permanent, therefore; but its duties are highly responsible. The census returns are of great value, which would be much increased by an earlier publication.
The Bureau of Education.-In 1867 "A Department of Education" was established at Washington, for the purpose of collecting statistics showing the condition and progress of education in the States and Territories, and of diffusing such information as might promote the cause of education throughout the country. In 1868 Congress enacted that "the Department of Education" should cease, and that there should be established and attached to the Department of the Interior an office to be denominated The Office of Education, the chief officer of which should be styled the Commissioner of Education, who was to perform the duties before prescribed.
THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.
In 1862 a Department of Agriculture was established at Washington, the object of which was to acquire and diffuse among the people useful information on subjects connected with Agriculture. The chief officer was styled a Commissioner of Agriculture. Among other things it was provided that he should "receive and have charge of all the property of the agricultural division of the Patent Office in the Department of the Interior, including the fixtures and property of the propagating garden." For many years previous to 1862, the Patent Office Report was partly devoted to agricultural facts and statistics.
In its subordinate capacity, this department was often a source of confusion. In his message of 1871 the President speaks of it in one sentence as a department" and in another
as the "Agricultural Bureau." And the House of Representatives, a few years ago, asked the Secretary of the Interior to furnish them certain agricultural documents, but were informed that his department had no cognizance of agricultural matters. In 1889 Congress raised this bureau to the full rank of a department, and gave its chief a seat in the cabinet of the President.
Miscellaneous.-The Secretary of the Interior has the general charge of the Penitentiary in the District of Columbia, and of those in the Territories. The following act was passed in March, 1873: "That the Secretary of the Interior shall hereafter exercise all the powers and perform all the duties in relation to the Territories of the United States that are now by law or by custom exercised and performed by the Secretary of State."
THE POST-OFFICE DEPARTMENT.
There were arrangements for carrying letters by mail before the colonies separated from the mother country. Dr. Benjamin Franklin had the general superintendence under the British government, and in July, 1775, he was appointed by the Second Continental Congress, "Postmaster-General of the United Colonies." When the Constitution went into operation, Congress, by act of September 22d, 1789, provided for the "temporary establishment of the Post-office," the regulations to be "the same as they last were under the resolutions and ordinances of the late Congress."
In 1792 an act was passed to establish a General Post-office. There was to be a Postmaster-General, who should have power to appoint an Assistant, and Deputy Postmasters at all places where such should be found necessary; he was also "to superintend the business of the department" in all the duties that should be assigned to it. This act was, indeed, limited to two years, but in 1794 a similar one was enacted, which had no limitation of time. We may say, therefore, that the Post-office Department has been in operation from the first Congr
the Constitution.' An act to revise, consolidate, and amend the statutes relating to the Post-office Department, containing three hundred and twenty-seven sections, was passed June 8th, 1872.
The salary of the Postmaster-General was $2,000 in 1792, $3,000 in 1799, $4,000 in 1819, $6,000 in 1827, $8,000 in 1853, $10,000 in 1873, and $8,000 in 1874.
It is said that the Postmaster-General did not attend the meetings of the Cabinet prior to the administration of President Jackson, who invited Mr. Barry to be present at their meetings. The practice has been continued from that time.
For the list of Postmasters-General see Appendix.
There are three Assistant Postmasters-General; the PostmasterGeneral appointed them until 1853; since then the appointment has been by the President and Senate.
The First Assistant Postmaster-General has the superintendence of matters relating to the establishment and discontinuance of post-offices, the appointment and removal of postmasters, furnishing blanks and stationery, steamship lines, and international postage. His office is called the Appointment Office.
Under the charge of the Second Assistant Postmaster-General belongs whatever relates to letting contracts for carrying the mails, the mode of conveyance, the time of arrival and departure, offices of distribution, etc. This is known as the Contract Office.
The Third Assistant Postmaster-General has charge of the general financial business of the department, provides stamps and stamped envelopes, receives the quarterly returns from Postmasters, and superintends the dead-letter office. This is the Finance Office.
1 Mr. Gillet, in his work on The Federal Government, says: "There has never been any statute establishing a Post-office Department. ** * It is first spoken of as a Post-office Department in the title of an act in 1825." But that title itself is, "An Act to reduce into one the several acts establishing and regulating the Post-office Department. This very title thus asserts that previous acts had established such a department. We have seen above that the General Post-office was called a "department in the act of 1792. An Act of March 3d, 1801, speaks "of the several departments of the Treasury, of War, of the Navy, and of the General Post-office."
The office of the Superintendent of the Money-order System is now a bureau, like the three just mentioned, with its chief clerk. In the office of the Superintendent of Foreign Mails there is also a chief clerk.
There are six Chief Clerks, viz., in the Post-office Department, in the Appointment Office, in the Contract Office, in the Finance Office, in the Money-order Office, and in the Office of Foreign Mails. Formerly there was but one—in the Post-office Department—and his office was regarded as a bureau, and called the Inspection Office. He is now the clerk for the Postmaster-General, as the others are for the heads of the bureaus.
THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE.
This department was created by act of Congress, June 22d, 1870. The Attorney-General is the head of it. While the Department of Justice has been quite recently established, the office of Attorney-General was created in 1789; and this officer, though without a "department," has always been recognized as a member of the Cabinet.
The act of September 24th, 1789, made it his duty to prosecute and conduct all suits in the Supreme Court in which the United States should be concerned, and to give his advice and opinion upon questions of law when required by the President, or when requested by the heads of any of the departments touching any matters concerning their departments.
These opinions are furnished in writing, and subsequently printed. They now form many volumes, and are consulted by the various departments.
In 1861 he was charged with the general superintendence of the attorneys and marshals of all the judicial districts in the United States and the Territories. He was also authorized to employ counsel to aid district-attorneys in the discharge of their duties. He examines the title of lands which the government proposes to purchase for forts, dock-yards, custom-houses, or other public purposes.