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Sitka, Alaska, October 1, 1902.

SIR: I have the honor to submit herewith my annual report on affairs in Alaska for 1902:


Nor, while fully acknowledging our duties to others, need we forget our duty to our own country. The Pacific seaboard is as much to us as the Atlantic. As we grow in power and prosperity, so our interest will grow in that farthest West which is the immemorial East. The shadow of our destiny has already reached the shores of Asia. The might of our people already looms large against the world-horizon, and it will loom even larger as the years go by. No statesman has a right to neglect the interests of our people in the Pacific-interests which are important to all our people, but which are of most importance to our people who have built thriving States on the Western slope of our continent.

These words were uttered by the President last Memorial Day at Arlington. At that moment he had in mind the question arising out of our possession of the Philippines. Now, if instead we turn our eyes to the Northwest and apply these thoughts to the conduct of our statesmen, how many of them can escape the accusation of being neglectful? We have owned Alaska for thirty-five years, yet how many of our statesmen have taken the trouble to inform themselves as to its worth, its geographical position on the globe, and its strategic importance in competing for the commerce of the Orient? What Senator or Representative since Sumner's day, after all these years of quiet possession, has stood in his chamber and given a masterly exposition of what Alaska is, and has prophesied with full assurance what she is to become under the beneficence of our political institutions? On the contrary, a feeling grew stronger and was assiduously cultivated by a few that Alaska was a white elephant. This came to a climax and got expression in the report of the Secretary of the Treasury for 1877, wherein he recommended the abolition of Alaska as a customs district. was by a man whose long service in the House and Senate had made him eminent as a statesman. Gradually Alaska is receiving more attention, but it is more from the public press than from our lawmakers. Some things have been done under great pressure, but we feel that Congress has pursued a general policy of neglect since we have owned Alaska. Congress rules Alaska absolutely, and it is only at the hands of Congress that our institutions can be extended and built up. The first step, which should have been taken and which has



been taken in every other instance since the ordinance of 1787, is to encourage the people to move forward and possess the land.


This subject has been brought to the attention of Congress by every governor in almost every annual report since 1884. The present incumbent has brought this matter up each year and has tried to show how all progress is hampered, and, in many places, effectually blocked by the withholding of these laws. It is not possible for the ordinary man and family to come here and establish a home, for he can not obtain security of title. For this reason the great industry of agriculture in its various departments is held in check. Those who are ready to make the first venture in building railroads hesitate because they know that the people have no encouragement to settle on the lands. Those who are ready to introduce colonies of desirable people well fitted to prosper in this latitude, from Finland and other parts of northern Europe, can not because they can give these people no certainty that they can obtain title to land. That this subject may be clearly understood and, at the risk of repeating wha has been said in former reports, the different acts of Congress and the regulations thereunder, are given in much detail. "Iterum, iterumque" is a good motto in many of the affairs of life. It is difficult to determine from the treaty of cession what landed rights are possessed by those inhabitants and their heirs who chose to remain and who were promised admission to all the rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States and were to be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property, and religion.

Article II speaks of private, individual property, and says:

It is, however, understood and agreed that the churches which have been built in the ceded territory by the Russian Government shall remain the property of such members of the Greek Oriental Church, resident in the Territory, as may choose to worship therein.

Does this give title to the land upon which the churches were built; and if so, how much beyond what is actually covered by the buildings? It was supposed that the inventories which were made out by the two commissioners at the transfer, and who were ordered by their governments to do so, were treaty titles. But in the case of Kinkead v. United States (150 U. S., 483), the decision of the court upsets any such notion, for they say:

The truth is that the whole case of the claimants depends upon the question whether the Government was bound by the proceedings of the commissioners in the execution of the treaty. As we have already expressed the opinion that they possessed no power to vary the language of the treaty, or to determine questions of title or ownership, it results that their action was not binding upon the Government.

Then those former inhabitants, who chose to remain and who were granted certificates of ownership, will have to secure their titles from the United States.

Immediately after the transfer from Russia to the United States many people desired to move into the Territory and settle. This was not looked upon with favor, but, on the contrary, seemed to alarm the authorities, as may be inferred from the following:


Washington, D. C., October 26, 1867. SIR: In reply to your communication of the 24th instant in relation to attempts of American citizens to acquire preemption rights to lands at Sitka, in the newly acquired

Territory of Alaska, I have the honor to inclose for your information a copy of a report this day made to me by the Commissioner of the General Land Office upon the subject of your inquiries. Such claims and settlements are not only without the sanction of law, but are in direct violation of the provisions of the laws of Congress applicable to public domain secured to the United States by any treaty made with a foreign nation, and, if deemed necessary and advisable, military force may be used to remove the intruders.

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This Department has no officers at Sitka, nor in any other part of the Russian purchase," and must rely on the State Department to cause the necessary orders in the premises to be communicated to our authorities there.

I have the honor to be,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

O. H. BROWNING, Secretary.


General Land Office, October 26.

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department letter of yesterday inclosing a communication of the 24th from the honorable Secretary of State, by which the Department is advised that citizens of the United States are attempting to make claims and settlements at Sitka, within the "Russian purchase," under the town-site and preemption laws, and I have the honor to state that such settlements are illegal and contrary to law. (See act of March 3, 1807, vol. 2, p. 445, United States Statutes.)

In the absence of specific legislation by Congress providing for the organization of land districts within the "Russian purchase" and the extension of our system of surveys over the same, settlements and claims under the town-site and preemption laws are unlawful and can not be recognized under existing laws.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOSEPH S. WILSON, Commissioner.

Hon. O. H. BROWNING, Secretary of the Interior.

Mr. Seward to General Grant.


Washington, October 28, 1867.

GENERAL: In the absence of specific legislation by Congress for the organization of land districts in Alaska, claims of preemption and settlements are not only without the sanction of law but are in direct violation of laws applicable to the public domain. Military force may be used to remove intruders if necessary. Will you have the goodness to instruct Major-General Halleck to this effect by telegraph, and request him to communicate the instruction to Major-General Rousseau at Sitka? I have the honor to be, General, your obedient servant,


Gen. U. S. GRANT, Secretary of War ad Interim.

Mr. Seward to Mr. de Stoeckl.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, October 29, 1867.

SIR: I have the honor to inclose for your information a copy of a letter of yesterday to General Grant, the Secretary of War ad interim, embodying an instruction which the President has directed to be sent by telegraph to Major-General Halleck, by him to be promptly communicated to Major-General Rousseau, at Sitka, with a view to preventing premature and illegal attempts to occupy land in Alaska. Accept, sir, a renewed assurance of my very high consideration.



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