TWELFTH CONGRESS. SESSION I. CH. 68. 1812.


STATUTE I.

April 25, 1812. CHAP. LXVIII.---An Act for the establishment of a General Land-Office in the Department of the Treasury.(a)

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there shall be established in the department of the treasury an office, to be denominated the General Land-Office; the chief officer of which shall be called the commissioner of the general land-office, whose duty it shall be, under the direction of the head of the department, to superintend, execute and perform, all such acts and things, touching or respecting the public lands of the United States, and other lands patented or granted by the United States, as have heretofore been directed by law to be done or performed in the office of the Secretary of State, of the Secretary and Register of the Treasury, and of the Secretary of War, or which shall hereafter by law be assigned to the said office.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That there shall be in the said office, an inferior officer, to be appointed by the said principal officer, to be employed therein as he shall deem proper, and to be called the chief clerk of the general land-office, who, in all cases, when the said principal office shall become vacant, during such vacancy, shall have the charge and custody of the seal, and of all records, books and papers, belonging to the said office.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That the said principal officer, and every other person to be appointed and employed in the said office, shall, before he enters on the duties of his office or appointment, take an oath or affirmation, truly and faithfully to execute the trust committed to him.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That the said commissioner shall cause a seal of office to be made and provided for the said office, with such device as the President of the United States shall approve, and copies of any records, books or papers, belonging to the said office, under the signature of the said commissioner, or, when the office shall be vacant, under the signature of the chief clerk, and the said seal, shall be competent evidence in all cases in which the original records, books or papers could be evidence.1

SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That the said commissioner shall, forthwith, after his appointment, be entitled to the custody, and shall take charge of the said seal, and also of all records, books and papers, remaining in the offices of the Secretary of State, of the Secretary and of the Register of the Treasury, and of the Secretary of War, touching or concerning the public lands of the United States; and the said records, books and papers shall become, and be deemed the records, books and papers, of the said office.

SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That the said commissioner shall, when required by the President of the United States, or either house of Congress, make a plat of any land surveyed under the authority of the United States, and give such information respecting the public lands, and concerning the business of his office, as shall be directed.

SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That in all cases in which land has heretofore, or shall hereafter be given by the United States for military services, warrants shall be granted to the parties entitled to such land by the Secretary of War: and such warrants shall be recorded in the said land-office, in books to be kept for the purpose, and shall be located as is, or may be provided by law; and patents shall afterwards be issued accordingly.

SEC. 8. And be it further enacted, That all patents issuing from the said office, shall be issued in the name of the United States, and under the seal of the said office, and be signed by the President of the United States, and countersigned by the commissioner of the said office, and shall be recorded in the said office, in books to be kept for the purpose.2

SEC. 9. And be it further enacted, That all returns relative to the public lands, heretofore directed to be made to the Secretary of the Treasury, shall hereafter be made to the said commissioner, who shall have power to audit and settle all public accounts relative to the public lands; Provided: that it shall be the duty of the said commissioner, upon the settlement of any such account, to certify the balance, and transmit the account with the vouchers and certificate to the comptroller of the treasury, for his examination and decision thereon.

SEC. 10. And be it further enacted, That no person appointed to an office instituted by this act, or employed in any such office, shall directly or indirectly be concerned in the purchase of any right, title or interest, in any public land, either in his own right, or in trust for any other person, or in the name or right of any other person in trust for himself, nor shall take or receive any fee or emolument for negotiating or transacting the business of the office. And any person offending in the premises against the prohibitions of this act, shall forfeit and pay one hundred dollars; and, upon conviction, shall be removed from office.3

SEC. 11. And be it further enacted, That the commissioner of said land-office, shall be appointed by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate; and shall receive an annual salary, equal to the salary of the auditor of the treasury, payable quarterly, and the sum of two thousand two hundred and fifty dollars is hereby appropriated for the said compensation, during the year one thousand eight hundred and twelve, to be paid out of any monies in the treasury not otherwise appropriated--and the said commissioner shall have the same privilege with the comptroller of the treasury, of sending and receiving letters and packages, and also final certificates and patents for land, free of postage.4

SEC. 12. And be it further enacted, That the commissioner of the land-office shall be authorized to employ a sufficient number of clerks: Provided, that their annual compensation shall not exceed in the whole, seven thousand dollars; and the said compensation shall be paid in the following manner during the year one thousand eight hundred and twelve; that is to say: three thousand eight hundred dollars shall be paid out of the monies appropriated for the compensation of clerks, during said year, in the office of the Secretary of the Treasury; one thousand four hundred dollars shall be paid out of the monies appropriated for the compensation of clerks, during said year, in the office of the Secretary of State: and three hundred dollars shall be paid out of the monies appropriated for the compensation of clerks, during said year, in the office of the Secretary of War.


APPROVED, April 25, 1812.

(a) See act of July 4, 1836, chap. 352.
1 Act of July 4, 1836, ch. 352, sec. 7.
2 Act of July 4, 1836, ch. 352, sec. 10.
3 Act of July 4, 1836, ch. 352, sec. 14.
4 1810, ch. 37, sec. 24.