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Swamp Land Grants

lands, act, acres and granted

SWAMP LAND GRANTS. The need of reclaiming the swamp and overflowed lands within the territory of the United States was brought to the attention of Congress in the early part of the 19th century. It was not, however, until the Act of 2 March 1849 that Congress made provision for the reclamation of such lands. This Act applied exclusively to the State of Louisiana, and provided that in order to aid the State in constructing the necessary levees and drains to reclaim the swamp and overflowed lands therein the whole of such lands that may be found unfit for cultivation were granted to the State with the proviso that the proceeds of the sales of all such land shall be applied exclusively as far as necessary to the construction of levees and drains for their reclamation.

This was followed by the Act of 28 Sept. 1850 which provided for a similar grant to the State of Arkansas. This act contained a sec tion which extended its benefits to each of the other States of the Union in which such swamp and overflowed lands may be situated.

By the Act of 12 March 1860 the provisions of the Swamp Acts were extended to the States of Minnesota and Oregon which had been admitted to the Union since the passage of the Act of 1850. The reasons assigned for these grants were the worthless character of the lands in their present condition, the un healthful effects of these lands and the en hancement in value of the adjoining govern ment property.

At the time of this legislation it was es timated that the area of lands involved would be about 5,000,000 acres. However, up to 30 June 1918 there had been conveyed• to the several States under these grants 64,258,731.04 acres. In addition there have been granted to the States 744,385.23 acres as indemnity for lands which had been disposed of to settlers prior to the time when the several grants be came effective and also a cash indemnity in lieu of lands which would otherwise have been granted, amounting to $2,095,466.70. Com paratively small additional claims are coming in under these grants.

In spite of these liberal grants of land and money the States have not drained the great body of land actually granted and in many cases the proceeds from the sales of the lands have been used for other purposes. The same reasons for reclaiming these lands which formed the original basis for these grants, therefore, still exist and the United States government has in recent years spent consid erable sums to aid in the development of plans for the reclamation of small bodies of these swamp lands. There has also been a wide spread sentiment that something definite should be done to make these lands available for agricultural purposes as the area of actual swamp land in the United States is estimated at from 75,000,000 to 80,000,000 acres.