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not political entities in the first instance, but a few people got together and agreed that so many square miles of territory would be made into a State—and whether that State line was drawn here or a hundred miles over there should not determine how we are to deal with the public resources contained within the area. In the early period of our development there was but little need of giving heed to the questions that are now uppermost in our minds in relation to the public domain. There was land enough and to spare; and the early purpose of the Federal Government was to provide easy methods for getting the public domain (which in those days was considered chiefly useful for agriculture, as it is in the middle West) into farms, and building up commonwealths that are now theatres of agricultural industry. But today the conditions are very different. The remaining agricultural land that can be used without irrigation or drainage is very little in comparison to the needs of our people; and in handling what is left of the public domain it becomes the duty of the Federal Government to see to it that not one acre of land that can be used for agricultural settlement and development is directed to any other purpose—and likewise to see to it that land capable of mineral development or of water development is not stolen from the public domain under the guise of homestead entries. (Great applause) In order to understand exactly what the Federal Government can do in relation to the use of the public domain, let us keep clearly in mind the powers granted to it under the Constitution, and the laws enacted in accordance with the Constitution by Congress. The Constitution provides that— The Congress shall have power to dispose of, and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory and other property belonging to the United so. executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. * * * he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Now, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, the Congress has enacted the following laws affecting the public domain: The Secretary of the Interior is charged with the supervision of public business relating to * * * the public lands, including mines. The Commissioner of the General Land Office shall perform, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, all executive duties appertaining to the surveys and sale of the public lands of the United States, or in anywise respecting such public lands. The Commissioner of the General Land Office, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, is authorized to enforce and carry into execution by appro
priate regulations, every part of the provisions of this title [the public land laws] not otherwise specifically provided for.
Congress, acting under these general provisions, has from time to time enacted laws affecting portions of the public domain. It has
provided the Homestead Act, the Timber and Stone Act, the Mineral Entry Act; provided for the creation of the National Forests; enacted
Address by Mr Garfield 109
laws relating to the use of the public domain for reservoir sites, for pipe-lines, and for transmission lines; and as the needs of each generation have been made known, Congress, acting for the interests of all the people, has enacted direct legislation for the purpose of providing method for the disposition and use of the public domain.
Meantime, the Executive on his part has performed the duties devolving on him under the Constitution—duties few in number and easily expressed, though of great importance to the public welfare. They are, in brief, to see to it that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed; and he is granted all the executive power that could have been given by the use of the English language. There is no limitation. It is simply “executive power”; whatever that may be was granted to the President of the United States.
One of the great objects for which this Nation was created was to promote the “general welfare.” That object was not only stated in the preamble of the Constitution, but was likewise written into the body of the instrument; and the power was specifically granted to Congress to provide for the general welfare of the United States. That was not an idle phrase. The founders of the Republic recognized that it was impossible for them to foresee all the things that it might be necessary for the Federal Government to do; it was not possible for them to define in specific language all the powers that were to be exercised, nor was it possible for them to indicate to what extent these powers, once granted, might properly and wisely be used; and this welfare clause has made it possible to carry out by both the Legislative and the Executive branches of the Federal Government the beneficent purposes of the founders in ways which they never contemplated or could have contemplated in detail. Fortunately, during the early days of our National existence we had at the head of the Supreme Court a master mind. Marshall was as profound a statesman as he was a great jurist. He recognized with that great far-seeing insight that amounts almost to inspiration, that it would have been to sound the death-knell of the Republic if he, as the chief law interpreter from the judicial seat, should so interpret the Constitution as to tie the hands of the Government and prevent the people from doing the things necessary to make themselves a great and permanent Nation. In one of the earliest decisions involving interpretation of the Constitution (McCullough vs. Maryland, 4 Wheaton 315) Marshall used this language:
Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the Constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited but consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, are constitutional.
Another sentence in the same opinion sets a standard for judging existing or proposed law; he says–
But where the law is not prohibited, and is really calculated to effect any of the objects entrusted to the Government, to undertake here to inquire into the degree of its necessity would be to pass the line which circumscribes the judicial department and tread on legislative ground. This court disclaims all pretensions to such a power. Clearly, Marshall saw at that time that if the Supreme Court endeavored to prevent Congress from exercising to the full a power granted under the Constitution, it would at that very moment overstep its legitimate ground and interfere with the functions granted to the legislative body; and in dealing with the powers granted to the Executive, exactly the same rule of interpretation applies. Now, it is most interesting to notice how from generation to generation Marshall's interpretation has made possible the doing of the things that have been done by our people. In those days it was impossible for men to conceive of the commercial development that has taken place during the hundred years. They could not have realized that within a hundred years we would be a great manufacturing Nation, and that our commercial relations would not be confined to the thirteen colonies but would spread broadcast throughout the entire world. A striking example of the application of this wise interpretation arose in dealing with the questions of the Philippine government. We there had an entirely novel proposition. The forefathers of the Republic had never contemplated the acquisition by us of territory in the Pacific, or islands elsewhere. Yet when we faced that problem, we found that under Marshall's interpretation, our Constitution was broad enough and big enough, and the powers granted therein were great enough, to permit us to fulfill the Nation's duty to the islands and islanders. President Taft, discussing our work in the Philippines, used this language three years ago: It is said that there is nothing in the Constitution of the United States that authorizes National altruism of that sort. Well, of course, there is not; but there is nothing in the Constitution of the United States that forbids it. What there is in the Constitution of the United States is a breathing spirit that we are a Nation, with all the responsibilities that any Nation ever had, and therefore when it becomes the Christian duty of a Nation to assist another Nation, the Constitution authorizes it because it is part of National well-being. That interpretation of the power of both the Executive and the Congress is exactly in line with the power that is exercised by both in dealing with this question of the public domain and the welfare of our people (applause). It would be a childish interpretation of the Constitution to hold that we as a Nation could act for the people in the Philippine Islands as was best necessary for their well-being, and yet within our own confines as a Nation would be prohibited from doing that which is necessary for the well-being and the welfare of our children and their children. (Applause) The interpretation by Marshall gave vigor to the young Nation. He was not afraid of great responsibilities. He recognized that great responsibilities likewise meant the possibility of great mistakes, but that did not deter him from so interpreting the Constitution as to make possible the doing of the things that have been done. He was not of that class of timid folk who fear to exercise great power lest they may make a mistake. He was not that type, either as statesman or jurist, who because they do not see plainly written in the Constitution specific authority for the doing of every act necessary, therefore hold back and maintain that no such authority exists. This is the type of mind that prevent all progress. The timid man is often side by side with the dishonest man, because the timid man refuses to act from fear while the dishonest man raises the cry, “There is no power,” in order to gain for himself that to which he is not entitled, or to escape Governmental jurisdiction or evade governmental regulation of any character. (Applause) But we are not left simply to academic discussion as to whether the Federal Government has power to deal with the National domain. The Supreme Court has held, over and over again, that the Federal Government, acting through both the Legislative and the Executive branches, has the power to do what is best for the people's interests in handling the public domain. The Court has wisely and properly held that the power granted under the Constitution to dispose of the public domain carries with it every lesser power (applause)—that because Congress has the right to provide for the sale or the gift of land, it can likewise provide for the lease of land under such conditions and regulations as it may prescribe or as it may permit the Executive to prescribe. Therefore, the way is clear for the Federal Government to do whatever may be wise and necessary to protect the interests of the people in the use of the public domain. Let us take another view of Executive authority. The chief Executive, above all other officers, is recognized and properly held as the great steward, the immediate custodian of the public property and of the people's rights. He is single-headed. He is one upon whom responsibility may be fixed. He is constantly at his desk; he is ever vigilant; he is constantly in touch with the things that interest the people and their rights therein; and as the custodian and guardian of the people's interests, it is to him that we must look for the protection of the public domain. It is not enough that the Executive shall simply carry into effect the specific language of a statute. He must go farther than that; he must be as aggressive in his vigilance as are those who would take the public property without conforming to the law (applause). The Executive is required to see to it that the laws are enforced. Now, in the enforcement of law he often finds that while the paper record presented to him or to his subordinates by those who seek to acquire the public domain is perfect (there is no difficulty about making a land title good on paper) his duty is only partially fulfilled unless he goes behind the paper record; and when the last Administration took hold of the question of the land frauds, the Executive decided that there was but one way to enforce the law, and that was to see to it that the paper record conformed to the facts in every case presented (great applause). The greatest land frauds that have been nerpetrated against the people of the United States were perpetrated because the public officers in years past did not make that direct, caresul investigation of the facts and of the condition of the lands which would have enabled them to save for the people hundreds of millions of dollars of valuable property that in the last generation has gotten illegally into the hands of the big interests. (Applause) The founders of our Republic recognized and understood the vital need of giving ample power to the Executive. It is well to recall what Hamilton wrote when defending the Constitution: Energy in the Executive is a leading character in the definition of good government. It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks; it is not less essenial to the steady administration of the laws; to the protection of property against those irregular and high-handed combinations which sometimes interrupt the ordinary course of justice; to the security of liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of faction and of anarchy. There can be no need, however, to multiply arguments or examples on this head. A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of government. A feeble execution is but another phase for a bad execution, and a government ill-executed, whatever it may be in theory, must be, in practice, a bad government. Thus the Executive must be held responsible for much that is done in connection with the administration of our laws. Congress enacts the laws; they may be faulty; if so, they may be amended. If they are faulty, it is the duty of the Executive to carry them into effect, but to recommend their amendment, alteration, or repeal; but under no circumstances is he fulfilling his duty if he sits supinely by and allows the public domain to be despoiled because the law is not as efficient as he thinks it should be. (Applause) Much has been said in recent years regarding Executive usurpations. It has been held by those who objected to the new order of things—those who objected to that change in methods by which the public frauds were stopped—that the Executive was usurping powers not granted to him under the Constitution. Now, if it be usurpation to so enforce the law as to prevent dishonesty, fraud, and theft, then there has been usurpation (applause). But I as yet have failed to have presented to me a single instance of actual usurpation. The Executive is as much subject to the courts of the United States as is the ordinary citizen. If the Executive has transcended his power, if he has in his execution of law gone beyond what someone thinks is his power, then the Executive can be haled into court; and over and over again I have said to complainants who came to me when I was in office “All you have to do is to go into the courts of the United States, and if the Executive power that is being exercised is improperly exercised, there in that jurisdiction you can bring us to account.” But no one has yet seen fit to bring such an action; and the reason is that there has been no usurpation of executive authority. (Applause) There is a wide differene between simply being within the law and executing the law. A man may be within the law and yet do absolutely nothing to further the spirit of the law; like an engineer, he is on the track whether he is standing still, going backward, or