Jump to content
Nugget Shooter Forums

Interesting Historical Fact


Recommended Posts

I came across this (fact) on Wikipedia, which I found interesting before the Mining Act of 1872:

At the end of the American Civil War, some eastern congressmen regarded western miners as squatters who were robbing the public patrimony, and proposed seizure of the western mines to pay the huge war debt. In June 1865, Representative George Washington Julian of Indiana introduced a bill for the government to take the western mines from their discoverers, and sell them at public auction. Representative Fernando Wood proposed that the government send an army to California, Colorado, and Arizona to expel the miners "by armed force if necessary to protect the rights of the Government in the mineral lands." He advocated that the federal government itself work the mines for the benefit of the treasury.

Western representatives successfully argued that western miners and prospectors were performing valuable services by promoting commerce and settling new territory. In 1864, Congress passed a law that instructed courts deciding questions of contested mining rights to ignore federal ownership, and defer to the miners in actual possession of the ground. The following year, Congressional supporters of western miners tacked legislation legalizing lode (hardrock) mining on public land onto a law regarding ditch and canal rights in California, Oregon, and Nevada.[11] The legislation, known as the "Chaffee laws" after Colorado Territorial representative Jerome B. Chaffee, passed and was signed on July 26, 1866.

Congress extended similar rules to placer mining claims in the "placer law" signed into law on July 9, 1870

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I need to ask you to be a bit more specific, Dave..

For starters, which of the above facts is it to which you refer, and in what manner..?

If I had to guess tho I would say you reference certain members of congress wanting to introduce legislation legalizing the

'stealing' of mines for Federal ownership and profitability a year after they'd already passed legislation deferring

ownership to the miners currently in possession.. Is this correct..?

Further, in re the law passed in 1864, when the courts were ordered to ignore Federal ownership when deceiding questions

of contested mining rights, does that mean ownership of the land or ownership of mines..? Right now I'd have to say

land since I don't know if the Federal Gov't owned mines back then or if they even were even allowed to do so..

Even further, if "they" tacked on legislation legalizing lode mining on public lands to the 'Ditch And Canal Act' of 1866, what

kind of mining did the 1864 legislation reference..?

Point being is I'm guessing what you're pointing out is "they" were wanting to put the screws to miners even before

the Mining Act of 1872 was written and enacted, yes..? However, if that isn't the point, please enlighten us, thanks,

because clay just spent a week schooling me on some of the intricacies in regard to tunnel claims and how much

further reaching the 'Ditch and Canal Act' of 1866 (not actual wording of title) goes than what/how it appears

to be on the surface -- and I'd hate to think he wasted his time doing so all because I'm not understanding the

point(s) you're trying to make..


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The above also turns out to be a really good example of why I never use Wikipedia as quotable source material..

While they happen to be the quickest web info lookup, one can never count on anything written within

ever being 100% accurate or complete..


Link to comment
Share on other sites


I just found this topic interesting, talking about taking the gold from the west after the war because money was needed. Dont know how true it was, as I haven't dove to deep into researching it, just ran across it on Wikipedia, while looking up Mining Act of 1872.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


I just found this topic interesting, talking about taking the gold from the west after the war because money was needed. Dont know how true it was, as I haven't dove to deep into researching it, just ran across it on Wikipedia, while looking up Mining Act of 1872.


Oooohhh, ok -- got it..

Still, there it is in black and white right in front of us.. I don't doubt for an instant it isn't all entirely true.. Talk about highwaymen..?! Being held up and hijacked by penpoint instead of gunpoint would've been the only difference.. Welll, that and a different type of mask.. Makes me wonder how they were going to do it -- by claiming eminent domain, or not even bothering with that..? Just come in and take it all, not so much as a thank you much less any recompense..

It's stories like this one that should give all of us a bit more deeper insight into just exactly what and for how long our elected Federal representatives really think about those trying to be self-made in the mining industry.. Wanting to take your claim in the 1860s to keeping your dredge out of the water and blocking access to your claims right now & in recent times -- it's all the same thing.. Furly sickening if you ask me..!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to add my 2-bits......the trend of those lawmakers in the greatly populated Eastern part of this country to make laws for themselves that ultimately screw with those of us in the Western part of this country, is continuing to this day.....not only on the Federal level, but on a State-wide level as well. We STILL seem to be paying for a debt that has been increasing yearly since the 1860's by slowly loosing our rights to log timber, work our claims or even to use the public lands for recreational purposes. All the Mineral Wealth and Natural Resources here in the Western States are slowly but surely coming under some form of Federal Control and the "little guy" is being phased out of existence. It started way back when and hasn't stopped yet...........

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wikipedia isn't really the best source for facts. The 1864 law they are referring to was actually passed in 1865.

Here is that first mining law in it's entirety:

Act of February 27, 1865, 13 Stat. at Large, 441

That no possessory action between individuals in any of the courts of the United States for the recovery of any mining title, or for damages to any such title, shall be affected by the fact that the paramount title to the land on which such mines are, is in the United States, but each case shall be adjudged by the law of possession.

So the law was about title to the land belonging to the United States but allowing courts to work out disputes between miners without regard to the fact they didn't own the land itself.

That law is in effect to this day. It's why if you have problems with overclaiming or boundary disputes with another locator your only solution is court.

Another place where Wikipedia is really weak is interpetation of the facts. The implication in that Wikipedia article is that mines were not legally recognized as belonging to the miners. The fact is that miners have legally owned their mines by simply holding them and working them throughout history. It's common law that a miner owns the mine he discovers and works. That is also recognized in the 1865 Act.

each case shall be adjudged by the law of possession

If you would like to learn more about how mine ownership worked back then and how the 1865 law was used you will need to read further than Wikipedia. Here's an example from 1865. Notice that the regulations of the mining district are respected as the law of mineral ownership:


This principle of miners creating their own laws was recognized by Congress in the following year with the 1866 mining act. That was a lot more than an addition to another bill granting ditches. The 1866 Act not only granted title to the land through patent but gave the full force of federal law to the "local rules, laws, and customs of miners". It also granted the right of way across public land for roads and ditches and canals.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In short....

Don't trust no darn Yankee.

Ummmmm, no -- it can't really be put that way Mac, even though I / we know what you mean..

Because (almost) without exception if you were to say this anywhere else you've just said

don't trust anyone from the USA..

As far as the rest of the world is concerned we're all Yankees.. The only place that statement makes sense,

as in has understandable meaning to those who hear it, is right here at home within our own borders..


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...