U.S. General Land Office

City: Washington

State: DC

Created in 1812, the U.S. General Land Office oversaw public lands owned by the federal government. It was headed by a commissioner. Due to the enormous amount of federal land in the American West, the position was prized by political patrons. In 1849, Congress placed the Land Office under the newly-created Department of the Interior. Abraham Lincoln's pursuit of the office following Zachary Taylor's election led to the General Land Office Affair.

"An Act for the Establishment of a General Land-Office in the Department of the Treasury," 25 April 1812, Statutes at Large of the United States 2 (1845):716-18; "An Act to Establish the Home Department, and to Provide for the Treasury Department an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and a Commissioner of the Customs," 3 March 1849, Statutes at Large of the United States 9 (1862):395-97; Paul W. Gates, "Land Office, U.S. General," Dictionary of American History (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976), 4:95.