Among the tales of hardships and trials of the early pioneers who forged the way across the nation on the California trail are the people who stepped forward to create laws to govern the rights of miners and others seeking their fortunes. Among these who became famous for initiating and passing legislation was Jerome B. Chaffer, who was a Colorado Territorial representative who pushed for the rights of miners to use federal land to stake claims, stating they were actually doing the Government a favor by promoting commerce and starting new towns and cities.
Jerome Chaffee had actually moved to Colorado to invest in mining, which was probably why he took such an interest in the rights of miners. He was one of the original founders of the First National Bank of Denver. His only child, Fannie Josephine married the son of President Ulysses S. Grant.
The Chaffee Laws have been in force since 1872, and are even now being challenged in the court systems. To this date, it is still legal to “stake a claim” on federal land when it pertains to hard mineral mining such as for gold or copper. The Chaffee laws, in a sense are those known as the General Mining act of 1872. The General Mining Act (Chaffee Laws) made history that is even today being discussed in the legal battles of “miners” and the Government, although, motives and interests may have changed over that time. In November of 2007, the US house passed the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act which permanently ended granting patents for mining claims and imposes a royalty of the gross revenues on existing mining. The Government claims that the money will go for cleanup of the environmental damage done by mining over all of these years.