United States v. Reading/Dissent Daniel
|United States v. Reading by
Mr. Justice DANIEL, dissenting.
I am unable to concur in the decision of the court in this case.
Waiving in its consideration every exception to the proofs of the naturalization of the appellee, and those also taken to the locality of the subject claimed by him as being forbidden territory, there are other grounds of objection which appear to be conclusive against the pretensions of the appellee.
This was an application to the board of commissioners, for the confirmation of a grant or title alleged to have been made to the appellee by the Mexican government, anterior to the cession of California to the United States. To entitle the applicant to such confirmation, it was indispensable for him to show that he occupied such a position with respect to the Mexican government as would have enabled him to perfect his title, had there been no relinquishment of the sovereignty of the country by the granting power. It cannot be denied, that a necessary ingredient in a complete title under the Mexican government, was the approbation of the departmental assembly; and the very act itself of the application to the commissioners for a confirmation of title concedes the position, that without such an approval the title must be defective. I cannot concur with the court in thinking that the excuse offered for not obtaining the approbation of the departmental assembly, was a sufficient one; and much less can I suppose that, by such an excuse, an indispensable requisite to the completion of titles could be wholly dispensed with. To tolerate such a position, would render the validity of titles to any and every extent dependent upon the ignorance, the diligence, or the corruption of persons interested in reducing them to such an attitude of uncertainty. Even should it be admitted that there was no particular limit prescribed as to the time of obtaining the sanction of the departmental assembly, and that the appellee might have been excusable for omitting or failing in this requisite, for the time being, still, the conclusion remains unshaken, that, without such approbation, there could by the law of Mexico be no title. If this be true, the objection operates a multo fortiori if it be shown that not only was that requisite of approbation wanted, but that its obtention was, by the conduct of the appellee himself, rendered impossible; and under this aspect of the case is presented the stronger ground upon which the claim of the appellee should have been condemned and rejected. This is an application for the confirmation of a grant or title alleged to have been made by the Mexican government to the appellee, as one of the citizens of the Mexican republic.
In order to have invested the appellee with any right as derived from that republic, had its sovereignty over the country remained unchanged, he surely would have been bound to show the continuation of his allegiance to that republic, and the maintenance of those relations, and the fulfilment of those duties, in the existence of which the bounty of the State to him had its origin and motive; at all events, he would be compelled to show himself exempt from the violation of the most sacred obligations which any citizen or subject can sustain to that country and government to which his allegiance is owning. Should he violate such obligation, and become a rebel or traitor to that government, he not only can have no merits in the view of that government, but he becomes obnoxious to the forfeiture of both property and life.
In this case, the appellee seeks the confirmation of a claim derived confessedly from the republic of Mexico; at the same time, by his owm showing, and by the testimony of others, it is established undeniably, that before his title was perfected, he became a rebel against that republic, and made every exertion for its destruction. Nay, this case exhibits the inconsistency of urging a right founded on duties sustained to the Mexican republic, with the assumption at the same time of merit deduced from the admitted facts of hostility and faithlessness to that government. The appellee can have no rights to be claimed from or through the Mexican government, to which he became an open enemy. By his conduct he completely abrogated every such right, and became, as respects that government, punishable as a state criminal; and thus not only failed to obtain that sanction without which his title was defective, namely, the approbation of the departmental assembly of Mexico, but, by his own voluntary conduct, rendered its procurement, upon every principle of public law, public or political policy or necessity, or of private morality, altogether impossible.
Were the appellee urging a claim as one deduced from the government of the United States, and originating in services rendered to them, he might then plead his merits with reference to this government in support of his title; but he is claiming a title from Mexico under the stress of Mexican laws; and he proves that by those laws, as they would be under like circumstances by the laws of every country-by the first of all laws, that of self-preservation-his pretensions must be repudiated and condemned. Strange as it may be, we have heard it earnestly pressed as commending this claim to the favorable consideration of this court, that the appellee, after obtaining his incipient grant as a Mexican citizen, and upon the foundation and principles of duty to Mexico, deserted that country when in flagrant war with an enemy, and contributed his utmost exertions for her conquest by that enemy. Were the pretensions of the appellee based upon services rendered to the United States, and were the origin and character of these pretensions to be sought for in the bounty and power of the United States, there might be consistency and integrity in this argument; but so far is this from being true as to the origin and nature of these pretensions, it is shown that these had their origin in that bounty which he has forfeited, and under those obligations which were binding upon the appellee, and which he has deserted and betrayed. The only obligations sustained by the United States to the citizens of Mexico are those which, by their substitution for the government of Mexico, the former have by express stipulation or by necessary implication assumed.
The appellee, then, having unquestionably forfeited every pretension of right as against Mexico, deserted and assailed by him, the United States, as the successors to the sovereignty of Mexico, can sustain no obligation with respect to him in connection with this claim. I think, therefore, that the decision of the court below should be reversed, and petition of the appellee dismissed.
|This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).|