Page:United States Statutes at Large Volume 2.djvu/750

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714 TWELFTH CONGRESS. Sess. I. Ch. 67. 1812, taining the titles and claims to lands in that tract of country which lies south of the Mississippi territory, east of the river Mississippi and island of New Orleans, and west of the river Perdido, and a line drawn wrth the general course thereof to the southern boundary of the said Missis- .Two land dis- sippi territory, the lands within the said limits shall be laid 0H' into two

'g“ ‘° l’° md land districts, between which Pearl river shall be the boundary; and for

f;°mmi,,i,,,,_ each of which districts a commissioner for land claims shall be appointed ers to be ap- by the President of the United States, with the advice and consent of P°""°d· the Senate. The said commissioners shall, respectively, have power to Clerk- appoint a clerk, who shall be a person capable of translating the French and Spanish languages, and who shall, m addition to the other duties required of him by this act, perform the duties of translator, when re- Om quired by the commissioner. And the said commissioners and clerk shall, before entering on the duties of their appointments, respectively take an oath or affirmation, truly and faithfully to execute the duties imposed on them by this act. comm;,,;,,,,. Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That for the more convenient ¤r¤¤nd clerks to ascertainment, of the titles and claims to lands as aforesaid, it shall be

,‘Ls'“ °l‘“ the duty of each of the said commissioners, respectively, and their clerks,

° to attend in each of the several parishes in his district, at such time and place therein as he shall appoint, for the purpose of receiving notices and evidences of titles and claims to lands within the same; and when the commissioners shall have appointed the time and place for his , attendance in any parish, he shall cause public notice thereof to be n°'£;°°°¥° dag; given to the inhabitants of the same, for at least twenty days previous to given, the time of his commencing the business of his appointment therein. Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That each commissioner, after he shall have attended for a reasonable and suflioient length of time in each parish of his district, for the claimants of lands within the same to have Congress, in order to guard against imposition, declared, by the law of 1804, that all grants of land made by the Spanish authorities in the territory west of the Perdido, after the treaty of St. Ildefonso, should be null and void, excepting those to actual settlers, acquired before December 20, 1803. Garcia v. Lee, 12 Peters, 511. The controversy relative to the country lying between the Mississippi and the Perdido rivers, and the validity of the grants made by Spain in the disputed territory after the cession of Louisiana to the United States, were carefully examined in the case of Foster 8: Elam v. Neilson. The supreme court, in that case, decided that the question of boundary between the United States and Spain was a question for the political departments o the government: that the legislative and executive branches having decided the question, the courts of the United States are bound to regard the boundary determined by them as the true one ; that grants made by the Spanish authorities of lands, which, according to this boundary line, belonged to the United States, gave no title to the grantees, in opposition to those claiming under the United States; unless the Spanish grants were protected by the subsequent arrangements made between the two governments ; and that no such arrangements were to be found in the treaty of 1819, by which Spain ceded the Floridas to the United States, according to the fair import of its words, and its true construction. Ibid. In the case of Foster 8: Elam v. Neilson, the supreme court said that the Florida treaty of 1819, de. clares that all grants made before the 24th of January, 1818, by the Spanish authorities, “ shall be ratingd and contirmed to tho persons in possession of the lands, to the same extent that the same grants would be valid, if the territories had remained under the dominion of his Catholic Majesty:" and in deciding the case of Foster 8: Elarn, the court held, that even if this stipulation applied to lands in the territory in question, yet the words used did not import a present confirmation by virtue of the treaty itself, but that they were words of contract: " that the ratification and confirmation which were promised, must be the act of the legislature; and until such shall be passed, the court is not at liberty to disregard the existing laws on the subject." Afterwards, in the case of the United States v. Percheman, '7 Peters, S6, in reviewing the words of the Sth article of the treaty ; the court, for the reasons there assigned, came to a diderent conclusion ; and held, that the words were words of present confirmation, by the treaty, where the land had been rightfully granted before the cession ; and that it did not need the aid of an act of Congress to ratify and confirm the grant. This language was, however, applied by the court, and was intended to apply to grants made in a territory which belonged to Spain at the time of the grant. The casa then before the court was one of that description. It was in relation to a grant ofland in Florida, which unquestionably belonged to Spain at the time the grant was made; and where the Spanish authorities had an nndoubted right to grant, until the treaty ofcession in 1819. lt is of such grants that the court speak, when they declare them to be confirmed and protected by the true construction of the treaty; and that they do not need the aid of an act of Congress to ratify and confirm the title of the purchaser. The court do not apply this principle to grants made within the territory of Louisiana. The case of Foster Sr 1E1am v. Nei son must, in all other respects, be considered as atlirmed by the case of Perchemsn ; as it underwent a careful examination in that case, and as none of its principles were questioned except that referred to. I bid.