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covered by the grant, and has thus encouraged the expenditure of millions of money in the construction of a public highway, by which the wilderness has been opened to civilization and settlement; and then, on the other hand, after the work has been done and the money expended, has, with another set of officers and all the machinery of the judiciary, attempted to render and has succeeded in rendering utterly worthless the titles it aided to create and put forth upon the world. Such proceedings are not calculated, in my judgment, to enhance our ideas of the wisdom with which the law is administered, or of the justice of the government.
I am of opinion that the decree should be reversed.
NOTE. — Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railway Company v. United States, appeal from the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Kansas, is, in its essential features, the same as the preceding case, and was argued by the same counsel.
MR. JUSTICE Davis delivered the opinion of the court. The decision in Leavenworth, Lawrence, and Galveston Railroad Company v. United States, supra, p. 733, controls this case. Each company claims a grant of land within the Osage reservation. This case involves substantially the same questions as the other; with this difference, that the act of July 25, 1866 (14 Stat. 289), under which the appellant claims, was passed after the amendment had been advised by the senate, and the treaty was beyond its control.
In any aspect of this case, the appellant cannot recover. The amendment refers only to existing laws, and does not apply to the act of 1866, as it was no then in force. It is true that the bill, which subsequently became a law, was pending at the same time as the treaty ; but if the senate intended the amendment to apply not only to existing but to contemplated grants, language appropriate to such a purpose would have been used. This remark applies to Congress also; for if it meant, notwithstanding the provisions of the treaty, to grant these lands, words would have been employed to include them, or at least take them out of the proviso. But the result is the same, whether the act is to be treated as taking effect before or after the treaty became operative by the proclamation of the President on the 21st of January, 1867. If it was in force for all purposes on the day it passed, then the Indian title even was not extinguished, as the treaty had not been ratified. But if it be considered as in any sense taking effect after the ratification, then the claim of the appellant is defeated by the terms of the treaty. These lands, having been thereby set apart to be surveyed and sold for the benefit of the Indians, were“ otherwise appropriated,” as much as they had been before the treaty was concluded, and were consequently reserved within the meaning of the excepting clause in the act.
Decree affirmed. MR. JUSTICE SWAYNE, MR. JUSTICE FIELD, and MR. JUSTICE STRONG dissented.
ion of a pened to CC
NEWHALL V. SANGER.
1. The act of July 1, 1862 (12 Stat. 492), grants to the Western Pacific Railroad
Company every alternate section of public land designated by odd numbers within the limits of ten miles on each side of its road, not sold, reserved, or otherwise disposed of by the United States, and to which a homestead or pre-emption claim may not have attached at the time the line of the road is definitely fixed. The act of 1864 (13 Stat. 358) enlarges those limits, and declares that the grant hy it, or the act to which it is an amendment, “shall not defeat or impair any pre-emption, homestead, swamp-land, or other lawful claim, nor include any government reservation or mineral lands, or the improvements of any bona fide settler." Held, that lands within the boundaries of an alleged Mexican or Spanish grant, which was sub judice at the time the Secretary of the Interior ordered a withdrawal of lands along the route of the road, are not embraced by the
grant to the company. 2. The words “public lands" are used in our legislation to describe such lands
as are subject to sale or other disposition under general laws. 8. The fiction of law, that a term consists of but one day, cannot be invoked to
antedate the judicial rejection of a claim, so as to render operative a grant which would otherwise be without effect.
APPEAL from the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of California.
Submitted on printed arguments by Mr. Montgomery Blair for the appellant, and by Mr. George F. Edmunds for the appellee.
MR. JUSTICE DAVIS delivered the opinion of the court.
The object of this suit is to determine the ownership of a quarter-section of land in California. The appellee, who was the complainant, claims through the Western Pacific Railroad Company, to whom a patent was issued in 1870, in professed compliance with the requirements of the acts of Congress commonly known as the Pacific Railroad Acts. The appellant derives title by mesne conveyances from one Ransom Dayton, the holder of a patent of a later date, which recites that the land was within the exterior limits of a Mexican grant called Moquelamos, and that a patent had, by mistake, been issued to the company. The court below decreed that the appellee was the owner in fee-simple of the disputed premises; and that the junior patent, so far as it related to them, should be cancelled.
The act of July 1, 1862 (12 Stat. 492), grants to certain
of the treaty
railroad companies, of which the Western Pacific, by subse. quent legislation, became one, every alternate section of public land designated by odd numbers, within ten miles of each side of their respective roads, not sold, reserved, or otherwise disposed of by the United States, and to which a homestead or pre-emption claim may not have attached at the time the line of the road is definitely fixed. It requires that, within a prescribed time, a map designating the general route of each road shall be filed in the Department of the Interior, and that the Secretary thereof shall then cause the lands within a certain distance from such route to be withdrawn from pre-emption, private entry, and sale. The precise date when the Western Pacific Company filed its map is not stated in the record; but we infer that it was between the first day of the December Term (1864) of this court and the thirteenth day of February, 1865. At all events, the withdrawal for this road was made on the 31st of January, 1865; and our records show that the Ma quelamos grant, which had been regularly presented to the commissioners, under the act of March 3, 1851, and duly prosecuted by appeal, was rejected here Feb. 13, 1865. It is a conceded fact, that the lands embraced by it fall within the limits of the railroad grant, which were enlarged by the amendatory act of 1864 (13 Stat. p. 358). This act also declares that any lands granted by it, or the act to which it is an amendment, “ shall not defeat or impair any preemption, homestead, swamp-land, or other lawful claim, nor include any government reservation or mineral lands, or the improvements of any bona fide settler."
There can be no doubt that, by the withdrawal, the grant took effect upon such odd-numbered sections of public lands within the specified limits as were not excluded from its operation; and the question arises, whether lands within the boundaries of an alleged Mexican or Spanish grant, which was then sub judice, are public within the meaning of the acts of Congress under which the patent, whereon the appellee's title rests, was issued to the railroad company.
The subject of grants of land to aid in constructing works of internal improvement was fully considered at the present term, in Leavenworth, Lawrence, and Galveston Railroad Company v. United States, supra, p. 733. We held that they did not embrace
tracts reserved by competent authority for any purpose or in any manner, although no exception of them was made in the grants themselves; and we confined a grant of every alternate section of "land" to such whereto the complete title was absolutely vested in the United States. The acts which govern this case are more explicit, and leave less room for construction. The words“ public lands” are habitually used in our legislation to describe such as are subject to sale or other disposal under general laws. That they were so employed in this instance is evident from the fact, that to them alone could the order withdrawing lands from pre-emption, private entry, and sale, apply.
The status of lands included in a Spanish or Mexican claim, pending before the tribunals charged with the duty of adjudicating it, must be determined by the condition of things which existed in California at the time it was ceded, and by our subsequent legislation. The rights of private property, so far from having been impaired by the change of sovereignty and jurisdiction, were fully secured by the law of nations, as well as by treaty stipulation. It had been the practice of Mexico to grant large tracts to individuals, sometimes as a reward for meritorious public services, but generally with a view to invite emigration and promote the settlement of her vacant territory. The country, although sparsely populated, was dotted over with land claims. Exact information in regard to their extent and validity could hardly be obtained during the eager search for gold which prevailed soon after we acquired California. It was not until March 3, 1851, that our government created a commission to receive, examine, and determine them. As the operations of our land system, had it then been extended to California, would have produced the utmost confusion in titles to real estate within her limits, it was wisely withheld by Congress, until such claims should be disposed of. The act of that date declared that all lands, the claims to which should not have been presented within two years therefrom, should“ be deemed, held, and considered to be a part of the public domain of the United States.” This was notice to all the world that lands in California were held in reserve to afford a reasonable time to the claimant under an asserted Mexican or Spanish grant to maintain his rights before the
commission. He was not bound by its adverse decision ; but was entitled to have it reviewed by the District Court, with a right of ultimate appeal to the Supreme Court. If he, however, neglected to take timely and proper steps to obtain such review, the decision was thereby rendered final and conclusive. The lands then fell into the category of public lands. The same remark will apply to the judgment of the District Court; but if he prosecuted his appeal to the tribunal of last resort, the reserved lands retained their original character in all the successive stages of the cause, and they were regarded as forming a part of our national domain only after the claim covering them had been “finally decided to be invalid."
A failure, therefore, to present the claim within the required time, or a rejection of it either by the commission or by the District Court, without seeking to obtain a review of their respective decisions, or by this court, rendered it unnecessary to further reserve the claimed lands from settlement and appropriation. They then became public in the just meaning of that term, and were subject to the disposing power of Congress. It may
be said that the whole of California was part of our domain, as we acquired it by treaty, and exercised dominion over it. The obvious answer to all inferences from this acknowledged fact, so far as they relate to this case, is, that the title to so much of the soil as was vested in individual proprietorship did not pass to the United States. It took the remaining lands subject to all the equitable rights of private property therein which existed at the time of the transfer. Claims, whether grounded upon an inchoate or a perfected title, were to be ascertained and adequately protected. This duty, enjoined by a sense of natural justice and by treaty obligations, could only be discharged by prohibiting intrusion upon the claimed lands until an opportunity was afforded the parties in interest for a judicial bearing and determination. It was to be expected that unfounded and fraudulent claims would be presented for confirmation. There was, in the opinion of Congress, no mode of separating them from those which were valid without investigation by a competent tribunal; and our legislation was so shaped that no title could be initiated under the laws of the United States to lands covered