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1824. viously appropriated for militawy land bounties,

to and for other purposes ; and, consequently, ex1. cludes the lands between the Scioto and the Little

Thompson. Miami.

In May, 1800, Congress passed an act providing further for the sale of these lands, and establishing for that purpose four land offices. The places at which these offices shall be fixed are designated in the act, and the district of country attached to each, is described. Neither of these districts comprebends, any lands between the Scioto and the Little Miami. The Surveyor General was not authorized to survey any lands within the military reserve, nor was the sale of such lands authorized at any of the land offices. In the execution of this act, the Surveyor General caused a line to be run from the source of the Little Miami towards what he supposed to be the source of the Scioto, which is denominated Ludlow's line, and surveyed the lands west of that line in .sections and parts of sections as prescribed in the act of Congress.

In March, 1804, Congress passed a law for ascertaining the .boundary of the land reserved by the State of Virginia for military bounties, which epacts, “ that the line run under the direction of the Surveyor General of the United States, from the source of the Little Miami towards the source of the Scioto, and which binds, on the east, the surveys of the lands of the United States, shall, together with its course continued to the Scioto river, be considered and held as the westerly boun

.a 3 U.S. L. 385.

3 U.S. L 592.

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dary line, north of the source of the Little Miami, 1824. of the territory reserved by the State of Virginia,

" Doddridge between the Little Miami and the Scioto rivers, for the use of the officers and soldiers of the conti- Thon Dental line of that date : Provided, that the State of Virginia shall, within two years after the passing of this act, recognise such line as the boundary of the said territory." The line mentioned in this act, is called Ludlow's line.

This act shows, we think, very clearly, that : Congress did not mean to assert a power to fix the western boundary of the military reserve. The deed of cession, and the act of acceptance, were considered as forming a contract respecting a territory, the western line of which could not, at the time, be fixed with precision, and which was unavoidably described in terms requiring subsequent explanation and adjustment. This adjustment was to be made, not by one of the parties, but by both; and this act is an essay towards it. Congress makes a proposition to Virginia, by wbich the United States are to be bound, provided Virginia accepts it within two years. If it be not accepted within that time, the parties stand on their original rights, as if it had never been made. This is a very fair and equitable proceeding on the part of the government, and is founded on the idea that the rights of the parties are equal. Had Virginia accepted this proposition, it would have become a contract, and Ludlow's line would have been established as the western boundary of the military reserve; the land in controversy lying west of that line, would not have been liable to be surveyed to satisfy the plaintiff's war

1824. rant. But Virginia did not accept the proposition,

and the rights of the parties remained as if it had • never been made.

In 1812,“ Congress made another effort to establish this line. The President was authorized to appoint three commissioners, to meet commissioners to be appointed by Virginia, who were to agree on the western line of the military reserve, and to cause the sameto be surveyed and marked out. Should commissioners from Virginia fail to meet them, they were to proceed alone, and make their report to the Executive. In the mean time, and until the line should be established by consent, Ludlow's line was to be considered as constituting the western boundary of the Virginia reserve.

The commissioners of the United States were met by those of Virginia, and they proceeded to ascertain the sources of the two rivers, and employed a Mr. Charles Roberts to survey and mark a line, from the source of one to that of the other. This line is called Roberts' line, is reported by the commissioners to the Executive, and is found, in the case agreed, to represent truly a line drawn from the source of the Little Miami to the source of the Sciolo. The Virginia commissioners, however, refused to accede to this line, and claimed to run, from the source of the Scioto, a straight line to the mouth of the Little Miami, which would pass south of that river, and include a considerable tract of country not lying between that river and the Scioto. This demand prevented an agree

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1824.

Doddridge

Thompson..

ment establishing Roberts' line; and as the act of
June, 1812, provisionally designated Ludlow's
line as the western boundary of the reserve, until
one should be finally established, with the consent
of Virginia, it remains.the bouniory, for the pre-
sent. Had the plaintiff's title been acquired sub-
sequent to the passage of this act, there would
be much force in the objection to it; but it was
acquired before this act passed, and cannot, ws
think, be affected by it. Congress cannot have
intended to annul, by a legislative act, a title
which was valid at the time; and a law which does
not express that intention ought not to have that
cffect given to it by construction. If the words of
the act of 1804 were doubtful, which they are not,
the act of 1812 would expound thein, and show
that not even a temporary boundary bad been pre-
viously fixed. The appointment of commission-
ers to meet others to be appointed by Virginia, who
were to agree upon and mark the true line, and the
establishment of a temporary line till such agree-
ment should be made, prove incontestably, that
Congress did not suppose the line to be established.
Had the commissioners froin Virginia assented to
the equitable proposition maite by thoge of the
United States, the plaintiff's patent, founded on
a survey made before that time, would be admit-
ted to be unassailable. And yet the land was, in
fact, within the territory actually reserved at the
time the survey was made, and no law had then
passed substituting any other line for the true one.
The act of 1812 does not look back, and annul.
existing titles; it is entirely prospective, and leaves

1824. prior titles as it found them. If, then, there be no home other act of Congress, which impairs this patent, Doddridge 1. it must be considered as valid.

The defendant contends that there are previous acts, by which the land between Ludlow's and Roberts' lines was withdrawn from the territory liable to be surveyed for military warrants. The act of 1804, already mentioned, enacts, “that all officers and soldiers, or their legal representatives, entitled to bounty lands within the above mentioned reserved territory, shall complete their locations within three years after the passing of this act," and that the locations made within that part of the territory to which the Indian title has been extinguished, shall be surveyed, and the surveys returned to the Department of War, within five years. The 3d section provides, that such parts of the territory as shall not have been located, and such part as shall not have been surveyed, and the surveys returned to the Department of War, within the times prescribed by the act, shall be released from any claim for such bounty lands, and shall be disposed of in conformity with the laws passed for that purpose.

In March, 1807, an act passed, giviog three years farther time for making locations, and five years farther time for making and returning surveys; “ Provided, that no locations, as aforesaid, within the above mentioned tract, shall, after the passing of this act, be made on tracts of land for whioh patents had previously been issued, or whioh had been previously surveyed; and any patent which may nevertheless be obtained, for

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