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Opinion of the Court.
taken as indemnity for the losses sustained, he was obliged to inquire into the condition of those indemnity lands, and determine whether or not any portion of them had been appropriated for any other purpose, and if so, what portion had been thus appropriated, and what portion still remained. This action of the Secretary was required, not merely as supervisory of the action of the agent of the State, but for the protection of the United States against an improper appropriation of their lands. Until the selections were approved there were no selections in fact, only preliminary proceedings taken for that purpose; and the indemnity lands remained unaffected in their title. Until then, the lands which might be taken as indemnity were incapable of identification; the proposed selections remained the property of the United States. The government was, indeed, under a promise to give the company indemnity lands in lieu of what might be lost by the causes mentioned. But such promise passed no title, and, until it was executed, created no legal interest which could be enforced in the courts. The doctrine, that until selection made no title vests in any indemnity lands, has been recognized in several decisions of this court. Thus in Ryan v. Railroad Co., 99 U. S. 382, 386, in considering a grant of land by Congress, in aid of the construction of a railroad, similar in its general features to the one in this case, the court said: "Under this statute, when the road was located and the maps were made, the right of the company to the odd sections first named became ipso facto fixed and absolute. With respect to the lieu lands,' as they are called, the right was only a float, and attached to no specific tracts until the selection was actually made in the manner prescribed." And again, speaking of a deficiency in the land granted, it said: "It was within the secondary or indemnity territory where that deficiency was to be supplied. The railroad company had not and could not have any claim to it until specially selected, as it was, for that purpose." The selection had been approved by the Secretary.
In St. Paul &c. Railroad v. Winona &c. Railroad, 112 U. S. 720, 731, the court, speaking of a previous decision, said: "The reason of this is that, as no vested right can attach to the lands
Opinion of the Court.
in place -the odd-numbered sections within six miles of each side of the road-until these sections are ascertained and identified by a legal location of the line of the road, so in regard to the lands to be selected within a still larger limit, their identification cannot be known until the selection is made. It may be a long time after the line of the road is located before it is ascertained how many sections, or parts of sections, within the primary limits have been lost by sale or preëmption. It may be still longer before a selection is made to supply this loss."
In Sioux City &c. Railroad v. Chicago &c. Railway, 117 U. S. 406, 408, where the railroad grant as to indemnity lands was substantially similar to the one in this case, and one of the questions was as to the title to the indemnity lands, the court said: "No title to indemnity lands was vested until a selection was made by which they were pointed out and ascertained, and the selection made approved by the Secretary of the Interior."
In Barney v. Winona &c. Railroad, 117 U. S. 228, 232, the court said: "In the construction of land-grant acts, in aid of railroads, there is a well-established distinction observed between 'granted lands' and 'indemnity lands.' The former are those falling within the limits specially designated, and the title to which attaches when the lands are located by an approved and accepted survey of the line of the road filed in the Land Department, as of the date of the act of Congress. The latter are those lands selected in lieu of parcels lost by previous disposition or reservation for other purposes, and the title to which accrues only from the time of their selection."
The same view has been held by different Attorneys General of the United States, in their official communications to heads of the departments, where selections of the public lands have been granted, subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, Cape Mendocino Lighthouse Site, 14 Opinions Attys. Gen. 50, Portage Land Grant, Ib. 645, and such has been the consistent practise of the Land Department. The uniform language is, that no title to indemnity lands becomes vested in any company or in the State until the selections are made;
and they are not considered as made until they have been approved, as provided by statute, by the Secretary of the Interior.
It follows from these views that the indemnity lands described in the complaint were not subject to taxation as the property of the railroad company in 1883. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin must, therefore, be
Reversed, and the cause remanded with directions to enter a
decree perpetually enjoining the collection of the taxes levied in the year 1883 upon the indemnity lands, and dismissing the complaint as to the eleven parcels of forty acres each; and it is so ordered.
BURTHE v. DENIS.
ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF LOUISIANA.
No. 1381. Submitted January 13, 1890.- Decided March 3, 1890.
The property of a subject of the Emperor of the French in Louisiana was occupied by the army of the United States during the war of the rebellion. A claim for the injury caused thereby was adjusted by the commanding general, but payment was refused in consequence of the passage of the act of February 21, 1867, 14 Stat. 397, c. 57. After the organization of the commission under the Claims Convention of 1880 with France, 21 Stat. 673, his executor (he having meantime died in Paris leaving a will distributing his estate) presented this claim against the United States to the commissioners, and an allowance was made which was paid to the executor. In settling the executor's accounts in the courts of Louisiana two of the legatees, who were citizens of France, laid claim to the whole of the award. The other legatees, who were citizens of the United States, claimed the right to participate in the division of this sum. The award of the commission being silent on the subject, the briefs of counsel on both sides before the commission together with letters from the claimants' counsel, and a letter from one of the commissioners, were offered to show that only the claims on the part of the French legatees were considered by the commission, and the evidence was admitted. The Supreme court of Louisiana ordered the award to be distributed among all the legatees, French and American; Held.
Statement of the Case.
(1) That this court had jurisdiction to review the judgment of the state court;
(2) That the French legatees only were entitled to be represented before the commission, and they only were entitled to participate in the distribution;
(3) That the briefs of counsel were properly admitted in evidence; (4) That the letters of counsel and of the commissioner should have been rejected; but,
(5) That it was immaterial whether the evidence was or was not received, as the decision of the question depended upon considerations which such evidence could in no way affect.
Extrinsic evidence to aid in the interpretation of the judgment of a court or commission is inadmissible unless, after reference to the pleadings and proceedings, there remains some ambiguity or uncertainty in it.
Ar the commencement of the late civil war L. F. Foucher, a citizen of France and a resident of the city of Paris, and bearing the title of Marquis de Circé, was the owner of a plantation situated on the east bank of the Mississippi River, a few miles above the centre of the city of New Orleans, though within its corporate limits. A portion of it was known as Exposition Park or Audubon Park. When the city was occupied by the Federal troops in 1862 they took possession of the plantation. Some of its fields were used for pasture; some were converted into camping ground; and upon part a hospital for the soldiers was built. The whole was in the military occupation and control of the United States, to the entire exclusion of the owner. In 1865 a claim for reimbursement of the damages sustained was presented on behalf of the owner to the Military Claims Commission sitting at New Orleans. General Canby, as commanding general of the district embracing that city, and the head of the commission, made a report upon the claim, recommending, upon the advice of his chief quartermaster, its settlement by the payment of $36,433.33. This report was addressed to the Adjutant General's Department, and forwarded to Washington in June, 1866. No part of this claim, was, however, paid, for the reason, as stated by counsel, that before action was had upon it the act of Congress of February 21, 1867, was passed, forbidding the settlement of any claim for the occupation of or injury to real estate by the military authorities or troops of the United
Statement of the Case.
States where such claim originated during the war. 14 Stat. 397, c. 57.
In 1869 Foucher died, leaving a will, in which he made his widow, also a citizen of France, his universal legatee, and she was put in possession of his estate. In 1877 she died, leaving a will by which she devised her entire estate to her nephews and nieces, who were appointed her universal legatees, jointly. After some litigation to determine the true construction of this will, the legatees went into possession of her estate. La. Ann. 568. The estates both of Foucher and of his widow were settled and the property distributed among the legatees of the latter or their heirs. The executors were discharged and the successions considered as finally closed. Neither the estate of Foucher nor of his widow had received any moneys upon the claim which had been presented on behalf of Foucher in 1865, for the damage sustained by the occupation and use of his plantation by the Federal troops, the payment of which had been recommended by General Canby; nor was any mention made of the claim in the distribution of the estate of either.
In January, 1880, a convention was concluded between the United States and France, 21 Stat. 673, by which it was agreed that "all claims on the part of corporations, companies, or private individuals, citizens of the United States, upon the government of France, arising out of acts committed against the persons or property of citizens of the United States not in the service of the enemies of France, or voluntarily giving aid and comfort to the same, by the French civil or military authorities, upon the high seas or within the territory of France, its colonies and dependencies, during the late war between France and Mexico, or during the war of 1870-'71, between France and Germany, and the subsequent civil disturbances known as the Insurrection of the Commune;' and on the other hand, all claims on the part of corporations, companies or private individuals, citizens of France, upon the government of the United States, arising out of acts committed against the persons or property of citizens of France not in the service of the enemies of the United States, or voluntarily giving aid and