Matthews v. Zane - 20 U.S. 164 (1822)


U.S. Supreme Court

Matthews v. Zane, 20 U.S. 7 Wheat. 164 164 (1822)

Matthews v. Zane

20 U.S. (7 Wheat.) 164

Syllabus

Where a party claiming title to lands under an act of Congress brought a bill for a conveyance, and stated several equitable circumstances in aid of his title, and, the state court where the suit was brought having dismissed the bill and the cause being brought to this Court by appeal under the twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act of 1789, c. 20, upon the ground of an alleged misconstruction of the act of Congress by the state court, held that this Court could not take into consideration any distinct equity arising out of the contracts or transactions of the parties and creating a new and independent title, but was confined to an examination of the plaintiff's title as depending upon the construction of the act of Congress.

The lands included within the Zanesville District by the Act of Congress of 3 March 1803, c. 343, s. 6, could not, after that date, be sold at the Marietta Land Office.

A statute for the commencement of which no time is fixed commences from its date. The decision of this Court in Matthews v. Zane, 5 Cranch 92, revised and confirmed.

The bill filed by the plaintiff, Matthews in the state court was brought for the purpose of obtaining from the defendants, Zane and others, a conveyance of a tract of land to which the plaintiff alleged that he had the equitable title under an entry prior to that on which a grant had been issued to the defendants.

Page 20 U. S. 165

The validity of his entry descended on the construction of the Act of Congress of May 19, 1800, c. 209., the 6th section of the Act of March 3, 1803, c. 343., and the Act of 26 March, 1804, c. 388, all relating to the sale of the public lands in the territory northwest of the River Ohio. The case stated that on 7 February, 1814, the plaintiff applied to the register of the Marietta District and communicated to him his desire to purchase the land in controversy. The office of receiver being then vacant, no money was paid, and no entry was made; but the register took a note or memorandum of the application. On 12 May, 1804, soon after the receiver had entered on the duties of his office, the plaintiff paid the sum of money required by law and made an entry for the land in controversy with the register of the Marietta District. In pursuance of the 12th section of the Act of 26 March, 1804, c. 388, and of instructions from the Secretary of the Treasury, the sale of the lands in the District of Zanesville (which had been formed out of the Marietta District and included the land in controversy) commenced on the 3d Monday of May, 1804, and on the 21st of that month the defendants became the purchasers of the same land. There were several charges of fraud in the bill, and a contract between the parties was alleged, but as the opinion of this Court turned exclusively on the title of the parties under the act of Congress, it is deemed unnecessary to state these circumstances. The state court having determined against the validity of the plaintiff's title under the act of Congress, and dismissed his bill, the cause was brought by appeal to this Court.

Page 20 U. S. 202



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