Arkansas v. Tennessee
310 U.S. 563 (1940)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Arkansas v. Tennessee, 310 U.S. 563 (1940)

Arkansas v. Tennessee

No. 9, Original

Argued April 23, 1940

Decided June 3, 1940

310 U.S. 563

Syllabus

1. Land on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River was cut off by a sudden change of the river's course, in 1821, and became attached to the Tennessee side.

Held:

(1) That it subsequently became a part of Tennessee as the result of long and continuous exercise by that dominion and jurisdiction over it with the acquiescence of Arkansas. P. 310 U. S. 566.

(2) That an addition to this area, caused by gradual accretion from the river, was also subject to the Tennessee jurisdiction. P. 310 U. S. 572.

2. The principle of prescription and acquiescence is applicable in the determination of boundaries between States. P. 310 U. S. 569.

3. The rule of the thalweg rests upon equitable considerations, and is intended to safeguard to each State equality of access and right of navigation in the stream. The rule yields to the doctrine that a boundary is unaltered by an avulsion, and, in such case, in the absence of prescription, the boundary no longer follows the thalweg, but remains at the original line. P. 310 U. S. 571.

4. The doctrine as to the effect of an avulsion may become inapplicable when it is established that there has been acquiescence in a long continued and uninterrupted assertion of dominion and jurisdiction over the area affected. P. 310 U. S. 571.

5. The question whether a State has acquired political jurisdiction by prescription is not affected by the circumstance that the title to the area is in the United States, such title not being disputed. P. 310 U. S. 571.

Exceptions overruled; report confirmed, and decree ordered.

Upon exceptions to the report of a Special Master, appointed in an original boundary suit (301 U.S. 666) between the States of Arkansas and Tennessee.

Page 310 U. S. 564

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