United States v. Miranda - 41 U.S. 153 (1842)


U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Miranda, 41 U.S. 16 Pet. 153 153 (1842)

United States v. Miranda

41 U.S. (16 Pet.) 153

Syllabus

A Florida land claim. On a petition from Pedro Miranda, stating services performed by him for Spain, Governor White, the Governor of East Florida, on 26 November, 1810, made a grant to him of eight leagues square, or three hundred and sixty-eight thousand six hundred and forty acres of land on the waters of Hillsborough and Tampa Bays, in the Eastern District of Florida. No survey was made under this grant while Florida remained a province of Spain; nor was any attempt made to occupy or survey the land, until after the cession of Florida to the United States. In 1821, it was alleged that a survey was made by a surveyor of East Florida. Held that the grant was void, no land having been severed from the public domain previous to 24 January, 1818, and because the calls of the grant are too indefinite for locality to be given to them.

Cited, Percheman's Case, 7 Pet. 51; Kingsley's Case, 12 Pet. 476; Arredondo's Case, 6 Pet. 741; Forbes' Case, 15 Pet. 182; Buyck's Case, 15 Pet. 215; O'Harra's Case, 15 Pet. 275; Delespine's Case, 15 Pet. 319.

The settled doctrine of the Supreme Court in respect to Florida grants is that grants embracing a wide extent of country, or with a large area of natural or artificial boundaries, and which granted lands were not surveyed before 24 January, 1918, and which are without such designation as will give a place of beginning for a survey, are not lands withdrawn from the mass of vacant lands ceded to the United States in Florida, and are void, as well on that account as for being so uncertain that locality cannot be given to them.

Pedro Miranda and others, on 9 May 1829, presented a petition to the Superior Court of East Florida, asking for the confirmation of a grant from the Spanish government of Florida, for eight leagues square, equal to 368,640 acres of land, situate on the waters of Hillsborough and Tampa Bays, in the Eastern District of the Territory of Florida. The petition of Pedro Miranda and the grant are as follows:

"Translation"

"His Excellency the governor:"

"Don Pedro Miranda, second pilot of the launch of the bar of this port, with the most profound respect, represents to your Excellency that he has the honor to serve his Catholic Majesty (whom

Page 41 U. S. 154

may God preserve!) from the year 1798, when he was employed as rower of the said launch, in which capacity he remained until he was promoted to his present post, on account of his known merits and experience. Moreover, your Excellency well knows the veracity of his good conduct, fidelity and devotion to the service of his majesty, of which he has given proofs in various expeditions, which, by order of his government, your petitioner undertook along the watercourses of this province, when it was overrun by rebels, and as for so distinguished services, and others rendered to the satisfaction of your Excellency, your petitioner has not received any compensation whatever, and as he finds himself in a penurious condition, and without any other expectations but from the protection of your Excellency; therefore he supplicates your Excellency to be pleased, in remuneration of all which he has represented, and in consideration of his present destitute situation, to grant to him in absolute property, a square of eight leagues in the royal lands which are found on the waters of Hillsborough and Tampa Bays, in this province, in virtue of royal orders on the subject of granting lands gratuitously to Spanish subjects, which favor your petitioner hopes to receive from the justice of your Excellency."

"St. Augustine of Florida, 19 November 1810."

"DECREE"

"St. Augustine of Florida, 26 November 1810"

"The merits and services alleged by this party being well known to this government, I grant to him, in the terms which he solicits, the said quantity of land in the places which he indicates, without prejudice to a third party, and as a proof of this grant to be shown at all times, let a certified copy of this proceeding be issued to him from the secretary's office for his security."

"WHITE"

The petition to the court stated that said tract or parcel of land had been divided and laid off into townships of 23,040 acres each; that the said division of the said land into townships as aforesaid was made by one Charles Vignolles in the year 1821, the said Charles Vignolles then being a surveyor of East Florida.

After hearing testimony and arguments of counsel, the Superior Court of East Florida gave a pro forma decree in favor of

Page 41 U. S. 155

the petitioners for 46,080 acres, and the United States and the claimants prosecuted this appeal.



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