United States v. Boisdore's Heirs
49 U.S. 113

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Boisdore's Heirs, 49 U.S. 8 How. 113 113 (1850)

United States v. Boisdore's Heirs

49 U.S. (8 How.) 113

Syllabus

In 1824, Congress passed an act, 4 Stat. 52, entitled

"An act enabling the claimants to lands within the limits of the State of Missouri and Territory of Arkansas to institute proceedings to try the validity of their claims."

The second section provided that, in

"all cases, the party against whom the judgment or decree of the said district court may be finally given, shall be entitled to an appeal, within one year from the time of its rendition, to the Supreme Court of the United States,"

and the fifth section enacted that any claim which shall not be brought by petition before the said courts within two years from the passing of the act, or which, after being brought before the said courts, shall, on account of the neglect or delay of the claimant, not be prosecuted to a final decision within three years, shall be forever barred.

In 1844, Congress passed another act, 5 Stat. 676, entitled

"An act to provide for the adjustment of land claims within the states of Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana, and in those parts of the states of Mississippi and Alabama, south of the thirty-first degree of north latitude, and between the Mississippi and Perdido Rivers."

It enacted

"That so much of the expired act of 1824 as related to the State of Missouri be, and is hereby, revived and reenacted, and continued in force for the term of five years, and no longer, and the provisions of that part of the aforesaid act hereby revived and reenacted shall be, and hereby are, extended to the States of Louisiana and Arkansas, and to so much of the States of Mississippi and Alabama as is included in the district of country south of the thirty-first degree of north latitude, and between the Mississippi and Perdido Rivers."

The act of 1824, revived and reenacted by the act of 1844, did not expire in five years from the passage of the act of 1844, so far as regards appeals from the district court to this Court. It will continue in force until all the appeals regularly brought up from the district courts shall be finally disposed of.

The first two of these cases were appeals from the District Court of Mississippi. One of them, viz., United States v. Heirs of Boisdore, was the same case in which a motion to dismiss was made at the preceding term, as reported in 48 U. S. 7 How. 658.

Page 49 U. S. 114

The third was an appeal from the District Court of Louisiana.

A motion was now made to dismiss the whole three upon a ground which was common to them all, viz., that the act of 1844, reviving and reenacting the act of 1824, continued it in force for the term of five years, and no longer, and that, as the act was passed on 17 June, 1844, it expired upon 17 June, 1849. By reason of which expiration, it was alleged this Court had no longer any jurisdiction over the case.

By an Act of June 17, 1844, 5 Stat. 676, entitled

"An act to provide for the adjustment of land claims within the States of Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana, and in those parts of the States of Mississippi and Alabama south of the thirty-first degree of north latitude, and between the Mississippi and Perdido Rivers,"

it is enacted,

"That so much of the expired act of 26 May, 1824, entitled 'An act to enable claimants to land within the State of Missouri and Territory of Arkansas to institute proceedings to try the validity of their claims,' as related to the State of Missouri, . . . be and is hereby revived and reenacted, and continued in force for the term of five years, and no longer, and the provisions of that part of the aforesaid act, hereby revived and reenacted, shall be and hereby are extended,"

to the States of Louisiana, Mississippi &c.,

"in the same way, and with the same rights, powers, and jurisdictions, to every extent they can be rendered applicable, as if these states had been enumerated in the original act hereby revived, and the enactments expressly applied to them, as to the State of Missouri, and the district court and the judges thereof, in each of these states, shall have and exercise the like jurisdiction over the land claims in their respective states and districts, originating with either the Spanish, French, or British authorities, as by said act was given to the court and the judge thereof in the State of Missouri."

The Act of 26 May, 1824, thus revived and reenacted, 4 Stat. 52, after describing the classes of cases embraced within its provisions, prescribes that the claimants shall present a petition to the district court, setting forth their claims; that proper parties, including the district attorney, shall be made; that the proceedings shall be conducted according to the rules of a court of equity; and that the said court shall have power to hear and determine the questions arising in the cause, and to make a decree. It then, in the latter part of the second section, enacts:

"And in all cases, the party against whom the judgment or decree of the said district court may be finally given shall be entitled to an appeal, within one

Page 49 U. S. 115

year from the time of its rendition, to the Supreme Court of the United States, the decision of which court shall be final and conclusive between the parties, and should no appeal be taken, the judgment or decree of the said district court shall, in like manner, be final and conclusive."

By the fifth section it is enacted

"That any claim to lands, tenements, or hereditaments, within the purview of this act, which shall not be brought by petition before the said courts within two years from the passing of this act, or which, after being brought before the said courts, shall, on account of the neglect or delay of the claimant, not be prosecuted to a final decision within three years, shall be forever barred, both at law and in equity, and no other action at common law, or proceeding in equity, shall ever thereafter be sustained, in any court whatever, in relation to said claims."

In the three cases above mentioned, petitions had been filed in the respective courts, and the district judge confirmed the claims to the several petitioners. The United States appealed to this Court.

Page 49 U. S. 120

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