Dalton v. United States
63 U.S. 436 (1859)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Dalton v. United States, 63 U.S. 22 How. 436 436 (1859)

Dalton v. United States

63 U.S. (22 How.) 436

Syllabus

Where the objection to a grant of land in California was that the grantee was a foreigner, and therefore not entitled to hold land, this Court is of the opinion that the testimony of conversations of admissions, relied upon to prove that fact, ought not to be received to outweigh the prima facie if not conclusive presumptions arising from the expediente and definitive title.

The title of Dalton to the land which he claimed is set forth in the opinion of the Court.

The board of commissioners confirmed the title, but the district court reversed the decree, apparently upon the ground stated in the following exception:

Upon the trial of this cause, the United States district attorney offered to prove, by Daniel Sexton and J. S. Mallard, witnesses called on the part of the United States, that Henry Dalton, the appellee in this case, was not, at the time of the grant of the land to him in this case, a citizen of Mexico, but was an alien and a subject of Great Britain, which proof was objected to by J. R. Scott, counsel for appellee; but his honor the judge overruled the objection, and permitted the evidence to be given, to which the appellee, by his counsel, excepted, and prays the court to sign this his bill of exceptions, and make the same part of the record in the case, which is accordingly done.

The evidence of these two persons upon this subject was as follows:

Daniel Sexton sworn, and said:

1. Question. What is your name, age, place of residence, and occupation?

Answer. My name is Daniel Sexton; my age, about 37; I reside in San Gabriel; I am a farmer.

2. Q. How long have you lived in California?

A. I have lived in this part of California, County of Los Angeles, since the fall of 1841.

Page 63 U. S. 437

3. Q. Do you know or not Henry Dalton, the appellee in this case?

A. I do.

4. Q. How long have you known him?

A. I have known him since the latter part of 1844, or beginning of 1845.

5. Q. Do you know how long he has resided in California?

A. Yes; since the latter part of 1844 or beginning of 1845.

6. Q. Do you know the country of his birth?

A. He has frequently told me he was an Englishman.

7. Q. Do you recollect the last time he told you so?

A. Yes -- in May, I think it was, in 1847; I was coming, in company with Mr. Dalton, from Azusa to Santanita; he told me that he was an Englishman; that he never was a Mexican citizen, and never intended to be an American citizen.

J. S. Mallard:

My name is J. S. Mallard; residence, San Gabriel; my age is 39, and a merchant by occupation; I have resided in California five years, and in Los Angeles county the same length of time, with the exception of four months. I know Henry Dalton, and have known him since January, 1850, as a resident of Los Angeles city.

Question. Do you know the rancho of San Francisquito?

Answer. I don't know that I do, only from report.

Q. Do you know the country of Mr. Dalton's birth?

A. I do not.

Q. Do you know whether or not Mr. Dalton, the appellee in this case, is a native of Mexico? And if not, state generally how you know the fact.

A. Sometime in the year 1853, I heard Mr. Dalton say that he claimed not to be a citizen of the United States, nor of Mexico. I know it was in a court of justice, and think he was called as a juror; the court reserved their decision I think he was under oath, but am not certain. I think it was in the court of sessions, whilst I was sitting as an associate justice; but I am not certain if it was in that court, or in a justice's court, whilst I was a judge of both courts. I think he was excused on that ground.

Page 63 U. S. 438

Q. Did you ever hear Mr. Dalton say, on any other occasion, that he was not a naturalized citizen of Mexico?

A. I do not recollect that I ever did.

Cross-examined by Claimant's Counsel

Question. Did he say anything more than that he claimed not to be a citizen?

Answer. My answer is that he did. My recollection is that he stated, that while in Mexico, he had either applied to become a citizen, or had some papers made out; and that, from some reason, which I do not recollect, the business of his naturalization was not completed.

Q. Did he not say this that the papers had been made out in Mazatlan, but that they had not reached him?

A. It might have been so; but my recollection was that the action on his application had not been completed, and that, for that reason, he Dalton said he did not consider himself a Mexican citizen.

Page 63 U. S. 439

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