United States v. Lynde
78 U.S. 632 (1870)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Lynde, 78 U.S. 11 Wall. 632 632 (1870)

United States v. Lynde

78 U.S. (11 Wall.) 632

Syllabus

1. Under the treaty of cession of Louisiana, made with France, April 30, 1803, the United States Government always claimed to the Perdido River on the east, although the Spanish authorities kept possession of, and claimed sovereignty over, the territory between that river and the

Page 78 U. S. 633

Mississippi (except the Island of New Orleans) until 1810, when the United States took forcible possession of it.

2. Spain, in ceding the Floridas to the United States by the Treaty of February 22, 1819, only ceded so much thereof as belonged to her, and hence did not cede the above territory, lying between the Mississippi and Perdido Rivers.

3. The stipulation in the eighth section of the treaty of 1819 to confirm all Spanish grants of land in the ceded territory did not embrace grants made in the above territory after Spain ceded Louisiana to France by the Treaty of St. Ildefonso in 1801, for after that, it did not belong to Spain.

4. The Act of March 26, 1804, organizing territorial governments for Louisiana, expressly declared void all grants made in the territory above referred to after the Treaty of St. Ildefonso.

5. The foregoing points have been established by a long series of decisions in this Court.

6. But by the Act of June 22, 1860, entitled "An act for the final adjustment of private land claims in the States of Florida, Louisiana, and Missouri and for other purposes," the grants made by the Spanish government in the disputed territory whilst in possession thereof and claiming sovereignty over it were confirmed.

7. Such a grant, for 32,025 arpents, made by the Spanish intendant Morales on the 12th day of July, 1806, to John Lynde, the ancestor of the appellees, although rejected and declared void under previous conditions of the laws, was held to be confirmed and validated by the act of 1860.

The heirs of John Lynde filed a petition in the court below, the object of the suit having been to obtain the recognition and confirmation, as against the United States, of a claim for 32,025 arpents of land in Louisiana under the provisions of an Act of Congress entitled, "An act for the final adjustment of Private Land Claims in the states of Florida, Louisiana, and Missouri, and for other purposes," approved June 22, 1860. [Footnote 1]

The petitioners claimed title under a grant by Juan Ventura Morales, Spanish intendant of West Florida, to John Lynde, their ancestor, on the 12th day of July, 1806, in pursuance of an application made by Lynde on the 26th day of September, 1803, and regular surveys thereon. The lands

Page 78 U. S. 634

were situated east of the River Mississippi and south of the 31st parallel of latitude in a direction nearly north of Baton Rouge, and were a part of the disputed territory which, after the cession of Louisiana to the United States in 1803, was claimed by them as part of Louisiana and by Spain as a part of West Florida. The cause of this contention between the claimants under the Spanish grant and the United States originated in the various treaties of cession which had been made respecting these territories.

The court below decided in favor of the claim, and the United States brought the case here.

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