Forbes v. Gracey - 94 U.S. 762 (1876)
U.S. Supreme Court
Forbes v. Gracey, 94 U.S. 762 (1876)
Forbes v. Gracey
94 U.S. 762
1. Although the title to mineral lands may remain in the United States, the ores, when dug or detached from the lands under a mining claim, are free from any lien, claim, or title of the United States and, becoming personal property, are as such subject to state taxation in like manner as other personal property.
2. The words "mines or mining claims" in the sixth section of the Act of the Legislature of Nevada of Feb. 28, 1871, imposing a tax upon such ores and making it "a lien on the mines or mining claims from which the ores or minerals bearing gold or silver are extracted for reduction," were evidently intended to distinguish between cases in which the miner is the owner of the soil, and therefore has a perfect title to the mine, and those in which he works under a mining claim, the title to the land remaining in the United States. In the first case, the tax is a valid lien on the mine itself, but in the second, only upon his possessory right, under existing laws and regulations, to work and explore the mine.
3. Such a claim is property in the fullest sense of the word. It is subject to a lien for taxes, and may be sold for the nonpayment of them without infringing the title of the United States.
The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.