Louisiana v. Mississippi
Annotate this Case
202 U.S. 1 (1906)
U.S. Supreme Court
Louisiana v. Mississippi, 202 U.S. 1 (1906)
Louisiana v. Mississippi
No. 11, Original
Argued October 10, 11, 12, 1905
Decided March 5, 1906
202 U.S. 1
The act of Congress admitting Louisiana having given that state all islands within three leagues of her coast, and the subsequent act of Congress admitting Mississippi having purported to give that state all islands within six leagues of her shore, and some islands within nine miles of the Louisiana coast being also within eighteen miles of the Mississippi shore, although the apparent inconsistency is reconcilable, the basis of a boundary controversy involving to each state pecuniary values of magnitude, exists, and such a controversy between the two states in their sovereign capacity as states and having a boundary line separating them justifies the exercise of the original jurisdiction of this Court.
As the act admitting Mississippi was passed five years after the act admitting Louisiana, Congress could not take away any portion of Louisiana and give it to Mississippi. Section 3, Art. IV of the Constitution does not permit the claims of any particular state to be prejudiced by the exercise of the power of Congress therein conferred.
Acts of Congress passed at different times for the admission of different states where their respective subjects are not identical with or similar to each other do not form part of a homogeneous whole, of a common system, so as to allow a claimant under the later act to claim that it changed the earlier act by construction, and the rule of in pari materia does not apply.
The term thalweg is commonly used by writers on international law in the definition of water boundaries between states, meaning the middle or deepest or most navigable channel, and while often styled "fairway" or "midway" or "main channel," the word has been taken over into various languages, and the doctrine of the thalweg is often applicable in respect of water boundaries to sounds, bays, straits, gulfs, estuaries and other arms of the sea, and also applies to boundary lakes and land-locked seas whenever there is a deep water sailing channel therein.
The " maritime belt " is that part of the sea which, in contradistinction to the open sea, is under the sway of the riparian states.
As between the states of the Union, long acquiescence in the assertion of a particular boundary, and the exercise of sovereignty over the territory within it, should be accepted as conclusive, whatever the international rule may be in respect of the acquisition by prescription of large tracts of country claimed by two states.
The real, certain, and true boundary south of the Mississippi and north of the southeast portion of the Louisiana, and separating the two states in the waters of Lake Borgne, is the deep water channel sailing line emerging from the most eastern mouth of Pearl River into lake Borgne and extending through the northeast corner of Lake Borgne, north of Half Moon or Grand Island, thence east and south through Mississippi Sound, through South Pass between Cat Island and Isle a Pitre to the Gulf of Mexico.
The State of Louisiana, by leave of court, filed her bill against the State of Mississippi, October 27, 1902, to obtain a decree determining a boundary line between the two states, and requiring the State of Mississippi to recognize and observe the line so determined.
The bill alleged:
"1st. That the State of Louisiana was admitted into the Union of the United States of America by the act of Congress found in chapter 50 of the United States Statutes at Large, volume 2, page 701, approved April 6th, 1812, and therein the boundaries of the said State of Louisiana, in the preamble of said act, were described as follows:"
" Whereas the representatives of the people of all that part of the territory or country ceded under the name of 'Louisiana' by the treaty made at Paris on the 30th day of April, 1803, between the United States and France, contained within the following limits, that is to say, beginning at the mouth of the
River Sabine, thence by a line drawn along the middle of said river, including all islands to the 32d degree of latitude; thence due north to the northernmost part of the 33d degree of north latitude; thence along the said parallel of latitude to the River Mississippi; thence down the said river to the River Iberville, and from thence along the middle of said river and Lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain to the Gulf of Mexico; thence bounded by the said gulf to the place of beginning, including all islands within three leagues of the coast,"
"2d. That, according to the foregoing description, the eastern boundary of the State of Louisiana was formed by the Mississippi River, beginning at the northeast corner of said state and extending south to the junction of the said river with the River Iberville (now known as Bayou Manchac), and thence extending eastwardly through the lower end of the Amite River, through the middle of Lake Maurepas, Pass Manchac, and Lake Pontchartrain, and, in order to reach the Gulf of Mexico, its only course was through the Rigolets, into Lake Borgne, and thence by the deep-water channel through the upper corner of Lake Borgne, following said channel, north of Half Moon Island, through Mississippi Sound to the north of Isle a Pitre, through the Cat Island channel, southwest of Cat Island, into the Gulf of Mexico, which said eastern boundary of the State of Louisiana is more fully shown on diagram No. 1, made part of this bill."
202 U.S. 1diag1
"3d. That, by the Act of Congress found in the United States Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 708, c. 57, approved April 14th, 1812, additional territory was added to the then-existing State of Louisiana which additional territory was described in the following language:"
" Beginning at the junction of the Iberville with the River Mississippi; thence along the middle of the Iberville, the River Amite, and of the Lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain to the eastern mouth of the Pearl River; thence up the eastern branch of Pearl River to the 31st degree of north latitude; thence along the said degree of latitude to the River Mississippi; thence
down the said river to the place of beginning, shall become and form a part of the said State of Louisiana."
"4th. That the effect of this legislation, as to the eastern boundary of the State of Louisiana, was to retain the Mississippi River as the original eastern boundary, as far south as the 31st degree of north latitude. The change then moved the eastern boundary eastward along the 31st degree of north latitude to the Pearl River, whence it then ran south down the said river, through its eastern branch, till it entered the northern corner of Lake Borgne, where the state's eastern boundary then joined and followed the boundary line originally fixed in the Act of April 8th, 1812, and followed, as heretofore stated,
the deep-water channel through the upper corner of Lake Borgne, north of Half Moon Island, eastward through the deep-water channel along the Mississippi Sound till it reached the Cat Island channel north of Isle a Pitre, and southwest of Cat Island, whence passing through Chandeleur Sound, northeast of Chandeleur Islands, it entered the Gulf of Mexico, and ran south around the delta of the Mississippi River and then north and westward to the point where the Sabine River enters the Gulf of Mexico, as will be more fully seen from the diagram No. 2, made part of this bill."
202 U.S. 1diag2
"5th. That the territory lying adjacent to, and to the eastward of, the State of Louisiana, is the State of Mississippi, which
latter state was admitted into the Union of the United States of America by the Act of Congress found in the United States Statutes at Large, vol. 3, c. 23, page 348, approved March 1st, 1817, whereby the inhabitants of the western part of the then Mississippi Territory were authorized to form for themselves a state constitution and to be admitted into the Union, the boundaries of the then-to-be-created state being described as follows:"
" Beginning on the River Mississippi at the point where the southern boundary line of the State of Tennessee strikes the same; thence east along the said boundary line to the Tennessee River; thence up the same to the mouth of Bear Creek; thence by a direct line to the northwest corner of the County of Washington [Alabama]; thence due south to the Gulf of Mexico; thence westwardly, including all the islands within six leagues of the shore to the most eastern junction of Pearl River with Lake Borgne; thence up said river to the 31st degree of north latitude; thence west along the said degree of latitude to the Mississippi River; thence up the same to the beginning."
"6th. That, by the said act, Congress intended that the southern boundary line of the State of Mississippi, beginning at the point dividing it from the State of Alabama, should run westwardly till it joined the Louisiana eastern boundary line, and that, in doing so, the said southern boundary would in effect start westward from a point eighteen miles south of the coastline, and include in its westwardly direction the western end of Petit Bois Island, all of Horn Island, Ship Island, and Cat Island, and the smaller islands north of these, those islands being the ones contemplated in the act of Congress, as being within eighteen miles of the southern coastline of Mississippi, and that the said southern boundary of Mississippi, extending in its westwardly direction through the Gulf of Mexico, would gradually approach the coastline, and meet the eastern boundary line of Louisiana just as the said eastern boundary line of Louisiana emerges from the Cat Island channel into the Gulf of Mexico, and thence follow and become the same as the
Louisiana boundary line extending westwardly to the south of Cat Island, through Mississippi Sound to the north of Half Moon or Grand Island to the most southern junction of the
east branch of the Pearl River with Lake Borgne, being identical with the Louisiana eastern boundary, and thence extending up the channel of Pearl River."
"7th. That the islands included between the shoreline and the southern boundary of the State of Mississippi are the islands heretofore described, viz.: the western end of Petit Bois Island, with all of Horn Island, Ship Island, and Cat Island, and the small islands north of them, those islands being large, and well known to Congress at the time of the passage of the act, all of which islands and the southern boundary of the State of Mississippi will more fully appear from the diagram No. 3, made a part of this bill."
"8th. That the islands contemplated in the Act of Congress of 1812, creating the State of Louisiana, and intended to be embraced within the State of Louisiana, as provided by the clause, 'Thence bounded by the said gulf to the place of beginning, including all islands within three leagues of the coast,' were all of the other islands, except those heretofore named as going to the State of Mississippi, as all other islands, and all other mainland, are south and west of the boundary line thus passing from Pearl River through the deep-water channels in Lake Borgne and Mississippi Sound, through the deep-water channel southwest of Cat Island to the eastward of the Chandeleur Islands, and thence south, taking in the delta of the Mississippi River, and extending westward along the Gulf coast, including all islands along the coast, to the Sabine River, where the State of Louisiana is thence bounded on the westward by the State of Texas, all of which will more fully appear from diagram No. 2, heretofore referred to."
"9th. Now your orator avers that there has developed in recent years in the waters south of the State of Mississippi and east of the southern portion of the State of Louisiana a considerable growth of oysters, and an industry of large proportions, in the handling of said bivalves, either in their fresh or in a canned condition, has resulted therefrom."
"10th. That the State of Mississippi has by legislative
enactments, regulated the oyster industry in the waters of said state, and permits the dredging of oysters on the natural oyster reefs in waters of the said state, as will more fully appear from the statutes of said state to which reference is made."
"11th. That the State of Louisiana has, by legislative enactments, regulated the oyster industry in the said State of Louisiana, and prohibits the dredging of oysters on the natural reefs in the waters of said state, as will more fully appear from the statutes of said state to which reference is made."
"12th. That the provisions of the laws of the said two states differ considerably in many other respects."
"13th. That the existence and location of the natural oyster reefs in the waters of the Parish of St. Bernard, in the State of Louisiana, which adjoins the State of Mississippi, is shown by the map made from a reconnaissance by the United States Fish Commission steamer 'Fish Hawk,' in February, 1898, as will more fully appear from diagram No. 4, now made part of this bill. [Map omitted because of size -- see original printed reports in 202 U.S.]"
"14th. Now your orator avers that the boundary line dividing the two states in the waters thereof has been clearly defined by the acts of Congress creating the States of Louisiana and Mississippi, as will be seen from the diagram No. 5, made up from the boundary descriptions taken from the acts of Congress creating the said states of Louisiana and Mississippi, which diagram is also made part of this bill."
"15th. That the said boundary line in the waters between said states has never been designated by buoys or marks of any kind by either state, nor designated in any manner except by the United States government insofar as it has buoyed the deep-water channel, extending from the mouth of the Pearl River through the upper corner of Lake Borgne, north of Half Moon Island, eastward to the Cat Island pass, north of Isle a Pitre, and southwest of Cat Island, which buoys were placed by the Coast Survey of the United States government."
"16th. That, owing to the differences in the laws of the States of Louisiana and Mississippi regulating the oyster industry of
the respective states, the said statutes providing penalties for the violation thereof, much confusion has resulted, and a great public demand has arisen in Louisiana to definitely mark the boundary line dividing the two states in the waters thereof; that citizens of the State of Mississippi, in violation of the laws of the State of Louisiana, have been fishing oysters with dredges
on the natural reefs in the waters of the State of Louisiana, said fishermen claiming that they were in the waters of the State of Mississippi, and consequently not violating the laws of the State of Louisiana."
The bill then set forth that,
"to avoid an armed conflict between the Sheriff and officers of the Parish of St. Bernard, in the State of Louisiana, and the Sheriff and officers of the County of Harrison in the State of Mississippi,"
a meeting of citizens of Louisiana was called by the governor of that state, which met in New Orleans, and resulted in the appointment by the governor of commissioners on the part of Louisiana
"to consider the determination of the water boundary line between the two states and arrange for its easy location and identification by a proper system of buoys,"
and the request that the Governor of Mississippi appoint like commissioners on the part of that state, which appointment was made.
The joint commission met and considered the subject, and subsequently the Mississippi commission reported its inability to agree with the Louisiana commission, stating, among other things, "It is apparent that the only hope of settlement is a friendly suit in the Supreme Court of the United States, and we respectfully suggest that course."
The bill continued:
"24th. That the eastern water boundary line, as claimed by your orator, viz., a line beginning at the most southern junction of the channel of the east branch of the Pearl River with Lake Borgne, and thence eastward, following the deep-water channel to the north of Half Moon Island, through the Mississippi Sound channel, to Cat Island pass, northeast of Isle a Pitre into the Gulf of Mexico, thereby dividing the waters between the two states, agrees, and is in accord, with the acts of Congress creating respectively the State of Louisiana and the State of Mississippi, as already shown by diagram No. 5; that any other boundary than the deep-water channel as aforesaid would cause the limits of the two states to conflict and overlap, and that it is not to be presumed that the Congress of the United States
intended to, or would, establish in its description a boundary for the State of Mississippi conflicting with the already-existing Louisiana eastern boundary when there is a construction of the wording of the two acts, in fact the only construction that suggests itself, that shows a boundary readily ascertained, harmonizing with the words of the acts as they now read, and clearly defining the limits of the two states in the waters between them."
"25th. Your orator further avers that the use of the word 'westwardly' in the description of the southern boundary of the State of Mississippi, as that southern boundary line extends westwardly from the Alabama state line to the Louisiana eastern boundary line, shows that it was not the intention of Congress to have it run direct or due west throughout the whole course, and that it was evidently the intention of Congress, in giving to the State of Mississippi the islands north of that westwardly drawn line, that the eighteen-mile limit shall gradually decrease as it approached the Louisiana line on the east till it met and followed it to its source. If the Mississippi line ran parallel to the southern coast of Mississippi at a distance of eighteen miles from such coastline, following the meander of the coast, and thence joined at right angles a line emerging from the mouth of Pearl River, such line would not only include Grassy, Half Moon, Round, Le Petit Pass Islands and Isle a Pitre, already belonging to Louisiana as being within nine miles or three leagues of the Louisiana shoreline, but such line would also include part of the mainland of the State of Louisiana. as will be seen from the following diagram (No. 6), made a part of this bill, and it certainly could not have been the intention of Congress to take away from the State of Louisiana any islands or mainland already belonging to it, and to give them to the State of Mississippi, as such a proceeding, without the consent of the Legislature of the State of Louisiana, would be a violation of sec. 3 of Art. 4 of the Constitution of the United States."
"26th. You orator avers that the marshlands claimed by
the State of Mississippi to be islands are in truth, with the exception of the Isle a Pitre, Grassy, Half Moon, Round, and Le Petit Pass islands, low-lying marshlands, forming part of the mainland of the State of Louisiana; that said swamp or marshlands and islands have been known as and called, since time immemorial, 'the Louisiana marshes;' that they were approved to the State of Louisiana by the Commissioner of the General Land Office on May 6, 1852, as will appear from a certified copy of said record of approval from the United States Land Office, made a part of this bill, marked Exhibit (G) and, where not since sold by the State of Louisiana to private purchasers, have always stood on the books of the register of the Louisiana State Land Office as state lands, to be offered for sale, until recently transferred by the State of Louisiana to the Board of Commissioners for the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District by the provisions of Act No. 14 of the Legislature of the State of Louisiana for the year 1892 for the purpose of enabling the said levee board, by the proceeds of sale of said lands, to secure the funds to aid in the building of levees in that levee district, to protect the lands from overflow."
"27th. That parts of said disputed territory claimed by the State of Mississippi to be islands within eighteen miles of its shoreline are in fact part of the mainland of the State of Louisiana, and therefore belong to and form part of said State of Louisiana; but if your Honors should feel that any part of this disputed area was islands by reason of the presence of shallow water, then, as islands, they are within the nine-mile limit of distance from the shoreline of the State of Louisiana, and therefore belong to and form part of the State of Louisiana by that second provision of the act of Congress giving Louisiana all islands within three leagues of its shoreline."
"28th. Your orator further avers that, where contiguous states or countries are separated by water, it is, and always has been, the custom to regard the channel as establishing the boundary line of such states, and that the State of Mississippi has itself recognized this principle in the description of
its territorial limits, as found in the second article of its own constitution, adopted November, 1890, in the following words:"
"* * * *"
"29th. Your orator avers that, as heretofore stated, the Congress of the United States, as well as the various departments of the United States government having authority in the premises, have themselves recognized the boundary line contended for by the State of Louisiana by reason of the fact that the United States government has confirmed to the State of Louisiana the lands composing Half Moon Island, which is just south of the deep-water channel [by sections and townships as set forth]"
"the lands forming what is commonly known as Isle a Pitre [by sections and townships, as stated],"
all of them
"recognized as belonging to and forming part of the State of Louisiana by the said United States government, and have always heretofore been so recognized by the people of the said two states; that the lands forming the Isle a Pitre were sold by the State of Louisiana,"
"and said lands have been assessed on the assessment rolls of the Parish of St. Bernard, State of Louisiana, and taxes thereon have been paid to the State of Louisiana for the past thirty-five years, and said lands have never been assessed on the rolls of, nor have any taxes ever been paid to, the State of Mississippi, and that this is the case with all other lands and islands now claimed by the State of Mississippi, but which in truth and fact belong to the State of Louisiana."
"30th. Your orator therefore further avers that all constituted authorities competent to create, adopt, or consider the said boundary line have declared the water boundary line claimed by the State of Louisiana -- viz., the deep-water channel running from the most southern junction of the eastern mouth of Pearl River, through Lake Borgne, north of Half Moon Island, through Mississippi Sound, north of Isle a Pitre, and Southwest of Cat Island, through Cat Island pass, through Chandeleur Sound northeast of Chandeleur Islands to the Gulf
of Mexico, to be the true water boundary between the said states."
The bill prayed that it be adjudged and decreed
"that the boundary line dividing the States of Louisiana and Mississippi, in the waters between the said states to the south of the State of Mississippi, and to the southeast of the State of Louisiana, is the deep-water channel commencing at the most southern junction of the eastern mouth of Pearl River with Lake Borgne, thence by the deep-water channel through Lake Borgne, north of Half Moon Island, through Mississippi Sound, north of Isle a Pitre, through Cat Island Pass channel, southwest of Cat Island, through Chandeleur Island Sound, northeast of the Chandeleur Islands, to the Gulf of Mexico, as is delineated on the original map submitted by the Louisiana boundary Commission to the Mississippi Boundary Commission, and now made part of this bill, marked Exhibit 'E;' that the said deep-water channel be located throughout its course and permanently buoyed at the joint expense of the two states; that the State of Mississippi and its citizens be perpetually enjoined from disputing the sovereignty and ownership of the State of Louisiana in the said land and water territory south and west of said boundary line,"
and for costs and general relief.
[Exhibit "E" is not reproduced in the printed record, but it to be found in the Louisiana Atlas of Maps, p. 60. It consists of coast survey charts Nos. 189, 190, and 191, showing the coast from Mobile to Lakes Borgne and Pontchartrain, with boundary lines added in red ink. The maps given in this statement are sufficient to supply the lack of this particular exhibit.]
The State of Mississippi, by leave, filed a demurrer to the bill, which was, by stipulation, submitted to the consideration of the court on printed arguments, and was subsequently overruled.
Thereupon the State of Mississippi, on leave, filed her answer and cross-bill.
The state denied articulately nearly every material allegation of the bill, and therefore the accuracy of the diagrams or maps attached thereto, and asserted the true boundary to be as set forth in her cross-bill. and while she admitted
"that the deep-water channel out of the mouth of Pearl River, through the upper course of Lake Borgne, and on into the Gulf, as stated in the bill, has been marked by buoys by and under the direction of the United States government, for navigation and commercial purposes,"
"that said marking of the deep-water channel was ever intended to fix in any manner whatsoever any part of the boundary line between said states,"
and further denied
"the correctness of complainant's statement that, where contiguous states or countries are separated by water, the channel of the waters dividing said states constitutes a boundary line, and defendant specifically denies that such rule is applicable to this case."
The cross-bill averred that the southern boundary line of the State of Mississippi was fixed by the act of Congress, approved March 1, 1817, 3 Stat. 348, c. 23, § 2.
That by that act, Mississippi was given
"all lands under the waters south of her well defined shoreline to the distance of six leagues from said shore at every point between the Alabama line and the most eastern junction of Pearl River with Lake Borgne, including all islands within said limit,"
"all territory within said limits, not being a part of the mainland of the State of Louisiana, became, was, and is a part of the Territory of the State of Mississippi."
That the acts of 1812, creating the State of Louisiana, failed "to describe the water line from the most eastern mouth of Pearl River to the Gulf of Mexico," and hence Louisiana proposed,
"without authority in law, to follow the deep-water channel from the mouth of Pearl River to the Gulf of Mexico -- that is, as far south as that point in the sea where the waters of Chandeleur Sound merge into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico."
That the act creating the State of Mississippi was the organization
of a state government in the western part of Mississippi Territory; that the southern part of the Territory of Mississippi was added thereto by an act of Congress approved May 14, 1812, which provided:
"That all that portion of territory lying east of Pearl River, west of the Perdido, and south of the thirty-first degree of latitude be, and the same is hereby, annexed to the Mississippi Territory, to be governed by the laws now in force therein, or which may hereafter be enacted, and the laws and ordinances of the United States, relative thereto in like manner as if the same had originally formed a part of said territory, and until otherwise provided by law, the inhabitants of the said district, hereby annexed to the Mississippi Territory, shall be entitled to one representative in the general assembly thereof."
2 Stat. 734.
That this act and the act admitting the State of Mississippi
"recognized the fact that the boundary line of the State of Louisiana embraced no island in the waters to the east of said state and to the south of the Mississippi mainland, or shore, and within six leagues of the Mississippi shore; that the said Louisiana acts are not in conflict with the aforesaid Mississippi acts, the boundaries of Louisiana only embracing such islands, as clearly shown by said acts creating and admitting her, as were within the Gulf of Mexico and also within three leagues of her gulf coast -- that is to say, within the Gulf of Mexico proper and to the south of said State of Louisiana, as contemplated by Congress; that the said line from the mouth of Pearl River to the Gulf of Mexico, dividing the Territory of Mississippi from the State of Louisiana, was never defined until the passage of the act creating the State of Mississippi, when, for the first time, the southern boundary of the Mississippi Territory, the western part of which was, by said act, made the State of Mississippi, was accurately defined and established, as herein stated; that the line above described and defined by the said Mississippi acts includes no islands which are within three leagues of the Louisiana mainland and also in the Gulf of Mexico, as the limits
of the Gulf of Mexico are defined by the said state in her original bill herein."
That the State of Louisiana
"claims title and sovereignty over some of the islands belonging to the State of Mississippi by virtue of certain alleged action of certain officers of the United States government and local officers of the State of Louisiana,"
but the claim
"is not well founded because of the matters herein set forth, and because said islands and territory have not been susceptible to actual use and occupation, and because said claim is in violation of sec. 3, Art. IV, of the Constitution of the United States . . ."
But, if the court should adjudge said islands and territory approved by the aforesaid officials to the State of Louisiana to belong to said state, then cross-complainant prayed that the claim of title of Louisiana thereto
"be restricted to the real lands or islands so lost to the State of Mississippi, and be in no case permitted to affect any lands under the waters, or any of the public oyster reefs thereunder."
It was then alleged that Mississippi had "exercised sovereignty and jurisdiction over said waters within eighteen miles of her shore aforesaid," and that, by her statutes, as codified in 1857, had asserted such jurisdiction.
And that, by the legislation of Congress and the state, the "Mississippi Sound" was recognized as a body of water, six leagues wide, wholly within the State of Mississippi, from Lake Borgne to the Alabama line, separate and distinct from "the Gulf of Mexico."
The cross-bill further averred that Congress, "in the early history of the Republic, in dealing with the Gulf coast or shore," was not perfectly familiar with the line, and, by several acts "creating the Gulf states, respectively, treated the said Gulf coast or shore as a line running generally from east to west," and said states were, in the contemplation of Congress,
"so formed and bounded as to give to each state jurisdiction over the waters adjacent to its shore or coast for a certain specified distance southward from its mainland line; that it was
not intended to give to any state jurisdiction over waters adjacent to and immediately south and in front of any other state or territory."
But that the deep-water channel line contended for by Louisiana would take nearly all of the Hancock County waterfront, much of that of Harrison County, and possibly some of that of Jackson County, over all which Mississippi had exercised jurisdiction since her admission.
Reference was then made to the organization of Hancock and Jackson Counties in December, 1812, and of Harrison County, in 1841, and to certain sections of the Revised Code of Mississippi of 1880 and a codification of 1892, making a general reference to islands within six leagues of the Mississippi shore, and it was charged that, during all this time, the government of the Mississippi Territory and that of the State of Mississippi had exercised full and complete jurisdiction and sovereignty over the waters in the "Mississippi Sound" as a part of the three counties aforesaid.
The prayer was that it be decreed
"that the boundary line dividing the states of Mississippi and Louisiana is the line which, beginning at a point six leagues due south of that point on the shore where the Alabama and Mississippi line enters the Gulf of Mexico, runs westwardly with the meanderings of the shore six leagues always therefrom until said line reaches and touches the real mainland of Louisiana about two miles due west of the 'Indian Mound' and 'Lake of the Mound,' and thence in an almost due northward direction along and on the high tide mark of the said Louisiana mainland to Mississippi Sound at or near Nine Mile Bayou, and thence further along said mainland at the high tide mark westwardly to that point due south of the middle of the most southern or eastern junction of Pearl River with Lake Borgne, and thence from said point due north to the said Pearl River; that the said line be located and permanently buoyed at the joint expense of the two states; that the full title and sovereignty over all the islands and the land under the waters north and east of the said line so established be decreed and adjudged to be in the
State of Mississippi, and that the State of Louisiana and her citizens be perpetually enjoined from disputing such title and sovereignty of the State of Mississippi therein,"
and for costs and general relief.
The following "Exhibit Map" was attached.
The State of Louisiana filed replication and also an answer to the cross-bill, the allegations of which were in substance denied.
As to the Act of May 14, 1812, the state said that it could not and did not change the boundaries of Louisiana, and that, in fact, the southern portion of the Mississippi Territory as claimed was not then in possession of the United States, and did not extend south of the thirty-first degree of north latitude; that, February 12, 1813, an act was passed
"authorizing the President of the United States to take possession of a tract of country lying south of the Mississippi Territory and west of the River Perdido,"
but that this was not published until 1818; nor were the resolution of January 15 and the Act of March 3, 1811, on the relations of the United States to Spain, published until after April 20, 1818. 3 Stat. 471, 472.
The cause being at issue, much evidence, documentary and otherwise, was taken, and the case was argued October 10, 11, and 12.
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