A grant of land in Louisiana by the French authorities in 1764,
is void. The province was ceded to Spain in 1762. See
51 U. S. 10
In 1793, certain legal proceedings were had before Baron de
Carondelet in his judicial capacity, wherein the property now
claimed is described as part of the estate of the grantor of the
present claimant. But this did not amount to a confirmation of the
title in his political character; and if it did, the title would be
a perfect one, and beyond the jurisdiction of the district court,
under the acts of 1824 and 1844.
Page 56 U. S. 39
The facts are set forth in the opinion of the Court.
MR. JUSTICE GRIER delivered the opinion of the Court.
The appellees filed their petition in the district court for
Louisiana, against the United States, under the Act of Congress of
May 26, 1824, as revived by the act of June 17, 1844. It sets forth
that they are the owners of a tract of land of twenty arpens front
on the Mississippi River, lying about twelve miles below the City
of New Orleans, and extending in depth to Lake Borgne.
Page 56 U. S. 40
That the said tract of twenty arpens front is derived from one
title, and until after the year 1800 had but one proprietor. That,
in that year it was the property of the widow Toutant Beauregard,
who thereafter sold an undivided half to Rodolph Joseph Ducros, who
subsequently made partition thereof, by which the upper half was
assigned to the widow, and the lower to Ducros. That the rights of
the former have since been acquired by the petitioner, Louis
Toutant Beauregard, and the rights of the latter, by Joseph Marcel
and Louis Alfred Ducros.
That the widow Beauregard and Rodolph Joseph Ducros, heretofore
filed their claims to said lands for confirmation with the board of
commissioners, but that being then ignorant of the full extent of
their rights, they claimed and obtained the confirmation of their
titles only to the depth of a league and a half from the
Mississippi River. The petitioners claim that the confirmation
should have been to the depth of Lake Borgne, because that on the
2d of March, 1764, Madame Marie Gaston, the widow of Rochemore, who
then was owner of the front tract, obtained from the French
government of the Province of Louisiana a grant, of the rear of her
said front tract, with the entire depth to Lake Borgne, and that
the said entire tract was, on the 16th of November, 1793, in a
judicial proceeding before Baron Carondelet, adjudicated to said
widow Toutant Beauregard, under whom petitioners claimed.
In support of their claim, the petitioners gave in evidence a
grant from D'Abbadie, Director General &c., of Louisiana, under
the King of France, dated 2d of March, 1764, for all the land lying
in rear of her estate, running towards the lake, the said estate
having a front of sixteen arpens on the River Mississippi, about
four leagues below New Orleans, to Madame Marie Gaston.
The next muniment of title consists of copies from the Spanish
records of the province, showing an inventory and appraisement of
the estate of Don Louis Toutant Beauregard, in which this tract of
land is described as part of his estate, and as running back to the
lake; and a legal proceeding before Baron de Carondelet, by which
it is vested in Donna Magdalena Cartier, in 1793. And again in
1799, an inventory and appraisement of the estate of Donna
Magdaleno Cartier and sale of the same describing said tract of
land as before to Donna Victoria Ducros, widow of Don Louis Toutant
On the 1st of February, 1802, deed from the widow to Rodolph
Joseph Ducros for one-half, describing the tract as of the ordinary
depth of forty arpens. And in all the numerous partitions and mesne
conveyances, bringing down the title to the petitioners, the tract
is described as forty arpens deep, till, in
Page 56 U. S. 41
1836, in a conveyance in partition, it is again described as
running back to lake Borgne.
Without laying any stress on the want of any mesne conveyance or
connection between widow Gaston and Don Louis Toutant Beauregard,
and on the descriptions of the deeds from the widow Beauregard and
those claiming under her, there are two objections, which are fatal
to the recovering of the petitioners in this case.
1st. It has been decided by this Court in the United
States v. D'Auterive,
10 How. 610, that a grant by
the French authorities after the cession of Louisiana by France to
Spain in 1762, is void.
And 2dly. The proceedings before Carondelet in 1793, in the
settlement of the estate of Louis Toutant Beauregard, could not be
construed as a confirmation of the French grant, from the mere
circumstance that in the inventory, decedent's estate is described
as running back to the lake. Carondelet could not be said to
confirm, in his political capacity, a title which is not even
stated in the mere formal proceedings before him in his judicial
capacity. And if it had the effect of a confirmation of the
original French grant, as that purports to be a perfect title in
fee, it is not the subject of jurisdiction of the United States
courts under the acts of Congress under which this suit is brought.
This has been so frequently decided by this Court, that a reference
to cases, or the reasons for the decision, may now be considered
The decree of the district court of Louisiana is therefore
This cause came on to be heard on the transcript of the record
from the District Court of the United States for the Eastern
district of Louisiana, and was argued by counsel. On consideration
whereof, it is now here ordered, adjudged, and decreed by this
Court, that the decree of the said district court in this cause be,
and the same is hereby, reversed, and that this cause be, and the
same is hereby, remanded to the said district court with directions
to dismiss the petition of the claimants.