United States v. Sutter,
62 U.S. 170 (1858)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Sutter, 62 U.S. 21 How. 170 170 (1858)

United States v. Sutter

62 U.S. (21 How.) 170


The evidence is satisfactory to this Court that Alvarado, the Governor of California, granted a tract of land, to the extent of eleven leagues, to John A. Sutter in 1841.

Although the original grant has not been produced, yet there is sufficient proof that it once existed, and was destroyed by fire. A draft of the grant, prepared by the governor, is found in the archives, and the grant was recorded in the county registry of deeds, and this, together with the other evidence in

Page 62 U. S. 171

the case, shows that it was genuine, and also the map which accompanied it. Although the map was incorrect in its lines of latitude, yet it can be located by its reference to natural objects.

This grant was authorized by the colonization laws of 1824 and 1828.

But another grant, purporting to be issued by Micheltorena in 1845, for the surplus of the former grant, being an additional quantity of twenty-two leagues, does not stand in the same position.

Supposing it to be genuine, yet the situation in which Micheltorena was placed at its date was such as to impair its validity. He had been driven from his capital, was not in the peaceful exercise of his official authority, and was shortly after compelled to abdicate. The grant was not recognized by the persons who succeeded him, nor was it produced by the claimant to be placed in the archives. It was not a valid claim at the date of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Grantees under the claim may prosecute it for confirmation in the name of the original claimant.

It was a claim made by Sutter for land in California, under two different grants.

1. A claim for eleven leagues of land, alleged to be granted to him by Alvarado, on the 18th of June, 1841.

2. A claim for an additional quantity of twenty-two leagues, alleged to be granted to him and his son, John A. Sutter, by Micheltorena, on the 5th of February, 1845.

The board of commissioners confirmed both claims, and this decree was affirmed by the district court. The circumstances of the case are so fully related in the opinion of this Court, that it is unnecessary to repeat them.

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