United States v. Carey Jones,
68 U.S. 766 (1863)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Carey Jones, 68 U.S. 1 Wall. 766 766 (1863)

United States v. Carey Jones

68 U.S. (1 Wall.) 766


The Governor of California had no power, on the 18th May, 1846, either under the colonization law of August 18, 1824, and the regulations of November 21, 1825, nor yet under the dispatch of March 10, 1846, from Tornel, Minister of War, nor under the proclamation of Mariano Paredes y Arillaga, President ad interim of the Mexican Republic, dated March 13, 1846 -- these two last made in anticipation of the invasion of California by the forces of the United States -- nor under any other authority to make a valid sale and grant of the mission of San Luis Rey.

Like the preceding case, this one came before the Court upon appeal from a decree of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of California, and arose originally upon a petition for the confirmation of a land claim before the board of commissioners appointed under the Act of the 3d March, 1851. The grant in this case was thus:


"Whereas, Don Antonio Jose Cot and Don Jose Antonio Pico have presented themselves to this government, petitioning that it shall give them as a legitimate possession the mission of San Luis Rey and the rancho of Palas, with the lands which pertain to them, in payment of $2,000 in money and $437 and four reals in grain, with which they have assisted the government in its exigencies, they both obligating themselves to satisfy in every description of produce the debt of the said mission of San Luis Rey in the

Page 68 U. S. 767

term of four years, having in consideration the prejudices which the interested parties have had in the delay of the satisfaction of the said debt and that the edifices, which are in a total abandonment, will not pay the other creditors. I have come to concede them &c., in virtue of the faculties with which I find myself invested, they remaining responsible to satisfy the debts of the said mission, and in order &c."

"Given in the Government House in the City of Los Angeles this 18th of May, 1846."


"JOSE MARIA MORENO, Sec. ad int'r."

Governor Pico, who was himself examined, testified that his signature was genuine. "I placed it there," he said,

"as governor at the time and place where and when the paper purports to be made and dated. It was made for the uses and purposes, and upon the terms and considerations, therein specified. The money and grain mentioned in said paper were furnished to the government for its uses by the original grantees."

The following questions and answers were made during Governor Pico's examination as to the source from which he supposed that he derived authority to make the grant:

"Question. Was this grant or sale made in virtue of the general colonization law of the 18th of August, 1824, or of the regulations for colonization of the vacant lands of the territories of 1828, or of any other law or regulation of the Mexican government?"

"Answer. The sale was made in virtue of what is expressed in the document itself. The government made the sale by virtue of the authority with which it considered itself clothed from the government of Mexico, and upon the motives and considerations expressed in the document itself."

"Question. Was the authority special?"

"Answer. The governor had not received any special authority to make the particular sale in this case, but the governor had received special instructions to provide means for the defense of the country by extraordinary efforts and at every sacrifice. [See ante, pp. <|68 U.S. 753|>753-754 -- REP.]"

"Question. Did you consider the approval of the Departmental Assembly necessary to make this grant valid?"

"Answer. I did not so consider it."

It appeared, also, that possession had been taken by the grantees, and that Carey Jones derived title from them. The Board of Land Commissioners decided in favor of the claim, and the district court affirmed the decision, from which decree of affirmance this appeal came.

Page 68 U. S. 768

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