Dent v. Emmeger,
81 U.S. 308 (1871)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Dent v. Emmeger, 81 U.S. 14 Wall. 308 308 (1871)

Dent v. Emmeger

81 U.S. (14 Wall.) 308


1. Inchoate rights in the Territory of Louisiana, such as those made A.D. 1789, by a concession of the then Lieutenant Governor of Upper Louisiana to Gabriel Cerre, were of imperfect obligation on the United States

when succeeding to the ownership of that territory by the cession made of it by France to us in A.D. 1803; nor until the Congress of the United States gave them a vitality and effect which they did not before possess, were they of such a nature that a court of law or equity could recognize or enforce them. When confirmed by Congress, they took their effect wholly from the act of confirmation, and not from any French or Spanish element which entered into their previous existence, so that the elder confirmee has always a better title than the younger, without reference to the date of the origin of their respective claims or the circumstances attending it.

2. Held, accordingly, on an application of these principles, that the title of the Village of Carondelet, in Missouri, to lots 90 and 91 of the commons tract of the town, as subdivided by the survey made by Jasper Myer A.D. 1837, which lots the village claimed under a confirmation by Act of Congress of 13 June, 1812, vesting the title of the United States in the inhabitants of Carondelet for all the lands lying within the outboundary line of said commons not previously granted by act of Congress -- this followed by a survey in 1816 and a re-survey on the old lines in 1817, with a relinquishment of right by Congress in 1831 -- was a better title than that derived by Gabriel Cerre from a concession to him A.D. 1789, by the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Louisiana, a confirmation by act of Congress 1836, in which the right of all adverse claimants was saved, a survey of 1838, another act of Congress in 1869, confirming the claim of Cerre, "subject to any valid adverse rights, if any such there be," and a patent in 1869.

Page 81 U. S. 309

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