United States v. Roselius

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

56 U.S. 31

United States  v.  Roselius

THIS was an appeal from the District Court of the United States of the Eastern District of Louisiana.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the court.

It was argued by Mr. Cushing, (Attorney-General,) for the United States, who made the following points:

I. That the grant under which the claim is made being a complete and perfect grant, the court below had no jurisdiction.

II. That if the court had jurisdiction the grant is void, having been made by the French authorities subsequent to the treaty of Fontainbleau of 3d November, 1762, by which France ceded Louisiana to Spain, and the order of delivery, dated 21st April, 1764. 1 Clark's Land Laws, Appendix, 976; Montault v. United States, 12 How. 47; United States v. Pellerin, 13 How. 9.

III. That the Spanish authorities after the cession did not confirm or recognize the said grant as valid.

The proceedings before Livaudais did not operate as a confirmation. Under the Spanish rule, the authority over the lands was vested first in the governors of the province. See the Marquis of Grimaldi's Letter to Unzaga, of 24th August, 1770; 2 White's Recop. 460. The authority was subsequently vested in the intendant. See the royal order of 22d October, 1798; Ibid. 477-478. The certificates of Trudeau were not sufficient evidence to show that Governor Miro had confirmed or recognized the grant as valid.

Under the acts of 1824 and 1844, the District Court had no power to act, except in cases of claims under grants, concessions, warrants, or orders of survey.

V. With respect to the allegation in the petition, that the grant has been confirmed by an act of Congress of 11th January, 1820. Whether this be so or not cannot arise in this case, the jurisdiction of the court under the act of 1824, as revived by that of 1844, being limited to incomplete claims originating with the Spanish, French, or British authorities, which might have been perfected into a complete title under and in conformity to the laws, usages, and customs of the government under which the same originated, had not the sovereignty of the country been transferred to the United States. Act of 1824; 4 Stat. at Large, 52; Act of 1844; Ibid. 676.

VI. But as the petition claims opening and diverging side lines from the front to the rear, and avers that a large portion of the land had been sold by the United States, and claimed floats therefor, and the court below has decreed in favor of the claimant on both points, it may be that the object of the petition was to have these points determined under the grant. With respect to the first, there is nothing in the grant which calls for diverging side lines, and when this is the case, the side lines run parallel to each other. That the side lines in this grant run parallel was decided in the Supreme Court of Louisiana, in McDonogh v. Millaudon, which will be found reported in 3 How. 693.

As to the claim for floats, no individuals claiming lands under title from the United States having been made parties in the case, no decree for floats could be made. United States v. Moore, 12 How. 209.

Mr. Justice CATRON delivered the opinion of the court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).