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Page:Harvard Law Review Volume 2.djvu/188

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170 HARVARD LA W RB VIE W,

this matter the United States would be governed by such consid- erations of justice as would control a Christian people in their treatment of an ignorant and dependent race. Be that as it may, the propriety or justice of their action toward the Indians with respect to their lands is a question of governmental policy, and is not a matter open to discussion in a controversy between third parties, neither of whom derives title from the Indians. The right of the United States to dispose of the fee of lands occupied by them has always been recognized by this court from the founda- tion of the government.* (95 U. S. 517, 525.) In support of this doctrine several authorities were cited in that case.

" In Johnson v, Mcintosh (8 Wheaton, 575), which was here in 1823, the court, speaking by Chief Justice Marshall, stated the origin of this doctrine of the ultimate title and dominion in the United States. It was thisĀ : that, upon the discovery of America, the nations of Europe were anxious to appropriate as much of the country as possible, and, to avoid contests and conflicting settle- ments among themselves, they established the principle that dis- covery gave title to the government by whose subjects or by whose authority it was made, against all other governments. This exclusion of other governments necessarily gave to the discovering nation the sole right of acquiring the soil from the natives, and of establishing settlements upon it. It followed that the relations which should exist between the discoverer and the natives were to be regulated only by themselves. No other nation could interfere between them. The Chief Justice remarked that ' the potentates of the Old World found no difficulty in convincing themselves that they made ample compensation to the inhabitants of the New, by bestowing on them civilization and Christianity in exchange for unlimited independence.' Whilst thus claiming a right to acquire and dispose of the soil, the discoverers recognized a right of oc- cupancy or a usufructuary right in the natives. They accordingly made grants of lands occupied by the Indians, and these grants were held to convey a title to the grantees, subject only to the In- dian right of occupancy. The Chief Justice adds, that the history of America, from its discovery to the present day, proves the universal recognition of this principle.

    • In Clarke/. Smith (13 Peters, 195), which was here in 1839, ^^^

patent under which the complainant became the owner in fee of certain lands was issued by the Commonwealth of Kentucky