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In delivering the opinion, however, the Chief Justice made certain observations which have occasioned some embarrassment in other cases. “The power,” said he, “to lay and collect duties, imposts, and excises may be exercised, and must be exercised, throughout the United States. Does this term designate the whole, or any particular portion of the American empire? Certainly this question can admit but of one answer. It is the name given to our great republic, which is composed of States and territories. The District of Columbia, or the territory west of the Missouri, is not less within the United States than Maryland and Pennsylvania; and it is not less necessary, on the principles of our Constitution, that uniformity in the imposition of imposts, duties and excises should be observed in the one than in the other. Since, then, the power to lay and collect taxes, which includes direct taxes, is obviously co-extensive with the power to lay and collect duties, imposts and excises, and since the latter extends throughout the United States, it follows that the power to impose direct taxes also extends throughout the United States." So far as applicable to the District of Columbia, these observations are entirely sound. So far as they apply to the territories, they were not called for by the exigencies of the case.
In line with Loughborough v. Blake is the case of Callan v. Wilson, (127 U. S. 540,) in which the provisions of the Constitution relating to trial by jury were held to be in force in the District of Columbia. Upon the other hand, in Geofroy v. Riggs, (133 U. S. 258,) the District of Columbia, as a political community, was held to be one of “the States of the Union” within the meaning of that term as used in a consular convention of February 23, 1853, with France. The seventh article of that convention provided that in all the States of the Union, whose existing laws permitted it, Frenchmen should enjoy the right of holding, disposing of and inheriting property in the same manner as citizens of the United States; and as to the States of the Union, by whose existing laws aliens were not permitted to hold real estate, the President engaged to recommend to them the passage of such laws as might be necessary for the purpose of conferring this right. The court was of opinion that if these terms, “States of the Union,” were held to exclude the District of Columbia and the territories, our government would be placed in the inconsistent position of stipulating that French citizens should enjoy the right of holding, disposing of and inheriting property in like manner as citizens of the United States, in States whose laws permitted it, and engaging that the President should recommend the passage of laws conferring that right in States whose laws did not permit aliens to hold real estate, while at the same time refusing to citizens of France, holding property in the District of Columbia and in some of the territories, where the power of the United States is in that respect unlimited, a like release from the disabilities of alienage, “thus discriminating against them in favor of citizens of France holding property in States having similar legislation. No plausible motive can be assigned for such discrimination. A right which the government of the United States apparently desires that citizens of France should enjoy in all the States it would hardly refuse to them in the district embracing its capital, or in any of its own territorial dependencies.”
This case may be considered as establishing the principle that, in dealing with foreign sovereignties, the term “United States” has a broader meaning than when used in the Constitution, and includes all territories subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal government, wherever located. In its treaties and conventions with foreign nations this government is a unit. This is so not because the territories comprised a part of the government established by the people of the States in their Constitution, but because the Federal government is the only authorized organ of the territories, as well as of the States, in their foreign relations. By Art. I, sec. 10, of the Constitution, “no State shall enter into any treaty, alliance or confederation, ... or enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or with a foreign power.” It would be absurd to hold that the territories, which are much less independent than the States, and are under the direct control and tutelage of the general government, possess a power in this particular which is thus expressly forbidden to the States.
It may be added in this connection that, to put at rest all doubts regarding the applicability of the Constitution to the District of Columbia, Congress by the act of February 21, 1871, (16 Stat. 419, 426, sec. 34,) specifically extended the Constitution and laws of the United States to this District.
The case of American Ins. Co. v. Canter, (1 Pet. 511,) originated in a libel filed in the District Court for South Carolina, for the possession of 356 bales of cotton, which had been wrecked on the coast of Florida, abandoned to the insurance companies, and subsequently brought to Charleston. Canter claimed the cotton as bona fide purchaser at a marshal's sale at Key West, by virtue of a decree of a territorial court consisting of a notary and five jurors, proceeding under an act of the governor and legislative council of Florida. The case turned upon the question whether the sale by that court was effectual to divest the interest of the underwriters. The District Judge pronounced the proceedings a nullity, and rendered a decree from which both parties appealed to the Circuit Court. The Circuit Court reversed the decree of the District Court upon the ground that the proceedings of the court at Key West were legal, and transferred the property to Canter, the alleged purchaser.
The opinion of the Circuit Court was delivered by Mr. Justice Johnson of the Supreme Court, and is published in full in a note in Peters' Reports. It was argued that the Constitution vested the adiniralty jurisdiction exclusively in the general government; that the legislature of Florida had exercised an illegal power in organizing this court, and that its decrees were void. On the other hand, it was insisted that this was a court of separate and distinct jurisdiction from the courts of the United States, and as such its acts were not to be reviewed in a foreign tribunal, such as was the court of South Carolina; “that the District of Florida was not part of the United States, but only an acquisition or dependency, and as such the Constitution per se had no binding effect in or over it.” “It becomes,” said the court“ indispensable to the solution of these difficulties that we should conceive a just idea of the relation in which Florida stands to the United States. . . . And, first, it is obvious that there is a material distinction between the territory now under consideration and that which is acquired from the aborigines (whether by purchase or conquest) within the acknowledged limits of the United States, as also that which is acquired by the establishment of a disputed line. As to both these there can be no question, that the sovereignty of the State or territory within which it lies, and of the United States, immediately attached, producing a complete subjection to all the laws
and institutions of the two governments, local and general, unless modified by treaty. The question now to be considered relates to territories previously subject to the acknowledged jurisdiction of another sovereign, such as was Florida to the crown of Spain. And on this subject we have the most explicit proof that the understanding of our public functionaries is that the government and laws of the United States do not extend to such territory by the mere act of cession. For, in the act of Congress of March 30, 1822, section ninth, we have an enumeration of the acts of Congress which are to be held in force in the territory; and in the tenth section an enumeration, in the nature of a bill of rights, of privileges and immunities, which could not be denied to the inhabitants of the territory, if they came under the Constitution by the mere act of cession. . . . These States, this territory, and future States to be admitted into the Union are the sole objects of the Constitution; there is no express provision whatever made in the Constitution for the acquisition or government of territories beyond those limits.” He further held that the right of acquiring territory was altogether incidental to the treaty-making power; that their government was left to Congress; that the territory of Florida did “not stand in the relation of a State to the United States;” that the acts establishing a territorial government were the constitution of Florida; that while, under these acts, the territorial legislature could enact nothing inconsistent with what Congress had made inherent and permanent in the territorial government, it had not done so in organizing the court at Key West.
From the decree of the Circuit Court the underwriters appealed to this court, and the question was argued whether the Circuit Court was correct in drawing a distinction between territories existing at the date of the Constitution and territories subsequently acquired. The main contention of the appellants was that the Superior Courts of Florida had been vested by Congress with exclusive jurisdiction in all admiralty and maritime cases; that salvage was such a case, and therefore any law of Florida giving jurisdiction in salvage cases to any other court was unconstitutional. On behalf of the purchaser it was argued that the Constitution and laws of the United States were not per se in force in Florida, nor the inhabitants citizens of the United States; that the Constitution was established by the people of the United States for the United States; that if the Constitution were in force in Florida it was unnecessary to pass an act extending the laws of the United States to Florida. “What is Florida?” said Mr. Webster. “It is no part of the United States. How can it be? How is it represented? Do the laws of the United States reach Florida? Not unless by particular provisions.”
The opinion of Mr. Chief Justice Marshall in this case should be read in connection with Art. III, secs. 1 and 2, of the Constitution, vesting “ the judicial power of the United States” in “one Supreme Court and in such inferior courts as Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges both of the Supreme Court and the inferior courts shall hold their offices during good behavior,” &c. He held that the court “should take into view the relation in which Florida stands to the United States;" that territory ceded by treaty “becomes a part of the nation to which it is annexed; either on the terms stipulated in the treaty of cession, or upon such as its new master shall impose.” That Florida, upon the conclusion of the treaty, became a territory of the United States and subject to the power of Congress under the territorial clause of the Constitution. The acts providing a territorial government for Florida were examined in detail. He held that the judicial clause of the Constitution, above quoted, did not apply to Florida; that the judges of the Superior Courts of Florida held their office for four years; that “these courts are not constitutional courts in which the judicial power conferred by the Constitution on the general government, can be deposited;" that “they are legislative courts, created in virtue of the general right of sovereignty which exists in the government,” or in virtue of the territorial clause of the Constitution; that the jurisdiction with which they are invested is not a part of judicial power of the Constitution, but is conferred by Congress, in the exercise of those general powers which that body possesses over the territories of the United States; and that in legislating for them Congress exercises the combined powers of the general and of a State government. The act of the territorial legislature, creating the court in question, was held not to be “inconsistent with the laws and Constitution of the United States,” and the decree of the Circuit Court was affirmed.
As the only judicial power vested in Congress is to create courts whose judges shall hold their offices during good behavior, it necessarily follows that, if Congress authorizes the creation of courts and the appointment of judges for a limited time, it must act independently of the Constitution, and upon territory which is not part of the United States within the meaning of the Constitution. In delivering his opinion in this case Mr. Chief Justice Marshall made no reference whatever to the prior case of Loughborough v. Blake, (5 Wheat. 317,) in which he had intimated that the territories were part of the United States. But if they be a part of the United States, it is difficult to see how Congress could create courts in such territories, except under the judicial clause of the Constitution. The power to make needful rules and regulations would certainly not authorize anything inconsistent with the Constitution if it applied to the territories. Certainly no such court could be created within a State, except under the restrictions of the judicial clause. It is sufficient to say that this case has ever since been accepted as authority for the proposition that the judicial clause of the Constitution has no application to courts created in the territories, and that with respect to them Congress has a power wholly unrestricted by it. We must assume as a logical inference from this case that the other powers vested in Congress by the Constitution have no application to these territories, or that the judicial clause is exceptional in that particular.
This case was followed in Benner v. Porter, (9 How. 235,) in which it was held that the jurisdiction of these territorial courts ceased upon the admission of Florida into the Union, Mr. Justice Nelson remarking of them (p. 242) that “they are not organized under the Constitution, nor subject to its complex distribution of the powers of government, as the organic law; but are the creations, exclusively, of the legislative department, and subject to its supervision and control. Whether, or not, there are provisions in that instrument which extend to and act upon these territorial governments, it is not now material to examine. We are speaking here of those provisions that refer particularly to the distinction between Federal and State jurisdiction. ... (p. 244.) Neither were they organized by Congress under the Constitution, as they were invested with powers and jurisdiction which that body were incapable of conferring upon a court within the limits of a State.” To the same effect are Clinton v. Englebrecht, (13 Wall. 434;) Good v. Martin, (95 U.S. 90, 98;) and McAllister v. United States, (141 U. S. 174.)
That the power over the territories is vested in Congress without limitation, and that this power has been considered the foundation upon which the territorial governments rest, was also asserted by Chief Justice Marshall in McCullough v. Maryland, (4 Wheat. 316, 422,) and in United States v. Gratiot, (14 Pet. 526.) So, too, in Mormon Church v. United States, (136 U. S. 1,) in holding that Congress had power to