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the country ceded, both national and municipal, for the purposes of temporary government, and to hold it in trust for the performance of the stipulations and conditions expressed in the deeds of cession and the legislative acts connected with them. To a correct understanding of the rights, powers, and duties of the par. ties to these contracts, it is necessary to enter into a more minute examination of the rights of eminent domain, and the right to the public lands. When the United States accepted the cession of the territory, they took upon themselves the trust to hold the municipal eminent domain for the new States, and to invest them with it, to the same extent, in all respects, that it was held by the States ceding the territories.
The right which belongs to the society, or to the sovereign, of disposing, in case of necessity, and for the public safety, of all the wealth contained in the State, is called the eminent domain. It is evident that this right is, in certain cases, necessary to him who governs, and is, consequently, a part of the empire, or sov ereign power. Vat. Law of Nations, section 244. This definition shows, that the eminent domain, although a sovereign power, does not include all sovereign power, and this explains the sense in which it is used in this opinion. The compact made between the United States and the State of Georgia, was sanctioned by the Constitution of the United States ; by the 3d section of the 4th article of which it is declared, that “ New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union ; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State, nor any State be formed by the junction of two or more States or parts of States, without the consent of the legislatures of the States concerned, as well as of Congress."
When Alabama was admitted into the Union, on an equal footing with the original States, she succeeded to all the rights of sovereignty, jurisdiction, and eminent domain which Georgia possessed at the date of the cession, except so far as this right was diminished by the public lands remaining in the possession and under the control of the United States, for the temporary purposes
provided for in the deed of cession and the legislative acts connected with it. Nothing remained to the United States, according to the terms of the agreement, but the public lands. And, if an express stipulation had been inserted in the agreement, granting the municipal right of sovereignty and eminent domain to the United States, such stipulation would have been void and inoperative; because the United States have no constitutional capacity to exercise municipal jurisdiction, sovereignty, or eminent domain, within the limits of a State or elsewhere, except in the cases in which it is expressly granted.
By the 16th clause of the 8th section of the 1st article of the Constitution, power is given to Congress “to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not ex. ceeding ten miles square) as may by cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased, by the consent of the legislature of the State in which the same may be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings.” Within the District of Columbia, and the other places purchased and used for the purposes above mentioned, the national and municipal powers of government, of every description, are united in the government of the Union. And these are the only cases, within the United States, in which all the powers of government are united in a single government, except in the cases already mentioned of the temporary territorial governments, and there a local government exists. The right of Alabama and every other new State to exercise all the powers of government, which belong to and may be exercised by the original States of the Union, must be admitted, and remain unquestioned, except so far as they are, temporarily, deprived of control over the public lands.
We will now inquire into the nature and extent of the right of the United States to these lands, and whether that right can in any manner affect or control the decision of the case before us. This right originated in voluntary surrenders, made by several of the old States, of their waste and unappropriated lands, to the United States, under a resolution of the old Congress, of the 6th of September, 1780, recommending such surrender and cession, to aid in paying the public debt, incurred by the war of the Rev. olution. The object of all the parties to these contracts of ces. sion, was to convert the land into money for the payment of the debt, and to erect new States over the territory thus ceded; and as soon as these purposes could be accomplished, the power of the United States over these lands, as property, was to cease.
Whenever the United States shall have fully executed these trusts, the municipal sovereignty of the new States will be complete, throughout their respective borders, and they, and the orig. inal States, will be upon an equal footing, in all respects whatever. We, therefore, think the United States hold the public lands within the new States by force of the deeds of cession, and the statutes connected with them, and not by any municipal sovereignty which it may be supposed they possess, or have reserved by compact with the new States, for that particular purpose. The provision of the Constitution above referred to, shows that no such power can be exercised by the United States within a State. Such a power is not only repugnant to the Constitution, but it is inconsistent with the spirit and intention of the deeds of cession. The argument so much relied on by the counsel for the plaintiffs, that the agreement of the people inhabiting the new States, " that they for ever disclaim all right and title to the waste or unappropriated lands lying within the said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States," cannot operate as a contract between the parties, but is binding as a law. Full power is given to Congress " to make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property of the United States.” This authorized the passage of all laws necessary to secure the rights of the United States to the public lands, and to provide for their sale, and to protect them from taxation.
And all constitutional laws are binding on the people, in the new States and the old ones, whether they consent to be bound by them or not. Every constitutional act of Congress is passed by the will of the people of the United States, expressed through their representatives, on the subject-matter of the enactment ; and when so passed it becomes the supreme law of the land, and operates by its own force on the subject matter, in whatever State or territory it may happen to be. The proposition, therefore, that such a law cannot operate upon the subject-matter of its enactment, without the express consent of the people of the new State where it may happen to be, contains its own refutation, and requires no farther examination. The propositions submitted to the people of the Alabama territory, for their acceptance or rejection, by the act of Congress authorizing them to form a Constitution and State government for themselves, so far as they related to the public lands within that territory, amounted to nothing more nor less than rules and regulations respecting the sales and disposition of the public lands. The supposed compact relied on by the counsel for the plaintiffs, conferred no authority, therefore, on Congress, to pass the act granting to the plaintiffs the land in controversy.
And this brings us to the examination of the question, whether Alabama is entitled to the shores of the navigable waters, and the soils under them, within her limits. The principal argument relied on against this right, is, that the United States acquired the land in controversy from the King of Spain. Although there was no direct reference to any particular treaty, we presume the treaty of the 22d of February, 1819, signed at Washington, was the one relied on, and shall so consider the argument. It was insisted that the United States had, under the treaty, succeeded to all the rights and powers of the King of Spain; and as by the laws and usages of Spain, the king had the right to grant to a subject the soil under navigable waters, that, therefore, the United States had the right to grant the land in controversy, and thereby the plaintiffs acquired a complete title.
If it were true that the United States acquired the whole of Alabama from Spain, no such consequences would result as those contended for. It cannot be admitted that the King of Spain could, by treaty or otherwise, impart to the United States any of his royal prerogatives; and much less can it be admitted that they have capacity to receive or power to exercise them. Every nation acquiring territory, by treaty or otherwise, must hold it subject to the Constitution and laws of its own government, and not according to those of the government ceding it. Vat. Law of Nations, b. 1, c. 19, s. 210, 244, 245, and b. 2, c. 7, s. 80.
The United States have never claimed any part of the territory included in the States of Mississippi or Alabama, under any treaty with Spain, although she claimed at different periods a consider. able portion of the territory in both of those States. By the treaty between the United States and Spain, signed at San Lorenzo el Real, on the 27th of October, 1795, “The high contracting par. ties declare and agree, that the line between the United States and East and West Florida, shall be designated by a line, beginning on the river Mississippi, at the northernmost part of the thirty-first degree of north latitude, which from thence shall be drawn due east to the middle of the Chatahouchee river,” &c. This treaty declares and agrees, that the line which was described in the treaty of peace between Great Britain and the United States, as their southern boundary, shall be the line which divides their territory from East and West Florida. The article does not import to be a cession of territory, but the adjustment of a controversy between the two nations. It is understood as an admission that the right was originally in the United States.
Had Spain considered herself as ceding territory, she could not have neglected to stipulate for the property of the inhabitants, a stipulation which every sentiment of justice and of national honor would have demanded, and which the United States would not have refused. But, instead of requiring an article to this effect, she expressly stipulated to withdraw the settlements then within what the treaty admits to be the territory of the United States, and for permission to the settlers to take their property