페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

with them. “We think this an unequivocal acknowledgment that the occupation of the territory by Spain was wrongful, and we think the opinion thus clearly indicated was supported by the state of facts. It. follows, that Spanish grants made after the treaty of peace can have no intrinsic validity.” Henderson v. Poindexter, 12 Wheat. 535.

Previous to the cession made by Georgia, the United States, by the act of Congress of the 7th of April, 1798, had established the Mississippi territory including the territory west of the Chata. houchee river, to the Mississippi river, above the 31st degree of north latitude, and below the Yazous river, subject to the claim of Georgia to any portion of the territory. And the territory thus erected was subjected to the ordinance of the 13th of July, 1787, for its government, that part of it excepted which prohibited slavery. 1 Story's Laws, 494. And by the act of the 1st of March, 1817, having first obtained consent of Georgia to make two States instead of one within the ceded territory, Congress authorized the inhabitants of the western part of the Mississippi territory to form for themselves a constitution and State government,“ to consist of all the territory included within the following boundaries, to wit: Beginning on the river Mississippi at the point where the Southern boundary line of the State of Tennessee strikes the same; thence east along the said boundary line to the Tennessee river; thence up the same to the mouth of Bear creek ; thence by a direct line, to the northwest corner of Washington county ; thence due south to the Gulf of Mexico; thence westwardly, including all the islands within six leagues of the shore, to the junction of Pearl river with Lake Borgne ; thence up said river to the thirty-first degree of north latitude ; then west along said degree of latitude to the Mississippi river; thence up the same to the beginning." 3 Story's Laws, 1620. And on the 3d of March, 1817, Congress passed an act declaring, " That all that part of the Mississippi territory which lies within the following boundaries, to wit: Beginning at the point where the line of the thirty-first degree of north latitude intersects the Perdido river ; thence east to the western boundary line of the State of Georgia ; thence along said line to the southern boundary line of the State of Tennessee ; thence west, along said boundary line, to the Tennessee river; thence up the same to the mouth of Bear creek; thence by a direct line to the north west corner of Washington county ; thence due south to the Gulf of Mexico; thence eastwardly, including all the islands within six leagues of the shore to the Perdido river; thence up the same to the beginning; shall, for the purposes of temporary government, constitute a separate territory, and be called Alabama."

And by the 2d section of the same act it is enacted, “ That all offices which exist, and all laws which may be in force when this act shall go into effect, shall continue to exist and be in force until otherwise provided by law.” 3 Story's Laws, 1634, 1635. And by the ed article of the compact contained in the ordinance of 1787, which was then in force in the Mississippi territory, among other things, it was provided, that “ The inhabitants of the said territory shall always be entitled to the benefits of the writ of habeas corpus, and of the trial by jury, and of judicial proceedings according to the course of the common law.” And by the proviso to the 5th section of the act of the 2d of March, 1819, authorizing the people of the Alabama territory to form a Constitution and State government, it is enacted, “ That the Constitution, when formed, shall be republican, and not repugnant to the ordinance of the 13th of July, 1787, between the States and the people of the territory northwest of the Ohio river, so far as the same has been extended to the said territory [of Alabama) by the articles of agreement between the United States and the State of Georgia.” By these successive acts on the part of the United States, the common law has been extended to all the territory within the limits of the State of Alabama, and therefore excluded all other law, Spanish of French.

It was after the date of the treaty of the 22d of February, 1819, between the United States and Spain, but before its ratification, the people of the Alabama territory were authorized to form a

Constitution; and the State was admitted into the Union, according to the boundaries established when the country was erected into a territorial government. But the United States have never admitted, that they derived title from the Spanish government to any portion of the territory included within the limits of Alabama. Whatever claim Spain may have asserted to the territory above the thirty-first degree of north latitude, prior to the treaty of the 27th of October, 1795, was abandoned by that treaty, as has been already shown. We will now inquire whether she had any right to territory below the thirty-first degree of north latitude, after the treaty between France and the United States, signed at Paris on the 30th of April, 1803, by which Louisiana was ceded to the United States. The legislative and executive departments of the government have constantly asserted the right of the United States to this portion of the territory under the 1st article of this treaty; and a series of measures intended to maintain the right have been adopted. Mobile was taken possession of, and erected into a collection district, by act of the 24th of February, 1804, chap. 13, (2 Story's Laws, 914). "In the year 1810, the President issued his proclamation, directing the governor of the Orleans territory to take possession of the country, as far as the Perdido, and hold it for the United States. In April, 1812, Congress passed an act to enlarge the limits of Louisiana. This act includes part of the country claimed by Spain, as West Florida. And in February, 1813, the President was authorized to occupy and hold all that tract of country called West Florida, which lies west of the river Perdido, not then in the possession of the United States. And these measures having been followed by the erection of Mississippi territory into a State, and the erection of Alabama into a territory, and afterwards into a State, in the year 1819, and extending them both over this territory; could it be doubted that these measures were intended as an assertion of the title of the United States to this country?

In the case of Foster and Elam v. Neilson, 2 Peters, 253, the right of the United States to this country underwent a very able and thorough investigation. And Chief Justice Marshall, in de. livering the opinion of the Court, said: “After these acts of sov. ereign power over the territory in dispute, asserting the American construction of the treaty, by which the government claims it, to maintain the opposite construction in its own Courts would certainly be an anomaly in the history and practice of nations. If those departments, which are intrusted with the foreign intercourse of the nation, which assert and maintain its interests against foreign powers, have unequivocally asserted its rights of dominion over a country of which it is in possession, and which it claims under a treaty; if the legislature has acted on the construction thus asserted, it is not in its own Courts that this construction is to be denied.” The Chief Justice then discusses the validity of the grant made by the Spanish government, after the ratification of the treaty between the United States and France, and it is finally rejected on the ground that the country belonged to the United States, and not to Spain, when the grant was made. The same doctrine was maintained by this Court in the case of Garcia v. Lee, 12 Peters, 511. These cases establish, beyond controversy, the right of the United States to the whole of this territory, under the treaty with France.

Alabama is, therefore, entitled to the sovereignty and jurisdic. tion over all the territory within her limits, subject to the common law, to the same extent that Georgia possessed it before she ceded it to the United States. To maintain any other doctrine, is to deny that Alabama has been admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, the Constitution, laws, and compact, to the contrary notwithstanding. But her rights of sovereignty and jurisdiction are not governed by the common law of England as it prevailed in the colonies before the Revolution, but as modified by our own institutions. In the case of Martin and others v. Waddell, 16 Peters, 410, the present Chief Justice, in delivering the opinion of the Court, said: “When the Revolution took place, the people of each State became themselves sovereign; and in that character hold the absolute right to all their navigable waters, and the soils under them for their own common use, subject only to the rights since surrendered by the Constitution.” Then to Alabama belong the navigable waters, and soils under them, in controversy in this case, subject to the rights surrendered by the Constitution to the United States; and no compact that might be made between her and the United States could diminish or enlarge these rights.

The declaration, therefore, contained in the compact entered into between them when Alabama was admitted into the Union, " that all navigable waters within the said State shall for ever remain public highways, free to the citizens of said State, and of the United States, without any tax, duty, impost, or toll therefor, imposed by the said State," would be void if inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States. But is this provision repugnant to the Constitution ? By the 8th section of the 1st article of the Constitution, power is granted to Congress "to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States.” If, in the exercise of this power, Congress can impose the same restrictions upon the original States, in relation to their navigable waters, as are imposed, by this article of the compact, on the State of Alabama, then this article is a mere regulation of commerce among the several States, according to the Constitution, and, therefore, as binding on the other States as Alabama.

In the case of Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 196, after examining the preliminary questions respecting the regulation of commerce with foreign nations, and among the States, as connected with the subject-matter there in controversy, Chief Justice Marshall said: “We are now arrived at the inquiry ; What is this power?

" It is the power to regulate, that is, to prescribe the rule by which commerce is to be governed. This power, like all others vested in Congress, is complete in itself, may be exercised to its utmost extent, and acknowledges no limitations other than are prescribed in the Constitution. These are expressed in plain terms, and do not affect the questions which arise in this case.

1

« 이전계속 »