CAMOU V. UNITED STATES, 171 U. S. 277 (1898)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Camou v. United States, 171 U.S. 277 (1898)

Camou v. United States

No. 28

Argued March 16, 1898

Decided May 31, 1898

171 U.S. 277


A valid grant was made in this case which it was not within the power of a temporary dictator to destroy by an arbitrary declaration.

This government discharges its full duty under the Gadsden Treaty when it recognizes a grant as valid to the amount of the land paid for.

On December 3, 1891, the appellant filed in the Court of Private Land Claims his petition praying to have confirmed to him certain tract of land situate in the County of Cochise, in the Territory of Arizona, known and designated as the "San Rafael del Valle Grant." Subsequent proceedings resulted in a trial and a decree in behalf of the government dismissing the petition and adjudging petitioner's claim and title invalid. The title papers show that on March 12, 1827, Rafael Elias made application to the Treasurer General of the State of Sonora for the purchase of "public lands adjacent to the ranch of San Pedro, within the jurisdiction of Santa Cruz, as far as the place called Tres Alamos.'" On July 1 of that year, the treasurer general directed that proceedings be had in accordance with law under the supervision of the alcalde of Santa Cruz. The proceedings appear to have been regular. The survey was of a tract reported by the surveyors to contain four sitios. The property was appraised at $60 a sitio, or $240 altogether. The fiscal attorney approved the proceedings and advised that they "be continued to adjudication according to the forms and requisites in use." At the third auction, on April 18, 1828, the property was struck off to Don Rafael Elias, the petitioner, for the sum of $240. On April 21, the petitioner paid this sum into the treasury. Nothing further was done until April 29, 1833 at which time the then Treasurer General of the State of Sonora issued the expediente, or title papers. This expediente opens with this preamble:

Page 171 U. S. 278

"Jose Maria Mendoza, Treasurer General of the Free, Independent and Sovereign Sonora, Greeting:"

"Inasmuch as Article 11 of the sovereign decree number 70 of the general congress of the union, dated August 4th of 1824, concedes to the states the revenues which in said law it did not reserve for the federation itself, and one of them being that derived from the lands within their respective territories, which in consequence belongs to them, for the disposition of which the honorable constitutive congress of the state that used to be joined of Sonora and Sinaloa enacted the law No. 30 of May 20th of 1825, as well as the decrees relative thereto passed by other succeeding legislatures, and the citizen Rafael Elias, a resident of this capital, having made due application on the 12th of March of 1827 at the treasury general that was then of the United States for the lands named 'San Rafael del Valle,' located in the jurisdiction of the presidio of Santa Cruz, which was allowed according to law on the date of July 1st of the same year, and the petition of entry, the order for the commission, and the act of accepting the charge being as follows, to-wit,"

and after reciting the various steps in the sale, closes with this granting clause:

"In which terms I issue the present title of grant in due form in favor of the citizen Rafael Elias, his heirs and successors, delivering it to them for their protection, previous memorandum of the same being entered in the proper book."

"Given at the capital of Arispe on the twenty-fifth day of the month of December of one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two."

"Attested and signed by me, sealed with the seal of the treasury general, before the undersigned witnesses of my assistance, with whom I act in default of clerk, there being none, according to law."

"Jose Maria Mendoza"

"Assistant: Louis Carranco"

"Assistant: Bartolo Miranda."

"[Seal of the Free Sonora, Treasury General]"

Page 171 U. S. 279

The amount of land within the tract as now surveyed, according to the testimony, is 20,034.62 acres. The petition did not state the area applied for, but, as has been seen, the survey and appraisement called the tract four sitios, or 17,353.85 acres.

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