OKLAHOMA V. TEXAS, 256 U. S. 70 (1921)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Oklahoma v. Texas, 256 U.S. 70 (1921)

Oklahoma v. Texas

No. 23, Original

Argued December 14, 15, 1920

Decided April 11, 1921

256 U.S. 70


Oklahoma brought this suit against Texas to establish the boundary between the two states where it follows the course of the Red River from the 100th degree of west longitude to the easterly boundary of Oklahoma, contending that, as fixed by the Treaty of February 22, 1819 (8 Stat. 252), the line followed the south bank of that river and that this was finally and conclusively adjudicated in the case of United States v. Texas, 162 U. S. 1, wherein the final decree declared

"that the territory east of the 100th meridian of longitude, west and south of the river now known as the North Fork of Red River, and north of a line following westward, as prescribed by the Treaty of 1819 between the United States and Spain, the course, and along the south bank, both of Red River and of the river now known as the Prairie Dog Town Fork or South Fork of Red River until such line meets the 100th meridian of longitude -- which territory is sometimes called Greer County -- constitutes no part of the territory properly included within or rightfully belonging to Texas at the time of the admission of that state into the Union, and is not within the limits nor under the jurisdiction of that state, but is subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States of America;"

the United States, intervening to protect proprietary interests claimed for itself and for Indians in the bed of the river, supported these contentions of Oklahoma, while Texas contended that the boundary was fixed by the treaty at the middle of the main channel of the river, and denied that its precise location, whether there or on the south bank. was determined by the former proceeding, asserting that the issues there respecting the river were confined to the question which of

Page 256 U. S. 71

the two Forks was the Red River of the treaty and to the ownership of and jurisdiction over the disputed land lying between them.


(1) That, since there was jurisdiction over the subject matter and parties in the former case, and since the parties in the cases were the same or in privity (Oklahoma having succeeded in part, as to governmental jurisdiction, to the position formerly held by the United States), the decree, in locating the boundary line with respect to the course of Red River and in construing the treaty as placing it along the south bank, was conclusive in this case if the matter so decided was within the issues then proper to be decided or was presented and actually determined in the course of deciding those issues. P. 256 U. S. 86.

(2) That what was involved and determined in the former suit was to be tested by an examination of the record and proceedings therein, including the pleadings, the evidence submitted, the respective contentions of the parties and the findings and opinion of the Court, there being no occasion for resorting to extrinsic evidence. P. 256 U. S. 88.

(3) That the matter of the true location of the boundary between the territory of the United States and Texas where it followed the Red River bordering upon Greer County, and the question whether the boundary followed the middle or the south bank of the River, were within the issues made by the pleadings, recognized by both parties and the Court, to be determined according to the true effect and meaning of the Treaty of 1819; that, in elucidation, the treaty, and much historical evidence of the negotiations that led up to it, were introduced, discussed by counsel in argument, and referred to in the opinion of the Court, and that the matter was directly determined and made a part of the final decree, and by every applicable test was res judicata. P. 256 U. S. 92.

(4) That the adjudication not only concluded the parties with respect to that part of the boundary which borders upon what was called Greer County, but settled the construction of the treaty (Art. 3) as to the entire course of the Red River where it marks the boundary between the territory then of the United States and that of the State of Texas. P. 256 U. S. 93.

The case is stated in the opinion, post, 256 U. S. 81. (See post, 256 U. S. 602.)

Page 256 U. S. 81

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