Слике страница
PDF
ePub

1874; when on the 26th May, 1824, a law was moiety of the property of Holman, in Mobile, de passed which granted the lots known as water-lots scribed lu the title-bond to Brown, was conveyed under the Spanish government to the owners of the to Brown, was inoperative. The deed was executed adjacent grounds. The improvements were made under a decree or order of the Supreme Court in by Holman in 1819 or 1820. The defendants be- Massachusetts, and by virtue of a statute of that low gave in evidence, to maintain their title, the State. It is not pretended that it was autborized title to them from Lucy Landry, through her by any law of Alabama ; and no principle is biter grantees to Oliver Holman: a title bond from lol. settled, than that the disposition of real estate, man to Brown for half of the lot in controversy, whether by dred, descent, or by any other mode, by which a deed was to be executed two years after must be governed by the laws of the State where the date of the bond ; and an Act of the legis- the land is situated. lature of Alabama, passed in December, 1823, after A court of chancery, acting in personam, may the decease of Holman, authorizing the administra well decree the conveyance of land in any other trix of Holman, then residing, in Boston, where State, and may enforce their decrees by process administration of the estate of the deceased had against the defendant. But neither the decree it. been granted to her,

to sell the real estate of which self, nor any conveyance under it, except by the he died seized, in the city of Mobile, for the pay person in whom the title is vested, can operate be ment of bls debts, the estate being insolvent; a yond the jurisdiction of the court. deed made in pursuance of a sale of the premises It is not perceived why a court of law should reunder the act of Assembly and in conformity to the gard a resulting trust more than any other equita. provisions thereof; and also the record of certalı ble rights; and any attempt to give effect to these proceedings in the Supreme Court of Massa chusetts, rights at law, through the instrumentality of u wherein a license was given to the administratrix jury, must

lead to confusion and uncertainty. to make a deed in pursuance of the title-bond to Equitable and legal jurisdictions have been wisel; Brown, and the deed made under this authority. separated, and the soundest maxims of jurispru. The questions which arose in the case, and on dence require each to be exercised in its appropriate which the court decided were : First, whether the sphere. act of the Legislature of Alabama, authorizing the The act of the Legislature of Alabama, which au sale of the est te of Holman, was constitutional thorized Sarah Holman, resident in Boston, the ad. and valid. Second, whether the proceedings in the ministratrix of Oliver Holman, to sell the estate of Supreme Court of Massachusetts were operative, which Holman died seized in the city of Mobile, and authorized the administratrix to convey the was a valid act; and the deed made under that title. Third, whether a volume of State papers statute, according to its provisions, was legal and published under the authority of Congress was evi operative, and was authorized by the constitution dence. Fourth, whether the lessors of the plain of Alabama. till below had established a legal title.

Fifth, On the death of the ancestor the land owned by 26*] .whether the defendants in the Circuit Court him descends to his heirs. They hold it subject to had not established a title in themselves, independ the payment of the debts of the ancestor, in those ent of and adverse to the title they had derived States where it is liable to such debts. The heirs under Oliver Holman.

cannot alien the land to the prejudice of creditors. The relation of landlord and tenant in nowise In fact, and in law, they have no right to the real exists between the vendor and vendee ; and this is estate of their ancestors, except that of possession, especially the case where a conveyance has been until the creditors shall be paid. executed.

No objection is perceived to the power of the A mere Intruder on land is limited to his actual | Legislature to subjecting the lands of a deceased possession; and the rights of a riparian proprietor person to the payment of his debts, to the exclusion do not attach to him.

of the personal property. The Legislature reguThe Act of Congress of 26th May, 1824, relin. lates descents, and the conveyance of real estate. quished the rights of the United States, whatever To define the rights of debtor and creditor, in their they were, in the lot in question, to the proprietor common duty, the whole range of remedies lle of the front lot.

within their province. A volume of state papers published under the authority of an act of Congress, and contaiving the authentication required by the act, is legal evi. dence. In the United States, in all public matters, N error to the Circuit Court of the (*27 the journals of Congress, and of the State legisla. tures are evidence, and also the reports which have been sanctioned and published by authority. This Alabama. publication does not make that evidence, which Intrinsically is not so ; but it gives in a most, au: the defendants, who were plaintiffs in the court

This was an action of ejectment, brought by very highest authority attaches to state papers pub-below, to recover possession of stores and a lot lished under the sanction of Congress. The deed executed by the administratrix of Hol- tion was in the common form. The plea, the

of ground in the city of Mobile. The declara. man, In pursuance of the license given by the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, by which nearly a general issue. A verdict was rendered in the claiming title thereto under a conveyance to a par- / seized at the time of his first conveyance. White ticular grantee, they cannot set up an outstanding v. Patten, 24 Pick. 324. title in a stranger, to defeat a person who claims A tenant in a real action is not estopped to set the premises under the same title as themselves, up & title by disselsin, by having relied, as one but by a prior right, which overreaches their claim. ground of title, upon a deed which did not convey B'k of U. 8. v. Mergereau, 3 Barb. Ch. R. 528. the demanded premises. Melvin v. Locks and

Where the party enters into possession of land, Canals, 5 Met. 15. claiming under a particular title, he cannot set up In ejectment for dower, against a grantee by an outstanding title in a stranger, as a defense to a qultclaim deed, of the husband, or a person holding suit, brought by the owner of the title under which under such grantee, the defendant is not estopped he entered, to recover the possession of the prem. from showing that the husband was not seized of 1ses. Id. 8 Johns. 34 ; 7 Id. 157 ; 8 Ohio, 89; 4 such an estate in the premises as to entitle his Dev. & Bat Law R. 449.

widow to dower. A deed which does not, on its A deeded land to B, which B subsequently re- face, define the estate or interest conveyed, or inassigned by deed to A. Then A conveyed the same tended to be conveyed, or the premises, does not land to B by a second deed, with covenants of estop the grantor from showing, in opposition to Belzin, and right to convey ; upon which covenants it, that no title passed, or from claiming uuder B brings an action of covenant broken. Held, that after-acquired title; and hence, since estoppels B was not ectopped by his deed to deny A's seizin must be mutual, it cannot estop the grantce, either and right to convey. Smith v. Strong, 14 Plick. in a controversy with the grantor, or with parties 128.

whose interest, like that of dower, depend upon his A and B accepting a deed of quitclaim from C, estate. Sparrow v. Kingman, i N. Y. (1 Coost.) neither is estopped thereby, in a controversy be 242; overruling Sherwood v. Vandenburgh, 2 Hill, tween themselves, from showing that nothing 303; Browne v. Potter, 17 Wend. 164. passed by deed. Flagg v. Mann, 14 Pick. 467. The grantee In a warranty deed is not estopped

Where one who has no title conveys land with from controverting bis grantor's title. Averill v. warranty, by deed duly recorded, and afterwards Wilson, 4 Barb. 180. acquires title, and conveys to another, the second The grantee who takes possession under a quit. grantee is entepped to say that the grantor was not claim, Is not thereby estopped from denying that

*

Cricuit Court for the plaintiffs, and the defend this suit is instituted; and that he was preant prosecuted this writ of error.

vented conveying the same by death; and pray: Upon the trial, the plaintiffs below proved ing the court would grant license to, and would that one Geronio was in possession of a lot in empower Sarah Holman, the widow and adminthe city of Mobile, at the corner of St. Francis istratrix of Oliver Holman, to execute to him and Royal streets; that he occupied the same such conveyance of the premises as Oliver Holtill his death, when he gave the same to one man would have been obliged to make and exeLucy Landry; that about the year 1788 Simon cute, if he were then living. Landry took charge of the lot for his daughter The widow and administratrix, Sarah HolLucy, and when she came to woman's estate, man, certified to the court that "she had read she used and occupied the same as her property. and had notice of the petition, and had no obThe plaintiff further proved that, in 1818, Lucy|jections to offer why the prayer thereof should Landry, conveyed the lot to McKinsie and not be granted; and signified her consent to the Swett, by a deed, in which the western bound- same." ary was laid down as the Mobile River, and Elisha Read, guardian of Sarah Holman and included the premises in question in this case. Oliver Holman, minors, and Catharine Holman, On the same day, McKinsie and Swett conveyed daughter of Oliver Holman, certified that they the property to Oliver Holman, who took had read and had notice of the petition, and be possession in 1818, and erected houses and a lieved the statement therein to be correct, and wharf upon the lot, and occupied the same as had no cause to show why the prayer of the a merchant in co-partnership with one Charles petitioner should not be granted, and signified Brown; Brown residing in Boston, and Holman their consent to the same. The court thereupon in Mobile. Holman died in December, 1822, ordered that Sarah Holman should be licensed leaving three children. Oliver, with a grand to make and execute a deed to Charles Brown child of Holman, are now the legal heirs of of the premises; and accordingly, on the 10th Oliver Holman, deceased, and are the lessors of of March, 1824, a deed was executed to the the defendant in error.

petitioner for the property described in the The defendants in the Circuit Court, in order title-bond. to show title in them to one equal undivided The defendants in the Circuit Court also gave moiety of the premises in question, exhibited in evidence an act of the Legislature of Alaa bond executed by Oliver Holman, the ances. bama, in the following terms: tor of the plaintiffs in the ejectment, on the 29th “An Act to authorize the administratrix ot September, 1821, to Charles Brown, by which Oliver Holman, deceased, late of the county of Oliver Holman bound himself to give to Charles Mobile, to sell real estate. Brown a quitclaim deed of one half of the land “Sec. 1. Be it enacted, etc., etc., That the he had purchased from McKinsie and Swett, administratrix of the late Oliver Holman, resi. the ground in question; the deed to be executed dent in the city of Boston, in the State of Mas. two years from date, if Charles Brown requests. sachusetts, be, and she is hereby authorized to Oliver Holman died soon afterwards, without sell, by Nathaniel Littlefield and Gorman Dav. executing the deed.

enport, her attorneys in fact, the real estate of Sarah Holman, the widow of Oliver Holman, which the said Oliver Holman died seized in 28*] removed to Boston, *Massachusetts, and the city of Mobile, on such terms and in such there took out letters of administration to the manner as may be deemed most advantageous estate of her deceased husband.

to the estate of the deceased. Charles Brown presented a petition to the “Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, that the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, set said administratrix be, and she is hereby auting forth that Oliver Holman had executed to thorized, by her attorneys aforesaid, on him the bond before stated, by which he bound the sale of the said estate, to make and [*29 himself to convey certain property in Mobile to deliver to the purchaser or purchasers, as the him, being the part of the premises for which case may be, a legal conveyance of the same, the grantor bad title. Grout v. Cary, 16 N. Y. their common grantor. Cox v. James, 46 N. Y. (8 Week. Dig. 390 ; Bigelow v. Floch, 11 Barb. 308. Hand.) 557.

A grantee is not estopped from denying the ven The acceptance of a conveyance, in which a dor's title, where he himself was in possession at woman is described as the wife of a person named, the time of the purchase, under a claim of title, does not estop the grantee from assailing the validand his original entry was not under the vendor. Ity of the marriage. Spicer v. Spicer, 16 Abb. Glen v. Gibson, 9 Barb. 634 ; Sayles v. Smith, 12 ) Pr. (N. S.) N. Y. 112. Wend. 57 ; Jackson V. Cuerden, 2 Johng. Cas. 353; A purchaser, entering under the vendor, lo Jackson v. Spear, 7 Wend. 401 ; Averill v. Wilson, estopped from setting up title against him. Jack4 Barb. 180.

son v. Hotchkiss, 6 Conn. 401; Jackson v. Walker, Although a graptor with warranty cannot set up 7 Cow. 637. a hostile title existing at the time of his convey If party enter into possession, he cannot dispute ance, yet one wbo conveys by quitclaim is not the title of him under whom he enters, until after estopped from subsequently acquiring and setting a surrender of possession. Jackson V. Spear, 7 up any other title, whether existing at the time of Wend. 401; 3 Johns. 499; 7 Johns. 157 ; 14 Johos. hls_conveyance or subsequently created. Cramer 224 ;7 Cow. 687. V. Benton, 64 Barb. 522.

One who agrees to purchase from another, canThe taking of a quitclaim deed of land from one not, as against the latter, set up previous title in who claims as tenant for life under a will, does not himself, and is egtopped from denying vendor's estop the grantee or his assigns from disputing title. Sayles v. Smith, 12 Wend. 67; Jackson v. the title of his graptor even, much less that of Ayres, 14 Jobos. 224 ; Jackson v. Smith, 7 Cow. those claiming as remaindermen after the decease 717. of the life tenant. Prindle v. Beveridge ard Lytle A person who has entered into possession under V. Same, 7 Lans. 225; Ada. 8. C. 68 N. Y. 13 Sick. / another, and acknowledged his title, cannot, in ac593.

tion of pjectment, set up outstanding title in a A grantee of land, who is in possession under a third person. Jackson V. Stuart, 6 Johns. 84 ; quitclaim deed. cannot, in an action between him Jackson y. DeWaltz, ? Johns. 157; Till. Adams on and other parties clalming under the same grantor, EJ. 217; Jackson V. Miller, 6 Wend. 228 ; 6 Cow. involving the title to such land, dispute the title of 761.

[ocr errors]

which shall be as binding as if the same had of the river not divided, and that this space been made by the said Oliver Holman in his was marked in two halves, with the word lifetime.

"quai." The defendant gave evidence con“Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, that Na ducing to prove that the lands sued for were thaniel Littlefield and Gorham Davenport, be- embraced within the space, and that it contin. fore the sale of the estate aforesaid, shall en- ued to be public and open, till Holman's poster into bond with sufficient security, payable session and improvements in 1818; and so conto the judge of the County Court of Mobile tended before the jury. County, for the true and faithful payment of The defendants further gave evidence that the money arising from the sale of the said es- Holman and Brown were merchants, and that tate into the hands of the administratrix there the carpenters who built the houses on the of, to be appropriated to the payment of the lands in dispute were sent out by the said debts due by the said decedent.”

Brown; that Brown and Holman were in part. On the 24th day of April, 1824, by a deed nership as merchants, and that in carrying on executed in conformity with the law, in con- their business, these buildings were used as sideration of the sum of fifteen thousand dollars store-houses; that Brown resided in Boston, paid to the administratrix of Oliver Holman, and had never been in Mobile, and that Holthe other moiety of the property was conveyed man resided in Mobile; that the store-houses to Charles Brown.

were reputed to be Holman's, and not Holman The defendants in the Circuit Court claimed & Brown's. After the death of Holman, agents to hold all the premises in controversy by con- of Brown went into possession; whether in. veyances from the grantee of Charles Brown, stantly or after the execution of the deeds made under the license of the Supreme Court aforesaid, his agents or vendees have enjoyed of Massachusetts, and the act of the Assembly entire and exclusive possession of the premises. of Alabama.

It was further in evidence that the house in It was further in evidence, that Oliver Hol- possession of defendants fronts on Water Street, man erected stores on the lot, and used them one of the streets of the city: whereupon the for four years, when he died.

court charged the jury, that if they believed, The loť which was proven to have been in from the evidence, that Geronio claimed title the actual possession of Geronio, was inclosed, to the premises in question, and was in actual there being a line of fence running from the possession of a part of the lot of land to which street on the north to the southern boundary of they were then *attached, and remained (31 the lot, and followed by the meanders of high in possession and claiming title from and prior tide water-mark. There was no person who to the year 1785, till the time of his death; and ever inclosed.to the east of this lot, or who had that before his death he gave the whole of said ever set up any claim upon it, except so far as lot to Lucy Landry; and that her father therethe facts disclosed the claim of Lucy Landry, upon took and held possession of it for her under Geronio. The ground in dispute was until she arrived at full age, when she took more than one hundred feet distant from the possession, and claimed title to the full extent inclosure of Lucy Landry, and was at all times of the boundaries in the deed from her to subject to the influx of the tide, prior to the McKinsie a.id Swett; and that since the posimprovements of Holman. It was in evidence session of Mobile by the United States, the that all the land east of Lucy Landry's inclos, streets and quai have been so altered by the ure, before the improvements of Holman, had municipal authorities of said city, that the said been used, as all the land on the same line from quai has been discontinued or otherwise abol. St. Francis Street to Government Street, on the ished, and the said Water Street erected in lieu same line, had been used, as a public landing of it; and that the premises in question are place by the people under the Spanish govern- within the boundaries of the said lót conveyed, ment, and that no improvements or obstructions as aforesaid, by Lucy Landry to McKinsie and had been erected upon that tract of land. Swett, and by them to Oliver Holman; and

The Circuit Court decided that the bond from that said Holman entered upon and remained 80*) Holman to *Brown, and the proceedings in possession of the said premises from the date of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, and of his purchase, until the time of his death; the the deed under those proceedings were not suffi- plaintiffs are entitled to a verdict, unless the cient to confer any legal title upon the defend jury believe, from the evidence, that actual ants; these proceedings were without authority possession was delivered by said Holman to and of no effect, and that they were admissible Brown, under said bond for title; and that said as evidence, only to show the nature of the de. Brown had remained in possession, and that fendants' claim of possession. The court also the possession had been regularly transmitted harged the jury that the act of the Legislature, through those claiming under him to the deand all proceedings under it, were void, and fendant. The defendant contended that the the evidence was competent only to show the premises in question were not embraced within defendants' claim and possession; to which de- the claim of Lucy Landry, but formed a por. cision, as well as to the charge, the defendants' tion of the public quai. That the entry of counsel excepted. The defendants then offered Holman under the title derived from Lucy in evidence à map obtained from the general | Landry, and the building of stores on the lot, land office at Washington city, purporting to gave him no title, and that his heirs could not have been made in 1761, and which was certi- maintain an ejectment for the lot, against those fied to have been on file there, made by one claiming under his partner, Brown. This the

This map indicated court overruled, and the counsel for the dethat the city was then laid off into regular fendant excepted. squares, and bounded by streets; that there The defendant's counsel contended that, was a space between the front and the margin I from the bond, the proof in the cause, and the

surveyor.

admission of Catharine Holman in the record of the lot by possession and improvement by
of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachu. Holman, and now with the improvements held
setts, thereto attached, it appeared that Hol. by the plaintiffs in error, that title cannot be
man and Brown were jointly interested in the sustained.
premises at the period of his entry. That al There is another view to be taken upon this
though Brown never was upon the land, that question of possession, to which the attention
the same was held by Holman for their joint of the court is requested. The fence, including
benefit; and that though no actual possession the lot occupied by Geronio, and Landry under
was delivered under the bond for title, that if him, ran down to high water-mark, and fol.
those facts were found, that Brown, or those lowed the meanders of high water-mark. No
claiming under him, could not be sued for the person had an inclosure to the east of this lot,
moiety in the bond, without a demand and or had a claim on it, except Landry; it was
notice to quit. This the court overruled. more than one hundred feet from her inclosure,
32*]

*The case was argued by Mr. Ogden and was at all times subject to the reflux of the and Mr. Legare for the plaintiffs in error, and tide, prior to the improvements of Holman, in by Mr. Crittenden and Mr. Key for the defend- 1818. It had been used as a part of a public ants.

highway, and as a public landing-place by the Mr. Ogden contended that, in the court be people under the Spanish government. These low, the plaintiffs in error had proved their facts clearly prove that there never was even title to the premises in dispute, and the court an assertion of title by any one to this lot beshould have nonsuited the defendants, the fore Holman improved it. plaintiffs in the ejectment, or charged the jury Again, the property now in dispute is one that they were not entitled to a verdict in their hundred feet below what in 1818 was the high favor. The plaintiffs in error, and those under water-mark. Now, by the common law, all whom they claim, had been in possession, land beyond ordinary tide water-mark belongs under a paper title, since 1822, claiming the to the crown. It is not necessary to cite cases premises as their own, fifteen years before the to prove this as a general principle. The princommencement of this suit. Before being ciple is of universal prevalence in the States of turned out of possession, the defendants in the Union bordering on tide waters. error are called upon to show a valid subsisting It is admitted that the right to the shores of title to the premises. Possession is a valid title tide water may be acquired by grants from the against all the world, until a better title is crown or government. Sir Henry Constable's shown.

case, 5 Holt, 107; Angel on Tide Waters, 140. The first question now arises-we claim the Although a grant from the crown may be preproperty under a title derived from Oliver Hol. sumed after long possession. But this only man, the ancestor of the defendants in error, shows that by grant alone the title can be achis heirs-at-law. Can we be permitted to ques- quired. Appendix to Angel on Tide Waters, tion and deny the title of the ancestor under 43, and the cases cited. The evidence of such whom we claim?

a grant would be the embanking against the This point seems to be settled in this court sea, and using the ground. Hale de Jure in the cases of Blight's Lessor v. Rochester, 7 Maris, part I, ch. 6, page 27. But the evidence Wheat. 497; Bradstreet v. Huntington, 5 Pe. in this case shows no such state of facts; and if ters, 402; and Willison v. Watkins, 3 Peters, 43. there is any law of Spain which differs on this

It is denied that Holman ever had a title to point from the common law, it should have the lot in controversy. It is asserted to have shown, and, as a foreign law, should have been derived from a Spaniard, Geronio; but no been proved. paper title is shown to have been in him. All There is another fact appearing on the the title set up as having existed in him was, record which should have great influence [*34 that of possession of a lot at the corner of St. on the court in considering the point now unFrancis and Royal streets, to which Lucy Lan- der examination. The map gave in evidence dry afterwards became entitled under him, and has the word "quai” marked on it, showing which, when of age, she conveyed to the grant- that this lot was considered as a quai. City of ors of Oliver Holman. No grant from Spain New Orleans v. The United States, 10 Peters, was made to Geronio; none is asserted to have 715. This shows that the defendants in error been given. The inclosure ran down to and have not and never had any legal title to this along high water-mark, on the line of which lot. It was a public landing, and was always there was a fence.

so considered while Spain had possession of the The premises in dispute in this case are more country. than one hundred feet distant from the inclos The plaintiffs in error, defendants in the Cir. ure of Lucy Landry, and were all open until cuit Court, had a sufficient title to give them a improved by Holman.

right to a verdict in their favor, under instrucGeronio having had no paper title, and pre- tions from the court. tending to no title but possession, nothing can Oliver Holman, the ancestor of the defend. be clearer than that his title extended no furth- ants in error, died in Mobile before March, er than the actual possession; and he gave no 1823. He died intestate, and administration more to Lucy Landry. The law upon this was granted to his widow. Sometime after 33') point is entirely settled. *Lessor of which, the Legislature of Alabama passed the Clarke v. Courtney, Peters, 354; 2 Johns. act authorizing the administratrix to sell the Rep. 230; 4 Mass. Rep. 416; 3 Wash. C. C. estate of Oliver Holman; under the provisions R. 475.

of this act, and in full conformity with them, The title set up by the heirs of Holman not the administratrix sold the estate, and conveyed having any other foundation than that of Lucy it to Charles Brown, under whom, and by Landry, it is manifest that against the holder virtue of the conveyance authorized by this

[ocr errors]

were.

act, the plaintiffs in error held a moiety of the land was enacted to enable her to pay the debts. property. There is nothing in the record to It does not direct the sale, but authorizes it. impeach the fairness of this sale, or to show The presumption is that it was passed to enable that the property was not sold for its full the administratrix to do her duty. He who value.

seeks to avoid an act upon the ground that it The Circuit Court held this act of the Legis. was procured upon false suggestions, must lature of Alabama void. The reasons for this prove, affirmatively, that the suggestions were decision are not given, but it is presumed they false. There is not only no proof in this case

that Holman's estate was not in debt at the 1. It is supposed that the law interfered with time of his death, but the contrary is nowhere and took away the vested rights of the heirs at pretended. The law will therefore be presumed law of Oliver Holman; or,

to have passed in good faith. 2. That this was a judicial act, which it was *But it is said this law is against the [*36 not competent for the Legislature of Alabama constitution of Alabama, because it is a judicial to perform.

act, and thus invades one of the branches of Does this law take away the vested rights of government, which can alone exercise judicial the heirs of Oliver Holman? If the law is void powers. on this ground, it must be because the Legisla Without the express prohibition of the con. ture had no power to pass this law; for, if constitution of Alabama, limiting to each depart. stitutional, the law can nowhere be questioned. ment its special duties, the separation of the It cannot be objected to the law that it in- government into legislative, executive, and judi. fringes the obligation of contracts, and is there: cial, was sufficient to prohibit each branch fore void under the Constitution of the United from invading the constitutional powers of the States. The law authorized the sale of the lot for other. the purpose of paying the debts of Holman, and But the act under examination is not a judi. thus enabling the administratrix to keep his cial measure. Judicial power is the right to contracts. How, then, can it be incompatible decide between different parties; the power to with the obligation of contracts ? But it has declare what the law is between conflicting been declared by this court, in the case of parties, and to carry judgments and decrees Satterlee v. Matthewson, 2 Peters, 414, that it into effect. How, then, can the act in question 35") has nowhere been *said that a State be considered judicial ? It does not decide bestatute which devests a vested right, is incom.tween the administratrix and the creditors; it patible with the Constitution of the United leaves all question as to the distribution of the States.

proceeds open; and they must be decided by Nor is the law inconsistent with the constitu- the judicial tribunals, if the parties cannot ad. tion of Alabama.

just them. Cited, Wilkinson y. Leland, 2 Pe. By the laws of Alabama, upon the death of ters, 660. Holman, his real estate descended to his heirs; The courts of the United States sitting in the but in their hands it was subject to the pay. States, adopt the construction of the constitu. ment of his debts. A law which authorizes the tions of the States, which have been given by sale of such lands for the payment of the debts the decisions of the highest judicial tribunals cannot be exceptionable. In the constitution of the States. This is essential to harmony be. of Alabama, there is nothing which, in terms, tween the courts of the Union and of the prohibits the passage of such a law; nor is the States. What would be the confusion if one law a judicial act, thus trenching on the other construction were given to the constitution of constitutional departments. The law does the State, in the courts of the States, and in nothing in its special provision but what had the courts of the United States a different con. been done in effect by the general laws of struction ? So, too, as to the laws of the States. Alabama, authorizing the sale of the estates of It must be very plain that an act of the Legisdecedents for the payment of debts. But as, lature is a violation of the constitution, to justifrom the particular local situation of the ad. fy a court to pronounce it void. 5 Mass. Rep. ministratrix of Oliver Holman, she could not 534; 12 Mass. Rep. 417. In this case we have be proceeded against under the general law, the uniform legislation of Alabama, since the this special enactment is made. The same re-State was organized, in corroboration of the sponsibilities for the payment of the debts are constitutionality of this act; and titles to lands continued; and security is required for the per- to an immense value are held under special acts formance of the duties to pay the debts out of of Assembly similar to this. A decision here the proceeds of the sales. No vested rights of against the validity of this law would shake the heirs of Holman were impaired, for all their the titles to a large amount of property within rights were subject to the debts of their ances- the State. The early passage of laws of s tor. In support of these principles, cited, Stod. similar character with this now under examina. dard v. Smith, 6 Binney, 355; Wilkinson v. tion is a contemporaneous exposition of the Leland, 2 Peters, 626; Bank of Hamilton v. constitution; for they were passed within a few Dudley's Heirs, 2 Peters, 523; 16 Massachusetts years after the constitution was adopted. In Rep. 326; 13 Serg. & Rawle, 435, 2 Vernon, Alabama the question was at rest, until dis711; 4 Cruise's Digest, 520.

turbed by the decision of the Circuit Court in Toulman's Digest of the Laws of Alabama the case now before the court. contains a number of private acts similar to *The title of the plaintiffs in error to [*37 this, on pages 344, 346, 346. The constitution one moiety of the property has never been was formed in 1819, and this act passed in shown. As to the other moiety, it is seen from 1824. It was a contemporaneous exposition of the evidence in the case that after the death of the constitution.

Holman, Brown, his partner, went into posses. The act was no doubt passed on the applica- Ision of the whole property, The buildings tion of the administratrix of Oliver Holman, and wharf were called Holman & Brown's

« ПретходнаНастави »