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Opinion of the Court.
dent from either translation of the law, as a whole, that it was optional and not obligatory on the representative of the King to enter into the contracts which the law authorized to be made. It is apparent also from the text of these laws that they provided solely for the allotment of lands for the purpose of a settlement to be made under contract, and on the performance of certain conditions; in other words, that these laws delegated authority to contract for certain specific quantities of land to accomplish the particular results which the laws contemplated. The effect of law 7 was to forbid contracts for the establishment of towns unless the settlement was to be made by ten persons, and to vary the amount of land to be granted according as the number of heads of families might exceed ten and be less than thirty, which latter is treated by law 6 as being normally required for a contract settlement. Looking at the text of the laws, it is difficult to understand upon what theory the claim is advanced that every Spanish town, whether settled under contract or not, was entitled to four square leagues. It cannot be denied that this quantity of land was not the right of every town settled under contract, since the amount varied with the number of heads of families with whom the contract was made and who were to constitute the settlement.
The argument however is pressed that law 10 embraces all towns not settled under contract, since it says "whenever particular individuals shall unite for the purpose of forming new settlements." From this expression is deduced the proposition that as the provisions for contract related to settlements of towns made by a particular contractor, therefore they were inapplicable to settlements made by individuals united for that purpose, in which latter case it is claimed the right to the land arose, not by virtue of a contract, but by operation of law. Granting for argument's sake the correctness of the contention, it fails to justify the claim of the city, because law 10 does not specify the quantity of land to be enjoyed by a settlement made by individuals uniting for the purpose of settling a new town; but simply says that they shall have an extent of territory "proportioned to what is stipulated."
Opinion of the Court.
This reference to what is stipulated must either be to the requirements of laws 6 and 7, or to some other regulation on the subject. If it relates to laws 6 and 7, then it would necessarily subject individuals uniting to form a settlement to the terms of laws 6 and 7, and therefore render it necessary that the right to land should arise from contract. Indeed, the argument in favor of the claim of the city logically leads to the inconsistent position that laws 6 and 7 are read into law 10 for the purpose of the quantity of land to be granted, and are read out of that law in so far as the prerequisite necessity of a contract is concerned.
But reference to the ordinances of Philip II (promulgated more than one hundred years prior to the Recopilacion), in which law 10 was found, makes its meaning perfectly clear, and demonstrates that the construction now sought to be given law 10 has no other foundation than the confusion in compiling the Recopilacion, of which we have made mention in citing the language contained in the treatise of Schmidt on the subject. Thus, in the ordinance of Philip, law 6 of title 5, book 4 of the Recopilacion was numbered as ordinances 88 and 89. Following those ordinances down to 99 inclusive are various provisions regulating contract settlements. Then comes ordinance 100, which is now law 7 above referred to. The next ordinance (101) is identical with law 10. Ordinances 102 and 103 (now law 20, book 4, title 7; law 9, book 4, title 5, and law 21, book 4, title 7, of the Recopilacion) read as follows:
Law 20, book 4, title 7:
"A contract having been made under the authority of a colony, a governor, an alcalde mayor, a mayor, a town or village, the council and those who made the same in the Indies shall not be satisfied with having accepted and made the contract, but shall continue to control it and direct how it shall be carried into effect, and shall keep a record of all that is being done.”
Law 9, book 4, title 5:
"In contracts for new settlements made by the government, or whoever shall be thereto authorized in the Indies, with cities, adelantado, superior alcalde or corrigidor, the
Opinion of the Court.
person entering into the agreement shall do so likewise with each individual who may enlist to join the settlement; and he will bind himself to grant building lots in the new settlement, together with pastures and lands for cultivation in a number of peonias and caballerias proportionate to the quantity of land which each settler shall obligate himself to improve; provided it shall not exceed, nor shall he grant more to each than five peonias or three caballerias, according to the express distinction, difference and measurement prescribed in the laws of the title concerning the distribution of lands, lots and waters."
Law 21, book 4, title 7:
"We direct that the governor and the magistrate of the town newly settled, ex officio, or on petition of a party, shall require the fulfilment of the contract with due diligence and care by all of those who may be bound to make new settlements, and the council and the corporation attorneys shall appear by petition against such settlers as have not fulfilled their contracts within the term agreed upon, in order that they be compelled, with all rigor of law, to carry out that which was stipulated, and that the judges shall proceed against those who may be absent, and that they be arrested and brought to the settlements, and that requisition be made for those who may be in other jurisdictions, and all judges shall grant them under penalty of our displeasure.'
This retrospect at once demonstrates that the rights acquired under law 10 depended upon contract and could only arise therefrom, since that law was but one provision of a system providing for grants under contract alone. To illustrate, reviewing the provisions in the order in which they stood before their confused compilation in the Recopilacion, ordinances 88 and 89 (law 6) and ordinance 100 (law 7) provided for contracts with an individual for founding a town, for the quantity of land to be contracted for, and prescribed regulations for the new settlement. Ordinance 101 (law 10) provided for individuals uniting for the purpose of a settlement. Ordinance 102 (law 20, book 4, title 7) also in this latter case treated a contract with such united individuals or
Opinion of the Court.
colony as a necessary prerequisite, and the subsequent provisions ordain rules for the government of these settlements and the enforcement of the obligations arising under the contracts.
Various provisions in the Recopilacion moreover clearly establish that the power to make contracts for settlements, whether with one contracting person or with a community of individuals, was not unrestrained, and was subject to exception.
Thus law 6, book 4, title 7, provided as follows (2 White, New Recop. p. 46):
"No tract of land for new settlements shall be granted or taken by agreement in any seaport; nor in any part which might, at any time, be prejudicial to our royal crown or to the republic, our will being that they be reserved to us.”
The same law is thus translated in the appendix to the brief for the government:
"Land and term for a new settlement shall not be granted or taken under contract in seaports, nor at any place where at any time damage may result to our royal crown or the community, because it is our will that they be reserved for us."
The object of these provisions was clearly not only to prevent contracts as to seaport settlements, but also such contracts as to places where it might be prejudicial to make grants of land, although there might be general authority to that end.
It may well also be implied from the provisions in the Recopilacion that the right of a town to hold land for public purposes was required to be evidenced by a grant from the viceroy or governor, and that such grant when made required confirmation by the crown. Thus, law 1, title 13, book 4, of the Recopilacion (2 White, New Recop. p. 55), is as follows:
"The viceroys and governors, being thereto authorized, shall lay out for each town or village which shall be newly founded and peopled, the lands and lots which they may want, and the same shall be granted to them as reservations [propios] without prejudice to third persons. They shall transmit to us information of what they shall have laid out, that we may order the same to be confirmed."
Opinion of the Court.
Whilst it may be that the necessity for confirmation was dispensed with at some date, much later than the establishment of Santa Fé, there is no question that this provision was in force at the time when it is claimed that the settlement came into existence as a Spanish town.
The theory, then, of the vesting by operation of law in every Spanish town at the time of its organization, of a title to four square leagues of land, finds no support in the text of the Spanish laws, and is repugnant to their general tenor, as it is in direct conflict with mandatory provisions of that law exacting a grant and its confirmation. Of course, the exist ence of power to make contracts for settlements in particular cases cannot be held to have deprived the proper authorities of the right to make grants in other cases where a general power to that effect was possessed. There are various texts of the Recopilacion showing not only that the Spanish crown itself by its supreme authority.contemplated the making of gifts of land to individuals, but also that such gifts were expected to be made for the purpose of the settlement of towns where there was originally no contract therefor, either with colonies or with a particular contractor. To avoid prolixity as far as possible, we do not quote the text of the laws on this subject, contenting ourselves with establishing the existence of the power by showing some instances where it was undoubtedly exercised. The petition for and grant made to Santa Fé itself of the tract of swamp land, to which we have called attention, is one of such instances. We find in the record the petition of one Juan Lucero de Godoy, dated El Paso, January 15, 1693, addressed to the governor and captain general, and reciting, in substance, that, prior to the insurrection of 1680, he had taken up his residence in Santa Fé and received a grant of land, and praying for a regrant of the land, part of which was situated within the area of four square leagues to which the city now asserts title. There is also a recognition. of the exercise of this power referred to in Chouteau v. Eckhart, 2 How. 344, where it appears that the village of St. Charles applied for an enlargement of its commons, and that the Spanish governor replied that the intendant of the province