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The United States v. Hughes.

20. The concession and order of survey made by Governor Gayoso, and dated 26th April, 1798.

3d. The sales and deeds of conveyance by the heirs of Andrè Martin, under which the petitioner, Hughes, claims, dated respectively the 13th and 14th of July, 1848.

Testimony was offered to prove the genuineness of. Gayoso's signature to the order of survey.

The District Court decided in favor of the petitioner and the United States appealed.

It was argued by Mr. Crittenden, (Attorney-General,) for the United States, and by Messrs. Janin and Taylor for the appellee.

Mr. Justice NELSON delivered the opinion of the court.

This is an appeal from a decree of the District Court of the Eastern District of Louisiana.

The plaintiff claimed three thousand arpents of land situate in Louisiana, and fronting on the back part of lands of Oliver Thibodeaux, Theodore Thibodeaux, and Claude Martin, under a concession to André Martin from Governor Gayoso, 26 April, 1798. The proceedings were under the act of 17th June, 1844, reviving the act of 26th May, 1824.

Evidence was given of the handwriting of Martin to the application for the land, and of Governor Gayoso to the concession.

The plaintiff also produced evidence of a conveyance of the premises to himself by an instrument bearing date 14th July, 1848, purporting to have been executed by the heirs of André Martin the original grantee. And, also, notice to the register and receiver of the land-office at Opelousas, Louisiana, of an application on behalf of the heirs, by their attorney, for confirmation of the grant under date of 23d December, 1836.

The concession was an inchoate and incomplete grant; and there is no evidence that any possession was ever taken of the land, nor of any claim set up under the grant to the same, from its date down to 1836, when notice was given to the officers of the land office; nor any evidence of the existence of the grant during the whole of this period. The case falls directly within the principles of the two previous cases just decided.

There is, also, no proof of any title in the plaintiff derived from the original grantee. The conveyance purporting to be executed by the heirs notwithstanding the recitals to that effect, furnishes no evidence of the fact of heirship.

We think the decree of the court below erroneous, and should be reversed; and that the proceedings be remitted to the court below, and the petition be dismissed.

The United States v. Pillerin et al.'

Order.

This cause came on to be heard on the transcript of the record from the District Court of the United States, for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and was argued by counsel. On consideration whereof, it is now here ordered, adjudged, and decreed by this court, that the decree of the said District Court in this cause, be, and the same is hereby reversed and annulled, and this cause be, and the same is hereby, remanded to the said District Court, with directions to dismiss the petition of the claimant.

THE UNITED STATES, APPELLANTS, v. ARMAND PillerIN AND OTHERS; THE UNITED STATES, APPELLANTS, V. A. B. ROMAN; The UNITED STATES, APPELLANTS, v. CARLOS DE VILLEMONT'S HEIRS AND OTHERS; THE UNITED STATES, APPELLANTS, v. JEAN B. LABRANCHE'S HEIRS.

This court again decides, as in 9 How. 127, and 10 How. 609, that French grants of

land in Louisiana, made after the treaty of Fontainbleau, by which Louisiana was ceded to Spain, are void, unless confirmed by the Spanish authorities before the

cession to the United States. But if there has been continued possession under the grants so as to lay the foundation

for presuming a confirmation by Spain, then the cases are not included within the acts of 1824 and 1844, which look only to inchoate and equitable titles. The District Court of the United States has therefore no jurisdictior

These four cases were land cases, arising under the acts of 1824 and 1844, and were appeals from the District Court of the United States, for Louisiana. - They were cases of French grants made after the treaty of Fontainbleau by which Louisiana was ceded to Spain.

They were argued by Mr. Crittenden, (Attorney-General,) for the United States, and by Messrs. Janin and Taylor, for the appellees, except the second which was argued by Mr. Soulé.

Mr. Chief Justice TANEY delivered the opinion of the court.

These four cases are all French grants made after the treaty of Fontainbleau by which Louisiana was ceded to Spain. We have already decided in the cases of The United States v. Reynes, 9 How. 127, and The United States v. D'Auterive, 10 How. 607, that grants of this description are void, unless confirmed by the Spanish authorities before the cession to the United States. In some of these cases evidence has been offered The United States v. Pillerin et al.

of continued possession by the grantees of those claiming under them, ever since the grants were made. But if there has been such a continued possession, and acts of ownership over the land as would lay the foundation for presuming a confirmation by Spain of these grants, or of either of them or any portion of either of them, such confirmation would amount to an absolute title, and not an inchoate or imperfect one. For all of the grants are absolute, or upon conditions subsequent; and if they had been originally made by competent authority, would have passed the legal title at the time, subject only to be divested by a breach of the condition, in the cases where a condition subsequent is annexed. Such a title, if afterwards recognized by the Spanish authorities, is protected by the treaty, and is independent of any legislation by Congress, and requires no proceeding in a court of the United States to give it validity.

Titles of this description were not therefore embraced in the acts of 1824 and 1844, under which these proceedings were had. These laws were passed to enable persons who had only an inchoate and equitable title, to obtain an absolute and legal one, by proceeding in the District Court in the manner prescribed. And when the title under which the party claims, would be a complete and absolute one, if granted by competent authority or established by proof, the District Courts have no jurisdiction under the acts of Congress above mentioned to decide upon its validity. The act of 1824 is very clear upon this point; and it has always been so construed by this court.

Upon this ground the decree of the District Court in each of these cases is erroneous and must be reversed and a mandate issued directing the petitions to be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

But this decision is not to prejudice the rights of the respective petitioners or either of them in any suit where the absolute and legal title to these lands or any portion of them may be in question, or prevent them from showing if they can that the French grant was recognized as valid or confirmed by the Spanish authorities before the treaty of St. Ildefonso.

Order. These causes came on to be heard on the transcript of the record from the District Court of the United States, for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and were argued by counsel. On consideration whereof, it is now bere ordered, adjudged, and decreed by this court, that the decree of the said District Court in these causes, be, and the same is hereby reversed and annulled, and that these causes be, and the same are hereby remanded to the said District Court with directions to dismiss the petitions of the claimants for want of jurisdiction.

Crawford v. Points.

ALEXANDER CRAWFORD, APPELLANT, V. James Points, As

SIGNEE IN BANKRUPTCY OF HENRY HOTTLE.

An appeai does not lie to this court, from the decision of a Distr Court in a caso

of bankruptcy: Even if it would, the decree of the District Court in this case is not a final decree.

This was an appeal from the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Virginia.

The facts in the case are stated in the opinion of the court so far as they bear upon the question of jurisdiction; and it is unnecessary to state the other facts.

It was argued in this court by Mr. Fultz for the appeilant, and by Mr. Stuart for the appellee.

Mr. Chief Justice TANEY delivered the opinion of the court. This case may be disposed of in a few words.

James Points, the appellee, was appointed assignee of Henry Hottle who had been declared a bankrupt, by the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Virginia. And, upon the petition of the assignee and the hearing of the parties concerned, certain settlements and transfers of property made between the bankrupt and the appellant, were declared to be fraudulent, and set aside by the court. From this decree Craw. ford appealed to this court.

It is very clear that the appeal cannot be sustained. The appellant endeavors to support it, upon the ground that there is no act of Congress now in force establishing a Circuit Court for the Western District of Virginia. But, assuming this to be the case, it does not follow that an appeal to this court can be taken from the decree of the District Court. For we can exercise no appellate power, unless it is conferred by law; and there is no act of Congress authorizing an appeal to this court from the decision of a District Court in a case of bankruptcy. It was so held in Nelson v. Carland, 1 How. 265, and in the case Ex parte Christy, 3 How. 314, 315.

Indeed, if an appeal would lie from a final decree of the Dis. trict Court, this appeal cannot be maintained. For the decree is not final. An account is directed to be taken of the rents and profits of certain lands, with an option to the appellant to purchase them at a price named in the decree; and in that event he is to be discharged from the account for rents and profits. And, moreover, he is permitted to retain possession of certain slaves, until it should be ascertained whether the other assets of the bankrupt's estate would not be sufficient to pay

D'afrington et al. v. The Bank of Alabama.

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his debts; and an order to account for their hire and the profits 'of their labor is suspended in the mean time. While these things remain to be done, the decree is not final, and no appeal from it would lie to this court, even if it had been the decreé of a Circuit Court exercising its ordinary equity jurisdiction.

Upon either ground, therefore, this appeal cannot be maintained, and is, therefore, dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

Order.

This cause came on to be heard on the transcript of the record from the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Virginia, and was argued by counsel. On consideration whereof, it is now here ordered, adjudged, and decreed by this court, that this cause be, and the same is hereby dismissed for the want of jurisdiction.

John DARRINGTON, LORENZO JAMES, AND ROBERT D. JAMES,

PLAINTIFFS IN ERROR, v. The BRANCH OF THE BANK OF THE
STATE OF ALABAMA. John ,DARRINGTON AND LORENZO
JAMES, v. SAME.

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The bills of a banking corporation, which has corporate property, are not bills of

credit within the meaning of the Constitution, although the State which created the bank is the only stockholder, and pledges its faith for the ultimate redemption of the bills.

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These cases were brought up from the Supreme Court of Alabama, by a writ of error issued under the 25th section of the Judiciary Act. The facts and pleadings are stated in the opinion of the court.

It was argued by Mr. Campbell for the plaintiffs in error, and and Mr. Hopkins for the defendants.

Mr. Campbell contended that the transactions as described by the pleas, fell within the prohibitory clause of the Constitution of the United States, “ that no State shall issue a bill of credit," and cited 4 Peters, 410; 11 Peters, 313; 7 Alab. Rep. 18.

Mr. Hopkins for the defendants in error.

In the case of Briscoe v. The Bank of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 11 Peters, 257, this court decided that the notes issued by such a bank as the one which is the defendant in error, were not bills of credit within the prohibition of the Constitution of the United States. In the case of Owen v. The Branch Bank

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