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ASTIAZARAN v. SANTA RITA LAND AND MINING COMPANY.

decided: March 6, 1893.

ASTIAZARAN
v.
SANTA RITA LAND AND MINING COMPANY.



APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF THE TERRITORY OF ARIZONA.

Author: Gray

[ 148 U.S. Page 80]

 MR. JUSTICE GRAY delivered the opinion of the court. This was a complaint filed June 25, 1887, in a district court of the Territory of Arizona and county of Pima, by Dolores G. Astiazaran and others, against the Santa Rita Land and Mining Company and the New Mexico and Arizona Railroad Company, to quiet the plaintiffs' title in three tracts of land known as ranchos Tumacacori, Calabasas and Huevavi, granted by the Mexican government to Francisco Alejandro Aguilar in 1844.

The plaintiffs claimed title as or under the heirs of Aguilar The defendants claimed under alleged conveyances from

[ 148 U.S. Page 81]

     Aguilar to Manuel Maria Gandara in 1856 and 1869, from Gandara to Charles P. Sykes in 1877, from Sykes of an undivided interest to John Curry in 1878, and from Sykes and Curry on December 18, 1879, of the whole interest to the Calabasas Land and Mining Company, whose title had since vested in the defendants.

On June 9, 1864, Gandara presented a petition to the surveyor general for the Territory of Arizona for a survey of the lands, in order that the title might be reported on and confirmed, in accordance with the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848 and the Gadsden treaty of 1853, and the laws of the United States.

On December 15, 1879, Curry and Sykes presented a similar petition to the surveyor general, who on January 7, 1880, made a report to Congress, recommending a confirmation of their title. Congress never took final action upon this recommendation.

The district court gave judgment for the defendants, which was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the Territory on January 19, 1889. 20 Pacific Rep. 189. The plaintiffs appealed to this court.

By article 8 of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and article 5 of the Gadsden treaty, the property of Mexicans, within the territory ceded by Mexico to the United States, was to be "inviolably respected," and they and their heirs and grantees were "to enjoy with respect to it guaranties equally ample as if the same belonged to citizens of the United States." 9 Stat. 929, 930; 10 Stat. 1035.

Undoubtedly, private rights of property within the ceded territory were not affected by the change of sovereignty and jurisdiction, and were entitled to protection, whether the party had the full and absolute ownership of the land, or merely an equitable interest therein, which required some further act of the government to vest in him a perfect title. But the duty of providing the mode of securing these rights, and of fulfilling the obligations imposed upon the United States by the treaties, belonged to the political department of the government; and Congress might either itself discharge that duty, or delegate it

[ 148 U.S. Page 82]

     to the judicial department. De la Croix v. Chamberlain, 12 Wheat. 599, 601, 602; Chouteau v. Eckhart, 2 How. 344, 374; Tameling v. United States Freehold Co., 93 U.S. 644, 661; Botiller v. Dominguez, 130 U.S. 238.

For the adjustment and confirmation of claims under grants from the Mexican government of land in New Mexico, and in Arizona, which was formerly a part of it, Congress had not, when this case was decided below, established a judicial tribunal, as it had done in California, and as it has since done ...


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