Samuel Damon v. Territory of Hawaii, No. 207

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHolmes
Citation24 S.Ct. 617,48 L.Ed. 916,194 U.S. 154
Docket NumberNo. 207
Decision Date25 April 1904
PartiesSAMUEL M. DAMON, Plff. in Err. , v. TERRITORY OF HAWAII

194 U.S. 154
24 S.Ct. 617
48 L.Ed. 916
SAMUEL M. DAMON, Plff. in Err.,

v.

TERRITORY OF HAWAII.

No. 207.
Argued April 12, 1904.
Decided April 25, 1904.

Messrs. Francis M. Hatch, Reuben D. Silliman, and J. J. Darlington for plaintiff in error.

Mr. Lorrin Andrews for defendant in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 154-157 intentionally omitted]

Page 157

Mr. Justice Holmes delivered the opinion of the court:

This is an action at law, somewhat like a bill to quiet title, to establish the plaintiff's right to a several fishery of a peculiar sort, between the coral reef and the ahupuaa of Moanalua on the main land of the island of Oahu. The organic act of the territory of Hawaii repealed all laws of the Republic of Hawaii which conferred exclusive fishing rights, subject, however, to vested rights, and it required actions to be started within

Page 158

two years by those who claimed such rights. Act of April 30, 1900, chap. 339, §§ 95, 96 (31 Stat. at L. 141, 160). At the trial the presiding judge directed a verdict for the defendant. Exceptions were taken but were overruled by the supreme court of the territory, and the case comes here by writ of error.

The right claimed is a right within certain metes and bounds to set apart one species of fish to the owner's sole use, or, alternatively, to put a taboo on all fishing within the limits for certain months, and to receive from all fishermen one third of the fish taken upon the fishing grounds. A right of this sort is somewhat different from those familiar to the common law, but it seems to be well known to Hawaii, and, if it is established, there is no more theoretical difficulty in regarding it as property and a vested right than there is regarding any ordinary easement or profit a prendre as such. The plaintiff's claim is not to be approached as if it were something anomalous or monstrous, difficult to conceive and more difficult to admit. Moreover, however, anomalous it is, if it is sanctioned by legislation, if the statutes have erected it into a property right, property it will be, and there is nothing for the courts to do except to recognize it as a right. Wedding v. Meyler, 192 U. S. 573, 583, ante, p. 322, 24 Sup. Ct. Rep. 322.

The property formerly belonged to Kamehameha IV., from whom it passed to his brother, Lot Kamehameha, and from him by mesne conveyances to the plaintiff. The title of the latter to the ahupuaa is not disputed. He claims the fishery also under a series of statutes and a royal grant. The history is as follows: In 1839 Kamehameha III. took the fishing grounds from Hawaii to Kauai and redistributed them,—those named without the coral reef, and the ocean beyond, to the people; those 'from the coral reef to the seabeach for the landlords and for the tenants of their several lands, but not for others.' The landlord referred to seems to have been the konohiki, or overlord, of an ahupuaa, or large tract like that owned by the plaintiff. It is not necessary to speculate as to what the effect of this act of the king would have been standing alone, he then

Page 159

having absolute power. It had, at least, the effect of inaugurating a system, de facto. But in 1846, the monarchy then being constitutional, an act was passed, article 5...

To continue reading

Request your trial
16 practice notes
  • In re Faxon Bishop, No. 2106.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • September 6, 1940
    ...they contend that the patent constituted a grant of the fishery therein referred to under the authority of Damon v. Hawaii, 194 U. S. 154. The Territory, on the other hand, contends that the alleged grant of the fishery of Makalawena contained in the royal [35 Haw. 663]patent to Akahi is vo......
  • State v. Hawaiian Dredging Co., Nos. 4277
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • November 27, 1964
    ...his tenants are permitted to fish in the private fishing ground. See, Haalelea v. Montgomery, 2 Haw. 62, 66; Damon v. Territory of Hawaii, 194 U.S. 154, 24 S.Ct. 617, 48 L.Ed. 916; Bishop v. Mahiko, supra, 35 Haw. 608, 629, and Territory v. Bishop Trust Co., 41 Haw. 358, 369, rehearing deni......
  • United States v. Kaiser Aetna, Civ. No. 73-3864.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Hawaii)
    • February 6, 1976
    ...The United States Supreme Court has recognized the legitimacy of similar Hawaiian property rights in sea fisheries. See Damon v. Hawaii, 194 U.S. 154, 24 S.Ct. 617, 48 L.Ed. 916 (1904); Carter v. Hawaii, 200 U.S. 255, 26 S.Ct. 248, 50 L.Ed. 470 (1906). Justice Holmes delivered both opinions......
  • In re Lincoln Loy Mccandless for Registration of Title to Land in the Dist. of Waianae, No. 2204.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • March 5, 1937
    ...v. District of Columbia, 132 U. S. 1, and point out that it has been a party to suits that have been before this court. Damon v. Hawaii, 194 U. S. 154; Carter v. Hawaii, 200 U. S. 255. The Territory, of course, could waive its exemption, Smith v. Reeves, 178 U. S. 436, and it took no object......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
16 cases
  • In re Faxon Bishop, No. 2106.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • September 6, 1940
    ...they contend that the patent constituted a grant of the fishery therein referred to under the authority of Damon v. Hawaii, 194 U. S. 154. The Territory, on the other hand, contends that the alleged grant of the fishery of Makalawena contained in the royal [35 Haw. 663]patent to Akahi is vo......
  • State v. Hawaiian Dredging Co., Nos. 4277
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • November 27, 1964
    ...his tenants are permitted to fish in the private fishing ground. See, Haalelea v. Montgomery, 2 Haw. 62, 66; Damon v. Territory of Hawaii, 194 U.S. 154, 24 S.Ct. 617, 48 L.Ed. 916; Bishop v. Mahiko, supra, 35 Haw. 608, 629, and Territory v. Bishop Trust Co., 41 Haw. 358, 369, rehearing deni......
  • United States v. Kaiser Aetna, Civ. No. 73-3864.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Hawaii)
    • February 6, 1976
    ...The United States Supreme Court has recognized the legitimacy of similar Hawaiian property rights in sea fisheries. See Damon v. Hawaii, 194 U.S. 154, 24 S.Ct. 617, 48 L.Ed. 916 (1904); Carter v. Hawaii, 200 U.S. 255, 26 S.Ct. 248, 50 L.Ed. 470 (1906). Justice Holmes delivered both opinions......
  • In re Lincoln Loy Mccandless for Registration of Title to Land in the Dist. of Waianae, No. 2204.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • March 5, 1937
    ...v. District of Columbia, 132 U. S. 1, and point out that it has been a party to suits that have been before this court. Damon v. Hawaii, 194 U. S. 154; Carter v. Hawaii, 200 U. S. 255. The Territory, of course, could waive its exemption, Smith v. Reeves, 178 U. S. 436, and it took no object......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT