Southern Pac Co v. United States, No. 71

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHARLAN
Citation42 L.Ed. 355,168 U.S. 1,18 S.Ct. 18
Decision Date18 October 1897
Docket NumberNo. 71
PartiesSOUTHERN PAC. R. CO. et al. v. UNITED STATES

168 U.S. 1
18 S.Ct. 18
42 L.Ed. 355
SOUTHERN PAC. R. CO. et al.

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 71.
October 18, 1897.

[Syllabus from pages 1-5 intentionally omitted]

Page 5

Joseph H. Choate, J. Hubley Ashton, and Chas. H. Tweed, for appellants.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 5-24 intentionally omitted]

Page 24

Asst. Atty. Gen. Dickinson and Joseph H. Call, for the United States.

Mr. Justice HARLAN, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.

This suit was brought to obtain a decree quieting the title of the United States to a large body of lands in California, acquired under the treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo.

These lands, it is stated by counsel, aggregate about 700,000 acres, 61,939 acres of which have heretofore been patented to the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, and for 72,000 acres of which that company has made application for patents. They are thus described in the bill filed by the United States: 'All the sections of land designated by odd numbers in townships three and four north, ranges five, six, and seven west; township one north, ranges sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen west; township six and the south three-fourths of township seven north, ranges eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen west; all sections designated by odd numbers, as shown by the public surveys, embraced within the townships from number two north to number five north, both numbers included, and ranges from number eight west to number eighteen west, both numbers included, except sections twenty-three and thirty-five in township four north, range fifteen west, and except sections one, eleven, and thirteen in township three north, range fifteen west; also the unsurveyed lands within said area which will be designated as odd-num-

Page 25

bered sections when the public surveys according to the laws of the United States shall have been extended over such townships, all of the aforesaid lands being surveyed by San Bernardino base and meridian.'

The government suggests that the greater portion of these lands have been set apart under authority of the act of congress of March 3, 1891 (26 Stat. 1095, 1103, c. 561, § 24), and by the proclamation of the president of the United States of December 20, 1892 (27 Stat. 1049), as a public reservation.

The principal contention of the United States is that the lands in dispute are in the same category in every respect with those in controversy in U. S. v. Southern Pac. R. Co., 146 U. S. 570, 13 Sup. Ct. 152, and U. S. v. Colton Marble & Lime Co. and U. S. v. Southern Pac. R. Co., 146 U. S. 615, 13 Sup. Ct. 163; and that, so far as the question of title is concerned, the judgments in those cases have conclusively determined, as between the United States and the Southern Pacific Railroad Company and its privies, the essential facts upon which the government rests its present claim.

Stated in another form, the United States insists that in the former cases the controlling matter in issue was whether certain maps filed by the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad Company in 1872, and which were accepted by the land department as sufficiently designating that company's line of road under the act of congress of July 27, 1866 (14 Stat. 292, c. 278), were valid maps of definite location, the United States contending in those cases that they were, and the Southern Pacific Railroad Company contending that they were not, maps of that character; that that issue was determined in favor of the United States; and that, as the lands now in dispute are within the limits of the line of road so designated, it is not open to the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, in this proceeding, to question the former determination that such maps sufficiently identified the lands granted to the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad Company by the act of 1866, and were therefore valid maps of definite location.

This position of the government makes it necessary to ascertain what was in issue and what was determined in the

Page 26

former cases. Did the former adjudication have the scope attributed to it by the United States? If it did, the decision of the present case will not be difficult.

It is necessary to a clear understanding of the question just states that we should first look at the provisions of the several acts of congress relating to the Atlantic & Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroad Companies, and which were referred to and construed in the former cases.

The Atlantic & Pacific Railroad Company was incorporated by the act of congress approved July 27, 1866 (14 Stat. 292, c. 278), with authority to construct and maintain a line of railroad and telegraph from a point at or near Springfield, Mo., to the western boundary line of that state; thence by the most eligible railroad route, to be determined by the company, to the Canadian river; thence to Albuquerque, on the river Del Norte; thence, by way of Agua Frio or other suitable pass, to the headwaters of the Colorado Chiquito; thence along the thirty-fifth parallel of latitude, as near as might be found most suitable for a railroad route, to the Colorado river, at such point as might be selected by the company for crossing; and 'thence, by the most practical and eligible route, to the Pacific.' Section 1. In aid of the construction of that line, congress granted every oddnumbered section of public land (not mineral) to the amount of 20 alternate sections per mile on each side of such line as the company might adopt through any territory of the United States, and 10 alternate sections per mile on each side of the line through any state, to which the United States had full title, and not reserved, sold, granted or otherwise appropriated, and free from pre-emption or other claims or rights, 'at the time the line of said road is designated by a plat thereof filed in the office of the commissioner of the general land office.' Section 3.

Section 4 made provision for patents to be issued to the company for lands opposite to and coterminous with each section of 25 miles of road, completed in a good, substantial, and workmanlike manner.

It was also provided that the president of the United States should cause the lands to be surveyed for 40 miles in width

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on both sides of the entire line after the general route was fixed and as fast as the construction of the railroad required; that the grants, rights, and privileges specified in the act of congress were given and accepted subject to the conditions that the company would commence work within two years from the approval of the act, complete not less than 50 miles per year after the second year; construct, equip, furnish, and complete its main line by July 4, 1878; and if the company made any breach of the conditions imposed, and allowed the same to continue for upward of one year, then, at any time thereafter, the United States could do any and all acts and things needful and necessary to insure a speedy completion of the road. Sections 6, 8, and 9.

By the eighteenth section of the act, the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, a California corporation, was authorized to connect with the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad at such point, near the boundary line of the state, as it deemed most suitable for a railroad line to San Francisco; and to have a uniform gauge and rate of freight or fare with that road; and, in consideration thereof, to aid in its construction, 'shall have similar grants of land, subject to all the conditions and limitations herein provided, and shall be required to construct its road on the like regulations, as to time and manner, with the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad herein provided for.'

The twentieth section provided that the better to accomplish the object of the act, 'namely, to promote the public interest and welfare by the construction of said railroad and telegraph line, and keeping the same in working order, and to secure to the government at all times, but particularly in time of war, the use and benefits of the same for postal, military and other purposes, congress may, at any time, having due regard to the rights of said Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company, add to, alter, amend or repeal this act.'

The legislature of California, by an act approved April 4, 1870, authorized the Southern Pacific Railroad Company to change the line of its road so as to reach the eastern boundary of the state by such route as the company should determine to be the most practicable. And by joint resolution passed

Page 28

June 28, 1870, congress declared that that company might construct its road and telegraph line, as near as might be, on the route indicated by the map filed by that company in the department of the interior on the 3d day of January, 1867; and 'upon the construction of each section of said road, in the manner and within the time provided by law, and notice thereof being given by the company to the secretary of the interior, he shall direct an examination of each such section by commissioners to be appointed by the president, as provided in the act making a grant of land to said company, approved July 27th, 1866, and upon the report of the commissioners to the secretary of the interior that such section of said railroad and telegraph line has been constructed as required by law, it shall be the duty of the said secretary of the interior to cause patents to be issued to said company for the sections of land coterminous to each constructed section reported on as aforesaid, to the extent and amount granted to said company by the said act of July 27th, 1866, expressly saving and reserving all the rights of actual settlers, together with the other conditions and restrictions provided for in the third section of said act.' 16 Stat. 382.

By an act approved March 3, 1871, congress incorporated the Texas Pacific Railroad Company, and made to it a grant of public lands. And by the...

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    ...might have been offered or received. 2 Black on Judgments (2d ed. 1902) § 609, page 924; Southern Pacific Railroad v. United States, 1897, 168 U.S. 1, 18 S.Ct. 18, 42 L.Ed. 355. The doctrine of res judicata is applicable in successive criminal cases. United States v. Oppenheimer, 1916, 242 ......
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