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Federal court records: Latimer v. Poteet, Meigs Post

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  • OF THE UNITED STATES. *The Lessee of Margaret Lattimkr and others, Plaintiffs in error, v. William Poteet, Defendant in error. Indian treaties. Ejectment for 49,920 acres of land, in the state of North Carolina, claimed by the plaintiffs under a grant from the state, d;ited 20th July 171)0, to William Cathcart, founded on entries made in the office of the entry-taker, in the county of buncombe, in the state of North Carolina, after the 3d of February 1798, within the limits of the county; the land lay wholly within the limits of the territory specially described and set forth in the fifth section of the act of 1783, entitled an act for opening the land-office of the state of North Carolina. The claim of the plaintiffs in the ejectment was resisted, on the ground, that the grant under which the plaintiffs claimed, was, at the time of its emanation, wholly within the territory allotted to the Cherokee Indians, and was null and void ; as such entries and grants were prohibited by the sixth section of the act. It was held, that the title under vhich the plaintiffs claimed, was invalid. Construction of the treaties with the Cherokee Indians, relative to lands within the boundary, and of the acts of the legislature of the state of North Carolina, relative to the occupation and entry of lands within the Indian boundary. It will not be denied, that the parties to a treaty are competent to determine any dispute respecting its limits; in no mode can a controversy of this nature be as satisfactorily determined as by the contracting parties. If their language in the treaty be wholly indefinite, or the natural objects called for uncertain or contradictory, there is no power but that which formed the treaty which can remedy such defects. It is a sound principle of law, and applies to the treaty-making power of the government of the United States, whether exercised with a foreign nation or an Indian tribe, that all questions of boundary may be settled by the parties to the treaty; and to the exercise of that high function of the government, within its constitutional powers, neither the rights of a state, JHH' of an individual, can be interposed. The Indian title being a right of occupancy, the state of North Carolina had the power to grant the fee in those lands, subject to this right. Error to the Circuit Court of North Carolina. This ease was argued at January term 1839, by Coxe, for the plaintiffs in error ; and by Webster, for the defendant. It was held under advisement until this term. The case is fully stated in the opinion of the court. McLean, Justice, delivered the opinion.—This case comes before the court on a writ of error to the circuit court of North Carolina. The lessors of the plaintiff brought their action of ejectment, to recover the possession of 49,920 acres of land, in Haywood county, described in the declaration by metes and bounds. On the trial, certain exceptions were taken by the plaintiff to the rulings of the court ; and the verdict being not guilty, a judgment in favor of the defendant was entered. To revise this judgment, this writ of error is prosecuted. The lessors of the plaintiff, to sustain their action, offered in evidence a ' grant from North Carolina to William Cathcart, for the land described in the declaration, dated the 20th July 1796, and founded *on entries made in the entry-taker's office of the county of Buncombe, in said •- 5 state, in the year 1795, within the limits of said county. It was admitted, that the title, if any, had descended to the lessors of the plaintiff,, and that, at the commencement of the action, the defendant was in possession ; and also, that the land was within the limits of the territory described in the fifth section of the act of North Carolina, of 1783, entitled an act for opening the and-office for the redemption of specie and other certificates, «&c.
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