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MORRIS V. UNITED STATES, 174 U. S. 196 (1899)

U.S. Supreme Court

Morris v. United States, 174 U.S. 196 (1899)

Morris v. United States

No. 49

Argued October 26, 27, 28, 31, November 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 1898

Decided May 1, 1899

174 U.S. 196




The grant by Charles I to Lord Baltimore on the 20th of June, 1632, included in unmistakable terms the Potomac River, and the premises in question in thus suit, and declared that thereafter, the Province of Maryland, its freeholders and inhabitants, should not be held or reputed a member or part of the land of Virginia, and the territory and title thus granted were never divested, and upon the Revolution, the State of Maryland became possessed of the navigable waters of the state, including the Potomac River, and of the soils thereunder, and, by the act of cession to the United States, that portion of the Potomac River with the subjacent soil which was appurtenant to and part of the territory granted became vested in the United States, and the Court, in consequence, affirms the judgment of the court below in respect of the Marshall heirs denying their claims.

It was not the intention of Congress, by the Resolution of February 16, 1839, to subject lands lying beneath the waters of the Potomac, and within the limits of the District of Columbia, to sale by the methods therein provided, and the recent decisions of the courts of Maryland to the contrary, made since the cession to the United States and at variance with those which prevailed at the time of the cession, cannot control the decision of this Court on this question; but as the invalidity of the patent in the present case was not apparent on its face, but was proved by extrinsic evidence, and as the controversy respecting the patent was not abandoned by the defendants, they are not entitled to a decree for the return of the purchase money or for costs.

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