Saturday, December 1, 2012

Johnson v. M’Intosh case brief

Johnson v. M’Intosh
Property Law Case Brief

Subject: Original Ownership

Case Overview:

Johnson (P) had inherited land that was originally purchased from Native Americans. McIntosh (D), however, claimed that he owned the land, having subsequently purchased it from the United States.

Case Facts:
-Following the French and Indian War, Native Americans sold portions of what would become the State of Illinois to Britain.
-These sales were finalized in meetings during which the Native Americans gave Britain ownership of the land exchange for payment.
-The agreement set forth certain British subjects as the new owners, among whom were relatives of Johnson.
-The Revolutionary War, however, prevented any of these owners from gaining actual control of the land.
-Following the American victory, the land passed into the hands of the United States government, which then sold it to McIntosh.
-These circumstances gave rise to conflicting claims to the land.
-Johnson claimed he owned the land through inheritance because his relatives had executed the original purchase from the Native Americans.
-McIntosh claimed that he became the owner upon purchasing it from the United States.

Should the courts of the United States recognize land titles obtained from Native Americans prior to American independence?

The courts should not recognize land titles obtained from Native Americans prior to the American independence.

Native Americans should be regarded merely as occupiers of the land, not as full-fledged owners with the right to sell that land. Ownership of land comes into existence only by discovery of that land. This rule has been observed by all European countries with settlements in the New World. Any “purchases” of land from Native Americans should be considered formalities designed to prevent hostilities. Legally, the United States is the true owner of the land because it inherited that ownership from Britain, the original discoverer.

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