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as against the Milling Company, the prior and paramount ownership of so much of the water of the Los Angeles River as is necessary for its inhabitants, and for general municipal purposes, and held that this question was answered in the affirmative in the prior decisions of the California Supreme Court. Lux v. Haggin, 69 California, 265; Vernon Company v. Los Angeles, 106 California, 237; Los Angeles v. Pomeroy, 124 California, 597 (same case in this court, sub. nom. Los Angeles v. Hooker, 188 U. S. 314).
These decisions the court held to be determinative of the prior and paramount right of the pueblo and its successor under rights existing under the Spanish and Mexican laws, confirmed by the United States to the successors of the pueblo. The court declined to consider for what municipal purposes the water could be used as against a riparian owner, and held that the extent of the city's prior and paramount right was not involved in the case.
It is thus apparent that the Supreme Court of California put the decision of the case upon the effect of the old Spanish or Mexican law as to the rights of the pueblo succeeded to by the city, and confirmed by proceedings under the acts of Congress for the purpose of confirming such titles.
We come then to consider what Federal questions are really presented in this record, and whether, in reaching the decision which we have stated the Supreme Court of California directly, or necessarily, by reason of its decision, denied such rights asserted under $ 709 of the Revised Statutes. We may at once put aside, as not presenting Federal questions of serious import, the assignments of error to the effect that the decision of the Supreme Court of California denied to the plaintiff in error due process of law or the equal protection of the laws secured by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. We may treat in like manner the assignments involving the construction by the Supreme Court of the state statutes, and rulings as to the admissibility of evidence. Nor do we find any denial of Federal right worthy
of consideration in the assertion that the statutes of California have undertaken to confer the water rights in controversy on the city of Los Angeles, and were given such effect, in violation of the Federal rights of the plaintiff in error. As we have seen, the rights of the city were not determined by the effect of those statutes, but upon the right and title secured by the Spanish or Mexican law, and the subsequent confirmation thereof under the statute of the United States.
As to the assignment of error that the effect of the judgment is to interfere with the disposition of the public lands by the United States.
The act of March 3, 1851 (chap. 41, 9 Stat. 631, 634, § 14), made provision for the presentation to the commission of the former right of pueblos and the issue of patents to them upon confirmation. And further, the same section provided that the existence of a city, town or village on July 7, 1846, being duly proved, should be prima facie evidence of a grant to such corporation.
This court, speaking by Mr. Justice Miller, tersely disposes of the nature of such old Mexican titles in Adam v. Norris, 103 U. S. 591, 593:
“But the United States in dealing with parties claiming under Mexican grants, lands within the territory ceded by the treaty of Mexico, never made pretense that it was the owner of them. When, therefore, guided by the action of the tribunals established to pass upon the validity of these alleged grants, the Government issued a patent it was in the nature of a quitclaim-an admission that the rightful ownership had never been in the United States, but had passed at the time of the cession to the claimant, or to those under whom he claimed. This principle has been more than once clearly announced in this court. The leading cases are Beard v. Federy, 3 Wall. 478; Henshaw v. Bissel, 18 Wall. 255; Miller v. Dale, 92 U. S. 473."
It is perhaps more accurate to say that the action of the United States in such cases is a confirmation rather than a
quitclaim. Boquillas Land & Calle Co. v. Curtis, 213 U. S. 339, 344.
The assignments covering other Federal questions which should be noticed embrace the contention that the rights of the Milling Company were secured under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo between the United Stites and Spain, and under the act of Congress of March 3, 1301, for the confirmation of titles derived from the Spanish or Mexican governments. The contentions as to the supposed rights derived under that treaty and act have been before this court in a number of cases, in which it has been uniformly held that rights alleged to have arisen thereunder, in the manner claimed by the present plaintiff in error, are not rights of Federal origin which, when denied, lay the basis for the review and reversal of the judgment of the state court.
In Townsend v. Greeley, 5 Wall. 326, Mr. Justice Field, delivering the opinion of the court, held that the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo does not purport to divest the pueblo, existing at the site of the city of San Francisco, of any rights of property or to alter the character of interests it may have held in any lands under the fornler government; that the treaty provided for the protection of the inhabitants in their property, and that the same rights exist as to towns under the Mexican Government, and dealing with both the treaty and the act of Congress of March 3, 1851, Mr. Justice Field, again speaking for the court in Beard v. Federy, 3 Wall. 478, 491, etc., said:
In the first place, the patent is a deed of the United States. As a deed its operation is that of a quitclaim, or rather a conveyance of such interesi as the United States possessed in the land, and it takes effect by relation at the time when proceedings were instituted by the filing of the petition before the board of land commissioners.
“In the second place, the patent is a record of the action of the government upon the title of the claimant as it existed upon the acquisition of the country. Such acquisition did
not affect the rights of the inhabitants to their property. They retained all such rights, and were entitled by the law of nations to protection in them to the same extent as under the former government. The treaty of cession also stipulated for such protection. The obligation, to which the United States thus succeeded was, of course, political in its character, and to be discharged in such manner, and on such terms, as they might judge expedient. By the act of March 3, 1851, they have declared the manner and the terms on which they will discharge this obligation. They have there established a special tribunal, before which all claims to land are to be investigated; required evidence to be presented respecting the claims; appointed law officers to appear and contest them on behalf of the government; authorized appeals from the decisions of the tribunal, first to the District and then to the Supreme Court; and designated officers to survey and measure off the land when the validity of the claims is finally determined. When informed, by the action of its tribunal, and officers, that a claim asserted is valid and entitled to recognition, the government acts, and issues its patent to the claimant. This instrument is, therefore, record evidence of the action of the government upon the title of the claimant. By it the government declares that the claim asserted was valid under the laws of Mexico; that it was entitled to recognition and protection by the stipulations of the treaty, and might have been located under the former government, and is correctly located now, so as to embrace the premises as they are surveyed and described.”
In the later case of Los Angeles v. Hooker, 188 U. S. 314, practically the same contentions were made as in the case at bar concerning the effect of the act of 1851 and the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In that case the lands of the plaintiff in error were situated above the city of Los Angeles, and it was sought to appropriate them to the use of the city for the purpose of maintaining thereon the headworks of a system of water supply. In that case, as here, the city contended
that the rights of the plaintiffs in error were subject to the taramount rights of the city of Los Angeles to take water for the
use of its inhabitants, for all the public and municipal purposes of the city. Plaintiffs in error denied this contention and set up their own rights as riparian owners of the lands, the confirmation of their rights by the board of land commissioners under the act of Congress of 1851, confirmed by the District Court for the Southern District of California, and patents duly issued in accordance therewith. The contention of the plaintiff in error was that the state court decided against its rights as riparian owners, and as to the ownership of the percolating waters described from patents of the United States as well as from Mexican grants, and under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Delivering the opinion of the court, Mr. Chief Justice Fuller said:
"Obviously, the question as to the title or right of plaintiffs in error in the land, and whatever appertained thereto, was one of state law and general public law, on which the decision of the state court was final. San Francisco v. Scott, 111 U. Ş. 768; Powder Works v. Davis, 151 U. S. 389. And the question of the existence of percolating water was merely a question of fact. “The patents were in the nature of a quitclaim, and under
& the act of March 3, 1851, were conclusive between the United States and the said claimants only, and shall not affect the interest of third persons.' The validity of that act was not drawn in question in the state court, and as the right or title asserted by plaintiffs in error was derived under Mexican and Spanish grants, the decision of the state court on the claims asserted by plaintiffs in error to the waters of the river was not against any title or right claimed under the Constitution, or any treaty, or statute of, or commission held, or authority exercised under, the Constitution. If the title of plaintiffs in error were protected by the treaty, still the suit did not arise thereunder, because the controversy in the state court did not involve the construction of the treaty, but the validity of the