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STATE MARYLAND v. STATE WEST VIRGINIA.

decree settled: May 31, 1910.

STATE OF MARYLAND
v.
STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA.



ON SETTLEMENT OF DECREE.

Author: Day

[ 217 U.S. Page 577]

 MR. JUSTICE DAY delivered the opinion of the court.

In accordance with the opinion of this court handed

[ 217 U.S. Page 578]

     down February 21, 1910, ante, p. 1, the learned counsel for the States of Maryland and West Virginia have submitted drafts of a decree to be entered in the case in accordance with the conclusions announced by this court.

The differences in the proposed decrees are: first, concerning the boundary of Maryland along the south bank of the Potomac River from a point at or near Harper's Ferry, westwardly to the point where the north and south line from the Fairfax Stone crosses the North Branch of the Potomac River, should that boundary line be located at high-water mark as contended by counsel for the State of Maryland, or at low-water mark as contended by counsel for the State of West Virginia? In the opinion heretofore delivered in this case it was declared that the claim of the State of West Virginia for a location of her boundary line along the north bank of the Potomac River should be denied. This conclusion was reached upon the authority of the case of Morris v. United States, 174 U.S. 196. In the Morris case it was held in a contention between a title holder whose rights originated with the grant of 1632 to Lord Baltimore, and one whose rights originated under the grant of James II to Lord Culpeper, that the grant to Lord Baltimore included the Potomac River to high-water mark on the southern or Virginia shore. As West Virginia is but the successor of Virginia in title, the conclusion thus announced in the Morris case necessarily denied her claim to the Potomac River to the north bank thereof, and a decree was directed dismissing the cross bill of West Virginia in which such a claim was made.

In the former hearing, however, and in the decision rendered, the attention of the court was not directed to the question whether the boundary of Maryland should be at high-water mark or at low-water mark along the southern bank of the Potomac River.

[ 217 U.S. Page 579]

     As stated in the former opinion, after the State of West Virginia was created, an arbitration was had between the States of Virginia and Maryland, and the Virginia boundary was fixed at low-water mark on the south shore of the Potomac. See Code of Virginia, v. 1, title 3, ch. 3, ยง 13, p. 18. This location of the boundary between Maryland and Virginia was accepted by the State of Maryland and definitely fixed as the line between herself and the State of Virginia. The arbitration of 1877 was before eminent lawyers and an elaborate opinion was rendered by them. They reached the conclusion that following the description in the charter of Charles I to Lord Baltimore, the right or south bank of the Potomac River, at high-water mark, was the boundary between Maryland and Virginia. This conclusion is in accordance with the one reached by this court in the Morris case, in which case it was declared that the province of Maryland under the charter of Lord Baltimore embraced the Potomac River to high-water mark on the southern, or Virginia shore, and the court then declared that this title had not been divested by any valid proceedings prior to the Revolution, nor was it affected by the subsequent grant to Lord Culpeper, and therefore, as between the claimants under the old grant to Lord Baltimore and the one to Lord Culpeper, that the title of the claimants under the Baltimore grant embraced the Potomac River to high-water mark on the Virginia shore. But the arbitrators proceeding to establish the boundary between the States in the light of subsequent events, after referring to the effect of long occupation upon the rights of States and nations, and declaring that the length of time that raises a right by prescription in private parties likewise raises such a presumption in favor of States as well as private parties, took up the location of the boundary between the States along the Potomac River, and said:

"The evidence is sufficient to show that Virginia, from

[ 217 U.S. Page 580]

     the earliest period of her history, used the South bank of the Potomac as if the soil to low water mark had been her own. She did not give this up by her Constitution of 1776, when she surrendered other claims within the charter limits of Maryland; but on the contrary, she expressly reserved 'the property of the Virginia shores or strands bordering on either of said rivers, (Potomac or Pocomoke) and all improvements which have or will be made thereon.' By the compact of 1785, Maryland assented to this, and declared that 'the citizens of each State respectively shall have full property on the shores of the Potomac, and adjoining their lands, with all emoluments and advantages thereunto belonging, and the privilege of making and carrying out wharves and other improvements.'

"Taking all together, we consider it established that Virginia has a proprietary right on the south shore to low water mark, and, appurtenant thereto, has a privilege to erect any structures connected with the shore which may be necessary to the full enjoyment of her riparian ownership, and which shall not ...


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