Title: W. A. Field to Ulysses S. Grant, 11 March 1870
Date: March 11, 1870
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: National Archives and Records Administration
Whitman Archive ID: nar.01252
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Kevin McMullen, and John Schwaninger
March 11, 1870.
To the President.
I have examined the papers recently submitted to you by the Hon. D. D. Pratt, and which you were pleased to refer to me on the 8th inst., respecting the conveyance of certain real property at Logansport, Ind., held by Mrs. Mary Ann Smith, an Indian reservee.
By the 6th Article of the treaty with the Pottawatamie tribe of Indians, of Oct. 16, 1826, (7 Stat. 297,) the United States agreed to grant to the children of Joseph Barron, of whom Mrs. Smith was one, a certain quantity of land, with the condition, however, that it should never be conveyed by the grantees, or their heirs, without the consent of the President. The property at Logansport, referred to above is a part of the land so granted, and is included in the portion of the tract which on a proceeding in partition, had in the local court, was set to Mrs. Smith in severalty.
It appears that, subsequent to the partition of the land among the original grantees, Mrs. Smith's portion was, in part, laid off into town lots—that many of these lots have, from time to time, been sold to various persons, at what seems to be considered a fair and satisfactory price, and deeds given therefore—and that, when the sales transpired, neither the vendor nor the purchasers were aware that by the terms of the treaty before mentioned, the consent of the President to the transfer of the property was necessary to pass a valid title thereto. To cure the defective titles of these purchasers, a deed has since been executed by Mrs. Smith and her husband, granting to the former respectively the several lots and parcels of ground previously sold and granted to them— which is now submitted for the approval of the President.
Besides the instrument just mentioned, another deed has been executed by Mrs. Smith and her husband, conveying to a trustee other lots and parcels of the land set apart to her as aforesaid, upon the following trust, viz: to hold the same to her sole use and benefit, and to sell and convey the same to such persons and for such consideration as she may appoint and designate, and not otherwise. This deed is also submitted for the approval of the President; and its object seems to be to relieve the property described therein from the condition imposed in the original grant restraining its alienation, and at the same time to secure to its present owner the enjoyment thereof, with a full power of disposal.
The purpose of the condition referred to was obviously to protect the reservees from fraud and imposition in the sale or transfer of their lands—they being, as a general thing, very ignorant of values, and peculiarly liable to be oversearched by unscrupulous persons.— ---But Mrs. Smith is represented, by the most reliable authority to be an intelligent business woman, and to require no guardianship in the management of her affairs. So that, in her case, the protection designed by the said condition is unnecessary.
Upon the whole, then, I perceive no objection to the President giving his consent to both the deeds submitted for his approval—which may be done by simply placing his signature under the endorsements written thereon.
The papers are returned herewith.
I have the honor to be
With great respect,
your obd't serv't
W. A. Field,
Act'g. Attorney Gen'l.
Case of certain Indian reservee property, in Indiana