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Searight v. Stokes. 3 H.

laden with the property of the United States,” &c. &c. Can this proviso be understood as exempting stages, whether belonging to the government or to individuals, which were intended purposely to carry the mail ? It is not deemed necessary, in interpreting this proviso, to discuss the question, whether the United States have a property in the mails which they carry. It may be admitted that the United States and all their contractors have in the mails that property which vests by law in all common carriers ; it may be admitted that the United States have an interest in the mails even beyond this. These admissions do not vary the real inquiry here, * which is, whether by this proviso the mails of [185] the United States, or the carriages transporting them, were intended to be exempted from tolls ? This law, like every other instrument, should be interpreted according to the common and received acceptation of its words; and artificial or technical significations of words or phrases should not be resorted to, except when unavoidable, to give a sensible meaning to the instrument interpreted; or when they may be considered as coming obviously within the understanding and contemplation of the parties. According to this rule of interpretation, what would be commonly understood by “ the property of the United States," or by the phrase "wagons and carriages laden with the property of the United States ? ” Would common intendment apply those terms to the mail of the United States, or to vehicles carrying that mail? The term “ mail” is perhaps universally comprehended as being that over which the government has the management, for the purposes of conveyance and distribution; and it would strike the common understanding as something singular, to be told that the money or letters belonging to the citizen, and for the transportation of which he pays, was not his property, but was the property of the United States. The term “mail,” then, having a meaning clearly defined and universally understood, it is conclusive to my mind that, in a provision designed to exempt that mail, or the vehicle for its transportation, the general and equivocal term “property” would not have been selected, but the terms “mail,” and “stages carrying the mail,” terms familiar to all, would have been expressly introduced.

Further illustration of the language and objects of the legislature of Pennsylvania may be derived from the circumstance, that, in the law of 1831, they couple the phrase " property of the United States” with “property of the States.” The same language is used in reference to both; they are both comprised in the same sentence; the same exemption is extended to both. Now the States have no mails to be transported. It then can by no means follow, either by neces

Searight v. Stokes. 3 H. sary or even plausible interpretation, that by “property of the United States," was meant the “ mails of the United States," any more than by“ property of the States” was meant the “mails” of those States; on the contrary, it seems far more reasonable that the legislature designed to make no distinction with regard to either, but intended that the term “property” should have the same signification in reference both to the state and federal governments.

In the acceptation of the term “property," insisted on for the de'fendants in error, the mails committed to the contractor are the property of that contractor also. Yet it would hardly have been contended that in a provision for exempting the “ property” of a mail contractor from tolls, either a vehicle belonging to the United States, and in the use of such a contractor, or the mail which he carried in it, would be so considered as his property as to bring them within

that exemption ; yet such is the conclusion to which the [ *186 ) interpretation contended for by the defendants would inev

itably lead. That construction I deem to be forced and artificial, and not the legitimate interpretation of the statute, especially when I consider that there are various other subjects of property belonging to the United States, and belonging to them absolutely and exclusively, which from their variety could not well be specifically enumerated, and which, at some period or other, it might become convenient to the government and beneficial to the country to transport upon this road. But if, by any interpretation, the words “ wagon or carriage laden with the property of the United States," can be made to embrace stages carrying the mail, and employed purposely for that service, they surely cannot, by the most forced construction be made to embrace stages laden with every thing else, by comparison, except the mail of the United States, and in which the mail was a mere pretext for the transportation of passengers and merchandise, or property of every description and to any amount, free of toll. They must at all events be laden with the mail. The term laden cannot be taken here as a mere expletive, nor should it be wrested from its natural import -- be made identical in signification with the terms - carrying" or "transporting." Such a departure would again be a violation of common intendment, and should not be resorted to; and the abuses just shown, which such a departure would let in and protect, furnish another and most cogent reason why the common acceptation of the phrase, "property of the United States,” should be adhered to. Fairness and equality with respect to all carriers and travellers upon this road, and justice to the State which has undertaken to keep it in repair from the tolls collectable upon it, require this adherence.

Croghan's Lessee v. Nelson. 3 H.

If the interpretation here given of the act of 1831 be correct, then, admitting that act to be a compact between Pennsylvania and the United States, the former has, by the 1st section of the act of 1836, infracted no stipulation in that compact. Pennsylvania never did, according to my understanding of her law of 1831, agree to the exemption from tolls for stages, wagons, or vehicles of any kind, intended for carrying the mails of the United States. These stood upon the like footing with other carriages. If this be true, then by the act of 1836, in which she has subjected to half tolls only, stages, wagons, &c., carrying the mails, and at the same time transporting passengers or goods, so far from violating her compact, or inflicting a wrong upon the government or upon mail contractors, that State has extended to them a privilege and an advantage which, under the 3d proviso of the act of 1831, they did not possess. My opinion is, that the plaintiff in the court below had an undoubted right of recovery.

3 H. 720 ; 12 H. 293.

Lessee of ANGELICA CROGHAN et al., Plaintiff, v. John Nelson, De


3 H. 187.

If it is practicable, by a reasonable construction of an entry, to include the whole quantity

of land called for, it is to be included. The call to run one line parallel to another, if repugnant to the call for the quantity, may be disregarded, if the other calls, and that for quantity, sufficiently identify the land.

The case is stated in the opinion of the court. The plat referred to was as follows:

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REFERENCES. A, B, C, D. Survey entered by William Croghan, assignee for 1,000 acres, August 2, 1784, on part of military war

rant, No. 2023. A. Beginning station,

Walnut sweet gum and ash, the original corner trees, all found as called for

in the patent. B. The second corner

called for in the patent, found a red bud box elder and sweet gum marked as a corner, and an ash fallen and part

ly rotten. c. This corner, on

the bank of the river, timber all cut and destroyed. No marks as called for

in the patent.
D. The mouth of

Mayfield, one cot-
ton-wood and wal-
nut, marked
called for in
Surveyed October,
1841, by

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Croghan's Lessee v. Nelson. 3 H.

* M'KINLEY, J., delivered the opinion of the court. [ * 190 ]

This is a case certified to this court from the circuit court for the district of Kentucky.

The plaintiffs brought an action of ejectment, in that court, against the defendants; and to support their action, they read to the jury a patent for 1,000 acres of land, granted by the State of Kentucky to Charles Croghan, bearing date the 29th of November, 1826, and proved title in themselves by the will of the said Charles Croghan. The plat marked A was shown to the jury; and the surveyor proved that the fork of Mayfield Creek, at the letter A, was correctly laid down; that 500 poles, on a straight line, on the branch leading from Mayfi Creek, would extend the line from letter B, on the * plat, where one of the patent corners was found; and that (* 191 ] the plat truly represented the land granted by the patent.

The defendant then read the following entry of William Croghan, assignee, for 1,000 acres, dated 16th of August, 1784, on which the patent is founded, to wit: “ William Croghan, assignee, enters 1,000 acres of land, part of a military warrant, No. 2023, beginning at a fork of Mayfield Creek, about two miles by water above Fort Jefferson, where a branch, occasioned by the high waters from the Mississippi, runs out of said creek, and at high water empties into the river at the upper end of the iron banks; from said beginning 500 poles, when reduced to a straight line; and then off from the branch towards the Mississippi, on a line parallel to Mayfield Creek, until a line from the extremity of said line, parallel with the first line, will strike Mayfield Creek, to include the quantity." The defendants then offered in evidence a patent from the State of Kentucky to Hugh Nelson, for 103 acres of land, bearing date the 17th of December, 1830; and proved by the surveyor, that the beginning of the entry was at A, on the plat, and that the end of the first line was at B, and if a line were run from B towards the Mississippi River, in a direction parallel with the general course of Mayfield Creek, for twelve miles above the fork at A, it would be the red line extending from the letter B to the Mississippi River at F. It was also proved, if a line were run from the corner at B parallel with Mayfield Creek, below the fork, to the letter D, at the mouth of the creek, it would run from B to E, and leave out the land claimed by the defendants. The

surveyor also proved, that the various lines on the plat were correctly laid down from actual survey.

“ The counsel for the defendants then prayed the court to instruct the jury, if they believe, from the evidence, that the course of Mayfield Creek from A to D is correctly laid down, then a line from B towards the Mississippi River should be run parallel to that line, to

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