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Ramsey (McFaul v.) 20 Howard, 523..
Ravenel (Pennsylvania v.) 21 IIoward. 103.....
Rice v. Minnesota and Northwestern Railroad Co., 21 Iloward, $2..
Richmond v. City of Milwaukie, 21 IIoward, 80......
Roberts v. Cooper, 20 Howard), 467...


Snow v. Hill, 20 Howard, 543...
Spencer v. Lapsley, 20 Howard, 264

(Lessee of French v.) 21 Howard, 228.. State of Arkansas (Beers v.) 20 Howarı, 527.

(Platenius v.) 20 Howard, 527.....

(Bank of Washington v.) 20 Howard, 530..
Steamer Louisiana v. Fisher, 21 Howard, 1 .......
Steele (Secombe v.) 20 Howard, 94..
Stinson v. Dousman, 20 Howard, 461.
Stone (Hyde v.) 20 Howard, 170.....
Sutter (The United States v.) 21 Howard, 170....
Suydam v. Williamson, 20 Howard, 427..

579 392 760 564 564 567 6-15 294 525 339 721 506


Talcott (McCormick v.) 20 Howard, 402.
Taylor v. Carry), 20 Howard, 583.
Teller v. Patten, 20 Howard, 125...
The City of New York (Ex parte Ransom v.) 20 Howard 581..
The Commercial Bank of Manchester v. Buckner, 20 Howard, 108.
The County of Philadelphia (Christ Church v.) 20 Howard, 26.
The People's Ferry Company v. Beers, 20 Howard, 393..
The United States v. Breitling, 20 Howard, 252...

v. Cambuston, 20 Howard, 59..
v. De Pacheco, 20 Howard, 261.
v. Fossat, 20 Howard, 413.....

v. Sutter, 21 Howard, 170... Thompson v. Selden, 20 Howard, 194....

492 616 315 615 302 254 488 383 273 390 502 721 356


Union India Rubber Company (Day v.) 20 Howard, 216.
Union Insurance Company o. Hoge, 21 Howard, 35.

366 668


261 520 312 377 578


Wade v. Leroy, 20 Howard, 34...
Warner v. Norton, 20 Howard, 448..
Webb (Leitensdorfer v.) 20 Howard, 176.........
White v. Burnley, 20 Howard, 235.
Whyte (Gibbes v.) 20 Howard, 541..

v. Gibbes, 20 Howard, 541. Wiley (Brown v.) 20 Howard, 442.. Williams (Ford v.) 21 Howard, 287.

(Gibbes v.) 20 Howard, 535..
Williamson (Suydam v.) 20 Howard, 427.
Williams v. Gibbes, 20 Howard, 535
Winans v. New York and Erie Railroad Company, 21 Howard, 88..
Withers v. Buckley, 20 Howard, 84.........
Woodlief (McGavock v.) 20 Howard, 221.
Woodward (Poorman v.) 21 Howard, 266.
Wynn (Garland v.) 20 Howard, 6...

v. Morris, 20 Howard, 3.....

518 790 571 506 571 689 286 371 780 243 241

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4. Therefore such persons cannot, though free, sustain a suit in the circnit couris o!

the United States, on the ground of being citizens of a State different from the ad

verse party. 5. The clause of the constitution, which confers on congress the power to dispose of and 'make all needsul rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property of the United States, is confined to the territory which at that time belonged to or was claimed by the United States, and can have no influence on territory afterwards

acquired from a foreign government. 6. The constitution confers no express power to acquire new territory to be governed

as colonies or as territories, but it consers a power to admit new States into the Union, and, under this power, territory may be acquired which is intended to be admitted as new States, and which, from the necessity of the case, may be governed by con

gress until fitted to be so admitted. 7. But congress holds this territory in trust for the benefit of the people of the United

States, and is limited in its exercise of legislative power in such territory, by all the restrictions which the constitution has imposed upon that body, in regard to the

rights of persons and property generally. 8. It follows that congress cannot, by an attempt at legislation, deprive a person of his

property in such territory without due process of law or without compensation; and in this regard the right of property in slaves is as much protected by the constitu

tion as other property. 9. Therefore the act of congress of 1821, prohibiting slavery in the territory ceded by

France, north of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north latitude, is unconstitutional

and void. 10. The plaintiff in this case did not acquire freedom by being carried into that terri

tory by his owner voluntarily. 11. Nor did a similar residence in the State of Illinois, where slavery was forbidden

by law, discharge him from slavery after his return to Missouri, the law of this latter State on that subject being conclusive of bis status as to freedom or slavery.

This was a writ of error to the circuit court for the district of Missouri.

The pleadings and facts are fully stated in the opinion of the court and in the several opinions of the justices.

It was argued at the preceding term, and was then ordered for reargument at the present term.

It was now argued by Mr. Blair and Mr. G. F. Curtis, for plaintiff in error; and by Mr. Geyer and Mr. Reverdy Johnson, for the defendant.

[ * 399 ] * Mr. Chief Justice Taney delivered the opinion of the

court. This case has been twice argued. After the argument at the last term, differences of opinion were found to exist among the members of the court; and as the questions in controversy are of the highest importance, and the court was at that time much pressed by the ordinary business of the term, it was deemed advisable to continue the case, and direct a reargument on some of the points, in order

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that we might have an opportunity of giving to the whole subject a more deliberate * consideration. It has accord- [ * 400 ] ingly been again argued by counsel, and considered by the court; and I now proceed to deliver its opinion.

There are two leading questions presented by the record:

1. Had the circuit court of the United States jurisdiction to hear and determine the case between these parties? And

2. If it had jurisdiction, is the judgment it has given erroneous or not?

The plaintiff in error, who was also the plaintiff in the court below, was, with his wife and children, held as slaves by the defendant, in the State of Missouri; and he brought this action in the circuit court of the United States for that district, to assert the title of himself and his family to freedom.

The declaration is in the form usually adopted in that State to try questions of this description, and contains the averment necessary to give the court jurisdiction; that he and the defendant are citizens of different States; that is, that he is a citizen of Missouri, and the defendant a citizen of New York.

The defendant pleaded in abatement to the jurisdiction of the court, that the plaintiff was not a citizen of the State of Missouri, as alleged in his declaration, being a negro of African descent, whose ancestors were of pure African blood, and who were brought into this country and sold as slaves.

To this plea the plaintiff demurred, and the defendaut joined in demurrer. The court overruled the plea, and gave judgment that the defendant should answer over. And he therefore put in sundry pleas in bar, upon which issues were joined; and at the trial the verdict and judgment were in his favor. Whereupon the plaintiff brought this writ of error.

Before we speak of the pleas in bar, it will be proper to dispose of the questions which have arisen on the plea in abatement.

That plea denies the right of the plaintiff to sue in a court of the United States, for the reasons therein stated.

If the question raised by it is legally before us, and the court should be of opinion that the facts stated in it disqualify the plaintiff from becoming a citizen, in the sense in which that word is used in the constitution of the United States, then the judgment of the circuit court is erroneous, and must be reversed.

It is suggested, however, that this plea is not before us; and that as the judgment in the court below on this plea was in favor of the plaintiff, he does not seek to reverse it, or bring it before the court for revision by his writ of error; and also that the defendant waived

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this defense by pleading over, and thereby admitted the jurisdiction

of the court. [ * 401 ] * But, in making this objection, we think the peculiar and

limited jurisdiction of courts of the United States has not been adverted to. This peculiar and limited jurisdiction has made it necessary, in these courts, to adopt different rules and principles of pleading, so far as jurisdiction is concerned, from those which regulate courts of common law in England, and in the different States of the Union which have adopted the common-law rules.

In these last-mentioned courts, where their character and rank are analogous to that of a circuit court of the United States; in other words, where they are what the law terms courts of general jurisdiction; they are presumed to have jurisdiction, unless the contrary appears. No averment in the pleadings of the plaintiff is necessary, in order to give jurisdiction. If the defendant objects to it, he must plead it specially, and unless the fact on which he relies is found to be true by a jury, or admitted to be true by the plaintiff, the jurisdiction cannot be disputed in an appellate court.

Now, it is not necessary to inquire whether in courts of that description a party who pleads over in bar, when a plea to the jurisdiction has been ruled against him, does or does not waive his plea; nor whether upon a judgment in his favor on the pleas in bar, and a writ of error brought by the plaintiff, the question upon the plea in abatement would be open for revision in the appellate court. Cases that may have been decided in such courts, or rules that may have been laid down by common-law pleaders, can have no induence in the decision in this court. Because, under the constitution and laws of the United States, the rules which govern the pleadings in its courts, in questions of jurisdiction, stand on different principles and are regulated by different laws.

This difference arises, as we have said, from the peculiar character of the government of the United States. For although it is sovereign and supreme in its appropriate sphere of action, yet it does not possess all the powers which usually belong to the sovereignty of a nation. Certain specified powers, enumerated in the constitution, have been conferred upon it; and neither the legislative, executive, nor judicial departments of the government can lawfully exercise any authority beyond the limits marked out by the constitution. And in regulating the judicial department, the cases in which the courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction are particularly and specifically enumerated and defined; and they are not authorized to take cognizance of any case which does not come within the description therein specified. Hence, when a plain

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