CONTZEN V. UNITED STATES, 179 U. S. 191 (1900)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Contzen v. United States, 179 U.S. 191 (1900)

Fritz Contzen v. United States

No. 84

Submitted November 7, 1900

Decided December 3, 1900

179 U.S. 191


Texas was an independent state when admitted into the Union, and the effect of the admission was to make its citizens, citizens of the United States. But those who at that time could only become citizens by naturalization were thereupon relegated to the laws of the United States in that behalf. Minor aliens in Texas, separated from their parents, were not made citizens of the United States by the admission, and in order to become such, were obliged to comply with the requirements of the laws of the United States. As appellant was a German subject, and not a citizen of Texas when Texas became one of the United States, and had not been naturalized when the injury complained of was inflicted, the Court of Claims was right in dismissing his petition for want of jurisdiction.

Appellant filed his petition in the Court of Claims alleging that, on October 20, 1861, a band of Apache Indians raided the settlement at San Xavier, near Tucson, Arizona Territory, and stole from his ranch certain cows, horses, and mules of the value of $10,330; that these Indians were in amity and under treaty relations with the United States at that date, and "that petitioner is a naturalized citizen of the United States, and has at all times borne true allegiance to the government of the United States," etc.

The United States pleaded that the claimant was not a citizen of the United States at the date of the alleged depredation, and that the court was therefore without jurisdiction to hear and determine the cause.

The court adopted as its findings of fact the following agreed statement of facts:

"The claimant, Fritz Contzen, was born in Germany on the 27th day of February, 1831, and emigrated to Texas in July, 1845. He remained in Texas until the admission of the state into the union, December 29, 1845."

"Since the admission of Texas, the claimant has resided continuously

Page 179 U. S. 192

in the United States, mostly in Arizona and sometime in California. He visited Germany with his wife and child from 1873 to 1800, his home and furniture remaining all the time in this country. He was married in the United States. His residence was in Texas until he came to Arizona, in 1855, with Major Emory, on the boundary commission."

"In the year 1854, he went into court at San Antonio, Texas, and he was told that, he being a resident of Texas when it became part of the United States, that made him a citizen of the United States, and he voted there. He never took any further steps about naturalization. There is no record of naturalization, from 1847 on, of anyone of the claimant's name, when such record should appear in the courts of San Antonio."

"That, in October, 1861, the defendant Indians were in amity with the United States."

Judgment was thereupon given sustaining defendants' plea to the jurisdiction, and dismissing the petition. 33 Ct.Cl. 475.


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