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PREFACE.

Thb object of the present work is, to furnish a compilation of the Spanish and Mexican laws in relation to the mines of the precious metals, and the laws governing the titles to land in the states and territories of the United States which were, originally, a portion of the Spanish or Mexican territories. It is intended to aid in the investigation and decision of questions affecting the titles to land, and in relation to mines, arising under Spanish grants within the territory ceded to the United States under the Louisiana and Florida treaties, and especially, titles delivered under Spanish or Mexican law in Texas, California and New Mexico.

The design is to give a translation of all laws and decrees of Spain particularly applicable to those territories, when provinces—the laws entire as contained in the several titles of the "Reeopilacion de Leyes de los Reynos de lasJhdias " and in the " Novisima Reeopilacion de las Leyes de Expand" also of the Decrees of the Cortes of Spain and of Ferdinand VII. prior to 1822, and the laws and decrees of Mexico, from that time to the time of the cession of California and New Mexico to the United States, so far aa those several laws and decrees are applicable to the territories, and relate to the subjects, above mentioned.

The present volume contains a collection of the laws and decrees in relation to mines of gold, silver and quicksilver, and, in addition to the Spanish and Mexican law, in force, the compiler has added a digest of some branches of the common law on the subject of mines and minerals, which, it is supposed, will be of general use: and as the common law of England has been adopted as the law in California, will be of peculiar value, in that state, in relation to questions which may, hereafter arise. In addition to this there is included, in this volume, a considerable quantity of additional matter, most of which is particularly applicable to California,—viz. The messages of the President of the United States,—reports of the Secretary of the Interior, acts of Congress and other public documents of the United States, in relation to California:—the treaties between Spain and Mexico, and the United States and Mexico: the statutes of California in relation to mines:—Also the laws and decrees of Mexico in relation to colonization, and in relation to the holding of land and mines, by foreigners.

The compiler has not the vanity to suppose that he could furnish any original treatise, on these branches of Spanish or Mexican law which would bo at all valuable. His professional engagements rendered necessary an examination of these laws, in reference to the titles to land and mines, in territories acquired from Spain and Mexico ; and, although, the study for a year or two would of course, not enable him to compose an original work, which could only be furnished from the accumulated stores of many years of study and practice in the laws of the country, he has thought that a work of much humbler pretension, but far more value, than any commentary on the law, would be a faithful translation and compilation of the Spanish and Mexican law, in force in California and New Mexico, and other territory, originally, Spanish or Mexican, at the time of their cession. Some of these laws have never been translated into English, and, of those which have been translated, the volumes containing the translations are very rare, and can with difficulty be obtained, at very high prices. The compiler has availed himself of these translations taking however the liberty, after a careful comparison with the original by himself and by others more competent, to make some, although very few, corrections.

In this labor, and in the translations made by himself, he has had most valuable aid from gentlemen connected with the legations of some of the Spanish American States, and others, well acquainted with the Spanish law and language.

A brief history of the Spanish codes, and their relative authority, seems appropriate, and almost necessary, in a work of this character; and this is rendered the more important, as some of those of very ancient date, are still referred to and cited, not only in the courts of Mexico, and other Spanish American States, but in those states which were formed out of territory acquired under the Louisiana and Florida treaties.

Spain, occupied by Phoenicians, Carthagenians, Romans, Goths, and Arabs, adopted, as is claimed by some writers on this subject, the customs, usages and laws of the people who governed it from time to time. Before being invaded by any nation, she undoubtedly had, as they insist, her own regulations and ordinances, customs and laws, appropriate and accommodated to her national character. But history, if any notice at all is taken of the legislation anterior to the Gothic invasion, is so meagre, confused, and unsatisfactory, as to give no valuable information on the subject.

The first code published by the Goths, was of the Roman law, in the time of Alaric. The decree issued in Latin, by king Alaric, commanding the oh

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