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one claiming title against another holding merely by peaceable and adverse possession. The revision went into effect on September 1, 1901, and the present action was brought a few days prior to such date, viz., on August 26, 1901.

In approaching the question whether paragraph 2938 was applicable to the case, the court below assumed that the effect of the finding as to possession by defendants was to show peaceable and adverse possession by them for the period of ten years. The court, however, decided that under no canon of construction or rule giving a retroactive effect to a new statute of limitation could paragraph 2938 be made to apply to this case. Thus, suggesting the possible constructions which might be claimed for the paragraph, it was said that if construed as absolutely barring causes of action existing at the time of its passage, it was unconstitutional, citing Sohn v. Waterson, 17 Wall. 596. Further, that even if the statute were construed as providing that all actions existing at the time of the passage of the statute should be barred if not sued upon within the time which elapsed between the date of such passage, and the date fixed for the going into effect thereof, this action was brought within such period and the statute could not operate as a bar, citing Wrightman v. Boone County, 82 Fed. Rep. 412, and various state decisions therein referred to. And, lastly, it was decided that if the paragraph was construed as not applying to a suit which, though commenced after the passage of the act, was pending at the time the same took effect, the statute had no application, citing Vreeland v. Town of Bergen, 34 N. J. Law, 438.

We think the Supreme Court of the Territory was clearly right in the views which it thus expressed, and therefore it committed no error in determining that under no possible hypothesis could the limitation prescribed in paragraph 2938 of the Revised Statutes of Arizona operate to bar the plaintiff's action, in view of the findings of fact in respect to the title of plaintiff.


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200 U. S.

Statement of the Case.



No. 65. Argued November 27, 1905.-Decided January 2, 1906.

A Porto Rican contracted, in 1894, to pay a certain amount of pesos in

money current in the commerce, whatever may be the coinage in circulation, at the rate of one hundred centavos of the money in circulation for each peso. Section 11 of the Foraker Act, passed April 12, 1900, provided for the retiring of Porto Rican coin and the substitution thereof of United States coin and for the payment of debts at the rate of sixty cents per peso—and thereafter the debtor offered to pay the obligation at that rate but the Supreme Court of Porto Rico held that he was entitled under the contract to one hundred cents for each peso. The creditor also claimed the matter was res judicata under a judgment which had been ob

tained for an instalment of interest. In reversing this judgment held that; Appellant having claimed, and been denied, the right to pay the indebted

ness at the rate fixed by g 11 of the act of April 12, 1900, this court has

jurisdiction under $ 35 of that act to review the judgment on appeal. Under Article 1477 of the Porto Rico Code of Civil Procedure judgments

rendered in executory actions are not res judicata. The contract only contemplated such change in coin as might occur while

Porto Rico was under the same political power, and a strict and literal construction of the contract will not be entertained where it does not

convey the real meaning of the parties. The indebtedness should be paid at the rate of sixty cents per peso as fixed

by the statute, and neither the provisions of the statute, making United States coin the circulating medium, nor the terms of the contract should be construed as making a centavo (the one-hundredth part of a peso) the equivalent of a cent in United States money.

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The appellee, plaintiff below, commenced this action, called a "declaratory action of greater import,” (Law of Civil Procedure, Porto Rico, Arts. 480, 481, 482), to obtain payment of certain sums due on an indebtedness of the defendant (appellant), secured by mortgage, as stated in that instrument. She obtained judgment in her favor in the proper District Court of Porto Rico, which was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the island, and the defendant has appealed from that judgment

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to this court. The sole question is whether the debt may be solved in American money at the rate of sixty cents thereof for each peso of indebtedness, or must one dollar in American money be paid for each peso.

The following are the facts: One Nicholas Cartagena y Mangual desired to sell the fractional part, owned by him, of a sugar plantation, known as “Ursula,” situated in the municipal district of Juana Diaz, in the province of Porto Rico, such fractional part being eighteen per cent of the value of the whole plantation, valued at 80,000 pesos. The purchaser, Juan Serralles, agreed to pay for such share 18,000 pesos. Accordingly a deed of purchase and mortgage was made between the parties on the first day of September, 1894. That instrument contained the statement that the sale was effected “in consideration of the sum of 18,000 pesos, commercial money," which shall be paid by the purchaser in instalments, viz., “two thousand pesos on the fifteenth day of July, of the year 1898; two thousand pesos on the same day and month of the year 1899; an equal sum of two thousand pesos on the fifteenth day of July, 1900, and three thousand pesos on the fifteenth day of July, of the years 1901 to the year 1904, both inclusive, all of which to be paid in the money current in the commerce, whatever may be the coinage of the money that as such is in circulation or is accepted in this province, at the rate of one hundred centavos (cents) of the money in circulation for each peso, excluding all kinds of paper money in circulation or to be issued, even if its circulation should be compulsory."

The instalments were to bear interest at the rate of ten per cent per annum from the date of the deed, which interest was due and payable quarterly. The parties also declared "that the price for which said sale is made is the just and true value at present of the share and interest hereby sold and conveyed,” they being “fully aware that that is the value that shall serve as a basis in the public sale that shall be held if the obligation is not paid, and its payment should be demanded judicially."

A few days after the execution and delivery of this instru

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ment it was discovered that Cartagena was not the owner of all of the one-eighteenth part of the plantation, because that interest was acquired during his marriage with his first wife, and was what is termed "conjugal partnership property,” acquired for a valuable consideration during her life. When she died her interest went to her children, and so the seller, Cartagena, owned the above-mentioned fractional part of the plantation, with those children. It therefore became necessary to make another deed and mortgage, conveying the interest of all the owners of the fractional part of the plantation, including such children. This was accordingly done, and on the sixth of October, 1894, another instrument, in the nature of a deed and mortgage, was executed by the proper parties, in ratification and extension of the first instrument, and which contains substantially the same provisions as the first instrument, and the payments were to be made to the parties conveying the premises in the proportion in which they were interested in that property. These 18,000 pesos were to be paid by the purchaser, at the same times mentioned in the former instrument, "in current commercial money, whatever the coinage may be of money which, with such character, be in circulation or accepted in this province, at the rate of one hundred cents of the circulating medium for each peso, and to the exclusion of all paper money, created or to be created, even though its circulation be compulsory.

On the fifteenth of September, 1900, a quarterly payment of interest became due under the terms of the mortgage, and the appellant proposed to pay it in American money then current, at an amount equivalent in value to the former provincial money, which was not then in circulation. This offer was refused. The appellee then commenced an action in a municipal court, to recover the interest due September 15, 1900, in American money, at the rate of one dollar for each peso that was due. She obtained what is termed an “executory judgment" for such payment, and that judgment (of the municipal court) was affirmed by the District Court, and the appellant then paid the


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same. Upon quarterly instalments of interest due December 15, 1900, and March 15, 1901, the appellant made the same offer to pay in American money of equivalent value of the provincial money or peso, which was not then in circulation, and the offer was again refused, and this declaratory action of greater import was then commenced, to recover one American dollar for each peso of indebtedness due up to the date of the commencement of suit, and to obtain a declaration that the future payments should be made in the same manner. Before the commencement of this action, in 1901, the province had been ceded to the United States, which (prior to the cession) had occupied it by its troops in 1898. On the twelfth day of April, 1900, Congress passed an act (31 Stat. 77, 80), section eleven of which (reproduced in the margin)' provided for retiring the Porto Rican coins and substituting American money therefor.

In the pleading on the part of the plaintiff below the fore

1 "SEC. 11. That for the purpose of retiring the Porto Rican coins now in circulation in Porto Rico and substituting therefor the coins of the United States, the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized to redeem, on presentation in Porto Rico, all the silver coins of Porto Rico known as the peso, and all other silver and copper Porto Rican coins now in circulation in Porto Rico, not including any such coins that may be imported into Porto Rico after the first day of February, nineteen hundred, at the present established rates of sixty cents in the coins of the United States for one peso of Porto Rican coin, and for all minor or subsidiary coins the same rate of exchange shall be applied. The Porto Rican coins so purchased or redeemed shall be recoined at the expense of the United States, under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, into such coins of the United States now authorized by law as he may direct, and from and after three months after the date when this act shall take effect no coins shall be a legal tender, in payment of debts thereafter contracted, for any amount in Porto Rico, except those of the United States; and whatever sum may be required to carry out the provisions hereof, and to pay all expenses that may be incurred in connection therewith, is hereby appropriated, and the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized to establish such regulations and employ such agencies as may be necessary to accomplish the purposes hereof: Provided, however, That all debts owing on the date when this act shall take effect shall be payable in the coins of Porto Rico now in circulation, or in the coins of the United States at the rate of exchange above named."


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