251. Title is acquired by the state
(a) By discovery, conquest, and treaty.
(b) By confiscation and escheat.
(d) By ordinary transfer from individuals.
Discovery, Conquest, and Treaty.
In the United States the title to the land was acquired by European governments by discovery. The rights so gained were claimed to be exclusive against other nations, though certain rights were recognized in the Indians as occupants.1 Great Britain acquired title to the land within the limits of the original colonies partly by discovery and partly by conquests and treaties. Eights so acquired were granted to proprietors and corporations, and these in turn purchased the rights of the Indians. These conveyances by the Indians were held not to convey the freehold, but merely to release the rights of the grantors.2 Private persons were, in the main, prohibited from buying lands from the Indians without authority from the government of the colony in which the lands were situated.3 The rights of the crown of Great Britain passed as a result of the Revolutionary War to the states and to the United States.4 The rights of the states in land thus acquired, which had not been disposed of to actual set thus, were nearly all conveyed at a later time to the general government. The lands held by the United States as public domain have been increased since that time by various treaties and purchases, the treatment of which pertains rather to history than to law.
1 Martin v. Waddell's Lessee, 16 Pet. 367; Fletcher v. Peck, 6 Cranch, 87. See, as to Indian titles, 1 Dembitz, Land Tit. § 65.
Confiscation and Escheat.
In some states the lands of persons convicted of treason or felony are confiscated by the state, 5 and in nearly all of the states, if a person dies intestate, leaving no heirs, his real property escheats to the state.6 This kind of escheat is not the same as the feudal escheat which a lord could claim on the death of his tenant without heirs.7