The construction given by the United States to their patents ever since the organization of the government, has uniformly been to the same effect. In several of the States, particularly those carved out of the territories ceded by Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia, and out of the territory acquired by the treaty with France in 1803, and by the treaty with Spain in 1819, the title to a large portion of the lands is held under patents from the United States. Some of these patents were issued upon a sale of lands; some of them upon a donation of lands; and some of them upon a confirmation by boards of commissioners of previously existing grants of the former governments. They were issued to extensive tracts in the territories of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida, and in many cases, they embraced lands in which minerals of gold and silver and other metals existed. Yet in no instance, whether the patents were issued upon a sale or donation of lands, or upon a confirmation of a previously existing grant, have the United States asserted any right to the mines as being reserved from the operation of the patents. They have uniformly regarded the patent as transferring all interests which they could possess in the soil, and everything imbedded in or connected therewith. Whenever they have claimed mines, it has been as part of the lands in which they were contained, and whenever they have reserved the minerals from sale or other disposition, it has only been by reserving the lands themselves. It has never been the policy of the United States to possess interests in land in connection with individuals.
1In some of the States the English rule is followed. See Gold Hill Quartz Mining Co. v. Ish, 5 Oregon, 104 (1873). In New York the rights of the State to precious metals is asserted by the Legislature. N. Y. Public Lands Law, Chap. 317, 1894, §§ 80-85. - Ed