MR. JUSTICE FIELD delivered the opinion of the court.
On the 7th of December, 1860, the Commissioner of the
On the following day, Dec. 8, 1860, the Commissioner of the General Land-Office also issued a patent to Stark for land situated within the limits of Portland, claimed by him under the Donation Act, subject, however, to such rights as might exist in virtue of the entry by the city. This patent also covered the premises in controversy.
For several years before these patents were issued, the complainant, with his brother, had been in the occupation, use, and enjoyment of the premises, and had erected upon them expensive and permanent improvements. During this time they asserted, that, by virtue of a certain agreement made by Stark with parties through whom they had obtained their interest, they had acquired a right to have the legal title transferred to them, whenever that was obtained from the United States. After Stark had secured his patent, they applied to him for a release; but he refused to give them one, and threatened them with legal proceedings to recover possession of the premises. They thereupon brought a suit in equity in the State court to compel a release of his interest. In their bill, which was filed in January, 1864, they set forth their long and peaceable possession; that they had made large and valuable improvements; that the defendant asserted title to the premises under his patent, and threatened suits for their recovery; and stated the conveyances under which they claimed, and the agreement upon which they founded their right to a release
Subsequently, the bill was amended by the addition of clauses setting forth the patent of the United States issued to the corporate authorities of the city, in trust for the several use and benefit of the occupants, and alleging that the complainants, as beneficiaries, claimed an interest in the premises under that instrument.
The State court appeared to consider these two grounds for equitable relief — one founded upon the agreement of Stark with the parties through whom the complainants claimed, and the other founded upon the city patent — as inconsistent with each other, and compelled the complainants to elect upon which they would proceed. They objected to the order, but, under its compulsion, elected to proceed upon the city patent. The bill was accordingly amended so as to present their claim for relief solely as beneficiaries under that instrument. The point in contention, then, was, which of the two patents carried the title to the premises. If the patent to the city authorities was valid, Stark took nothing by his patent. If, however, his patent was valid, the city had acquired no interest in the premises.
The State Circuit Court and the State Supreme Court held that the patent to Stark was void as against the complainants, and enjoined him from taking legal proceedings to eject them from the premises. The case having been brought to this court, the decree of the Supreme Court was reversed, and the cause remanded with directions to dismiss the suit. Upon our mandate the suit was accordingly dismissed in September, 1868. In deciding the case, we held that the act of 1848, organizing the Territory of Oregon, did not extend over the country the Town-Site Act of 1844, and that the patent to the city authorities, being made upon an entry under that act, passed no title to the land covered by the donation claim of Stark. His right to a patent had been previously perfected, and his claim had been surveyed before the passage of the act of 1854, by which the Town-Site Act was first extended with qualifications to the Territory. Stark v. Starrs, 6 Wall. 402.
After the suit was thus dismissed, Stark commenced actions
The first question presented for our determination is, whether the complainant is concluded upon that matter in the present suit, by reason of the proceedings and decree in the first suit. While that suit was pending, the complainant acquired the interest of his brother.
It is undoubtedly a settled principle that a party seeking to enforce a claim, legal or equitable, must present to the court, either by the pleadings or proofs, or both, all the grounds upon which he expects a judgment in his favor. He is not at liberty to split up his demand and prosecute it by piecemeal, or present only a portion of the grounds upon which special relief is sought, and leave the rest to be presented in a second suit, if the first fail. There would be no end to litigation if such a practice were permissible. But this principle does not require distinct causes of action, — that is to say, distinct matters, — each of which would authorize by itself independent relief, to be presented in a single suit, though they exist at the same time and might be considered together. The agreement between Stark and the parties through whom the complainants claimed constituted a cause for relief, distinct from and independent of that arising from the interest asserted by them as beneficiaries under the patent to the city authorities. There was, therefore, no rule of law which compelled the presentation of the two causes of relief in the same suit. They required different allegations
To appreciate and give proper effect to the agreement made by Stark with parties through whom the complainant derives his interest, and upon which he founds his claim to equitable relief in this suit, reference must be had to the condition on which land in Oregon was held at that time. The entire land in the Territory belonged to the United States. No provision had been made for the sale or other disposition of any portions of it to private parties. The pre-emption law had not been extended over the country, nor until the passage of the act of September 27, 1850, usually designated as the Donation Act, was there any known mode for obtaining the legal title. And yet the inhabitants dealt in the land as though possessed of the fee. They not only occupied, cultivated, and improved such portions as their necessities required, but they bought and sold it as land is bought and sold where the title has passed out of the government. This dealing in the land without having the title arose necessarily from the settlement of the country before the laws of the United States were extended over it. Indeed, a large number of emigrants from the United States had settled in the country whilst its sovereignty was in dispute with Great Britain. It was not until the 15th of June, 1846, that its sovereignty was determined by the treaty; and previous to this
In the present case, it appears that prior to March 22, 1848, one Francis W. Pettygrove held a claim to six hundred and forty acres, taken up under the law of the provisional government, upon which a great part of the present city of Portland is built. On that day he conveyed his claim, with the exception of certain lots, and all his interest therein, "present and in expectancy," to Daniel H. Lownsdale. In March, 1849, Lownsdale conveyed his interest in the claim, with a similar exception of certain lots, to Stephen Coffin, taking back a contract, to the effect, substantially, that Coffin would hold the property equally for his benefit, and execute to him a good title to one-half of the claim, with the improvements, upon the termination of the contract. In December following, Lownsdale and Coffin conveyed one undivided third interest in the claim to Chapman. The three were, in fact, equal owners of the claim, and styled themselves partners in the property, although
In January, 1850, Lownsdale went to San Francisco, leaving a power of attorney with Chapman, to do any thing pertaining to his interest which Chapman might think advisable, particularly in signing deeds to lots in the city of Portland. Whilst in San Francisco, he met the defendant Stark, who claimed one-half interest in the Portland land claim by purchase from one Lovejoy, who, he asserted, held the claim originally with Pettygrove. A settlement was accordingly made between them. It was agreed that Lownsdale should release, with certain exceptions, all claim to land north of a designated line, now known as Stark Street; and that Stark should release, with certain exceptions, all claim to land south of the line, and confirm certain sales and conveyances made within the tract released to him. This agreement was carried out by a deed of mutual release and quitclaim executed by them on the 1st of March, 1850. The deed confirmed the conveyances of certain lots made by Lownsdale or his attorney previous to Jan. 1, 1850, north of the line, and all subsequent conveyances to March 1, 1850; but with a proviso that Stark should receive the proceeds of the subsequent conveyances. The instrument also provided, that in case any person, with certain exceptions, holding or claiming under Lownsdale, referring to Chapman and Coffin, should refuse to ratify and confirm the deed within six months, Stark might at his option have it cancelled.
Whilst Lownsdale was absent at San Francisco, three blocks were partitioned by Chapman and Coffin among the three owners, one block being taken by each at an agreed valuation. One of them, designated number 78, was assigned to Lownsdale, one, designated number 79, was assigned to Coffin, and one, number 81, was assigned to Chapman. This latter block lies north of the dividing line, within the tract falling to Stark,
When Chapman and Coffin learned of the agreement between Lownsdale and Stark, they refused to ratify it, unless it were modified so as to cover the transfers made by them during Lownsdale's absence, referring particularly to the disposition made of the three blocks. During the previous year, Stark, on leaving Portland, had given a power of attorney to his partner, to do any and all acts during his absence which he could do if present. Accompanying this power was a letter, in which the land claim was mentioned, and a desire expressed that his interest in that claim should be particularly attended to, and the difficulty concerning his undivided half settled. This attorney now undertook to remove the objection urged by Chapman and Coffin, and for that purpose, after some negotiation, he consented to the modification desired. The agreement was accordingly ratified by Chapman and Coffin, modified so as to place the disposition of property made by them previous to the time they received notice of the settlement upon the same footing with the disposition of property before the first of the previous January; and as thus modified the agreement was also ratified by the attorney. Afterwards, during the same year, and in January, 1851, Chapman sold the premises in controversy. A portion of them was purchased from him by the complainant and his brother. The rest of the premises was afterwards purchased by them from intermediate parties. They were all acquired before the patent of the United States was issued to Stark. The different purchasers went at once into
The ratification made by the attorney of Stark, it is said, applies in terms only to the attorney's interest; but the answer is, that the attorney had no interest at the time, and acted only for Stark. If, as a ratification by Stark, it is insufficient in form, because of the manner in which the attorney has expressed his agency in appending his signature to the instrument, a court of equity will look beyond the form of the execution, and, having ascertained the intention of the attorney in signing the instrument, will, if possible, give it the effect intended. The ratification, such as it was, undoubtedly led to the purchase of the property by the complainant and his brother and others. When Stark subsequently returned to Portland, in June, 1850, he was informed of the action of his attorney, and made no objection to it, although he understood that it was intended as a ratification on his part of the disposition of the block in question by Chapman and Coffin.
But more persuasive evidence of his approval of the modification is furnished by his action with respect to the property. As already stated, the documentary title to the entire claim was in Chapman and Coffin. Without their approval, the settlement between Stark and Lownsdale would have failed of any result. Upon the ratification by the attorney, Chapman and Coffin abandoned all interest in any other property than block 81 north of the agreed line; and Stark at the same time abandoned his interest in the tract south of that line, and appropriated in severalty all the other property released on the north. In other words, instead of calling for a cancellation of the deed upon the refusal of Chapman and Coffin to ratify it, as he was at liberty to do, he adopted it as approved by them; for, except as thus approved, it was without any efficacy. He held nothing in severalty, except by their consent; and upon his claim to hold the property released in this way he subsequently obtained his patent from the government, and sold to different parties portions of the land. Under
So far, therefore, as the transfer of block 81 to Chapman is concerned, the deed must be held to apply to it as fully as it applies to the conveyances specially designated and confirmed by that instrument. It operated as a confirmation of the transfer, and gave to Chapman an equitable right to call for a release of the legal title, when that was obtained. That right passed to the complainant claiming under him.
During the several years intervening between this transaction and the issue of the patent, Stark frequently conversed with the Starrs and the other purchasers respecting the property, assured them, in repeated instances, that he would convey to them the legal title when he obtained the patent from the government, and advised them to erect buildings and improve the property. Under his eye, and with full notice, and by his encouragement, the Starrs, and others from whom the Starrs purchased, made the improvements. If in the light of these facts, and all the attending circumstances, the defendant could now successfully impugn the ratification made by his attorney, deny the promises made by himself, and deprive the complainant of the property and improvements, it would be a reproach to the administration of justice. Upon every principle of law and morals, he should be for ever enjoined from the commission of such injustice, and be compelled to quiet the title of the complainant by a release of all claim to the premises.
NOTE. — In Stark v. Starr and Same v. Bacon, appeals from the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Oregon, which were argued at the same time and by the same counsel as was the preceding case, MR. JUSTICE FIELD, in delivering the opinion of the court, remarked: "These cases involve some of the questions discussed and decided in the above case; and, upon the authority of that decision, the decrees in both are affirmed."