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Constitutional Law Keyed to Cohen
Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee
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Lord Fairfax of England acquired property in Virginia before his death in 1781. This property descended to his relative, Thomas Martin. In 1777, Virginia passed a statute, which allowed the state to confiscate property owned by loyalist British subjects. In 1789, Virginia conveyed the land, confiscated from Lord Fairfax, to David Hunter. Hunter, in turn, leased it to a third party. Lord Fairfax’s heirs remained on the property and Hunter’s Lessee brought an action for ejectment. The Virginia Court of Appeals sustained Hunter’s Lessee’s claim. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal’s decision holding that the Treaty of 1794, between the U.S. and England, authorized Lord Fairfax’s heirs to maintain ownership of the land. The Treaty of 1794 set certain guidelines whereby the United States and England could resume their relations and allowed English subjects to reclaim property confiscated in this manner. The Supreme Court remanded the case. The Court of Appeals refus ed to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision.
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