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Johnson v. McIntosh (1823, Marshall)
Transcript of Johnson v. McIntosh (1823, Marshall)
Major people involved
fourth Chief Justice of the United States(1801–1835)
Treasurer of the Indiana Territory under William Henry Harrison
Real estate entrepreneur
Included plaintiffs (inheritors of Thomas Johnson-acquired acreage of purchased land)
The first Governor of Maryland
A delegate to the Continental Congress and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Circumstances/Situation of the Case
Should Indians have the right to transfer land title to private citizens or only the federal government?
The Court went on to say that the Indians did not own land outright, but that they had rights to occupy lands and only the discovering nation (U.S.) could settle those land rights.
John Marshall uses the "discovery doctrine" as reference in order to emphasize how European power gains radical title to the land it discovers. Marshall also claimed that when they declared independence from Great Britain, the United States government inherited the British right of preemption over Native American lands.
Implications/Long Lasting Effects:
The greatest legal significance is its standing as the first of three cases known as the "Marshall trilogy". While limiting tribal sovereignty, Marshall took pains to protect it. Marshall demonstrated his doubts about the United States’ conquest of native peoples and wanted to offer American Indians protection through the courts. Eventually, Marshall’s later opinion in Worcester v. Georgia, holding that Indian sovereignty was not subject to state laws, reinforced these protections.
The decision is also viewed as an economic strategy because it is understood to be part of the federal government's strategy to establish itself as the only entity with which the Indians could conduct business.
The case deals with major dispute over a land parcel of some 12,000 acres in present-day southern Illinois. Thomas Johnson, as a member of the United Land Company, had allegedly bought land from Piankeshaw Native American tribes in 1773 and 1775. Although, the defendant, William McIntosh obtained title through his subsequent purchase of the same 12,000-acre parcel from the federal government in 1815.