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Porto Rico

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PORTO RICO. By the ratification of the treaty of peace with Spain, Porto Rico be came subject to the legislative power of Congress, but, pending the action of Con gress, and the necessary delay in establish ing civil government, there was no inter regnmin, and the authority to govern the ter ritory ceded by the treaty was, by the law applicable to conquest and cession, under the military control of the president as com mander-in-chief ; Santiago v. Nogueras, 214 U. S. 260, 29 Sup. Ct. 608, 53 L. Ed. 989. The purpose of the organic act of April 12, 1900, was to give local self-government, con ferring an autonomy similar to that of the states : Gromer v. Dredging Co., 224 U. S. 362, 32 Sup. Ct. 499, 56 L. Ed. 801; Porto Rico v. Rosaly Y Castillo, 227 U. S. 270, 33 Sup. Ct. 352, 57 L. Ed. 507.

Since April 11, 1899, Porto Rico has been de facto and de hi/•e American territory. Its history and its legal and political institu tions up to its annexation are matters which must be recognized, as are the ancient laws and institutions of many of our states, when matters come before it from their several jurisdictions. The court will take judicial notice of the Spanish law as far as it ef fects our insular possessions. It is pro tanto no longer foreign law; Ponce v. Church, 210 U. S. 296, 28 Sup. Ct. 737, 52 L. Ed. 1068. While it has not for all purposes been in corporated into the United States, it is not foreign territory ; De Lima v. Bidwell, 182 U. S. 1, 21 Sup. Ct. 743, 45 L. Ed. 1041; nor are its citizens aliens ; American R. Co. v. Didricksen, 227 U. S. 145, 33 Sup. Ct. 224, 57 L. Ed. 456, following Gonzales v. Williams, 192 U. S. 1, 24 Sup. Ct. 171, 48 L. Ed. 317. Its organization is in most essentials that of a territory; American R. Co. v. Didrick sen, 227 U. S. 115, 33 Sup. Ct. 224, 57 L. Ed.

456, following New York v. Bingham, 211 U. S. 468, 29 Sup. Ct. 190, 53 L. Ed. 286.

When Spain's sovereignty was withdrawn, the Spanish Governor-General and all other officers of the crown of Spain whose author ity consisted in the exercise of the royal prerogatives delegated to them, ceased to ex ercise such authority, and the powers pos sessed by them under the royal decree of 1878 in regard to the formation of corpora tions did not pass to the authority of the United States ; Moore, Int. Law § 93.

By the act of April 12, 1900, in relation to the government of Porto Rico, the commis sioner of navigation was empowered to make such regulations, subject to the approval of the secretary of the treasury, as he might deem expedient for the nationalization of all vessels owned by the inhabitants on the date of the exchange of the ratifications of the treatry of cession, and which continued to be so owned up to the time of such national ization, and for their admission to all the benefits of the coasting trade of the United States.

The power to dispose permanently of the public lands and property rests in congress and, in the a bgence of a statute conferring such power, cannot be exercised by the ex ecutive; 1 Moore, Int. L. § 93.

The title of the Roman Catholic church in Porto Rico to churches erected and dedicated to religious uses, is not affected by the fact that some of the funds for building or re pairing them were public funds appropriated by the municipality of Ponce, where such appropriations were made without reserva tion or restriction ; Ponce v. Roman Catholic Church. 210 U. S. 296, 28 Sup. Ct. 737, 52 L. Ed. 1068.