My Property I Exam – Founding Father Property Brawl

December 17th, 2013

Here is my second question from my Property I exam. Did you know that the Treaty of Paris didn’t resolve all issues? Nah. That was the Treaty of Jersey! And King George III killed our first president, who happened to hold several life estates. Madness ensues.

The year is 1790. The American Revolution has come to an end. Many of the patriots who fought in the war, including Adams, Cashington, Damilton, Efferson, and Gason, have laid down their swords, and returned to their homes. A massive property dispute, involving the estates of Braintree, Vernon, Monticello, and Gunston, has arrived in the United States Supreme Court. You are a law clerk for Chief Justice John Jay, who has asked you to prepare a memo of no more than five-hundred words addressing the issues raised in this appeal. Seeing that the year is 1790, the United States applies all of the common law property rules, as articulated in the Restatement (First) of Property. No modern developments in property rules apply.

The Revolutionary War has concluded. At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, Adams owns Braintree in fee simple, Cashington owns Vernon in fee simple, Efferson owns Monticello in fee simple, and Gason owns Gunston in fee simple.

The history books record that the Treaty of Paris resolved all of the ongoing disagreements between Great Britain and the nascent United States of America. But a separate agreement, the Treaty of Jersey, signed by the founders of our nation and the royal family, resolved the disposal of other lingering property disputes.

On January 1, 1790, as part of the Treaty of Jersey, the following conveyances are made

  1. From Adams, Braintree to Cashington for life, then to Damilton and his heirs.
  2. From Cashington, Vernon to Cashington for life, then to Damilton and his heirs so long as Vernon is still used for agricultural purposes, otherwise to Efferson and his heirs.
  3. From Efferson, Monticello to Gunston and his heirs, but if Monticello is not used for educational purposes, to Adams and his heirs, but if Adams survives Cashington, to Efferson and his heirs.
  4. From Gason, Gunston to Cashington for life, then to the survivor of Adams and Efferson and his heirs, but if the survivor and Damilton do not get along, then to Gason and his heirs

After the treaty is signed, Vernon is used for farming, and a school opens on Monticello (the University of Virginia).

On July 1, 1790, the following conveyance are made and recorded:

  1. Damilton conveys his interest in Braintree to Cashington
  2. Efferson conveys his interest in Gunston to Damilton.

Things take a turn for the worse on September 1, 1790. Tragically, seeking revenge for his defeat in the Revolutionary War, King George III of England stabs Cashington. Moments before Cashington dies, Cashington points to Braintree, and tells Gason that he can have Braintree.  Cashington dies on September 1, 1790 with no heirs.

After Cashington’s death, farming on Vernon ceases, and the land remains dormant, with no one entering the land. Also after Cashington’s death, the school on Monticello shuts down. Adams goes to Monticello to check it out, and shortly after he arrived Efferson says you are a “blind, bald crippled toothless man,” and stabs him.[1] Adams dies with no heirs. Efferson tells Damilton that he is a “Creole bastard brat of a Scotch pedlar.”[2] Efferson and Damilton get into a biter fight and stop talking to each other.

Suit is filed properly in the original jurisdiction of the United States Supreme Court (it affects “public Ministers”). Chief Justice John Jay (who negotiated the Treaty of Paris) has asked you to prepare the following memorandum.

  • First, identify the present and future interests for Braintree, Vernon, Monticello, and Gunston on January 2, 1790.
  • Second, identify the present and future interests for Braintree and Gunston on July 7, 1790.
  • Third, identify the present and future interests for Braintree, Vernon, Monticello, and Gunston on December 31, 1790.

For each question, be sure to describe explain why Adams, Cashington, Damilton, Efferson, or Gason have an interest, if any, in each of the properties. If a person has no interest in a property, there is no need to mention it. If the ownership of a piece of property does not change from one date to the next, simply indicate that the estates remain the same from the previous date.

[1] Thomas Jefferson actually said this of John Adams.

[2] Thomas Jefferson actually said this of Alexander Hamilton.