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tendency towards greater liberality. By the earlier common law an alien could receive lands under the deed or will of another, but could not take by descent from an ancestor who died intestate. Any title which he received, under deed or will, was subject to be defeated by the act of the State. As the alien could not take by descent, he was regarded as having no inheritable blood. If he died, the land went immediately to the State and a title could not be traced through him. Thus if a citizen died, leaving as his only relative a grandson, also a citizen, who was the son of an alien, he could not take.1
It has been held recently in Connecticut that the commonlaw rule of the exclusion from inheritance of those tracing their descent through alien blood was never adopted as a part of the law of that State.2 In most other States, however, the rule is recognized. Statutes have been passed very generally providing that resident, and in many cases non-resident, aliens may hold land by an indefeasible title, may take by descent, and that title may be traced through them.3
As to estates, it is to be observed that a fee-simple estate one by which the owner holds an absolute inheritable estate has suffered no change in its nature, Conveyancing. but there is in some of the States a relaxation of one of the requirements for its creation. At common law, the estate had to be given to the grantee "and his heirs," otherwise a life estate only passed. By statute in a large number of jurisdictions these words of limitation are unnecessary, conveyance prima facie passes the whole interest of the
The "Rule in Shelley's Case," which was that if an estate for life be given to one with remainder to his heirs, the
1 Tiedeman on Real Property (2d ed.), sec. 675; Hopkins on Real Property, p. 388.
2 Campbell's Appeal, 64 Connecticut Reports, 292.
8 American and English Encyclopædia of Law (2d ed ), vol. ii. p. 76.
4 Hopkins on Real Property, p. 35.
5 Stimson's American Statute Law, sec. 1474.
• Tiedeman on Real Property (2d ed.), sec. 433.
former should take the estate absolutely, has been generally adhered to by the courts but has been abolished by statute in a number of States, so that the first taker has a life estate and the heirs hold remainder interests.1
As to fees tail, [estates which instead of descending to the heirs generally go to the issue of the grantee only,] sweeping changes have been made by statute, the provisions abolishing them in some States and turning the donee's estate into a fee simple, in others transforming the estate of the donee into a life estate, and providing that the one succeeding him shall take absolutely, and in others making still different provisions. In comparatively few States is the law unchanged.
The statutes have altered one feature of the law which might perhaps have become a fruitful source of disorder. At the common law, if one were granted land Life estates. during the life of another and died before that
other, the land, for the remainder of the other's lifetime, was the property of no one. The dead man had but a life estate, and hence there was nothing to pass to his heirs or under his will; the remainderman, whose estate was to vest at the death of the one whose life measured the life tenant's estate, could not take, because the event which was to determine the vesting of his estate had not occurred. The land was open. to the possessor who reached it first, who was called the general occupant.3 By statutes, definite provisions are made as to who shall hold the land; in some cases the heir or devisee being designated; in others the remainderman.*
In no part of the domain of law have the changes in the last two centuries been more marked than in the law governing the property rights of husband and wife. At Husband common law the husband was entitled to the rents and wife. and profits of the wife's land. He could convey the land by a deed which would vest in the grantee an estate for the
1 Stimson's American Statute Law, sec. 1406.
2 See Stimson's American Statute Law, sec. 1313.
8 Robinson's Elementary Law, sec. 88.
* American and English Encyclopædia of Law (2d ed.), vol. xi. p. 378.
remainder of the husband's lifetime, or it could be levied on for his debts and a like estate given to the execution purchaser. If the land was not so conveyed or taken from him and the wife died after having had a child by him, he was entitled to the land for life. If the land was sold and conveyed by deed made by both of them, the money or notes representing the consideration belonged to the husband absolutely. In some States the law has, in these respects, been entirely remodelled and the wife is in the position of a single woman with reference to her real property. She can convey and hold the proceeds as her own or may retain the land, collecting the rents and profits for her own use.
In other States the changes have been less sweeping. It is generally provided, however, that the land shall not be taken for the husband's debts. In other respects, there is little uniformity in the statutes. In general, however, they give the wife wide powers over her land, and are directed to secure to herself and her children the profits of it. Where she cannot convey by her sole deed, it is generally provided that she is a necessary party with her husband to any conveyance.2
Dower still exists as at common law in many States. In others the wife has a third interest for her life only in the land held by her husband at the time of his death, and not a like interest in all of which he was possessed at any time during the continuance of the marriage relation, as at common law. In some States dower has been abolished and the widow is given a certain interest in her husband's lands either for life or absolutely, this interest generally being the same proportion of the estate of the husband as that he would have taken in her estate had she died first.4 At common law, dower attached only to land in
1 American and English Encyclopædia of Law (2d ed.), vol. xv. sec. 817; Fourth Ecclesiastical Society v. Mather, 15 Connecticut Reports, 588, 598.
2 Tiedeman on Real Property (2d ed), sec. 94.
3 Stimson's American Statute Law, sec. 3202 e.
4 Stimson's American Statute Law, sec. 3202 (B).
which the husband had both a legal and equitable title. Now it exists, sometimes by statute and sometimes as a result of a development of the law by the courts, in all lands in which he held the equitable title as well as those in which he has both a legal and equitable title.1
In this country dower generally exists in real property purchased for partnership purposes, after partnership debts have been paid, the rule being otherwise in England.2
Owing to the influence of French and Spanish law, the so-called community system has been adopted in some Southern and Western States, by which the property Community acquired during marriage is treated to a large system. extent as partnership property and is primarily liable for the debts incurred by the parties for the needs of the family. The husband has the right to control the property. On the death of either party the survivor takes it all if there are no heirs, and if there are heirs half goes to them and half to the surviving husband or wife.3
During the last half-century a new statutory estate has been created in this country, known as the homestead estate. It is a species of life estate devised for the bene
fit of the landowner and his family, and is designed to secure the home and a limited number of acres from creditors, making such property exempt from attachment and execution.*
The last two centuries have seen extensive changes in the law of landlord and tenant. The English statute of frauds required the relation to be created by a writing only if for a period of three years or more. This time has been generally reduced here to one year, ment in the direction of the publicity and stability of land
1 American and English Encyclopædia of Law (2d ed.), vol. x. p. 162.
2 American and English Encyclopædia of Law (2d ed.), vol. x. p. 159; Hopkins on Real Property, p. 339.
3 American and English Encyclopædia of Law (2d ed.), vol. vi. p. 293, title "Community of Property."
Tiedeman on Real Property (2d ed.), secs. 158-164; Thompson on Homesteads and Exemptions.
titles. At common law the covenant to pay rent was independent of the covenants on the part of the lessor. Hence, on the one hand, if the building burnt down the rent ran on, and on the other, the non-payment of rent did not put an end to the tenancy. By express provision in the lease, at first, and later by statute, a greater measure of justice was secured for both parties, and generally now the rent is suspended so long as the premises are uninhabitable, and the landlord may regain his property if the rent is not paid or if the lessee does not live up to the other requisites of the lease.2
The statutes have provided minutely as to the requirements of notices to quit, and substituted for the considerable period required by the common law [in some cases six months] a much shorter time - generally from ten days to two weeksas the period which must elapse after notice has been given before the tenant is required to give up possession. Summary proceedings have been devised by which the landlord may regain the possession. These are generally triable in the lower courts, and the litigation can ordinarily be ended and the landlord, if he proves his case, reinstated in possession within a few days.3
In this new country most of the customs which were read into agricultural leases in England and gave a peculiar character to the tenancy never prevailed, and the relations of landlord and tenant are defined almost exclusively by the terms of the lease and the general rules of law.
As to a license to do something upon the land of another, the American courts have in about half the States departed from the English common-law rule that such privileges are revocable at all times, and have held them irrevocable on the ground of estoppel after the
1 American and English Encyclopædia of Law, vol. viii. sec. 668.
2 Hopkins on Real Property, p. 140; Tiedeman on Real Property (2d ed.), sec. 193; Stimson's American Statute Law, secs. 2054, 2055, 2062, 2063.
3 Washburn on Real Property, vol. i. side page 388; Stimson's American Statute Law, secs. 2050-2057.