101 U.S. 693 (1880), Anthony v. Jasper County

Citation:101 U.S. 693, 25 L.Ed. 1005
Case Date:April 12, 1880
Court:United States Supreme Court

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101 U.S. 693 (1880)

25 L.Ed. 1005




United States Supreme Court.

April 12, 1880


ERROR to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Western District of Missouri.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the court.


The case was argued by Mr. John B. Henderson and Mr. Joseph Shippen for the plaintiff in error, and by Mr. Alexander Graves, contra.

Mr. E. J. Montague and Mr. Fillmore Beall filed printed arguments for the defendant in error.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE delivered the opinion of the court.

This is a suit upon interest coupons originally attached to bonds issued under the Township Aid Act of Missouri, and presents the following facts:----

On the 10th of February, 1872, the township of Marion, in

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Jasper County, upon a call duly made under the law, voted to subscribe $75,000 to the stock of the Memphis, Carthage, and Northwestern Railroad Company upon certain conditions, and on the 28th of March following the county court made the subscription on the terms and subject to the conditions specified.

On the 30th of March in that year an act was passed by the General Assembly of Missouri, entitled 'An Act to provide for the registration of bonds issued by counties, cities, and incorporated towns, and to limit the issue thereof.' Sect. 4 of that act is as follows:----

'Before any bond hereafter issued by any county, city, or incorporated town, for any purpose whatever, shall obtain validity, or be negotiated, such bond shall first be presented to the State auditor, who shall register the same in a book or books provided for that purpose in the same manner as the State bonds are now registered, and who shall certify by indorsement on such bond that all the conditions of the laws have been complied with in its issue, if that be the case, and also that the conditions of the contract under which they were ordered to be issued have also been complied with, and the evidence of that fact shall be filed and preserved by the auditor. But such certificate shall beprima facie evidence only of the facts therein stated, and shall not preclude or prohibit any person from showing or proving the contrary in any suit or proceedings to test or determine the validity of such bonds or the power of any county court, city, or town council, or board of trustees, or other authority to issue such bonds, and the remedy by injunction shall also lie at the instance of any tax-payer of the respective county, city, or incorporated town to prevent the registration of any bonds alleged to be illegally issued or founded under any provision of this act.'

On the 4th of June, 1872, the county court ordered that $50,000 of the bonds which had been voted should be issued, that the clerk have them registered according to law, and, when registered, that they be deposited in escrow with some responsible banker in St. Louis.

John Purcell was the presiding justice of the court in March. He continued in office until September, 1872, when he resigned, and R. S. Merwin was appointed in his place Oct. 21, 1872. The bonds now in question were sealed with the seal of the court, affixed by the clerk, and signed by Merwin, as presiding

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justice, and by the clerk in October, 1872, but antedated as of March 28. Merwin delivered them during the same month, with the first two coupons cut off, to the Union Savings Bank of St. Louis, for the use of Edward Burgess, a contractor for building the road. In November, Burgess sold them to one Wilson at fifty-five cents on the dollar, and the bank gave them up to the purchaser on his order. Neither the other justice of the county court, nor the court as a court, consented to what was done by Merwin, and the railroad company has never fully complied with the conditions of the vote authorizing the issue of the bonds. No registry of the bonds was ever made, as required by the act of March 30, 1872, and they did not have upon them the certificate of registration. Anthony, the plaintiff below, was a purchaser for value of the bonds from which the coupons sued on were cut, and without any notice that they had been antedated, or were in any respect irregular or invalid.

The Circuit Court, on this state of facts, gave judgment against Anthony, and he brought this writ of error.

All the questions presented in the argument of this case were disposed of inDouglass v. County of Pike (supra, p. 677), except such as arise under the act of March 30, 1872. That act, it is claimed, renders the bonds invalid, because they were not registered and had no certificate of registry on them. Against this it is urged:----

1. That the act does not apply to bonds issued under the township aid law; and,

2. That if it does, the county is estopped from denying that these bonds were actually issued on the day they bear date.

The first objection is, as we think, untenable. It does not appear to have been taken or considered below. While the bonds are township bonds, in the sense that they are payable out of taxes levied on the property in the township which voted them, they were issued by the county. The county court, which represented the county in its corporate capacity, made the subscription voted by the township, and issued the bonds in the name of the county. Under the same authority the necessary taxes are to be levied on the property in the township, and from moneys obtained in this way the county

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treasurer is to pay the bonds and coupons as they mature. The bonds on their face acknowledge an indebtedness of the county 'for and on account of' the township. Since townships have no corporate organization of their own they act through the county, which, for this purpose, represents them as, under other circumstances, it does the people of the whole county.

The act in question...

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