17 U.S. 316 (1819), M'culloch v. State

Citation:17 U.S. 316, 4 L.Ed. 579
Party Name:M'CULLOCH v. STATE OF MARYLAND et al.
Case Date:March 06, 1819
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 316

17 U.S. 316 (1819)

4 L.Ed. 579

M'CULLOCH

v.

STATE OF MARYLAND et al.

United States Supreme Court.

March 06, 1819

OPINION

ERROR to the Court of Appeals of the State of Maryland. This was an action of debt, brought by the defendant in error, John James, who sued as well for himself as for the state of Maryland, in the county court of Baltimore county, in the said state, against the plaintiff in error, McCulloch, to recover certain penalties, under the act of the legislature of Maryland, hereafter mentioned. Judgment being rendered against the plaintiff in error, upon the following statement of facts, agreed and submitted to the court by the parties, was affirmed by the court of appeals of the state of Maryland, the highest court of law of said state, and the cause was brought, by writ of error, to this court.

It is admitted by the parties in this cause, by their counsel, that there was passed, on the 10th day of April 1816, by the congress of the United States, an act, entitled, 'an act to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the United States;' and that there was passed on the 11th day of February 1818, by the general assembly of Maryland, an act, entitled, 'an act to impose a tax on all banks, or branches thereof, in the state of Maryland, not chartered by the legislature,'

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which said acts are made part of this statement, and it is agreed, may be read from the statute books in which they are respectively printed. It is further admitted, that the president, directors and company of the Bank of the United States, incorporated by the act of congress aforesaid, did organize themselves, and go into full operation, in the city of Philadelphia, in the state of Pennsylvania, in pursuance of the said act, and that they did on the --- day of ----- 1817, establish a branch of the said bank, or an office of discount and deposit, in the city of Baltimore, in the state of Maryland, which has, from that time, until the first day of May 1818, ever since transacted and carried on business as a bank, or office of discount and deposit, and as a branch of the said Bank of the United States, by issuing bank-notes and discounting promissory notes, and performing other operations usual and customary for banks to do and perform, under the authority and by the direction of the said president, directors and company of the Bank of the United States, established at Philadelphia as aforesaid. It is further admitted, that the said president, directors and company of the said bank, had no authority to establish the said branch, or office of discount and deposit, at the city of Baltimore, from the state of Maryland, otherwise than the said state having adopted the constitution of the United States and composing one of the states of the Union. It is further admitted, that James William McCulloch, the defendant below, being the cashier of the said branch, or office of discount and

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deposit, did, on the several days set forth in the declaration in this cause, issue the said respective bank-notes therein described, from the said branch or office, to a certain George Williams, in the city of Baltimore, in part payment of a promissory note of the said Williams, discounted by the said branch or office, which said respective bank-notes were not, nor was either of them, so issued, on stamped paper, in the manner prescribed by the act of assembly aforesaid. It is further admitted, that the said president, directors and company of the Bank of the United States, and the said branch, or office of discount and deposit, have not, nor has either of them, paid in advance, or otherwise, the sum of $15,000, to the treasurer of the Western Shore, for the use of the state of Maryland, before the issuing of the said notes, or any of them, nor since those periods. And it is further admitted, that the treasurer of the Western Shore of Mayland, under the direction of the governor and council of the said state, was ready, and offered to deliver to the said president, directors and company of the said bank, and to the said branch, or office of discount and deposit, stamped paper of the kind and denomination required and described in the said act of assembly.

The question submitted to the court for their decision in this case, is, as to the validity of the said act of the general assembly of Maryland, on the ground of its being repugnant to the constitution of the United States, and the act of congress aforesaid, or to one of them. Upon the foregoing statement of facts, and the pleadings in this cause (all errors in

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which are hereby agreed to be mutually released), if the court should be of opinion, that the plaintifis are entitled to recover, then judgment, it is agreed, shall be entered for the plaintiffs for $2500, and costs of suit. But if the court should be of opinion, that the plaintiffs are not entitled to recover upon the statement and pleadings aforesaid, then judgment of non pros shall be entered, with costs to the defendant.

It is agreed, that either party may appeal from the decision of the county court, to the court of appeals, and from the decision of the court of appeals to the supreme court of the United States, according to the modes and usages of law, and have the same benefit of this statement of facts, in the same manner as could be had, if a jury had been sworn and impannelled in this cause, and a special verdict had been fonnd, or these facts had appeared and been stated in an exception taken to the opinion of the court, and the court's direction to the jury thereon.

Copy of the act of the Legislature of the State of Maryland, referred to in the preceding statement.

An act to impose a tax on all banks or branches thereof, in the state of Maryland, not chartered by the legislature.

Be it enacted by the general assembly of Maryland, that if any bank has established, or shall, without authority from the state first had and obtained, establish any branch, office of discount and

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deposit, or office of pay and receipt in any part of this state, it shall not be lawful for the said branch, office of discount and deposit, or office of pay and receipt, to issue notes, in any manner, of any other denomination than five, ten, twenty, fifty, one hundred, five hundred and one thousand dollars, and no note shall be issued, except upon stamped paper of the following denominations; that is to say, every five dollar note shall be upon a stamp of ten cents; every ten dollar note, upon a stamp of twenty cents; every twenty dollar note, upon a stamp of thirty cents; every fifty dollar note, upon a stamp of fifty cents; every one hundred dollar note, upon a stamp of one dollar; every five hundred dollar note, upon a stamp of ten dollars; and every thousand dollar note, upon a stamp of twenty dollars; which paper shall be furnished by the treasurer of the Western Shore, under the direction of the governor and council, to be paid for upon delivery; provided always, that any institution of the above description may relieve itself from the operation of the provisions aforesaid, by paying annually, in advance, to the treasurer of the Western Shore, for the use of state, the sum of $15,000.

And be it enacted, that the president, cashier, each of the directors and officers of every institution established, or to be established as aforesaid, offending against the provisions aforesaid, shall forfeit a sum of $500 for each and every offence, and every person having any agency in circulating any note aforesaid, not stamped as aforesaid directed, shall forfeit a sum not exceeding $100

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every penalty aforesaid, to be recovered by indictment, or action of debt, in the county court of the county where the offence shall be committed, one-half to the informer, and the other half to the use of the state.

And be it enacted, that this act shall be in full force and effect from and after the first day of May next.

February 22d-27th, and March 1st-3d.

Webster, for the plaintiff in error, 3 stated: 1. That the question whether congress constitutionally possesses the power to incorporate a bank, might be raised upon this record; and it was in the discretion of the defendant's counsel to agitate it. But it might have been hoped, that it was not now to be considered as an open question. It is a question of the utmost magnitude, deeply interesting to the government itself, as well as to individuals. The mere discussion of such a question may most essentially affect the value of a vast amount of private property. We are bound to suppose, that the defendant in error is well aware of these consequences, and would not have intimated an intention to agitate such a question, but with a real design to make it a topic of serious discussion, and with a view of demanding upon it the solemn judgment of this court. This

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question arose early after the adoption of the constitution, and was discussed and settled, so far as legislative decision could settle it, in the first congress. The arguments drawn from the constitution, in favor of this power, were stated and exhausted in that discussion. They were exhibited, with characteristic perspicuity and force, by the first secretary of the treasury, in his report to the president of the United States. The first congress created and incorporated a bank. Act of 5th February 1791, ch. 84. Nearly each succeeding congress, if not every one, has acted and legislated on the presumption of the legal existence of such a power in the government. Individuals, it is true, have doubted, or thought otherwise; but it cannot be shown, that either branch of the legislature has, at any time, expressed an opinion against the existence of the power. The executive government has acted upon it; and the courts of law have acted upon it. Many...

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