17 U.S. 518 (1819), Trustees Of Dartmouth College v. Woodward

Citation17 U.S. 518, 4 L.Ed. 629
Case DateFebruary 25, 1819
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 518

17 U.S. 518 (1819)

4 L.Ed. 629




United States Supreme Court.

February 25, 1819

ERROR to the Superior Court of the State of New-Hampshire. This was an action of trover, brought in the state court, in which the plaintiffs in error declared for

Page 519

two books of records, purporting to contain the records of all the doings and proceedings of the trustees of Dartmouth College, from the establishment of the corporation until the 7th day of October 1816; the original charter or letters-patent, constituting the college; the common seal; and four volumes or books of account, purporting to contain the charges and accounts in favor of the college. The defendant pleaded the general issue, and at the trial, the following special verdict was found:

The said jurors, upon their oath, say, that his Majesty George III., king of Great Britain, &c., issued his letters-patent, under the public seal of the province, now state, of New Hampshire, bearing the 13th day of December, in the 10th year of his reign, and in the year of our Lord 1769, in the words following:

George the Third, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, and so forth, To all to whom these presents shall come, greeting:

Whereas, it hath been represented to our trusty and well-beloved John Wentworth, Esq., governor and commander-in-chief, in and over our province of New Hampshire, in New England, in America, that the Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, of Lebanon, in the colony of Connecticut, in New England, aforesaid, now doctor in divinity, did, on or about the year of our Lord 1754,

Page 520

at his own expense, on his own estate and plantation, set on foot an Indian charity school, and for several years, through the assistance of well-disposed persons in America, clothed, maintained and educated a number of the children of the Indian natives, with a view to their carrying the Gospel, in their own language, and spreading the knowledge of the great Redeemer, among their savage tribes, and hath actually employed a number of them as missionaries and school-masters in the wilderness, for that purpose: and by the blessing of God upon the endeavors of said Wheelock, the design became reputable among the Indians, insomuch that a large number desired the education of their children in said school, and were also disposed to receive missionaries and school-masters, in the wilderness, more than could be supported by the charitable contributions in these American colonies. Whereupon, the said Eleazar Wheelock thought it expedient, that endeavors should be used to raise contributions from well-disposed persons in England, for the carrying on and extending said undertaking; and for that purpose the said Eleazar Wheelock requested the Rev. Nathaniel Whitaker, now doctor in divinity to go over to England for that purpose, and sent over with him the Rev. Samson Occom, an Indian minister, who had been educated by the said Wheelock. And to enable the said Whitaker to the more successful performance of said work, on which he was sent, said Wheelock gave him a full power of attorney, by which said Whitaker solicited those worthy and generous contributors to the charity, viz.,

Page 521

The Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth, the Honorable Sir Sidney Stafford Smythe, Knight, one of the barons of his Majesty's court of exchequer, John Thornton, of Clapham, in the county of Surrey, Esquire, Samuel Roffey, of Lincoln's Inn Fields, in the county of Middlesex, Esquire, Charles Hardy, of the parish of Saint Mary-le-bonne, in said county, Esquire, Daniel West, of Christ's church, Spitalfields, in the county aforesaid, Esquire, Samuel Savage, of the same place, gentleman, Josiah Roberts, of the parish of St. Edmund the King, Lombard Street, London, gentleman, and Robert Keen, of the parish of Saint Botolph, Aldgate, London, gentleman, to receive the several sums of money, which should be contributed, and to be trustees for the contributors to such charity, which they cheerfully agreed to. Whereupon, the said Whitaker did, by virtue of said power of attorney, constitute and appoint the said Earl of Dartmouth, Sir Sidney Stafford Smythe, John Thornton, Samuel Roffey, Charles Hardy and Daniel West, Esquires, and Samuel Savage, Josiah Roberts and Robert Keen, gentlemen, to be trustees of the money which had then been contributed, and which should, by his means, be contributed for said purpose; which trust they have accepted, as by their engrossed declaration of the same, under their hands and seals, well executed, fully appears, and the same has also been ratified, by a deed of trust, well executed by the said Wheelock.

And the said Wheelock further represents, that he has, by power of attorney, for many weighty reasons,

Page 522

given full power to the said trustees, to fix upon and determine the place for said school, most subservient to the great end in view; and to enable them understandingly, to give the preference, the said Wheelock has laid before the said trustees, the several offers which have been generously made in the several governments in America, to encourage and invite the settlement of said school among them, for their own private emolument, and the increase of learning in their respective places, as well as for the furtherance of the general design in view. And whereas, a large number of the proprietors of lands in the western part of this our province of New Hampshire, animated and excited thereto, by the generous example of his excellency, their governor, and by the liberal contributions of many noblemen and gentlemen in England, and especially by the consideration, that such a situation would be as convenient as any for carrying on the great design among the Indians; and also, considering, that without the least impediment to the said design, the same school may be enlarged and improved to promote learning among the English, and be a means to supply a great number of churches and congregations, which are likely soon to be formed in that new country, with a learned and orthodox ministry; they, the said proprietors, have promised large tracts of land, for the uses aforesaid, provided the school shall be settled in the western part of our said province. And they, the said right honorable, honorable and worthy trustees, before mentioned, having maturely considered the reasons and arguments, in favor of the several places

Page 523

proposed, have given the preference to the western part of our said province, lying on Connecticut river, as a situation most convenient for said school.

And the said Wheelock has further represented a necessity of a legal incorporation, in order to the safety and well-being of said seminary, and its being capable of the tenure and disposal of lands and bequests for the use of the same. And the said Wheelock has also represented, that for many weighty reasons, it will be expedient, at least, in the infancy of said institution, or till it can be accommodated in that new country, and he and his friends be able to remove and settle, by and round about it, that the gentlemen, whom he has already nominated in his last will (which he has transmitted to the aforesaid gentlemen of the trust in England), to be trustees in America, should be of the corporation now proposed. And also, as there are already large collections for said school, in the hands of the aforesaid gentlemen of the trust, in England, and all reasons to believe, from their singular wisdom, piety and zeal to promote the Redeemer's cause (which has already procured for them the utmost confidence of the kingdom), we may expect they will appoint successors in time to come, who will be men of the same spirit, whereby great good may and will accrue many ways to the institution, and much be done, by their example and influence, to encourage and facilitate the whole design in view; for which reason, said Wheelock desires, that the trustees aforesaid may be vested with all that power therein, which can consist with their distance from the same.

Page 524

KNOW YE, THEREFORE, that We, considering the premises, and being willing to encourage the laudable and charitable design of spreading Christian knowledge among the savages of our American wilderness, and also that the best means of education be established in our province of New Hampshire, for the benefit of said province, do, of our special grace, certain knowledge and mere motion, by and with the advice of our counsel for said province, by these presents, will, ordain, grant and constitute, that there be a college erected in our said province of New Hampshire, by the name of Dartmouth College, for the education and instruction of youth of the Indian tribes in this land, in reading, writing and all parts of learning, which shall appear necessary and expedient, for civilizing and christianizing children of pagans, as well as in all liberal arts and sciences, and also of English youth and any others. And the trustees of said college may and shall be one body corporate and politic, in deed, action and name, and shall be called, named and distinguished by the name of the Trustees of Dartmouth College.

And further, we have willed, given, granted, constituted and ordained, and by this our present charter, of our special grace, certain knowledge and mere motion, with the advice aforesaid, do, for us, our heirs and successors for ever, will, give, grant, constitute and ordain, that there shall be in the said Dartmouth College, from henceforth and for ever, a body politic, consisting of trustees of said Dartmouth College. And for the more full and perfect erection of said corporation and body politic, consisting of trustees of Dartmouth College, we, of our special grace, certain

Page 525

knowledge and mere motion, do, by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, make, ordain,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
919 practice notes
  • 107 F.2d 271 (D.D.C. 1939), 7165, Merrick v. American Security & Trust Co.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • October 9, 1939
    ...being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law.' Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 4 Wheat. 518, 4 L.Ed. 629, quoted in State ex Page 280 Crabbe, Atty. Gen. v. Thistle Down Jockey Club, Inc., 114 Ohio St. 582, 590, 151 N.E. 709, 711. It can function only th......
  • 98 B.R. 332 (N.D.Ill. 1989), 88 C 6098, In re Elias
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 7th Circuit United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • March 14, 1989
    ...Inc., 458 U.S. 564, 571, 102 S.Ct. 3245, 3250, 73 L.Ed.2d 973 (1982); see also Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 335, 414, 4 L.Ed. 629 (1816) (applying same rule in constitutional context). Nor are we convinced, as a practical matter, that the likelihood of such an outcome i......
  • 654 F.3d 11 (D.C. Cir. 2011), 09-7125, Doe v. Exxon Mobil Corp.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 8, 2011
    ...not have been surprising to the First Congress that enacted the ATS. In Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 518, 4 L.Ed. 629 (1819) (Story, J.), the Supreme Court held that an " aggregate corporation, at common law, is a collection of individuals, united into ......
  • 34 F.Supp.2d 1098 (S.D.Ind. 1998), IP 96-1233, Braddock v. Madison County
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • November 30, 1998
    ...See Restatement (Second) of Contracts §§ 17, 3 (1981); Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 518, 656, 4 L.Ed. 629 (1819) (opinion of Washington, J.) ("What is a contract? It may be defined to be a transaction between two or more persons, in which each party com......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 firm's commentaries
  • XY, LLC v. Trans Ova Generics, L.C. (Fed. Cir. 2018)
    • United States
    • JD Supra United States
    • May 30, 2018
    ...be known because estoppel was never discussed on the record, citing Justice Story's concurrence in Trs. of Dartmouth Coll. v. Woodward, 17 U.S. 518, 697 (1819), for the point that "[t]he fallacy of the argument consists in assuming the very ground in And in a footnote, she makes the broader......
  • Clarifying Justice Marshall’s contract-based constitutional analysis in Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, which confirmed that the cy pres power is a judicial prerogative.
    • United States
    • JD Supra United States
    • February 1, 2021
    ...6 Scott & Ascher §39.5.6. 3696 Scott & Ascher §39.5.6. 370See generally 4A Scott on Trusts §399.1. 371Trs. of Dartmouth Coll. v. Woodward, 17 U.S. 518, 4 L. Ed. 629, 4 Wheat. 518 (1819). See generally 6 Scott & Ascher §39.5.6. 3724A Scott on Trusts §399.5, n.7, and accompanying text; 5 Scot......
  • “Jury Trials are Innately Human Experiences.”
    • United States
    • JD Supra United States
    • November 24, 2020
    ...law. When Daniel Webster argued the Dartmouth College case, John Marshall cried from the bench. Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. 518 (1819). Our history is replete with such examples of the humanity engrained in the American jury trial. This Court is persuaded that the rem......
  • How Elizabeth Warren Is Reviving the Concession Theory of the Corporation
    • United States
    • LexBlog United States
    • November 1, 2019
    ...Santa Clara Revisited: The Development of Corporate Theory, 88 W. VA. L. REV. 173 (1985). [2] Trustees of Dartmouth Coll. v. Woodward, 17 U.S. 518, 636 (1819). [3] Stefan J. Padfield, The Role of Corporate Personality Theory in Opting out of Shareholder Wealth Maximization, 19 Transactions:......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
63 books & journal articles
  • 1975, February, Pg. 231. Federal Remedies for Sexual Discrimination Against Male Divorce Litigants.
    • United States
    • Colorado Bar Journal Nbr. 1975, January 1975
    • January 1, 1975
    ...I leave this case, however, to be settled when it shall arise." Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 4 Wheat. 518, 693-697, 4 L. Ed. 629, 673-674 (1819) (Mr. Justice Story, concurring); accord, majority opinion of Chief Justice Marshall, Id. at 629, 4 L. Ed. at 657; cf.&#......
  • Free speech, free press, free religion? The clash between the Affordable Care Act and the for-profit, secular corporation.
    • United States
    • Suffolk University Law Review Vol. 48 Nbr. 1, January - January 2015
    • January 1, 2015
    ...archived at http://perma.c c/TD97-Q989. (2.) Trustees of Dartmouth Coll. v. Woodward, 17 U.S. 518, 636 (1819) (defining corporations legally). (3.) See Pembina Consol. Silver Mining & Milling Co. v. Pennsylvania, 125 U.S. 181, 189 (1888) (confirming corporations included as persons unde......
  • Conforming to the rule of law: when person and human being finally mean the same thing in Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence.
    • United States
    • Issues in Law & Medicine Vol. 22 Nbr. 2-3, September 2006
    • September 22, 2006
    ...(358) BLACKSTSONE, supra, note 268, at 119. (359) Trustees of Dartmouth College v Woodward, 17 U.S. 518, 667 (360) Id. at 636. This feature of invisibility is useful when comparing the position of fetuses to corporations. (361) Bank of Augusta v. Earle, 38 U.S. 586 (1839); Paul v Virginia, ......
  • Table of Authorities
    • United States
    • Corporate Crime & Financial Fraud: Legal and Financial Implications of Corporate Misconduct
    • April 4, 2012
    .... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28n15 Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. 518 (1918) . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., United States v., 882 F.2d 656 (2d Cir. 1989) . . . . . . . . . . . . . ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT