47 U.S. 301 (1848), Planters' Bank v. Sharp

Citation:47 U.S. 301, 12 L.Ed. 447
Party Name:THE PLANTERS' BANK OF MISSISSIPPI, PLAINTIFFS IN ERROR, v. THOMAS L. SHARP, EDWARD ENGLEHARD, AND HENRY HAMPTON BRIDGES, DEFENDANTS IN ERROR. MATTHIAS W. BALDWIN, GEORGE VAIL, AND GEORGE HUFTY, MERCHANTS AND PERSONS IN TRADE UNDER THE NAME, STYLE, AND FIRM OF BALDWIN, VAIL, & HUFTY, PLAINTIFFS IN ERROR, v. JAMES PAYNE, ABNER E. GREEN, AND ROBERT Y.
Case Date:March 06, 1848
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 301

47 U.S. 301 (1848)

12 L.Ed. 447

THE PLANTERS' BANK OF MISSISSIPPI, PLAINTIFFS IN ERROR,

v.

THOMAS L. SHARP, EDWARD ENGLEHARD, AND HENRY HAMPTON BRIDGES, DEFENDANTS IN ERROR.

MATTHIAS W. BALDWIN, GEORGE VAIL, AND GEORGE HUFTY, MERCHANTS AND PERSONS IN TRADE UNDER THE NAME, STYLE, AND FIRM OF BALDWIN, VAIL, & HUFTY, PLAINTIFFS IN ERROR,

v.

JAMES PAYNE, ABNER E. GREEN, AND ROBERT Y. WOOD, DEFENDANTS IN ERROR.

United States Supreme Court.

March 06, 1848

OPINION

THESE two cases were both brought up, by writ of error issued under the twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act, from the High Court of Errors and Appeals for the State of Mississippi.

They were kindred cases, and were argued together. Although the court pronounced an opinion in each case separately, yet the dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Daniel treats them as they were argued, and hence it becomes necessary to blend the two cases together. The facts in each case will be stated, then the arguments of counsel, and then the opinions of the court, with the separate opinion of Mr. Justice McLean, and the dissenting one of Mr. Justice Daniel.

PLANTERS' BANK v. SHARP AND OTHERS.

On the 10th of February, 1830, the legislature of Mississippi

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passed 'An act to establish a Planters' Bank in the State of Mississippi.'

The sixth section of the charter enacts, among other things, that the bank 'shall be capable and able, in law, to have, possess, receive, retain, and enjoy to themselves and their successors, lands, rents, tenements, hereditaments, goods, chattels, and effects, of what kind soever, nature, and quality, not exceeding in the whole six millions of dollars, including the capital stock of said bank, and the same to grant, demise, alien, or dispose of for the good of said bank.'

The seventeenth section gives power 'to receive money on deposit and pay away the same free of expense, discount bills of exchange and notes, with two or more good and sufficient names thereon, or secured by a deposit of bank or other public stock, and to make loans to citizens of the States in the nature of discount on real property, secured by mortgage,' &c.

The twenty-second section enacted, 'that it shall not be lawful for said bank to discount any note or notes which shall not be made payable and negotiable at said bank.'

By a supplement to the charter, passed in 1831, and accepted by the bank, it was provided that 'such promissory notes shall be made payable and negotiable on their face at some bank or branch bank.'

On the 24th of May, 1839, Sharp, Engelhard, and Bridges gave their promissory note to the Planters' Bank for one thousand dollars, due twelve months after date. A copy of the note is not to be found in the record, but the declaration states it to have been 'payable and negotiable at the office of the Planters' Bank of the State of Mississippi, at Monticello.'

On the 21st of February, 1840, the legislature of Mississippi passed 'An act requiring the several banks of the State to pay specie, and for other purposes,' the seventh section of which was as follows:--'It shall not be lawful for any bank in this State to transfer, by indorsement or otherwise, any note, bill receivable, or other evidence of debt; and if it shall appear in evidence, upon the trial of any action upon any such note, bill receivable, or other evidence of debt, that the same was transferred, the same shall abate upon the plea of the defendant.'

In October, 1841, the Planters' Bank brought a suit upon the note in the Circuit Court of Lawrence county (State court). The defendants pleaded the general issue, and a jury was sworn. The declaration and note having been read, the defendants filed the following plea:----

'And now, at this day, that is to say, on the second day of the term aforesaid, until which day this cause was last continued, come the said plaintiffs, by attorney, and the said defendants,

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by attorney; and the said defendants say, that since the last continuance of this cause, that is to say, since the sixth day of the May term, 1842, of this court, from which day this cause was last continued, and before this day, that is to say, on the 10th day of June in the year 1842, at the county aforesaid, the said plaintiffs then and there being the owners of the said note sued on in this cause, and then and there being a bank within the State of Mississippi, and within the intent and meaning of the statute of this State, entitled, 'An act requiring the several banks in this State to pay specie, and for other purposes,' transferred the aforesaid note to the United States Bank of Pennsylvania, contrary to the statute in such cases made and provided; and this the said defendants are ready to verify; wherefore they pray judgment if the said plaintiffs ought further to be answered in this said action, and that the same may abate.

'Personally appeared in open court Thomas L. Sharp, one of the defendants in the above-stated case, who, being duly sworn, upon his oath says, that the matters and things set forth in the above plea are true in substance and fact. Sworn to and subscribed in open court.

THOMAS L. SHARP.'

The plaintiffs demurred to this plea, upon the following grounds:----

1st. Because said plea is not assigned by counsel.

2d. Because said plea does not state the day, year, time, and place of the transfer of said note.

3d. Because the plaintiffs have a right by law to deal in promissory notes, bills of exchange, &c., secured by charter.

4th. Because the statute, the title of which is recited in said plea, is, so far as relates to transfers of notes, bills receivable, or other evidence of debt, unconstitutional.

5th. The said plea does not state to what term said cause was continued.

6th. That said plea does not allege that said note was transferred for value received.

7th. That said plea is a plea in bar of this action, but does not conclude in manner and form as provided by law.

8th. That said plea was not presented until issue joined under the plea of non assumpsit, and the declaration and note read, and a jury impanelled to try said issue.

9th. That the statute referred to in said plea does not affect the plaintiffs.

10th. That the said defendants did not tender the costs of suit in said case, up to the time of their tendering said plea, with said plea.

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11th. That said plea is not entitled in this cause.

12th. That the affidavit subjoined to said plea is not sufficient.

The defendants having joined in demurrer, the court, after argument, overruled it, and leave being granted to the plaintiffs to reply to the plea, an issue was joined in short by consent, and the cause proceeded, when the jury found a verdict for the defendants.

A bill of exceptions was taken by the plaintiffs' counsel, as follows, viz.:----

'Be it remembered, that on the trial of the above cause at the term aforesaid, after the case was submitted to the jury, and after the plaintiff had introduced his evidence upon the issue joined, the defendant introduced a witness, who proved that, since the suit in the above case was instituted, the note had been transferred to the United States Bank of Pennsylvania, the defendants offered a plea, in the words and figures following, to wit: [Then followed the plea above recited.]

'To the receiption of said plea the counsel for the plaintiffs objected, which objection was overruled; to which opinion of the court the counsel for plaintiffs except, and having reduced their exceptions to writing before the jury retired, pray the same may be signed [and] sealed.

'Given under my hand and seal this 6th December, 1842.

(Signed,) A. G. BROWN. [SEAL.]'

Upon this exception, the case was carried up to the High Court of Errors and Appeals, which, at December term, 1842, pronounced the following judgment:----

'This cause having been submitted at a former term of this court, and the same having been duly considered by the court, it is ordered and adjudged, that the judgment of the Circuit Court of Lawrence county, rendered against the plaintiffs in error at the December term thereof, A. D. 1842, be and the same is hereby reversed, because rendered as a judgment in bar; and this court, proceeding to render the judgment that should have been pronounced by the court below, doth order and adjudge, that the plaintiffs in error, the plaintiffs in the court below, take nothing by their writ, and that the suit be abated.'

To review this judgment, a writ of error brought the case up to this court.

BALDWIN, VAIL, AND HUFTY, v. JAMES PAYNE AND OTHERS.

Matthias W. Baldwin, George Vail, and George W. Hufty, copartners, brought this action on the 15th April, 1841, in the

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Circuit Court of Jefferson county, Mississippi, against James Payne, Abner E. Green, and Robert Y. Wood, the makers, and the Mississippi Railroad Company, the indorsers, of two certain promissory notes, each in the sum of $6,283.95, payable at the Merchants' Bank, New Orleans, the first, sixty days after December 4, 1839, and the other ninety days thereafter. The notes were without date on their face, and were discounted, at the instance of Payne, one of the makers, by the Mississippi Railroad Company, under their banking powers, on the said 4th December, 1839, to whose order they were made payable, and were by said company, on the 1st day of April, 1841, indorsed over, transferred, and delivered to the plaintiffs, for a valuable consideration.

The defendants, Payne, Green, and Wood, were served with process, and appeared and pleaded the general issue. They also pleaded the following special plea...

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