95 U.S. 48 (1877), Hatch v. Coddington

Citation:95 U.S. 48, 24 L.Ed. 339
Case Date:October 22, 1877
Court:United States Supreme Court

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95 U.S. 48 (1877)

24 L.Ed. 339




United States Supreme Court.

October 22, 1877


ERROR to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.

This action was trover by Edwin A. C. Hatch against Thomas B. Coddington for the conversion of forty-five Minnesota State bonds. Each party claimed them under the Minnesota and Pacific Railroad Company, to whom they had, on the 3d of February, 1859, been issued by the State, under a provision of its Constitution authorizing the issue of such bonds for the purpose of expediting the construction of certain railroads.

The plaintiff claimed title by the following transfers, both dated May 13, 1859:----

'For value received, we, the Minnesota and Pacific Railroad Company, hereby sell, assign, transfer, and set over to Selah Chamberlain and his assigns forty-five bonds for $1,000 each, issued by the State of Minnesota to us, and now in the hands of Thomas B. Coddington & Co., of the city of New York, and authorize and empower him to have and receive the same.

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'In witness whereof, we have caused these presents to be signed by our president, Edmund Rice, and attested by our secretary, James W. Taylor, and our corporate seal to be thereto affixed, this thirteenth day of May, in the year 1859.

[SEAL.] 'EDMUND RICE, President.

'Attest: JAMES W. TAYLOR, Secretary.'

'For value received, I hereby assign, transfer, and set over unto Edwin A. C. Hatch, the forty-five Minnesota State railroad bonds of the denomination of $1,000 each, now in the hands of T. B. Coddington & Co., of the city of New York, and all my right, title, and interest therein, being the bonds issued to the Minnesota and Pacific Railroad Company, and transferred by said company to me.


The bonds had been deposited with Thomas B. Coddington & Co., the defendant's firm, as security for the obligations of a contract which they made with the company on the 21st of April, 1859.

The plaintiff alleged that this contract had been executed by Edmund Rice without authority, and only conditionally delivered, and that it consequently never took effect.

At the date of its execution, said Rice was president, Rensselaer R. Nelson was vice-president, and William H. Newton and said Hatch were directors of the company.

The contract was negotiated by Newton in concert with Rice, both being at the time in New York. As evidence of his authority to make the contract, Rice gave to Newton, to hand to T. B. Coddington & Co., the charter of the company, copies of legislative acts and of the provision of the constitution authorizing the bonds, and also of the following resolution of the board of directors of the company, passed July 13, 1858:----

'Whereas the interests of the Minnesota and Pacific Railroad Company require that no default in the performance of the conditions under which the credit of the State of Minnesota has been loaned to this company shall occur, and that means shall be promptly provided, with the aid of said loan of State credit, to construct one hundred miles of road at an early day, thereby vesting in the company the right to sell, unconditionally, three hundred and eightyfour thousand acres of land: Therefore,

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'Resolved, That Edmund Rice, president of the Minnesota and Pacific Railroad Company, or any agent or agents duly appointed by him in writing to execute the trusts and powers conferred by this resolution, be, and are hereby, authorized and empowered, in pursuance of sect. 21 of the charter, to sell, loan, pledge, hypothecate, or otherwise dispose of the first-mortgage bonds of the company in conformity to the provisions of the trust mortgage deed of said company at par, or any price less than par, and for such sum or sums as to the said Rice or agents appointed by him shall appear most for the interest for the company; and the said president, or such agent or agents as he may appoint, is and are hereby authorized to borrow such sum or sums of money for such length of time and for such rate of interest as to him or such agent or agents may seem proper, for or on behalf of the company, and also to purchase such quantity of iron rails, locomotives, cars, tenders, rolling-stock, and machinery for such road, and upon such terms as he or such agent or agents may deem advisable, and to make, execute, and deliver, in the name and on behalf of siad company, such obligations, bills of exchange, contracts, and agreements, in writing, as will enable him or such agent or agents to carry out the powers and authority above conferred upon him or them, making monthly reports to the board of his acts in the premises; all which acts thereunder done are hereby ratified and confirmed:Provided, that the whole amount of obligations to be incurred on behalf of the company under this resolution shall not exceed the sum of $1,750,000.

'A true copy from the minutes.

[L. S.] 'Attest: JAMES W. TAYLOR, Secretary.'


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