Farmers and Mechanics National Bank v. Dearing

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSWAYNE
Citation23 L.Ed. 196,91 U.S. 29
Decision Date01 October 1875
PartiesFARMERS' AND MECHANICS' NATIONAL BANK v. DEARING

91 U.S. 29
23 L.Ed. 196
FARMERS' AND MECHANICS' NATIONAL BANK
v.
DEARING.
October Term, 1875

ERROR to the Court of Appeals of the State of New York.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the court.

Page 30

Mr. E. G. Spaulding for the plaintiff in error.

The real question presented in this case is, whether the descount of a note by a national bank,—organized under the act of Congress, approved June 3, 1864,—at a greater rate of interest than allowed by the statute of the State where such bank is located, renders it liable to the penalty for usury provided by the State statute.

The act of June 3, 1864, supersedes the State laws imposing penalties for usury in so far as they are applicable to national banks. Davis, Receiver, &c. v. Randall, 115 Mass. 547; Central National Bank v. Pratt, id. 539; National Bank of Erie v. Brown, 72 Penn. 209; Wiley v. Starbuck, 44 Ind. 298; Tiffany v. Missouri State Bank, 18 Wall. 409; Citizens' National Bank of Piqua v. Leming, 8 Int. Rev. Record, 132; First National Bank of Columbus v. Gurlinghouse, 22 Ohio St. 492.

Mr. Thad. C. Davis for the defendant in error.

No privilege of immunity from the usury laws of the State is conferred upon the national banks by the act of Congress of 1864; and a contract for a loan made in the State of New York with one of these organizations, by which it reserves a greater rate of interest than seven per cent, is void. First National Bank of Whitehall v. Lamb, 50 N. Y. 95.

MR. JUSTICE SWAYNE delivered the opinion of the court.

The question presented for our determination involves the construction of the provisions of the national bank act of Congress of the 3d of June, 1864, 13 Stat. 99, upon the subject of the interest to be taken by the institutions organized under that act.

The plaintiff in error is one of those institutions. The thirtieth section of the act declares 'that every association may take, receive, reserve, and charge, on any loan or discount made, or upon any note, bill of exchange, or other evidences of debt, interest at the rate allowed by the laws of the State or Territory where the bank is located, and no more; except that where, by the laws of any State, a different rate is limited for banks of

Page 31

issue organized under State laws, the rates so limited shall be allowed for associations organized in any such State under this act. And, when no rate is fixed by the laws of the State or Territory, the bank may take, receive, reserve, or charge a rate not exceeding seven per centum, and such interest may be taken in advance, reckoning the days for which the note, bill, or other evidence of debt, has to run. And the knowingly taking, receiving, reserving, or charging a rate of interest greater than aforesaid shall be held and adjudged a forfeiture of the entire interest which the note, bill, or other evidence of debt, carries with it, or which has been agreed to be paid thereon. And, in case a greater rate of interest has been paid, the person or persons paying the same, or their legal representatives, may recover back, in any action of debt, twice the amount of interest thus paid from the association taking or receiving the same, provided that such action is commenced within two years from the time the usurious transaction occurred. But the purchase, discount, or sale of a bona fide bill of exchange, payable at another place than the place of such purchase, discount, or sale, at not more than the current rate of exchange for sight drafts, in addition to the interest, shall not be considered as taking or receiving a greater rate of interest.'

The facts of the case are few and simple. On the 2d of September, 1874, it was agreed between the parties that Dearing should make his promissory note to one Deitman for $2,000, payable one month from date, and that the bank should discount the note for Dearing at the rate of interest of ten per cent per annum. This agreement was carried out. The bank received the note, and paid to Dearing the sum of $1,981.67. The discount reserved and taken was $18.33. The rate of interest which the bank was legally authorized to take was seven per cent per annum. The excess reserved over that rate was $5.50. Dearing failed to pay the note at maturity. The bank thereupon sued him in the Superior Court of Buffalo. He answered, that the agreement touching the discount was usurious, corrupt, and illegal; that it avoided the note; and that he was in no wise liable to the plaintiff. The court sustained this defence, and gave judgment for the defendant.

At a general term of that court the judgment was affirmed,

Page 32

and the judgment of affirmance was subsequently affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

No searching analysis is necessary to eliminate the several provisions of the section to be considered to develop the true meaning of each, and to draw the proper conclusions from all of them taken together.

(1.) The rate of interest chargeable by each bank is to be that allowed by the law of the State or Territory where the bank is situated.

(2.) When, by the laws of the State or Territory, a different rate is limited for banks of issue organized under the local laws, the rate so limited is allowed for the national banks.

(3.) Where no rate of interest is fixed by the laws of the State or Territory, the national banks may charge at a rate not exceeding seven per cent per annum.

(4.) Such interest may be reserved or taken in advance.

(5.) Knowingly reserving, or charging 'a rate of interest greater than aforesaid shall be held and adjudged a forfeiture of the interest which the note, bill, or other evidence of debt, carries with it, or which has been agreed to be paid thereon.'

(6.) If a greater rate has been paid, twice the amount so paid may be recovered back, provided suit be brought within two years from the time the usurious transaction occurred.

(7.) The purchase, discount, or sale of a bill of exchange, payable at another place, at not more than the current rate of exchange on sight drafts, in addition to the interest, shall not be considered as taking or reserving a greater rate of interest than that permitted.

These clauses, examined by their own light, seem to us too clear to admit of doubt...

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298 practice notes
  • National banks: Authority provided by American Homeownership and Economic Opportunity Act, and other miscellaneous amendments,
    • United States
    • Federal Register February 07, 2003
    • February 7, 2003
    ...of an important branch of the public service. They are means appropriate to that end.'' Farmers' and Mechanics' National Bank v. Dearing, 91 U.S. 29, 33 (1875). Subsequent opinions of the Supreme Court have been equally clear about national banks' unique role and status. See Marquette Natio......
  • Bank activities and operations and real estate lending and appraisals: National banks; State law applicability,
    • United States
    • Federal Register August 05, 2003
    • August 5, 2003
    ...appropriate to that end.''\18\ \17\ See Beneficial Nat'l Bank, 123 S.Ct. at 2064. \18\ Farmers' & Mechanics' Nat'l Bank v. Dearing, 91 U.S. 29, 33 Subsequent opinions of the Supreme Court have been equally clear about national banks' unique role and status. See Marquette Nat'l Bank of M......
  • Larabee v. Dolley, 8,810
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • December 23, 1909
    ...its sustenance, and its immortality, if it have that property, will be a very useless attribute.' In Farmers', etc., Nat. Bank. v. Dearing, 91 U.S. 29, 23 L.Ed. 196, Mr. Justice Swayne, delivering the opinion of the court, said: 'The national banks organized under the act are instruments de......
  • Peatros v. BANK OF AMERICA NT & SA, No. S076454.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • January 10, 2000
    ...Bank (1896) 161 U.S. 275, 283, 16 S.Ct. 502, 40 L.Ed. 700; accord, Farmers', etc. Nat. Bank v. Dearing (1875) 91 U.S. (1 Otto) 29, 33-34, 23 L.Ed. 196; Smiley v. Citibank, supra, 11 Cal.4th at p. 150, 44 Cal.Rptr.2d 441, 900 P.2d Section 8 of the National Bank Act of 1864, the ultimate sour......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
294 cases
  • Larabee v. Dolley, 8,810
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • December 23, 1909
    ...its sustenance, and its immortality, if it have that property, will be a very useless attribute.' In Farmers', etc., Nat. Bank. v. Dearing, 91 U.S. 29, 23 L.Ed. 196, Mr. Justice Swayne, delivering the opinion of the court, said: 'The national banks organized under the act are instruments de......
  • Peatros v. BANK OF AMERICA NT & SA, No. S076454.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • January 10, 2000
    ...Bank (1896) 161 U.S. 275, 283, 16 S.Ct. 502, 40 L.Ed. 700; accord, Farmers', etc. Nat. Bank v. Dearing (1875) 91 U.S. (1 Otto) 29, 33-34, 23 L.Ed. 196; Smiley v. Citibank, supra, 11 Cal.4th at p. 150, 44 Cal.Rptr.2d 441, 900 P.2d Section 8 of the National Bank Act of 1864, the ultimate sour......
  • National Bank of W. Va. at Wheeling, In re, No. 10426
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • December 16, 1952
    ...Congress. Bank v. State, 58 W.Va. 559, 52 S.E. 494, 3 L.R.A.,N.S., 584, 6 Ann.Cas. 115; Farmers' and Merchants' National Bank v. Dearing, 91 U.S. 29, 23 L.Ed. 196; Van Allen v. The Assessors, 3 Wall. 573, 70 U.S. 573, 18 L.Ed. 229; First National Bank of Guthrie Center v. Anderson, 269 U.S.......
  • State v. Clement Nat. Bank
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • January 16, 1911
    ...no control over a national bank, nor in any way affect its operation, except as Congress may permit. Farmers', etc., Bank v. Dearing, 91 U. S. 29, 23 L. Ed. 196; Hawley v. Hurd, 72 Vt. 122, 47 Atl. 401, 52 L. R. A. 195, 82 Am. St. Rep. 922. But this doctrine protects the bank only from such......
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