Memphisco v. Taxing District of Shelby Co Tenn

Decision Date26 November 1883
Docket NumberGAS-LIGHT
Citation27 L.Ed. 976,3 S.Ct. 205,109 U.S. 398
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Henry Craft, George Gantt, and Josiah Patterson, for plaintiff in error.

J. B. Heiskell, for defendant in error.


This is a writ of error to the supreme court of Tennessee. The question presented is whether the statute of the state under which the defendant assessed a license tax of $250 against plaintiff in error is void, because it violates the contract found in the charter of the company. This charter was enacted November 20, 1851, and, after giving the name of the new corporation and the names of the corporators, it refers for the rights, privileges, powers, and restrictions of the company to the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth sections of an act incorporating the Nashville Gas-light Company, passed November 21, 1849, and declares that those sections, not inconsistent with the first section of this act, shall shall apply to the Memphis Gas-light Company as fully and completely as though the same were fully set forth and incorporated. For any contract of exemption from taxation we must therefore look to the provisions of those sections in the charter of the Nashville Company. These sections contain the usual powers necessary for the successful conduct of the business of the company, its organization, its shares of stock, mode of payment, laying pipes in the street, and the like, and after a careful examination of them we are unable to see anything whatever which expresses a contract for any limitation of the power of the legislature to tax the company or its property. Such was the opinion of the supreme court of Tennessee, delivered on rendering the judgment to which this writ of error is taken. And though this court is bound for itself to inquire in every such case as this whether there existed a contract which might be be impaired, on which subject the court has very recently, at the present term, collated the authorities in the case of Louisville & N. R. Co. v. Palmes, ante, 193, we are unable to discover any reason for dissenting from the opinion of the supreme court of Tennessee on that point.

The section of the charter on which plaintiff's counsel mainly rely as showing a contract is the fifth section, which reads as follows:

'Sec. 5. The said company shall have the privilege of erecting, establishing, and constructing gas-works, and manufacturing and vending gas in the city of Nashville, by means of public works, for a term of fifty years from and after the date of this act. A reasonable price per thousand feet for gas shall be charged in the case of private individuals, to be regulated...

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58 cases
  • State v. Clement Nat. Bank
    • United States
    • Vermont Supreme Court
    • January 16, 1911
    ...that state taxation be equal, uniform, or just. Davidson v. New Orleans, 90 U. S. 97, 24 L. Ed. 616; Memphis Gaslight Co. v. Taxing District. 109 H. S. 398, 3 Sup. Ct 205, 27 L. Ed. 976; Home Ins. Co. v. New York, 134 U. S. 594, 10 Sup. Ct. 593, 33 L. Ed. 1025; Giozza v. Tiernan, 148 U. S. ......
  • Puget Sound Power Light Co v. City of Seattle, Wash 12 8212 15, 1934
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • March 19, 1934
    ...does not purport to protect property from every injurious or oppressive action by a state, Memphis Gas-Light Co. v. Taxing District of Shelby County, 109 U.S. 398, 400, 3 S.Ct. 205, 27 L.Ed. 976; St. Louis v. United Railways Co., 210 U.S. 266, 276, 28 S.Ct. 630, 52 L.Ed. 1054, nor can it re......
  • Chi., St. P., M. & O. Ry. Co. v. Douglas Cnty.
    • United States
    • Wisconsin Supreme Court
    • January 8, 1908
    ...Philadelphia, 24 How. (U. S.) 300, 16 L. Ed. 602;Gilman v. Sheboygan, 2 Black (U. S.) 510, 17 L. Ed. 305;Memphis Gas Co. v. Shelby Co., 109 U. S. 398, 3 Sup. Ct. 205, 27 L. Ed. 976;East Saginaw Mfg. Co. v. Saginaw, 19 Mich. 259, 2 Am. Rep. 82;East Saginaw Salt Co. v. City of East Saginaw, 1......
  • Sanford v. Gregg
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • June 6, 1893
    ... ... conclusive here. Norton v. Shelby Co., 6 S.Ct. Rep ... 1121, 118 U.S. 425, 439; Gormley ... corporations was said to be preserved in the taxing statutes ... by the use of the words 'incorporated' and ... ...
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