Pennsylvania Railroad Company v. Canal Commissioners

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtBlack
Citation21 Pa. 9
Decision Date29 December 1852
PartiesPennsylvania Railroad Company <I>versus</I> The Canal Commissioners.

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21 Pa. 9
Pennsylvania Railroad Company versus The Canal Commissioners.
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
December 29, 1852.

THIS was a proceeding had upon petition on the part of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, by its President, praying for the issuing of a writ of mandamus to the Canal Commissioners. It was

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addressed to the Supreme Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, in September, 1852.

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On the part of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, the case was argued by Meredith and Dallas, with whom were J.R. Tyson and T.S. Bell.

It was inter alia contended that the Pennsylvania Railroad Company was included in the term individuals, used in the Act of 1834, giving authority to individuals to place cars on the Columbia Railroad, and, under such regulations as may be adopted, attach their cars to the locomotive cars belonging to the Commonwealth, for the purposes of transportation. That the term individuals was used in the sense of persons, and that as an artificial person the company would be entitled to place its cars upon the Columbia Railroad, and by attachment to the motive engine of the state. For the meaning of the term individual, reference was made to Richardson's Dictionary, and to Kyd on Corporations.

It was further said, that under the authority of the Act of 13th March, 1847, authorizing the companies of two connecting railroads, with the consent of each other, to run their cars on both roads, and by their contract with the Lancaster and Harrisburg Railroad Company, whose road connected with the state road at Dillersville near Lancaster, the Pennsylvania Railroad became connected with the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, and had the right to have its cars pass over the latter road. But that if the Act of 1847 did not apply to the roads of the Commonwealth, that such right existed under the provisions of the Act of 23d April, 1852, before recited. That from the permission to hold land at the eastern terminus of the state road, was to be inferred the understanding of the state that the legitimate business of the Pennsylvania Railroad was to carry freight and passengers over the whole road from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. That the fact that the cars of the said company were so run at the time of the passage of the Act of 1852, was known to the legislature, and was to be considered in the construction of the Act, it being declared in the Act that the land acquired was to be for such objects "as may be necessary or convenient for the transaction of the proper business of said company, authorized by their Act of incorporation;" and in the previous part of the section it being declared to be for the erection thereon of offices, &c., and for such other objects "as appertain to the legitimate business of the company, authorized by their Act of incorporation, of transporting passengers and tonnage over their road and the Columbia Railroad."

It was further said that a mandamus would not issue where a discretionary power existed; but it was contended that there was

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no discretionary power vested in the Canal Commissioners to make such a contract as the one in question in this case; one made without public notice — for a period beyond their official term — with transporters of merchandise on the public works (which the other contracting parties were alleged to be); to make the state a common carrier; to exclude individuals or any parties from the public works; to prevent the Pennsylvania Railroad Company from attending to their legitimate business "of transporting passengers over it." That the said contract was inconsistent with the policy declared by the legislature in the general Railroad Act of 19th February, 1849, the 18th section of which enacts, that upon the completion of any railroad authorized by the act, it "shall be esteemed a public highway for the conveyance of passengers and the transportation of freight." That the Canal Commissioners cannot make regulations as to the state railroads which were inconsistent with the laws, and that this contract was inconsistent with public law, and was void.

As to the subject of jurisdiction, it was said that the meetings of the Board of Canal Commissioners need not necessarily be held at Harrisburg; but by the Act of 11th April, 1825, may be held "at such times and places as shall be determined by their own adjournments, or by a call from their president, and as shall be most conducive to the public good." Reference made to 2 Pa. Rep. 517, Commonwealth v. Mitchell et al.; Commonwealth v. Clarke, 9 Ser. & R. 59.

Campbell, Stanton, and Champneys, were on part of the defendants.

Objection was taken to the presentation of the application to the Court when sitting in the Western District, it being alleged that the office of the Canal Commissioners was located in the Middle district of the Supreme Court. That the practice of the Court had been not to adjudicate in cases of mandamus except in the appropriate district of the Court. Reference was made to 1 Yeates 46; Id. 155; Id. 476; 2 Bin. 262; 3 Id. 363; 4 Bin. 117; 1 Ser. & R. 382; 8 Id. 211; 11 Id. 73; 4 Watts 154; 1 Whar. 1; 2 Rawle 369; 6 Bin. 5; 9 Ser. & R. 59; 5 Harris 9. That the only object of the Act of 1852, extending the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, was to extend its original jurisdiction in Equity in the cases enumerated in the 13th section of the Act of 1836, and had no reference to the common law remedy by mandamus.

It was said that it had not been shown that the Pennsylvania Railroad Company had by any provision in its charter authority to place passenger cars on the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad. That on the contrary, they could not run a car on the Harrisburg and Lancaster Railroad without the consent of that

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company. A corporation has only the powers vested in it by law: 1 Kyd on Corporations 65; 2 Cranch 127; 7 Id. 299; 8 Wheaton 338. It is to be limited to the powers granted to it. 2 Kent 298; 4 Peters 152; 5 Id. 641; 1 Sumner 47; 13 Peters 521; 3 Kelly 31; 25 Maine 493; 6 W. & Ser. 101; 9 I...

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36 practice notes
  • Voss v. Waterloo Water Co., No. 19,918.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • June 3, 1904
    ...68 N. E. 278, 69 N. E. 675, and cases cited; McManus v. Duluth, etc., R. Co., 51 Minn. 30, 52 N. W. 980; Railroad Co. v. Canal Com'rs, 21 Pa. 9;Winchester, etc., Road Co. v. Clarke Co., 60 Ky. 140;Harding v. Rockford, etc., R. Co., 65 Ill. 90;Pitzman v. Village of Freeburg, 92 Ill. 111. Thi......
  • State ex rel. Cnty. Atty v. Des Moines City Ry. Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 22, 1913
    ...C. R. Co. v. New Orleans, 34 La. Ann. 447. ‘Words of equivocal import,’ said Mr. Chief Justice Black in Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Canal Com'rs, 21 Pa. 9, 22, ‘are so easily inserted by mistake or fraud that every consideration of justice and policy requires that they should be treated as nugat......
  • State ex rel. County Attorney & Fullerton v. Des Moines City Railway Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 22, 1913
    ...v. New Orleans, 34 La.Ann. 429 at 447. 'Words of equivocal import,' said Mr. Chief Justice Black in Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Canal Comm'rs, 21 Pa. 9, 22, 'are so easily inserted by mistake or fraud that every consideration of justice and policy requires that they should be treated as nugatory......
  • Voss v. Waterloo Water Company, 19,918
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • June 3, 1904
    ...City of Laporte, supra; McManus v. Duluth, etc., R. Co. (1892), 51 Minn. 30, 52 N.W. 980; Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Canal Commissioners (1852), 21 Pa. 9, 22; Winchester, etc., Road Co. v. Clarke County Court (1860), 60 Ky. 140; Harding v. Rockford, etc., R. Co. (1872), 65 Ill. 90; Pitzman v. V......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
36 cases
  • Voss v. Waterloo Water Co., No. 19,918.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • June 3, 1904
    ...68 N. E. 278, 69 N. E. 675, and cases cited; McManus v. Duluth, etc., R. Co., 51 Minn. 30, 52 N. W. 980; Railroad Co. v. Canal Com'rs, 21 Pa. 9;Winchester, etc., Road Co. v. Clarke Co., 60 Ky. 140;Harding v. Rockford, etc., R. Co., 65 Ill. 90;Pitzman v. Village of Freeburg, 92 Ill. 111. Thi......
  • State ex rel. Cnty. Atty v. Des Moines City Ry. Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 22, 1913
    ...C. R. Co. v. New Orleans, 34 La. Ann. 447. ‘Words of equivocal import,’ said Mr. Chief Justice Black in Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Canal Com'rs, 21 Pa. 9, 22, ‘are so easily inserted by mistake or fraud that every consideration of justice and policy requires that they should be treated as nugat......
  • State ex rel. County Attorney & Fullerton v. Des Moines City Railway Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 22, 1913
    ...v. New Orleans, 34 La.Ann. 429 at 447. 'Words of equivocal import,' said Mr. Chief Justice Black in Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Canal Comm'rs, 21 Pa. 9, 22, 'are so easily inserted by mistake or fraud that every consideration of justice and policy requires that they should be treated as nugatory......
  • Voss v. Waterloo Water Company, 19,918
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • June 3, 1904
    ...City of Laporte, supra; McManus v. Duluth, etc., R. Co. (1892), 51 Minn. 30, 52 N.W. 980; Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Canal Commissioners (1852), 21 Pa. 9, 22; Winchester, etc., Road Co. v. Clarke County Court (1860), 60 Ky. 140; Harding v. Rockford, etc., R. Co. (1872), 65 Ill. 90; Pitzman v. V......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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