State of Tennessee v. Whitworth

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtS. Watson; WAITE
Citation117 U.S. 129,6 S.Ct. 645,29 L.Ed. 830
PartiesSTATE OF TENNESSEE v. WHITWORTH, Trustee, etc. 1 Filed
Decision Date01 March 1886

6 S.Ct. 645
117 U.S. 129
29 L.Ed. 830
STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
WHITWORTH, Trustee, etc.1
Filed March 1, 1886.

This is a suit in mandamus, brought by the state of Tennessee, in the circuit court of Davidson county, against

Page 130

George K. Whitworth, the trustee and tax collector of that county, to require him to assess for taxation the shares of stock in the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railroad Company. After the suit had been begun in the state court it was removed by Whitworth to the circuit court of the United States for the Middle district of Tennessee, under the act of March 3, 1875, c. 137, (18 St. 470,) on the ground that the suit was one arising under the constitution of the United States.

The case is as follows: The Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad Company, now, by consolidation with the Nashville & Northwestern Railroad Company and a change of name, the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railroad Company, was incorporated by the legislature of Tennessee, December 11, 1845, to build and operate a railroad. Section 38 of its charter is in these words:

'Sec. 38. The capital stock of said company shall be forever exempt from taxation, and the road, with all its fixtures and appurtenances, including workshops, warehouses, and vehicles of transportation, shall be exempt from taxation for the period of twenty years from the completion of the road, and no longer.' The act incorporating the Nashville & Northwestern Railroad Company contained a provision identical with this.

The question is whether this provision has the effect of a contract by the state for the exemption from taxation in Tennessee of the shares of the capital stock of the corporation. The capital stock was by the charter divided into shares of $25 each, to be subscribed for on books opened for that purpose. It was also provided that as soon as the requisite number of shares had been subscribed 'the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad Company shall be regarded as formed,' and 'the said subscribers to the stock shall form a body politic and corporate in deed and in law, by the name and for the purpose' specified. Fifty cents on each share was to be paid in money at the time of subscribing. Sections 9, 12, 15, 16, and 17 are as follows:

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'Sec. 9. As soon as the number of forty thousand shares shall have been subscribed, it shall be the duty of the commissioners appointed to declare the same to appoint a time for the stockholders to meet in Nashville, and give notice thereof by publication in some of the newspapers of Nashville, at which time and place the said stockholders, in person or by proxy, shall proceed to elect the directors of the company, and to enact all such regulations, rules, and by-laws as may be necessary for the government of the corporation and the transaction of its business. The persons elected directors at this meeting shall serve for such period, not exceeding one year, as the stockholders may direct; and at this meeting the stockholders shall fix on the day and place or places where the subsequent elections of directors shall be held; and such elections shall thenceforth be annually made. But if the day of annual election should pass without any election of directors, the corporation shall not be thereby dissolved, but it shall be lawful on any other day to hold and make such election in such manner as may be prescribed by a by-law of the corporation.'

'Sec. 12. The board of directors shall not exceed, in their contracts, the amount of the capital of the corporation, and of the funds which the company may have borrowed and placed at the disposal of the board; and in case they should do so, the president and directors who may be present at the meeting at which such contract or contracts so exceeding the amount aforesaid shall be made, shall be jointly and severally liable for the excesses, both to the contractor or contractors and the corporation: provided, that any one may discharge himself from such liability by voting against such contract or contracts, and causing such vote to be recorded on the minutes of the board, and giving notice thereof to the next general meeting of the stockholders.'

'Sec. 15. The board of directors may call for the payment of twenty-four and a half dollars on each share of stock, in sums not exceeding two dollars in every thirty days: provided, that twenty days' notice be given of such call in at least one public newspaper of the state in which any of the stockholders may reside; and a failure to pay, or secure to be paid,

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according to the rules of the company, any of the installments so called, as aforesaid, shall induce a forfeiture of the share or shares on which default shall be so made, and all payments thereon, and the same shall vest in and belong to the company, and may be restored to the owner or owners by the board of directors, if they deem proper, on the payment of all arrears on such shares, and legal interest thereon; or the directors may waive the forfeiture after thirty days' default, and sue the stockholders for the installments due, at their discretion.

'Sec. 16. The stock of said company may be transferred in such manner and form as may be directed by the by-laws of the said corporation.

'Sec. 17. The said company may at any time increase its capital to a sum sufficient to complete the said road, and stock it with everything necessary to give it full operation and effect, either by opening books for new stock, or by selling such new stock, or by borrowing money on the credit of the company, and on the mortgage of its charter and works; and the...

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101 practice notes
  • State v. Clement Nat. Bank
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • January 16, 1911
    ...interests, and the state can impose a tax upon each. People v. Worthington, 21 Ill. 171, 74 Am. Dec. 80. See Tennessee v. Whitworth, 117 U. S. 129, 6 Sup. Ct. 645, 29 L. Ed. 830. The failure to tax one would have no bearing upon the right to tax the other. It would seem from this that a bor......
  • Town Of Weston v. Ralston
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 12, 1900
    ...rights of the owner in such property may be affected by the statements of the latter." Jones, Ev. §§ 240, 241. See Railway Co. v. Ohle, 117 U. S. 129, 6 Sup. Ct. 632, 29 L. Ed. 837; Delaware Co. Com'rs v. Diebold Safe & Lock Co., 133 U. S. 473, 10 Sup. Ct. 399, 33 L. Ed. 674; Pope v. Allis,......
  • Neptune Mut. Ass'n, Ltd. of Bermuda v. U.S., Nos. 88-1275
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
    • November 30, 1988
    ...Neptune is subject to double taxation on the same insurance transactions. Double taxation is never to be presumed, Tennessee v. Whitworth, 117 U.S. 129, 137, 6 S.Ct. 645, 647, 29 L.Ed. 830 (1886), and the IRS makes no claim to assess double taxation here. If the tax laws are to impose doubl......
  • Wingfield v. South Carolina Tax Comm'n, (No. 12499.)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • September 25, 1928
    ...do, it is because the Legislature has unmistakably so enacted. All presumptions are against such an imposition." Tennessee v. Whitworth, 117 U. S. 129, 6 S. Ct. 645, 29 L. Ed. 830. See, also, Georgia Railway Co. v. Wright, 125 Ga. 589, 54 S. E. 52; State v. Gravbeal, 60 W. Va. 357, 55 S. E.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
101 cases
  • State v. Clement Nat. Bank
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • January 16, 1911
    ...interests, and the state can impose a tax upon each. People v. Worthington, 21 Ill. 171, 74 Am. Dec. 80. See Tennessee v. Whitworth, 117 U. S. 129, 6 Sup. Ct. 645, 29 L. Ed. 830. The failure to tax one would have no bearing upon the right to tax the other. It would seem from this that a bor......
  • Town Of Weston v. Ralston
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 12, 1900
    ...rights of the owner in such property may be affected by the statements of the latter." Jones, Ev. §§ 240, 241. See Railway Co. v. Ohle, 117 U. S. 129, 6 Sup. Ct. 632, 29 L. Ed. 837; Delaware Co. Com'rs v. Diebold Safe & Lock Co., 133 U. S. 473, 10 Sup. Ct. 399, 33 L. Ed. 674; Pope v. Allis,......
  • Neptune Mut. Ass'n, Ltd. of Bermuda v. U.S., Nos. 88-1275
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
    • November 30, 1988
    ...Neptune is subject to double taxation on the same insurance transactions. Double taxation is never to be presumed, Tennessee v. Whitworth, 117 U.S. 129, 137, 6 S.Ct. 645, 647, 29 L.Ed. 830 (1886), and the IRS makes no claim to assess double taxation here. If the tax laws are to impose doubl......
  • Wingfield v. South Carolina Tax Comm'n, (No. 12499.)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • September 25, 1928
    ...do, it is because the Legislature has unmistakably so enacted. All presumptions are against such an imposition." Tennessee v. Whitworth, 117 U. S. 129, 6 S. Ct. 645, 29 L. Ed. 830. See, also, Georgia Railway Co. v. Wright, 125 Ga. 589, 54 S. E. 52; State v. Gravbeal, 60 W. Va. 357, 55 S. E.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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