Washington University v. Finch
APPEAL from the Circuit Court for the District of Missouri; the case being thus:
Daily and Chambers purchased of Elliott, in March, 1860, certain real estate in St. Louis, Missouri. For the principal part of the purchase-money they gave him their promissory notes, and to secure the payment of these notes they made a deed of trust to one Ranlett, conveying the property thus purchased, with authority to sell it, on giving notice in a newspaper of the sale, in satisfaction of these notes if they were not paid as they fell due.
The notes were assigned by Elliott to the Washington University, and the money being unpaid and due, the real estate so conveyed was sold by Ranlett in accordance with the terms of the trust deed, to the University, on the 9th day of December, 1862. The trustee made to the University, which was a corporate body, a deed for the land, and the University afterwards sold it for value to one Kimball.
Daily and Chambers were both citizens of the State of Virginia, residing in the county of Mecklenburg, when they bought the land of Elliott, and have resided there ever since. Daily having been declared a bankrupt and one Finch having been appointed his assignee, Finch, along with Chambers, the other purchaser, filed a bill on the chancery side of the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Missouri to have the sale decreed void, and to have the proceeds of the sale of the land by the University to Kimball declared a trust fund for their use; and the court decreed accordingly. The ground of this decree was that the sale by the trustees took place during the late civil war, and that Daily and Chambers were citizens of the State of Virginia, resident within that part of the State declared by the President to be in a state of insurrection. From the decree thus made the present appeal was taken.
Mr. W. H. Letcher, in support of the decree,citing Hanger v. Abbott,  and Dean v. Nelson,  argued that inasmuch as all commercial intercourse was forbidden between the people of the loyal States and those residing in the insurrectionary districts, both by virtue of the act of Congress and by the principles applicable to nations in a state of war, all processes for the collection of debts were suspended, and that the complainants being forbidden by these principles to pay the debt, there could be no valid sale of the land for default of such payment. He also argued that the power in the deed to sell, which required a notice in a newspaper of the sale, was intended to apprise the complainants of the time and place of sale; and that inasmuch as it was impossible for such notice to reach them, situated as they were, no valid sale could be made.
Mr. J. M. Krum, contra, for the appellant.
Mr. Justice MILLER delivered the opinion of the court.
^1 6 Wallace, 532.
^2 10 Id. 158.
|This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).|