Stoutenburgh v. Hennick

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United States Supreme Court

129 U.S. 141

Stoutenburgh  v.  Hennick

The act in question was passed by the then legislative assembly of the District, August 23, 1871, and amended June 20, 1872, (Laws D. C., Acts 1st Sess. 87, Acts 2d Sess. 60,) and by its first section it was provided: 'That no person shall be engaged in any trade, business, or profession hereinafter mentioned until he shall have obtained a license therefor as hereinafter provided.' Then followed 23 sections, of which the twenty-first is subdivided into 48 clauses. Clause 3 was so amended as to read: 'Commercial agents shall pay two hundred dollars annually. Every person whose business it is, as agent, to offer for sale goods, wares, or merchandise by sample, catalogue, or otherwise, shall be regarded as a commercial agent.' Section 4 of the act is in these words: 'That every person liable for license tax, who, failing to pay the same within thirty days after the same has become due and payable, for such neglect shall, in addition to the license tax imposed, pay a fine or penalty of not less than five nor more than fifty dollars, and a like fine or penalty for every subsequent offense.' And then follows a proviso not material here. A part of the act was repealed by congress February 17, 1873, (17 St. 464.) The twenty-third section, and clauses 20 and 35 of the twenty-first section, and clause 16 of the 21st section, as amended, were repealed and modified July 12, 1876, (19 St. 88,) as were also, on January 26, 1887, parts of clause 38 of section 21, as amended, and of section 15. Sections 1 and 18 of the act of congress of February 21, 1871, entitled 'An act to provide a government for the District of Columbia,' (16 St. 419,) are as follows: 'Section 1. That all that part of the territory of the United States included within the limits of the District of Columbia be, and the same is hereby, created into a government by the name of the District of Columbia, by which name it is hereby constituted a body corporate for municipal purposes, and may contract and be contracted with, sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded, have a seal, and exercise all other powers of a municipal corporation not inconsistent with the constitution and laws of the United States and the provisions of this act.' 'Sec. 18. That the legislative power of the District shall extend to all rightful subjects of legislation within said District, consistent with the constitution of theUnited States and the provisions of this act, subject, nevertheless, to all the restrictions and limitations imposed upon states by the tenth section of the first article of the constitution of the United States; but all acts of the legislative assembly shall at all times be subject to repeal or modification by the congress of the United States, and nothing herein shall be construed to deprive congress of the power of legislation over said District in as ample manner as if this law had not been enacted.' These sections are carried forward into the act of congress of June 22, 1874, entitled 'An act to revise and consolidate the statutes of the United States, general and permanent in their nature, relating to the District of Columbia, in force on the first day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy-three,' as sections 2, 49, 50.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 144-146 intentionally omitted]

Guion Miller, Henry Wise Garnett, Skinwith Wilmer and Archibald Stirling, Jr., for defendant and Archibald Stirling, Jr., for defendant in error.

Mr. Chief Justice FULLER, after stating the facts as above, delivered the opinion of the court.


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).