Achison v. Huddleson

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

53 U.S. 293

Achison  v.  Huddleson

THIS case was brought up from the Court of Appeals of Maryland, by a writ of error issued under the 25th section of the Judiciary Act.

It was originally a suit brought in the County Court of Alleghany County, in Maryland, by Jonathan Huddleson, superintendent of that part of the United States Road within the limits of the state of Maryland, against Stockton, Falls, Moore, and Achison, trading under the firm and style of Stockton, Falls & Co., who were the contractors for carrying the mail across the Alleghany Mountains.

The acts of Congress and of the states through which the Cumberland Road passes, were set forth in 3 How., 151, 720. A brief summary is all that is now required.

In 1832, the state of Maryland passed an act relative to the Cumberland Road, proposing to collect certain tolls upon it for the purpose of keeping it in repair. This act contained the following:

'And provided further, That no tolls shall be received or collected for the passage of any wagon or carriage laden with the property of the United States, or any cannon or military stores belonging to the United States, or to any of the states composing this Union.'

The Congress of the United States, by an act approved July 3d, 1832, entitled 'An act making appropriations for certain internal improvements for the year 1832,' gave the assent of Congress to the provisions of the aforesaid act of the Legislature of Maryland, in the words following, to wit: 'And of an act of the General Assembly of the State of Maryland, entitled 'An act for the preservation and repair of that part of the United States road within the limits of the State of Maryland, passed the twenty-third day of January, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two;' to which said acts the assent of the United States is hereby given, to remain in force during the pleasure of Congress.'

It was admitted by agreement of counsel that Stockton, Falls & Co., during the whole time for which the charge for the transit of stages upon the said United States road was made, were the carriers of the United States mails, in four-horse post-coaches, under a contract with the Postmaster-General of the United States, two articles of which looked to the transportation of passengers with the mail.

On the 10th March, 1843, the Legislature of Maryland passed an act, the first three sections of which were as follows:

'Sect. 1. Be it enacted, by the General Assembly of Maryland, that from and after the passage of this act there shall be demanded and received by the toll-collectors on that part of the United States road, within the limits of the State of Maryland, from the owner or owners of every passenger or mail coach or stage passing the gates on said road, the sum of four cents for every passenger carried in the same, for every space of ten miles on said road, and so in proportion for every greater or less distance, which shall be taken and received in lieu of the tolls now established by law on all coaches or stages with four horses passing over said road, and which shall be collected, paid out, and expended as other tolls on said road are collected, paid out and expended, under existing laws.

'Sec. 2. And be [it] enacted, That it shall be the duty of the proprietor or proprietors, his, her, or their agent, to furnish under oath, on the first Monday of every month, to the gate-keeper at number one, a list, showing the number of passengers transported over said road in their respective coaches, for the month next preceding the time when said list is so returned.

'Sec. 3. And be it enacted, That in the event of said proprietors or agents failing or refusing to comply with the provisions of the second section of this act, then and in that case it shall be the duty of the gate-keeper, at gate number one, to demand of and receive from, such proprietor or proprietors so failing, the sum of one dollar for each and every stage-coach passing over said road its entire length.'

In the agreed statement of facts in the County Court, the counsel further agreed as follows:

It is agreed that the stage-coaches, for which the sum of one dollar each is sought to be recovered in this action, were four-house stage-coaches, used and employed by the defendants in the transportation of the United States mails, under the contract in that behalf before mentioned, and that the passengers for the failure of the defendants to furnish the lists of whom, under the act of Legislature of Maryland last above mentioned, the said sum of one dollar per stage-coach is charged and demanded in this action, were passengers transported in the said coaches, carrying the said United States mails as aforesaid.

'It is further admitted, that the number of coaches in which the said mails were carried, were necessary for the said carriage of the said mails, and that there was no unfairness nor fraud, on the part of the defendants, in dividing the said mails so as to use a greater number of coaches for the carriage of said mails than were actually necessary for such purpose.

'It is further admitted, that the defendants did carry passengers daily in the said four-horse coaches, and that the said defendants did not comply with the provisions of the second section of the act of the General Assembly of Maryland aforesaid, passed on the 10th day of March, 1843, as aforesaid, by returning a list on the first Monday of every month, or at any other time, showing the number of passengers thus transported over the said road in the said coaches. It is admitted that the said acts of Assembly of Maryland did not increase the tolls above a sum necessary to defray the expenses incident to the preservation and repair of said road.

'If, upon this statement of facts, the court shall be of opinion that the plaintiff is entitled to recover, either upon the present declaration or upon an amended declaration, for the four cents per passenger for every ten miles, the judgment to be entered for the plaintiff for seven hundred and sixteen dollars. If the court shall be of opinion that the plaintiff is not entitled to recover in either case, then judgment to be given for the defendants; either party will be at liberty to appeal to the Court of Appeals, or sue out a writ of error.'

Upon this statement of facts, the County Court gave judgment for the plaintiff, for the amount mentioned in the statement.

Achison, who was the representative of Stockton, Falls & Co., carried the case to the Court of Appeals of Maryland, where the judgment was affirmed, and he then brought it up to this court.

It was argued by Mr. Price and Mr. Nelson, for the plaintiff in error, and by Mr. Frick and Mr. McKaig, for the defendant in error.

The counsel for the plaintiff in error contended that the provisions of the act of Assembly of Maryland, of 1843, were in violation of the compact between that state and the United States, and referred to in the cases in 3 How., 151, 720.

The counsel for the defendant in error insisted, that this case is clearly distinguishable from the cases of Searight v. Stokes et al., 3 How., 151; and Neil, Moore & Co. v. The State of Ohio, Id., 720. That the act of Maryland, of the 10th March, 1843, is not liable to the objections which prevailed in the cases, in 3 Howard, referred to. That the provision of the act of 1843, on which this action is founded, embracing all passengers in four-horse coaches or stages, is not in violation of either the letter or the spirit of the compact between the state of Maryland and the United States, contained in the Maryland act, passed January 23d, 1832.

Mr. Justice CURTIS 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).