Board or Directors of the Chicago Theological Seminary v. Illinois Samuel B Raymond

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

188 U.S. 662

Board or Directors of the Chicago Theological Seminary  v.  Illinois Samuel B Raymond

 Argued: and Submitted January 20, 21, 1903. --- Decided: February 23, 1903

These cases, between the same parties, come here by writs of error to the supreme court of Illinois, which held certain property of the plaintiff in error not exempt from taxation. 189 Ill. 439, 59 N. E. 977.

The case No. 140 involves taxes for the year 1899, and No. 265 for the year 1900.

The plaintiff in error claims exemption under its charter, passed in 1855, entitled 'An Act to Incorporate the Chicago Theological Seminary,' a copy of which is set forth in the margin.

The supreme court of the state held that the provision granting the exemption from taxation in § 5 referred only to property used in connection with the seminary, and did not include other property which might be owned, rented, or held by the seminary as an investment, although the income thereof was used solely for school purposes. Accordingly, property which was not so included, and which is involved in these actions, was taxed under the general taxing law of the state, enacted in

Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the People of the state of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly, That Stephen Peet (and twenty-three other persons, named in the act), and their successors be, and they hereby are, created a body politic and corporate, to be styled 'The Board of Directors of the Chicago Theological Seminary,' and by that name and style to remain and have perpetual succession, with full power to sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded; to acquire, Lold, and convey property, real and personal; to have and use a common seal; to alter and renew the same at pleasure; to make and alter a constitution and by-laws for the conducting and government of said institution, and fully to do whatever may be necessary to carry out the object of this act of incorporation.

Sec. 2. That the seminary shall be located in or near the city of Chicago. The object shall be to furnish instruction and the means of education to young men preparing for the gospel ministry, and the institution shall be equally open to all denominations of Christians for this purpose.

Sec. 3. That the board of directors shall consist of twenty-four members, nine of whom shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. The directors shall hereafter be elected in accordance with the provisions of the constitution under which they act, and shall hold their office until their successors are appointed.

Sec. 4. The board of directors shall have power to appoint an executive committee and such agents as they may deem necessary, and such officers, professors, and teachers as the government and instruction of the seminary may require, and prescribe their duties, to remove any of them for sufficient reasons, and prescribe and direct the course of studies to be pursued in the institution; also to confer such degrees as are consistent with the object of the institution.

Sec. 5. That the property, of whatever kind or description, belonging or appertaining to said seminary, shall be forever free and exempt from all taxation, for all purposes whatsoever.

Sec. 6. This act to take effect and be in force from and after its passage, and it shall be deemed a public act, and shall be construed liberally in all courts for the purposes therein expressed. 1872. In enforcing the taxation of the outside property of plaintiff in error under that act, it is claimed that the obligation of the contract contained in the act of 1855, the charter of the plaintiff in error, was impaired.

It is conceded that the charter of incorporation was duly accepted, and that, acting on the faith of its provision, the plaintiff in error has acquired by donation and purchase a part of the real estate on which the taxes in question were levied, and, in addition, has expended in the erection and purchase of buildings on the real estate owned by it an amount exceeding $200,000, and a large number of students have been and are being instructed by it in pursuance of its charter. The pieces of real estate upon which the taxes in these cases were levied were acquired by the plaintiff in error by gift or purchase, and were held by it to promote the objects for which it was incorporated, and the rentals received from such real estate are used for those purposes, although the property is not used in immediate connection with the seminary.

Messrs. John J. Herrick and David Fales for plaintiff in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 664-670 intentionally omitted]

Messrs. Edwin W. Sims, Frank L. Shepard, and William F. Struckman for defendant in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 670-672 intentionally omitted]

Mr. Justice Peckham, after making the foregoing statement of facts, 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).