Town of Concord v. Portsmouth Savings Bank

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

92 U.S. 625

Town of Concord  v.  Portsmouth Savings Bank

ERROR to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois.

This was an action of assumpsit to recover the amount of the coupons attached to certain bonds issued by the supervisor and town-clerk of the town of Concord, in the State of Illinois.

The act of the general assembly of the State of Illinois, pursuant to which the bonds recite that they were issued, provides,--

'That all incorporated cities and towns acting under the township organization law, which lie wholly or partly within twenty miles of the east line of this State, and also between the city of Chicago and the southern boundary of Lawrence County, be and the same are hereby severally authorized to appropriate such sum of money as they may deem proper to the Chicago, Danville, and Vincennes Railroad Company, to aid in the construction of the road of said company, to be paid to said company as soon as the track of said road shall have been located and constructed through said city, town, or township, respectively: Provided, however, that the proposition to appropriate moneys to said company shall be first submitted to a vote of the legal voters of said respective townships, towns, or cities, at a regular, annual, or special meeting, by giving at least ten days' notice thereof; and a vote shall be taken thereon by ballot at the usual place of election; and if the majority of the votes cast shall be in favor of the appropriation, then the same shall be made, otherwise not.'

'SECT. 2. The authorities of said townships, towns, or cities, respectively, are hereby authorized and required to levy and collect a tax, and make such provisions as may be necessary for the prompt payment of the appropriation under the provisions of this law.'

Pursuant to a notice for that purpose, an election was held on Nov. 20, 1869, and the legal voters of the town of Concord voted to levy a tax on the taxable property of said town, amounting in the aggregate in two years-to be levied and collected as other taxes-to the sum of $25,000, to be donated to said railroad company, provided said company run the said railroad through the village of Concord, or on its boundaries, and to and through the town of Sheldon, in Sheldon township.

On the twentieth day of June, 1870, the railroad company filed in the town-clerk's office a written notice of the acceptance of the donation, the same being addressed to the supervisor and town-clerk.

The Constitution of Illinois, which took effect July 2, 1870, ordains as follows:--

'No county, city town, township, or other municipality, shall ever become subscriber to the capital stock of any railroad or private corporation, or make donation to, or loan its credit in aid of, such corporation: Provided, however, that the adoption of this article shall not be construed as affecting the right of any such municipality to make such subscriptions, where the same have been authorized, under existing laws, by a vote of the people of such municipalities prior to such adoption.'

On the ninth day of October, 1871, the supervisor and town-clerk executed bonds of the following tenor:--

'UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, State of Illinois:--


'Know all men by these presents, That the township of Concord, in the county of Iroquois and State of Illinois, acknowledges itself to own and be indebted in the sum of $1,000, lawful money of the United States of America, which sum of money the said township of Concord promises to pay to the bearer at the Mechanics' National Bank, Chicago, on the first day of June, in the year 1881, with interest thereon at the rate of ten per centum per annum, which interest shall be payable yearly on the first day of June in each year, at the Mechanics' National Bank of the city of Chicago, upon presentation and delivery of the warrants or coupons severally hereto annexed, until the payment of the said principal sum.

'This bond is issued under and by virtue of a law of the State of Illinois, to authorize cities, towns, or townships lying within certain limits to appropriate moneys and levy a tax to aid the construction of the Chicago, Danville, and Vincennes Railroad, and the faith of said township of Concord is hereby pledged for the payment of said principal sum and interest as aforesaid.'

And they were delivered to the company Oct. 17, 1871.

The case was tried below without the intervention of a jury. The court found for the plaintiff, and gave judgment accordingly, whereupon the defendant brought the case here.

Argued by Mr. George H. Williams for the plaintiff in error, and submitted on printed briefs by Mr. Isaac G. Wilson and Mr. Sanford B. Perry for the defendant in error.

Mr. JUSTICE STRONG 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).