Jessup v. United States
106 U.S. 147 (1882)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Jessup v. United States, 106 U.S. 147 (1882)

Jessup v. United States

Decided November 6, 1882

106 U.S. 147

Syllabus

1. Section 181 of the Act of June 30, 1864, c. 173, entitled "An Act to provide internal revenue to support the government, to pay interest on the public debt, and for other purposes," does not require that when, pursuant to its provisions, adhesive and other stamps are furnished to the manufacturer on credit, the bond to secure the payment therefor shall be executed to the Treasurer of the United States.

2. Even if taken without the authority of a statute, a bond payable to the United States, with a condition that the manufacturer shall pay such sums as he shall owe the United States for adhesive stamps, would be binding at common law, and an action might be maintained thereon.

3. Under such a bond, any competent evidence to establish the manufacturer's indebtedness for stamps is admissible, whether they were from time to time furnished by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue or the Assistant Treasurer of the United States.

This was an action at law, brought by the United States in the Circuit Court for the District of California against William H. Jessup as principal, and Jabez Howes and others, sureties on his bond, dated Nov. 3, 1869, payable to the United States, in the sum of $10,000 and conditioned as follows:

"The condition of the foregoing obligation is such that whereas the said William Henry Jessup is a manufacturer of friction or other matches, cigar lights, or wax tapers, and whereas, under the provisions of the 161st section of an act entitled 'An act to provide

Page 106 U. S. 148

internal revenue to support the government, to pay interest on the public debt, and for other purposes,' approved June 30, 1864, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue is authorized, from time to time, to furnish, supply, and deliver to any manufacturer of friction or other matches, cigar lights, or wax tapers a suitable quantity of adhesive or other stamps, such as may be prescribed for use in such cases, without prepayment therefor, on a credit not exceeding sixty days, requiring in advance such security as he may judge necessary to secure payment therefor to the Treasury of the United States within the time prescribed for such payment, and whereas adhesive stamps have been delivered, or hereafter may be delivered, to said William Henry Jessup by virtue of said authority, now therefore if the said William Henry Jessup shall make a faithful return whenever so required of the moneys received by him for such adhesive stamps as have been or may hereafter be delivered to him, and of all quantities or amounts thereof undisposed of, whenever required so to do, and shall do and perform all other acts of him required to be done in the premises according to law and regulations, shall well and truly pay or cause to be paid to the Treasurer of the United States for the use of the United States all and every such sum or sums of money as the said William Henry Jessup may owe to the United States for adhesive stamps which have been or shall be delivered to him, or which have been or shall be forwarded to him, according to his request or order, within the time prescribed for payment for the same according to law, and shall and will pay or cause to be paid to the said treasurer, for the use aforesaid, each and every sum of money as shall become due or payable to the United States at the time and on the days each sum shall respectively become due or payable, then the above obligation to be void and of no effect; otherwise to be and remain in full force and virtue."

Section 161 of the Act of June 30, 1864, c. 173, entitled "An act to provide internal revenue to support the government, to pay interest on the public debt, and for other purposes," provides as follows:

"That the Commissioner of Internal Revenue may from time to time furnish, supply, and deliver to any manufacturer of friction or other matches, cigar lights, or wax tapers a suitable quantity of adhesive or other stamps, such as may be prescribed for use in such cases, without prepayment therefor, on a credit not exceeding sixty days, requiring in advance such security as he may judge necessary to secure payment

Page 106 U. S. 149

therefor to the Treasurer of the United States within the time prescribed for such payment. And upon all bonds or other securities taken by said commissioner under the provisions of this act suits may be maintained by said treasurer in the circuit or district court of the United States in the several districts where any persons giving said bonds or other securities reside or may be found, in any appropriate form of action."

While these provisions of the law were in force, Jessup, a manufacturer of friction matches in San Francisco, California, desiring to avail himself of the privilege of obtaining internal revenue stamps on a credit of sixty days, gave to the United States the bond in suit.

The declaration assigned for breach of the bond that Jessup had received from the United States adhesive stamps amounting to the sum of $8,000, which he had neither accounted for nor paid.

The defendants answered, admitting the execution of the bond but denying generally the other averments of the complaint and averring performance, and set up by way of separate answer and defense that under the law and regulations and the condition of the bond mentioned in the complaint, all stamps of whatsoever kind or denomination delivered to Jessup were to be so delivered to him upon a credit not exceeding sixty days; that after the delivery and execution of said bond and before the pretended liability mentioned in said complaint had accrued, to wit, on the 18th day of April, A.D. 1870, the said United States, or some of its officers, made a new contract with the said Jessup, without the knowledge or consent of the defendants Jabez Howes, Robert Henry Elam, and Edward Kallerain Howes (the sureties on said bond), or either of them, whereby the credits for stamps supplied and delivered to Jessup were extended indefinitely and beyond said term of sixty days. The answer further avers that if Jessup has become indebted to the United States for stamps furnished, supplied, or delivered to him, such indebtedness had accrued since the making of and under said new contract and not otherwise.

The parties waived a jury and submitted the cause to the court upon the issues of fact as well as of law. The court found all the issues of fact for the United States and rendered judgment in their favor for the sum of $7,272, with interest.

To reverse that judgment this writ of error is brought.

Page 106 U. S. 150

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