Bank of Columbia v. Okely
17 U.S. 235

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U.S. Supreme Court

Bank of Columbia v. Okely, 17 U.S. 4 Wheat. 235 235 (1819)

Bank of Columbia v. Okely

17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 235

Syllabus

The Act of Assembly of Maryland of 1793, ch. 30, incorporating the Bank of Columbia and giving to the corporation a summary process by execution in the nature of an attachment against its debtors who have by an express consent in writing made the bonds, bills, or notes by them drawn or endorsed negotiable at the bank is not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States or of Maryland.

But the last provision in the act of incorporation, which gives this summary process to the bank, is no part of its corporate franchises, and may be repealed of altered at pleasure by the legislative will.

This was a proceeding in the court below under the Act of Assembly of Maryland of 1793, c. 30, incorporating the Bank of Columbia, the 14th section of which is in these words:

"And whereas it is absolutely necessary that debts due to the said bank should be punctually paid to enable the directors to calculate with certainty and precision on meeting the demands that may be made upon them, be it enacted that whenever any person or persons are indebted to the said bank for moneys borrowed by them or for bonds, bills, or notes

Page 17 U. S. 236

given or endorsed by them with an express consent in writing that they may be made negotiable at the said bank, and shall refuse or neglect to make payment at the time the same become due, the president shall cause a demand in writing on the person of the said delinquent or delinquents, having consented as aforesaid, or if not to be found, have the same left at his last place of abode, and if the money so due shall not be paid within ten days after such demand made or notice left at his last place of abode as aforesaid, it shall and may be lawful for the president, at his election, to write to the clerk of the general court or of the county in which the said delinquent or delinquents may reside or did at the time he or they contracted the debt reside, and send to the said clerk the bond, bill, or note due, with proof of the demand made as aforesaid, and order the said clerk to issue capias ad satisfaciendum, fieri facias, or attachment by way of execution, on which the debt and costs may be levied by selling the property of the defendant for the sum or sums of money mentioned in the said bond, bill, or note, and the clerk of the general court and the clerks of the several county courts are hereby respectively required to issue such execution or executions, which shall be made returnable to the court whose clerk shall issue the same which shall first sit after issuing thereof and shall be as valid and as effectual in law to all intents and purposes as if the same had issued on judgments regularly obtained in the ordinary course of proceeding in the said court, and such execution or executions shall not be liable to be stayed or delayed by any supersedeas, writ of error,

Page 17 U. S. 237

appeal, or injunction from the chancellor, provided always that before any execution shall issue as aforesaid, the president of the bank shall make an oath (or affirmation, if he shall be of such religious society as allowed by this state to make affirmation) ascertaining whether the whole or what part of the debt due to the bank on the said bond, bill, or note is due, which oath or affirmation shall be filed in the office of the clerk of the court from which the execution shall issue, and if the defendant shall dispute the whole or any part of the said debt on the return of the execution, the court before whom it is returned shall and may order an issue to be joined and trial to be had in the same court at which the return is made and shall make such other proceedings that justice may be done in the speediest manner."

A motion was made in the court below to quash an execution which had been issued against the defendant under this section upon the ground that it was contrary to the Constitution of the United States, Article 7th of amendments, and to the 21st article of the Bill of Rights of Maryland.

Page 17 U. S. 238

The court below quashed the execution upon these grounds, and the cause was brought by writ of error to this Court.

Page 17 U. S. 240

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