Lessee of Livingston v. Moore
32 U.S. 469

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U.S. Supreme Court

Lessee of Livingston v. Moore, 32 U.S. 7 Pet. 469 469 (1833)

Lessee of Livingston v. Moore

32 U.S. (7 Pet.) 469

Syllabus

The titles to lands under the acts of the Legislature of the State of Pennsylvania providing for the sale of the landed estate of John Nicholson in satisfaction of the liens the state held on those lands, and the proceedings under the same, are valid.

These acts, and the proceedings under them, do not contravene the provisions of the Constitution of the United States in any manner whatsoever.

The words used in the Constitution of Pennsylvania in declaring the extent of the powers of its legislature are sufficiently comprehensive to embrace the powers exercised over the estate of John Nicholson.

In the circuit court, the plaintiffs in error instituted an ejectment for a tract of land in the County of Franklin in the State of Pennsylvania. They showed title to the land, as the heirs of John Nicholson, who was seized of the same at the time of his death under a warrant, survey, and return of survey and payment of the purchase money to the state.

The title of the defendants was regularly derived from a sale of the lands of John Nicholson made under authority of the State of Pennsylvania towards satisfying the lien claimed by the state for the debts due by John Nicholson arising from his defalcation as the comptroller general of the state. The constitutionality and validity of that lien were denied by the plaintiffs.

On 13 April, 1782, John Nicholson was, by an act of the Legislature of Pennsylvania, appointed comptroller general of the state and was entrusted with large powers for the collection of the debts due to the state, the settlement of public accounts, and the management of the funds of the state. Mr. Nicholson acted as comptroller for twelve years, during which time he was impeached, tried, and acquitted. He afterwards, on 19 April, 1794, resigned the office.

By accounts stated, on 19 November, 1796, large

Page 32 U. S. 470

balances were found to be due by Mr. Nicholson to the State of Pennsylvania. On an account, No. 1, headed, "Dr., John Nicholson, account in continental certificates with the State of Pennsylvania, Cr.," the balance was $51,209.22, and on another account, No. 2, headed "Dr., John Nicholson, account, three percent stock, in account with the State of Pennsylvania, Cr.," the balance was stated to be $63,731.06. The original accounts were given in evidence on the trial in the circuit court, and also counterparts of them, signed by the respective officers, upon which were endorsements, one in the handwriting of Mr. Nicholson, the other in that of his counsel, in a suit instituted against him for the recovery of the debts due to the state.

A suit was commenced in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania by the state against John Nicholson, to September term, 1793, for the loss sustained by the state on certain certificates which it was alleged he had improperly subscribed, and a verdict was obtained against him on 18 December, 1795, for

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