Miner's Bank of Dubuque v. Iowa - 53 U.S. 1 (1851)


U.S. Supreme Court

Miner's Bank of Dubuque v. Iowa, 53 U.S. 12 How. 1 1 (1851)

Miner's Bank of Dubuque v. Iowa

53 U.S. (12 How.) 1

Syllabus

Where a bank was chartered and its charter repealed by the legislature of a territory, the question of the validity of the repealing act cannot be brought before this Court under the twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act.

The power of review is confined by that section to certain laws passed by states, and does not extend to those passed by territorial legislatures.

At the November term, 1845, of the District Court of Dubuque County, in the Territory of Iowa, the district Attorney of the United States filed the following information:

"James Grant, District Prosecutor of the third Judicial District, who prosecutes for the United States, on leave granted, comes into said District Court of Dubuque County, at the courthouse in Dubuque County, on the first Monday in November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty-five, and for said United States gives the court to be informed and understand, that John Wharton Patrick Quigley, Robert Waller, John Thompson, Peter Waples, Jesse P. Farley, and Timothy Davis, for the space of two months last past, and since, have had and still use, without any legal authority the liabilities and franchises of President, Directors, and Company of the Miners' Bank of Dubuque, and discount bills, loan money, buy and sell bills of exchange, and do all such other acts and things as bodies corporate for banking usually do."

"All which privileges, liabilities, and franchises, the said defendants

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have usurped, and still do usurp, upon said United States, to the great damage and prejudice thereof."

"Whereupon the said attorney prays the aid of this Court in the premises, and due process of law against said defendants, to answer to said United States by what warrants they claim to have and enjoy the liabilities, privileges, and franchises aforesaid."

"JAMES GRANT, Dist. Pros."

Whereupon the attorney for the Bank filed the following plea, viz.:

"And the said John Wharton Patrick Quigley, Robert Waller, John Thompson, Peter Waples, Jesse P. Farley, and Timothy Davis, President, Directors, and Co. &c."

"As to the said liabilities, franchises, and privileges, of the said President, Directors, and Company, of the Miners' Bank of Dubuque, say that by an act of the Legislature of Wisconsin approved on the thirtieth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-six, which act, with alterations, was approved by Congress on the third day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-seven, said President, Directors, and Company were duly incorporated as a company or body politic and corporate, with the privileges, liabilities, and franchises aforesaid; that by an act of Congress in session on 12 June, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight, the Territory of Wisconsin was divided, and the Territory of Iowa formed therefrom, and by this warrant the said defendants have, and during the time in said information mentioned, and still use the liabilities, privileges, and franchises, as they well might and still may; without this, that said defendants have usurped, or do now usurp, said liabilities, franchises, and privileges, in manner and form as by said information is supposed, all which the said defendants are ready to verify, and wherefore they pray judgment, and that said liberties, franchises, and privileges, above by them claimed, may be allowed and adjudged them, and that they may be herein dismissed &c."

"DAVIS, Att'y for Bank"

The replication of the plaintiff was as follows:

"And the said plaintiffs, for replication to said plea of said defendants, say that the act of the Legislature of Wisconsin by which said defendants claim the liberties, franchises, and privileges aforesaid, by an act of the Legislature of Iowa Territory, within whose jurisdiction the said corporate body existed, after the division of the Territory of Wisconsin, in force the twenty-first day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty-five, the said liabilities, privileges, and franchises, was repealed,

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disallowed, and declared for naught; and this he is ready to verify; wherefore he prays judgment &c."

"JAMES GRANT, Dist. Pros."

The defendants rejoined, but afterwards had leave to file the following amended rejoinder:

"The said defendants, as to the said replication of the said plaintiffs to the plea of defendants, say that they ought not to be barred of the franchises, liberties, and privileges secured to them by their aforesaid charter, because they say that the act of the said Legislature of Iowa aforesaid, whereby it is supposed the said charter was repealed, was passed without the said corporation defendants having first failed to go into operation, and without having abused or misused its privileges; and this they are ready to verify."

"DAVIS & SMITH, Atty's for Defendants"

To this rejoinder the plaintiff demurred, and the defendants joined in demurrer.

At December term, 1847, the district court gave the following judgment:

"Thereupon the demurrer is sustained by the court, with leave to the said defendants to answer over, but said defendants elect to abide by their aforesaid amended rejoinder, and it being adjudged by the court now here, that the information filed in this case, and the matters and things therein charged are true, it is therefore ordered, adjudged, and decreed that the said defendants, and all others acting by, through, or under them, be ousted, and altogether and forever excluded from all such corporate rights, privileges, and franchises of the President, Directors, and Company of the Miners' Bank of Dubuque; that the corporation of said President, Directors, and Company be dissolved, and that the plaintiffs have and recover of and from the said defendants their costs about their suit in this behalf expended, and that they have execution therefor."

The Bank appealed to the Supreme Court of Iowa, which affirmed the judgment of the district court, and a writ of error brought the case up to this Court.

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