Mead v. Ballard - 74 U.S. 290 (1868)
U.S. Supreme Court
Mead v. Ballard, 74 U.S. 7 Wall. 290 290 (1868)
Mead v. Ballard
74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 290
1. A grant of land, "said land being conveyed upon the express understanding and condition" that a certain institute of learning then incorporated "shall be permanently located upon said lands," between the date of the deed and the same day in the succeeding year, is a grant upon condition, a condition subsequent.
2. Such permanent location was made and the condition was thus fulfilled when the trustees passed a resolution locating the building on the land, with the intention that it should be the permanent place of conducting the business of the corporation. And this notwithstanding that the building erected in pursuance of the resolution was afterwards destroyed by fire, and the institute subsequently erected on another piece of land.
Mead brought ejectment in the court below against Ballard to recover certain land which the ancestor of him (Mead) had conveyed for a full consideration, on the 7th September, 1847, to Amos Lawrence, of Boston, in fee. The deed contained the usual covenants of warranty, and also a clause expressed in these words:
"Said land being conveyed upon the express understanding and condition that the Lawrence Institute of Wisconsin, chartered by the legislature of said territory, shall be permanently
located upon said lands, and on failure of such location being made on or before the 7th day of September, 1848, and on repayment of the purchase money without interest, the said land shall revert to and become the property of said grantors."
On the 9th of August, 1848, the board of trustees of the Lawrence Institute passed a resolution locating the Institute on the land described in the deed. Contracts were made for the necessary buildings, which were commenced immediately, and they were finished and the institution in full operation by November, 1849. These buildings cost about $8,000, but were burned down in the year 1857 and never rebuilt. It was also said that in 1853, a larger building, called the University, was erected on an adjoining tract.
In 1851, Lawrence sold to one Wright part of the tract which had been conveyed, as above stated, to him, and in 1853 Wright sold it to Ballard. Mead now, in 1865, being sole heir of the original grantor and alleging that the facts constituted an infraction of the condition on which the land had been conveyed, made a tender, through an agent, to Lawrence, of the amount originally paid by Lawrence for the tract -- depositing the money in Boston "where he could get it at any time he chooses" -- and brought this ejectment.
The jury, under charge of the court that if the Institute was located on the tract on or before the 7th of September, 1848, and if the directors then proceeded to erect a building which was used by it in its business, the plaintiff could not claim a forfeiture, found for the defendant; and the case was brought here on exceptions by the plaintiff.