United States v. Hodson
77 U.S. 395 (1896)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Hodson, 77 U.S. 10 Wall. 395 395 (1896)

United States v. Hodson

77 U.S. (10 Wall.) 395

Syllabus

1. Revenue statutes, being remedial in their character are to be construed liberally to carry out the purposes of their enactment, and the rule of construction applicable to statutes generally, that what is implied in them is its much a part of the enactment as what is expressed, holds in regard to them. This principle of construction applied to the 53d and 57th sections of the Internal Revenue Act of June 30, 1864.

2. Where a statute directs a bond to the government to be given by persons exercising certain employments, and to be conditioned for the performance of several particular acts which it specifically states, and the agent of the government takes a bond conditioned not in the specific way that the statute directed, but for the parties' compliance with "all the provisions" of the act, "and such other acts as are now or as may hereafter be in this behalf enacted," the bond, if it have been voluntarily given and is not contrary to law or public policy, is valid as against a party who has enjoyed benefits under it. And this although the statute which required the bond to be conditioned in a particular way, contain numerous other provisions, which it makes the duty of persons exercising employments under it to comply with, but for which it does not contemplate the giving of any bond.

3. On such a bond, suit in the present case was sustained for breaches which the court adjudged to be within the conditions that the statute enacted that the bond should contain, the opinion of the court, however, asserting the validity of the bond on grounds more broad than it declared necessary to the judgment -- that is to say more broad than to the extent of the breaches assigned.

4. A bond which a statute says that a party whom it requires to be licensed as a distiller, "shall " give before his license is issued, and which makes it a penal offense for him to exercise the business of a distiller without taking out such license, is a voluntary bond.

The Internal Revenue Act of June 30, 1864, [Footnote 1] makes it

Page 77 U. S. 396

obligatory on persons meaning to be distillers to take out a license, and makes the business of distilling without a license an offense punishable by fine and imprisonment. And the 53d section of the statute enacts:

"That any person required by law to be licensed as a distiller SHALL, in addition to what is required by other provisions of law, make an application therefor to the assessor of the district, and before the same is issued, the person so applying shall give bond to the United States in such sum as shall be required by the collector, with one or more sureties to be approved by said collector, 'conditioned'"

in effect:

"(1) That if he shall use any additional still, he will report the fact to the assessor."

"(2) That he will from day to day enter in a book to be kept for that purpose the number of gallons that may be distilled, and the quantity of grain he may use, and that the book shall be open at all times to the inspection of the assessor."

"(3) That he will render to the assessor, on certain days of each month, an exact account in writing of the number of gallons distilled, of the number placed in warehouse, and of the number sold or removed for consumption and sale, and also of the quantities of grain used for the fractional part of a month next preceding the report, and the proof thereof, which report is to be verified by affidavit."

"(4) That he will not sell or permit to be removed for consumption and sale any spirits distilled under his license until they have been inspected, gauged, proved, and entered upon his books, as aforesaid."

"(5) That he will, at the time of rendering his account to the collector, pay the duty imposed by law upon such spirits."

"And the said bond,' the act proceeds, 'may be renewed or changed from time to time in regard to the amount and sureties thereof, according to the discretion of the collector."

The statute, which is entitled "An Act to Provide Ways and Means for the Support of the Government and for other Purposes," is a statute of 182 sections, many very long, and contains a great variety of provisions on a great variety

Page 77 U. S. 397

of subjects, some being matters enjoined and some matters forbidden, some enforced by penalties, fine, and imprisonment and some not so made operative, the statute, however, obviously not contemplating that the bond shall be conditioned for the performance of any duties but those for which it says that it shall be.

In section 57th, separated both as to place and by intervening topics from that one (the 53d), which sets out in what the bond of the distiller is to be conditioned, it is enacted

"That . . . every person who shall use any still, boiler, or other vessel as aforesaid, . . . shall from day to day make true and exact entry, in a book to be kept for that purpose, the number of gallons of spirits distilled, and also the number of gallons placed in warehouse, and also the number sold and removed for consumption and sale, and the proof thereof."

But it is not enacted that the distiller's doing this shall be incorporated among the conditions of the bond which the 53d section declares that he shall give.

With this statute in force, the United States took from one William Hodson, a distiller, to whom license had been granted, a bond precedent to the grant of license. The bond was not conditioned in the way that the already quoted 53d section prescribes, nor conditioned for the doing of specific things at all. The language of the condition was thus:

"That whereas the said William Hodson has made application to the collector of internal revenue for the Second Collection District of the State of Wisconsin for a license as a distiller at Turtleville, now therefore if the said William Hodson shall truly and faithfully conform to all the provisions of an act entitled 'An act to provide internal revenue,' approved June 30, 1864, AND such other acts as are now or may hereafter be in this behalf enacted, then the above obligation to be void and of no effect, otherwise it shall abide and remain in full force and virtue."

The United States sued for the penalty of the bond and assigned various breaches, and among them this as part of

Page 77 U. S. 398

a first one

"that the defendant Hudson did manufacture a large quantity of distilled spirits, to-wit, 100,000 gallons, and did not from day to day make a true entry in a book kept for that purpose of the number of gallons by him distilled, and also of the number of gallons by him placed in warehouse, and of the number of gallons by him sold and removed for consumption and sale, and the proof thereof."

Several other breaches were assigned which were not denied to be breaches of acts for the performance of which the statute requires the bond to be conditioned.

The defendants traversed each of the breaches, including of course the part of the first above given one.

Upon the trial, the United States offered in evidence the bond and proof of the several breaches. The defendants objected to the evidence on the ground that the conditions were not required by, and were not in conformity with, the statutes of the United States. The court sustained the objection. And the correctness of this ruling was the matter now here for review.

Page 77 U. S. 402

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