Town of Coloma v. Eaves
92 U.S. 484 (1875)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Town of Coloma v. Eaves, 92 U.S. 484 (1875)

Town of Coloma v. Eaves

92 U.S. 484

Syllabus

Where, by legislative enactment, authority has been given to a municipality, or to its officers, to subscribe for the stock of a railroad company and to issue municipal bonds in payment, but only on some precedent condition, such as a popular vote favoring the subscription, and where it may be gathered from the enactment that the officers of the municipality were invested with power to decide whether that condition has been complied with, their recital that it has been, made in the bonds issued by them and held by a bona fide purchaser, is conclusive of the fact, and binding upon the municipality, for the recital is itself a decision of the fact by the appointed tribunal.

Assumpsit brought by the plaintiff below to recover the amount due on the coupons attached to certain bonds, purporting to have been issued by the Town of Coloma, through its proper officers, to the Chicago & Rock River Railroad Company, in payment of a subscription of $50,000 by the town to said company. The form of the bond is as follows:

"UNITED STATES OF AMERICA [$1,000"

"COUNTY OF WHITESIDE"

"State of Illinois, Town of Coloma:"

"Know all men by these presents, that the Township of Coloma, in the County of Whiteside, and State of Illinois, acknowledges itself to own and be indebted to the Chicago & Rock River Railroad Company, or bearer, in the sum of $1,000, lawful money of the United States; which sum the said Town of Coloma promises to pay to the Chicago & Rock River Railroad Company, or the bearer hereof, on the first day of July, 1881, at the office of the Treasurer of the County of Whiteside aforesaid, in the State of Illinois, on the presentation of this bond, with interest thereon from the first day of January, 1872, at the rate of ten percentum per annum, payable annually at the office of the Treasurer of the County of Whiteside aforesaid, on the presentation and surrender or the annexed coupons."

"[U.S. $5 revenue stamp]"

"This bond is issued under and by virtue of a law of the State of Illinois entitled 'An Act to incorporate the Chicago & Rock River Railroad Company,' approved March 24, 1869, and in accordance with a vote of the electors of said Township of Coloma,

Page 92 U. S. 485

at a regular election held July 28, 1869, in accordance with said law, and under a law of the State of Illinois entitled 'An Act to fund and provide for the paying of the railroad debts of counties, townships, cities, and towns,' in force April 16, 1869; and, when this bond is registered in the state auditor's office of the State of Illinois, the principal and interest will be paid by the state treasurer, as provided by said last-mentioned law."

"In witness whereof, the supervisor and town clerk of said town have hereunto set their hands and seals this first day of January, A.D. 1872."

"[Signed] M. R. ADAMS, Supervisor [SEAL]"

"[Signed] J. D. DAVIS, Town Clerk [SEAL]"

Recovery was resisted by the town, mainly upon the alleged ground of a want of power in the officers of the town to issue the bonds, because the legal voters of the town had not been notified to vote upon the question of the town's making the subscription in question.

On the trial of the case, judgment was rendered for the plaintiff for the amount of the coupons, and interest after they were due.

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