United States v. State Bank
96 U.S. 30 (1877)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. State Bank, 96 U.S. 30 (1877)

United States v. State Bank

96 U.S. 30

Syllabus

1. Where a trust fund has been perverted, the cestui que trust can follow it at law as far as it can be traced.

2. The United States cannot, against the claim of an innocent party, hold his money which has gone into its treasury by means of the fraud of its agent.

3. The rules of law applicable to an individual in a like case apply also to the United States. Its sovereignty is in no wise involved.

This action and the following were brought, one by the State National Bank, of Boston, Mass., and the other by the Merchants' National Bank, of the same place, to recover from the United States $480,000 in gold coin, being the amount of certain gold certificates deposited, Feb. 28, 1867, in the subtreasury at Boston, and on the same day cancelled and forwarded to the Treasurer of the United States at Washington. The cause of action in each case grew out of the same transaction, and the findings of fact by the court below are the same. As they are substantially set forth in the opinion of the court, they are omitted here. The certificates of deposit referred to in the opinion are as follows:

"UNITED STATES TREASURY, BOSTON"

"Deposited by Mellen, Ward, & Co., of Boston, on acc't of deposit of gold c't'f's, amount four hundred & Twenty thousand dollars, the same to be exchanged for gold c't'f's, or its equivalent, upon their order or demand."

"J. F. HARTWELL, Cr."

"Date, Feb. 28, 1867."

"[Endorsed:] Pay only upon the order of C. H. Smith, cash."

"MELLEN, WARD, & Co"

"BOSTON, Feb. 28, 1867"

Page 96 U. S. 31

"UNITED STATES TREASURY, BOSTON"

"Deposited by Mellen, Ward, & Co., of Boston, on acc't of gold certificates deposited. Amount one hundred & sixty thousand dollars, to be exchanged for gold c'f'fs or its equivalent on demand."

"J. F. HARTWELL, Cr."

"[Endorsed:] Pay only upon the order of C. H. Smith, cash."

"MELLEN, WARD, & Co."

"BOSTON, Feb. 28, 1867"

The Court of Claims rendered judgment in favor of the State Bank and against the Merchants' Bank. From the judgments rendered against them respectively the United States and the Merchants' Bank severally appealed to this court.

Page 96 U. S. 33

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