Branch v. Jesup,
106 U.S. 468 (1883)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Branch v. Jesup, 106 U.S. 468 (1883)

Branch v. Jesup

Decided January 15, 1883

106 U.S. 468


1. The South Georgia and Florida Railroad Company having power, by its charter, to construct a railroad from Albany to Thomasville, Georgia, and from Thomasville to the Florida line, and to purchase and sell all kinds of property of every nature and quality, and to incorporate its stock with that of any other company, contracted with the Albany and Gulf Railroad Company to construct its road from Thomasville to Albany, and to sell and deliver it to the latter company in sections as completed, together with the franchise of using the same, and to incorporate its stock created for building said road with that of the Albany and Gulf Railroad Company. The latter had the same general power, except that of incorporating its stock with the stock of other companies, and had the right under its charter to construct a railroad from Thomasville to Georgia. Held that the contract was not ultra vires, and that the latter company could lawfully make the purchase, and pay for the same by issuing its own stock therefor; which was delivered to and accepted by the contractors in lieu of the stock of the other company, which latter stock they had subscribed for and agreed to take in payment for the work of construction.

2. A railroad company having the right of constructing a particular line of railroad, with general power to purchase all kinds of property of whatever nature or kind, may purchase from another company a road constructed upon that line, if the latter company had power to sell and dispose of the same.

3. As a general rule, a corporation cannot transfer its franchises, nor a railroad company its road, without legislative authority.

4. Prior to the purchase, the Albany and Gulf Railroad Company had executed a trust deed by way of mortgage upon all its railroad and property acquired or to be acquired. Held that inasmuch as the road purchased was within the chartered limits of the company, and might have been constructed if it had not been purchased, the mortgage extended to and covered it as effectually as if the company had constructed it.

5. The contractors who built the road and accepted in payment therefor the stock, and the assignees and purchasers of the stock, after the transaction between the two companies had been carried into effect and the road possessed and operated by the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad Company for several years, are estopped from claiming the right to be regarded as stockholders of the South Georgia and Florida Railroad Company, or as preferred creditors as against the road. Having voluntarily accepted the position of stockholders of the purchasing company, they cannot question the validity of the transaction adversely to it, or to the mortgage given by it, covering the road in question.

6. The stock thus issued and accepted was preferred stock, on which interest was payable. Held that the holders thereof and their assigns, having accepted it and received interest on it for several years, are estopped from questioning the power of the company to issue it.

7. The South Georgia and Florida Railroad Company having received the stipulated consideration and incorporated its stock with that of the Albany

Page 106 U. S. 469

and Gulf Railroad Company, by accepting the stock of that company, and being in fact amalgamated therewith so far as the road in question is concerned, has no ground to complain that the terms of the contract have not been fulfilled by that company. It has lost nothing, and the liability which it incurred is protected by first liens on the road, the priority of which is conceded by all parties.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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