Legal Tender Cases,
110 U.S. 421 (1884)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Legal Tender Cases, 110 U.S. 421 (1884)

Legal Tender Cases

Submitted January 22, 1884

Decided March 3, 1884

110 U.S. 421


Congress has the constitutional power to make the Treasury notes of the United States a legal tender in payment of private debts, in time of peace as well as in time of war.

Under the Act of May 31, 1878, c. 146, which enacts that when any United States legal tender notes may be redeemed or received into the Treasury, and shall belong to the United States, they shall be reissued and paid out again, and kept in circulation, notes so reissued are a legal tender.

Juilliard, a citizen of New York, brought an action against Greenman, a citizen of Connecticut, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York, alleging that the plaintiff sold and delivered to the defendant at his special instance and request, 100 bales of cotton, of the value and for the agreed price of $5,122.90, and that the defendant agreed to pay that sum in cash on the delivery of the cotton, and had not paid the same or any part thereof, except that he had paid the sum of $22.90 on account, and was now justly indebted to the plaintiff therefor in the sum of $5,100, and demanding judgment for this sum, with interest and costs.

The defendant in his answer admitted the citizenship of the parties, the purchase and delivery of the cotton, and the agreement to pay therefor, as alleged, and averred that, after the delivery of the cotton, he offered and tendered to the plaintiff, in full payment, $22.50 in gold coin of the United States, forty cents in silver coin of the United States, and two United States notes, one of the denomination of $5,000 and the other of the denomination of $100, of the description known as United States legal tender notes, purporting by recital thereon to be

Page 110 U. S. 422

legal tender at their respective face values, for all debts, public and private, except duties on imports and interest on the public debt, and which, after having been presented for payment, and redeemed and paid in gold coin, since January 1, 1879, at the United States Sub-Treasury in New York, had been reissued and kept in circulation under and in pursuance of the Act of Congress of May 31, 1878, c. 146; that at the time of offering and tendering these notes, and coin to the plaintiff the sum of $5,122.90 was the entire amount due and owing in payment for the cotton, but the plaintiff declined to receive the notes in payment of $5,100 thereof, and that the defendant had ever since remained, and still was, ready and willing to pay to the plaintiff the sum of $5,100 in these notes, and brought these notes into court, ready to be paid to the plaintiff, if he would accept them.

The plaintiff demurred to the answer upon the grounds that the defense, consisting of new matter, was insufficient in law upon its face, and that the facts stated in the answer did not constitute any defense to the cause of action alleged.

The circuit court overruled the demurrer and gave judgment for the defendant, and the plaintiff sued out this writ of error.

Page 110 U. S. 435

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