Bolles v. Brimfield,
120 U.S. 759 (1887)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Bolles v. Brimfield, 120 U.S. 759 (1887)

Bolles v. Brimfield

Submitted January 6, 1887

Decided March 7, 1887

120 U.S. 759


By the act of the Legislature of Illinois incorporating the Dixon, Peoria and Hannibal Railroad Company, passed March 5, 1867, authority was given to certain cities, incorporated towns, and townships, to subscribe to its stock not exceeding $35,000. At an election duly called and held August 3, 1868, the Town of Brimfield voted to subscribe $15,000, and at the same time and place, but without legislative authority therefor, the same electors voted to make an additional subscription of $15,000. March 31, 1869, the legislature passed an act reciting that the latter sum had been voted by a majority of the legal voters in said township at said election, and provided that said election

"is hereby legalized and confirmed, and is declared to be binding upon said township in the same manner as if said subscription had been made under the provisions of said charter."

The township, by its proper officers, May 5, 1869, issued bonds for both the subscriptions,


(1) At the time the bonds were issued, there was no decision of the highest court of Illinois denying the power of the legislature, by subsequent enactment, to legalize a municipal subscription to railroad stock which would have been originally lawful if it had been made, in the mode in which it was made, under legislative authority previously granted.

(2) In such case, this Court is at liberty to exercise its independent judgment as to the validity of such curative statutes.

(3) The Act of March 31, 1869, is not in violation of the Constitution of Illinois of 1848. It only gave affect to the wishes of the corporate authorities -- the electors -- of Brimfield, as ascertained in the customary mode.

This was an action at law to recover upon bonds and coupons issued by the defendant in error, a municipal corporation.

Page 120 U. S. 760

Demurrer to the declaration which was overruled. Defendant declining to answer further, the action was dismissed. The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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