A statute of Mississippi allows suit to be brought against the
maker and payee, jointly, of a promissory note, by the
But an action of this kind cannot be maintained in the courts of
the United States, although the plaintiff resides in another state,
provided the maker and payee of the note both reside in
Page 43 U. S. 242
In 1838, the following promissory note was executed:
"2899 50-100 Princeton, Washington Co., May 17, 1838"
"On 1 January, 1839, we, or either of us, promise to pay to the
order of Briggs, Lacoste & Co., two thousand eight hundred and
ninetynine 50100 dollars for value received, payable and negotiable
at the Planters' Bank of Mississippi, at Natchez."
"WILL. A. DROMGOOLE"
"F. G. TURNBULL"
The makers and payees were all residents of the State of
Mississippi. Lacoste, in the partnership name, endorsed it to the
Farmers' and Merchants' Bank of Memphis, the stockholders of which
are alleged to reside in Tennessee. The bank brought suit upon it
in the Circuit Court of the United States for the district of
Mississippi. The suit was brought against Dromgoole and Turnbull as
the makers, and also against Lacoste, the junction being permitted
by a statute of Mississippi. The defendants pleaded in abatement as
"And the said defendants, who are citizens of the State of
Mississippi, in their own proper persons, come and defend the wrong
and injury, and say that the persons composing the commercial firm
of Briggs, Lacoste & Co., to whom the said promissory note
declared upon was made and delivered at the time of its date and
delivery, then were, and are yet, citizens of and resident in the
State of Mississippi, and were so at the time of the supposed
transfer and delivery of the said promissory note to the said
plaintiffs, by reason whereof, this honorable court cannot in law
have or entertain jurisdiction of this cause, and this they, the
said defendants are ready to verify. Wherefore the said defendants
pray judgment of the said writ and declaration, and that the same
may be quashed."
"SANDERS, for defendants"
To this plea the plaintiffs demurred, and the court sustained
the demurrer. Judgment was accordingly entered for the plaintiffs,
and to review the opinion of the court upon the demurrer, the
present writ of error was brought.
MR. JUSTICE STORY delivered the opinion of the Court.
Page 43 U. S. 243
The original action was brought by the Bank of Memphis, alleging
the stockholders to be citizens of Tennessee, against the
plaintiffs in error (the original defendants), alleging them to be
citizens of Mississippi, and it was founded upon a promissory note
made by Dromgoole and Turnbull (two of the defendants,) dated at
Princeton, Washington County, Mississippi, May 17, 1838, whereby on
1 January, 1839, they or either of them promised to pay to the
order of Briggs, Lacoste & Co. $2,899.50 for value received,
payable and negotiable at the Planters' Bank of Mississippi at
Natchez. The declaration alleged title in the bank to the note by
the endorsement of the payees, Lacoste using the name and
description of Briggs, Lacoste & Co. to them, and the suit was
brought jointly against both the maker and the payee, in conformity
to a statute of Mississippi authorizing such a proceeding. The
defendants pleaded that they are citizens of Mississippi and that
the persons composing the firm of Briggs, Lacoste & Co. were
and yet are citizens and residents of Mississippi, and were so at
the time of the supposed transfer and delivery of the promissory
note to the bank. To this plea there was a demurrer and joinder, on
which the circuit court gave judgment for the bank, and the present
writ of error is brought to revise that judgment.
The 11th section of the Judiciary act of 1789, ch. 20,
"Nor shall any district or circuit court have cognizance of any
suit to recover the contents of any promissory note or other chose
in action in favor of an assignee unless the suit might have been
prosecuted in such court to recover the said contents if no
assignment had been made, except in cases of foreign bills of
Now the present case falls directly within the prohibition of
this clause. The suit is brought by the plaintiffs to recover the
contents of a promissory note of which they are the endorsees of
the payee, and the payee and the makers are all citizens of
Mississippi. The ground on which the original judgment was given
probably was that the statute of Mississippi required all the
parties to the note to be joined in the suit, and as all the
plaintiffs were citizens of Tennessee and all the defendants
citizens of Mississippi, it was a case falling directly within the
general provisions of the 11th section of the Judiciary Act of
1789, ch. 20, which gives jurisdiction to the circuit court in
cases where "the suit is between a citizen of the state where the
suit is brought, and a citizen of another state." But it has been
already decided by this court, that the statute of Mississippi is
of no force or effect in the
Page 43 U. S. 244
courts of the United States, and that independently of that
statute no such joint action is by law maintainable. This was
decided in Keary v. The Farmers' and
Merchants' Bank of Memphis,
16 Pet. 89. The other
point, that the case falls within the prohibition of the 11th
section of the Judiciary Act of 1789, ch. 20, was as fully
recognized by this Court in Gibson & Martin v.
16 Pet. 315.
There is nothing then in the present case which is open for
argument. The judgment of the Circuit Court of the Southern
District of Mississippi is therefore
Reversed and the cause remanded to that court with
directions to enter a judgment for the defendants.
This cause came on to be heard on the transcript of the record
from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern
District of Mississippi, and was argued by counsel. On
consideration whereof, it is now here ordered and adjudged by this
Court that the judgment of the said circuit court in this cause be,
and the same is hereby reversed, with costs, and that this cause be
and the same is hereby remanded to the said circuit court with
directions to that court to enter judgment for the defendants.