Henry v. Mayor of Allegheny City
65 U.S. 364 (1860)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Henry v. Mayor of Allegheny City, 65 U.S. 24 How. 364 364 (1860)

Henry v. Mayor of Allegheny City

5 U.S. (24 How.) 364


In 1848, the Legislature of Ohio incorporated certain of its citizens under the name of the Ohio & Pennsylvania Railroad Company, and in 1849, the Legislature of Pennsylvania incorporated the same company by the same style, and adopted the act of Ohio.

In 1849, the Legislature of Pennsylvania exempted from taxation, except for state purposes, the certificates of loan theretofore issued or which might be thereafter issued by the City of Allegheny amongst others in payment of a subscription to the capital stock of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, or to the capital stock of the Ohio & Pennsylvania Railroad Company.

Page 65 U. S. 365

The charter of the last-named company had previously authorized the city corporation of the City of Allegheny to subscribe for an amount of the stock not exceeding two hundred thousand dollars.

By virtue of two ordinances, and a supplement thereto, two hundred bonds of one thousand dollars each, with coupons attached, were executed and delivered to the company. They bore date January 1, 1850.

On the 14th of April, 1852, another act was passed by the legislature, providing

"That the City of Allegheny is hereby authorized to increase its subscription to the capital stock of the Ohio & Pennsylvania Railroad Company to an amount not exceeding the subscription heretofore made by said city &c.; provided no bonds for the payment of stock subscribed, as aforesaid, shall be issued of a less denomination than one hundred dollars."

On the 19th of June, 1852, an ordinance was passed authorizing the mayor to subscribe for four thousand shares, equal to two hundred thousand dollars, &c. This ordinance was never recorded, but the stock was subscribed for and the bonds issued.

On the 8th of May, 1850, the legislature had passed an act limiting the debt of the City of Allegheny to $500,000, exclusive of the first subscription above mentioned. The debt of the city had reached that limit prior to the second subscription.

These acts of the legislature, mentioned in the first part of this note, conferred authority on the corporation of the City of Allegheny to issue certificates of loan, otherwise called bonds, with coupons, as was done, to pay for its first and second subscriptions to the capital stock of the Ohio & Pennsylvania Railroad Company.

The limitation in the Act of 8th of May, 1850, only meant that the city council, by its own authority, should not go into debt to a greater amount than $500,000. But this restriction was not binding on the legislature.

The circumstance that the ordinance of 13th of June, 1852, was not recorded or published, does not invalidate the bonds. The charter of the city requires that those ordinances only which were passed under the seventh section of the charter should be recorded and published. The ordinance in question did not belong to that class.

This Court adopts the judgment of the courts of Pennsylvania that the above acts of the legislature were not inconsistent with the constitution of the state.

The nature of the case is explained in the head note of this report, and fully set forth in the opinion of the Court.

Page 65 U. S. 367

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