City of Memphis v. Brown,
87 U.S. 289 (1873)

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U.S. Supreme Court

City of Memphis v. Brown, 87 U.S. 20 Wall. 289 289 (1873)

City of Memphis v. Brown

87 U.S. (20 Wall.) 289




1. Where an individual contracted with a city corporation to pave its streets, and the corporation afterwards, by way of assisting him with funds, issued to him its bonds, having several years to run (and then worth in the market but fifty cents on the dollar), with the understanding that the bonds might be sold for what they would bring, and that other bonds might be afterwards bought by the contractor, so that the city might have its bonds again when they matured, and the contractor sold the bonds, held, on a suit between the parties for a settlement under the original contract for paving, that the contractor could discharge himself from his obligation to return the bonds to the city by charging himself with and paying their market value at the time of accounting in the suit; and that he was not obliged to return the bonds in specie before he could compel the city to pay him for his work. Held further that the fact that the city was pecuniarily embarrassed, and had no money with which it could go into the market and buy the bonds, did not alter the case.

2. Before a court will sanction the exaction of hard conditions made by a city with its contractors, who have been reduced to necessities by the omission of the city itself to keep with strictness its promises to them,

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