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United States Supreme Court

116 U.S. 517

Coe  v.  Errol

 Argued: January 25, 1886. ---

In September, 1881, Edward S.C.oe filed a petition in the supreme court of New Hampshire, for the county of Coos, against the town of Errol, for an abatement of taxes, and therein, among other things, alleged that on the first of April, 1880, he and others, residents of Maine and Massachusetts, owned a large number of spruce logs that had been drawn down the winter before from Wentworth's location, (in New Hampshire,) and placed in Clear stream, and on the banks thereof, in the town of Errol, county of Coos, New Hampshire, to be from thence floated down the Androscoggin river to the state of Maine, to be manufactured and sold; and that the selectmen of said Errol for that year appraised said logs for taxation at the price of $6,000, and assessed thereon state, county, town, and school taxes, in the whole to the amount of $120, and highway taxes to the amount of $60. A further allegation made the same complaint with regard to a lot of spruce logs belonging to Coe and another person, which had been cut in the state of Maine, and were on their way of being floated to Lewiston, Maine, to be manufactured, but were detained in the town of Errol by low water. Similar allegations were made with regard to logs cut the following year, 1880, and drawn from Wentworth's location, and part of them deposited on lands of John Akers, and part on lands of George C. Demeritt, in said town of Errol, to be from thence taken to the state of Maine; and also with regard to other logs cut in Maine, and floated down to Errol on their passage to Lewiston, in the state of Maine, and both which classes of logs were taxed by the selectmen of Errol in the year 1881. The petition also contained the following allegations, to-wit: 'Said Coe further says that said logs, of both years, so in the Androscoggin river, have each year been taxed as stock in trade in said Lewiston to said Coe and Pingree, and said Coe claims and represents that none of said logs were subject to taxation in said Errol, for the reason that they were in transit to market from one state to another, and also because they had all been in other ways taxed. That said Androscoggin river, from its source to the outlet of the Umbagog lake, in the state of New Hampshire, through said state and through the state of Maine, to said Lewiston, is now, and for a long time has been, to-wit, for more than twenty years last past, a public highway for the floatage of timber from said lakes and rivers in Maine, and from the upper waters of said Androscoggin river, and its tributaries in New Hampshire, down said river to said Lewiston, and has been thus used by the petioner and his associates in the lumber business for more than twenty years last past.'

Without further pleading, the parties made an agreed case, the important part of which is as follows, to-wit: 'It is agreed that the facts set forth in the petition are all true except what is stated as to the taxation of the logs as stock in trade in Lewiston, Maine; and, if that is regarded by the court as material, the case is to be discharged and stand for trial on that point. It is agreed that, upon this petition, the legality of the taxation is intended to be brought before the court for adjudication, and all formal objections to the proceedings in the town meeting, etc., and all other matters of form, are waived, and we submit the matter to the court for a legal adjudication as to whether or not any or all of the taxes shall be abated. And it is agreed that for many years the petitioner and his associates in the lumber business have cut large quantities of timber on their lands in Maine, and floated them down the said lakes and rivers in Maine, and down the Androscoggin river to the mills at said Lewiston; and timber thus cut has always lain over one season, being about a year, in the Androscoggin river, in this state, either in Errol, Dummer, or Milan; and the timber referred to in this petition as having been cut in Maine had lain over in Errol since the spring or summer before the taxation, according to the above custom.'

Upon this case the supreme court of New Hampshire, in September term, 1882, adjudged as follows, to-wit: 'Now, at this term, the said questions of law having been fully determined in said law term, and an order made that that portion of said tax assessed upon the logs cut as aforesaid in said state of Maine be abated, and that the tax assessed upon all of said logs cut in the state of New Hampshire be sustained, and said order having been fully made known to the parties of this case, and become a part of the record thereof, it is therefore ordered and decreed by the court that there be judgment in accordance with said order made at said law term, without costs to either party.'

The petitioner took a bill of exceptions, setting forth the agreed case, and stating, among other things, the points raised on the hearing before the supreme court of New Hampshire, and the decision of that court thereon, as follows: 'On said hearing the petitioner claimed that said taxes named in the petition, and the statutes of this state, under the provisions of which said taxes were assessed, were illegal and void, because said taxes were assessed in violation of, and said statutes of this state are in violation of and repugnant to, the general provisions of the constitution of the United States; because said taxes were assessed in violation of, and said statutes of this state are in violation of and repugnant to, that part of section 2, art. 4, of the constitution of the United States which provides that 'the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens of the several states;' because said taxes were assessed in violation of, and said statutes of this state are in violation of and repugnant to, those parts of section 8 of art. 1 of the constitution of the United States which provide that 'the congress shall have power * * * to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states,' and section 10 of said article 1, which provides that 'no state shall, without the consent of congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws."

Henry Heywood, for plaintiff in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 520-523 intentionally omitted]

S. R. Bond, for defendant in error.

BRADLEY, J.

NotesEdit

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).