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Darrington v. Branch of the Bank of the State of Alabama


Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

54 U.S. 12

Darrington  v.  Branch of the Bank of the State of Alabama

THESE cases were brought up from the Supreme Court of Alabama, by a writ of error issued under the 25th section of the Judiciary Act. The facts and pleadings are stated in the opinion of the court.

It was argued by Mr. Campbell for the plaintiffs in error, and and Mr. Hopkins for the defendants.

Mr. Campbell contended that the transactions as described by the pleas, fell within the prohibitory clause of the Constitution of the United States, 'that no State shall issue a bill of credit,' and cited 4 Peters, 410; 11 Peters, 313; 7 Alab. Rep. 18.

Mr. Hopkins for the defendants in error.

In the case of Briscoe v. The Bank of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 11 Peters, 257, this court decided that the notes issued by such a bank as the one which is the defendant in error, were not bills of credit within the prohibition of the Constitution of the United States. In the case of Owen v. The Branch Bank at Mobile, which is the defendant in error, the Supreme Court of Alabama decided that the notes issued by this bank were not bills of credit. 3 Ala. Rep. 258.

The charter of this bank is a public statute of the State of Alabama. 6 Ala. Rep. 289, 294. This court takes notice judicially of such statutes, as it does of the acts of Congress. 9 Peters, 607, 625, 626.

This bank had a large capital, and it is not denied in the pleas, as it was in the case of the Kentucky bank, that the capital was paid. Its notes were received in payment of taxes and debts due to the State of Alabama. As a corporation the bank incurred responsibility, and gave credit to its paper. It was liable for the notes and bills it issued, and its capital was bound, like that of stock banks, for the payment of its notes in gold and silver. All its property, including its capital, was a fund for the payment of the debts of the bank. The notes of the bank were circulated upon its own credit, and every holder of the notes had the power to enforce payment, as the bank could be sued. The notes were not issued by the State, but by the bank in its corporate name, and the bank was not controlled by the State, but by a president and directors appointed by the legislature. For the capital and powers of the bank, see 3 Ala. Rep. 267. According to a previous judgment of this court, the issuance and circulation of its notes as money by such a bank is no violation of the Constitution of the United States. 11 Pet. 311, 315, 318, 320, 321, 322.

Mr. Justice McLEAN delivered the opinion of the court.

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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).