Holbrook v. The Union Bank of Alexandria
APPEAL from the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia.
This was a suit in Chancery, instituted in the Court below, by Holbrook and Alexander, against the Union Bank, to recover from the Bank certain shares of road stock, which had been originally subscribed to that Bank by them, and to have an account of the profits of that stock, and a payment of whatever should be found to be due to them. The cause was set down for hearing upon the bill, answer, and exhibits, from which it appeared, that a number of persons formed themselves into an association, for the purpose of carrying on the banking business, for the term of _____ years, in the town of Alexandria, under the name of 'The Union Bank of Alexandria.' That the association adopted certain articles as the basis of their union; by which articles, it was, among other things, agreed, that the subscribers to the Bank should be permitted to pay one tenth of their subscription in the stock of certain incorporated road companies, and the other nine tenths in money, at certain periods prescribed in the said articles. That, in pursuance of these articles, the subscriptions to the Bank were filled up, and the stocks of various road companies were subscribed, which stocks were different in their respective values. The articles of association authorized the immediate commencement of the banking business. But they provided for, and contemplated an application to Congress for a charter. The Bank commenced its business without a charter, and carried on its business until the year 1817, when an act of Congress was obtained, incorporating the Bank. This act directed, that the capital stock of the Bank should consist of $500,000, to be paid entirely in money. When this act was passed, a question was raised among the stockholders, whether the road stock was to be returned specifically to the subscribers, or whether it was to be blended together into one general mass, and divided among the subscribers, without regard to the value of the respective stocks. The Little River Turnpike stock was the most valuable at the time it was subscribed, and is now much the most valuable stock; and the plaintiffs, Holbrook and Alexander, having subscribed this stock, insisted that the same should be specifically returned to them. The Court below decided, that they were not entitled to a specific return of this stock, but that it was to be considered the common property of the stockholders, subject to be divided among them, without regard to the value of their respective stocks; and the cause was brought by appeal to this Court.
The cause was argued by Mr. Swann, for the appellant, and by Mr. Jones, for the respondent.
Mr. Chief Justice MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.