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United States Supreme Court

101 U.S. 773

Litchfield  v.  County of Webster

APPEALS from the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Iowa.

Litchfield filed, Sept. 29, 1873, his bill of complaint against the county of Webster, Iowa, and Hutchinson, its treasurer, seeking to enjoin the collection of the taxes levied for 1859, 1860, 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865, and 1866 on lands whereof he claimed to be the owner. They amount to 32,602 92/100 acres, and are situate in that county in the alternate odd-numbered sections, within five miles of that part of the Des Moines River which is above the Raccoon Fork.

The principal of the taxes, when the case was submitted to the court below, was $10,174.76, and the penalty claimed for the non-payment of them, $64,235.41, making a total of $74,410.17.

These lands are a portion of those, which gave rise to a long protracted controversy, of which Wolsey v. Chapman (supra, p. 755) furnishes a complete history.

The facts which this suit involves are stated with sufficient fulness in the opinion of the court.

The court below, considering the penalties prescribed by the revenue laws of Iowa, as in the nature of interest rather than as statutory penalties proper, held that the complainant, by reason of the acts of the State and its officers, was entitled to relief upon his paying the full amount of taxes from 1862 to 1866 inclusive, with annual interest thereon at the rate of six per cent; and that the lands were not subject to taxation for the preceding years. A decree was entered accordingly, and each party appealed.

Mr. George G. Wright for Litchfield.

Mr. John F. Duncombe, contra.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE delivered the opinion of the court.


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).