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United States Supreme Court

84 U.S. 425

State  v.  Stoll

ERROR to the Supreme Court of the State of South Carolina; the case being thus:

Between the years 1801 and 1812 the legislature of South Carolina incorporated five banks, viz., the Bank of South Carolina, in 1801; the State Bank of South Carolina, in 1802; the Union Bank, and the Planters' and Mechanics' Bank, in 1810, and 'the President and Directors of the Bank of South Carolina,' called for brevity THE BANK OF THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, and sometimes THE BANK OF THE STATE, in 1812.

The preamble to the act of incorporation of this last-named bank set forth that 'it is deemed expedient and beneficial to the State and the citizens thereof to establish a bank on the funds of the State, for the purpose of discounting paper and making loans for longer periods than has heretofore been customary, and on security different from what has hitherto been required.'

The charter then declared that certain stocks, which were designated, should constitute and form the capital of the said bank, and be vested in the president and directors, who should be appointed in a manner there provided, and then adds:

'And the faith of the State is hereby pledged for the support of the said bank, and to supply any deficiency in the funds specially pledged, and to make good all losses arising from such deficiency.'

The sixteenth section of the charter to this bank provided, as did also the same section in the charters of the four other banks above referred to, as incorporated in previous years,

'That the bills or notes of the said corporation, originally made payable, or which shall have become payable, on demand, in gold or silver coin, shall be receivable at the treasury of this State, and by all tax collectors and other public officers, in all payments for taxes or other moneys due to the State.'

In 1832 the bank last named (the Bank of the State), and of which we are principally to speak, was rechartered by an enactment,

'That an act entitled an act to establish a bank in behalf of, and for the benefit of the State, passed on the 19th December, in the year of our Lord 1812, and all other acts now of force relating to the conduct and operations of the said bank, be, and they are hereby, re-enacted and continued of force until the 1st May, 1856.'

In 1852 the charter was again renewed in these terms:

'That from and after the expiration of the present charter of the Bank of the State of South Carolina, the same shall be, and is hereby extended until the 1st of January, which will be in the year of our Lord, 1871.'

So the charters of the four other banks were at different times extended, and among the times of the first two in 1822 and 1833; and of the last two in 1830; and in all these extensions or recharters the privileges of the sixteenth section of making the notes receivable in payment of taxes, irrespectively of the fact whether the notes were redeemable in specie, were retained. We speak hereafter of a recharter of these four banks in 1852 and 1853, when these privileges were not retained.

In 1857, in the act to raise supplies for the year commencing in October, 1857, it is provided:

'That the comptroller-general shall direct the tax collectors and treasurers to receive the taxes and other dues to the State only in notes of the Bank of the State, OR of specie-paying banks of this State, or in coin of the United States.'

In 1865 the legislature declared, that the branches and agencies of the Bank of the State of South Carolina should be closed, and the principal bank in Charleston cease to be a bank of issue, and continue to act as a bank of deposit until further orders of the legislature.

In 1868 the legislature passed an act to close the operations of the bank; and by the fourth section of the act enacted 'that the sixteenth section of the act, ratified the 19th December, 1812, entitled 'An act to establish, a bank on behalf of and for the benefit of the State,' and all acts and parts of acts which render the bills of said corporation receivable in payment of taxes and all other dues to the State, be, and the same are hereby repealed.'

In the year 1843, that is to say, before the date of the second recharter above mentioned of the Bank of the State, the legislature passed an act 'prescribing the duties of certain officers in the collection of supplies, payment of salaries, and for other purposes,' and the first section of this act enacted,

'That all taxes for the use and service of the State shall be paid in specie, 'paper medium,' [1] or the notes of specie-paying banks.'

This was a permanent act. But in all previous years, with the exception of the year 1837, of which we speak directly, as far back at least as 1826, the same enactment had been introduced into each annual appropriation bill as a special enactment. In 1837, in which year there was a general suspension of specie payments throughout the United States, the enactment was: [2]

'That the taxes be paid in specie . . . or the bills of the banks of the State. And if any bank shall in the opinion of the comptroller-general become unsafe, it shall be his duty to order their reception to be discontinued by the tax collectors.'

So far as regards the Bank of the State of South Carolina and the four other banks named in connection with it.

We now pass to certain banks incorporated in years of later date.

Between the year 1831 and the year 1836, seven of these banks were incorporated by the State, to wit: the Commercial Bank of Columbia, in 1831; the Merchants' Bank for South Carolina at Cheraw, in 1833; the Bank of Charleston, in 1834; the Bank of Camden, in 1835; the Bank of Hamburg, in the same year; the Bank of Georgetown, and the Southwestern Railroad Bank, in 1836. Except in the case of the one last named, the charters of each of these banks contained a section in the words following, viz.:

'The bills or notes of the said corporation, originally made payable on demand, or which shall have become payable, in gold or silver, current coin, shall be receivable by the treasurers, tax collectors, solicitors, and other public officers, in all payments for taxes, or other moneys due to the State, so long as the said bank shall pay gold and silver, current coin, for their notes; but whenever there shall be a protest on any of the bills or notes of the said bank for non-payment of specie, the comptroller-general shall be authorized, and he is hereby required, to countermand the receipt of the bills and notes of the said bank in payment of taxes or debts due to the State, unless good and satisfactory cause shall be shown him, by the said corporation, for protesting in a court of justice the payment thereof.'


^1  This 'paper medium' was a currency issued in 1785, of which it was supposed that some remnant might be outstanding.

^2  6 South Carolina Statutes at Large, 584.

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).