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U.S. Supreme Court

County of Moultrie v. Fairfield, 105 U.S. 370 (1881)

County of Moultrie v. Fairfield

105 U.S. 370


1. The charter of the Decatur, Sullivan, and Mattoon Railroad Company, which took effect March 26, 1869, authorized the Board of Supervisors of the County of Moultrie, Illinois, to subscribe to the capital stock of that company to an amount not exceeding $80,000, and also, should it be sanctioned by a popular vote, to make a donation in aid of the company, and in each case to issue the requisite amount of county bonds.

2. Where, before the adoption of the Constitution of Illinois of 1870, a donation in aid of a railroad company had, pursuant to law, been voted by a county, bonds to pay that donation might be thereafter issued.

3. That vote cannot be held for naught, although in the notice of, and the petition for, the election at which it was cast the company is misnamed, if it sufficiently appears that the company was meant.

4. In this case, the power to levy a tax was conferred, the company performed all the conditions which, by the vote cast Nov. 2, 1869, entitled it to receive the donation bonds, and they were delivered Nov. 1, 1871, reciting the law authorizing their issue. Held that in a suit by a bona fide holder of the coupons cut therefrom, a recovery cannot be defeated upon the ground that in order to pay the principal and interest and the county expenses, the assessment must exceed the limitation imposed by sec. 8, art. 9, of the Constitution of 1870.

5. Quaere, is there any limit upon the power of taxation to raise means to meet the indebtedness of which the bonds in question are the evidence?

This action was brought by Fairfield against the County of Moultrie upon the common counts for money lent, money had

Page 105 U. S. 371

and received, and money due on account stated, with notice that he would give in evidence coupons detached from certain bonds of the county issued in satisfaction of its respective donations in aid of the Bloomington and Ohio River Railroad Company and the Decatur, Sullivan, and Mattoon Railroad Company. Plea, non assumpsit, under which, by agreement, the county was allowed to offer any evidence and make any defense that would be competent under any special plea well pleaded. The parties submitted the issues of fact as well as of law to the court, and a special finding of facts was made, upon which judgment in his favor was rendered, to reverse which the county brought this writ of error. The material facts are set forth in the opinion of this Court.

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