HAYES V. HOLLY SPRINGS, 114 U. S. 120 (1885)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hayes v. Holly Springs, 114 U.S. 120 (1885)

Hayes v. Holly Springs

Argued March 17, 1885

Decided March 30, 1885

114 U.S. 120


The Constitution of Mississippi, adopted December 1, 1869, provided as follows (Art. 12, sec. 14):

"The legislature shall not authorize any county, city, or town, to become a stockholder in, or to lend its credit to, any company, association, or corporation, unless two-thirds of the qualified voters of such county, city, or town at a special election, or regular election, to be held therein, shall assent thereto."

A city in that state subscribed for stock in a railroad corporation after what was called a "special election" was held, but neither the election nor the subscription was authorized by any act of the legislature. Afterward, the legislature passed an act providing " that all subscriptions to the capital stock of the" corporation

"made by any county, city, or town in this state which were not made in violation of the constitution of this state are hereby legalized, ratified, and confirmed."

Thereafter the city issued bonds to pay for its subscription. In a suit against the city by a bona fide holder of coupons cut from the bonds to recover their amount, held:

(1) The intention of the legislature to confirm and ratify the subscription could not be ascertained with certainty from the language of the act.

(2) The bonds were void for want of power to issue them, notwithstanding any recitals on their face or any acts in pais claimed to operate by way of estoppel.

Page 114 U. S. 121

This was a suit for the collection of coupons cut from bonds issued by the defendant, a municipal corporation in Mississippi. The facts which make the case are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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