KIRKMAN V. HAMILTON, 31 U. S. 20 (1832)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Kirkman v. Hamilton, 31 U.S. 6 Pet. 20 20 (1832)

Kirkman v. Hamilton

31 U.S. (6 Pet.) 20


The statute of limitations of North Carolina, passed in 1715, in force in Tennessee, bars the particular actions which it recites, and no others. It does not bar actions of debt generally, but those only which are brought for arrearages of rent.

In an action of debt on a promissory note instituted in the Circuit Court of Tennessee, the defendant pleaded the statute of limitations of North Carolina of 1715, in force in Tennessee. Held that the statute did not extend to the action, and that the plaintiff was not barred.

By the acts of the Legislature of North Carolina in force in Tennessee, the endorser of a promissory note is entitled to sue in his own name, as on inland bills of exchange in England, and he may therefore bring an action of debt on a promissory note held by him.

The case of Raburg v. Peyton, 2 Wheat. 385, cited and confirmed.

H. and D., citizens of Tennessee, gave their promissory note to T.R. & Co., also citizens of Tennessee, payable in fifteen months. Before the note became due, T.R. & Co. removed to and became citizens of Alabama, and also before the day appointed for the payment of the note, endorsed it to K., a citizen of Alabama, and in the declaration on the note, the plaintiff averred that T.R. & Co. were citizens of Alabama. Held that the Circuit Court of Tennessee had jurisdiction of the suit under the eleventh section of the act of 1789. The payees of the note having, before the note became due, become citizens of Alabama, could have prosecuted a suit on the note in the Supreme Court of Tennessee if no assignment had been made.

In the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of West Tennessee, Thomas Kirkman, Junior, a citizen of Alabama, instituted in April 1823, an action of debt, against John W. Hamilton and Thomas Donoho, citizens of Tennessee, upon a promissory note drawn by the defendants under the firm of Hamilton and Donoho in West Tennessee, on 22 September, 1818, for the sum of $3,000, payable fifteen months after date to Thomas Ramsey and Company or order, and Thomas Ramsey and Company having become citizens of Alabama, and the note being unpaid, endorsed the same to the plaintiff, Thomas Kirkman, Junior.

To this declaration the defendants pleaded first the statute of limitations of Tennessee, alleging that the cause of action

Page 31 U. S. 21

did not accrue within three years. Second, that at the time the note was given they were citizens and inhabitants of Smith County in the State of Tennessee, of which state the plaintiff was then a citizen, and in which state the note was given.

To the plea of the statute of limitations, and to the second plea, the plaintiff demurred, and assigned as causes of demurrer:

1. That the plea does not state that this is an action of debt for arrearages of rent.

2. The declaration is not in debt for arrearages of rent.

3. The cause of action sued upon is not arrearages of rent.

4. The second plea is uncertain, unsound, and insufficient.

Upon the argument of the demurrer in this cause, as applicable to the plea of the statute of limitations to the second count in the plaintiff's declaration, the court were divided in opinion upon the following questions: whether the plea of the statute of limitations is a bar to the recovery of the plaintiff on the second count in the declaration, and whether an action of debt can be supported on the cause of action set forth in said second count; whether the averment of the citizenship of Thomas Ramsey & Co., the payers of the note in the said second count, is sufficient to sustain the jurisdiction of this Court under the provisions of the eleventh section of the Judiciary Act of 1789. Which certificate of division of opinion was ordered to be certified to the Supreme Court of the United States according to law.

Page 31 U. S. 22

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