EARLY V. DOE, 57 U. S. 610 (1853)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Early v. Doe, 57 U.S. 16 How. 610 610 (1853)

Early v. Doe

57 U.S. (16 How.) 610


Where the language of the statute was

"That public notice of the time and place of the sale of real property for taxes due to the Corporation of the City of Washington shall he given by advertisement inserted in some newspaper published in said city once in each week for at least twelve successive weeks,"

it must be advertised for twelve full weeks, or eighty-four days.

Therefore, where property was sold after being advertised for only eighty-two days, the sale was illegal, and conveyed no title.

This was an ejectment brought by Rhoda E. Homans to recover that part of lot number four, in square number seven hundred and thirty, in the City of Washington, beginning for the same at a point on the line of A Street South at the distance of thirty-two feet from the northeast corner of said square; and running thence due west with the line of said street, fifty feet and five inches; thence due south, fifty feet; thence due east, fifty feet and five inches; thence fifty feet to the place of beginning, and also into three messuages or tenements with the appurtenances situated thereon in the county above named.

Upon the trial, the plaintiff showed title in herself, and the defendant made title under a tax sale, when the jury, under the instructions of the court, found a verdict for the plaintiff. The following bill of exceptions explains the case.

"Defendant's bill of exceptions"

"At the trial of the above cause, after the plaintiff's lessor had shown a legal title in herself, a devisee of D. Homans, who died in August, 1850, to the fifty feet five inches of ground fronting on A Street by fifty feet deep, a part of lot 4, in square No. 730, in Washington City, with the houses thereon, being the premises described in the declaration; entitling her, as admitted prima facie, to recover the same as such devisee, and that the defendant held possession thereof at the commencement of this action. The defendant thereupon, to maintain the issue on his part, offered evidence of a tax title from the Corporation of the City of Washington, to sustain which, and to show that the requirements of the Act of 26th May, 1824, had been complied with, proved the notice of the time and place of the tax sale to

Page 57 U. S. 611

have been given by the city collector, by advertisement in the national Intelligencer, in the following words:"


"August 25, 1848"

"On Wednesday, the 15th day of November next, the annexed list of property will be sold by public auction, at the City Hall in the city Hall in the City of Washington, to satisfy the corporation of said city for taxes due thereon as stated, unless the said taxes be previously paid to the collector, with such expenses and fees as may have accrued at the time of payment."

And amongst other property so advertised was the following:



No. of No. of Lot Assessed to Taxes Total



730 Pt. 4, fronting 50 ft. Daniel Houmans 1845 1846 1847 $29.82

5 in., and improvement 9.94, 9.94, 9.94

on A Street, and 50 ft.

deep, lying next to

the eastern 32 ft. of

said lot



"And the insertion of said advertisement was on the following days:"

"Saturday, 26th Aug., 1848."

"Saturday, 2d Sept., 1848."

"Saturday, 9th Sept., 1848."

"Thursday, 14th Sept., 1848."

"Thursday, 21st Sept., 1848."

"Saturday, 30th Sept., 1848."

"Saturday, 7th Oct., 1848."

"Saturday, 14th Oct., 1848."

"Saturday, 21st Oct., 1848."

"Saturday, 28th Oct., 1848."

"Saturday, 4th Nov. 1848."

"Saturday, 11th Nov. 1848."

"Wednesday 15th Nov. 1848."

"And that on such last day above mentioned, the said sale took place and the defendant became the purchaser of said premises for $55. Whereupon the plaintiff prayed the opinion and instruction of the court to the jury"

"that the said sale was invalid and of no effect, and passed no title to the defendant in the premises in question because a period of twelve full and complete weeks had not intervened between the 26th August, the time of the first advertised notice of said sale, and the 15th November, 1848, the day or time of said sale, but a period of eleven weeks and four days only,"

"which opinion and direction the court gave as prayed for by the plaintiff, to which opinion and direction of the court to the jury, the defendant by his counsel, prayed leave to except, and that the court would sign and seal these his bill of exceptions, according to the form

Page 57 U. S. 612

of the statute in such cases made and provided, which is accordingly done this 17th day of May, 1853."



"Test: JNO. A. SMITH, Clerk. "

Page 57 U. S. 615

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