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October 1, 1880


ERROR to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Missouri. The facts are stated in the opinion of the court.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mr. Chief Justice Waite delivered the opinion of the court.

Mr. S. T. Glover and Mr. John R. Shepley for the plaintiff in error.

Mr. James O. Broadhead, contra.

Art. 10, sect. 14, of the Constitution of Missouri, adopted in 1865, is as follows:––

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

The charter of the city of Louisiana, approved March 12, 1870, contained the following sections as sects. 8 and 9 of art. 3, and sect. 14 of art. 7:––

'SECT. 8. The bonded or funded debt of the city for all purposes, including one hundred thousand dollars subscribed (or to be lawfully subscribed) to railroads terminating at or passing through the city of Louisiana, shall not exceed the sum of two hundred thousand dollars: Provided, however, that said debt may be increased to a sum not exceeding two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in all, by ordinance or ordinances properly passed and submitted to an election under the authority of the city council of all resident taxpayers of the city, that is to say, of all adult persons who shall have been assessed and actually paid a tax on real or personal property for the year or the year previous to the year in which such election shall be held, and at such election the judges holding the same shall require proof of the payment of such tax before recording vote of any person offering to vote at such election, and a majority of all the legal votes cast at said election shall determine the question for or against such ordinance.

' SECT. 9. The city shall have power to subscribe to stock in any incorporated railroad company connecting with the city of Louisiana, or give a bonus to any institution of learning by submitting an ordinance making the appropriation or authorizing the issue of bonds for any such purpose to a vote of the qualified voters (as provided by section 8) of the city, at any general election held in the city, or any special election expressly ordered, at which election a majority of the votes cast shall be for such ordinance.'

'SECT. 14. The city shall not at any time become a subscriber for any stock in any corporation, except as authorized by this or some other act of the General Assembly, but said city may by ordinance appropriate money to aid in opening any road leading to the city, or in other inprovements within the city, or in building any bridge within two miles of the city, and which may be deemed of general public benefit to the inhabitants of the city: Provided, however, that no appropriation shall be made for any improvement beyond the limits of the city, unless a vote be taken on such appropriation at some general election or special election ordered for that purpose, and a majority of all votes polled be cast in favor of that appropriation.'

Under the authority of these provisions of the charter the city council, on the 10th of August, 1871, passed an ordinance, sect. 1 of which is as follows:––

'There shall be an election held at the several places in each ward for the holding general election in the city of Louisiana on the fifth day of September, 1871, on the proposition to take stock in the Clarksville and Western Railroad Company, or in the Quincy, Alton, and St. Louis Railroad Company: Provided, the said Quincy, Alton, and St. Louis Railroad Company shall cross the Mississippi River and make its southern terminus within the corporate limits of the said city of Louisiana, at such place as may be agreed upon by the officers of said Quincy, Alton, and St. Louis company and the city council of Louisiana, to an amount not to exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000); said election to be conducted by the same judges and at the same places as the general election held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in March, 1871, and the returns to be made and certified to the city council in the same manner as that of any general election.'

Other sections provided for the payment of the subscription in bonds, and for the form of the ballots. Sect. 4 peovided that if on counting the votes if appeared that two-thirds of the legal votes cast at the election were in favor of the proposition a subscription might be made, and sect. 5 made provision for a registration of the voters prior to the day of the election.

The Quincy, Alton, and St. Louis Railroad Company was an Illinois corporation, one terminus of whose road was on the bank of the Mississippi River, in the State of Illinois, opposite the city of Louisiana. Before the day of election a full registration of the voters of the city was made, from which it appeared peared that there were three hundred and fifty-six qualified voters then in the city. On the day appointed an election was held, at which there were three hundred and thirty-six votes cast in favor of the subscription and ten against it. Afterwards the stock was subscribed to the Quincy, Alton, and St. Louis company, and the company having complied with the terms and conditions of the subscription, the bonds were delivered by the city, amounting in the aggregate to $50,000, in the following form:––

'Know all men by these presents, That the city of Louisiana, in the State of Missouri, is indebted to _____, or bearer, in the sum of one thousand dollars, lawful money of the United States of America, which the said city of Louisiana promises to pay on the second day of October, 1891, at the treasurer's office in the city of Louisiana, Mo., with interest thereon at the rate of eight per cent per annum, payable annually on the first day of January in each year, upon presentation and surrender of the annexed coupons, as they severally become due and payable. This bond is issued by the city of Louisiana, under authority of the General Assembly of the State of Missouri, entitled 'An Act to amend and reduce ...

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