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CONCORD v. ROBINSON.

decided: April 4, 1887.

CONCORD
v.
ROBINSON.



ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS.

Author: Harlan

[ 121 U.S. Page 166]

 MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the court.

This is an action upon negotiable coupon bonds signed by the supervisor and clerk of the town of Concord, a municipal corporation existing under the township organization law of Illinois. They were executed in 1871. Each bond purports, upon its face, to have been "issued under and by virtue of a law of the State of Illinois to authorize cities, towns or townships within certain limits to appropriate moneys and levy a tax to aid the construction of the Chicago, Danville and Vincennes Railroad," and pledges the faith of the township for the paymet of the principal and interest. The act here referred to was passed March 7, 1867. 1 Private Laws Ill. 1867, p. 842. It authorizes all incorporated towns and cities, and towns acting under the township organization law, within certain territorial limits, (which includes the town of Concord,) to appropriate such sum of money as they deem proper to the Chicago, Danville and Vincennes Railroad Company to aid in the construction of its road, "to be paid to said company as soon as the track of said road shall have been located and constructed through said city, town, or township, respectively;" provided, the appropriation is first sustained at the polls by a majority of the electors of the municipality. The act authorized and required the authorities of said townships, towns, or cities, respectively, "to levy and collect a tax, and make such provisions as may be necessary and proper for the prompt payment" of the appropriation. It neither expressly nor by implication invested the municipal corporations, embraced by its provisions, with the power to issue commercial paper in payment of an appropriation so voted. We held in

[ 121 U.S. Page 167]

     Claiborne County v. Brooks, 111 U.S. 400, 406, -- which was decided after the judgment below was rendered, -- that "mere political bodies, constituted as counties, are for the purpose of local police and administration, and having the power of levying taxes to pay all public charges created, . . . have no power or authority to make and utter commercial paper of any kind, unless such power is expressly conferred upon them by law, or clearly implied from some power expressly given, which cannot be fairly exercised without it." No such implication arises from the grant to a municipal corporation of power to appropriate money in aid of the construction of a railroad, accompanies by a provision directing the levy and collection of taxes to meet such appropriation, and prescribing no other mode of payment. Wells v. Supervisors, 102 U.S. 625, 631, 632; Ogden v. County of Daviess, 102 U.S. 634, 639. The provision in the act of 1867 that the money should be paid as soon as the road was located and constructed through the city, town, or township voting the appropriation, is inconsistent with the idea that such appropriation could be met, in the first instance, by negotiable bonds which might pass into the hands of bona fide holders for value, and become binding, whether the road was, or not, so located or constructed.

The clause requiring such provisions to be made as are necessary and proper for the prompt payment of the appropriation has reference only to the collection and application of taxes levied to meet the appropriation.

For these reasons the court erred in holding that the validity of the bonds was sustained by the act of March 7, 1867.

2. The suggestion, that the bonds were authorized by the act of February 26, 1869, 3 Private Laws Ill. 1869, p. 355, entitled "An act to legalize certain aids heretofore voted and granted to aid in the construction of the Chicago, Danville and Vincennes Railroad," is without force. That act, by its verty terms, has reference only to aids voted and granted prior to its passage. The aid in the present case was voted subsequently.

3. Nor, in our judgment, can the bonds be sustained as valid obligations of the town by the provisions of the act of

[ 121 U.S. Page 168]

     March 24, 1869, 3 Private Laws Ill. 1869, p. 356, entitled "An act to enable towns, townships, cities, or counties along the line of the Chicago, Danville and Vincennes Railroad to contribute toward the construction of said railroad." The first section of that act authorizes the several counties through which the road shall pass, by action of the board of supervisors, or by action of the county court in counties not acting under township organization, to make appropriations or loan their credit in such sums and upon such terms and conditions as they deem proper, to aid in the construction of such road; provided, the appropriation is first voted by the electors. The second section provides that "the legal voters of any town, township or city along the line of said railroad, whether said railroad shall run into or through said town, thownship, or city, or not, may, by a majority of the legal voters voting at any election held for the purpose, make appropriations or donations to aid in the construction of said railroad, and the proper authorities shall levy and collect taxes, in the manner that other taxes are levied and collected, to promptly meet any obligations assumed under and by virtue of this act."

The fourth section provides that "the authorities of any township, town, or city -- such township, town, or city having voted to contribute aid in the construction of said railroad -- may borrow money to promptly meet such contribution, and issue bonds of such township, town, or city, . . . and shall have power to levy and collect such taxes as may be necessary to pay accruing interest or pay the principal sum." This last section, it is contended, gave the supervisor and town clerk of Concord authority to issue negotiable bonds in payment of the appropriation or contribution voted by the township of Concord. In this view we do not concur.

The constitution of Illinois adopted in 1870 provides that "no county, city, township, or other municipality shall ever become subscriber to the capital stock of any railroad or private corporation, or make donation to or loan its credit in aid of such corporation: Provided, however, That the adoption of this article shall not be construed as ...


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