ERROR to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Western 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. Joseph E. Merryman for the plaintiff in error.
Mr. Willard P. Hall, contra.
On the 4th of January, 1860, the General Assembly of Missouri incorporated the Platte City and Des Moines Railroad Company, now, by statutory change of name, the Chicago and Southwestern Railway Company. Sect. 7 of the charter is as follows:––
'SECT. 7. Upon the presentation of a petition of the president and directors of said company to the county court of any county through which said road may be located, praying that a vote may be taken in any strip of country through which it may pass, not to exceed ten miles on either side of said road; that the inhabitants thereof are desirous of taking stock in said road and of voting upon themselves a tax for the payment of the same,–it shall be the duty of said county court to order an election therein, and shall prescribe the time, place, and manner of holding said election; and if a majority of the taxable inhabitants shall determine in favor of the tax, it shall be the duty of said court to levy and collect from them a special tax, which shall be kept separate from all other funds and appropriated to no other purposes, and as fast as collected shall cause the same to be paid to the treasurer of said company.' On the 4th of July, 1865, a new constitution of Missouri went into effect, sect. 14, art. 11, of which 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-thirds of the qualified voters of such county, city, or town, at a regular or special election to be held therein, shall assent thereto.'
By an act to facilitate the construction of railroads, passed March 23, 1868, municipal townships in any county of Missouri were authorized to subscribe, through the county court of the county, to the stock of railroad companies, with the assent of two-thirds of the qualified voters of the township, and to pay their subscriptions with bonds in the name of the county, payable out of a special tax to be levied on the real estate of the township. On the 24th of March, 1870, the General Assembly amended this law by adding the following as sect. 7:––
'In all cases where, by the provisions of the charter of any railroad company organized under the laws of this State, the taxable inhabitants of a portion of a municipal township of any county in this State have voted, or may hereafter vote, to take stock in such railroad company, they are hereby declared entitled to, and shall have, all the privileges, rights, and benefits in said act conferred upon counties or townships, and the county court of such county shall exercise the same powers and perform the same duties in issuing bonds, levying, collecting, and paying over the taxes which it is required to in the case of a county or township under the provisions of said act: Provided, however, that no part of such township outside the limits of the district voting shall be taxed to pay any of the bonds or coupons so issued by the county court. This act shall take effect from its passage.'
After the passage of this act, the Daviess County Court, on the petition of the Chicago and Southwestern Railway Company, ordered an election on the twenty-first day of June, 1870, to obtain the assent of the 'taxable inhabitants living within a strip of five miles on each side of the line of said railway to be built through the county of Daviess, . . . to the subscription by the county of Daviess, for and on behalf of the taxable inhabitants of said strip, of the sum of $60,000 of the capital stock of said railway company, on such terms and conditions as' the court 'should deem proper.' Thereupon the court fixed, as one of the conditions of the subscription, that 'in payment of said subscription sixty bonds shall be issued by said county to the Chicago and Southwestern Railway Company, . . . of $1,000 each, payable ten years after date, with interest at the rate of eight per cent per annum, evidenced by semi-annual coupons,' &c. The election was held, and resulted in five hundred and sixty-eight votes for the subscription and four hundred against it. The county court subscribed the stock, and to pay the subscription issued and delivered to the company bonds in the following form:––
'UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
'$1,000.] State of Missouri, County of Daviess. [$1,000.
'Daviess County Ten-year Bond, No. 3.
'Know all men by these presents, that the county of Daviess, in the State of Missouri, acknowledges itself to owe and be indebted to, and promises to pay the bearer the sum of one thousand dollars, on the first day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty, for value received, negotiable and payable without defalcation or discount at the Metropolitan National Bank, in the city and State of New York, with interest thereon from the first day of August, A. D. 1870, at the rate of eight per centum per annum until paid, which interest shall be due and payable semi-annually on the first day of February and August in each year, on the presentation of the proper interest coupon, as annexed hereto, attested by the signature of William M. Bostaph, clerk at the said Metropolitan National Bank. This is one of sixty bonds of like date, amount, and effect, numbered from one to sixty, both numbers inclusive, issued in payment of the indebtedness of said county of Daviess to the Chicago and Southwestern Railway Company, incurred on account of an election held in said county on the twenty-first day of June, A. D. 1870, by certain taxable inhabitants of said county.
'In testimony whereof, the said county of Daviess, by order of its county court, has caused these presents to be executed by the signature of the presiding justice of said court, attested by the clerk thereof, with the seal of said county affixed, at office in Gallatin, ...