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YOUNG v. THE BANK OF ALEXANDRIA.

February 1, 1808

YOUNG
v.
THE BANK OF ALEXANDRIA.



ERROR to the circuit court for the district of Columbia, sitting at Alexandria.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chase, J. The act makes it felony to counterfeit the notes of this bank. Does not that make it a public act?

C. Simms, for the defendant in error, having obtained a rule on the plaintiff in error, to show cause why the writ of error should not be quashed,

Roungs, E. J. Lee, and Jones, now showed cause; and read a printed paper produced by the other side, purporting to be the act of assembly of Virginia, of 1792, incorporating the bank, and giving them a right to obtain judgments against their debtors at the first term, without appeal or writ of error; another printed paper, also produced by the other side, purporting to be the act of assembly of Virginia, of the 21st of January, 1801, continuing the act of 1792, until the year 1811, which would otherwise have expired in the year 1803; the act of congress of the 27th of February, 1801, erecting the circuit court for the district of Columbia, and providing for an appeal or writ of error to this court, in all cases where the matter in dispute shall exceed the value of one hundred dollars, with a proviso that nothing in that act should impair the rights granted by, or derived from the acts of incorporation of any body corporate within the district; the act of assembly of Virginia, of 1789, ceding to the United States a territory for the seat of their government, and the act of congress of 1790, accepting the cession.

They contended,

1. That when the legislature of Virginia passed the act of 21st of January, 1801, continuing the act of 1792, which incorporated the bank, the state of Virginia had no power to legislate for the district of Columbia, and therefore could not give continuance to the act of 1792, as a law in that district. The consequence of which is, that there is now no law in the district of Columbia which gives to the bank any exclusive privileges.

2. That the act of Virginia, of 21st of January, 1801, was not adopted as the law for the district of Columbia, by the act of congress of 27th of February, 1801.

3. That if the act of 21st of January, 1801, was adopted as to its general provisions, yet so much of it as takes away the right of appeal was not adopted, because inconsistent with that part of the adopting law, which gives an appeal or writ of error, in all cases where the matter in dispute exceeds the value of 100 dollars.

4. That the acts of 1792, and 21st of January, 1801, were private acts, and that the papers read, purporting to be those acts, were not sufficiently authenticated, and could not be noticed by the court.

The points being opened, the court requested to hear the counsel on the other side.

C. Simms, for the bank.

The first question is, whether the right of Virginia to legislate for the district of Columbia, ceased on the 1st Monday in December, 1800, when the district became the seat of the national government, or on the 27th of February, 1801, when congress first provided by law for the government of the district under their jurisdiction. By the act of assembly of Virginia, passed on the 3d of December, 1789, for the cession of a territory, for the permanent seat of the general government, (Revised Code, p. 52.) it is enacted, 'that a tract of country, not exceeding ten miles square, or any lesser quantity, to be located within the limits of this state, and in any part thereof as congress may by law direct, shall be, and the same is hereby, forever ceded and relinquished to the congress and government of the United States, in full and absolute right and exclusive jurisdiction, as well of soil as of persons residing or to reside thereon, pursuant to the tenor and effect of the 8th section of the 1st article of the constitution of government of the United States.''Provided, that the jurisdiction of the laws of this commonwealth, over the persons and property of individuals residing within the limits of the cession aforesaid, shall not cease or determine, until congress, having accepted the said cession, shall by law provide for the government thereof, under their jurisdiction, in manner provided by the article of the constitution before recited.'

By the act of congress of 16th of July, 1790, for establishing the temporary and permanent seat of the government of the United States, vol. 1. p. 132. it is enacted 'that a district of territory, not exceeding ten miles square to be located, as hereafter directed on the river Potomac, at some place between the mouths of the Eastern-branch, and Connogochegue, be, and the same is hereby accepted for the permanent seat of the government of the United States; provided nevertheless, that the operation of the laws of the state, within such district, shall not be affected by this acceptance, until the time fixed for the removal of the government thereto, and until congress shall otherwise by law provide.

The time for the removal of the government to the district, was by the same act fixed to be the first Monday in December, 1800.

The government having been on that day removed to the district, congress did not by law provide for the government thereof, under their jurisdiction, until the 27th of February, 1801; until which day, we contend, the jurisdiction of the laws of Virginia, or in other words the right of Virginia to legislate for the district, did not cease or determine. Virginia had therefore a right to pass the act of 21st of January, 1801, which was consequently one of the existing laws of Virginia, in the district of Columbia, on the 27th of February, 1801, when congress enacted, 'that the laws of Virginia as they now exist, shall be and continue in force in that part of the district of Columbia, which was ceded by the said state to the United States, and by them accepted for the permanent seat of the government.'There are only two instances in which congress have referred to the 1st Monday of December, 1800, as the period of separation, viz. in the act of 3d March, 1801, s. 7. vol. 5. p. 290. authorising the sheriffs of the adjoining counties in Maryland and Virginia, to proceed to collect taxes and officers' fees, due before that day; and in the act of May 3d, 1802, s. 13. vol. 6. p. 183. which refers to the militia-laws of the states of Maryland and Virginia, as they stood in force in the district, on the 1st Monday of December, 1800.

The right of the bank to obtain judgment against their debtors at the first term without appeal, is a right granted to them by their act of incorporation, and is therefore saved by the proviso of the statute of 27th February, 1801, and is therefore an exception to the general clause, which gives a right of appeal in all cases.

But it is contended that the acts of Virginia, incorporating the bank of Alexandria, are private acts, and that the printed papers now produced ought not to be regarded by the court as evidence of the existence of such acts. The acts which we read to the court, are found printed with, and bound up among the public acts of the commonwealth. The title-page declares the book to contain the acts of assembly of the commonwealth of Virginia, and to be printed by Augustine Davis, who, we are ready to prove, was the public printer for the years when those laws were passed. By the act of assembly of Virginia, of 22d January, 1798, the public printer is to be appointed annually, by the joint ballot of both houses, and it is made his duty to publish all laws passed during the session. (New Revised Code, 382.) The executive is also bound by law, to send copies of all the laws, when printed, to the clerks of the courts, &c. and by another statute, private acts of assembly may be given in evidence, without pleading them specially. (New Rev. Code, 59. 112.)

There is a difference between the laws of Virginia, and those of England, respecting the authentication of private acts. In England they are never printed nor promulgated, but remain with the clerk of parliament. But in Virginia they are printed and promulgated by the authority of the legislature, and are as well authenticated as public acts.

But this is a public act.

MARSHALL, Ch. J. said, that the opinion of the court was very strong, that this is a publie act; and that if it were not, it being printed by the public printer, by order of the legislature, agreeably to a general act of assembly for that purpose, it must be considered as sufficiently authenticated. But that the court would not prevent counsel from arguing the point, if they thought they could support the contrary opinion; which the counsel declined attempting.

At the opening of the court, on the next morning,

Youngs, for the plaintiff in error, being about to reply,

MARSHALL, Ch. J. said, the court is so much of opinion that the point is decided by the case of Wilson and Mason, (ante, vol. 1. p. 91.) that they are inclined to hear the other side.

By the Virginia land law, no appeal or writ of error is allowed in caveats; and by the compact between Virginia and Kentucky, that law was immutable; yet this court, in Wilson and Mason, decided that the act of congress which gives a writ of error in all cases, so far repealed the state law, as to prevent ...


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