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U.S. Supreme Court

Atchison Board of Education v. De Kay, 148 U.S. 591 (1893)

Atchison Board of Education v. De Kay

No. 176

Argued and submitted March 24, 1893

Decided April 10, 1893

148 U.S. 591


The bonds issued by the city of Atchison, Kansas, January 1, 1869, pledging the school fund, etc., of the city for payment were valid obligations.

The legislation of Kansas relating to cities of the first class, and to cities of the second class, and to Boards of Education, reviewed.

An error of a single word in the title of a statute in copying it into a municipal bond does not vitiate the deliberate acts of the proper officers of the municipality, as expressed in the promise to pay which they have issued for money borrowed.

It is a general rule that where a municipal charter commits the decision of a matter to the council of the municipality and is silent as to the mode of decision, it may be done by a resolution, and need not necessarily he by an ordinance, and the decision in Newman v. Emporia, 32 Kan. 456, is not in conflict with this rule.

When municipal bonds have been issued in reliance upon a consent of the proper municipal authorities, as shown by the municipal records, and for chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 148 U. S. 592

years thereafter interest had been duly paid upon such bonds, the courts will not, after the lapse of twenty years, in a suit upon the bonds, pronounce them invalid on purely technical and trivial grounds.

An express power conferred upon a municipal corporation to issue bonds bearing interest carries with it the power to attach interest coupons to those bonds.

This action is properly brought against the Board of Education of the City of Atchison, which is a distinct corporation, and the proper one to be sued for a debt like this.

On January 1, 1869, the Board of Education of the City of Atchison issued $20,000 of bonds. They were in this form:

"No. ___ School Bond $1,000.00"

"City of Atchison, State of Kansas"

"Know all men by these presents that the City of Atchison, Kansas, for value received, is indebted to the bearer in the sum of one thousand dollars, which it promises to pay on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1884 at the National Park Bank, in the City of New York, with interest at the rate of ten percent per annum, payable semiannually, on the 1st day of January and on the 1st day of July of each year, upon presentation at the said National Park Bank of the interest coupons hereto attached as they mature, the last installment of interest payable with this bond. This bond is issued under and by virtue of an act of the Legislature of the State of Kansas entitled 'An act to organize cities of the second class, approved February 28th, 1868,' and is secured by pledge of the school fund and property of said City of Atchison for the payment of the principal and interest thereof, as the same may become due."

"Dated at Atchison, this 1st day of January, 1869."

"[Signed] Jno. A. Martin"

"President of the Board of Education"

"W. F. Downs, Clerk"


"Frank Smith, Treasurer"

Each bond had interest coupons attached. On June 30, 1885, plaintiff, Francis M. De Kay, claiming to be the owner of certain of these bonds and coupons, commenced suit in the chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 148 U. S. 593

Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Kansas. The defendant answered, a trial was had, and on June 6, 1889, judgment was entered in favor of the plaintiff for $31,699.40, from which sum $1,325 was thereafter remitted, as excessive interest. To reverse this judgment, defendant sued out a writ of error from this Court.

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