COUNTY OF JASPER V. BALLOU, 103 U. S. 745 (1880)

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U.S. Supreme Court

County of Jasper v. Ballou, 103 U.S. 745 (1880)

County of Jasper v. Ballou

103 U.S. 745


The charter of a railroad company in Illinois allowed counties, &c., to subscribe to the stock of the corporation and issue bonds in payment, if a majority of voters, at an election called by the county court, should favor the subscription. The voters of a county, which had adopted a township organization, voted in favor of subscribing to the stock at an election called by its board of supervisors. A subsequent statute relating to the company provides that

"All elections held for the purpose of voting said stock, and the manner in which said stock was voted, are hereby legalized in all respects, and the stock to be subscribed in the manner the same was voted."

On the authority of this act and the election, the board of supervisors issued bonds of the county. At this time, a county court existed in the county. Before the bonds fell due, a statute was passed authorizing municipal corporations &c. to fund their bonds, which, in brief, declared that in cases where a county &c. had issued bonds for subscription to railroad companies &c., "which are now binding or subsisting legal obligations," and "which are properly authorized by law," the county &c. might, on surrender of such bonds, issue new ones with the provision that the issue should first be authorized by a vote of the majority of the legal voters of the county &c. Conformably to this provision, and pursuant to such a vote, the board of supervisors issued, in exchange for the old bonds, funding bonds having a longer period to run and bearing a lower rate of interest. In a suit against the county by a holder of funding bonds which he had received in exchange for surrendered bonds,


1. That the vote of the people at the last election recognized the original bonds as binding and subsisting obligations, and that the county is therefore estopped from setting up that they were invalid because voted for at an election called by the board of supervisors, instead of by the county court.

2. That where, at an election held according to law, the people of a county authorized their proper representatives to treat certain outstanding county obligations as properly authorized by law for the purpose of settling with the holders, and the settlement has been made, the validity of the obligations can no longer be contested.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.


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