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U.S. Supreme Court

Crawford v. Branch Bank of Alabama, 48 U.S. 7 How. 279 279 (1849)

Crawford v. Branch Bank of Alabama

48 U.S. (7 How.) 279


A statute of the State of Alabama, directing that promissory notes given to the cashier of a bank may be sued and collected in the name of the bank is a law which affects the remedy only, and, although passed after the note was executed, does not impair the obligation of the contract.

Besides, the record does not show that the question of the consistency of the statute with the Constitution of the United States was raised in the state court, and therefore a writ of error issued under the twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act must be dismissed on motion.

In May, 1841, the following promissory note was executed:


"Two hundred and fifteen days after date, we jointly and severally promise to pay to B. Gayle, cashier, or order, three thousand eight hundred and seventeen 50/100 dollars, negotiable and payable at the Branch of the Bank of the State of Alabama, at Mobile, for value received, this 31 May, 1841."




On 4 December, 1841, the legislature passed an act, from which the following is an extract:

"All notes, bills,

Page 48 U. S. 280

bonds, or other evidences of debt, held by the state bank or branch banks, payable to the cashier or to the person who has filled the office of cashier of said bank or branch banks, may be sued and collected in the name of the several banks, in the same manner as if they had been made payable directly to said bank or branch banks by which the paper has been taken or discounted. . . . No notice, writ, declaration, or judgment which has been issued, filed, or rendered on such papers, shall be abated, set aside, or reversed, on account of the want of assignment, transfer, or endorsement of said papers by the officer or person acting as cashier to whom it was so made payable. But the legal title to such paper for all purposes of collection shall be deemed to have been in said bank or branch bank by whom the paper was discounted."

See Clay's Digest 112, §§ 47, 48.

In May, 1844, judgment was entered up upon the above note in a summary manner, upon motion and thirty days' notice, according to the law of that state. A jury was sworn, who assessed the damages at $4,537.20.

The defendants took the following bill of exceptions, viz.:

"Upon the trial of this cause, the plaintiff produced the original papers hereto attached, marked A, being the notice, the certificates and returns, the note, and protest, and moved for judgment without further proof of the same. The defendants objected to the court taking cognizance of the case or allowing judgment, which was overruled and judgment entered, to which the defendants object, and pray the court to sign and seal this bill, which is done."


Upon this bill of exceptions the case was carried to the Supreme Court of the State of Alabama, and the following errors assigned.

"Assignment of Errors"

And the said William Crawford comes, when &c., and says, that there is error in the record and proceedings of the court below, in this, to-wit:

"1. That it appears from the record and the note upon which the suit is founded, and which is made a part of it by the bill of exceptions, that the said promissory note was made payable to B. Gayle, cashier, and that the said note has not been assigned to the said branch bank, nor was it alleged or proved, as the judgment entry shows, that the said note was made or given to the said branch bank by the name of B. Gayle, nor that B. Gayle acted as the agent of the said bank in taking

Page 48 U. S. 281

said note, and that it doth not appear, from the record, that the said branch bank has any interest in the said note."

"2. That there is error in this that it was not proved to the court below that Jacob J. Marsh, who returned the notice executed, styling himself agent for the said branch bank, nor that his handwriting was proved; but on the contrary, it is stated in the bill of exceptions that there was no proof to that effect."

"WILLIAM CRAWFORD, for himself"

The Supreme Court of Alabama affirmed the judgment of the court below, and a writ of error brought the case up to this Court.


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