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The question of jurisdiction was not made in the court below.
Ingersoll, for the plaintiffs in error, contended, that the jurisdiction must appear upon the face of the proceedings, according to the decision in the case of Bingham v. Cabot, 3 Dal. 382. And that it does not appear upon this record that the parties are citizens of different states ; a corporation aggregate cannot be a citizen of any state; and here is no averment of citizenship of the individuals who compose the corporation.
The whole argument against us depends upon the Bingle case of Bingham v. Cabot; for although in other cases the saine point has been decided, yet the subsequent decisions are all founded upon that case.
The effect of that decision has been to exclude many cases upon nice questions of pleading, which would otherwise have been clearly within the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States. No exception was taken to the jurisdiction in the court below; and this court would not willingly turn us out of court, after encountering all the risk, expense, delay and labour of a jury trial, upon an exception, which, if taken in the first instance, might have prevented all that risk, expense, and delay. In the case of Abercrombie v. Dupuis, (ante, vol. 1. p. 343.) the present Chief Justice (Marshall) intimated a doubt how the question would then have been decided if i were a new case,
and if the court was not bound by the case of Bingham v Cabot. This doubt shows that the court was not theri inclined to extend the principle farther than that case warrants. At the time the court decided the case of Bingham v. Cubot, the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States was an object of jealousy, and there was pro'bably a desire on the part of the court to remove all ground of suspicion, by deciding doubtful cases against the jurisdiction. This circumstance probably induced them to be over scrupulous upon that subject. But it is as much the duty of this court to exercise jurisdiction in cases where it is given by the constitution and laws of the United States, as to Boardman. refuse to assume it where it is not given.
The person who drew the declaration in the present case seems to have been aware of the decision in the case of Bingham v. Cabot, and to have intended to describe the parties in such a manner as to give the court jurisdiction, The defendant is described as “a company legally incorporated by the legislature of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and established at Providence in the said district."
The term citizen could not with propriety be applied to a corporation aggregate. It could only be a citizen by intendment of law. It is only a moral person; but it may be a citizen quoad hoc, ii e. in the sense in which the term citizen is used in that part of the constitution which speaks of the jurisdiction of the judicial power of the United States. The term is indeterminate in its signification. It has different meanings in different parts of the constitution. When it says “ the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states," the term citizens has a meaning different from that in which it is used in describing the jurisdiction of the courts.
To say that all the individual members of a body corporate must be citizens of a certain description, destroys the idea of a body politic. It is the body politic, the moral person, that sues; and not the individuals who compose the corporation. Its powers, its duties and capacities are different from those of the individuals of whom it is composed. It can neither derive benefit from the privileges, nor suffer injury by the incapacities, of any of those individuals.
Thus the infancy of any or even of all the members of a body corporate does not affect the validity of its acts. Nor does the alienage of the members
Hope Ins. prevent the body politic from holding lands. A
majority of the members of the bank of the United BOARDMAV.
States are aliens.
For if a corpo,
The objection goes to exclude all .corporations aggregate from the federal courts. ration cannot be a citizen it cannot be an alien. And as the individual members are constantly changing by the transfer of stock, it is impossible to ascertain at any precise moment who are the individuals who constitute the corporate body; and it would at any time be in the power of a corporation defendant to evade the jurisdiction of the court, by taking in a new member who should be of the same state with the plaintiff.
At all events it is an objection which ought to be pleaded in abatement according to the course of the common law, so that the plaintiff may have a better declaration; and hy that means much
time and labour would be saved.
The reason of giving jurisdiction to the courts of the United States in cases between citizens of different states, applies with the greatest force to the case of a powerful moneyed corporation erected within, and under the laws of a particular state. If there was a probability that an individual citizen of a state could influence the state courts in his favour, how much stronger is the probability that they could be influenced in favour of a powerful moneyed institution which might be composed of the most influential characters in the state. What chance for justice could a plaintiff have against such a powerful association in the courts of a small state whose judges perhaps were annually elected, or held their offices at the will of the legislature ?
If the jurisdiction of the federal courts is limited by the letter of the constitution, they have no jurisdiction in a case between a citizen of one state and a citizen of another state; because the coustitution speaks of citizens, in the plural, so that there must
be more than one plaintiff, and more than one de- Hore INA fendunt. So also there could be no jurisdiction if one of the parties was a woman, hecadse a woman BOARDMAX. cannot be a citizen; which is a term applicable only to a male.
It is not necessary
a person should be a citizen to commit treason: it may be commitred by an alien.
Fudge Juy, as an argument in favour of the suability of the states, urged that a corporation could undoubtedly be súed in the courts of the United States. *
The Court having, in the case of The Bank of the United States v. D. venitx et al. decided that the right of a corporation to litigate in the courts of ihe United States depended upon the character (as to citizenship of the members which compose the body corporate, and that a body corporate as such cannot be a citizen, within the meaning of the constitution, reversed the judgment, for want of jurisdiction in the court below.
A similar question of jurisdiction being involved in the case of The Bank of the United States v Deveaux et ist, and the co'insel in that case expressing a wish to be heard before this case should be decider, the court agreed to hear both cases at the same :ine; the further arguments in this case were consequently blended with those in the other.
THE BANK OF THE UNITED STATES v. DE
VEAUX ET AL.
ERROR to the circuit court for the district of Georgia.
A corporaliun agregate,
compuest of The declaration, or petition, as it is there called, citizens of one
stali, may sue was as follows:
another District of Georgia.
in the circuit
of the To the honourable the judges of the sixth circuit United States.
BANK U. S. court of the United States, in and for the district
courts of the
the nature of
Where the ju
The petition of The President, Directors and Comme risdiction of the pany, of the Bank of the United States, which said United States
bank was established under an act of congress entidepends, not tled “ Ara act to incorporate the subscribers to the o the charac Bank of the United States," passed the 25th day of ties, but upon February, 1791, showeth, the case, the
That Peter Deveaux and Thomas Robertson, both derive no ju of the city of Savannah, Esquires, have endamaged the judiciary your petitioners in the sum of three thousand dollars, act, except in for this, to wit, that the said Thomas Robertson, then the case of a controversy
acting under authority from the said Peter Deveaux, between citi
. on the 20th day of April, 1807, at Savannah, in the zens of the district aforesaid, and within the jurisdiction of this elaiming lands honourable court, with force and arms entered into uncler
Srants the house and premises of your petitioners, at Savanfrom different
nah aforesaid, and then and there seized, took, and No right is detained, two boxes (the goods and chattels of your conferred the bank, by peiitioners) containing each one thousand dollars in its act of in. silver, then and there found in the possession of your sue in the fede. petitioners, and being of the value of two thousand
and four dollars, and carried the same away, and A corpora
converted and disposed thereof to their own use, and aggregate Comot, in its other wrongs to your petitioners then and there did corporate ca: against the peace of the district, and to the great
be a citizen. damage of your petitioners, therefore your petition
ers say they are injured, and have sustained damage to the value of three thousand dollars, and therefore they bring suit. And your petitioners aver that they are citizens of the State of Pennsylvania, and the said Peter Deveaux und Thomas Robertson are citizens of the State of Georgia.
Wherefore your petitioners pray process, &ć.
And the said Peter and Thomas, by R. L. their attorney, come and defend the force and injury, when, &c. and pray judginent of the declaration aforesaid, because they say that the sixth circuit court of the United States ought not to have and