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Law School Case Brief

Texas v. White - 74 U.S. (1 Wall.) 700 (1869)


Acts necessary to peace and good order among citizens, such for example, as acts sanctioning and protecting marriage and the domestic relations, governing the course of descents, regulating the conveyance and transfer of property, real and personal, and providing remedies for injuries to person and estate, and other similar acts, which would be valid if emanating from a lawful government, must be regarded in general as valid when proceeding from an actual, though unlawful government; and acts in furtherance or support of rebellion against the United States, or intended to defeat the just rights of citizens, and other acts of like nature, must, in general, be regarded as invalid and void.


During the American Civil War, the rebel legislature of the State of Texas repealed an act requiring the governor's indorsement on United States bonds that were issued to the State. The rebel legislature then sold bonds to some of defendant holders in exchange for cotton cards and medicines. After the rebellion, complainant filed an action to restrain the holders of the unendorsed bonds from receiving payment from the United States.


Is the contract between the rebel legislature and defendants still valid after the rebellion?




The Unted States Supreme Court restrained defendants from asserting any claim to the bonds and decreed that the State was entitled to restitution of the bonds and proceeds in possession of defendants. The contract between the rebel legislature and defendants did not divest the State of its title to the bonds because any contract in aid of the rebellion was void. The Court found that the State had established that the purchasers of the unendorsed bonds had notice that the vendors selling the bonds did not have good title.

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