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they use the name of the corporation for the purpose of asserting their corporate rights. Still, the cases show that this technical definition of a corporation does not uniformly circumscribe its capacities, but that courts for legitimate purposes will contemplate it more substantially.
There is a case, however, reported in 12 Modern Reports, which is thought precisely in point. The corporation of London brought a suit against Wood, by their corporate name, in the mayor's court. The suit was brought by the mayor and commonalty, and was tried before the mayor and aldermen. The judgment rendered in this cause was brought before the court of king's bench, and reversed, because the court was deprived of its jurisdiction by the character of the individuals who were members of the corporation.
In that case the objection that a corporation was an invisible, intangible thing, a mere incorporeal, legal entity, in which the characters of the individuals who composed it were completely merged, was urged and was considered. The judges unanimously declared that they could look beyond the corporate name, and notice the character of the individuals. In the opinions which were delivered seriatim, several cases are put which serve to illustrate the principle and fortify the decision.
The case of The Mayor and Commonalty v. Wood is the stronger because it is on the point of jurisdiction. It appears to the court to be a full authority for the case now under consideration. It seems not possible to distinguish them from each other.
If, then, the congress of the United States had in terms enacted that incorporated aliens might sue a citizen, or that the incorporated citizens of one state might sue a citizen of another state, in the federal courts, by their corporate name, this court would not have felt itself justified in declaring that such a law transcended the constitution. .
The controversy is substantially between aliens, suing by a corporate name, and a citizen, or between citizens of one state, suing by a corporate name, and those of another state. When these are said to be substantially the parties to the controversy,
the court does not mean to liken it to the case of a trustee. A trustee is a real person, capable of being a citizen or an alien, who has the whole legal estate in himself. At law, he is the real proprietor, and he represents himself, and sues in his own right. But in this case the corporate name represents persons who are members of the corporation.
If the constitution would authorize congress to give the courts of the union jurisdiction in this case, in consequence of the character of the members of the corporation, then the judicial act ought to be construed to give it. For the term “ citizen ” ought to be understood as it is used in the constitution, and as it is used in other laws ; that is, to describe the real persons who come into court, in this case, under their corporate name.
That corporations composed of citizens are considered by the legislature as citizens, under certain circumstances, is to be strongly inferred from the registering act. It never could be intended that an American registered vessel, abandoned to an insurance company composed of citizens, should lose her character as an American vessel ; and yet this would be the consequence of declaring that the members of the corporation were, to every intent and purpose, out of view, and merged in the corporation.
The court feels itself authorized, by the case in 12 Modern Reports, on a question of jurisdiction, to look to the character of the individuals who compose the corporation ; and they think that the precedents of this court, though they were not decisions on argument, ought not to be absolutely disregarded.
If a corporation may sue in the courts of the union, the court is of opinion that the averment in this case is sufficient.
Being authorized to sue in their corporate name, they could · make the averment, and it must apply to the plaintiffs as ins dividuals, because it could not be true as applied to the corpo
Judgment reversed, plea in abatement overruled, and cause remanded.
THE UNITED STATES v. JUDGE PETERS.
FEBRUARY TERM, 1809.
[5 Cranch’s Reports, 115 - 141.]
The United States district court for the district of Pennsylvania gave, in a certain admiralty case, sentence in favor of Gideon Olmstead and others against Elizabeth Serjeant and Esther Waters. A copy of this sentence was served on said Serjeant and Waters, which they refused to obey. Judge Peters of the district court was then applied to for a process which should enforce obedience, but this he would not grant. At the February term of 1808 the supreme court was applied to for a rule to the said judge, requiring him to show cause why a mandamus should not issue commanding him to grant the desired process. He made a return stating that the legislature of Pennsylvania had passed an act to protect Elizabeth Serjeant and Esther Waters against the process of any United States court issued under the suits in question, that he was unwilling to embroil the United States with Pennsylvania, and refused to grant the process in order to bring the case before the supreme court.
On the 20th of February Chief Justice Marshall delivered the opinion of the court; and as he gives the leading facts in this very complicated case, we need only say further that Serjeant and Waters were the executrixes of Rittenhouse, referred to. The opinion was in these words :
With great attention, and with serious concern, the court has considered the return made by the judge for the district of Pennsylvania to the mandamus directing him to execute the sentence pronounced by him in the case of Gideon Olmstead and others v. Rittenhouse's Executrixes, or to show cause for not so doing. The cause shown is an act of the legislature of Pennsylvania, passed subsequent to the rendition of his sentence. This act authorizes and requires the governor to demand, for the use of the state of Pennsylvania, the money which had been decreed to Gideon Olmstead and others, and which was in the hands of the executrixes of David Rittenhouse; and in default of payment, to direct the attorney general to institute a suit for the recovery thereof. This act further authorizes and requires the governor to use any further means he may think necessary for the protection of what it denominates“ the just rights of the state,” and also to protect the persons and properties of the said executrixes of David Rittenhouse, deceased, against any process whatever issued out of any federal court in consequence of their obedience to the requisition of the said act.,
If the legislatures of the several states may at will annul the judgments of the courts of the United States, and destroy the right acquired under those judgments, the constitution itself becomes a solemn mockery, and the nation is deprived of the means of enforcing its laws by the instrumentality of its own tribunals. So fatal a result must be deprecated by all; and the people of Pennsylvania, not less than the citizens of every other state, must feel a deep interest in resisting principles so destructive of the union, and in averting consequences so fatal to themselves.
The act in question does not, in terms, assert the universal right of the state to interpose in every case whatever ; but assigns, as a motive for its interposition in this particular case, that the sentence the execution of which it prohibits was rendered in a cause over which the federal courts have no jurisdiction.
If the ultimate right to determine the jurisdiction of the courts of the union is placed by the constitution in the several state-legislatures, then this act concludes the subject; but if that power necessarily resides in the supreme judicial tribunal of the nation, then the jurisdiction of the district court of Pennsylvania over the case in which that jurisdiction was exercised
ought to be most deliberately examined; and the act of Pennsylvania, with whatever respect it may be considered, cannot be permitted to prejudice the question.
In the early part of the war between the United States and Great Britain, Gideon Olmstead and others, citizens of Connecticut, who say they had been carried to Jamaica as prisoners, were employed as part of the crew of the sloop Active, . bound from. Jamaica to New York, and laden with a cargo for the use of the British army in that place. On the voyage they seized the vessel, confined the captain, and sailed for Egg Harbor. In sight of that place the Active was captured by the Convention, an armed ship belonging to the state of Pennsylvania, brought into port, libelled, and condemned as prize to the captors. From this sentence Gideon Olmstead and others, who claimed the vessel and cargo, appealed to the court of appeals established by congress, by which tribunal the sentence of condemnation was reversed, the Active and her cargo condemned as prize to the claimants, and process was directed to issue 'out of the court of admiralty, commanding the marshal of that court to sell the said vessel and cargo and pay the net proceeds to the claimants.
The mandate of the appellate court was produced in the inferior court, the judge of which admitted the general jurisdiction of the court established by congress, as an appellate court; but denied its power to control the verdict of a jury which had been rendered in favor of the captors, the officers and crew of the Convention ; and therefore refused obedience to the mandate ; but directed the marshal to make the sale, and after deducting charges, to bring the residue of the money into court, subject to its future order.
The claimants then applied to the judges of appeals for an injunction to prohibit the marshal from paying the money arising from the sales into the court of admiralty ; which was awarded, and served upon him ; in contempt of which, on the 4th of January, 1778, he paid the money to the judge, who acknowledged the receipt thereof at the foot of the marshal's return.