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been executed by Mark Young and Virginia Young, his wife, and to have been, on the same day, acknowledged before B. W. Ferguson, a justice of the peace in and for the District of Columbia. The certifi. cate of that officer, under his hand and seal, shows that the grantors were personally known to him to be the persons who executed the deed; that they personally appeared before him, in this district, "and acknowledged the same to be their act and deed; and the said Virginia Young, wife of said Mark Young, being by me (him] examined privily and apart from her husband, and having the deed aforesaid fully explained to her, acknowledged the same to be her act and deed, and declared that she had willingly signed, sealed, and delivered the same, and that she wished not to retract it.” This deed of trust conveyed certain real estate in the city of Washington, the property of Mrs. Young, to the appellees, Duvall and Holtzman, in trust to secure the payment of a note executed by the grantors, whereby they promised to pay to the order of John Little, two years after date, ats the National Metropolitan Bank, the sum of $8,000, with interest at the rate of 10 per cent. until paid. Neither Little nor the present holder of the note had any knowledge of the circumstances attending the execution of the deed. Default having occurred in the payment of the debt so secured, the trustees advertised the property for sale at public auction. Thereupon Mrs. Young instituted this suit for the purpose of preventing such sale and to obtain a decree declaring the deed of trust fraudulent and void, and requiring it to be surrendered for cancellation.

The bill sets forth several grounds upon which relief to that extent is asked, but those only deserve serious consideration which are embraced by averments, to the following effect: That the contents of the deed were never explained to her; that she signed it because she was required, ordered, and commanded to do so by her husband and a person who was with him; that its contents were never known or explained to her by the officer; that so far from her having been examined, in reference to the deed, privily and apart from her husband, the latter remained in the presence of herself and the officer on the occasion when it is claimed she signed, acknowledged, and delivered it. It was in proof that Mrs. Young signed the note and the deed, having an opportunity to read the papers before signing them; she was before an officer competent under the law to take her acknowledgment, and he came into her presence for the purpose of receiving it; he so came at the request of the husband, who expected, by means of the executed deed of trust, to secure a loan from John Little of the amount specified in the note; and she knew, or could readily have ascertained while in the presence of the officer, as well to what property the deed referred as the object of its execution. There is, however, a conflict in the evidence as to whether she willingly signed, sealed, and deliv. ered the deed, or had its contents fully or at all explained to her by the officer, or was examined privily and apart from her husband.

It is not necessary to enter upon a review of the adjudged cases bearing upon the general question of the effect to be given to the certificate of an officer taking an acknowledgment of a married woman to a conveyance of real estate; for if it be assumed for the purposes of this case that it is only prima facie evidence of the facts stated in it, we are of opinion that the integrity of the certificate before us has not been successfully impeached. The certificate of the officer states every fact essential under the statute to make the deed, upon its being delivered for record, as effectual in law as if Mrs. Young was an unmarried woman. The duties of that officer were plainly defined by statute. It was incumbent upon him to explain the deed fully to the wife, and to ascertain from her whether she willingly signed, sealed, and delivered the same, and wished not to retract it. The responsibility was upon him to guard her against coercion or undue influence upon the part of the husband, in respect of the execution and deiivery of the deed. To that end he was required to examine her privily and apart from the husband. These facts were to be manifested by a certificate under his hand and seal. Of necessity, arising out of considerations of public policy, his certificate must, under the circumstances disclosed in this case, be regarded as an ascertainment, in the mode prescribed by law, of the facts essential to his authority to make it; and if, under such circumstances, it can be contradicted, to the injury of those who in good faith have acted upon it,-upon which question we express no opinion, the proof to that end must be of such a character as will clearly and fully show the certificate to be false or fraudulent. Ins. Co. v. Nelson, 103 U. S. 544, 547. The mischiefs that would ensue from a different rule could not well be overstated. The cases of hardship upon married women that might occur under the operation of such a rule are of less consequence than the general insecurity in the titles to real estate which would inevitably follow from one less rigorous. It is sufficient for the disposition of this case to say that, even upon the assumption that the certificate is only prima facie èvidence of the facts stated in it, the proof is not of that clear, complete, and satisfactory character which must be required to impeach the official statements of the officer who certified Mrs. Young's acknowledgment of the deed in question.

The decree must, therefore, be affirmed. It is so ordered.

(109 U. S. 654)

WYMAN, Treasurer, etc., v. UNITED STATES ex rel. E. HALSTEAD

Adm'r, etc.

(January 7, 1884.)


For the purpose of founding administration, a simple contract debt is assets where the debtor resides, even if a bill of exchange or promissory note has been given for it, and without regard to the place where the bill or note is found or payable.

Debts due from the United States are not local assets at the seat of government


The Treasurer of the United States cannot be compelled by writ of mandamus to pay to an administrator appointed in the District of Columbia of an inhabitant of one of the states of the Union, the amount of a draft payable to the intestate at the treasury out of an appropriation made by congress and held by such administrator.

In Error to the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia.
Asst. Atty. Gen. Maury, for plaintiff in error.

A. L. Merriman and J. Walter Cooksey, for defendant in error. GRAY, J. This is a writ of error sued out by the treasurer of the United States to reverse a judgment of the supreme court of the District of Columbia, ordering a peremptory writ of mandamus to issue against him, upon the petition of Eminel P. Halstead, as administrator, appointed in the District, of the estates of John N. Pulliam and John J. Pulliam, (each of whom was an inhabitant of the state of Tennessee at the time of his death,) and as trustee appointed by that court, to compel the payment to him of the amount of certain drafts hereinafter mentioned. The petition alleged, and the answer admitted, these facts: On June 17, 1882, Wyman's predecessor, as treasurer of the United States, residing and transacting the business of his office at Washington, in the District of Columbia, issued under and by virtue of the act of congress of May 1, 1882, c. 114, making appropriations therefor, three drafts payable at the treasury in Washington,-one for $3,020, payable to John J. Pulliam, executor of John N. Pulliam, or order, and two for $1,223 and $545, respectively, payable to John J. Pulliam or order; and the three drafts were delivered to Halstead on account of the payees. John J. Pulliam afterwards died, and Halstead, having the drafts in his possession, applied for, and on August 2, 1882, obtained, letters of administration in the District of Columbia upon the several estates of the two Pulliams. In September, 1882, Benjamin U. Keyser filed a bill on the equity side of the supreme court of the District against Halstead and others, claiming an equitable interest in these drafts or the proceeds thereof, and in March, 1883, obtained a decree directing Halstead, as admin


istrator as aforesaid, and as trustee for that purpose, to indorse and collect the drafts, and to make distribution of the proceeds. In obedience to this decree, Halstead, on April 19, 1883, indorsed the drafts, and demanded payment thereof of Wyman, as treasurer of the United States; but he, although having sufficient money in his possession, appropriated by congress, refused to pay them without the indorsements of administrators appointed in the state of Tennessee, the domicile of the two deceased persons. The opinions delivered in the court below, upon granting the writ of mandamus, are reported in 11 Wash. Law Rep. 370-377, 385–394.

*The determination of this case does not depend upon the question whether administration was rightly taken out in the District of Columbia, nor upon the question whether an administrator appointed elsewhere could sue within the District upon debts payable here, but upon the question whether a payment by the United States to an administrator already or hereafter appointed in Tennessee, the domicile of the deceased, would be a good discharge of the debts, payment of which is now sought to be enforced.

The general rule of law is well settled that for the purpose of founding administration, all simple contract debts are assets at the domicile of the debtor; and that the locality of such a debt for this purpose is not affected by a bill of exchange or promissory note having been. given for it, because the bill or note does not alter the nature of the debt, but is merely evidence of it, and therefore the debt is assets where the debtor lives, without regard to the place where the instrument is found or payable. Yeomans v. Bradshaw, Carth. 373; S. C. Comb. 392; Holt, 42; 3 Salk. 70, 164; ABINGER, C. B., in Atty. Gen. v. Bouwens, 4 Mees. & W. 171, 191; S. C. 1 Horn & Hurl, 319, 324; PARKE, B., in Mondel v. Steele, 1 Dowl. (N. S.) 155, 157; Slocum v. Sanford, 2 Conn. 533; Chapman v. Fish, 6 Hill, 554; Owen v. Miller, 10 Ohio St. 136; Pinney v. McGregory, 102 Mass. 186. An administrator is, of course, obliged to demand payment at the place where the bill or note is payable; and he may find difficulty, unless it is payable to bearer, in suing upon it in a place in which he has not taken out administration. But payment to the administrator appointed in the state in which the intestate had his domicile at the time of his death, whether made within or without that state, is good against any administrator appointed elsewhere. Wilkins v. Ellett, 9 Wall. 740, and 108 U. S.; [S. C. 2 SUP. CT. REP. 641.]

As was said by Mr. Justice STORY, in delivering the judgment of this court in Vaughan v. Northup, 15 Pet. 1, 6, and repeated by Mr. Justice MCLEAN, in delivering judgment in Mackey v. Coxe, 18 How. 100, 105:

*"The debts due from the government of the United States have no locality at the seat of government. The United States, in their sovereign capacity, have no particular place of domicile, but possess, in contemplation of law, an ubiquity throughout the Union; and the debts due by them are not to be

treated like the debts of a private debtor, which constitute local assets in his own domicile. On the contrary, the administrator of a creditor of the government, duly appointed in the state where he was domiciled at the time of his death, has full authority to receive payment and give a full discharge of the debt due to his intestate, in any place where the government may choose to

pay it.”

In Vaughan v. Northup, an administrator, appointed in Kentucky, of an inhabitant of that state, who died there intestate and childless, received a sum of money from the treasurer of the United States, for military services rendered by the intestate during the revolutionary war, and a bill in equity filed against him in the District of Columbia by the next of kin, for their distributive shares of the money, was dismissed for want of jurisdiction, because an administrator, appointed in and deriving his authority from one state, was not liable to be sued elsewhere, in his official character, for assets lawfully received by him under and in virtue of his original letters of administration.

In that case, as in this, it was argued by counsel that the assets in question were not collected in the state of the intestate's domicile, "but were received as a debt due from the government at the treasury department at Washington, and so constituted local assets within this district.” It was in declining to yield to that argument that the court laid down the general principles above quoted, and added :

"If any other doctrine were to be recognized, the consequence would be that before the personal representative of any deceased creditor, belonging to any state in the Union, would be entitled to receive payment of any debt due by the government, he would be compellable to take out letters of administration in this District for the due administration of such assets. Such a doctrine has never yet been sanctioned by any practice of the government, and would be full of public as well as private inconvenience. It has not, in our judgment, any just foundation in the principles of law. We think that Northup, under the letters of administration taken out in Kentucky, was fully authorized to receive the debt due from the government to his intestate; that the moneys so received constituted assets under that administration, for which he was accountable to the proper tribunals in Kentucky; and that distribution thereof might have been, and should have been, sought there in the same manner as of any other debts due to the intestate in Kentucky."

The act of June 24, 1812, c. 106, $ 11, (since omitted in the Rev. ision in 1874 of the Statutes of the District,) by which executors or administrators appointed in any state or territory were permitted to maintain any suit or action, or to prosecute and recover any claim, in the District of Columbia, as if they had been appointed here, was referred to in the opinion, not as the principal ground of decision, but as affording no support for the bill, and as fortifying rather than weakening the general principles of law upon the subject. 2 St. 758; 15 Pet. 7, 8.

In the case at bar, neither the fact that the drafts were made payable at the treasury of the United States in the city of Washington, nor the deposit, pursuant to section 307 of the Revised Statutes, of the

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