Anderson County Commissioners v. Beal
In Anderson County Commissioners v. Beal, 113 U.S. 227 (1885), the question arose as to whether there had been the requisite length of notice of the election to determine the question whether or not the bonds should be issued.
The statute required that at least thirty days' notice of the election should be given, and it was thereby made the duty of the board of county commissioners to subscribe for the stock and issue the bonds after such assent of the majority of the voters had been given.
Subsequently in a suit against the board of county commissioners on coupons due on the bonds that had been issued and which had been bought by a bona fide purchaser, the record showed an order for the election made thirty-three days before it was to be held, and that subsequently to the election the board canvassed the returns and certified that there was a majority of the voters in favor of the proposition, and that the board had made such vote the basis of their action in subscribing to the stock and issuing the bonds to the company.
The bonds recited on their face that they were issued "in pursuance to the vote of the electors of Anderson County, of September 13, 1869."
It was held that the statement in the bonds as to the vote was equivalent to a statement that the vote was one lawful and regular in form, such as the law then in force required as to prior notice, and that as respected the plaintiff, evidence by the defendant to show less than thirty days' notice of the election could not avail.
At page 238 the court said:
"The bond recites the wrong act, but if that part of the recital be rejected, there remains the statement that the bond `is executed and issued' `in pursuance to the vote of the electors of Anderson County, of September 13, 1869.' The act of 1869 provides that when the assent of a majority of those voting at the election is given to the subscription to the stock, the county commissioners shall make the subscription, and shall pay for it, and for the stock thereby agreed to be taken, by issuing to the company the bonds of the county. The provision of section 51 is `that when such assent shall have been given,' it shall be the duty of the county commissioners to make the subscription. What is the meaning of the words `such assent?' They mean the assent of the prescribed majority, as the result of an election held in pursuance of such notice as the act prescribes. The county commissioners were the persons authorized by the act to ascertain and determine whether `such assent' had been given; and necessarily so, because, on the ascertainment by them of the fact of `such assent,' they were charged with `the duty' - that is the language - of making the subscription, and the duty of issuing the bonds. They were equally charged with the duty of ascertaining the fact of the assent. The record evidence of their proceedings shows that their order for the election was made thirty-three days before the election was to be held; that they met `pursuant to law for the purpose of canvassing returns of the election;' that they discharged that duty and certified that there was a majority of votes in favor of the proposition; that, in November, 1869, they resolved that, `in accordance with the vote, heretofore had and taken, of the electors of said county to that effect,' they subscribed for the stock; and that, in July, 1870, in their order authorizing the bonds to be delivered by Joy to the company, they recited that the bonds were issued `according to the provisions of the vote of the electors of said county.' In view of all this, the statement by the commissioners, in the bond, that it is issued `in pursuance to the vote of the electors of Anderson County, of September 13, 1869,' is equivalent to a statement that `the vote' was a vote lawful and regular in form, and such as the law then in force required, in respect to prior notice. The case is, therefore, brought within the cases, of which there is a long line in this court, illustrated by Town of Coloma v. Eaves, 92 U.S. 484, 491, and which hold, in the language of that case, that `where legislative authority has been given to a municipality or to its officers to subscribe for the stock of a railroad company, and to issue municipal bonds in payment, but only on some precedent condition, such as a popular vote favoring the subscription, and where it may be gathered from the legislative enactment that the officers of the municipality were invested with the power to decide whether the condition precedent has been complied with, their recital that it has been, made in the bonds issued by them and held by a bona fide purchaser, is conclusive of the fact, and binding upon the municipality; for the recital is itself a decision of the fact by the appointed tribunal.' This doctrine is adhered to by this court. Dixon County v. Field, 111 U.S. 83, 93, 94 (1884)."