Bank of the Metropolis v. Guttschlick (1840)

In Bank of the Metropolis v. Guttschlick (1840), 39 U.S. 19, an action for specific performance of a contract made by a bank for the sale of land, which arose by writ of error to the Circuit Court of the United States for the County of Washington in the District of Columbia, an objection made to the declaration was that the agreement of sale was averred to have been made by the bank "through the president and cashier" without averring their authority. The Supreme Court of the United States held this objection untenable saying: "Now even assuming, for the sake of giving the objection its full force, that the making of this agreement was not within the competency of these officers, as such, yet it was unquestionably in the power of the bank to give authority to its own officers to do so. When, then, it is averred that the bank, by them, agreed, this averment, in effect, imports the very thing, the supposed want of which constitutes the objection: because, upon the assumption stated, the bank could have made no agreement but by agents having lawful authority. Nay, it would have been sufficient, in our opinion, that the bank agreed, without the words, `through the president and cashier:' for it is a rule in pleading, that facts may be stated according to their legal effect. Now the legal effect of an agreement made by an agent for his principal, whilst the agent is acting within the scope of his authority, is, that it is the agreement of the principal. Accordingly, it is settled that the allegation that a party made, accepted, endorsed, or delivered a bill of exchange, is sufficient, although the defendant did not, in fact, do either of these acts himself, provided he authorized the doing of them. Chitty on Bills, 356, and the authorities there cited. This principle has been applied too, in actions ex delicto, as well as ex contractu. In 6 Term Rep. 659, it was held, that an allegation that the defendant had negligently driven his cart against plaintiff's horse, was supported by evidence, that defendant's servant drove the cart. In this aspect of the question, it was one, not of pleading, but of evidence."