Bank of the United States v. Waggener (1835)
In Bank of the United States v. Waggener (1835) 34 U.S. 378, Justice Story in Bank of United States v. Waggener, 9 Pet. 378, 399, in which it was said: ". . . to constitute usury within the prohibitions of the law there must be an intention knowingly to contract for or take usurious interest; for if neither party intend it, but act bona fide and innocently, the law will not infer a corrupt agreement."
Mr. Justice Story also said:
"In construing the usury law, the uniform construction in England has been and it is equally applicable here, that to constitute usury, within the prohibitions of the law, there must be an intention knowingly to contract for or to take usurious interest; for if neither party intend it, but act bona fide and innocently, the law will not infer a corrupt agreement. Where, indeed, the contract, upon its very face, imports usury, as by an express reservation of more than legal interest, there is no room for presumption, for the intent is apparent; res ipsa loquitur. But where the contract on its face is for legal interest only, there it must be proved, that there was some corrupt agreement, or device, or shift, to cover usury; and that it was in the full contemplation of the parties. Now, it distinctly appears in the evidence, as has been already stated, that no interest or discount whatsoever was actually taken on the note; and on the face of the note, there was no reservation of any interest but legal interest. So that there has been, no taking of usury, and no reservation of usury, on the face of the transaction. The case then resolves itself into this inquiry: Whether, upon the evidence, there was any corrupt agreement, or device or shift, to reserve or take usury; and in this aspect of the case, the quo animo, as well as the act of the parties, is most important. If the application be not for a loan of money, but for an exchange of credits or commodities, which the parties bona fide estimate at equivalent values, it seems difficult to find any ground on which to rest a legal objection to the transaction. Because an article is depreciated in the market, it does not follow, that the owner is not entitled to demand or require a higher price for it, before he consents to part with it. He may possess bank-notes, which to him are of par value, because he can enforce payment thereof, and for many purposes, they may pass current at par, in payment of his own debts, or in payments of public taxes; and yet their marketable value may be far less. If he uses no disguise; if he seeks not to cover a loan of money, under the pretense of a sale or exchange of them; but the transaction is, bona fide, what it purports to be; the law will not set aside the contract, for it is no violation of any public policy against usury."