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belief that if he pleaded not guilty, and was striction to this statement, the reasonable tried by a jury, the jury would find him argument of the Mississippi court; for not guilty, and affix the death penalty ; whereas to do so, would be to place a premium upon if he pleaded guilty, they believed the court crime, confessed. M. W. HOPKINS, might, in the exercise of its judgment, fix the Danville, Ind. punishment at imprisonment for life. We

Not until the court had performed its duty of fixing the punish

CARRIAGE OF FREIGHT. ment did the defendant express any desire to reconsider his plea of guilty.”:22

The functions of railroad companies in the Vay Introduce Evidence on Motion.—In

transportation of merchandise are of such Conover v. State,23 the lower court heard evi

great legal as well as commercial interest, dence on the part of the State, contradicting that a survey of the decisions upon the subthe facts set forth in defendant's affidavit,

ject can hardly fail to be of benefit to the and the court say in substance, that the

practitioner. The questions arising in this lower court committed no error in permitting department of the law are of too great the State to introduce evidence on any of the

scope, however, to be discussed within the matters presented by the motion.

compass of an article like the present, while Statutes.--Some statutes provide for the it is more useful as well as convenient to withdrawal of pleas of guilty, and permitting state the results of decisions whose basis and other pleas to be substituted therefor, but grounds will be sought in any event, by actgenerally providing that such motions must

ual reference to the opinion. The succinct be entered before judgment. 24 Some cases summary here given is therefore merely dehave been cited to the effect that after judg- signed to guide the busy member of the proment, in no event, can the plea of guilty be fession to the sources of information and to withdrawn and the plea of not guilty substi suggest the data for investigation, though it tuted; but most of those cases are decided is hoped it may be found productive of more under statutes, which limit the time of with

practical advantage than more extended comdrawing such pleas, and therefore can have mentary always yields. no application to the general principle.25

Safe Transportation and Delivery:-RailWe would conclude from an examination of way Companies are insurers of the safe transall the cases upon the subject, that where portation and delivery of the property inthere is an inducement of any kind held out

trusted to them for carriage, except as to the prisoner, by reason of which he enters against loss or injury caused by the immethe plea of guilty, that it will, at all events,

diate act of God, or of a public enemy.3 better comport with

sound judicial But after a safe delivery of the goods in the discretion, to allow the plea withdrawn, and proper warehouse of the company, and the the plea of not guilty entered, and especially consignee has had a reasonable time for takso, when counsel and friends represent to the accused that it has been the custom and com Fitchburg etc. N. M. Co. v. Hanna, 6 Grey, 539; mon practice of the court to assess a punish

Kiff v. Old Colony, etc. Ny. Co. 117, Mass. 591; 8. C. 19

Am. Rep. 429; Read v. St. Louis etc. R. R. Co., 60 ment less than the maximum upon such a Mo. 199; Pruitt v. Hannibal etc. R. R. Co., 62 Id. 527; plea; but of course we would admit as a re

Chicago etc. R. R. Co. v. Ames, 40 . 249; Illinois
Cent. R. R. Co. v. Cobb, 64 Id. 128.

2 Sweetland v. Boston etc. R. R. Co., 102 Mass. 276; The burden of this case seems to be that after sen Michalls v. N. Y. etc. R. R. Co., 30 N. Y. 564; Condict tence is once passed, it is too late to withdraw the v. Grand Trunk Ry. Co., 54 Id. 500; Chicago etc. Ry. plea of guity.

Co. v. Sawyer, 69 Ill. 285; 8. C. 18 Am. Rep. 613; Raila 23 86 Ind. 99; s. C. 5 Criminal Law Mag. 140.

road Co. v. Reeves, 10 Wall. 176. 24 " At any time before judgment, the court may

3 Thomas v. Boston etc. R. R. Co., 10 Met. 472;

Phila. etc. R. R. Co. v. Harper, 29 Md. 330; Patterson permit the plea of guilty to be withdrawn, and other plea or pleas substituted.” Sec. 4362, McClain's An

v. North Car. R. R. Co.,64 No. Car. 147; Nashville etc.. notated Statutes, 1880. (Iowa).

R. R. Co. v. Estis, 7 Heisk. Tenn. 622; Jackson v. Sac

ramento etc. R. R. Co., 23 Cal. 268; Compare Porchie 25 State v. Oehlslager, 38 Iowa 297; State v. Buck,

v. North Eastern R. R.Co., 14 Rich. (So. Car.) 181; Ill.. 59 Iowa 382; s. c. 13 N. W. Rep. 342; 5 Criminal Law

etc. R. R. Co. v. Mc. Clellen, 54 Ill. 58; Ill. etc. R. R. Mag. 460.

Co. v. Homberger, 77 Id. 457.

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ing them away, the liability of the company Providing Adequate Cars. It is the duty as carrier ceases, and it will hold the goods of the company to provide cars of sufficient as a warehouseman only ; 5 in which case the strength ; 14 another fact that the shipper the company is bound to no more than ordi

knowingly permits his goods to be packed in nary care, or such as a man of ordinary an insufficient car does not exempt the comprudence would use in respect to his own pany from liability, 15 unless he agrees to asproperty placed in like circumstances.?

sume that risk. 16 But if the shipper personContinuance of Liability. The liability of ally superintends the loading of the car, the a common carrier continues until the goods company will not be liable for a loss resulting are unloaded ; 8 and if they are destroyed by from its being unskilfully or negligently fire while yet in the car in the freight depot,

done. 17 the company is liable.' But in a recent case Carriage oLive-Stock.The rule: requirit has been held that a company is not liable ing the company to provide cars of sufficient for loss of goods accidentally destroyed by strength,18 applies in respect of cars for the fire, without its fault or negligence, after carriage of live stock,19 as well as to those for they had been unloaded and placed in the the carriage of merchandise. 20 But in the company's warehouse, and notice given of carriage of live stock, in the absence of negtheir arrival,10 A. railroad company is under ligence the company is not liable for such inno obligation, as common carrier, to de

juries as occur in consequence of the vitality liver goods at a point beyond or off its own

of the freight. 21 So that if one horse inflicts line of road, but such a duty can be created by contract or by a course of business war

an injury upon another during transportaranting the presumption that the goods will tion, the company is not liable, if the injury be so delivered. 18

was caused by the peculiar propensities of

the horse to fright or bad tempter, or by the 4 See authorities cited in next note.

fault of their owner in attaching their halters, 5 New Jersey R. R. Co. v. Penn. R. R. Co., 27 N. J. L. 100; Culbreth v. Phil. etc. R. R. Co., 3 Houst. (Del.)

or not removing their shoes.22 392; Mobile etc. R. R. Co. v. Prewitt, 46 Ala. 63; Mich, etc. R. R. Co. v. Shuntz, 7 Mich. 511; Derosia v. more etc. R. R. Co. v. Green, 25 Md. 72; Pittsburg etc. Winona etc., R. R. Co., 18 Minn. 133; Whitney v. Ry. Co. v. Nash, 43 Ind. 423; Cuhn v. Mich. etc. R. R. Chicago etc. R. R. Co., 27 Wis. 327; Francis v. Du- Co., 71 Ill. 96. buque etc. R. R. Co., 25 Iowa 60; Mohr. v. Chicago 14 St. Louis etc. Ry, Co. v. Dorman, 72 III. 504; Sloan etc. R. R. Co., 40 Id. 579; Compare Hedges v. Hudson v. St. Louis etc. R. R. Co., 58 Mo. 220. River R. R. Co., 6 Robt. 119; Southwestern R. R. Co. 15 Pratt v. Ogdensburgh etc. R. R. Co., 102 Mass. v. Felder, 16 Ga. 433; Railroad Co. v. Maine, 16 Kan. 557. 333;

16 Pratt v. Ogdensburg etc. R. R. Co., 102 Mass. 557; 6 Pike v. Chicago etc. R. R. Co., 40 Wis. 583.

Compare Lee v. Raleigh etc. R. R. Co., 72 No. Car. 7 Pike v. Chicago etc. R. R. Co., 40 Wis. 583; Com- 236; Illinois Cent. R. R. Co. v. Hall, 58 Ill. 409. pare Brown v. Grand Trunk Ry., 54 N. H. 535.

17 Ross v. Troy etc. R. R. Co., 49 Vt. 364; East Tenn. 8 Chicago etc. R. R. Co. v. Bensley, 69 III. 630.

etc. R. R. Co. v. Whittle, 27 Ga. 535; Chicago etc. R. 9 Chicago etc. R. R. Co. v. Bensley, 69 Ill. 630; and R. Co. v. Shea, 66 III. 471; Clauber v. Ames. Express see Winslow v. Vt. etc. R. R. Co., 42 Vt. 700; Rice v. Co., 21 Wis. 21. Hart, 118 Mass. 201; Central R. R. Co. v. Smith, 54 18 See preceding subdivision of this article. Ga. 499.

19 See authorities cited in the note. 10 Hirschfield v. Cent. Pac. R. R. Co., 56 Cal. 484; 20 Indianapolis etc. R. R. Co. v. Allen, 31 Ind. 394; Upon the strength of a statutory provision (Cal. Civ. Indianapolis etc. Ry. Co. v. Strain, 81 Ill. 504. Duty of Code $ 2120) changing the liability of the company in railway companies to care for animals in course of such cases from that of a common carrier to that of a transportation; see U.S. Rev. Stats. $$ 4386-4390. warehouseman; Ibid. And in another late case, 21 Penn. v. Buffalo etc. R. R. Co., 49 N. Y. 204; 8. €. where the goods were placed, on arrival upon the de. 10 Am. Rep. 355; Cragin v. N. Y. etc. R. R. Co. 51 N. pot platform, and notice given to the consignee, who Y. 61; Mich. Southern etc. R. R. Co. v. McDonough, delayed removal, from difficulty in getting a drayman, 21 Mich. 165; s. C. 4 Am. Rep. 466; Blower v. Great until the goods were destroyed by fire on the second Western Ry. Co., Law R. 7 Com. P. 655; Kendall v. day, it was held that the company was not liable, even London etc. Ry. Co., Law R. 7 Ex. 373. though the fire originated in a building erected by its 22 Evans v. Fitchburg R. R. Co., 111 Mass. 142; 15 permission on its premises; Chalk v. Charlotte R. R., Am. Rep. 19. For basis of foregoing paragrapbs, and 85 N. C. 423.

preceding subdivisions, see Boone Corp. § 258. In 11 Norway' Plains Co. v. Boston etc. R. R.; 1 Gray carrying of cattle at “owner's risk rates” limitation 263; People v. Chicago etc. R. R. Co., 55 III. 93; Cobb against liability held to apply only to carriage and not v. Railroad Co., 38 Iowa 601; and Compare Pinney v. to refusal to deliver. Gordon v. Great W. R. Co., 45 Charlotte etc. R. R. Co., 66 No. Car. 34; Leavenworth L. T. N. S. 509; 25 Alb. L. J. 218. Liability of com. etc. R. R. Co. v. Maris, 16 Kan. 333.

pany for injury to sheep carried, caused by burning 12 Southern Express Co. v. McVeigh, 20 Gratt. 264; of material used by them, despite release in contract, Cobb v. Railroad Co., 38 Iowa 601.

where caused by negligence in not furnishing appli13 Cobb v. Railroad Co., 38 Iowa 601; and see Balti- ances against fire; Holsapple v. Rome etc. R. R., 86

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW-CORPORATION REPEAL OF CHARTER – INJUNCTIONPUBLIC SERVICES.

LOUISVILLE GAS COMPANY V. CITIZENS GAS

LIGHT COMPANY.

over

was

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con

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Limiting Liability.-—While a common carrier cannot exonerate himself from liability for his negligence or misfeasance, yet he may, by special agreement, fairly made, limit his common law liability, provided such limitation is reasonable and just, and does not contravene any laws or a sound public policy. 23 And in a recent case where in an agreement between a railway company and & shipper for the transportation of horses the railway, there

stipulation which provided that, as a dition precedent to

his right

to cover damages for any loss or injury to the horses while in transit, the shipper would give notice in writing of his claim therefor to some officer of the said railway company or its nearest station agent, before the horses were removed from the place of destination, or from the place of delivery to the shipper, and before such horses were mingled with other stock, it was held that the agreement is reasonble, and when fairly made, is binding upon the parties thereto. 24 So in another late case where a railroad company received merchandise to be transported to a point beyond its own law of railroad, over its own and other lines of roadroad connecting with it, and gave to the shipper its receipt, stating that the merchandise was shipped “at owner's risk,” it was held that this receipt is a special contract limiting the liability of the carrier ; 25 and that such connecting lines of railroad are entitled to the benefits of the exemptions from liability contained in it.26

San Francisco, Cal., A. J. DONNER.

Supreme Court of the United States, Dec. 1885. 1. Gas-Light Companies-Louisville Gas Company, Public Services—The grant by the legislature of Kentucky, in 1869, to the Louisville Gas Company, for the term of twenty years, of “the exclusive privilege of erecting and establishing gas-works in the city of Louisville, and of vending coal gas-lights, and supplying the city and citizens with gas by means of public works,”that is,by means of pipes laid in the streets and public ways of that city, constituted a contract, within the meaning of the national constitution, and was not forbidden by that clause in the bill of rights of Kentucky which declares that “all freemen, when they form a social compact, are equal, and that no man or set of men are entitled to exclusive, separate public emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration of public services.” Within the meaning of that clause the services which the company undertook to perform were public services, affecting the interests and rights of the public generally.

2. Right to Repeal or Amend Charter.—By a general statute of Kentucky, passed in 1836, it was declared that “all charters and grants of or to corporations, or amendments thereof, shall be subject to amendment or repeal at the will of the legislature, unless a contrary intent be expressed; provided, that while privileges and franchises so granted may be changed or repealed, no amendment or repeal shall impair other rights previously vested;" also that the provisions of that statute shall only apply to charters and acts of incorporation to be granted hereafter.” By an act passed in 1869, amendatory of the charter of the Louisville Gas Company of 1867, and granting the exclusive privileges before mentioned, it was provided that “no alteration or amendment to the charter of the gas company shall be made without the concurrence of the city council and the directors of the gas company.Held, that the last act“plainly expressed” an intent that the charter of the company should not be subject to amendment or repeal at the mere will of the legislature, but only with the concurrence of the city council and the company's directors.

3. Injunction.-According to the principles announced in New Orleans Gas-Light Co. v. Louisiana Light, etc., Co., the Citizens' Gas-Light Company, incorporated in 1872, and endowed with the privilege of manufacturing and distributing gas in the city of Louisville, by means of pipes and mains laid in its streets and public ways, is not entitled to an injunction restraining the Louisville Gas Company from claiming and exercising the exclusive privileges granted by its charter.

V.

N. Y. 275. Compare succeeding subdivision on Limiting Liability.

23 Sprague v. Missourri Pac. Ry. Co., (Kan.) 8 Pac. Rep. 465, and note, 469.

24 Sprague v. Missouri Pac. Ry. Co., 8 Pac. Ry. Co., 465. Following Gaggin v. Kansas Pac. Ry. Co., 12 Kan. 416; See also Rice v. Kansas Pac. Ry. Co., 63 Mo. 314; Oxley v. St. Louis etc., Ry. 65 Id. 629; Dawson v. St. Louis etc. Ry. Co., 76 Id. 514; Express Co.

· Caldwell, 21 Wall. 264; Texas Cent. Ry. v. Morris, 16 Am. and Eng. R. R. Cas. 259, and cases there cited.

25 Kiff v. Atchiston etc. R. R. Co., (Kan.) 4 Pac. Rep. 401.

26 Kiff y. Atchison etc. R. R. Co., 4 Pac. Rep. 401. And that neither of the companies running such connecting lines is liable for damages to the merchandise transported, unless it is shown that such damages arise from the negligence of the company sought to be charged; Ibid. See also Steamboat Emily v. Carney, 5 Kan. 645; Mo. Pac. Ry. Co. v. Haley, 25 Id. 36; K. C. etc. R. Co. v. Simpson, 30 Id. 645; Whitworth v. Erie Ry. Co., 87 N. Y. 413; Shear. & Redt. Negl. $ 12.

In Error to the Court of Appeals of the State of Kentucky.

This is a writ of error to the highest court of Kentucky. The general question to be determined is, whether certain legislation of that commonwealth is in conflict with the clause of the National Constitution, which forbids a State to pass

any law impairing the obligation of contracts. inal charter. That act created a corporation by The appellant, the Louisville Gas Company, con the name of the “Louisville Gas Company," with tends that its charter, granting certain exclusive a capital stock of $1,500,000. It provided, among rights and privileges, constituted, within the other things, that such stock should consist, meaning of that Constitution, a contract, the ob “First, of the stock of the present Louisville Gas ligation of which has been impaired by the char Company, on the thirty-first of December, 1868, ter subsequently granted to the appellee, the Cit at par value; secondly, of the contingent fund izens' Gaslight Company. The Court of Appeals and undivided profits that the company may own of Kentucky sustained as constitutional the legis at the expiration of the present charter, said fund lation under the authority of which the latter to be capitalized pro rata for the benefit of the company is exercising the rights, privileges, and

present stockholders, except fractional shares, franchises conferred by its charter.

which shall be paid in cash; and, thirdly, new By an Act of the General Assembly of Ken stock may be issued and sold by the new company, tucky, approved February 15, 1838 (Sess. Acts when required, to the extent of the capital stock, 1837-38, p. 206), the Louisville Gas & Water Com the sales to be made at public auction, after ten pany was created a corporation, to continue for days' notice in the city papers; should said stock the term of thirty years from January 1, 1839. It be sold above its par value, such excess shall not was made its duty, within three years after its or be capitalized or divided among the stockholders, ganization, to establish in Louisville a gas manu but be employed in the first extensions made by factory of sufficient extent and capacity to supply the company after the sale of said stock;' that that city and its people with such public and pri the business of the company should be to make vate lights as might from time to time be required, and furnish gas to the city of Louisville and its and within five years after the establishment of its residents; within two years after its charter took gas-works, to erect and establish water-works effect, should extend the gas distribution to Portsufficient to supply the city with water for the ex. land, and lay down mains, and erect street lights tinguishment of fires, for the cleansing and in certain named streets in that part of the city; sprinkling of streets and alleys, and for all man should extend mains wherever the private and ufacturing and domestic purposes; to which end public lights would pay eight per cent. on the it might lay down and extend pipes through any cost of extension, until its entire capital was abof the streets and alleys of the city, the company sorbed in the gas-works and extensions-continubeing responsible to the city for any damages re ing the use of the pipes and conductors already sulting therefrom. The act imposed a limit upon laid down, and, with the consent of the city counthe price to be charged for gaslights used by cil, extending the pipes and conductors through the city, and gave the latter the right to subscribe other streets and alleys of the city. It was also for 4,000 shares in the company,payment for one provided that the company should put up gashalf of which could be made in city coupon bonds lamps at certain distances apart on the streets for $200,000, redeemable at any time within three where there were mains, supply the same with years after the expiration of the company's char gas, and light and extinguish the same, and ter. It was made a fundamental condition that, charge the city only the actual cost thereof,--such upon the termination of the company's charter, charges not to exceed the average charges for the city at its election could take the gas and similar work or service in the cities of Philadelwater works at a fair estimate of what they would phia, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. cost and be worth at that time, to be ascertained Louis, and the charges against other consumers by the judgment of competent engineers, selected not to be greater than the average price in said by the parties, or, in case they disagreed, by the cities; that the stockholders, exclusive of the city Louisville Chancery Court. Under this charter of Louisville, should elect five directors, while the the company proceeded at once to erect gas general council of the city should elect four; that works, incluing suitable buildings and machin the city might, upon the termination of the charery. It supplied itself with all necessary appara ter, purchase the gas-works at a fair estimate of tus, laid down mains and pipes, and erected lamp what they would be then worth; and that the posts, for the purpose of lighting the streets. It charter should be valid and in force when ac. supplied gas for the public buildings and for street cepted by those who held the majority of stock in lights, as well as for domestic purposes. And it

the old company, all of whose property should continued to do so during the term of its original

belong to the new company. charter.

When the act of 1867 was passed, the city By an act passed in 1842, the authority to erect owned 4,985 shares of the stock of the old comwater-works was withdrawn by the legislature. pany. All the gas with which its streets were By an act entitled “An act to extend the charter then lighted, or which was furnished to its peoof the Louisville Gas Company," approved Janu ple, was supplied by that company. ary 1, 1867, and to continue in force for twenty On the twenty-second of January, 1869, an act years from that date, unless the city of Louisville was passed amending that of January 30, 1867. should exercise its privilege of purchasing the Its preamble recites that the city of Louisville works established under the authority of the orig. and the stockholders of the old company had ac

men

cepted the extended charter, and desired that the amendments embodied in that act should become part of that charter. The amended charter repealed so much of the act of 1867 as allows a profit of eight per cent. on the cost of extensions, and, among other things, provides that the company shall extend its main pipes whenever the public and private lights, immediately arising from said extension, will pay seven per cent. profit on the cost thereof; that the company shall put lamp-posts, fixtures, etc., along the street mains, as they are extended, at a distance apart of about two hundred feet; shall keep the lamps in order, furnish gas, and light and extinguish the same. each light to have an illuminating power of about twelve sperm candles; shall furnish public lights to the city at actual cost, which shall in no event exceed annually $35 per lamp; that the charges to private consumers shall be so graded that the company's ptofits shall not exceed twelve per cent. per anuum on the par value of the stock, ten per cent. of which may be drawn by stockholders in semi-annual dividends, and the remaining two per cent. to be laid out for extensions, not to be capitalized except at the end of five years. The fifth and sixth sections of the last act are as follows: "(5) That said gas company shall have the exclusive privilege of erecting and establishing gas-works in the city of Louisville during the continuation of this charter, and of vending coal gas-lights, and supplying the city and citizens with gas by means of public works: provided, however, this shall not interfere with the right of anyone to erect, or cause to be erected, gas-works on their own premises, for supplying themselves with light. (6) That no alteration or amendment to the charter of the gas company shall be made without the concurrence of the city council and the directors of the gas company."

By an act approved March 21, 1872,the Citizens' Gaslight Company of Louisville was incorporated for the term of fifty years, with authority to make, sell, and distribute gas for the purpose of lighting public and private buildings, streets, lanes, alleys, parks, and other public places in that city and its vicinity. It was authorized, the general council consenting, to use the streets and other public ways of the city for the purpose of laying gaspipes, subject to such regulations as the city council might make for the protection of the lives, property, and health of citizens. That body did so consent by ordinance passed December 13, 1877.

The Louisville Gas Company having claimed that the foregoing section of the act of January 22, 1869, granting the exclusive privileges therein defined, constituted a contract, the obligation of which was impaired by the charter of the plaintiff, and that the latter's charter was therefore void, the present suit was brought by the Citizens' Gaslight Company in the Louisville Chancery Court for the purpose of obtaining a perpetual injunction against the assertion of any such exclusive privileges, and against any interference with

the plaintiff's rights as defined in its charter. Among the rights asserted by the latter under its cbarter was to make, sell, and supply coal gas for lighting the public buildings and other places, public and private,“ in Louisville and the adjoining localities, by means of pipes laid in the public ways and streets. The court of original jurisdiction dismissed the suit. Upon appeal to the Court of Appeals, the decree was reversed, with directions to issue a perpetual injunction restraining the Louisville Gas Company from claiming and exercising the exclusive right of manufacturing and supplying gas to the city of Louisville and its inhabitants.

Thomas F. Hargie, John K. Goodloe and John G. Carlisle, for plaintiff in error; John Mason Brown, George M. Davie, and Wm. Lindsay, for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice HARLAN, after stating the facts of the case in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court:

Two of the judges of the State court held that the clause of the bill of rights of Kentucky, which declares that all freemen, when they form a social compact, are equal, and that no man or set of

are entitled to exclusive, separate public emoluments or privileges from the community but in consideration of public services” (Const. Ky. 1799, art. 10, § 1; 1850, art. 13, § 1), forbade the general assembly of that commonwealth to grant to a private corporation the exclusive privilege of manufacturing and distributing gas, for public and private use, in the city of Louisville, by means of pipes and mains laid under the streets and other public ways of that municipality. The other judges were of opinion that that clause did not prohibit a grant by the State to a private corporation, whereby certain privileges were conferred upon the latter in consideration of its discharging a public duty, or of rendering a public service; that the municipality of Louisville being a part of the State government, there was a public necessity for gaslights upon its streets and in its public buildings, almost as urgent as the establishment of the streets themselves; that the services thus to be performed by the corporation were, in the judgment of the legislative department, an adequate consideration for the grant to it of exclusive privileges; and, conseqently, that the grant was a contract, the rights of the parties under it to be determined by the rules applicable to contracts between individuals.

While the judgment below, in view of the equal division in opinion of the judges of the State court, does not rest upon any final determination of this question by that tribunal, it cannot be ignored by us; for, at the threshold of all cases of this kind, this court must ascertain whether there is any such agreement on the part of the State as constitutes a contract within the meaning of the Constitution of the United States. If the services which the gas company undertook to perform, in consideration of the exclusive privileges granted

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