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(* 213] is equally without * power to appropriate the moneys in its
treasury, or by the conduct of its officers to subject itself to implied obligations.
The powers conferred upon the municipal governments must also be construed as confined in their exercise to the territorial limits embraced within the municipality; and the fact that these powers are conferred in general terms will not warrant their exercise except within those limits. A general power
A general power“ to purchase, hold, and convey estate, real and personal, for the public use of the corporation, will not authorize a purchase outside the corporate limits for that purpose. Without some special provision they cannot, as of course, possess any control or rights over lands lying outside ; 8 and the taxes they levy of their own authority and the moneys they expend, must be for local purposes only.4
But the question is a very different one how far the legislature of the State may authorize the corporation to extend its action to objects outside the city limits, and to engage in enterprises of a public nature which may be expected to benefit the citizens of the municipality in common with the people of the State at large, and also in some special and peculiar manner, but which nevertheless are not under the control of the corporation, and are so
1 “In determining whether the Virginia City, 4 Nev. 20. It is no subject matter is within the legiti- objection to the validity of an act mate authority of the town, one of which authorizes an expenditure for the tests is to ascertain whether the a town-hall that rooms to be rented expenses were incurred in relation to for stores are contained in it. White a subject specially placed by law in v. Stamford, 37 Conn. 578. other hands. . . . It is a decisive 2 Riley v. Rochester, 9 N. Y. 64. test against the validity of all grants See Tucker v. Coldwater, 36 Mich. of money by towns for objects liable 8 Per Kent, Chancellor, Denton v. to that objection, but it does not Jackson, 2 Johns. Ch. 336.
And see settle questions arising upon expendi- Bullock v. Curry, 2 Met. (Ky.) 171; tures for objects not specially provided Weaver v. Cherry, 8 Ohio, n. s. 564; for. In such cases the question will North Hempstead V. Hempstead, still recur, whether the expenditure Hopk. 294; Concord r. Boscawen, 17 was within the jurisdiction of the N. H. 465; Tucker v. Coldwater, 36 town. It may be safely assumed that, Mich. if the subject of the expenditure be in 4 In Parsons v. Goshen, 11 Pick. furtherance of some duty enjoined by 396, the action of a town appropristatute, or in exoneration of the citi- ating money in aid of the construction zens of the town from a liability to a of a county road, was held void and common burden, a contract made in no protection to the officers who had reference to it will be valid and bind- expended it. See also Concord v. ing upon the town.” Allen v. Taun- Boscawen, 17 N. H. 465. ton, 19 Pick. 487. See Tucker v.
far aside from the ordinary purposes of local governments that assistance by the municipality in such enterprises would not be warranted under any general grant of power for municipal government. For a few years past the sessions of the legislative bodies of the several States have been prolific in
legislation which has resulted in flooding the country (* 214] with municipal securities issued in aid of works of public improvement, to be owned, controlled, and operated by private parties, or by corporations created for the purpose; the works themselves being designed for the convenience of the people of the State at large, but being nevertheless supposed to be specially beneficial to certain localities because running near or through them, and therefore justifying, it is supposed, the imposition of a special burden by taxation upon such localities to aid in their construction. We have elsewhere 2 referred to cases in which it has been held that the legislature may constitutionally authorize cities, townships, and counties to subscribe to the stock of railroad companies, or to loan them their credit, and to tax their citizens to pay these subscriptions, or the bonds or other securities issued as loans, where a peculiar benefit to the municipality was anticipated from the improvement. The rulings in these cases, if sound, must rest upon the same right which allows such municipalities to impose burdens upon their citizens to construct local streets or roads, and they can only be defended on the ground that "the object to be accomplished is so obviously connected with the (municipality) and its interests as to conduce obviously and in a special manner to their prosperity and advancement." 3
1 In Merrick v. Inhabitants of Am- 44. It seems not inappropriate to herst, 12 Allen, 500, it was held com remark in this place that the three petent for the legislature to authorize authors who have treated so ably a town to raise money by taxation for of municipal constitutional law (Mr. a State agricultural college, to be lo- Sedgwick, Stat. & Const. Law, 464), cated therein. The case, however, we of railway law (Judge Redfield), and think, stands on different reasons of municipal corporations (Judge Dilfrom those where aid has been voted lon) have all united in condemning by municipalities to public improve. this legislation as unsound and unments. See it explained in Jenkins warranted by the principles of constiv. Andover, 103 Mass. 94. And see tutional law. See the views of the similar cases referred to, post, p. two writers last named in note to the *230, note.
case of People v. Township Board of ? Ante, p. *119.
Salem, 9 Am. Law Reg. 487. And 8 Talbot v. Dent, 9 B. Monr. 526. Judge Dillon well remarks in his See Hasbrouck v. Milwaukee, 13 Wis. Treatise on Municipal Corporations.
But there are authorities which dispute their soundness, and it cannot be denied that this species of legislation has been exceed
($ 104) that, “ regarded in the light prohibit the State, when again the of its effects, there is little hesitation fever of speculation should prevail, in affirming that this invention to aid from engaging anew in such underprivate enterprises has proved itself takings. baneful in the last degree.”
All experience shows, however, that If we trace the beginning of this men are abundant who do not scruple to legislation, we shall find it originating evade a constitutional provision which at a time when there had been little they find opposed to their desires, if occasion to consider with care the lim- they can possibly assign a plausible itations to the functions of municipal reason for doing so; and in the case government, because as yet those of the provisions before referred to, it functions had been employed with was not long before persons began general caution and prudence, and no to question their phraseology very disposition had been manifested to closely, not that they might arrive at stretch their powers to make them the actual purpose, — which indeed embrace matters not usually recog was obvious enough, — but to disnized as properly and legitimately cover whether that purpose might not falling within them, or to make use of be defeated without a violation of the the municipal machinery to further express terms. The purpose clearly private ends. Nor did the earliest was to remand all such undertakings decisions attract much attention, for to private enterprise, and to protect they referred to matters somewhat the citizens of the State from being local, and the spirit of speculation taxed to aid them; but while the was not as yet rife. When the con State was forbidden to engage in such struction of railways and canals was works, it was unfortunately not exfirst entered upon by an expenditure pressly declared that the several memof public funds to any considerable bers of the State, in their corporate extent, the States themselves took capacity, were also forbidden to do so. them in charge, and for a time appro- The conclusion sought and reached priated large sums and incurred in was that the agencies of the State mense debts in enterprises, some of were at liberty to do what was forwhich were of high importance and bidden to the State itself, and the others of little value, the cost and burden of debt which the State might management of which threatened them not directly impose upon its citizens, at length with financial disaster, bank- it might indirectly place upon their ruptcy, and possible repudiation. No shoulders by the aid of municipal long experience was required to dem- action. onstrate that railways and canals could The legislation adopted under this not be profitably, prudently, or safely construction some of the courts felt managed by the shifting administra- compelled to sustain, upon the actions of State government; and many cepted principle of constitutional law of the States nut only made provision that no legislative authority is forfor disposing of their interest in works bidden to the legislature unless forof public improvement, but, in view bidden in terms; and the voting of of a bitter experience of the evils municipal aid to railroads became already developed in undertaking to almost a matter of course wherever a construct and control them, they plausible scheme could be presented amended their constitutions so as to by interested parties to invite it. In
ingly mischievous in its results, that it has created a great burden of public debt, for which in a large number of cases the antici
some localities, it is true, vigorous tional than a thousand others which protest was made; but as the hand- the road-masters in the several States ling of a large amount of public have constructed with the local taxes; money was usually expected to make and it was finally abandoned to the the fortune of the projectors, whether States as a common highway. When the enterprise proved successful or next a great national scheme was not, means either fair or unfair were broached, the aid of the general govgenerally found to overcome all oppo- ernment was demanded by way of sition. Towns sometimes voted large subsidies to private corporations, who sums to railroads on the ground of presented schemes of works of great local benefit where the actual and public convenience and utility, which inevitable result was local injury, and were to open up the new territories the projectors of one scheme succeeded to improvement and settlement sooner in obtaining and negotiating the bonds than the business of the country of one municipality to the amount of would be likely to induce unaided a quarter of a million dollars, which private capital to do it, and which are now being enforced, though the consequently appealed to the imaginawork they were to aid was
tion rather than to facts to demonseriously begun. A very large per- strate their importance, and afforded centage of all the aid voted was paid abundant opportunity for sharp operato “ work up the aid,” sacrificed in tors to call to their assistance the discounts to purchasers of bonds, ex national sentiment, then peculiarly pended in worthless undertakings, or strong and active by reason of the otherwise lost to the tax-payers; and attempt recently made to overthrow the cases might almost be said to be the government, in favor of projects exceptional in which municipalities, whose national importance in many when afterwards they were called upon cases the imagination alone could disto meet their obligations, could do so cover. The general result was the with a feeling of having received the giving away of immense bodies of expected consideration. Some State land, and in some cases the granting and territorial governors did noble of pecuniary aid, with a recklessness work in endeavoring to stay this reck- and often with an appearance of corless legislative and municipal action, ruption that at length startled the and some of the States at length ren- people, and aroused a public spirit dered such action impossible by con- before which the active spirits in Constitutional provisions so plain and gress who had promoted these grants, positive that the most ingenious mind and sometimes even demanded them was unable to misunderstand or per- in the name of the poor settler in the vert them.
wilderness who was unable to get his When the United States entered crops to market, were compelled to upon a scheme of internal improve- give way. The scandalous frauds ment, the Cumberland road was the connected with the Pacific Railway, first important project for which its which disgraced the nation in the face revenues were demanded. The prom- of the world, and the great and disises of this enterprise were of conti- astrous financial panic of 1873, were nental magnificence and importance, legitimate results of such subsidies ; but they ended after heavy national but the pioneer in the wilderness had expenditures in a road no more na- long before discovered that land grants
pated benefit was never received, and that, as is likely to be the case where municipal governments take part in projects foreign
were not always sought or taken with that the abuse of a power furnishes a view to an immediate appropriation no argument against its existence; but to the roads for the construction of a system so open to abuses may well which they were nominally made, but challenge attention to its foundations. that the result in many cases was, that And when those foundations are exlarge tracts were thereby kept out of amined, it is not easy to find for them market and from taxation which any sound support in the municipal otherwise would have been purchased constitutional law of this country. and occupied by settlers who would The same reasons which justify subhave lessened his taxes by contribut- sidies to the business of common caring their share to the public burdens. riers by railway will support taxation The grants, therefore, in such cases, in aid of any private business whatinstead of being at once devoted to improvements for the benefit of set It is sometimes loosely said that tlers, were in fact kept in a state of railway companies are public corporanature by the speculators who had tions, but the law does not so regard secured them, until the improvements them. It is the settled doctrine of of settlers in their vicinity could make the law that, like banks, mining comthe grantees wealthy by the increase panies, and manufacturing companies, in value which such improvements they are mere private corporations, gave to the land near them. In say- supposed to be organized for the ing this the admission is freely made benefit of the individual corporators, that in many cases the grants were and subject to no other public superpromptly and honestly appropriated vision or control than any other in accordance with their nominal pur- private association for business purpose; but the general verdict now is poses to which corporate powers have that the system was necessarily cor been granted. Dartmouth College v. ruptive and tended to invite fraud, Woodward, 4 Wheat. 668; Buonaparte and that some persons of influence v. Camden and Amboy R. R. Co., managed to accumulate great wealth Baldw. 205; Eustis v. Parker, 1 N. by grants indirectly secured to them- H. 237; Ohio, &c. R. R. Co. v. selves under the unfounded pretence Ridge, 5 Blackf. 78; Cox v. Louisville of a desire to aid and encourage the &c. R. R. Co., 48 Ind. 178, 189; pioneers in the wilderness.
Roanoke, &c. R. R. Co. v. Davis, 2 Some States also have recently in Dev. & Bat. 451; Dearborn v. Boston their corporate capacity again engaged & M. R. R. Co., 4 Fost. 179; Trusin issuing bonds to subsidize private tees, &c. v. Auborn, &c. R. R. Co., corporations, with the natural result 3 Hill, 570 ; Tinsman v. Belvidere, of serious State scandals, State insol- &c. R. R. Co., 2 Dutch. 148; Thorpe vency, public discontent, and in some r. Rutland, &c. R. R. Co., 27 Vt. cases it would seem almost inevita- 155; Alabama R. R. Co. v. Kidd, 29 ble repudiation. Their governments, Ala. 221; Turnpike Co. v. Wallace, amid the disorders of the times, have 8 Watts, 316; Seymour v. Turnpike fallen into the hands of strangers and Co., 10 Ohio, 476; Ten Eyck v. D. & novices, and the hobby of public im- R. Canal, 3 Harr. 200; Atlantic, &c. provement has been ridden furiously Telegraph Co. v. Chicago, &c. R. R. under the spur of individual greed. Co., 6 Biss. 158; A. & A. on Corp.
It has often been well remarked $S 30–36; Redf. on Railw. c. 3, § 1;