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Wilmington & Weldon Railroad Company v. King, 91 U.S. 3 (1875)

Wilmington & Weldon Railroad Company v. King

91 U.S. 3


1. Contracts made during the war in one of the Confederate States, payable in Confederate currency, but not designed in their origin to aid the insurrectionary government, are not, because thus payable, invalid between the parties.

2. In actions upon such contracts, evidence as to the value of that currency at the time and in the locality where the contracts were made is admissible.

3. A statute of North Carolina of March, 1866, enacting that in all civil actions

"for debts contracted during the late war in which the nature of the obligation is not set forth nor the value of the property for which such debts were created is stated, it shall be admissible for either party to show on the trial, by affidavit or otherwise, what was the consideration of the contract, and that the jury, in making up their verdict, shall take the same into consideration and determine the value of said contract in present currency in the particular locality in which it is to be performed, and render their verdict accordingly,"

insofar as the same authorizes the jury in such actions, upon the evidence thus before them, to place their own estimate upon the value of the contracts instead of taking the value stipulated by the parties, impairs the obligation of such contracts, and is therefore within the inhibition upon the state of the federal Constitution. Accordingly, in an action upon a contract for wood sold in that state during the war at a price payable in Confederate currency, an instruction of the court to the jury that the plaintiff was entitled to recover the value of the wood without reference to the value of the currency stipulated was erroneous.

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