against its will, and substitute Confederate notes for its daily currency instead of its own bills. This order was submitted to, if not with joy, at least not under protest, so far as I am informed.
The order as well as the law of the land then is that the bank shall pay its depositors in gold, silver coin, and United States Treasury notes, or its own bills. A citizen complains that this order of the commanding general has not been obeyed to his prejudice. For what then is a provost court in military phrase constituted? Confessedly to inquire into, determine, and punish the infraction of military orders. To do this the court must act in rem as well as in personam. A familiar example would be, if the commanding general orders all arms to be given up, and some citizen neglects or refuses to obey, would it not be within the jurisdiction of a provost court, although its judgment should act upon a right of property involving millions of dollars' worth of muskets?
If the act brought before the court, therefore, is alleged to be an infraction of a military order, it is said bank were not summoned in and made parties, and that their rights and interest will be affected by this decision. This is all true; but did the learned counsel for the bank ever hear of a suit against a bank in any court where the stockholders were summoned in, unless it was sought to charge them individually, which is not the case here? A corporation acts thought its authorized agents and is bound by their acts, and is to be charged upon notice to them. This objection of want of sufficient and director, Mr. Durand, in their own bills, which is only changing the form of indebtedness from a depositor to a bill-holder, under the order of the provost court, without the consent of their stockholders, would provoke a smile in a less discussion, when we remember that this same board of directors, without asking leave of their stockholders, when against law and right, put $3,000,000 of its bullion out of their hands and out of the State, whence whey will probably never see it again.
I am of the opinion that these objections to the jurisdiction of the court are untenable.
The other objection, as to the merits of the decision, can, it seems to me, be disposed of in a word. If the order is a proper one, it must be obeyed. Its propriety cannot be discoursed by men. It is admitted that Durand is a depositor in the bank of what the bank chose to take as money, treated as money, nay forces upon the community as money. He has not been paid his deposits. The bank should pay him in specie. The decision following the letter of the order is that the bank may give him their own bills instead of money. Of that decision the bank has no cause to complain. Durand is now the creditor of the bank as a depositor. The decision makes him their creditor as a bill-holder. In equity they have nothing to complain of. He may have, because does not get his gold, to which by the laws of banking, laws of the State, and the United States he is entitled.
He does not seek to reverse the decision. Let it stand.
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
[JUNE 11, 1862.-For Butler to Secretary of State in referee to the Mexican consulate in New Orleans, see Series III, Vol. II.]