Texas v. White

Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1869) was a significant case argued before the United States Supreme Court in 1869.

The case involved a claim by the reconstruction government of Texas that United States bonds owned by Texas since 1850 had been illegally sold by the Confederate state legislature during the American Civil War. The state filed suit directly with the United States Supreme Court, which, under the United States Constitution, retains original jurisdiction on cases in which a state is a party.

In accepting jurisdiction, the court ruled that Texas had remained a state ever since it first joined the Union, despite its joining the Confederate States of America and its being under military rule at the time of the decision in the case. In deciding the merits of the bond issue, the court further held that the Constitution did not permit states to secede from the United States, and that the ordinances of secession, and all the acts of the legislatures within seceding states intended to give effect to such ordinances, were "absolutely null".

The CHIEF JUSTICE delivered the opinion of the court.

This is an original suit in this court, in which the State of Texas, claiming certain bonds of the United States as her property, asks an injunction to restrain the defendants from receiving payment from the National government, and to compel the surrender of the bonds to the State.

It appears from the bill, answers, and proofs, that the United States, by act of September 9, 1850, offered to the State of Texas, in compensation for her claims connected with the settlement of her boundary, $10,000,000 in five percent bonds, each for the sum of $1000; and that this offer was accepted by Texas. One-half of these bonds were retained for certain purposes in the National treasury, and the other half were delivered to the State. The bonds thus delivered [p718] were dated January 1, 1851, and were all made payable to the State of Texas, or bearer, and redeemable after the 31st day of December, 1864. They were received in behalf of the State by the comptroller of public accounts, under authority of an act of the legislature, which, besides giving that authority, provided that no bond should be available in the hands of any holder until after indorsement by the governor of the State.