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LELOUP v. PORT MOBILE.

decided: May 14, 1888.

LELOUP
v.
PORT OF MOBILE.



ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALABAMA.

Author: Bradley

[ 127 U.S. Page 641]

 MR. JUSTICE BRADLEY delivered the opinion of the court.

This was an action brought in the Mobile Circuit Court, in the State of Alabama, by the Port of Mobile, a municipal corporation, against Edward Leloup, agent of the Western Union Telegraph Company, to recover a penalty imposed upon him for the violation of an ordinance of said corporation, adopted in pursuance of the powers given to it by the legislature of Alabama, and in force in August, 1883. The ordinance was as follows, to wit: "Be it ordained by the Mobile Police Board, that the license tax for the year, from the 15th of March, 1883, to the 15th of March, 1884, be, and the same is hereby, fixed as follows: . . .

"On telegraph companies, $225. . . .

"Be it further ordained: For each and every violation of the aforesaid ordinance the person convicted thereof shall be fined by the recorder not less than one nor more than fifty dollars."

The complaint averred that the defendant, being the managing agent of the Western Union Telegraph Company, a corporation

[ 127 U.S. Page 642]

     having its place of business in the said port of Mobile, and then and there engaged in the business and occupation of transmitting telegrams from and to points within the State of Alabama and between the private individuals of the State of Alabama, as well as between citizens of said State and citizens of other States, committed a breach of said ordinance by neglecting and refusing to pay said license to the said municipal corporation. The complainant further averred that for this breach the recorder of the port of Mobile imposed on the defendant a fine of five dollars, for which sum the suit was brought.

The defendant pleaded that at the time of the alleged breach of said ordinance, he was the duly appointed manager, at the port of Mobile, of the Western Union Telegraph Company. That said company "was prior to the fifth day of June, 1867, a telegraph company duly incorporated and organized under the laws of the State of New York, and by its charter authorized to construct, maintain, and operate lines of telegraph in and between the various States of the Union, including the State of Alabama. That on said fifth day of June, 1867, the said telegraph company duly filed its written acceptance with the Postmaster General of the United States of the restrictions and obligations of an act of Congress entitled 'An act to aid in the construction of telegraph lines and to secure to the government the use of the same for postal, military, and other purposes, approved July 24th, 1866. That in accordance with the authority of its said charter and the said act of Congress, and by agreement with the railroad companies, the said telegraph company constructed its lines and was at the time of the said alleged breach of said ordinance, maintaining and operating said lines of telegraph on the various public railroads leading into or through the said port of Mobile, to wit, the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, a railroad extending from the said port of Mobile, in Alabama, through the States of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky, to Cairo, in the State of Illinois; the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, extending from Cincinnati, in the State of Ohio, through said port of Mobile to New Orleans, in the State of

[ 127 U.S. Page 643]

     Louisiana, with a branch extending from said State of Alabama over the Pensacola and Louisville Railroad to Pensacola, in the State of Florida. That the said telegraph lines so running into or through said port of Mobile connected with and extended beyond the termini of the said railroads over other railroads, making continuous lines of telegraph from the office of said company, in said port of Mobile, to, through, and over all of the principal railroads, post roads, and military roads in and of the United States, and having offices for the transaction of telegraph business in the departments at Washington, in the District of Columbia, and in all of the principal cities, towns, and villages in each of the United States and in the Territories thereof. That all of said railroads so leading into and through the said port of Mobile and elsewhere in the United States are public highways, and that the daily mails of the United States are regularly carried thereon, under authority of law and the direction of the Postmaster General, and that said railroads and each of them are post roads of the United States. That said telegraph lines are also constructed under and across the navigable streams of the United States, in the State of Alabama and in the other States of the Union, but in all cases said lines are so constructed and maintained as not to obstruct the navigation of such streams and the ordinary travel on such military and post roads. That the said telegraph company was, before and during said year, commencing March 15th, 1883, and now is, engaged in the business of sending and receiving telegrams over said lines for the public between its said office in the port of Mobile and other places in other States and Territories of the United States, and to and from foreign countries; also in sending telephic communications between the several departments of the Government of the United States and their officers and agents, giving priority to said official telegraphic communications over all other business. And defendant avers that said official telegrams have been and are sent at rates which have been fixed by the Postmaster General annually since the said 5th of June, 1867. And defendant avers that as the manager of said company and in its name and under its direction and appointment

[ 127 U.S. Page 644]

     and in no other manner or capacity was he engaged in said telegraph business at the time and the ...


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