Knox v. Lee

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Knox v. Lee
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Decided May 1, 1871
Full case name Knox v. Lee
Citations 79 U.S. 457 (more)
Prior history Hepburn v. Griswold
Paper money as issued by the Legal Tender Act did not conflict with Article One of the United States Constitution
Court membership
Chief Justice
Salmon P. Chase
Associate Justices
Samuel Nelson · Nathan Clifford
Noah H. Swayne · Samuel F. Miller
David Davis · Stephen J. Field
William Strong · Joseph P. Bradley
Case opinions
Majority Strong, joined by Swayne, Miller, Davis
Concurrence Bradley
Dissent Chase, joined by Nelson
Dissent Clifford
Dissent Field

Knox v. Lee, 79 U.S. 457 (1871), was an important case for its time where the Supreme Court of the United States overruled Hepburn v. Griswold (1870). In Knox v. Lee, the Court held that making paper money legal tender through the Legal Tender Act did not conflict with Article One of the United States Constitution.

Mrs. Lee was a loyal citizen of the United States whose flock of sheep was sold by the Confederate army, as the Confederates considered Mrs. Lee an 'alien enemy'. Mr. Knox purchased the sheep from the Confederate army, and Mrs. Lee brought suit for trespass and conversion. The Court instructed the jury that whatever amount they awarded could be paid with legal tender notes of the United States. Mr. Knox appealed, as he contended that this instruction was equivalent to telling the jury to add a premium for the discount of paper currency relative to specie.

The case of Parker v. Davis was resolved in the same decision where Davis wished to compel specific performance requiring Parker to convey a lot to Davis in return for payment of money. The Court decreed that Davis should pay money into the Court and Parker was to execute a deed to Davis. Davis paid United States notes, but Parker refused to execute a deed, claiming that he was entitled to receive coin.

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