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Opinion of the Court, per CAMPBELL, J.

tled to recover, and ordered judgment for the defendant for the costs, and which judgment was affirmed.

The referee does not find that there was any fraud in the transaction. Indeed, it would be difficult to predicate fraud upon such an arrangement. The wife of an insolvent man, having a small separate property, derived from her mother, is naturally desirous that her husband may be engaged in some business, by which, in connection with her estate, a support may be provided for a large family of children. The husband has been a merchant. The wife is willing to embark her property in that business with which her husband was familiar, hazardous though it may be; and she empowers and authorizes him to carry on business for her and on her money and credit, holding himself out to the world as her agent. There was nothing fraudulent in that. There is no law in this State which mortgages to the creditor either the person or the labors of his debtor - no longer a law which consigns the innocent and unfortunate to confinement within prison walls. The duty rests upon him to use his best efforts for the payment of his debts; but there is a duty which he owes alike to the public and to his family which is sacred- and that duty is, to provide for the nurture, education and support of his children. He is said to be worse than an infidel, who neglects it. In seeking employment for that purpose, he may apply to the wife, if she have a separate estate, as well as to a stranger. If the law allows her to hold property - her own at her marriage, or coming from others beside her husband and free from his control-of necessity, she must be permitted to manage it herself, or she may employ others to act for her. As to that separate estate, she and her husband are as distinct before the law as if the marital relation did not exist. As to that property she acts as a feme sole, and may deal with her husband as with a stranger, and may, therefore, necessarily employ him and compensate him for its management. As the law was formerly, when the personal property of the wife became the property of the husband so soon as he reduced it to possession, it is easy to see how, when the wife voluntarily gave up the possession to him, such an act

Opinion of the Court, per CAMPBELL, J.

might be considered as an abandonment of ownership on her part, and a free gift to her husband. But now, when the wife holds her property as independent of the ownership and control of her husband as of a strarger, it seems to me to be a manifest perversion of the laws enacted for her benefit and protection, to declare, that, when she employs her husband as her agent, and intrusts the custody of the property to him, to buy and to sell, and, if possible, to get gains for her, thereby she must be considered as having made a free gift of the property to him. If it be a free gift, and the title and ownership is in the husband, so that his creditors may seize and sell it for the payment of his debts, then the husband, it would seem, in violation of his trust, might dispose of the property, as absolute owner, for his own exclusive benefit, and to the exclusion of any right on the part of his wife. This is neither right in morals nor in law. But it is said the wife owes allegiance to her husband, and is bound to serve him, and her time and her labor belong to him, and, therefore, he cannot be treated as her servant or agent. When such a rule existed, the wife could not hold in her own right any property, free and clear of her husband's control, except by the intervention of trustees, and, of course, there was not and could not be any direct employment of him by her in the management of her property. But a new law has changed the rule. Whether, as in the case before us, the wife would be bound by the engagements which the husband entered into as her agent, is a question which concerns rather the creditors of the wife than the creditors of the husband. His creditors have no right to complain if persons are found who are willing to give credit to the wife. If they cannot enforce their claim at law against her, it is their own misfortune, and does not concern or affect the rights of the husband's creditors; and it is difficult to see how it thereby tends to vest the title of the property purchased for her, and for which credit is given to her, in her husband. It is also said that the skill and labor of the husband, when employed by the wife, as in this case, enters into and forms, as it were, a part of the property, and increases its value. If the business is successful,

Opinion of the Court, per CAMPBELL, J.

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granted; but the title is not thereby divested. At most, he could have but a lien for his wages. The whole case turns upon the question, whether a wife, having separate property, can employ her husband as her agent. If she can, then the objections raised cannot avail as a defense. This question was distinctly settled in Knapp v. Smith (27 N. Y., 277), where the law is very distinctly laid down, and where it was held that a married woman, having property of her own, could manage it by the agency of her husband, or any other, and hold the profits and increase to her separate use.

What was said in Sherman v. Elder (24 N. Y., 381), and which might be considered in conflict with Knapp v. Smith, was but the dictum of the judge delivering the opinion, and does not appear to have been concurred in by the other members of the court; and the point was not decided in that case. But Sherman v. Elder expressly decides that the wife in this case could make a valid assignment of her claims, and that the action is well brought by the present plaintiffs.

I think this judgment should be reversed, and that there should be a new trial, with costs to abide the event.

All the judges concurred in the foregoing opinions, except DENIO, Ch. J., who dissented.

Judgment reversed, and new trial ordered.

Opinion of the Court, per DAVIES, J.

Wm. R. HENRY, Appellant, v. Erastus C. Root, Respondent.

Where an infant has purchased real estate, and has taken and continued in

possession after becoming of full age, and has exercised acts of ownership

over the same, he will be deemed to have ratified the contract of purchase. An infant cannot retain the benefits of his contract, and thus affirm it, after

becoming of age, and yet plead infancy to avoid the payment of the purchase

money. What acts, after attaining full age, will amount to a ratification of the contract

of an infant, elaborately discussed by DAVIES, J.

The facts sufficiently appear in the opinion
L. J. Burditt, for the appellant.
E. M. Harris, for the respondent.

DAVIES, J. This action was brought to recover the amount of a promissory note for $600, made at Fort Des Moines, in the State of Iowa, by the defendant, whereby he promised to pay to the plaintiff, for value received, the said sum of $600, with interest at the rate of ten per cent per annum, on or before the 15th day of April, 1857.

The defendant set up in his answer two distinct grounds of defense: First. That the note was given for part of the consideration of certain lots, situated in the town of Logan, in the territory of Nebraska; that the agreement for the purchase of said lots was made by the defendant with one Campbell, the agent of the plaintiff, when and whereby the defendant agreed to purchase said lots at and for a price of $700; that he paid in cash $100, and gave said note for the residue of the consideration or purchase-money of said lots; that said purchase was the only consideration for the same, and that he relied wholly upon the statements and representations of said Campbell as to the situation and value of said lots. The answer then sets out the representations made, and that the plaintiff's title was good, whereas he had no title to the same, and such representations were untrue, and that he was deceived and defrauded thereby; that he, the

Opinion of the Court, per DAVIES, J.

defendant, never had possession of said lots, and had never sold or conveyed any or either of them.

For a second defense, the defendant averred that, at the time of making and executing the said note, he was an infant, under the age of twenty-one years. On the trial the note was produced and read in evidence; and the plaintiff rested.

The defendant then offered himself as a witness, and testified, that at the time the note was executed he was not twenty-one years of age, and further testimony to the same effect was offered. The defendant attained the age of twenty-one years on the 25th of February, 1857. The witness testified, that on the 29th of January, 1857, the day after date of the note, he received a conveyance for said lote of land executed by Campbell as agent of the plaintiff, and that the same was acknowledged the same day. The plaintiff then offered the same in evidence, and the deed was objected to by the defendant's counsel, on the ground that it was not properly acknowledged nor authenticated; that it was not shown that the person who executed it had authority from the grantor, and also that it was not under seal, and therefore void. The court sustained the objection, and the plaintiff excepted. The plaintiff then offered to show by the witness that defendant took possession of the land under this deed, and that on the 19th of May, 1857, defendant conveyed a portion of the land to one Sandford B. Perry, of Chicago, by a deed not under seal, for the consideration of $100. This was objected to by the defendant, on the ground that no title was obtained by the defendant by the paper received by him, and the objection was sustained by the court, and the plaintiff excepted. The witness testified that the consideration of the note was for the conveyance of real estate.

The deed was then put in evidence by the defendant, and by it the plaintiff, for the consideration of $100 paid, the receipt whereof was acknowledged, and the further consideration of $600, to be paid on the 15th day of April, 1857, sold, released, and forever quit-claimed to the defendant all

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