MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE delivered the opinion of the court.
By sect. 4 of the act to provide a temporary government for the Territory of Dakota, no one session of the legislative assembly shall exceed forty days (12 Stat. 239), and in 1869 Congress declared that the sessions of all territorial legislative assemblies should be biennial. 15 id. 300. The members of the legislative assembly of Dakota met on the 5th of December, 1870, and continued in regular session on all days, except Sundays, until Jan. 13, 1871, when they adjourned without day. The day of adjournment was called on the journals the fortieth day of the session, although there had been but thirty-five days of actual session for the transaction of business. On the 18th of April, 1871, the members of the legislature elected the preceding fall again assembled at the call of the acting governor of the Territory. After organizing themselves as a legislative assembly and proceeding to legislate for the Territory, they passed, among other acts, one entitled "An Act to enable organized counties and townships to vote aid to any railroad, and to provide for the payment of the same." Under this act
On the twenty-seventh day of May, 1872, the following act of Congress was approved and went into effect. 17 id. 162.
"An Act in Relation to the Dakota Southern Railroad Company.
"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the act passed by the legislative assembly of the Territory of Dakota, and approved by the governor on the twenty-first day of April, 1871, entitled `An Act to enable organized counties and townships to vote aid to any railroad, and to provide for the payment of the same' be, and the same is hereby, disapproved and annulled, except in so far as herein otherwise provided. But the passage of this act shall not invalidate or impair the organization of the company heretofore organized for the construction of the Dakota Southern Railroad leading from Sioux City, Iowa, by way of Yankton, the capital of said Territory, to the west line of Bon Homme County, or any vote that has been or may be given by the counties of Union, Clay, Yankton, and Bon Homme, or any township granting aid to said railroad, or any subscription thereto, or any thing authorized by and that may have been done in pursuance of the provisions of the aforesaid act of the legislative assembly of said Territory towards the construction and completion of said railroad, and the said Dakota Southern Railroad Company, as organized under and in conformity to the acts of the legislative assembly of said Territory, is hereby recognized and declared to be a legal and valid corporation; and the provisions of the act of the legislative assembly first aforesaid, so far as the same authorize, and for the purpose of validating any vote of aid and subscriptions to said company for the construction, completion, and equipment of the main stem of said railroad, between the termini aforesaid, are hereby declared to be and remain in full force, but no further, and for no other purpose whatsoever.
"SECT. 2. That for the purpose of enabling the said Dakota Southern Railroad Company to construct its said road through the public lands between the termini aforesaid, the right of way through said public lands is hereby granted to said company to the extent
After the passage of this act, the bonds voted were delivered by the county commissioners to the railroad company, and stock in the company for an equal amount was issued to the county. The First National Bank of Brunswick, Maine, the bona fide holder and owner of ten of these bonds, amounting in the aggregate to $10,000, brought this suit against the county to recover three instalments of interest. The defence was that there was no law authorizing the issue of the bonds, and, as a consequence, that the county was not bound for the payment of either principal or interest. Upon the trial of the cause, the facts were found substantially as already stated, and a judgment was rendered by the District Court of the Territory in favor of the county. This judgment was afterwards affirmed by the Supreme Court, and thereupon the bank brought the case here by writ of error.
We do not consider it necessary to decide whether the governor of Dakota had authority to call an extra session of the legislative assembly, nor whether a law passed at such a session or after the limited term of forty days had expired would be valid, because, as we think, the act of May 27, 1872, is equivalent to a direct grant of power by Congress to the county to issue the bonds in dispute. It is certainly now too late to doubt the power of Congress to govern the Territories. There have been some differences of opinion as to the particular clause of the Constitution from which the power is derived, but that it exists has always been conceded. The act to adapt the ordinance to provide for the government of the Territory northwest of the river Ohio to the requirements of the Constitution
In the organic act of Dakota there was not an express reservation of power in Congress to amend the acts of the territorial legislature, nor was it necessary. Such a power is an incident of sovereignty, and continues until granted away. Congress may not only abrogate laws of the territorial legislatures, but it may itself legislate directly for the local government. It may make a void act of the territorial legislature valid, and a valid act void. In other words, it has full and complete legislative authority over the people of the Territories and all the departments of the territorial governments. It may do for the Territories what the people, under the Constitution of the United States, may do for the States.
Turning, then, to the particular act of Congress now under consideration, we find that the attention of that body was in some way brought to the fact that the legislative assembly of Dakota had, on the 21st of April, 1871, passed an act to enable organized counties and townships to vote aid to railroads. In addition to this, it was known that the Dakota Southern Railroad Company had been organized as a corporation under certain acts of the territorial legislative assembly, and that votes had been taken under the aid act in some of the counties and
The judgment of the Supreme Court of the Territory will be reversed, and the cause remanded with instructions to reverse