Opinion of the Court.

The doctrine of the foregoing cases was applied in Vance v. Vandercook Company, No. 1, 170 U. S. 438, 442, to the right of a citizen of South Carolina to order from another State, for his own use, merchandise, consisting of intoxicating liquors, to be delivered in the State of South Carolina.

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Coming to test the ruling of the court below by the settled construction of the commerce clause of the Constitution, expounded in the cases just reviewed, the error of its conclusion is manifest. Those cases rested upon the broad principle of the freedom of commerce between the States and of the right of a citizen of one State to freely contract to receive merchandise from another State, and of the equal right of the citizen of a State to contract to send merchandise into other States. They rested also upon the obvious want of power of one State to destroy contracts concerning interstate commerce, valid in the States where made. True, as suggested by the court below, there has been a diversity of opinion concerning the effect of a C. O. D. shipment, some courts holding that under such a shipment the property is at the risk of the buyer, and, therefore, that delivery is completed when the merchandise reaches the hands of the carrier for transportation; others deciding that the merchandise is at the risk of the seller, and that the sale is not completed until the payment of the price and delivery to the consignee at the point of destination.

But we need not consider this subject. Beyond possible question, the contract to sell and ship was completed in Illinois. The right of the parties to make a contract in Illinois for the sale and purchase of merchandise, and in doing so to fix by agreement the time when the condition on which the completed title should pass, is beyond question. The shipment. from the State of Illinois into the State of Iowa of the merchandise constituted interstate commerce. To sustain, therefore, the ruling of the court below would require us to decide that the law of Iowa operated in another State so as to invalidate a lawful contract as to interstate commerce made in such other State; and, indeed, would require us to go yet further, and say

Opinion of the Court.

that, although under the interstate commerce clause a citizen in one State had a right to have merchandise consigned from another State delivered to him in the State to which the shipment was made, yet that such right was so illusory that it only obtained in cases where in a legal sense the merchandise contracted for had been delivered to the consignee at the time and place of shipment.

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When it is considered that the necessary result of the ruling below was to hold that wherever merchandise shipped from one State to another is not completely delivered to the buyer at the point of shipment so as to be at his risk from that moment the movement of such merchandise is not interstate commerce, it becomes apparent that the principle, if sustained, would operate materially to cripple if not destroy that freedom of commerce between the States which it was the great purpose of the Constitution to promote. If upheld, the doctrine would deprive a citizen of one State of his right to order merchandise from another State at the risk of the seller as to delivery. It would prevent the citizen of one State from shipping into another unless he assumed the risk; it would subject contracts made by common carriers and valid by the laws of the State where made to the laws of another State, and it would remove from the protection of the interstate commerce clause all goods on consignment upon any condition as to delivery, express or implied. Besides, it would also render the commerce clause of the Constitution inoperative as to all that vast body of transactions by which the products of the country move in the channels of interstate commerce by means of bills of lading to the shipper's order with drafts for the purchase price attached, and many other transactions essential to the freedom of commerce, by which the complete title to merchandise is postponed to the delivery thereof.

But general considerations need not be further adverted to in view of prior decisions of this court relating to the identical question here presented. In Caldwell v. North Carolina, 187 U. S. 622, the facts were these: The Chicago Portrait Com

Opinion of the Court.

pany shipped to Greensboro, North Carolina, by rail, consigned to its order, certain pictures and frames. At Greensboro the company had an agent who received the merchandise, put the pictures and frames together and delivered them to the purchasers who had ordered them from Chicago. The contention was that the portrait company was liable to a license charge imposed by the town of Greensboro for selling pictures therein, and this was supported by the argument that, although the contract for sale was made in Chicago, it was completed in North Carolina by the assembling of the pictures and frames and the delivery there made. It was held that the license could not be collected, because the transaction was an interstate commerce one. In the course of the opinion, after a full review of the authorities, it was observed (p. 632):

"It would seem evident that, if the vendor had sent the articles by an express company, which should collect on delivery, such a mode of delivery would not have subjected the transaction to State taxation. The same could be said if the vendor himself, or by a personal agent, had carried and delivered the goods to the purchaser. That the articles were sent as freight, by rail, and were received at the railroad station by an agent, who delivered them to the respective purchasers, in nowise changes the character of the commerce as interstate."

In Norfolk & Western Railway Company v. Sims, 191 U. S. 441, these were the facts: A resident of North Carolina ordered from a corporation in Chicago a sewing machine. The machine was shipped under a bill of lading to the order of the buyer, but this bill of lading was sent to the express agent at the point of delivery in North Carolina, with instructions to surrender the bill on payment of a C. O. D. charge. The contention was that the consummation of the transaction by the express agent in transferring the bill of lading upon payment of the C. O. D. charge was a sale of the machine in North Carolina, which subjected the company to a license tax. The contention was held untenable. Calling attention to the fact that the contract of sale was completed as a contract in ChiVOL. CXCVI-10

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Opinion of the Court.

cago, and after reviewing some of the authorities on the subject of interstate commerce, the court said (p. 450):

"Indeed, the cases upon this subject are almost too numerous for citation, and the one under consideration is clearly controlled by them. The sewing machine was made and sold in another State, shipped to North Carolina in its original package for delivery to the consignee upon payment of its price. It had never become commingled with the general mass of property within the State. While technically the title of the machine may not have passed until the price was paid, the sale was actually made in Chicago, and the fact that the price was to be collected in North Carolina is too slender a thread upon which to hang an exception of the transaction from a rule which would otherwise declare the tax to be an interference with interstate commerce."

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The controlling force of the two cases last reviewed upon this becomes doubly manifest when it is borne in mind that the power of the States to levy general and undiscriminating taxes on merchandise shipped from one State into another may attach to such merchandise before sale in the original package when the merchandise has become at rest within the State, and therefore enjoys the protection of its laws, and this upon the well-recognized distinction that the movement of merchandise from State to State, whilst constituting interstate commerce, is not an import in the technical sense of the Constitution. American Steel & Wire Company v. Speed, 192 U. S. 500.

As from the foregoing considerations it results that the court below erred in refusing to apply and enforce the commerce clause of the Constitution of the United States, its judgment must be reversed.

The judgment of the Supreme Court of Iowa is reversed, and the cause is remanded to that court for proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.


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Opinion of the Court.



No. 82. Argued December 2, 1904.—Decided January 3, 1905.

American Express Co. v. Iowa, ante, p. 133, followed.

THE facts are stated in the opinion.

Mr. Lawrence Maxwell, Jr., for plaintiff in error.1

Mr. Charles W. Mullan, Attorney General of the State of Iowa, for defendant in error.1

MR. JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court.

This was an indictment against the Adams Express Company, in a court of Iowa, for maintaining a nuisance in violation of a section of the code of that State. It was charged in the indictment in substance that the Adams Express Company, between July and December, 1900, at St. Charles, Madison County, Iowa, used a building for the purpose of selling intoxicating liquors therein, contrary to law, and that the company owned and kept in said building intoxicating liquors with the intent unlawfully to sell them within the State, contrary to an Iowa statute. There was a plea of not guilty, a trial and verdict of guilty, and a sentence imposing a fine of $350 and costs.

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An agreed statement of facts was stipulated, from which it appears that the Adams Express Company was a common carrier, engaged in the express business between the States of Missouri and Iowa; that it received the liquor in question at

This case was argued simultaneously with American Express Co. v. Iowa, for abstracts of arguments see p. 134, ante.

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