Notaries, Bank Officer Oaths 1881

Notaries Bank Officer Oaths 1881Notaries, Bank Officer Oaths 1881

In U.S. v. Curtis (1883), the Supreme Court ruled that a false bank return oath made by a bank officer before a Missouri notary public, prior to the notary act of 1881, was not admissible as evidence of perjury because federal law at the time did not expressly empower a state notary to take that particular oath for a national bank officer.

U.S. v. Curtis, 1883, U.S. Supreme Court

Prior to the passage of the notary act of February 26, 1881, notaries public in the several states had no authority to administer to a bank officer of a national banking association the oath required by section 5211 of the Revised Statutes of the United States. U.S. v. Curtis, 107 U.S. 671 (1883)

An Act Defining the Verification of Returns of National Banks

President Rutherford HayesThe act was passed on February 26, 1881 by the 46th Congress, 3rd Session, Chapter 82. (21 Statutes at Large 352) Rutherford B. Hayes, President

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

That the oath or affirmation required by section 5211 of the Revised Statutes, verifying the returns made by national banks to the Comptroller of the Currency, when taken before a notary public properly authorized and commissioned by the State in which such notary resides and the bank is located, or any other officer having an official seal, authorized in such State to administer oaths, shall be a sufficient verification as contemplated by said section 5211:

Provided, That the officer administering the oath is not an officer of the bank.

Source: Library of Congress, U.S. Statutes, 46th Congress, 3rd Session, Ch. 82

Library of Congress General Disclaimer: Materials displayed on our websites are intended for reference use only. They are not legal advice, and may not represent the official opinion of the United States Government.

Express Authority Required for State Notaries

Oaths permitted or required under federal law must be taken before an officer competent to administer them at the time, under the laws of the United States. There must be a federal statute, rule or regulation giving express authority to empower a state notary to take oaths permitted or required by federal law. An oath taken before an officer who has no federal authority, or does not have the correct type of authority for a particular matter, is not valid.

There is no general statute in federal law designating any class of persons or officers (including notaries public) who may in all cases administer the oaths required to be taken by the laws of the United States. There are many federal statutes regulating the administration of oaths in particular classes of cases, and specifying the person before whom the oath shall be made, but the persons are not always the same.

These oaths can be taken in the cases pointed out by the law before the courts, judges of the courts, clerks of the courts, notaries public and various other officers, but the authorized persons are not always the same. In all these instances the class of cases in which the oath can be taken before such officer, or any of them, is defined.

A deputy-surveyor of the United States cannot take a required oath before a California notary public without specific express power under federal law. U.S. v. Hall, 131 U.S. 50, 9 S.Ct. 663 (1889)

Oath of Office of Bank Director

National banking law at 12 USC 73 requires each elected or appointed bank director to take an oath of office that he or she will “diligently and honestly administer the affairs of such association, and will not knowingly violate or willingly permit to be violated any of the provisions” of the National Bank Act and that he or she is the owner in his or her own right of the capital stock required by 12 USC 72.

The oath of office may be taken before a notary public, or before any other officer having an official seal and authorized by the state to administer oaths, except the oath shall not be taken before any notary public or other officer who is a bank officer of the director’s bank.

Image Credits
1. President Rutherford B. Hayes, Mathew Brady derivative work: UpstateNYer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Notaries, Bank Officer Oaths 1881
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