Markle v. Hatfield, 2 Johns. 455; Young v. Adams, 6 Mass. 182; and Jones V. Ryde, 5 Taunt. 488. But, without entering upon any examination of this doctrine, it is sufficient to say, that the present is not such a case. The notes in question were not the notes of another bank, or the security of a third person;. but they were received and adopted by the bank as its own genuine notes, in the most absolute and unconditional manner. They were treated as cash, and carried to the credit of the plaintiff in the same manner, and with the same general intent, as if they had been genuine notes or coin.
"Many considerations of public convenience and policy would authorize a distinction between cases where a bank receives forged notes purporting to be its own, and those where it receives the notes of other banks in payment or upon general deposit. It has the benefit of circulating its own notes as currency, and commanding thereby the public confidence. It is bound to know its own paper, and provide for its payment, and must be presumed to use all reasonable means, by private marks and otherwise, to secure itself against forgeries and impositions. In point of fact, it is well known, that every bank is in the habit of using secret marks, and peculiar characters, for this purpose, and of keeping a regular register of all the notes it issues, so as to guide its own discretion as to its discounts and circulation, and to enable it to detect frauds. Its own security, not less than that of the public, requires such precautions.
"Under such circumstances, the receipt by a bank of forged notes, purporting to be its own, must be deemed an adoption of them. It has the means of knowing if they are genuine; if these means are not employed, it is certainly evidence of a neglect of that duty, which the public have a right to require. And in respect to persons equally innocent, where one is bound to know and act upon his knowledge, and the other has no means of knowledge, there seems to be no reason for burdening the latter with any loss in exoneration of the former. There is nothing unconscientious in retaining the sum received from the bank in payment of such notes, which its own acts have deliberately assumed to be genuine. If this doctrine be applicable to ordinary cases, it must apply with greater strength to cases where the forgery has not been detected until after a considerable lapse of time. The holder, under such circumstances, may not be able to ascertain from whom he received them, or the situation of the other parties may be essentially changed. Proof of actual damage may not always be within his reach; and therefore to confine the remedy to cases of that sort would fall far short of the actual grievance. The law will, therefore, presume a damage actual or potential, sufficient to repel any claim against the holder. Even in relation to forged bills of third persons received in payment of a debt, there has been a qualification ingrafted on the general doctrine, that the notice and demands that every person, before paying such a note or bill, should assure himself that it is his, he having the sole means return must be within a reasonable time; and any neglect will absolve the payer from responsibility.
"If, indeed, we were to apply the doctrine of negligence to the present case, there are circumstances strong to show a want of due diligence and circumspection on the part of the Bank of Georgia. It appears from the statement of facts, that all the genuine notes of that bank of the denomination of one hundred dollars, in circulation at this time, were marked with letter A; whereas twenty-three of the forged notes of one hundred dollars bore the marks of the letter B, C, and D. These facts were known to the defendants, but unknown to the plaintiffs; so that by ordinary circumspection the fraud might have been detected.
"The argument against this view of the subject, derived from the fact, that the defendants have received no consideration to raise a promise to pay this sum, since the notes were forgeries, is certainly not of itself sufficient. There are many cases in the law where the party has received no legal consideration, and yet in which, if he has paid the money, he cannot recover it back; and in which, if he has merely promised to pay, it may be recovered of him. The first class of cases often turns upon the point, whether in good faith and conscience the money can be justly retained; in the latter, whether there has been a credit thereby given to or by a third person, whose interest may be materially affected by the transaction. So that, to apply the doctrine of a want of consideration to any case, we must look to all the circumstances, and decide upon them all.
"Passing from these general considerations, it is material to inquire how, in analogous cases, the law has dealt with this matter. The present case does not, indeed, appear to have been in terms decided in any court; but if principles have been already established, which ought to govern it, then it is the duty of the court to follow out those principles on this occasion.
"The case has been argued in two respects; first; as a case of payment, and, secondly, as a case of acceptance of the notes.
"In respect to the first, upon the fullest examination of the facts, we are of opinion that it is a case of actual payment. We treat it, in this respect, exactly as the parties have treated it, that is, as a case where the notes have been paid and credited as cash. The notes have not been credited as notes, or as a special deposit; but the transaction is precisely the same as if the money had been first paid to the plaintiffs, and instantaneously the same money had been deposited by them. It can make no difference that the same agent is employed by both parties, the one to receive and the other to pay and credit. Upon what principle is it, then, that the court is called upon to construe the act different from the avowed intention of the parties ? It is not a case where the law construes an act done with one intent to be a different act, for the purpose of making it available in law; to do that, cy pres, which would be defective in its direct form. Here the parties were of knowledge in himself, beyond the counterfeiter; and also because, between two innocent parties, if the negligence of one at liberty to treat it as they pleased, either as a payment of money, or as a credit of the notes. In either way it was a legal proceeding, effectual and perfect; and as no reason exists for a different construction, we think that the parties, by treating it as a cash deposit, must be deemed to have considered it as paid in money, and then deposited; since that is the only way in which it could legally become, or be treated as cash. Nor is there any novelty in this view of the transaction. Bank-notes constitute a part of the common currency of the country, and ordinarily pass as money. When they are received as payment, the receipt is always given for them as money. They are a good tender as money, unless specially objected to; and as Lord Mansfield observed, in Miller v. Race, 1 Burr. 457, they are not, like bills of exchange, considered as mere securities or documents for debts. If this be true in respect to bank-notes in general, it applies, a fortiori, to the notes of the bank which receives them; for they are then treated as money received by the bank, being the'representative of so much money admitted to be in its vaults for the use of the depositor. The same view was taken of this point in the case of Levy v. The Bank of the United States, 4 Dall. 234; 1 Binn. 27, where a forged check had been accepted by the bank and carried to the credit of the plaintiff (a depositor) as cash, and upon a subsequent discovery of the fraud, the bank refused to pay the amount. The court there said, ' It is our opinion, that when the check was credited to the plaintiff as cash, it was the same thing as if it had been paid; it is for the interest of the bank that it should so be taken. In the latter case, the bank would have appeared as plaintiffs; and every mistake which could have been corrected in an action by them, may be corrected in this action, and none other.' The case of Bolton v. Richard, 6 T. R. 139, is not, in all its circumstances, directly in point; but there the court manifestly considered the carrying of a check to the credit of a party was equivalent to the transfer of so much money in the hands of the banker to his account.