Another important change in the interests of the creditors of failed banks was put in operation by Mr. Dawes almost immediately after assuming charge of the office.
It had been the previous practice whenever an assessment had been made upon the stockholders of. a failed bank to cover the deficiency in assets, to regard such assessment as irrevocable and unchangeable, notwithstanding the fact that even though the liquidation of the trust demonstrated that the estimated valuation of assets on which such assessment was based was erroneous and the deficiency exceeded the amount estimated.
Mr. Dawes held that the former position of the office on this question was inconsistent with the exact fulfillment of the law, as the stockholders were liable to the par of their stockholdings for all the debts of the bank, and that such liability could be enforced to the extent of one hundred per cent. by one assessment or by as many as were found to be necessary, not exceeding, however, one hundred per cent.
The contention of Mr. Dawes was so manifestly correct that the wonder is that the Comptroller's office ever held a contrary view, and his position was subsequently sustained by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Studebaker v. Perry, Receiver, 184 U. S. 258, in which the court held that the Comptroller is authorized to make a second assessment upon the shareholders of an insolvent bank where the first assessment proves insufficient to pay the debts of the association, so long as the total assessments do not exceed the par value of the stock.