Logourl black
From our private database of 14,100+ case briefs...

Swift v. Tyson

United States Supreme Court
41 U.S. (16 Pet.) 1 (1842)


New York resident John Tyson attempted to buy land from a couple of land speculators, Nathaniel Narton and Jairus Keith, with a negotiable instrument called a bill of exchange. In fact, Narton and Keith did not own the land. Using the bill of exchange they got from Tyson, Narton and Keith paid off an unrelated debt to George Swift, a Maine resident. Swift then tendered the bill of exchange to Tyson for payment, but Tyson refused to honor it on the ground that it had been fraudulently obtained. Swift filed a lawsuit in federal circuit court, claiming that he was entitled to collect as a bona fide holder of a negotiable instrument for valuable consideration. The trial court concluded that New York state law, rather than federal law, controlled. Under New York case law, a preexisting debt did not constitute valuable consideration. Thus, Swift was not a bona fide holder of a negotiable instrument for valuable consideration, and Tyson was able to raise the defense of fraud. The trial court found in favor of Tyson. Swift appealed to the United States Supreme Court by a certificate of division.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision.

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.


The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question.

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

Holding and Reasoning (Story, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 222,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,100 briefs, keyed to 189 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.