2S. Public rights not affected. Statutes of limitation do not run against the state or the United States, unless it is expressly so pro vided in the statute itself. No laches is to be imputed to the government. 18 Johns. N. Y. 228 ; 4 Mass. 526. But this principle has no application when a party seeks his private rights in the name of the state. Counties, towns, and municipal bodies not possessed of the attributes of sovereignty have no exemp tion. 4 Dev. No. C. 568; 22 Me. 445; 12 Ill. 38. If, however, the sovereign becomes a party in a private enterprise, as, for instance, a stockholder in a bank, he subjects himself to the operation of' the statute. 3 Pet. 30.
29. Particular classes of actions. Actions of trespass, trespass quare clausum, detinue, J.,ceount, trover, replevin, and upon the case (except actions for slander), and action of debt for arrearages of rent, and of debt grounded upon any lending or contract with out specialty, or simple contract debt, are usually limited to six years. Actions for slander, libel, assault, and the like, are usually limited to a less time, generally two years. Judgment of courts not of record, as courts of justices of the peace, and county commis sioners' courts, are in some states, either by statute or the decisions of the highest courts, included in the category of debts founded on contract without specialty. 13 Mete. Mass. 251 ; 2 Bail. So, C. 68; 37 Me. 29. In others, however, they are excluded upon the ground that the statute applies only to debts founded on contracts in fact, and not to debts founded on contracts implied by law. 14 Johns. N. Y. 480.
30. Action of assumpsit, though not spe cifically named in the original statute of James I. as included within the limitation of six years, were held in England, after much discussion, to be fairly embraced in actions of " trespass." 4 Ad. & E. 912. The same rule has been adopted in this country, 5 Ohio, 444 ; 3 Pet. 270 ; 1 Morr. Iowa, 59 ; and, in fact, assumpsit is expressly included in most of the statutes. And it has also been held in this country that statutes of limita tion apply as well to motions made. under a statute as to actions. 11 Humplar. Tenn, 423. Such statutes are in aid of the common iaw, and furnish a general rule for cases that are analogous in their subject-matter, but for which a remedy unknown to the common law has been provided by statutes ; as where compensation is sought for land taken for a railroad, 23 Penn. St. 371.
31. A set-off cannot usually be pleaded in bar, 5 East, 16 ; 3 Johns. N. Y. 261 ; though when there are cross-demands accruing at nearly the same time, and the plaintiff has saved the statute by suing out process, the defendant will be allowed to set off his demand, 2 Esp. 569 ; and, generally, when there is any equitable matter of defence in the nature of set-off or which might be the snidect of a cross-action, growing out of the subject-matter for which the action is brought, courts will permit it to be set up although a cross-action or an action on the claim in set off might be barred by the statute. 8,Rich.
So. C. 113 ; 9 Ga. 398 ; 11 Eng. L. & Eq. 10 ; 2 Green, N. J. 545 ; 8 B. Monr. 580. A lien is not lost though an action to recover on the debt or obligation secured by the pledge may be barred. 3 Esp. 81 ; 2 Barnew. & Ad. 413 ; 19 Pick. Mass. 535.
32. Debts by specialty, as conbracts under seal, judgments of courts of record' (except foreign judgments, and judgments of courts out of the state, upon which the decisions are very discordant), liabilities imposed by statute, awards under seal, or where the sub mission is under seal, indentures reserving rent, and actions for legacies, are affected nnly by the general limitation of twenty years. A mortgage, though under seal, does not take the note, not witnessed, secured thereby, with it, out of the limitation of sim ple contracts. 7 Wend. N. Y. 94. And though liabilities imposed by statute ars specialties, a liability under a by-law made by virtue of a charter is not, 6 Eng. L. & Eq. 309 ; on the ground that by becoming a member of the company enacting the by-laws the party consents and agrees to assume the liabilities imposed thereby.
33. An action brought by the payee of a witnessed promissory note, his executt,r or administrator, is in some states excepted from the limitation of simple contracts, and is only barred by the lapse of twenty years. But the indorsee of such a note must sue within six years from the time of the transfer to him, 4 Pick. Mass. 384 ; though he may sue after that time in the name of the payee, with his consent. 4 Cush. Mass. 176. If there are two promissees to the note, and the signature of only one is witnessed, the note as to the other is not a witnessed note. 4 Mete. Mass. 406 ; 18 Shep. Me. 49. And the attestation of the witness roust be with the knowledge and consent of the maker of the note. 8 Pick. Mass. 246 ; 1 Mas. Vt. 26. An attested indorsement signed by the pro missee, acknowledging the note to be due, is not a witnessed note, 23 Pick. Mass. 282 ; but the same acknowledgment for value re ceived, with a promise to pay the note, is., 1 Meta. Mass. 21. If the note be payable to the niaker's own order, witnessed and indorsed by the maker in blank, the indorsement being without attestation, an action by the first indorsee is barred in six years. 4 Mete. Mass, 219. And even if the indorsement be attested, a second indorsee or holder by de livery, not being the original payee, is barred. 13 Mete. Mass. 128.