WHO CAN BE PRINCIPALS. Any person who by law is competent to act for himself, can, as a rule, act in respect to the same thing by an agent. The theory being that one can delegate his own author ity, and that, though acting through an agent or "alter ego," the principal should have the same degree of competency as would be necessary to do the act in per son.
Corporations may appoint agents for the transaction of their corporate business, and in the absence of ex press terms, the authority to do so will be implied, since a corporation can only act through its agents, and the authority to appoint agents is a necessary incident to its existence. (Protection Life Ins. Co. v. Foote, 79 Ill. 361; Washburn v. Nashville, etc., R. R. Co., 3 Head, 638, 75 Am. Dec. 784.) Thus, a railroad com pany acts through its agents and officers, and it may delegate its authority to these, if not prohibited by its charter, so far as n-lay be necessary to effect the pur poses of its creation.
If not restricted by- the partnership articles, each partner has implied authority- to employ the necessary agents and servants to transact the firm business, and all of the partners acting together may appoint agents to act beyond the scope of the business. See Section 526, et seq., Number 4. Home Law School Series.
Principals being required to possess such compe tency as is generally requisite for the making of con tracts, it follows that persons lacking the requisite men tal or natural capacity, as idiots, lunatics and drunken persons, and those under legal disabilities, as infants and married women, cannot, generally, appoint agents. The rules governing these classes of persons have al ready been discussed under the head of Contracts, and to these the student is referred.
In certain cases, persons ordinarily incompetent to contract, may do so, and may also appoint agents to act for them. Thus, an infant may appoint an agent if he is married, and it is necessary- to have an agent to manage his household affairs. So a married infant must support his wife or she may act as his agent and bind him for her contracts for necessaries. (Cantine v. Phillips, 5 Harr. 428.) Such an agency may be termed an "agency of necessity," or one created by law. (Benjamin v. Dockham, 134 Mass. 418; Johnston v. Sumner, 3 Hurl. & Nor. 261.) At Common law a married woman could not appoint an agent, but under modern statutes she may appoint agents to deal with her separate property.