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proved by all the witnesses examined that every effort was made by the commanding general and his officers to preserve the property of the inhabitants inviolate." It was, however, in the nature of things that some losses should have been sustained by the inhabitants of a character entitled to equitable compensation. The committee could not but think that the situation of provinces circumstanced as were the Floridas was entitled to great tenderness, looking at them as distant appendages of a weak government unable to vindicate their neutrality; occupied against the law of nations by the enemy of the United States, and thus necessarily exposed to the hostile approach of an American force; acquired by the American Government as an indemnity for wrongs inflicted by the Spanish Government, from which the Floridas derived no benefit, and shortly afterward admitted into the political family of the Union. The committee deemed it expedient by the adoption of a liberal policy to remove forever any remaining ground of irritation and discontent.
Owing to the lateness of the session no action was taken on Mr. Everett's bill.
February 9, 1830, Mr. Archer, then chairman of the Mr. Archer's Reports. Committee on Foreign Affairs, reported a bill to allow
tho claims of 1812–13, but not those of 1814. He excluded the claims of 1814 partly on the ground of Article V. of the treaty with Spain of 1795, by which the contracting parties pledged themselves “to restrain by force all hostilities on the part of the Indian nations living within their boundaries.” On January 20, 1832,” and March 25, 1834, 3 he presented a similar recommendation from the same committee, on each occasion with a bill to give it effect.
On June 26, 1834, the bill became a law." By the provisions of this act the Secretary of the Treasury "authorized and directed to pay
the amount awarded by the judge of the superior court at St. Augustine
for the losses occasioned in East Florida by the troops in the service of the United States in the years 1812 and 1813 in all cases where the decision of the said judge shall be deemed by the Secretary of the Treasury to be just;" and the judge of the superior court at St. Augustine was “authorized to receive, examine, and adjudge all cases of claims for losses occasioned by the troops aforesaid in 1812 and 1813 not heretofore presented to the said judge or in which the evidence was withheld in consequence of the decision of the Secretary of the Treasury that such claime were not provided for by the treaty of February 22, 1819.” One year was allowed for the presentation of such claims. It was also provided that in no case should an award be made or paid where the claimant was not at the time of his loss an actual subject of Spain.
Under this act many claims were adjudicated; and Adjudication of Claims. when Florida was admitted to the Union, the unfinished
business pending before the judge at St. Augustine in relation to the East Florida claims was transferred to the judge of the dis
Provision for East Flor
H. Report 176, 21 Cong. 1 sess.
trict court of the United States for the northern district of Florida.' Subsequently the district judge was specially authorized to receive and adjudicate certain claims, among which was that of Ferreira, administrator of Pass. From 1823 to 1849 the judges allowed on the claims of 1812– 1813 upward of a million dollars, exclusive of interest.
When the Secretary of the Treasury came to exercise Aetion of the Treasury the authority conferred upon him in respect of the Department.
payment of the awards, his Department subjected them to a reexamination. The rules of decision adopted by Mr. Rush were acquiesced in, Mr. Woodbury, the Secretary of the Treasury, deeming himself to be unauthorized “to revise or overrule the same without the special authority of law to that effect. The Treasury Department also held that there were three descriptions of cases, included in the claims for losses in 1812–13, in which the provisions of the act of 1834 did not warrant an ailowance: 1. Where the loss sustained was shown by the evidence to have been occasioned by the acts of Indians hostile to the Spanish Government, but not cooperating with the American army. 2. Where it appeared that the claimants had joined the “patriot” troops who were acting in hostility to the Spanish authorities, and the property was taken and destroyed by the Spanish forces. 3. Where the loss was shown to have been occasioned by hostile Indians opposed to the troops of the United States. Claims were also rejected where the losses were shown to have been occasioned not by the direct acts of the United States troops, but by the acts of lawless inhabitants of Florida who took advantage of the disturbed situation of the province, arising from the presence of an invading army, to commit depredations. Mr. Woodbury being of opinion, however, that injuries of this class might "be fairly deemed as consequential, suggested the propriety of a special statutory provision for them.” 4 It was advised by Attorney-General Grundy that the United States was bound to make compensation to claimants under the treaty for slaves carried away or killed by the United States forces and thus totally lost to their owners, as well as for the detention of slaves that were wrongfully taken but afterward restored. Attorney-General Cushing advised that the extraordinary expenses incurred by a claimant in living at St. Marys, whither he retired after the destruction of his property, were too remotely consequential to form a subject of compensation under the article."
In respect of these rules of decision no general conDisallowance of Inter- troversy occurred. In most cases the principal amount est by the Treasury.
allowed by the judges was paid. But against the Treasnry's action on the question of interest, a general complaint arose. The rule of the judges in making up their awards was to allow damages to the amount of the value of the property at the time of the injury, and to add to this, as satisfaction for the loss of the use and profits of the property,
Act of February 22, 1847, 9 Stats, at L. 130.
Amount of Interest
interest at the rate of 5 per cent during the period when no provision of law existed for the presentation and payment of the claims. On December 20, 1836, Mr. Woodbury, in deciding upon the claim of John Gianopoli, which was the first one disposed of by the Treasury, allowed it “with the exception of interest, which it is believed has not been allowed in claims similarly situated.”
This decision was contested by the claimants on vari. Contention of Claim
ous grounds. They contended (1) that the Secretary
of the Treasury exceeded his authority under the act of 1834 in assuming to revise the "amount" of the award; (2) that the word “legalmente,” for which the words “process of law” stood as the equivalent in the English text of the treaty, required a judicial as distinguished from an executive determination of the claims; and (3) that while the action of the Secretary of the Treasury was based solely on his view of the usage of his Department in respect of domestic claims, the law of nations, as well as the treaty, required the allowance of interest as part of a just indemnity.
In a report of January 15, 1839, Mr. Woodbury stated
that the amount of the claims paid by the Treasury up Disallowed.
to that time was about $285,000, and that the amount of the awards then pending but not disposed of was about $250,000. If interest was allowed from the date of the injury, as was generally done by the judges, it would amount probably to $500,000 more. Mr. Woodbury further stated that the Treasury Department had acted on the theory that its duty was not a formal one, and suggested that if Congress should think the awards of the judges ought to be final, it should change the law "so as to require simply that the amount of the award for principal, or for principal and interest, as deemed most proper by Congress, shall in all cases be paid on its presentment to the Treasury Department. It is believed,” he added, “that no allowance for interest has been heretofore approved by the department.”
From first to last the sums awarded by the judges as interest amounted to almost the same as the sums awarded as principal—the sums allowed as principal, in the cases in which interest was awarded, amounting to $1,089,747.91, while the total of interest was $1,199,668.58. The whole amount allowed and paid by the Treasury was $1,024,741.44.2
As early as December 3, 1849, Mr. Calderon, the SpanLater Discussions of ish minister at Washington, presented the question of
interest to the United States, at the same time declaring that he believed the “judgments of the courts to be in conformity with the express stipulations of the treaty and the public law which controls such decisions."3 October 22, 1869, the question was again presented by Mr. Lopez Roberts, then Spanish minister to the United States. In the mean time it has been the subject of many reports and opinions in the various departments of the government. In 1851 the Supreme Court of the United States decided that it had no jurisdiction to entertain an appeal from the decision of the judge of the district court of the United
1 S. Ex. Doc. 97, 25 Cong. 3 sess.
S. Ex. Doc. 158, 48 Cong. 1 sess. 12–17. 3 S. Ex. Doc. 205, 46 Cong. 2 sess.
States for the northern district of Florida, proceeding under the act of 1834. In 1857 the Court of Claims held, Scarburgh, J., dissenting, that it could afford no relief. It was held by several Attorneys-General that the matter was, as to the executive department, in the absence of new legislation, res judicata. 3 And such was the answer made by Mr. Fish, as Secretary of State, to Mr. Lopez Roberts. “I will not enter into the question,” said Mr. Fish, “whether that decision (of Mr. Woodbnry in 1836] was correct or erroneous, for the precedent has been so often and so long permitted to control the disposition of
claims under the ninth article of the treaty of 1819 as to preclude the executive branch of this government from disregarding or reversing it. The judicial branch has declared itself incompetent to deal with the subject. It has thus become a practical necessity to await further legislation by Congress before taking any fresh action in relation to these claims.”
On March 1, 1880, President Hayes invited the attention of Congress to the subject;' and on the 13th of the next May he communicated to the Senate a report of the Secretary of State with various documents. On March 1, 1881, Mr. Morgan, from the Committee on Foreign Relations, reported to the effect that “Congress shonld not interfere to discuss or decide a question which, for the present, at least, should be open to the consideration of the executive branch or of the treaty-making power.”? On the 14th of the preceding month Mr. Herndon, from the Committee on Foreign Affairs, reported a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to pay the claims for interest.8 Further papers on the subject were communicated by President Arthur to the Senate April 18, 1884.!
United States v. Ferreira, 13 Howard, 40.