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ENDORSEMENT OF BILLS OF EXCHANGE.

Bills of exchange may be endorsed by an attorney in fact, having competent authority derived

from a power.

WASHINGTON, April 27, 1816. Sır: In answer to the question submitted by the Secretary of the Navy, in his letter of the 12th of this month, the Attorney General has the honor to state

That he sees no objection, in point of law, to the endorsement of a bill of exchange under an authority derived from a power of attorney. The Attorney General begs leave to refer to his absence from the city, as a reason for not having transmitted an earlier answer.

RICHARD RUSH, Attorney General. To the SECRETARY OF THE Navy.

ALLOWANCES TO NAVY AGENTS.

Under the act of 34 March, 1809, navy agents may be allowed two thousand dollars per year,

over and above office rent, clerk hire, fuel, stationery, &c.

WASHINGTON, June 20, 1816. The accounts of the navy agent at Boston being presented for settlement at the office of the accountant of the Navy Department, they are found to contain certain charges for contingent expenses, which have been disallowed by the accountant as not warranted by law.

It does not appear that the charges are, in themselves, deemed to be unjust; but the accountant supposes that the sum of two thousand dollars, allowed by law as the annual compensation of the agent, was intended to cover all his expenses, and that no sum beyond this can be admitted to his credit upon any ground.

The agent still claiming to be allowed the items in question, which are for such charges as office rent, clerk hire, fuel, and stationery, the Secretary of the Navy requests that the Attorney General will be pleased to state his opinion upon the meaning of the law in this respect.

Answer: -The law fixing the compensation of navy agents will be found at the close of the 3d section of the act of the 3d of March, 1809, entitled "An act to amend the several acts for the establishment and reg. ulation of the Treasury, War, and Navy Departments.” It runs as follows: “Provided, That the compensation allowed to either (alluding to navy agents and certain other officers mentioned in the foregoing part of the section) shall not exceed one per centum on the public moneys disbursed by him, nor in any instance the compensation allowed by law to the purveyor of public supplies.

The law creating the office of purveyor of public supplies is that of the 23 February, 1795, and is in the words following: “That there shall be in the Department of the Treasury an officer to be denominated 'purveyor of public supplies,' whose duty it shall be, under the direction and supervision of the Secretary of the Treasury, to conduct the procuring and providing of all arms, military and naval stores, provisions, clothing, Indian goods, and, generally, all articles of supplies requisire for the service of the United States, and whose salary shall be a compensation of two thousand dollars per annum.

This is all that is said about the compensation of this officer.

It is agreed that, before the passage of the act of 3d of March, 1809, above recited, the purveyor of public supplies had been allowed, in the settlement of his accounts, credit for contingent disbursements, such as office rent, clerk hire, fuel, and other like expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of his official duty. This fact I take to be conclusive in favor of such a construction of the act of the 3d of March, 1809, as will allow to the navy agents, in the settlement of their accounts, credits for the same necessary and reasonable disbursements. The act of the 3d March, 1809, in adopting the rule of compensation from the act of the 23d February, 1795, must, I think, have intended to place navy agents (in case of their compensation reaching its maximum) upon a footing of equal advantage, in all respects, with the purveyor. No sufficient reason is perceived why any difference should be made.

I am, therefore, of opinion that the act of the 3d March, 1809, intended that the compensation of the navy agents should be two thousand dollars a year, clear of all deductions; in like manner as was the case, before its passage, with the purveyor of public supplies.

RICHARD RUSH, Attorney General. To the SECRETARY OF THE Nayy.

NEUTRALITY.

There is no law that can prevent a merchant or ship-owner selling his vessel and cargo to a

citizen or inhabitant of Buenos Ayres; but if a vessel be fitted out, furnished, &c., with intent to employ them in the service of any foreign state, to cruise or commit hostilities, &c., it would be unlawful.

WASHINGTON, July 27, 1816. Sır: Upon the letter of the collector of Baltimore, dated the 24th of this month, submitted to me yesterday, I have to state:

That I am aware of no law of the United States that can prevent a mer. chant or ship owner selling his vessel and cargo (should the latter even consist of warlike stores) to a citizen or inhabitant of Buenos Ayres, or of any part of South America. Nor will it, do I think, make any difference whether such sale be made directly in a port of the United States, with immediate transfer and possession thereupon; or under a contract entered into here, with delivery to take place in a port of South America.

If vessels be fitted out, furnished, or armed, within the waters of the United States, and there be sufficient grounds for believing that it is done with intent to employ them in the service of any foreign prince or state, to cruise or cominit hostilities upon the subjects or property of another foreign prince or state with whom the United States are at peace, it would be unlawful under the act of Congress.

If the English vessel alluded to in the collector's letter be seeking an armament with the latter purpose, it will consequently be unlawful. But I know of no law to prohibit her taking in arms or military stores in the way of trade, or for necessary self-defence.

RICHARD RUSH,

Attorney General. To the PRESIDENT.

LAND CERTIFICATES.

When the register at Kaskaskia had issued two certificates for the same land to two different

persons, held that the first had preference.

WASHINGTON, August 8, 1816, Sir: I have examined the case which the enclosed papers present, relative to the conflicting claims between the heirs of James Pigot, as. signee of James Ware, and N. Jarrot, to the militia claim of James Ware of one hundred acres, No. 489, in the county of St. Clair, Indiana, and am of opinion that the heirs of Pigot, or those claiming under them, are entitled to the patent.

RICHARD RUSH,

Allorney General. To the SECRETARY OF WAR.

PATENTS TO PURCHASERS AT SHERIFFS' SALES.

Where the local law authorizes a transfer of the right to patents at sheriffs' sales, the pur

demand

patents.

chasers

may

WASHINGTON, August 15, 1916. Sir: The enclosed papers present cases arising in different Territories. As regards the one from Indiana, the extract from the proper law is given, together with the proceedings of the court, and I think that a patent may well issue to Jacob Warrick, who purchased at sheriff's sale. In the case of the claim of John Beaird, or his representatives, neither the law of the Territory of Ilinois authorizing a sale of the land, nor any exemplifications of the proceedings of the court of common pleas of Randolph county, being set out, but merely the indenture of the commissioners given, I cannot form an opinion equally explicit. That given in the case of Warrick may, however, in the end, serve to govern this also.

RICHARD RUSH,

Attorney General. To the SECRETARY OF WAR.

PAY OF OFFICERS OF THE NAVY.

The act of April 18, 1814, does not limit the right of the President to increase the pay of the

officers and men belonging to the navy, to the close of the war with Great Britain.

WASHINGTON, August 16, 1816. I do not think that there is anything in the act of April 18, 1814, lim. iting the right of the President to increase the pay of the officers and men belonging to the navy to the close of the war with Great Britain, which then existed; but undoubtedly it is in his discretion to do so. I think, however, that no increase ought to take place in their pay since the war, without a new and particular authority from the President.

RICHARD RUSH,

Attorney General. To the SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.

JUDICIAL PRIVILEGES OF FOREIGNERS.

The courts of the United States in every State are at all times open to the subjects of a foreign

power in friendly relations with them. The more especially will such reniedies be extended in a case of fraud.

WASHINGTON, October 1, 1816. The Attorney General, having seen the representation addressed to the Minister of France by Mr. Dufort, president of the royal court at Bordeaux, respecting the conduct of a person by the name of Antoine, charged with having shipped certain effects of value to the United States, with a view to defraud his creditors in France, as well as the letter from the Minister of France to the Secretary of State, dated the 13th of last month, (both of which the Secretary of State has done him the honor to refer to him,) has great pleasure in stating, for the information of those in whose behalf the minister is so naturally desirous to obtain justice, that the laws will happily afford every facility to that end.

The courts of the United States in every State are at all times open to the subjects of a foreign power in friendly relations with them; and, on this occasion, the Attorney General is happy to add, that those of his Most Christian Majesty will be entitled to claim the benefit of every legal remedy in as ample a manner as could be enforced by any citizen of the Cnited States. The more especially will such remedies be extended in a case of fraud, which the law is ever sedulous to defeat.

In whatever town or place of the United States the effects thus sent off by Antoine can be found, they will be liable to process-either of attachnient, or sone other—rendering them or their amount ultimately liable to the just claims of his creditors. The latter, whether residing at Bordeaux or elsewhere in France, should transmit to the United States evidence of the nature and amount of their debts, under the best forms of authentication prescribed by the laws of France. It would, perhaps, be convenient it, on their arrival in this country, they were lodged in the hands of some agent or attorney, who might immediately act whenever the effects themselves, or those to whose hands they have been fraudulently shipped, are discovered.

The Attorney General forbears, for the present, to add anything further, without being apprized of more particulars of the case itself, or knowing in which of the States it may become necessary to apply for process: cach State having its own judicial usages, which govern in some degree the courts of the United States. All, however, concur in abhorring fraud; and the Attorney General indulges the conviction that every relief it is practicable to obtain through the instrumentality of courts of justice, will be promptly and effectually accorded to the French claimants in the present instance, as soon as proofs of their debts are exhibited. I have the honor to be, &c.,

RICHARD RUSH,

,

Attorney General. To the SECRETARY OF STATE.

CUTTING TIMBER FROM THE PUBLIC LANDS.

Neither the statute nor criminal code will authorize prosecution for cutting timber from the

public lands as for a robbery.

NOVEMBER 27, 1816. Sır: There is no statute of Congress, that I am aware of, that reaches the case of cutting timber from the public lands as a specific offence. Nor will the nature of the criminal code authorize a prosecution as for a robbery.

Yet, if the facts be as stated in the within letter, it is such an outrage upon the United States in their rights of property as will lay the foundation of an action of trespass, in which it can scarcely be doubted that just damages would be enforced against the delinquents. The trespass, however, being local, the attorney of the government in that quarter who would conduct the suit should also, perhaps, be asked to furnish his advice upon the occasion. If the hint of this officer's backwardness be true, it would seem to raise a necessity for an immediate substitute, as the prompt instrumentality of an attorney for the public will be indispensable towards upholding the authority of the laws. The facts are important; the communication anonymous. Names are mentioned. Are any of them known? What is stated may well awaken attention, coming, as it does, from an intelligent hand, and dealing so in particulars. But can the government venture upon any positive step, without intermediate inquiry and further corroboration ?

As to the Indians alleged to have been killed by Fisher and his party, the laws of the United States which protect them in these cases (if within their own territory) would seem to render nothing further necessary than the proper testimony to warrant an indictment for murder. Might the letter, or an extract from it, be transmitted to the attorney of the United States?

RICHARD RUSH,

Altorney General. To the SECRETARY OF WAR.

COMMUTATION BY GUARDIANS.

A child must have been under sixteen years of age at the death of the non-commissioned officer,

musicion, or private, in order to invest the guardian with the right to commute the bounty land for half-pay.

WASHINGTON, December 24, 1816. Sir: Under the second section of the act of Congress of the 16th of April, 1816, entitled “ An act making further provision for military ser

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