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own, does not subject officers to punishment by a regimental court-martial. On recurring to their best writers on this subject, I find them laying down the rule agreeably to the opinion I have expressed.

Mr. Tytler, in his accurate essay on military law, speaking of a similar provision in their martial code, says: “It is material, however, to observe, that, as no commissioned officer is properly amenable to the judgment or sentence of a regimental court-martial, the court, on such complaint and inquiry, can only pronounce their opinion whether the complaint is well or ill founded. If they declare the latter, the complainant must either acquiesce in that opinion, or, if he thinks himself aggrieved, follow the mode of appeal to a general-court martial above prescribed. If the regimental court declare the complaint to be well founded, the complainant may, on that authority, request a general court-martial to take cognizance of the injury, and bring the effender to proper punishment."

Mr. McArthur, in a note on the same point, uses correspondent language: “It is proper to note, that a regimental court-martial cannot adjudge a commissioned officer to any punishment, but only, like a court of inquiry, the members give their opinion whether the charge be well or ill founded. If the charge be adjudged unfounded, the accuser may still, on the grounds of thinking himself aggrieved or wronged, appeal to a general court-martial; and if, on the contrary, the charge be adjudged well founded, the oflicer accused may appeal to a general court-martial."

The same doctrine is maintained in a valuable treatise, which does credit to an American officer-Major Macomb.

With these lights to direct me, I feel no hesitation in saying, that when inferior officers or soldiers who think themselves wronged complain to the commanding officer of a regiment, he ought to summon a regimental court-martial, to inquire into the truth or falsehood of the complaint, and decide thereon. But, as their authority extends no further than a court of inquiry, the rules and practice of such courts should in general govern their proceedings; for the regimental court-martial in this instance differs only in a few features from the ordinary courts of inquiry. Should the complaint be considered as well founded, and warrant a charge under any of the articles of war, a general court-martial may be ordered, who will have jurisdiction of the whole case, and may punish the offence. The officers may, at the proper season, be arrested; but, in the present stage, I apprehend an arrest would be irregular and premature. Yours, very respectfully,







Enlistments for the naval service being for “two years from the time when the ship shall

last weigh anchor for sea," are regular for that term, although made before, and the persons enlisting serve awhile in fitting the vessel for sea.

ANNAPOLIS, July 13, 1811. 1. I CAN perceive no inconsistency whatever between the words of the act of Congress of January, 1809, and the articles of enlistment quoted in the foregoing opinion.

The act requires that the engagement shall be for a period which it defines, and the engagement is for that period.

The objection that the enlistment should not have been made to commence at the time when the ship should last weigh anchor for sea,' appears to me to have nothing in it. The act of Congress does not prescribe the time when the engagement shall commence; it leaves that to the discretion of the executive government, to be exercised with a view to the nature and benefit of the service intended for the ship.

It is of no consequence that the men were in fact employed before the ship set out on her cruise, and that they have thus already served more than two years. If that consideration be of any account, it cannot go to affect the regularity of the enlistment for two years from the last weighing of the ship's anchor. It can only tend to show that it was unlawful for the Navy Department to employ the same men in the service of the ship before the term of their regular enlistment, as fired by the articles, commenced—a conclusion which might be admitted, without injury to the right of the commander of the “Constitution” to keep the men in question until the expiration of the two years defined in the articles; but I do not think that even that conclusion would be just. The President was authorized to prepare the ship for a cruise or station on our coasts, &c. It can scarcely be doubted that, if the Navy Department had ordered the preparatory service to be performed by one set of persons, it might then have enlisted another set for two years more, for the performance of the principal service, to which the other was preliminary. But if it could do this with two different sets of persons, why not with one-provided that the enlistment for the principal service was limited, as the law prescribed, to two years?

2. If there is no room for doubt upon the letter of the law, there is still less upon the spirit. The enlistments were expressly directed by the act with a view to a specified actual service in which the ships were to beemployed; and, of course, that commencement of the enlistments, which

was also the commencement of the service intended for the ships, was clearly the most natural, and the most consonant to the intention of the


3. I am of opinion that, even if the true construction of the act of Congress be such as the men contend for, their objection cannot be maintained against their own engagement.

The provision in the law concerning the term "enlistment,"' is merely directory to the executive government, and stands upon general grounds of policy. It was not meant for the protection of individuals; and it does not lie with those who have enlisted to say that the directions contained in the provision have not been obeyed, and that the executive government has violated its duty. They are bound by their contract, , which is perfectly precise, and in no respect unreasonable or oppressive, and can look no farther. Whether the executive government ought to have authorized such a contract, is for the consideration of those to whom it is constitutionally answerable for the proper execution of the will of the legislature.



Patents for inventions cannot be withheld on moral grounds, where the allegation and oath,

and a suitable specification, have been filed, and a model (if required) deposited.


March 22, 1812. Sir: I had the honor to receive yesterday your letter, and the accompanying papers, relative to the application of James McDonald for a pa. tent for a machine for making bricks; and have to state, in answer to the inquiry which it contains, that, however desirable it may be to refuse the patent, and exceptionable as the conduct of the applicant would seem to be upon moral grounds, the Department of State has no discretion to decline to issue the patent as applied for, in case the allegation and oath prescribed by the act of Congress have been made, a suitable specification has been filed, and a model (if required) has been deposited. The efficacy of the patent, when issued, will be for judicial cognizance.



There is no reason for refusing applicants a copy of the specifications, drawings, or model of

any patented invention.

ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, May 20, 1812. SIR: In answer to your letter of the 14th instant, I have to state that I see no reason for refusing any applicant a copy of any specification of a patent, or drawings of a model, lodged in the office of ihe Secretary of State.

I do not suppose that the officer who may be intrusted to give such copies has any concern with the purpose for which they are asked. The act of Congress has provided no means by which he could protect himself against a misrepresentation of that purpose, and, of course, did not intend that he should inquire into it. No injury can result from a free and unlimited communication of such specifications and drawings. The policy of the law rather requires than forbids it, and the letter of it looks the same way.

In England, (according to my recollection,) the specifications of all patents are regularly published in a periodical work conducted by private individuals, of which I do not at present remember the title. The security of the patentee is in the protection which the law extends to his invention, not in the secresy of the description or representation of it.

Indeed, a general knowledge of that description and representation would seem to be necessary to enable those who wish to respect the rights of the patentee to avoid an invasion of them.



It does not appear that the British pilot, under the circumstances, has committed any offence

for which he can be prosecuted; and there is not any evidence of criminal intention.

ATTORNEY GENERAL's Office, March 5, 1813. Sir: I have the honor to inform you, in reply to your letter of the 13th of last month, (which, by reason of its having been sent to Baltimore, I have only very lately received,) that it does not appear to nie that John Kent can be prosecuted for any offence.

He appears to be a native American, (born at Boothbay,) settled in the island of Grand Manan, and acting as a British pilot, under British authority. His account of himself and his errand is plausible, and, I should think, true. The fact that he has a brother at Boothbay, where he was arrested, is in his favor; and there is no evidence of any criminal intention or criminal conduct.

If it should be thought advisable to detain him longer in custody, it ought to be for the purpose of fuller inquiry, the result to be transmitted, for further order, to the Department of State. It is scarcely possible that he should be a spy.



Offenders are regularly kept in the custody of that service, the peculiar laws of which they are

accused of having violated, and by which they are to be tried.


May 12, 1813.

Sir: I suppose that the persons to whom your letter of the 8th instant alludes must remain in custody until such a tribunal as the law prescribes

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