« AnteriorContinuar »
tween the United States and Great Britain, which was referred to Mr. Pinckney and Mr. Gore, commissioners on the part of the United States, and Dr. Nicholl and Dr. Swabey on the part of Great Britain, Dr. Nicholl, one of the commissioners on behalf of Great Britain, held this language:
To reimburse the claimants the original cost of their property, and all the expenses they have actually incurred, together with interest on the whole amount, would, I think, be a just and adequate compensation. This, I believe, is the measure of compensation usually made by all belligerent nations, and accepted by all neutral nations, for losses, costs, and damages occasioned by illegal captures. (Vide Wheaton's Life of Pinckney, p. 198; also p. 265 ; note p. 371.)
By reference to the American State Papers (Foreign Relations, vol. 2, pages 119, 120), it will be seen by a report of the Secretary of State of the 16th February, 1798, laid before the House of Representatives, that interest was awarded and paid on such of these claims as had been submitted to the award of Sir William Scott and Sir John Nicholl, as it was in all cases by the board of commissioners.
Under the treaty between Spain and the United States, October 27, 1795, interest was demanded by and paid to claimants of the United States. (See American State Papers, vol. 2, Foreign Relations, p. 283.)
Interest was also paid to American citizens by the Government of Brazil. (See H. Ex. Doc. 32, first session Twenty-fifth Congress, p. 249.)
Interest was also demanded by and paid to American citizens by the Governments of Mexico, Venezuela, China, Japan, and other nations, by the adjudications of international arbitrations.
“In this country the rule seems to be well established that whoever receives money not his own and detains it from th owner unlawfully must pay interest therefor." (3 Parsons on Contracts, 104, 5th ed.) “ Hence, a public officer retaining money wrongfully is chargeable with interest during the time of such wrongful detainer.” (Ibid., Commonwealth ư. Crevor, 3 Binney, 123; Coane v. Dygert, 4 Wend., 675; People r. Gosherie, 9 John., 71; Hudson v. Tenney, 6 N. H., 456.)
In discussing a question of public law as to the liability of paying interest, the rule is laid down by Rutherford as follows:
In estimating the damages which any one has sustained, when such tbings as he has a perfect right to are unjustly taken from him, or WITHHOLDEN, or intercepted, we are to consider not only the value of the thing itself, but the value likewise of the fruits or profits that might have arisen from it. He who is the owner of the thing is likewise the owner of the fruits or profits. So that it is as properly a damage to be deprived of them as it is to be deprived of the thing itself. (Rutherford's Institutes, Book I, chap. 17, sec. 5.)
And upon the subject of indemnity and satisfaction for injuries in reprisals, Wheaton holds that
If a nation has taken possession of that which belongs to another, IF IT REFUSES TO PAY A DEBT, to repair an injury, or to give adequate satisfaction for it, the latter may seize something of the former and apply it to [lis) its advantage, till it obtains payment of what is due, together with INTEREST and damages. (Wheaton on International Law, p. 341.)
The United States claimed certain indemnity from the government of Brazil in the matter of the brig Caroline, which was paid. Subsequently, on review by this government, the conclusion was reached that the money had been unjustly demanded and received, and in a letter of Secretary Fish to Señor de Barros, of the Brazilian legation, dated Department of State, June 26, 1874, he says:
I now have the honor to inform you that the President, after a careful examination of the case, has come to the conclusion that the government of Brazil is not justly responsible for the damages in this.case. It is understood that the government of His
the 171 bet
No. 32. Majesty the Emperor of Brazil is of the same opinion rer circumstances the President regards it as the duty of the Brazil the amount thus received by their minister at Rio, per cent. per annum.
Here the sum of $96,405.73 was accordingly paj originally exacted, with 6 per cent. interest thery aration for moneys wrongfully exacted from Foreign Relations United States, second sessio No. 63, page 95.)
The object of the act approved June 19, 1878, s tion to these two ship companies from the illegal exaction and we of money to which this government, by its own admissions, was not entitled.
The money collected from these companies has been repaid, and the question now arises whether refunding the principal is such an indemnification as under the laws of nations these parties have a right to demand from this government, and has this government properly discharged its obligation by refunding the principal, or should it now pay the interest also ?
This question the Attorney-General says must be settled as a matter of international justice and propriety. The United States having, as shown above, demanded and received for itself and its citizens interest in cases that are quoted, which are substantially analogous, could not now recede from the rule so long recognized and enforced. To do international justice, this government must submit to the administration of international law as it has been administered for nearly a century. It could not now with propriety and for the purpose of temporary pecuniary gain ask other nations to change a rule to which it has long adhered, and by which it and its citizens have been frequently benefited. The government had the use and benefit of this money, principal and interest.
For these considerations your committee are of the opinion that in. terest should be paid upon the sums so exacted.
But from what time such interest should be computed is not altogether free from doubt. The consideration of this question makes necessary a brief review of the rights secured to the Hanseatic Republics under the treaties referred to.
Upon this subject your committee make the following extracts from its report made at the last session of Congress (Report No. 124, part 2, Forty-fifth Congress, second session), viz:
The ninth article of the treaty of 1827 between the United States and the Hanseatic Republics is in the following words:
“ART. 9. The contracting parties, desiring to live in peace and harmony with all the other nations of the earth by means of a policy frank and equally friendly with all, engage mutually not to grant any particular favor to other nations in respect of commerce and navigation which shall not immediately become common to the other party, who shall enjoy the same freely, if the concession was freely made, or on allowing the same compensation, if the concession was conditional."
And on July 17, 1858, the United States and Belgium entered into a treaty, the fourth article of which is as follows:
Steam-vessels of the United States and Belgium engaged in regular navigation between the United States and Belgium shall be exempt in both countries from the payment of duties of tonnage, anchorage buoys, and light-houses.
Upon the subject of these treaty provisions your committee, in its report (No. 124), above referred to, say:
From this it will appear that the l'nited States agreed not to grant any particular favor to other nations in respect to commerce and navigation which should not immediately become common to the Hanseatic Republics.
By the fourth article of the treaty of July 17, 1858, with Belgium, quoted above,
tweeynited States directly stipulated that steam-vessels engaged in regular navigation Pinaveen them and Belgium should be exempt from the payment of duties on tonnage, apochorage, buoys, and light-house charges. This favor having been extended to Belgium, it immediately attached, under the foregoing ninth article of the Hanseatic treaty, to the steamships of the North German Lloyd line above referred to.
From the treaty stipulations that have been quoted, it is manifest that the three lines of steam-vessels engaged in regular navigation between this country and Belgium, Sweden and Norway, and the Hanseatic Republics are exactly upon the same footing
Thus it will be seen that all the rights which accrned to Belgium under the treaty of 1858 attached by virtue of the terms of the treaty of 1827 with the Hanseatic Republics to those republics.
It does not appear that they were notified of the rights accruing to them under the Belgian treaty, the United States giving no notice, and they only ascertained the existence of the exemption after Belgium had interceded with the United States and secured exemption of its steamers.
Upon this subject your committee, by its report above referred to (No. 124), say:
It is fair to presume, and your committee believe such to be the fact, that neither the Norwegian Company nor the North German Lloyd Company were aware of their rights under these treaties until the Belgium Company gave publicity to their demand for exemption. As soon as they were thus informed of their rights they pressed demands for exemption, which were granted, and this action of the government was, as stated by the Secretary of the Treasury, an admission by this government that such taxes had been collected in violation of treaty obligations.
When ('ongress passed the act of 1862, reimposing tonnage-duties upon vessels (except those exempted by treaty provisions), it was the duty of the Secretary of the Treasury to inform the subordinate revenue officers at the various ports as to what countries were exempted therefrom ; but the attention of these officers was not called to the subject by the Secratary, so that, notwithstanding the saving clause, the revenue officers proceeded ignorantly, yet wrongfully, to collect these moneys from all vessels indiscriminately, and, as we have seen, it was only when Belgium interceded that the Hanseatic lines secured like exemption, which led Congress, by the act of June 19, 1878, to admit the wrong, and direct the sum so collected to be refunded.
If the collection of these moneys had been in direct violation of the provisions of the treaty with the Hanseatic Republics as expressed upon their face, then there would have been some degree of propriety in say: ing that interest should only be paid from date of a protest and demand for its refund. But the Government of the United States, in disregard of its obligations, unlawfully exacted these duties of tonnage. It failed to respect its obligations to Belgium, and even failed to notify the Hanseatic Republics that by virtue of its treaty with Belgium, subsequently entered into and to which those Republics were strangers, any rights accrued to them.
Thus the United States, in time of war and the confusion incident to many departments of the government, was placed in the attitude of a wrong-doer, and the reparation for such wrong which it is now called upon to make should be ample and complete, and conform to the practices of the government in the cases which your committee have referred to.
Your committee are therefore of the opinion that the Secretary should be directed to pay interest upon the sum so collected from the day of
and they report herewith joint resolution, which they recommend should be adopted.
45TH CONGRESS, I HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. 3d Session,
MARCH 3, 1879 --Committed to the Committee of the Whole House and ordered to be
Mr. CUTLER, from the Committee on Patents, submitted the following
VIEWS OF THE MINORITY
On the bill (S. 879) for the relief of Luther Hall.
That said Hall is the first inventor of certain valuable improvements in machines for trimming the heels of boots and shoes, for which letters patent of the United States were granted September 27, 1859.
That said Hall bestowed much time, labor, and skill, upon his invention, for which, without fault of his own, he has failed to receive adequate or considerable compensation.
That said Hall had, under the statutes of the United States, the right to apply to the Commissioner of Patents for extension of said patent.
That, within the time prescribed by said statutes, said Hall signed and made oath to a petition to the Commissioner of Patents asking for such extension, and left said petition in the hands of a reputable attorney, to be by him duly filed in the Patent Office.
That through misunderstanding or mistake of said attorney, since dead, but wholly without fault of said Hall, said attorney failed to file said petition within the time prescribed by law, whereby said Hall lost his said right of application to the Commissioner of Patents.
That said Hall presented and diligently prosecuted his petition for relief in the next and succeeding Congress, and has invariably received the favorable report of the Patent Committees of both houses upon his bill, which has three times passed the Senate, and which passed the House in the last Congress but was lost on a yea and nay vote.
They find that said Hall is advanced in years, is very poor, and is suffering from the loss of a part of his right hand, and from other infirmities, and that, in the event of the extension of his patent by the Commissioner, he will realize a suitable compensation, without which he will be left with no means of support other than his wages as a mechanic.
Said Hall does not ask Congress to extend his patent, but merely to restore to him his legal right of application to the Commissioner, which was lost without his fault and for which he is without remedy unless by act of Congress.
They are of opinion that it would be but a simple act of justice to grant to the petitioner the relief sought, and recommend the passage of the bill which is herewith respectfully submitted.