Imágenes de páginas

with many and embarrassing obstacles in establishing and securing pay. ment of their claims. It is but simple justice, and a vindication of the truth of history, to affirm that the law and regulations clearly point out the officers, to whom application shall be made for the allowance of all claims (1 Lawrence, Compt. Dec., 2d ed., App., Ch. I, 411; Bender's case, 1 Lawrence, Compt. Dec., 2d ed., 353), prescribe the evidence required to support them (Rev. Stat., 1762, 3622, 4767; 3 Lawrence, Compt. Dec., Introduction, xxvi, xxx; Walsh's case, 3 Lawrence, Compt. Dec., 122; Garfield case, Id., 375; Clerks' Investigation case, Id., 256; Dana's case, 2 Id., 2d ed., 204; Specific Appropriation case, post, 140), and specify the officers by whom, and the manner in which, payments shall be made (Otto's case, 3 Lawrence, Compt. Dec., 296). The evidence required is plain, simple, and no more difficult to obtain than that usually required by every great business establishment or corporation. Such eridence is less technical, and is much more easily attainable than that required in courts. And payments of all valid claims supported by the requisite evidence are made from the proper appropriations, with a promptness and fidelity rarely equaled and never surpassed by any government, municipal or other corporation, company, or person. The statistics of the payments of claims without suit confirm this allegation. The agencies employed for the purposes mentioned are ample to meet erery claim wbich can exist in pursuance of law (3 Lawrence, Compt. Dec., Introduction, xxvi-xlii).

There are but two classes of claims for the adjustment of which there is no adequate provision.

One class is composed of those claims, which are not enforcible ac'cording to strict principles of law, but which, ex æquo et bono, should be recognized by every just Government. Jurisdiction of this class should be given to the Court of Claims, on the petition of any claimant, filed within a limited time after the claim accrued, with authority to ascertain facts, and at least to recommend payment by Congress.* The act of March 3, 1883 (22 Stat., 485), only extends to claims referred by either house of Congress, or by a committee thereof, or by the head of a Department. It seems to be very generally and justly conceded that claims should not, as a general rule, be investigated by a committee of Congress. There is no sufficient time during a session of Congress for this purpose; other duties require the whole attention of members; there is not, and cannot be, any adequate means for ascertaining facts; and the danger, that political considerations may unconsciously affect results, cannot be overlooked.*

* See Wood's case (1 Lawrence, Compt. Dec., 2d ed., 1). And a case may be cited by way of example, in which public officers had decided against the United States upon a question of the right to lands, and had made an unauthorized grant of 960,000 acres. Counsel employed at the instance of private parties, but never paid for their services, were finally permitted to institute proceedings in the courts of the United States, indemnifying the Government against liability for costs; and the result was, that the lands were recovered, and that more than a million of dollars was paid into the Treas. ury as proceeds of the sale of the lands. Yet, all efforts to provide compensation for such services, even in the laws authorizing a sale of the lands, by a small additional charge in the price of the lands, when sold, or from the proceeds, failed, though twice agreed to by the House of Representatives (Osage Land case, 3 Lawrence, Compt. Dec., 371).

In reference to the other class, there should be a permanent tribunal, international in character, to adjust claims of every kind against the United States, in favor of aliens and citizens or subjects of every foreign nation, having a similar tribunal for adjusting such claims of our citizens against such nation. See New Hampshire v. Louisiana (108 U. S., 90).

Such tribunal should have jurisdiction of all claims, which might be submitted to it by the diplomatic action of this with any other Gov. ernment. See House Rep., No. 134 (2d Sess., 43d Cong.); “Lawrence's Law of Claims against Governments." With these additions, the legal machinery of the United States for the adjustment of claims would be worthy of adoption by every civilized nation.

With the above remarks, this volume is committed to the indulgent consideration of the enlightened classes of men for whose use it is in. tended.



December 31, 1883.

* This subject has been discussed with learning and ability in the Appendix to Devereux's volume of the reports of the Court of Claims (1856). See Lawrence's Law of Claims against Governments (House Rep., No. 134–2d Session, 43d Congress, page 17); Jordan's case (3 Lawrence, Compt. Dec., 274), and Dobyns v. United States (19 Ct. Cl.).

It is believed jurisdiction should also be given to the Court of Claims as proposed in the “ Letter from the First Comptroller of the Treasury upon the subject of Trials in Customs-Revenue cases," for which see 17 Court Claims, XLIX.







1. The fourth paragraph of section 2238 of the Revised Statutes, taken from the act

of March 3, 1873 (17 Stat., 606, sec. 6), was superseded by the act of March 13, 1874 (18 Stat., 21), and this act was in turn superseded by the act of June 14,

1878 (20 Stat.). 2. When a later act revives the whole subject, and provides for all the objects of a

former act, such former act is superseded without any express words of repeal. 3. When an act refers to a provision of a former act as in force, and such former act

has, in fact, clearly been superseded or repealed, the provision 80 referred to is

not thereby revived, unless an intention to revive it is apparent. 4. Statutes having similar objects should generally be construed alike. 5. The policy and provisions of one class of statutes in relation to public lands may

aid in the construction of other statutes in relation to other public lands. But such policy and provisions cannot be allowed to control the plain unambiguous

meaning of such other statutes. 6. Sections 2317, 2464, 2465, 2466, 2467, and 2468 of the Revised Statutes are superseded

by subsequent legislation. 7. Neither registers nor receivers of local district land-offices are entitled to a com

mission of one per centum each on the minimum cash value of lands entered under the "timber-culture acts."

November 10, 1882, the Commissioner of the General Land-Office addressed a letter to the Secretary of the Interior, requesting that the First Comptroller be asked for an expression of his opinion on the question, whether registers and receivers of district land-offices are entitled to receive one per centum each on the minimum cash value of lands entered under the timber-culture acts.” November 13, 1882, the acting Secretary of the Interior addressed a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury, inclosing a copy of the aforementioned letter, and other papers on the subject, for an opinion. November 15, 1882, these were referred to the First Comptroller, for his opinion, by the Secretary of the Treasury.

J. M. Adams, receiver of public moneys, at Yakima, Washington Territory, in a letter of June 30, 1882, to the Commissioner of the General Land Office, submitted an argument in support of his claim to com. missions, an abstract of which is as follows:

I. The right to a commission of one per centum exists under the fourth subdivision of section 2238, Revised Statutes.

The act of June 14, 1878 (20 Stat., 113), section 5, gives a right to fees, and section 8 repeals acts in conflict. This only repeals provisions "in conflict” which had previously existed. Section 2238 is not affected by the act of June 14, 1878. Section 2238 gives commissions to be paid by the Government; the act of June 14, 1878, requires applicants to pay fees. The act of June 14, 1878, was designed to facilitate the growth of forests, by reducing the quantity of land to be plowed, &c., and the only object of the repealing clause was to wipe out the conflicting pro. visions in the acts of March 3, 1873 (17 Stat., 605), March 13, 1874 (18 Stat., 21), and May 20, 1876 (19 Stat., 54). The law which requires applicants to pay a fee is not “in conflict" with the statute which re. quires the Government to pay commissions.

II. The “stone and timber land act” of June 3, 1878 (20 Stat., 89), is analogous in principle to the several acts last above mentioned. This requires purchasers to pay registers and receivers a fee, the same as is required of purchasers of mineral lands, and concludes with a repealing clause. Yet the usage is to collect the fee from purchasers, and the commissions from the Government.

2. The fact that a commission is allowed registers and receivers on the money value of homestead lands, pre-emption lands, timber lands, mineral lands, desert lands, as well as of all other classes of lands, is evi. dence that Congress designed that they should also receive a commission on the money value of timber-culture lands. The act of April 20, 1818 (3 Stat., 466), gave registers and receivers a commission on all moneys received for public lands. When the homestead act of May 20, 1862 (12 Stat., 392), was passed, Congress perceived that the donation of lands to settlers would reduce the compensation of land officers, and provision was made that they should receive a commission on the cash value of lands thus entered. For the same reason the act of March 3, 1873 (17 Stat., 605), gave commissions on timber-culture entries. If Congress had, in the subsequent legislation, designed to repeal this provision for commissions, it would have been so declared in express terms. The fixed policy of commissions referred to cannot be repealed by implication.

Hon. N. C. McFarland, Commissioner of the General Land-Office, in a letter of August 9, 1882, addressed to J. M. Adams, called his atten. tion to the “table of fees and commissions" allowed registers and re. ceivers, and said:

As the act of June 14, 1878 (20 Stat., 113), fixed the amount of commissions allowed registers and receivers, regardless of the area or value of the land, at $4 for each entry made, in place of the commission of one per cent. each on the cash value of the land, as is provided in section 2238, Revised Statutes, and provided further that "all acts and parts of acts in conflict with this act are hereby repealed," the amount of commissions provided for in the later act is the proper amount to

« AnteriorContinuar »