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The effect if this radical change in the fiscal affairs of the department was to bring into the treasury all its revenues, and to keep there a separate account, crediting all its gross receipts, and charging payments for its maintenance. By annual appropriations, provision has been made for the compensation of postmasters, and out of these appropriations the office expenses, inclusive of the pay of assistants, have been defrayed. The funds so appropriated and paid were by this act expressly declared to be the revenue of the Post Office Department, and, as collected revenue, applied hy appropriations to these objects of expenditure.
In this sta e of the law, the act of the 3d of March, 1845, was passed. It is entitled “An act to reduce the rates of postage,”' &c. It was mani. fest that tliis reduction of the rate was very great; and although it was anticipated that a corresponding increase of mail-matter would be invited into the offices, two sections were introduced to guard against the possible interruption of the post office system by reason of inadequate revenues. By the 21st section it is enacted," that for the purpose of guarding against the possibility of any embarrassment in the operation of the Post Office Department, consequent on any deficiency of the terenues of the said department, which may be occasioned by the reduction of the rates of postage by this act made, there be, and hereby is, appropriated seren hun. dred and fifty thousand dollars, to be paid out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated, and to be placed to the credit of the Post Oflice Department in the treasury of the United States, to be applied, under the direction of the Postmaster General, to supplying any deficiency in the regular revenues from postage in the same mammer as the revenues of the said department are now by law applied.
The 22d section directs, that in case the postages collected from the rates of postage prescribed, with the annual appropriation of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars, shall prove insuficient to defray the expenses of the mail service throughont the United States, to an extent equal to what is now enjoyed by the public, and also the expense of extending and enlarging the same in due proportion with the increase and expausion of the population, particularly in the new States and Territories, the deficiency that may so arise shall be paid out of any moneys in the treasury not otherwise appropriated, provided the amount of expend. iture for the Post Office Department shall not, in the entire aggregate, exceed the annual amount of four million five hundred thousand dollars, exclusive of salaries of officers, clerks, and messengers of the General Post Office, and of the contingent fund of the same.
These two sections must be construed together. They are in pari materiâ, and the one is the context of the other. The expenditure of the sum appropriated in the 21st, vecessarily affects, to its full extent, the amount which the Postinaster General inay expend under the 22d sec tion.
“In the exposition of a statute, the leading clue to the constructi be made, is the intention of the legislature. As a primary rule, it is to be collected from the words; it is to be gathered from the occasion and necessity of the law, being the causes which moved the legislature to enact it.”
“ The construction of a statute, like the operation of a de. vise, depends upon the apparent intention of the maker, to be collected either from the particular provisions or the general context." "Vords and phrases, the meaning of which, in a statute, has been ascertained, are,
when used in a subsequent statute, to be understood in the same sense.” But where words have not been so employed, and their construction established, learned judges have felt themselves bound to construe them according to their plain and popular meaning. The application of these familiar rules to ihe laws on this subject, appears to ine to lead us to conclusions so plainly, that I cannot doubt as to their correctness.
The rates of postage established by law at the date of the passage of the act of 3d March, 1845, had produced a revenue sufficient to maintain the post office establishment. Its annual expenses in all its parts did not exceed four and a half millions of dollars. The declared intention of Congress in that act is, that the public shall continue to enjoy the same extent of mail service, whatever practical results on the receipts of the department might be wrought by the reduced rates of postage. This advantage to the public was certainly to be secured; and the expenditures of the sysiem, exclusive of the General Post Office, might go up to, but could not exceed, four millions and a half of dollars: The priinary fund is its own revenues; in aid of them is given the appropriation of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars, in the 21st section; and if deficiency still exist, it may be made up by drafts on the treasury to the maximum of four millions and a half. The proviso excepts the expenses of the General Post Office; thus showing that this division of the department would have been included but for the exception. The rule, exceptio unius exclusio alterius, applies in full force, and justifies the conclusion that this appropriation was intended to enable the Postmaster General to carry on efficiently the other branches of the system—the post offices, as well as the transportation of the mail. This construction is strengthened by the provisions of the 21st section. A deficiency of revenue was regarded as possible—this result would necessarily embarrass the department. To guard against embarrassment in its operations in the most extended sense of the term, an appropriation of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars is placed at the disposal of the Postmaster General, to be applied by him in supplying any deficiency in the regular revenues from postage, in the same manner as the revenues of the department are now by law applied. Postages are a tax on the people who receive letters or other chargeable matter through the mails—they forin the revenues of the department. By the act of 1825 a commission on this revenue was allowed to each postmaster at a rate deemed to be adequate to his compensation and the expenses incident to his office. The commission is regulated by a sliding scale, adopted for convenience, and bearing a proportion to the trouble, expense, and responsibility incurred in performing his duties. The entire amount of postages is nevertheless the revenue of the department, so expressly declared to be by the act of 1836, and the postmaster receives his emoluments out of that revenue, without any personal claim on the individuals paying the tax, and to be assessed after it passes in fact or construci vely into the treasury. He is, as to the sum reserved to him, a collecting and disbursing officer of the department. The 21st section declares that if there be a deficiency of revenue from postage, the appropriation may be resorted to, to supply it, by its application in the same manner as the revenues of the department are now applied. The expenses of the post offices were then, and are now, paid out of the revenues for postage ; and, therefore, the appropriation may be resorted to, if found necessary in the exercise of a souud discretion by the Postmaster General,
to supply any deficiency in the necessary means of maintaining the post offices, whose essential importance, as a part of a system, is not less than that of the transportation of the mail, or of the General Post Office.
It is a power of great delicacy, to be exercised in a certain contingency; but it is the duty of the Postmaster General to exercise it if the contingency shall occur. It is manifestly the intention of Congress that the mail service shall not be suspended or embarrassed by reason of a deficiency of regular revenues. It is manifest that it is the intention of Congress to guard against this contingency by placing at the disposal of the Postmaster General other funds, equal in amount to those which had produced the desired result, to be resorted to only in the event that the uncertain and unascertained results of the reduced rates of postage should so impair the revenues of the department as to embarrass its operations and deny to the public the great advantage of an efficient mail system.
The power should be exercised in the same spirit in which it is given; not to supply a conjectural deficiency, but one ascertained by experience, and threatening to defeat the ends of the post office establishment. It is a matter not to be regretted, that, in the exercise of this discretionary power, the Postmaster General will find that Congress has furnished a guide in the act of 3d March, 1845, entitled “ An act making appropriations for the service of the Post Office Department, for the year ending 30th June, 1816." The act appropriates moneys arising from the revenues of the department to an amount within a fraction of four million five hundred thousand dollars, the estimated receipts and expenditures from that source. Amongst the appropriations is one “ for compensation to postmasters,” of nine hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars; and another “ for transportation of the mail,” three million and fifty thousand dollars; and another “ for clerks for offices," (for the offices of postmasters,) tivo hundred thousand dollars. On referring to the estimates laid before Congress at the commencement of the session, it is found that the sums were supposed to be sufficient to cover all expenses incident to the post offices. They were deemed sufficient to secure to the public the same amount of mail service which had been previously enjoyed, and may be properly regarded as a limit beyond which the expenditures under this head should not be carried.
Regarding these as the necessary expenditures. the appropriations were made of the anticipated revenues. The sums placed at the disposal of the Postinaster General were to be resorted to if the revenues did not yield the expected amount. If they do not fall short, the amount so appropriated may be expended. If they do, the deficiency may be supplied by resort to the sums appropriated by the 21st and 22d sections. I have the honor to be, respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
J. Y. MASON. Hon. Cave JOHNSON.
TO WHOM PATENTS FOR INVENTIONS MAY BE ISSUED.
Patents for inventions cannot issue to inventors and assignees of a partial interest jointly, but
may issue to assignees of the whole interest. No provision has been made for the issue of a patent for a part of an invention to the inventor,
and for the other part to his assignee.
ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE,
July 7, 1845. Sir: I have had the honor to receive your communication, referring to me a letter from the Commissioner of Patents, of the 10th ultimo, and asking my official opinion on the question stated by him. The Commis. sioner states the question to be: “Can an inventor, under the 6th section of the act entitled • An act in addition to an act to promote the progress
of science and the useful arts,' approved 30 March, 1837, assign to others, before the issue of letters-patent, any interest in his invention less than the whole ?"
The section referred to authorizes the issue of patents to the assignee or assignees of the inventor or discoverer; the assignment thereof being first entered of record, and the application therefor being duly made, and the specification duly sworn to by the inventor. This is an enabling statute. Prior to its passage, letters patent could only issue to the inventor; and, after they were issued, they were assignable so as to give the assignee, in whole or in part, legal rights. The act of 1837 gave the right to the assignee or assignees to have the patent issued to him or them, and not to the inventor. Before its passage it had been held by Mr. Justice Washington that the effect of an assignment, previously to the grant of the patent, was to constitute the patentee a trustee for the assignee, to the extent of his assigned interest-a right to be enforced only in a court of equity. The forms of proceeding prescribed by the previous laws, the oath and the directions as to the issue of the patent, and the terms of the patent itself, all clearly show, in my opinion, that the patent was properly to issue only to the inventor if living The 11th section of the act of 4th July, 1836, made patents assignable in law, either as to the whole interest, or any undivided part thereof, and required the assignment to be recorded in the Patent Office. This power of assignment, however, applied only to the patent, and not to the right to sue out the patent. The act of 1837 authorized the issue of the patent to the assignee or assignees, under an assignment made before the patent was granted. The practice under this law has been to confine it to the cases within its terms-o cases of assignment of the whole interest. It appears to be very clear that the section was framed in view of such cases only. The patent is to issue to the assignee or assignees, and not to the inventor and his assignee. The inventor is required by the 6th section to swear to the specification; and no other duty is imposed on him, or right reserved to him. The cases within its operation cannot be enlarged by reference to the 11th section of the act of 1836. But, on the contrary, the construction adopted at the Patent Office is strengthened by the fact that while the 11th section embraces cases of partial as well as general assignment, the 6th section of the act of 1837 is confined to cases of as. signment of the whole right. Understanding the inquiry of the Com. missioner to be whether partial assignments, before issue, entitle the partial assignee to have the patent issued to him to the exteut of his interest
within the meaning of the 6th section of the act of 1837, I am of opin.
J. Y. MASON.
Secretary of State.
SECRETARY OF WAR CANNOT COMPENSATE COLLECTORS FOR DISBURS
ING MONEYS, &c.
The Secretary of War, in the ordinary execution of his public duties, cannot employ and
compensate collectors, &c., in the revenue service, for disbursing moneys appropriated for topographical purposes.
ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE,
July 14, 1815. Sir: I have received your letter of the 22d of April last, with the accompanying report of Colonel Abert, from the Topographical Bureau, and have examined the two questions submitted for my opinion. They are thus stated: “]st. Can the War Department, in the execution of its public duties, employ and compensate officers of the revenue service? 2d. And if so, can that compensation ever be allowed to exceed four hundred dollars per annum? The 18th section of the act of 7th May, 1822, enacts that no collector, surveyor, or naval officer, shall ever re ceive more than four hundred dollars annually, exclusive of his compensation as collector, surveyor, or naval officer, and the fines and forfeitures allowed by law for any services he may perform for the United States in any other office or capacity. By the act of 3d March, 1839, it was enacted that no officer in any branch of the public service, or any other person, whose salary, or whose pay or emoluments, is or are fixed by law and regulations, shall receive any extra pay, allowance, or compensation, in any form whatever, for the disbursement of public money, or the performance of any other service, unless the said extra allowance or compensation be authorized by law. Notwithstanding this section and the 5th section of the act of 3d March, 1841, restricting the emoluments of collectors, Mr. Legaré was of opinion that collectors could be compensated for extra services under the act of 1822. A construction was given to the act of 1839, by which extra compensation was paid to persons whose pay or emoluments were fixed by law, where such compensation was allowed by law for the service rendered. Then came the pro