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MIAMI EXPORTING COMPANY.
APRIL 19, 1830.
Mr. CRANE, from the Committee of Claims, made the following
· The Committee of Claims, to whom was referred the petition of the Mi
ami Exporting Company, report: That, among the claims exhibited by the Miami Exporting Company, is one for the sum of $1,166, allowed and paid by the company, to Jesse Hunt, for his, Lytle, and Wallace's expenses and services, in going to the City of Washington, in October, 1812, for the purpose of transporting $200,000 in specie to Cincinnati, agreeably to the alleged understanding with the Secretary of the Treasury, together with interest thereon.
It appears from the evidence in support of this claim, that, on the 15th of September, 1812, the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Gallatin, proposed to the Miami Exporting Company, that they should place the sum of $200,000 to the credit of the Treasurer of the United States, and take up, at par, his draughts to that amount, or those of the authorized agents of the War Department. As a compensation for the difference of exchange, the company to receive two per cent. or payment of the expenses incurred in transporting specie from the Eastward, together with interest from the dates of the respective advances.
To prevent injury to the public service by delay, the Treasurer of the United States was to transmit to the company, draughts on Philadelphia and Baltimore, for $200,000, to be cancelled, if the proposal were wholly declined. Those draughts were not sent. Mr. Sheldon, to whom the company were referred by the Secretary of the Treasury on the 19th September, 1812, informs the company that, as it was known they had funds in the Bank of Pennsylvania, which would enable them to send for such sums, in specie, as might be wanted, without the addition of the funds which the Treasurer's bills on Philadelphia or Baltimore would occasion, adding that, if either proposition of the Secretary was acceded to, bills of the Treasurer on Philadelphia or Baltimore would be furnished from time to time, as they were wanted to cover the advances of the company. The company did not accept either proposition of the Secretary unconditionally. The President of the company, in his letter to the Secretary, dated 3d October, 1812, proposed to transport the sum of $200,000 in specie to Cincinnati, on certain conditions, and stated that arrangements were making to despatch agents, immediately, to take charge of the money, and transport it to Cincinnati. The Secretary, by letter, dated 17th October, 1812, apprised the company that their proposition could not be accepted, and that he had forwarded the specie to Cincinnati. Before his letter reached the company they had sent on their agents to Washington, to negotitate respecting the terms of transportation, and to receive the money. One of the principal objections of the Secretary to the proposal of the company was the exception, in case the
Ohio river should become unnavigable by ice-a hazard more likely to be encountered, if he had waited the arrival of the agents, and the result of the negotiation, before transmitting the specie to Cincinnati. This obstruction of the river was not thought unlikely by the company, as they proposed a negotiation on that subject; but they could not suppose the Government would be so unmindful of its duties, or of the exigencies of the public service, as to risk that hazard, by delaying the transportation of the specie until the arrival of the agents, and the conclusion of the proposed negotiation. It is true, that the company, by the letter of their President, accepted the proposal of the Secretary, and offered to transport the specie to Cincinnati, but this acceptance and offer was clogged with certain conditions, to which the Secretary could not accede. It cannot be inferred, from the letter of the President, that, if the conditions annexed to their acceptance were neglected by the Secretary, their agents would have received the specie on the original proposition, and immediately transported it to Cincinnati. Such is not the fair construction of the letter; the Secretary could have derived from it no assurance that the conditions would not be insisted on by the agents of the company. The company may have intended to close with the original proposition of the Secretary, in case their agents should not be able to make a more advantageous contract, but they sent those agents to Washington not simply to carry into effect a contract agreed upon and made, but to negotiate and make terms with the Secretary. Your committee, therefore, are of opinion, that the sum paid by the company to those agents, cannot, under the circumstances, form a just charge against the Government. The interest claimed on this sum must, of course, be rejected, as the principalis disallowed. The other claims, for interest on billscashed by the company in 1814 and 1815, will be found, on reference to the statement of the Second Auditor, to have been fully paid.
The sum of $42 85, claimed for money paid on the expenses of protests of bills drawn on the Government, your Committee think ought not to be allowed. The bills protested were afterwards paid, with interest, by the Government. No protest for non-payment is requisite, unless resort is intended to be had on the drawer or endorser of the bill. No such can be brought against the Government, and no charge of this description can form a claim, legal or equitable, against the Government Your committee think the claim for ten per cent damages on bills protested for nonpayment, equally inadmissible. There is no analogy between bills drawn by public agents on the Government, and those drawn in the ordinary course of mercantile transactions by individuals. Where the agents of the Government have been compelled to pay interest or damages on bills drawn by them in consequence of the Government not being able to make the ne cessary advances, the loss so sustained has been compensated. But this will not sustain a claim for damages by the party purchasing a bill drawn on the Government, where such bill has been afterwards protested for non-. payment.
The Government has never been considered responsible for damages on bills which have not been paid at maturity, except to indemnify such agents as have been compelled to pay damages.
The sum of $417 02, the balance due the company on the account of Richard Brent, late Paymaster General of the United States' army, is claimed. It appears by the account, sworn to by Lewis Whiteman to be a true copy, taken from the books of the company, that an account was opened with Robert Brent, as Paymaster General of the United States' army, in which,
from December, 1813, to September, 1817, he is charged with 270,879 55, and credited with $270,462 83, leaving a balance against them of $417 02. Among the credits, is the sum of $214 44, deposited on the 28th June, 1814, by Capt. John Lucas. On the 19th Nov. 1822, the Third Auditor writes to the cashier of the company, stating that Captain Lucas has produced the certificate of this deposite, as an offsett in the settlement of his accounts, and directs the cashier to place that sum to the credit of the Treasurer. The company contend that the account was opened with Mr. Brent, as an officer of the Government; that the balance in their favor accrued not by his drawing the particular sum of $417 02 beyond the amount deposited by him, but in the course of dealings for several years, and that, as the Government claimed the supposed balance in favor of the Paymaster General, it is liable to the company for the balance actually due from him. The last deposite made by the Paymaster General was on the 23d March, 1816. He was then considerably in advance to the company. On the 9th November, 1816, he drew for $4,00; on the 13th December, 1816, for $8,752 91. There was then a small balance of $100 02 in his favor, which he overdrew by draughts amounting to $517 42, viz: of May 23d, 1817, for $360; of July 5ih, 1817, for 37 42; and of September 12, 1817, for $120. On the 9th June, 1819, R. Brent, Pay master General, wrote to the cashier of the company, requesting him 10 transmit a statement of his account with the company, of all sums that were charged in their books, or for money received by the company on his account since their last settlement, which included the 26th April, 1816; also, any checks which might not have been returned. Whether this request was complied with, does not appear. There is no evidence that the company exhibited a claim against the Government earlier than the 26th December, 1822. Mr. Brent died in 1822, greatly indebted to the Government. Under these circumstances, the loss which the company sustained must be attributed to their own negligence, and the Government cannot now be called on to make good a loss which might have been avoided by timely care and precaution.
The company also claim two per cent. for negotiating at par draughts drawn by public agents from the 1st September, 1912, to the 10th March, 1813, viz: To 2 per cent. on $251,133 86, the amount of draughts cashed
at par, and forwarded to the bank of Pennsylvania for collection, from the 1st September, 1812, to the 14th November following, inclusive. (A.)
$5,022 67 To 2 per cent. on $54,000, in part of an amount of
254,000 of public draughts, cashed at par, and forwarded to the Treasurer of the United States, on the 6th January, 1813, previous to, and not covered by, the deposite of $200,000 made by the Government with the Miami Ex
porting Company, on the 30th November, 1812. (B.) 1,080 00 To 2 per cent. on $124,116 84, the amount of draughts cashed
at par, and forwarded to the Bank of Pennsylvania for collection, from the 3d of February, 1813, to the 10th March following, inclusive. (C.)
It is clearly shown, by the testimony of General Harrison and others, that, during the period from 1st September, 1812, to 10th March, 1813, draughts on
the Government were at a discount. During that period, the Miami Exporting Company cashed, at par, draughts on the Government, amounting to $825,132 70, viz:
From 1st September, 1812, to 14th November, 1812, inclu
sive, transmitted to the Bank of Pennsylvania for collection, $251,133 86 From 18th November, 1812, to 25th December, 1812, for
warded to the Treasurer of the United States, and paid on the 23d February, 1813, the date of the receipt of the Treasurer's order, in favor of the Miami Exporting Company,
254,000 00 From 3d February, 1813, to March 10th, 1813,
124,116 84 Draughts sent on by Thos. Sloo, jr. on the 27th March, 1813,
and on which 2 per cent. was allowed by the Secretary of the Treasury, the specie having been transported to Cincinnati, by Sloo,
These large advances by the company were eminently useful in enabling the Northwestern army to carry on their operations. The further depreciation of Government draughts was prevented, and thereby a very considerable sum saved to the Government. The Miami Exporting Company was, during that period, the only bank in the Western part of the State of Ohiothe banks nearest to Cincinnati were those of Frankfort and Chillicothe. If the draughts drawn by public agents, instead of being cashed at par by the company, had been thrown into the market, there is every reason to believe they would have fallen below two per cent. These advances were originally made in consequence of an application by General Harrison, then commanding the Northwestern army, to the company, to cash, at par, the draughts of public agents, which the company agreed to do upon his engagement that the Government would be at the expense of transporting specie to the amount of the sums advanced, if required, or allow the company two per cent. The sum of $200,000 in specie, was deposited by the Government with the company, on the 30th November, 1812, and placed to the credit of the Treasurer of the United States. This sum was soon paid out, and the company continued to cash draughts at par until March, 1813, relying upon the renewed assurances of Gen. Harrison; and, as stated in the depositions of Messrs. Hunt and Spencer, upon the assurance of the Secretary of the Treasury, that any engagement made by General Harrison with the company, should be complied with by the Government. On the 17th April, 1813, Mr. Secretary Armstrong decided that the per centage claimed by the company, could only be allowed as a compensation for loss in exchange. That no loss was sustained on bills in list B, as they were paid by the 'Treasurer, out of a deposite in specie, with the company; that the bills in lists marked A and C were remitted through the Bank of Pennsylvania, and had been paid; on those no loss could have accrued, as the company had sold bills on that bank to an equal amount, which appeared from the fact, that the funds of the company, in that bank, did not exceed $ 35,000, on the 9th April, 1813.
It appears from the testimony of Thomas Sloo, Jr. the agent of the company, that he objected to this decision of the Secretary,
that no settlement was made, and that the account remained open for future discussion and settlement. Mr. Secretary Calhoun, on the 18th February, 1823, recognises the principle adopted by Secretary Armstrong, that per centage could only be allowed as a compensation for loss; that a loss not exceeding two per cent. may be allowed on specific proof, sustained by affidavits and vouchers, provided the company shew they did not acquiesce in the decision of Secretary Armstrong.
On the 20th March, 1824, Secretary Calhoun states, that, in relation to the claim of loss sustained by the company in the negotiation, he was of opinion that the exchange being above or below par, ought not to be considered in deciding the amount to be allowed; and that the allowance can be made only on a statement of an account, shewing the loss of each bill, taken from the books of the company, and duly verified. 0. M. Spencer, in his deposition, states that the allowance of two per cent. will not cover the loss sustained by the company, in negotiating those draughts. This loss arose from the interest accruing on draughis cashed at par, from the time they were so cashed, until the company were reimbursed by the sale of draughts on Philadelphia; expenses in transporting specie; and from the necessity frequently imposed on the company, to sell draughts at a loss to take up their own paper. The draughts from the 1st September, 1812, to March, 1813, sent by the company to the Bank of Pennsylvania, for collection, when paid by the Government, became funds in the Bank of Pennsylvania, to the credit of the Miami Exporting Company, and subject to the control and disposal of the company. To replace the advances made by them, the company must either have transported the specie to Cincinnati, or have disposed of draughts on the Bank of Pennsylvania. Although on the 9th April, 1813, the company had funds in the Bank of Pennsylvania to the amount of $35,000 only, and had previously sold bills on that bank to a large amount; it is not therefore to be inferred, that the company were fully reimbursed for the advances made by them. The company sold draughts on the Bank of Pennsylvania from time to time, as they could find purchasers; and, until their advances were thus reimbursed, the interest accruing on them would constitute a just claim. The interest on the several advances is stated by O. M. Spencer, then cashier of the company, to amount to $ 6,993 621 ots. exclusive of expenses incurred in transporting specie, and loss on sales of bills. If this claim is settled upon the principle of indemnifying the company for losses actually sustained, your committee believe that two per cent. will not more than cover those losses. But the circumstances under which those advances were made, constitute, in the opinion of your committee, a fair claim for the allowance of two per cent. They were made on the assurance of General Harrison, that such an allowance should be made; bills on the Government were then at a discount of two per cent. Had the company declined the proposition of General Harrison, they might have purchased bills at the current discount, or even a much greater one. The aid rendered the Government by those advances, is shewn by the certificates of General Harrison, Governor Meigs, and Secretary Eustis, to have been highly important; the further depreciation of public draughts was prevented, and the N. W. army enabled to carry on its operations. It cannot be supposed that a moneyed institution would, in a period little exceeding six months, make advances to that amount, merely to obtain funds in the Atlantic cities, for which there was at that time comparatively little demand. Such a course would have been manifestly contrary to the interests of the company. The advances were made with the expectation of being compensated