Imatges de pàgina

of the law last mentioned, the Commissioner granted her a pension for only three days, from his death, on the 1st, until the 4th March, 1841. If the case had been decided at the time the papers were presented, she would have received, as she was entitled under the law, the whole five years' pension, at $48 per annum. It is claimed by her heirs, that the delay in deciding the case at the office, upon proofs found amply sufficient, should not prejudice her rights, and that the money withheld should be paid to her legal representatives.

It is not the policy of the pension laws to grant pensions, or the arrearages of pensions, to the heirs of the pensioners. When, however, money has actually become due, and payable to a pensioner, and all the papers to obtain its payment are filed with the proper officer, and the payment delayed on account of a press of business which prevents the examination at an early day, the committee see much reason in regarding the money due as the property of the pensioner, to which his heirs may be justly entitled. In this case, nothing but the delay in examining the papers filed, until after the act of April 30, 1844, prevented her receiving the money. Her right to it was perfect under the law of 1838, until long after she had done all that was required of her to obtain it.

To avoid the injustice of the restrictive act of April 30, 1844, in cases like that here presented, a joint resolution was passed on the 23d January, 1845, providing that the restriction should not be construed to affect the claims of those widows whose applications for a pension, or an arrear of pension, at the passage of the resolution, shall have been made and filed in the Pension Office, awaiting the decision of the Commisioner of Pensions thereon. The restriction was re-enacted in February, 1845; but cases in which (like that under consideration) the declaration was made on or before April 30, 1844, and filed in the Pension Office on or before the 230 January, 1845, were expressly excepted from its operation.

Under these provisions, the widow, if living, would be entitled to receive the pension for five years, ending March 4, 1841, and that, too, on the same papers which were filed by her in the Pension Office in 1843. Her death has prevented the drawing of the money.

Under the facts of this case, and the legislation on the subject above cited, the committee are of opinion that the amount of the five years' pension ought to be regarded, as belonging to the widow, and, after her application was made in due form to obtain it, should be considered as money in the treasury for her use, to which her heirs are justly entitled. They therefore report a bill to that effect.

To which they would add, that the Commissioner of Pensions, in a letter dated December 13, 1851, says, in reference to a report similar to the one referred to: "The facts in the case are correctly set forth in the report of the committee of the Senate; *

* and, after a careful consideration of which, I respectfully recommend your committee to adopt it.” The committee recommend the passage of the bill.

2d Session.

No. 80.


[To accompany bill H. R. No. 731.]

FEBRUARY 3, 1855.

Mr. CASKIE, from the Committee on the Judiciary, made the following


The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom were referred the memorial

and papers in the case of the legal representatives of Joseph Nourse, deceased, report:

It appears that in the year 1829 Mr. Nourse was removed from the office of Register of the Treasury of the United States, and an indebtedness charged against him. The amount he refused to pay, claiming that the government was indebted to him in a sum exceeding the amount alleged as due by him.

After a full investigation of the case before the district court of the United States for the District of Columbia, and the submission of evidence and argument on both sides, a judgment was rendered in favor of Mr. Nourse, which judgment, on appeal, was declared final by the Supreme Court of the United States. This judgment was rendered in 1831, and Mr. Nourse at once applied to Congress to authorize the payment of the judgment of the court. He continued his appeals till the year 1841, a period of about ten years, when he died. In this time the case was always favorably reported on, but failed to receive the sanction of both houses during any one Congress. The prosecution of the claim was continued by his widow until 1848, when an act was passed, in accordance with which she received the amount which was due by the judgment of the court in 1831. The legal representatives present a claim for interest on this judgment. A number of cases have been cited to the committee where Congress has expressly authorized the payment of interest on judgments, on money illegally collected by the United States, on money advanced by individuals to the use of the United States, and on contracts. In one of the latter cases, where the sum was stipulated to be paid at a certain time, and remained due and unpaid after that time, the committee, in reporting on the case, allow interest on the ground “that there was an unreasonable, even injurious delay in the settlement of these accounts” of the claimant.

Mr. Nourse gave approved security to abide the judgment of the court, with interest and damages. When the payment of the judgment was so long delayed, the United States should feel bound, at least by

implication, to pay interest in this case. Among the equitable reasons for its payment, it is stated that Mr. Nourse and his wife were compelled to suffer many privations and wants to which they would not have been sujected if this judgment had been paid when rendered. In this District, as well as throughout the United States, interest is payable on the judgments of our courts, and a settlement would not be considered by the courts as complete without such an allowance of interest. If the United States could have been sued on this judgment, interest would have been computed and included in the new judgment.

While the United States does not and should not allow interest generally upon claims, on contracts, on accounts, and many other cases, yet, in a case where the debt has been ascertained by judicial inquiry and established by law, no power nor prerogative of government should discharge it from a rule of law which it enforces against others.

But without relying on other strong reasons now urged by the legal representatives of Mr. Nourse for the payment of this claim, nor charging on Congress "an unreasonableor “injurious delay, the committee feel constrained to allow the interest claimed in this case, and accordingly report the accompanying bill.


FEBRUARY 2, 1855.

Mr. SHOWER, from the Committee on Revolutionary Claims, made the

following REPORT.

The Commiltee on Revolutionary Claims, to whom the petition of the heirs

of Col. John Mead, deceased, was referred, report: That the petitioners represent, that John Mead was an officer in the war of the Revolution, under Gen. Putnam, and that “in consequence of the ravages of the war he was bereft of all his property, consisting of between two and three hundred acres of land, besides his personal properly.” They ask for compensation, by pension or otherwise, for the services of their ancestor, and indemnity for the loss of his property

It is proven by extracts from the books of the Comptroller of Connecticut, that he was a lieutenant colonel of the militia of that State, and that he was in actual service. This is also proven by the affidavits of Thaddeus Bell, Levi Hanford, and Aaron Abbott, all of whom served under his command.

By the certificate of Samuel Close, town clerk of Greenwich, Connecticut, it is made to appear that the said Mead owned one hundred and ninety acres of land in said town, besides several other tracts.

The only attempt to prove the loss of property is the certificate of the clerk of the probate court of Stamford, that on the 14th day of April, 1789, the executors of Col. Mead came into court and made oath that ihe estate was insolvent.

As it is not in the province of this committee to allow relief by pension; as there is no proof that Col. Mead served in the continental line, , wbich service only would entitle him to commutation pay; and as there is no proof of the manner in which he lost his property, no claim for said loss is established. The committee would therefore report adversely.

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