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2d Session. S
FEBRUARY 2, 1855.
Mr. CORWIN, from the Committee on Revolutionary Claims, made the
The Committee on Revolutionary Claims, to whom was referred the petition
of the administrator of Charles Fierer, asking commutation pay for the services of said Charles Fierer, as a captain of cavalry during the war of the Revolution, report:
That the proof shows that the said Charles Fierer was an officer in the Hessian army; that he resigned his commission in that army, and was appointed a captain in the Virginia State line, prior to January 1, 1782, and served in that capacity until the end of ihe war. That his services, as a captain in the Virginia State line, until the end of the war, are shown by the depositions of Dudley Digges, Vincent King, and Jane Haney; by a certificate of the register of the land office of the State of Virginia, dated December 9, 1793. It was also decided by the governor and council of that State, that Charles Fierer was entitled to the proportion of land allowed a captain of the State line " for the war;" and that, on the 16th of December, 1793, a warrant was issued in pursuance thereof, for 2,000 acres, to Charles Fierer, of the State line, "for the war ;” and by the decision of J. L. Edwards, late Commissioner of Pensions, made November 25, 1836, that it was found to the satisfaction of the department that Captain Charles Fierer had served to the end of the war. All which depositions, certificates, and decisions, or copies of them, accompany the petition.
In Henning's Statutes at Large, (new series,) vol. 1, page 282, an act of the legislature of Virginia will be found, passed December 11 1793, entitled “ An act for the relief of Charles Fierer,” which recites “that Charles Fierer, late a subject of the reigning prince of Hesse Cassel, by the resignation of a commission which he held in the forces of that prince during the late war, and his acceptance of a command in the troops of the Commonwealth and State establishment, sustained a personal injury by a fall from his horse, in the exercise of his military duty, and has incurred a denunciation of treason, and a confiscation of his estate in his native country;" and said act therefore provides for settlement of the balance of pay and depreciation due him for his services, as a captain of cavalry in the State legion. This evidence shows clearly that Captain Charles Fierer was entitled to the commutation of five years' full pay, provided by the act of the Virginia legislature passed December 16, 1790, (13 Henning's Statutes at Large, page 131,) as decided by the Attorney General; and that it was not pretended that it has ever been paid to him, or his heirs, or his representatives.
It appears that his legal representatives received his half-pay for life, but the receipt of half-pay has never been held a satisfaction of a claim for commutaticn ; but when commutation has been allowed, the half-pay previously allowed has been deducted, and this has been done in numberless instances.
It is clear, in the opinion of your committee, from the evidence, that Fierer did not resign his commission in the Virginia line ; because the act of 1793, for his relief, refers to his services in the Stale legion, (which was Dabney's legion,) which was not raised until after the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. The question on this point was no doubt raised in reference to his resignation of his commission in the Hessian service, which, through misapprehension, has been erroneously referred to his commission in the Virginia State line. The committee are therefore of opinion, and report, that the commutation recovered as aforesaid, against the State of Virginia, is legally and justly due to the estate of the said Charles Fierer, and properly chargeable to, and should be paid by the United States, in accordance with the decisions of the Attorney General in the case of John M. Galt.
Claims of this character have, in other cases, been adjusted and paid by the Department of the Interior, under authority of existing laws, interpreted by acts of Congress, and the opinion of the law officer of the government, as above referred to; and they therefore report the accompanying bill.
2d Session. S
JOSEPH C. G. KENNEDY.
[To accompany bill H. R. No. 728.]
FEBRUARY 2, 1855.
Mr. EDMUNDSON, from the Committee on Expenditures on the Public
Buildings, made the following
The Committee on Expenditures on the Public Buildings, to whom were
referred the petition and papers of Joseph C. G. Kennedy, claiming damage done to two buildings, the property of said Kennedy, while the same were used by the government for conducting the business of the taking of the seventh census, have had the same under consideration, and beg leave to submit the following report :
It appears that Joseph C. G. Kennedy purchased these two principal buildings rented for the use of the Census Office, of William Selden, and that the said Selden retained his lien upon the property as security for the payment of the purchase money.
It also appears that at the time the two buildings were rented to the government, Joseph C. G. Kennedy was superintendent of the census.
In reply to the resolution of the Senate of the 9th of August, modified by that of the 17th of August, 1852, the Secretary of the Interior says: “ In reference to the principal building rented for the use of the Census Office, it will be seen that there was a departure from the ordinary course of proceeding in making contracts of lease. It is usual, where houses are rented for the use of the government, to enter into agreements with the proprietors, without the intervention of third persons to ascertain the amount of rent to be paid. The reason of the departure in this case was, that Mr. Kennedy, the superintendent of the census, was interested in the property, and therefore, from motives of delicacy, declined entering into any negotiation in reference to the amount of the rent. As the house was a very large and commodious one, and the only one that could be obtained offering the same amount of accommodation and so conveniently situated, it was agreed between us that I should designate two gentlemen of undoubted respectability, and well acquainted with the value of property, to fix the rent. In accordance with this agreement, I named Mr. John W. Maury, the present mayor, and Mr. William A. Bradley, the postmaster of the city, both of whom have resided for many years in the city, and are well acquainted with the value of property. They
examined the house and made the assessment at $1,750 per annum, which is at the rate of $75 for each room.
"A copy of the agreement between Mr. Selden, the holder of the legal title to the house, and Mr. Kennedy, for the department, submitting the question of the amount of the rent to the arbitrament of Messrs. Maury and Bradley, and a copy of their award under that submission, accompany the report of the superintendent.”
The documents above referred to are the following, and were appended to the above report of the Secretary of the Interior :
Rent Contract. It is agreed by and between William Selden, esq., of Washington, D. C., and Joseph C. G. Kennedy, on behalf of the Department of the Interior, for the Census Office, that the terms of rent for the premises now in occupancy by the Census Office shall be established by two disinterested citizens of Washington, to be nominated by the Hon. Alex. H. H. Stuart, Secretary of the Interior: their decision shall be final and conclusive in the matter, and binding upon both parties. In case of non-agreement by the two persons named, they may select a third person to aid them in determining the matter.
JOS. C. G. KENNEDY. WASHINGTON, January 1, 1851.
I hereby request Messrs. John W. Maury and Wm. A. Bradley to examine the premises referred to, and to fix a just and equitable amount of rent to be paid therefor, for the uses designated.
ALEX. H. H. STUART,
Secretary of the Interior.
In accordance with the foregoing agreement, and in consideration of the request of the Hon. Alex. H. H. Stuart, Secretary of the Interior, the undersigned establish the rent to be paid for the above-described premises at seventeen hundred and fifty dollars per annum,
JOHN W. MAURY. WM. A. BRADLEY.
The above agreement fixing the amount of the rent to be paid is all the written agreement that was ever executed between the parties, Mr. Kennedy claiming that the property was, by agreement of the Secretary of the Interior, to be left in a good, tenantable condition, according to the usual custom of the government in such cases; and that he had reason to expect that these buildings would be so left, he shows by the statement of J. P. Pepper, esq., in answer to Mr. Kennedy on that subject, to wit:
WASHINGTON, January 2, 1855. SIR: I will be much obliged if you will inform me respecting the custom of the government in the repairs of private property rented for public use by the government departments. Any information on
this subject will be most thankfully received and highly appreciated,
Very respectfully, yours truly,
JOS. C. KENNEDY. John P. PEPPER, Esq., Alderman of the city, and late Superintendent of Department Buildings.
JANUARY 4, 1855. SIR : In answer to the above inquiry, I may say that during sixteen years' superintendency of the treasury department, it always was the custom of the government to have all buildings rented by the same, upon leaving, repaired and put in complete tenantable order.
JOHN P. PEPPER. Mr. Jos. C. G. KENNEDY.
Mr. Kennedy declares, that after the government had occupied these buildings for the space of three years, they were abandoned by the government without giving him the proper legal notice of their intention to do so; and that the interior of the buildings, and the premises generally, were left in an abused, damaged, and filthy condition, not fit for occupancy, and that, consequently, he sustained great damage and loss. In support of this declaration he presents the testimony of Mr. John S. Hollingshead, who was chief clerk part of the time under Mr. Kennedy, and for a while chief clerk under Mr. De Bow, which is as follows, viz:
WASHINGTON, January 19, 1855. Having been requested by J. C. G. Kennedy, esq., former superintendent of census, to state my opinion as to what amount of money it would require to place the house rented by the United States of him, or of Mr. Selden, in as good condition as it was when the United States rented the same, I would state, that I do not believe that less than two thousand dollars would place the building in as good condition as when government took possession of it. I was chief clerk part of the timeunder Mr. Kennedy, and for a while chief clerk under Mr. DeBow. In all alterations and fixtures for the accommodation of the immense quantity of matter in the shape of returns, &c., the preservation of the property was not considered, but the walls were perforated with nails for shelving, &c., the paper of the most costly character destroyed, and this once beautiful house (for the interior was very finely finished) was left, so far as the interior was concerned, a perfect wreck. With at times 75 clerks, holding situations of a very temporary character, it could not be expected they would be particular in preserving clean and in good order, property they did not expect to occupy long; and at times some of them displayed the organ of destructiveness. I have no interest in this matter, and all I say I honestly believe.
JOHN S. HÖLLINGSHEAD.
Sworn and subscribed before me,
B. K. MORSELL, J. P.