Imatges de pàgina

that, upon a more thorough examination of the papers, subsequently to your call in person this morning, I find that the death of the soldier did not occur until the 16th of December, 1848, some two months, nearly, after the issue, in the name of the soldier, of the warrant for 160 acres, numbered 34754, which had been by his direction addressed to him, in care of Ava Durrin, or Durvin, at Galena, Illinois. The certificate would, of course, be valueless, unless regularly assigned by the warrantee; and if it can be established to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, who is the appropriate judge of questions affecting the validity of transfers, that the assignment of the certificate in question is illegal or fraudulent, that officer will take such steps as will put the party properly entitled in possession of his rights.

For further information as to the proper course to be observed under the circumstances, you are respectfully referred to that office.

I may add that, the case having been disposed of in accordance with the law, the usage of the office, and the claimant's request, we have no further control in the matter. I have the honor to be, respectfully, your obedient servant,

"J. E. HEATH, Commissioner. Hon. WILLIAM MURRAY,

House of Representatives. Upon the receipt of this letter, application was made to the Commissioner of the General Land Office for the land to which the deceased soldier was entitled, and the following letter was received by Hon. William Murray, member of Congress representing the district in New York in which ihe petitioner resides, in answer to this application, to wit :


August 6, 1852. Sir: I have the bonor to inform you that I have fully examined the case of Theodore Minard, late a private in the 8th regiment United States infantry, in the Mexican war, in whose name land warrant No. 34754 was issued.

From the papers it appears that this warrant was issued and transmitted to Minard's agent, in accordance with his direction, at Galena, Illinois, on the 31st October, 1848, and that the patent was issued on the 10th July, 1851, to George W. Voris, as assignee, the assignment being endorsed on the warrant, and bearing date November 19, 1849.

It is now alleged that the warrantee died about one year before the date of the assignment, to which his name appears signed in full, while to the papers in the Pension Office he makes his mark. In fact, it appears that the assignment is false and fraudulent.

It also appears that, in a similar case, it was held by the Commissioner, that where the patent has issued, the case is beyond the control of this office, and that the only recourse of the claimant was against the land. In this opinion the Secretary of the Department of the Interior concurred, and therefore the decision is binding on this office.

I regret the delay which has occurred in this case, notwithstanding

your frequent and urgent applications for action. It was caused chiefly by the absence of the Commissioner, whose return was daily expected, and who was the proper person to review his own decision. Finding, however, that his return is still delayed by severe sickness, I have deemed it expedient to address you this communication. lam, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Acting Commissioner. Hon. WILLIAM MURRAY,

House of Representatives.

From this letter of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, it appears that by means of a forged assignment of the land warrant, bearing date about a year after the decease of the soloier, one George W. Voris, on the 19th day of November, 1851, located the land and obtained a patent therefor. This warrant is, of course, on file with the Commissioner of the Land Office, with the forged assignment endorsed thereon. The question arises, is the father of the deceased soldier to be deprived of the benefits of this land warrant by means of this forged assignment? It is one of the clearest principles of law, that no man can acquire a good title by means of forged papers. Even a bona fide purchaser cannot hold the fruits of a grant obtained by the commission of a felony. The Commissioner of the Land Office seems to be of the opinion that the petitioner must resort to a court of law for redress against the forger, or his grantees. This committee by no means agree with the Commissioner in opinion. If this were so, then the petitioner would be bound by the act of the forger in making the location of the land warrant. Such a proposition is absurd. Surely the forger, or his assignees could do no act of any binding effect either against the government or the petitioner. The petitioner, therefore, is entitled to locate the warrant in question precisely as if no such forgery had been committed. The committee therefore report a bill for the relief of the petitioner.

The perpetrators of this felony should be punished, and the holder of the lot, obtained by means of this forgery, should be required to give up the lot to the general government. The committee have therefore added a second section to the bill, intended to effect this object.

2d Session. S

No. 12.


[To accompany bill H. R. No. 621.]

JANUARY 5, 1855.

Mr. Bocock, from the Committee on Naval Affairs, made the following

REPORT. The Committee on Naval Affairs, to whom was referred the memorial of the

legal representatives of William A. Christian, deceased, late a purser in the United States navy, report:

That they have examined this claim and find it a reasonable and just one. They adopt the report made by the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs made during the 1st session of the 32d Congress. It is as follows:

"It is alleged in the petition filed in this case by Purser Christian, that on assuming his duties on board the United States steamer Princeton, a regular transfer was to him made, by Purser Upshur, of the accounts of the officers and crew of that vessel. Among these were the accounts of officers having acting appointments, namely: C. C. Bartling, acting sail-maker, William Taylor, acting buatswain, and James H. Conley, acting carpenter, to whom the memorialist continued to pay their salaries, as it had been done by his predecessors, Pursers McBlair and Upshur, on whose books they had previously been borne. The memorialist states that he knew the appointments of these officers had been made with the approbation of the Hon. Secretary of the Navy, and no orders had been received from the Navy Department or from Captain Stockton for their discharge from the service after the passage of the act of June 17, 1844, they being still continued in the performance of their respective duties.

“William Taylor, one of the above-named officers, was discharged on the 18th of July, 1844, and J. R. Fox appointed by Captain Stockion to succeed him as the acting boatswain of the ship. The memorialist states that having doubts whether this appointment would be approved by the department, he addressed the Fourth Auditor upon the subject, asking for information whether he could rightfully pay the salary of boatswain to Mr. Fox, under the existing law; that the Fourth Auditor referred this communication to the Hon. Secretary of the Navy, who returned it 10 the Auditor with the following endorsement : September 15, 1843, Captain Stockton was authorized to select and rate a carpenter, boatswain, &c., the deparment having none at his disposal - let him be paid as rated. J. Y. M.;' which was promptly communicated to him (the memorialist) in reply by the Auditor."

“This appointment and the approval were both subsequent to the passage of the act of June 17, 1944, and the memorialist alleges that ħe, therefore, felt no longer doubt respecting the propriety of paying these officers. Nor did he think he could afterwards hesitate to pay E. A. Yorke, as boatswain, when he was appointed by Captain Stockton to succeed Mr. Fox, who was discharged on the 15th December, 1844, as he had every reason to suppose that the department had recognised, by its former endorsement of approval, the power of Captain Stockton to make the appointment. The memorialist says that he continued under these impressions until he received a communication from the Hon. Mr. Bancroft, in which he is informed that Mr. Yorke cannot be paid as boatswain,' for reasons therein assigned. At the time this letter was received, however, Mr. Yorke had been discharged from the service and paid off in full. During his stay on board no apprehension was felt by the memorialist, as he states, respecting the propriety of paying him.

6 X proviso in the navy appropriation act of August 4, 1812, prohibited any increase of the officers of the navy beyond the number in the respective grades that were in service on the 1st day of January, 1842. As the warrant officers paid by Purser Christian had been employed in violation of this restriction, the Fourth Auditor very propersy refused to allow a credit for the items of disbursement covering their

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• But the committee regard this to be a very proper case for relief by the legislative interposition. The acting Secretary of the Navy, Mr. A. Thos. Smith, in a letter dated September 15, 1843, expressly authorized Captain Stockton to select and rate men for the places of carpenter, boatswain, &c. At the time Mr. Christian joined the ship he found these men enrolled and rated for pay by his predecessors, without intimation of objection from the department. When boatswain Taylor was discharged and a new appointment made by Captain Stockton, apprehending some possible difficulty at the accounting offices, he wrote to know whether he should place the new appointee upon the roll, and received a reply which reiterated and confirmed the authority of Captain Stockton, and was well calculated to satisfy all doubts as to the propriety of the payments made to the several other warrant officers of the ship. This last letter is so explained by the Fourth Auditor, as to relieve that excellent officer from any imputation of carelessness; but the fact still stands that the letter which Purser Christian received was a reasonable ground for believing the payments he was making were approved at the department. The letters which were referred to are annexed. It is doubtful whether the proviso in the act of 1842 was intended to apply to warrant officers. Be that, however, as it may, so inconvenient was the operation of it found to be, that Congress, by the act of March 30, 1847, repealed the restriction so far as applied to the appointment of boatswains, gunners, carpenters, and sailmakers.

“The committee believe that Purser Christian made the payments under an honest belief, founded upon reasonable grounds, that he was bound to do so, and that the payments were legal. No other person than the Secretary of the Navy was authorized to determine when the

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