Imatges de pÓgina
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

in cases in which the United States are plaintiff, and which do not arise within the limits of the Indian country.

The ordinance established a court for the Territory, and gave to it a common law jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court of Michigan is created by an act of the Legislature of that Territory. The act declares, that this court shall be held by the judges appointed by the President, pursuant to the ordinance. As a territorial court, its duties have been greatly multiplied within a few years. Since the judges have been required to hold Circuit Courts, they are constantly employed. Two terms of these courts are held annually in seven counties, and at each term two of the judges must be present. In performing this service, they are compelled to travel to places remote from the seat of Government, through a country which has been settled but a short time, and upon roads which are frequently almost impassable.

This court is invested with a chancery, as well as common law, jurisdiction. It is a Sapreme Court of Probate; and a court of errors, and appeals in chancery, to the courts held by the additional judge.

branch of their jurisdiction is conferred by the act of March 3, 1805, which provides, that the superior courts of the several Territories of the United States, in which a district court has not been established by law, shall, in all cases in which the United States are concerned, have, within their respective Territories, the same jurisdiction and powers as are by law given to the District Court of the Kentucky district; and the act of September 24, 1789, gave that court jurisdiction of all causes cognizable before a Circuit Court, except of appeals and writs of error.

Two terms of the court, sitting as a Supreme Court, and as a Circuit and District Court of the United States, are held annually at Detroit; and, in addition, it is believed that special sessions are occasionally deemed necessary to enforce these several jurisdictions.

The tenure of office of the judges in Michigan was fixed by the ordinance which declared that their commissions should continue in force during good behavior. This tenure was changed by the act of March 3, 1823, and limited to four years.

That their duties are difficult, arduous, and important, there can be no doubt. When the court was first appointed, the population of the Territory could not have exceeded 4,000 souls; it is believed it may now be justly estimated at from 30 to 40,000. The commerce and general trade of the country has also been greatly extended and increased. If the judges' salaries, which were fixed at $12 per annum, were at that time deemed a proper compensation, there cannot be the slightest objection to an increase, at least in proportion to their labors. To this they would be entitled, if an equalization should be made of the salaries of the judges of the United States in the several States and Territories.

Your committee are therefore satisfied that the salaries of the judges in Michigan ought to be increased; and for that purpose they ask leave to report

A bill.

WASHINGTON, March 7th, 1830. SIR: A statement of the duties of the Supreme Court of Michigan, when it was esiablished, and at the present time, will furnish the most satisfactory

[ocr errors]

answer to the questions which you have submitted to me, which it is in my power to give.

On the organization of the Territorial Government of Michigan, in 1805, a Supreme Court was created by an act of the Governor and judges, and it was declared that the court should consist of the Judges appointed and commissioned for the Territory by the President of the United States. Their salaries were fixed at twelve hundred dollars per annum. Their jurisdiction, as a United States' Court, was the same as that of the Kentucky District. They were required to hold one term annually at Detroit, the seat of Government of the Territory, and their place of residence. Several ineffectual attempts were made to compel them to hold Circuit Courts in the couniies which were set off from the county of Wayne, soon after they were organized; but it was denied that such a power had been delegated by Congress to the Territorial Legislature. The tenure of office of these judges was during good behavior, as prescribed by the ordinance of Congress of 1787; bụt an act was passed by Congress in 1823, which declared, that, on the first day of February, 1824, this tenure should cease, and be determined; and that, thereafter, it should be limited to four years..

On the 30th of January, 1823, an act was passed to provide for the appointment of an additional judge for the Michigan Territory, in the counties of Mackinaw, Brown, and Crawford, which embraced the whole country situated between Lakes Huron, Superior, and Michigan, and the Mississippi river. He was required to hold terms of the courts at three places--the Island of Michilimackinac, Green Bay, and Prairie du Chien. His jurisdiction was that of the Supreme and County Courts, and his salary fixed at $1200 per annum. In performing his duties, he travels thirteen hundred and sisty miles by water, and usually in a birch bark canoe.

Authority was given to the Legislative Council, by an act passed on the 29th of January, 1827, to establish a circuit or nisi prius system. The Judges of the Supreme Court are, therefore, now required by law to hold terms in the peninsular counties; all of which, except the county of Wayne, have been created since the court. It is understood, that, at these terms, at least two of the judges must be present. The following table will show how greatly their duties and labors have been increased within a few years:

Circuit Courts are held in Wayne county,

two terms in each year, at Detroit. Monroe,



36 miles from Detroit. Washtenaw,







do Oakland,


do St. Clair,



70 do 14

267 X 2 = 534 X2 = 1068 miles travelled per annum.

They are likewise required to hold two terms in each year, at Detroit, of the Supreme Court of the Territory, and as a Circuit and District Court of the United States, to hear and determine the cases removed by writs of error from the circuits, from the courts held by the additional judge, and from the Probate Courts held by appeal.

J. D. DOTY. The Hon. WM. G. ANGEL,

of the Committee on Territories.






MARCH 17, 1830.

Mr. WHITE, from the Committee on Naval Affairs, to which was referred

the case of Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, Jr. made the following

REPORT: The Committee on Naval Affairs, to which was referred the petition of

Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, Jr. of the United States' Navy, beg leave respectfully to report; That it appears from the proceedings of this House, that a resolution was adopted on the 21st of May, 1828, authorizing the President of the United States to send one of the small public ships into the Pacific Ocean and South Sea, to examine the coasts, islands, harbors, shoals, and reefs, in those seas, provided it could be effected without prejudice to the general interest of the naval service; and, provided, it could be done without further appropriations during that year.

And your committee find, from a report made by the Secretary of the Navy, on the 27th of November, 1828, to the President, that the sloop of war Peacock was selected for this service, and placed under the command of Master Commandant Thomas Ap Catesby Jones; and Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, Jr. was selected as astronomer to the expedition.

Lieutenant Wilkes was instructed, in order to carry into effect the contemplated object, to purchase a number of astronomical and mathematical instruments; a list of which, with the lettter of the Secretary of the Navy, is hereunto annexed.

Your committee have annexed a statement of the articles paid for by the Navy Department, and also those paid for by the Navy Agent at New York. The sum of about $3,309 remains unpaid to sundry individuals, for instruments purchased by the said Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, Jr. as will appear from the statement annexed.

As this officer acted in good faith, under the orders of the Navy Department, your committee are of opinion that relief should be afforded to him for the liability he has incurred; and, therefore, report a bill authorizing the proper accounting officer to adjust the accounts of the parties interested.

SCHEDULE of the Astronomical and Mathematical Instruments pura

chased for the Exploring Expedition to the Pacific Ocean and South Sea.

ARTICLES PAID FOR BY NAVY DEPARTMENT. To Lieutenant Wilkes, for Reflecting Circle,

$ 125 00 E, Maury, for Sextant,

85 00

$ 210 00

ARTICLES PAID FOR BY NAVY AGENT AT NEW YORK, To F. R. Hassler, for Reflecting and Repeating Circle,

$ 500 00 F. Robert, for Celestial Atlas,

14 00 R. Patten, for Artificial Horizons, &c.

145 00 P. Burtsell, for Books, &c.

127 00 G. Chilton, for Barometer and Hygrometer,

43 50 C. Woakley, for Sympresometer,

88 00 R. Patten, for Sextants,

300 00

$1,167 50

THE FOLLOWING BILLS REMAIN UNPAID : To Lieutenant Wilkes, for Barometer, Hygrometer, &c. im ported by Professor Renwick,

$ 90 00 To Richard Patten, for Repeating Theodolite, $ 560 00 Variation Transit,

550 00 Frame for Pendulum,

20 00 Azimuth Compass,

60 00 Dipping Needle, &c.

60 00 Telescope,

20 00 Spirit Levels,

30 00

1,300 09 To B. & S. Demilt, for Astronomical Clock and Case, $180 00

Three Eight Day Cronometers, 1,260 00
One Pocket


260 00

1,700 00 To Lieut. Wilkes, for instruments ordered from England, $ 150 00

from France, 8 00

158 00

$3,248 00

« AnteriorContinua »