Imatges de pàgina

sion 24th Congress ; Senate Document 119, 1st session 26th Congress; Letter from Mr. Stevenson to Mr. Forsyth, August 6, 1839.

Other cases might be adduced, but these are sufficient to show the uniform practice of this government to demand and receive interest as part of the damages, and as compensation for the loss of the use of the property taken or destroyed.

FourthOpinions of the Attorneys General.

Attorney General Wirt's opinion, under the award of the Emperor of Russia, relative to the deportation of slaves and other property by the British forces in violation of the treaty of peace in 1815, is full and explicit. He said: “After the most full consideration of all the arguments which have been urged pro and con, I am clearly of opinion that interest, at least, is a necessary part of the indemnity awarded by the Emperor.” Again he says: “What is a just indemnification for a wrong? Is it the reparation of one-half, or two-thirds of that wrong? Is it anything less than the reparation of the whole wrong?” Further, he says: “Let us put aside the emphatic and striking word just, and take the word indemnification alone. What does the word indemnification mean? The saving harmless from danger. Is that man saved harmless from danger who is left to bear one-half of the damage himself? The question seems to me too plain for discussion.” Speaking of the deportation of the slaves in violation of the treaty of peace, he says: “They” (the claimants) “have thus lost the use of this property for eleven years. Is the meagre return of the average value, at the time the slaves and other property were taken from them, a just indemnification for the whole wrong?" Affirming that "such is not the notion of the British courts sitting to administer the law of nations,” in proof of which he refers to authority, he concludes his opinion on the question of interest thus : “Upon the whole, sir, I am of the opinion that the just indemnification awarded by the Emperor involves not merely the return of the value of the specific property, but a compensation for the subsequent and wrongful detention of it, in the nature of damages. If the actual damage in each case could be ascertained, they ought, under the award, to be decreed; but since this, if not impracticable, would be a work of great labor and time, I am of opinion that the interest, according to the usage of nations, is a necessary part of the just indemnification awarded by the Emperor of Russia."-Opinions of Attorneys General, printed in 1841, from 568 to 571.

Now, unless satisfaction for an injury is something less than indemnification, which no one will pretend to affirm, here is an authority which runs on all-fours with the case under consideration. It was, no doubt, from concurring with Mr. Wirt, that Mr. Attorney General Grundy held that the claimants under the same ninth article of the Florida treaty were entitled to satisfaction for property detained and subsequently restored, thereby affirming their right to compensation for the loss of the use of the property while it was detained.Opinions Attorneys General, 1225, 1226.

And from a like concurrence in opinion with Mr. Wirt, Mr. Attor

ney General Nelson said, in reference to the case of these claimants, that he would not say they were not entitled to the interest decreed, " upon the principles of a broad and liberal equity ;” and upon what other principles, it may be asked, are international compacts adjusted ?

Certainly, too, it was from a conviction of the correctness of Mr. Wirt's opinion that Mr. Attorney General Crittenden said, “that the compacts of nations are governed only by the law of nations ; that to apply to them any “local law or local usage” would be "in violation of the most indisputable principles of public law;" that he expressed his concurrence in Mr. Wirt's opinion, that the original talue of the property, together with interest, as a compensation for the loss of the use of that property, is a measure of the pecuniary satisfaction, to which the injured claimant is entitled under the laws and usages of nations; and stated that, if the question were a new one, he would probably advise the payment of that measure of damages in this class of cases.-Reddin Blunt's printed case.

And assuredly it was with the same view that the present Attorney General Cushing, speaking of the opinion of Mr. Attorney General Crittenden, stated, that it precisely accorded with his own; thus admitting that the interest awarded to the claimants was that to which the law of nations entitled them, while he advised the Secretary not to pay, under the existing acts of 1823 and 1834, and recommended that the case should be laid before Congress.-Executive Document 82, 1st session 33d Congress.



JANUARY 26, 1855 Laid upon the table, and ordered to be printed.

Mr. FAULKNER, from the Committee on Military Affairs, made the


REPORT . The Committee on Military Affairs, to whom was referred the memorial of John P. Rutter and other citizens of Marion county, Missouri, asking for an appropriation to aid in establishing certain roads in Nebraska, Washington, and Oregon Territories, respectfully submit the following report of the Secretary of War with reference thereto, and ask to be discharged from the further consideration of the memorial.


Washington, January 16, 1855. SIR: I have to acknowledge the receipt of a petition, enclosed in your letter of the 7th ultimo, from citizens of Missouri, desiring that the Indian title to the lands on the Missouri river be extinguished, for a distance of twenty-five or thirty miles on either side, from the northern limit of the late purchases to the head of navigation, and thence for a greater width through the Rocky mountains, and that a road be constructed through the lands so acquired, from the Missouri to the Columbia or Puget's sound, thus obtaining an emi- . grant route, by river and road, from the Mississippi to the Pacific, through a country secure from Indian depredations and ultimately filled with settlements.

There can be no question of the value of the results proposed; but, from the information the department has of the nature of the country, the adoption of the measures suggested would not be followed by the effects anticipated. The river route would be too circuitous, and the road would present too many difficulties to form an advantageous line for emigrants to the Pacific Territories, while the lands along it are not of such character or so situated as, probably, to attract settlers to any extent for many years to come. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Secretary of War. Hon. Ch. J. FAULKNER,

Of the Committee on Military Affairs, Ho. of Reps.

« AnteriorContinua »