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The Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, to which wvs referred the memorial of John Scott, beg leave to report:

That the memorialist seeks relief from a judgment obtained against him and his sureties for failing to carry into operation a contract for the conveyance of the mail on route No. 3503, from New Orleans to Key West.

It appears that, in 1852, an advertisement was issued, inviting proposals for conveying the mail by sea between New Orleans and Key West, and that the contract was awarded to the said Scott for the sum of $20,000. The route was a new one, and never having been in operation, it was difficult to estimate the worth of the service, and the sum proposed by Scott proved, by the subsequent experience of the department, to be more than one half less than was necessary for the support of the route. This fact, however, is not adverted to as a basis for the relief of the petitioner, but as explanatory, in part, of the difficulty he experienced in organizing the means to carry his contract into effect as promptly as might otherwise have been practicable. Immediately upon being informed that the contract was awarded to him, the petitioner proceeded diligently to prepare for its execution, and, in his efforts to obtain steamships suitable for the purpose, hevisited New Orleans and all the principal northern cities as far as Portland. Finding it impossible to obtain suitable steamers at any reasonable price, and the limited interval for commencing service not affording time to build them, he applied for and obtained an extension of time till the 1st of March. He alleges further, that having been unfortunately taken sick at Washington, he was unable to continue his efforts, and did not succeed in effecting an arrangement for a suitable steamer until the middle of March, when he arranged with Captain Montgomery, who had a new steamer nearly completed at Baltimore, and informed the department of the arrangement, and that service would be commenced in five weeks. Before the expiration of that time, the department gave the contract to Samuel S. Green for $26,000 per annum, and instituted a suit against the petitioner for

damages, which suit resulted in the judgment from which he seeks relief.

The contract was made December 9, 1852, and required the commencement of service on the 15th of January following, an interval of only five weeks. The petitioner appears to have employed that very brief time diligently in the endeavor to obtain a suitable steamer, and having failed, obtained an extension of six weeks more, but in the meanwhile being being prostrated by sickness, he was disabled from pursuing his object, and did not effect an arrangement until a few days after the expiration of the time.

Upon an investigation of the history of the service since that time, it appears that no real damage was caused to the government, for the price at which the contract was awarded would have been totally insufficient to sustain the service. It seems that the contract was transferred, first, to James C. Green, for $26,000 per annum, who, after performing the service very irregularly for a few months failed, and it was relet to W. C. Templeton for $42,000, who also performed the service very irregularly; and that it was afterwards let to E. G. Rogers & Co. for $41,800, who have also failed, and no damages have been sought against either of these other parties.

Taking into view that the route was a new one, and that it was therefore difficult to estimate the proper value of the service; that the petitioner proceeded in perfect good faith and with great activity and devotion, and at a good deal of personal expense, to give effect to his engagement; and that his failure to commence the service within the brief time allotted was owing to a providential visitation, which prostrated him with sickness in the midst of his efforts, and that he had in fact notified the department of his having made suitable arrangements before the contract was transferred to Green; and considering, further, that the experience of the service has demonstrated that it was not possible to be performed for any sum approaching that at which the contract was awarded, and that no damages have been sought against any of the subsequent failing contractors, the committee have deemed it a suitable case for the application of a just public clemency, and accordingly recommend a remission of the penalty recovered against the petitioner, upon his paying the sum of one thousand dollars, which will cover all the reasonable expenses and inconvenience of the government in making the new arrangements.

A bill to that effect is herewith reported and its passage recommended by the committee.

1st Session.

No. 207.


JULY 10, 1856.-Submitted, agreed to, and ordered to be printed.

Mr. BENJAMIN made the following



The Committee on Private Land Claims, to which was referred the petition of Silas Stockwell, praying that a certain land warrant issued to one William G. Shaw might be cancelled, and that a duplicate be issued to said petitioner, have had the same under consideration, and submit the following report:

It appears that William G. Shaw was entitled to bounty land under the act approved February 11, 1847, for services as volunteer in the war with Mexico; that on the 31st day of July, 1848, and prior to the issuing of the warrant, he executed a power of attorney to one Benjamin Wade, to assign the warrant, when issued, to the petitioner, the consideration for such assignment was an indebtedness to the petitioner and others, incurred prior to the execution of the power of attorney and the issuing of the warrant.

The ninth section of the act of Congress, approved February 11, 1847, under which the warrant issued, provides that "all sales, mortgages, powers, or other instruments of writing, going to affect the title or claim to any such bounty right, made or executed prior to the issue of such warrant or certificate, shall be null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever; nor shall such claim to bounty right be in anywise affected or charged with or subject to the payment of any debt or claim incurred by the soldier prior to the issuing of such certificate or warrant."

The committee cannot consent to divest the said Shaw of his legal title to the warrant which issued in the name of said Shaw on the 28th day of October, 1848, being subsequent to the indebtedness and to the execution of the power of attorney.

The committee will not recommend the passage of a law to give validity to that which under the law is utterly null and void. Shaw, in whose name the warrant issued, is legally entitled to the same, and not a party to this petition. In vesting the title in the petitioner, Congress takes cognizance of, and passes upon, the rights of a person, not before or subject to Congress.

The committee therefore report back the petition, with a recommendation that the prayer be not granted.

1st Session.

No. 208.


JULY 10, 1856.—Submitted, agreed to, and ordered to be printed.

Mr. BENJAMIN made the following


The Committee on Private Land Claims, to which was referred the petition of Sally C. Northup, praying that Congress will pass an act vesting in her the title to certain land warrants purchased by her at an administrator's sale, have had the same under consideration and submit the following report:

It appears that Henry S. Atwood, deceased, who was a brother of the petitioner, did during his lifetime, in the summer of 1848, purchase of various persons their rights to bounty land under the act of February 11, 1847, prior to the issuing of the warrant.

That said Atwood received powers of attorney, and also the certificates of discharge of the various persons from whom he purchased such rights.

That such powers of attorney authorized him to prosecute such claims for bounty land, to receive the warrants when issued and to dispose of the same for his own benefit. Under these various powers of attorney there were sent to him sixty-nine warrants for one hundred and sixty acres cach, issued in the names of the persons respectively entitled thereto, and bearing date in June, 1849, and one other warrant for one hundred and sixty acres, issued on August 17, 1850, making in all seventy warrants, calling for one hundred and sixty acres each, and that he held possession of these warrants at the date of his death, which occurred on September 3, 1851.

The said Atwood was in possession of these warrants from June or July, 1849, to September, 1851, without using any exertion to obtain proper assignments therefor.

The ninth section of the act entitled "An act to raise for a limited. time an additional military force, and for other purposes," approved February 11, 1847, among other things, provides "that, in the event of the death of any such non-commissioned officer, musician, or private, during service, or after his discharge and before the issuing of a certificate or warrant as aforesaid, the said certificate or warrant shall be issued in favor and inure to the benefit of his family or relatives according to the following rules: First, to the widow and to his children; second, his father; third, his mother. * * * And all sales, mortgages, powers, or other instruments of writing going to affect the title or claim to any such bounty right, made or executed

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