Page images

31, 1877, thus stopping interest; since which date the fund has remained fixed at $9,553,800.

The new act re-establishes the Court of Commissioners of Alabama Claims, with three instead of five judges. The court is directed to enter judgment in favor of two new classes, - "exculpated cruiser” and “war premium " claimants, - though I am not to be understood as saying that it may not have jurisdiction over claims admissible under the act of 1874, which were not seasonably presented to the former court. The provisions of the new law are so connected with those of the statute of 1874, that to interpret them aright, we must turn to that statute and the construction given to it by the court it called into being.

If it has so happened that the judicial utterances of the Court of Commissioners of Alabama Claims do not enjoy a wide repute, the result is due to no lack of ability or learning on the part of the lawyers who adorned that bench. Let it rather be attributed to the fact that the profession has had little or no opportunity to acquaint itself with their opinions. True, the very efficient clerk (the Honorable John Davis, now First Assistant Secretary of State), at the close of his official labors, collected these opinions, and accompanied them with a statement of points orally decided. This work took the shape of an official report to Secretary Fish, and was transmitted by the President to the Senate. It appears as Senate Executive Document, No. 21, Forty-fourth Congress, Second Session. Useful as it might prove to the profession, this volume is rarely found in a law library. The printed records of the court fill nearly sixty volumes; of these, however, only a few complete sets exist.

Taking the act of 1882 as a basis, I have appended to each section its corresponding section of the act of 1874. Every decision of the Court of Commissioners of Alabama Claims will be found in an appropriate place under some one of these sections. Where the act of 1882 presents new features, I have ventured to make such suggestions as may better enable the reader to judge for himself what is its true intent; but wherever the language in the least appears of doubtful significance, I have abstained from expressing any views of my own.

That it may be conveniently consulted as a whole, each act is given entire in the Appendix, the text of which I have compared with the original rolls in the Department of State. The rules of the earlier court, and certain forms which may prove of service, will also be found in the Appendix; likewise, the opinion at length of the court in the cases of " The Winged Racer," which settles the rule of damages for loss of ship, cargo, and freight.

In citing a case I have preserved the docket number, thus facilitating reference to the printed record. Mr. Davis' report is cited as “Rep.;" and I desire to express my sense of obligation to my friend for permission to use these materials, which I have freely done, as well as for timely suggestions. I have spared no pains to make the Table of Cases and the Index as nearly complete as possible.

My grateful acknowledgments are due to the Honorable William A. Richardson, one of the judges of the Court of Claims, for a letter which for the first time makes public the method adopted by the government to receive fifteen and a half million of dollars, gold, safely and without expense, in payment of the award. Judge Richardson was at that time Secretary of the Treasury (1873), and his statement, which bears a historical value, will be read with interest. The correspondence appears in the Appendix. To him, also, I am indebted for practical suggestions which have materially lightened the task of preparing manuscripts for the press. If want of space forbids mention of all who have afforded me aid, I may at least express my sincere appreciation of the encouragement given by my friends, Messrs. J. C. Bancroft Davis, John A. J. Creswell, and W. W. Crapo, the names of all of whom are associated conspicuously with the Geneva Award. Nor shall I forget the many favors received at the hands of Mr. Theodore F. Dwight, Librarian of the Department of State.

The result of my labors I submit, not without misgivings, to my brethren of the profession. I can only say that, to the best of my ability, I have tried to make a volume worthy of the subject.

F. W. H.




The two acts compared, 21. Section nine, act 1874, ib. — Records in Depart-

ment of State, 22–24. — Section ten, act 1874, 24. — Claimants, parties, and
witnesses, 25. — Perjury, 26. - Section eleven, act 1874, ib. — United States
not a trustee for private claimants, 27. - Sovereign State not an agent for its
subjects, 28, 29. — History of the award and debates in Congress, 29.-
Direct damages, 30. ---General subject of damages, 31. -- Cases on subject,
31-40. — Amendments, 41. Section twelve, act 1874, 42. — Damage for loss
of ship, freight, and cargo, 43–52. — Prospective profits, 52–55. — Bonded
vessels, 55–57. — Wages, 57–60. · Insurance companies, 60–63. — Pro-
tection and allegiance, 63-76. — The “Martaban," 77-82. — Foreign firms,
82-84. — Naturalization, 85, 86.

« PreviousContinue »