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administrators of Isaac P. Tice, deceased, and others," without my approval.
The object of this bill is to confer upon the Court of Claims jurisdiction to retry and determine a case brought by the representatives of Isaac P. Tice against the United States in the Court of Claims in the year 1873 to recover from the Government the sum of $25,ooo, the alleged value of certain meters invented by Isaac P. Tice for the purpose of measuring the quality and strength of distilled spirits.
It was claimed that this amount, together with the sum of $733-33 for storage of said meters, was due to the claimant under a contract made between Tice and the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in pursuance of section 15 of the act of March 2, 1867 (14 Stats., 481). From the report of the case in 13 Court of Claims Reports, 112, it appears that the matter was fully and deliberately tried and argued both on behalf of the claimant and of the United States, and that at December term, 1877, the Court of Claims rendered a decision adverse to the claimant, expressly stating that the claimants had failed to establish their claim both in law and on the facts. Not satisfied with this conclusion of the Court of Claims, the claimants took an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, where the case was again argued and was decided, October term, 1878, the judgment of the Court of Claims being declared to be in accordance with the law and therefore affirmed. In these two decisions the law and the facts pertaining to the claim were fully set forth and discussed.
The bill further confers upon the Court of Claims jurisdiction to try and determine certain alleged claims of said Tice and others for money collected on account of the Tice meters, but not paid over to him or them under the regulations of the Treasury.
The amount of the latter claim, according to the report of the committee of the House of Representatives to which this bill was referred, is $140,000. It does not appear from the report of the committee, nor from any documents to which I have access, who are the other persons by whom this latter sum is claimed. The claim for $140,000 must have accrued prior to July, 1871, and therefore at this time is of at least twenty-seven years' standing.
It will thus be perceived that the object of the bill is to remove from the pathway of the claimants two legal bars to the prosecution of their claim in the courts-one, the bar of the statute of limitations, which requires all claimants against the Government to present their claims and bring actions thereon within six years from the time the cause of action accrues; and the other, that bar of estoppel which arises by reason of a former adverse judgment, rendered in a court of competent jurisdiction. This is not a general modification of the
law in these respects, but a special application of it to these particular claimants.
If the principle on which the statute of limitations is founded is wise and beneficent, then the effect of it ought not to be impaired by special legislative exemptions in favor of particular persons or cases except upon very clear and just grounds, where no lack of diligence in the prosecution of the claim is apparent. I cannot find in the papers submitted to me any sufficient grounds to justify a special exception from the ordinary rule in favor of these claimants. As to the claim for $140,000, no reason is stated why it was not included in the original suit nor why action upon it was not brought against the Government. within the six years allowed by the statute for that purpose. To permit such an action to be brought now is simply, without any reason of a special nature, to grant a privilege to these claimants which is denied to all other citizens of the United States, in accordance with the provisions of the general statute of limitations. The principle underlying statutes of limitations and the reasons for the maintenance of such a rule of litigation are much more cogent when applied to claims against the Government than when applied to claims against individuals.
These claims do not differ in their character from ordinary business transactions such as transpire every day between private persons or business corporations. The Government can only defend itself against claims of this nature through its public officers and with the use of such public records as the Departments may furnish. Great difficulties are experienced by it in contesting fraudulent and unjust claims, and it is only fair in the interest of the public that a rigorous adherence to some rule of limitation should be maintained.
The provision of the bill which practically directs a new trial of the claim for $25,000, decided adversely to the claimants more than twenty years ago, is still more objectionable. These parties had their day in court. They produced their witnesses and were heard both originally and upon appeal, and upon the case they were then able to make the court decided they had no claim against the Government. It is now suggested that other witnesses have been discovered who can supply the lack of proof which was produced on the former trial. Such a ground for a new trial would never be considered in any court of law in the land in a case between private parties where such a length of time had intervened since the former trial. No explanation of a satisfactory nature is furnished for the failure of the claimants to produce these witnesses upon the original trial.
The bill further provides that upon a retrial of the original claim, or upon the trial of the new claim, the claimants shall be at liberty to offer in evidence the depositions of witnesses now on the files of any of the
committees of Congress in relation to the aforesaid matters, which may be introduced as evidence in case of the death or disability of the deponents.
This provision will enable the claimants to present ex-parte affidavits, prepared by the claimants or their attorneys, without opportunity being afforded to the Government to cross-examine, provided the claimants can show that the deposing witnesses are either dead or under disability, by which, no doubt, is intended any such disability by reason. of absence, illness, and the like, as may render them legally incapable of being produced in person to testify upon the retrial. Such a provision as this is most dangerous to the interests of the Government.
I fail to see any reason in the facts connected with these claims for granting to these parties relief of this extraordinary nature.
The Treasury of the United States ought to be very carefully guarded against attacks of those who come forward with stale claims, and especially from the attacks of those who have already been fully heard according to the methods prescribed by the statutes.
To approve this bill would be to furnish a very dangerous precedent which would open the door to demands upon Congress in other cases which have been fully heard and determined.
For these reasons I am constrained to withhold my approval from WILLIAM MCKINLEY.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, June 1, 1898.
To the Congress of the United States:
The resolution of Congress passed May 9, 1898, tendering to Commodore George Dewey, United States, Navy commander-in-chief of the United States naval force on the Asiatic station, the thanks of Congress and of the American people for highly distinguished conduct in conflict with the enemy, as displayed by him in the destruction of the Spanish fleet and batteries in the harbor of Manila, Philippine Islands, May 1, 1898, and through him extending the thanks of Congress and the American people to the officers and men under his command for gallantry and skill exhibited by them on that occasion, required the President to communicate the same to Commodore Dewey, and through him to the officers and men under his command. This having been done, through the Secretary of the Navy, on the 15th of May, 1898, the following response has been received, and is hereby transmitted to the Congress:
I desire to express to the Department, and to request that it will be transmitted to the President and to Congress, my most sincere thanks for the great compliment paid to me.
JOINT RESOLUTION tendering the thanks of Congress to Commodore George Dewey, United States Navy, and to the officers and men of the squadron under his command.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That, in pursuance of the recommendation of the President, made in accordance with the provisions of section 1508 of the Revised Statutes, the thanks of Congress and of the American people are hereby tendered to Commodore George Dewey, United States Navy, commander in chief of the United States naval force on the Asiatic station, for highly distinguished conduct in conflict with the enemy, as displayed by him in the destruction of the Spanish fleet and batteries in the harbor of Manila, Philippine Islands, May 1, 1898.
SEC. 2. That the thanks of Congress and the American people are hereby extended through Commodore Dewey to the officers and men under his command for the gallantry and skill exhibited by them on that occasion.
SEC. 3. Be it further resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to cause this resolution to be communicated to Commodore Dewey, and through him to the officers and men under his command.
Approved, May 10, 1898.
JOINT RESOLUTION authorizing the Secretary of the Navy to present a sword of honor to Commodore George Dewey, and to cause to be struck bronze medals commemorating the battle of Manila Bay, and to distribute such medals to the officers and men of the ships of the Asiatic Squadron of the United States.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Navy be and he hereby is, authorized to present a sword of honor to Commodore George Dewey and to cause to be struck bronze medals commemorating the battle of Manila Bay, and to distribute such medals to the officers and men of the ships of the Asiatic Squadron of the United States under command of Commodore George Dewey on May 1, 1898; and that to enable the Secretary to carry out this resolution the sum of $10,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is hereby appropriated out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated.
Approved, June 3, 1898.
To the Congress of the United States:
Washington, June 14, 1898.
I transmit herewith (having reference to Senate Document No. 4, Fifty-fifth Congress, second session) a report made by Thomas W. Cridler, Third Assistant Secretary of State, who, upon the death of Maj. Moses P. Handy, I designated to continue the work as special commissioner, under the act of Congress approved July 19, 1897, in relation to the acceptance by the Government of the United States of
the invitation of France to participate in the International Exposition to be held at Paris from April 15 to November 5, 1900.
I cordially renew my recommendation that a liberal appropriation be immediately granted. WILLIAM MCKINLEY.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, June 23, 1898.
To the Senate of the United States:
I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of the Interior relative to Senate resolution of June 10, 1898, requesting the President "to make such arrangements as may be necessary to secure at the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition to be held in the city of Omaha, Neb., the attendance of representatives of the Iroquois tribes and Delawares of Canada and of the Abenakis of St. Francis and Becaucourt, and such other Indian nations as have emigrated from the territory now of the United States to Canada.
To carry out this resolution, if it shall be found agreeable to the Government of Canada, it will be necessary for this Government to send an agent to visit the tribes and secure their assent, organize the representative delegations, escort them to the exposition, take charge of and care for them while there and until they are returned to their respective tribes.
The resolution seems to presuppose that there are funds which may be lawfully used to defray the expenses which must necessarily be incurred in the premises. By reference to the Secretary's report, it will be seen that there are no moneys lawfully available for that purpose.
It is not to be presumed that the Senate, under such circumstances, would desire the Executive to take the action indicated in the resolution, and I am therefore constrained to await the requisite appropriation by Congress for the payment of the expenses that must be necessarily incurred in the accomplishment of the proposed abjects.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, June 27, 1898.
To the Congress of the United States:
On the 11th of May, 1898, there occurred a conflict in the bay of Cardenas, Cuba, in which the naval torpedo boat Winslow was disabled, her commander wounded, and one of her officers and a part of her crew killed by the enemy's fire
In the face of most galling fire from the enemy's guns the revenue cutter Hudson, commanded by First Lieutenant Frank H. Newcomb, United States Revenue-Cutter Service, rescued the disabled Winslow, her