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Massachusetts, Rhode Island v.

Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, Barron v.

Mills, United States v.

Minor v. Tillotson,

Moore and others, Lessee of Livingston v.

Morris and Gwynne v. The Lessee of Harmer's Heirs,

Nichols v. Fearson et al.

Nicolet and Sigg, Breedlove and Robeson v.
Owings and others v. Kincannon,

Packard and others, Davis v.

Percheman, United States v.

Peyroux and others v. Howard and Varion,
Pickett's Heirs v. Legerwood et al.

Keynolds and others, Douglass and others v.

Rhode Island v. Massachusetts,

Ripley, United States v.

Robinson and Swearingen, Ward and Call v.
Rountree and others, Tyrell's Heirs v.

Sampeyreac and Stewart v. The United States,

Scholefield and Taylor v. Eichelberger,

Scott v. Lunt's Administrator,

Shaw v.


State of Rhode Island v. The State of Massachusetts,

Thompson, Magniac and others v.

Tillotson, Minor v.

Trout and others, Holmes and others v.

Tufts and Clarke, United States v.

Turner, United States v.

Tyrell's Heirs v. Rountree and others,

Union Bank of Georgetown v. Magruder,

United States v. Macdaniel,

United States v. Ripley,

United States v. Fillebrown,
United States v. Percheman,
United States v. Turner,
United States v. Mills,

United States v. Wilson,

United States v. Brewster,

United States v. Eighty-four Boxes of Sugar,

United States, Sampeyreac and Stewart v.

United States, Barlow v.

United States, Duncan's Heirs v.

United States, Dubourg de St Colombe's Heirs v.

Vattier v. Hinde,

Ward and Call v. Gregory,

Ward and Call v. Robinson and Swearingen,

Watkins, Ex parte.

West and others. Brashear v.

Wilson, United States v.

Yeaton and others v. Lenox and others,

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The following Gentlemen were admitted to practice at the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States at January Term 1833.

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Henry S. Handy,

Robert S. Finley,

William W. Handy,

Henry Cooper,
J. Dandridge,

P. R. Fendall,

W. P. Hallett,

Samuel Starkweather,

Henry M. Watts,

Arthur Middleton, Jun.

Robert Burke,

Isaac Leet,

H. M. Weste...,

James M. Buchanan,

Matthias Morris,

Daniel Le Roy,

John Marbury,




Washington, D. C.

Washington, D. C.

New York.

New York.

South Carolina

New York.



District of Columbia.



Thomas Douglass,

James A. Stewart,
William C. Browne,
John Adams Smith,
George S. Hawkins,
Capman Johnson,
Alfred P. Walden,
Henry King,
Isaac S. Reed,

J. H. Daviess,


Maryland. Pennsylvania. New York. Florida. Virginia. New York. Pennsylvania.



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The United States instituted a suit to recover a balance charged on the books of the treasury department against the defendant, who was a clerk in the navy department, upon a fixed annual salary, and acted as agent for the payment of moneys due to the navy pensioners, the privateer pensioners, and for navy disbursements; for the payment of which, funds were placed in his hands by the government. He had received an annual compensation for his services in the payment of the navy pensioners; and for fifteen years, he had received, in preceding accounts, commissions of one per cent on the moneys paid by him for navy disbursements. He claimed these commissions at the treasury, and the claim had been there rejected by the accounting officers; and if allowed the same, he was not now indebted to the government. The United States, on the trial of the case in the circuit court, denied the right of the defendant to these commissions, as they had not been allowed to him by any department of the government, and asserted that the jury had not power to allow them on the trial. The rejection of the claim to commissions by the treasury department, formed no objection to the admission of it as evidence of offset before the


[United States v. Macdaniel.]

jury. Had the claim never been presented to the department, it could not have been admitted as evidence by the court. But, as it had been made out in form and presented to the proper accounting officers, and had been rejected, the circuit court did right in submitting it to the jury; if the claim was considered as equitable.

This court will not sanction a limitation of the power of the circuit court, in cases of this kind, to the admission of evidence to the jury on a trial, only to such items of offset against the claims of the government as were strictly legal, and which the accounting officer of the treasury should have allowed. It is admitted that a claim which requires legislative sanction, is not a proper offset either before the treasury officers or the court. But there may be cases in which the services having been rendered, a compensation may be made within the discretion of the head of the department; and in such cases the court and jury will do, not what an auditor was authorized to do, but what the head of the department should have done, in sanctioning an equitable allowance. The act of the 27th of March 1804, by which the president of the United States was authorized to attach to the navy yard at Washington a captain of the navy for the performance of certain duties, was correctly construed by the head of the navy department until 1829, allowing to the defendant commissions on the sums paid by him, as the special agent of the navy department in making the disbursements.

By an act passed 10th July 1832, congress authorized the appointment of a separate and permanent navy agent at Washington, and directed the performance of the duties "not only for the navy yard in the city of Washington, but for the navy department, under the direction of the secretary of the navy, in the payment of such accounts and claims as the secretary may direct." These duties would not have been so specially stated in this act, if they had been considered by congress as coming within the ordinary duties of an agent for the navy yard at Washington, under the act of 1804. But independent of this consideration, it is enough to know that the duties in question were discharged by the defendant, under the construction given to the law by the secretary of the navy. It will not be contended that one secretary of a department has not the same power as another to give a construction to an act which relates to the business of his department.

A practical knowledge of any one of the great departments of the government, must convince every person that the head of a department, in the distribution of its duties and responsibilities, is often compelled to exercise his discretion. He is limited in the exercise of his powers by the law, but it does not follow that he must show a statutory provision for every thing he does. No government could be administered on such principles. To attempt to regulate by law the minute movements of every part of the complicated machinery of government, would evince a most unpardonable ignorance of the subject. Whilst the great outlines of its movements may be marked out, and limitations imposed on the exercise of its powers; there are numberless things which must be done,

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