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attorney shall demand payment as an act of legal form, to prevent interest from ceasing on the original contract of Government; and the Government, not having the funds to make the payment, will of course refuse; but this refusal will be only known to the parties, and will not at all affect the public credit. The bank will then, as its voluntary act, advance the money to the agent, taking from him an order on the attorney for the amount of the stock when received by him, as its means of reimbursement, with a stipulation on his part that the bank shall receive the accruing interest on the stock as an equivalent for the use of the money loaned or advanced to his principals.

It is supposed this course will avoid all collision with the charter. There will be no new contract with the Government, either by the bank or the holders of the stock. There will be no loan or advance to or for the use of the Government; its sole obligation will be under its original unvaried contract. The public credit will, indeed, be saved from disgrace by the bank, and it will be the result of an understanding between the agents of the bank and the agents of the Government; but that under standing will be, that the bank shall loan or advance to an individual, for the use of the individual, on the security of the stock.

Quare. Is there any thing in the charter of the bank which forbids this transaction?

Answer. I perceive nothing in the charter of the Bank of the United States which forbids this transaction.

1. It will not be a loan to the Government of the United States; it will be res inter alios acta, to which the Government is no party; a transac tion which will not change the relation of the Government either towards the bank or the holders of the stock.

2. The bank will not, by this transaction, become the purchaser of the public debt. Care must be taken that no deed, order, or stipulation pass, which professes to give the bank any property in the stock itself; and, with this guard, the transaction is perfectly safe, and clearly within the authority of the charter of the bank.


October 16, 1820.

SIR: I have considered attentively your proposition to raise funds, by the aid of the Bank of the United States, to meet the engagement for Louisiana stock on the 21st instant, and do not think the measure sufficiently free from objections to recommend it.

The objection to the measure is, that it would most probably, by at least an equal division of opinions, be considered as a loan, in violation of the bank charter, under the disguise of a sale of bills of exchange.

The bank is authorized to deal in bills of exchange; but it must be a genuine transaction, according to the usage of that trade, and not a mask for an unauthorized loan. Your proposition is an entire departure from the usage of that trade in all its material features.

1. The bills are, as I presume, to be drawn at sight, and placed at once to the credit of the Treasurer at par; and yet the drawers are at such a distance, that thirty, sixty, ninety, and perhaps one hundred and twenty

days, must elapse before these bills can be presented for acceptance; and it is, moreover, known to both parties at the time that there are no funds in the hands of the drawers to meet the bills.

2. The bills thus drawn and credited are not to be presented for acceptance or payment at all, but are to remain on deposite in possession of

the bank.

3. If, after four months, they shall not be redeemed, by remittances from the western States, the Treasury is to pay the same-not with damages, according to established usage, but with interest at the rate of six per centum per annum. This is certainly not a trade in bills of exchange in any thing but in name; and I apprehend that, in every thing but in name, it would be in very imminent danger of being judicially pronounced a loan in disguise.

The other provision of the bank charter, under which it is supposed that this measure may be justified, is that by which it is made the duty of the bank to give the necessary facilities to transfer the public funds from place to place in the United States. If the object in view were to transfer really existing funds from one part of the Union to the other, there could be no objection to doing this through the instrumentality of bills of exchange. The misfortune, however, is, that the proposition to the bank is not to transfer, but to anticipate funds; and that it is so, is demonstrated by the proposed stipulation not to present the bills for acceptance or payment, but to retain them for four months; and by the further stipulation, for payment with interest in case the bills should not be redeemed at the expiration of that time.

Upon the whole, I think this plan (to say the least of it) too hazardous for experiment; while either of those proposed by Mr. Cheves, in his letter to you of the 4th instant, is perfectly safe, and quite effectual to its purpose. I am, sir, &c., &c., &c., WM. WIRT.


Acting for the Secretary of the Treasury.

October 17, 1820.

SIR B. W. Hopkins, the contractor to build the fortifications at Mobile, having died before the completion of the work, Roswell Hopkins, his administrator, made an assignment of that contract to Samuel Hawkins; in consequence of which, a bond was executed by Samuel Hawkins to the Government, with security, referring to the original contract with Hopkins, and to the transfer of that contract to Hawkins, and binding Hawkins to the fulfilment of the original contract, according to its various stipulations. The question is, whether this bond is good and sufficient in law to bind the sureties? The proceeding is certainly not so regular as it might have been; yet I am of the opinion that a court would consider this as a new contract between the Government and Hawkins; and that the bond is consequently as obligatory on him and his sureties, as it would be in the case of a contract wholly original. I have the honor to be, &c., &c.,



October 17, 1820.

SIR The following case has been stated from the Navy Department for my opinion. Isaac Hardy, a seaman in the navy of the United States, was killed in the victory of Lake Erie, in September, 1813. He left a wife, who has administered on his estate at Philadelphia, where the deceased resided in his lifetime; he left no heirs or other known kindred, or representative, except his wife. She has applied for his share of the prize-money; and the question is, whether she be entitled.

By the 48th article of the rules and regulations for the government of the navy of the United States, passed the 23d April, 1800, it is provided that "the proceeds of all ships and vessels, and the goods taken on board of them, which shall be adjudged good prize, shall, when of equal or superior force to the vessel or vessels making the capture, be the sole property of the captors; and when of inferior force, shall be divided equally between the United States and the officers and men making the capture."

The next article, in making the distribution of prize-money, assigns "to seamen, mariners, and all other persons doing duty on board, seventwentieths." By the practical construction of this act at the Navy Department, I learn that persons doing duty on board, and killed in the action, come into the distribution, and have a fair claim for their proportion of the prize-money to their legal representatives or heirs.

When, then, the fleet captured on Lake Erie was condemned a prize of war, there was a vested right in the legal representatives or heirs of Isaac Hardy for his proportion of seven-twentieths of the prize-money; and it could not have been withheld from his administratrix, his legal representative.

But, on the 18th April, 1814, Congress passed an act authorizing the President to purchase the captured fleet at the price of $255,000; which sum it directed to be distributed as prize-money between the captors and their heirs.

In my opinion, Congress intended nothing more by this act than to substitute the $255,000 in lieu of the proceeds of the sale of the prize. vessels, had they been sold under the decree of court, without the most distant intention of affecting in any manner the mode of distribution, either as to the quantum or the persons authorized to take; indeed, they could not, if they had intended it, have produced such an effect, because that would have been to divest a vested right. Inasmuch, therefore, as Diana, the widow and administratrix of Isaac Hardy, would have been authorized to take his distributive share of the proceeds of sales, had the prizes been sold under a decree of court; so, in like manner, will she be authorized to take his distributive share of the proceeds of the sale to the President, which are merely substituted in the place of the former.

Even in the character of heir, under the existing laws of Pennsylvania, she is the only person who is authorized to take. But my opinion is, that her receipt as administratrix will be a sufficient discharge for the prize agent; though he may, from abundant caution, require her to superadd the description of "sole heir." W. WIRT.


October 17, 1820.

SIR: The documents just submitted, in connexion with those on which I was formerly required by the President to express an opinion in relation to the piratical seizure of the Norbury, throw such strong suspicions on J. S. Bullock and A. S. Bullock, (the latter being the collector of the port of Savannah,) that I think the Government owes it to itself, as well as to those individuals, to institute a more particular inquiry into the case.

The transcript of the proceedings in court does not contain the first answer of J. S. Bullock, and which is referred to in the answer which is given: it would be advisable to see this.

Judge Davis should be called on to state whether he knows the handwriting of those instructions to the young Spartan which he saw among the papers, and which have been clandestinely withdrawn; and, if he does, to state farther whose handwriting it was. He should be required. to state the character of that correspondence which existed among the documents between the person having "charge of the Norbury and certain persons in this city [Savannah] acting as agents or consignees," mentioned in his letters of the 18th August, 1819, to Mr. Berrien, and who those certain persons were; and that correspondence, if it still exists, ought to be produced.

By whom was the reason given for the permission to unlade the vessel without the protest required by the act of Congress in the case of vessels putting in in distress? and on whose application was it that this permission was given thus precipitately to unlade the vessel? which facts are mentioned in the same letter of Judge Davis. By which of the custom-house officers was it that Judge Davis was informed that the cargo was weighed on board the vessel, and that the whole, or the greater part of it, was unladen and taken away in the night?

The name of this person being obtained, inquiry should be made of him into the particulars of the facts, and who were present, directing or aiding in the direction of those operations.

I see no objection to Mr. Habersham's being furnished with a copy of Judge Davis's letter to Mr. Berrien, and being requested to investigate this subject in his official character, not only by referring to the sources of information to which I have pointed, but to all others which may dislose themselves in the course of his pursuit; and reporting the result of his examination to the department, in order to enable the President to shape his course, in regard to the collector, with an instruction to proceed at once by indictment against all persons whom the facts which shall be brought to his knowledge shall implicate either as principals or accessoies before the fact to the piratical seizure and plunder of the Norbury.

The arrest, examination, and commitment of any person for trial on uch charge will authorize the immediate examination and recognition of Clintock to appear at the court of trial.

It seems to me that, in the present state of our information, we cannot ke a more vigorous and decided course than this without danger of in


I have the honor to be, &c., &c., &c.,



November 9, 1820.

SIR On the documents submitted to me yesterday in the case of David Cook, and more especially on the report of facts by Mr. Irvine, the commissary general of purchases, the United States 1 conceive are merely in the character of stakeholders between Messrs. Cook and Gratz, or Cook and Morrison, Taylor, & Co., and ought, I think, to preserve the strictest neutrality between the litigant parties; from which it would be a departure to yield to the proposition of Mr. Cook.

Yours, respectfully,



November 10, 1820.

SIR: I apprehend that there is no difficulty in the case of Chamberlayne, which was submitted for my opinion last evening. He has been arrested and committed to prison in the district of Maryland, for an of fence committed in this district; and the desideratum is to have him brought back for trial here. The 33d section of the judiciary act pro vides expressly for the case, by directing that, " if the commitment of th offender shall be in a district other than that in which the offence is t be tried, it shall be the duty of the judge of that district in which th delinquent is imprisoned, seasonably to issue, and of the marshal of th same district to execute, a warrant for the removal of the offender to th district in which the trial is to be had.”

I have the honor to be, &c., &c.,



November 13, 1820.

SIR: If I understood aright the questions referred to me by Mr. Beeso request, touching the claim on the Saline Bank of Virginia, you will fi them directly answered by a communication which I had the honor make to you on the 29th June, 1818, in reply to the same inquiry, subst tially, from your department. So far back as the year 1785, an act passed by the Assembly of Virginia" to prevent the circulation of priv bank notes," which made it highly penal to offer such notes in paym Lest this act should be construed not to embrace the case of notes is by unincorporated companies, an amendatory act was passed on the 2 January, 1805, expressly extending the penalties of the former act to notes emitted by any banking company not having a charter. The a hilating effect of these two laws, on all the operations of the Saline Ba was the subject of the opinion to which I have the honor to refer y and which I see no reason to retract or alter. If, however, the cour appeals of Virginia have reversed the decree of the chancellor of Winchester district, (which coincided with my opinion,) the case is alter

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