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The testimony for the claimant in the above case was closed June 1, 1881 ; but owing to the press of business and the circumstances that doubts existed as to whether the case was to be prosecuted further, no testimony has yet been taken by the United States.
It appears from the communication of the counsel for the French Republic that the case is to be pressed to a hearing, although it seems in principle not to be distinguishable from the case of Isaac Taylor v. The French Republic. I have, &c.,
GEORGE S. BOUTWELL, Agent and Counsel for the United States.
Mr. Boutwell to Mr. J. C. B. Davis.
FRENCH AND AMERICAN CLAIMS COMMISSION,
1518 H STREET,
Washington, February 6, 1882. MY DEAR SIR: Agreeably to our conversation this morning I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy of the record in the case of G. A. Le More & Co. v. The United States, No. 211. Most respectfully,
GEORGE S. BOUTWELL.
To the honorable commissioners of the French and American Claims Commission, sitting at
Washington, D. C., under the ionrention concluded between the Governments of France and the United Stat+8, on January 15, 1880:
The memorial of G. A. Le More & Co, respectfully represents: That your memorialists are citizens of the Republic of France, and the only members of a commercial firm established in the city of Havre, France, Gustave A. Le More being the active and managing partuer and Léontine Le More the silent partner in said association. The said Gustave A. Le More was born in the city of Havre, France, in the year 1820, and Léontine Le More at the same place about i he year 1822, and both of them have Tesided in said city from their infancy until the present time, and bave never had any other domicile. Their post-office address is the poste restante of said city. At the time of the origin of the claim which is the subject-matter of this memorial, and at the present time, he said elaim was and is the exclusive property of your memori. alists, Gustave A. Le Mure and Léontive Le More; no transfer of their interest in said claim, or of any part thereof, has ever been made by either of them, nor have they ever received any compensation in money or other valuable thing, or any indemnity whatsoever, for the losses wbich constitute the basis of said claim. Neither of your memorialists ever rendered any aid or comfort to the Government of the socalled Confederate States, or ever became naturalized, or took any steps to that end, in the United States, or any other country foreign to them.
The said claim has been the subject of judicial examination in the United States district court for the southern district of Illinois and in the Supreme Court of the United States, and the attention of the American Government has been repeatedly called by diplomatic correspondence to the denial of justice suffered by your memorialists in the disallowance of their claim by the courts, but no final deterinination of the matter has yet been reached. Your memorialists therefore appeal to this honorable Commission to redress a great wrong done, not designedly and deliberately, but inadvertently and in consequence of a grave error of fact hereafter to be explained, by the Government of the United States to citizens of a friendly foreign state, and for the better and more thorough comprehension of the matter they, with the permission of the honorable Commission, will now present their claim botti in a narrative and argnmentative form,
For many years prior to 1864 the firm of G. A. Le More & Co., of Havre, was engaged in the transaction of commission business, the exportation of goods, and the importation into France of cotton and other foreign pro Luct's. Two brothers of the members of said tirm, namely, Alfred and Jules Le More, had for several years been residing in the United States, and were, at the time of the breaking out of the war between the Southern and Northern States, members of the firm of Edward Gautherin & Co., wbich was dissolved in December, 1862. They were in no way connected with the firm of G. A. Le More & Co.
On the 20th of May, 1863, Jules Lo More wrote a letter to G. A. Le More & Co., dated from Matamoros, Mexico, in which he informed them that, fiuding nothing to occupy him profitably in New Orleans, he had come to Matamoros, where advantageous business might be done in cotton, by buying either on the spot or in Texas or Western Louisiana, and offered them his services to buy cotton for them at a commission of 5 per cent., and said that Mr. Tertrou, whose acquaintance he had made in Mexico, was willing to advance money to him, to be refunded with the proceeds of drafts drawn by him on them.
This letter was answered by G. A. Le More & Co. on the 24th day of July, 1863, to the effect that they authorized Jules Le More to purchase for tbem not more than twenty-five hundred bales, to be delivered in Europe at two francs and a balf per pound, his commission included. At the same time they sent him a letter of credit.
This was a transaction such as, no donbt, many commercial houses of Europe engaged in at that time. Furnished with this authority and letter of credit, Jules Le More proceeded to Western Louisiana as the scene of his operations. His business being to purchase cotton, he first bought 323 bales, one mile from Monroe, on the Ouachita River, from A. Lazare and John Pargoud, for which he paid $160 per bale, in United States currency. At that time Jules Le More staid principally at Shreveport. There was at that place also a person by the name of Léon Qneyrouze, who had come on from Mexico to settle a claim for cotton with the agent of the Confederate Government, and who was an old acqnaintance of Jules Le More. There was at Shreveport a cotton bureau, established by the Confederate commander of the trans-Mississippi department, General Kirby Smith, which had charge of the preservation and disposal of the cotton purchased by the Confederate Government. The Confederate authorities had seized 415 bales of cotton which Queyrouze had at Brownsville. Queyrouze had preferred a claim for indemnity, and was allowed 830 bales of cotton on the Ouachita, it being custoniary with the Confederate Government to give two bales of cotton in an exposed situation far one bale at or near Brownsville, where, on account of its comparative security from the United States forces and the facilities for sending goods across to Matamoros, cotton had much more value. Lieut. Col. W. A. Broadwell, of the Confederate army, was chief of the cotton bureau in the trans-Mississippi department. Under him was Johu A. Buckner, who was a major on the staff of General Kirby Smith, and agent of the cotton bureaus, and bad charge of all the Confederate cotton in the Ouachita Valley. Buckner was also assistant inspector-general on the staff of General Kirby Smith, and under orders to deliver cotton sold by the cotton bureau from December, 1863, to April, 1865; and under orders from the cotton bureau, he delivered, in the latter part of February, 1864, to Mr. Léon Queyrouze 830 bales of cotton on the Simmons plantation, on the Ouachita River. It was optional with him to deliver this or any other cotton to Queyrouze, but he chose this lot because there the necessary quantity was at hand. This cotton had been purchased by the Confederate Governmeut from Dr. Jobn T. Simmons, as will appear from the evidence to be submitted. Queyrouze, being in want of inoney, and anxious to sell, offered the cotton to Jules Le More for his principals, but knowing from conversations that Jules Le More, from past experience, was auxions to avoid a collision with the Federal authorities, and would not be willing to buy cotton that had been owned by the Confederate Governinent, he told him that he had bought this cotton from planters, and that it belonged to one P. Garcia, whose agent he represented himself to be. Under these representa
tions Le More agreed to purchase the cotton, and paid for it $160 per bale in United States currency, and an invoice was made out and receipt given. Thereupon the cotton was delivered to Le More. This cotton was raised on the Simmons plantation, in the Parish of Caldwell, on the Quachita River, in the State of Lonisiana. Dr. Simmons fally consented to Le More's taking possession and control of the cotton, and he assisted Le More in getting it ready for shipment. Le More then had that cotton hauled, through Messrs. Wentzel and Pargoud, to the bank of the river, and got ready for shipment, having written to New Orleans for permission to ship it. He wrote for such permission to Mr. Aristide Miltenberget, at New Orleans, who received the communication but did not act upon it, and consequently did not obtain the permit.
The manner in which the Confederate Government obtained the cotton will be clearly shown by the evidence. It had been raised upon the plantation of Tatum & Simmons, and was the joint property of John T. Simmons and the heirs of Tatum. John Ray, a lawyer and planter of that parish and near neighbor of Dr. Simmons (the Simmons plantation lying between Ray's residence and plantation), was in constant intercourse with Simmons, and acted as his adviser in all his legal business. Both Simmons and the widow and heirs of Tatum were desirous of making a partition of this property. To that end, on the 25th of December, 1862, John Ray, as attorney for Simmons, and Ludeling, as attorney for the widow and heirs of Tatum, met on the Simmons plantation, and an agreement was entered into for a partition of all the property, being land, negroes, about 1,100 bales of cotton, and some personal property. It was decided that Simmons should take all the property, pay to the widow and heirs of Tatum $50,000, and assume all the debts of the partnership, which amounted to about $200,000. The $50,000 were to be paid in Confederate bonds or treasury notes, both having then considerable money value. It was also agreed that the $50,000 should be raised by the sale of the necessary amount of cotton to the cotton-purchasing agent of the Confederate States.
Between 900 and 1,000 bales of cotton were thus sold to C. G. Young, subagent under A. W. McKee, the general agent of said Government for the purchase of cotton. A memorandum in writing was then made of this transaction. Legal proceedings were then taken to vest the title to all the property in Simmons, and the $50,000 in Confederate bonds or treasury notes were by said Ray for Simmons paid over to the attorney for Tatum's heirs. After the sale of Simmons's cotton to the Confederate States it remained in his possession and custody under a written agreement with the Confederate Government agent.
Early in March, 1864, Simmons met Maj. John A. Buckner and Leon Queyrouze. Major Buckner informed him that he had been to his plantation to deliver to Quey. rouze, and had delivered to him, the cotton which he (Simmons) had sold to the Confederate States. Queyrouze requested Simmons to take care of the cotton for him, and promised to give ħiin a sack of coffee if he would
watch it, and Simmons agreed to watch it.
Some eight or ten days after Simmons's interview with Buckner and Queyrouze the former was accosted by Queyrouze, who introduced him to Mr. Jules Le More, and he was informed by them that Le More had purchased that cotton for the honse of G. A. Le More & Co. Mr. Le More afterwards engaged Simmons to mark the cotton for the firm of G. A. Le More & Co., and take care of it and to place it on rails in lines or rows in regular shipping order on the bank of the river. Le More wished himn also to haul the cotton to the river, which he declined to do, and the cotton was hauled for Le More by John Pargoud and John Wentzel, for which service he paid $1 per bale in green backs. Simmons hauled rails to the bank of the river and placed part of the cotton in lines on rails in shipping order and marked a portion of it "L. M." Being informed that that mark was wrong, he afterwards marked it “G. L. M.” He bad not finished when certain United States vessels came up, and Simmons stopped marking and working at the cotton. These vessels seized and loaded the cotton, and Simmons immediately informed Le More of the fact by letter. At that time Le More was expecting permits to transport the cotton to New Orleans.
Other persons have laid claim to this same cotton, but up to the time of the seizure of the cotton by the United States vessels neither Ray nor Simmons, nor any of the numerous persons connected with the transaction except the immediate friends and connections of the other claimants, ever had heard of any other claim to it but Quey. rodze's and Le More was thus in the quiet possession of the cotton for about a month before it was taken.
Your memorialists beg leave, by way of anticipation, to draw the particular attention of the honorable commissioners at this point to the undoubted possession of this cotton by G. A. Le More & Co., through their agent, so clearly shown by the facts and circumstances which have just been noticed, and which will be found to be amply proved by the evidence to be submitted.
When the United States vessels came up to the Ouachita, Jules Le More had purchased and was in possession of three lots of cotton, to wit, fifty-nine bales, purchased from one Lazare at $160 a bale, paid in United States currency; 264 bales pur
H. Ex. 235_19
chased from John Pargoud, also at $160 a bale, in United States currency, and the 830 bales purchased from Queyrouze. The two former lots were on the west bank of the Quachita, on Lazare's plantation, and the latter on Simmons's plantation, 22 miles from Monroe. All of this cotton was seized by a flotilla of the United States armed vessels, under the command of Lientenant Commander James P. Foster. It was claimed as prize by the naval captors, carried to Cairo, and libeled in the district court of the United States for the southern district of Illinois.
So soon as the memorialists were apprised of the seizure of their cotton by the Federal naval forces, they appealed to the French legation at Washington to demand for them the restitution of their property. Monsieur de Geofroy, the then chargé d'affaires at Washington, duly laid the matter before the Hon. W. H. Seward, the American Secretary of State. The latter, in the presence of the head of the house of G. A. Le More & Co., and also in a written communication under date of August 10, 1864, suggested to Monsieur de Geofroy that the United States Government could not be expected to accept the responsibility for such an act of war as that complained of before the interested parties had established before a competent court the title by virtue of which they claimed the property in question.
Therefore your memorialists, at the suggestion and by the advice of the chargé d'affaires of their Government, but with the full reservation of ulterior recourse, secured to them by the law of nations, to the intervention and protection of their own Government, in the event of a denial of justice to them by the courts of the country whose naval authorities had committed the act and wrong of which they complained, submitted their claim to the United States district court for the southern district of Illinois, in which their cotton had been libeled. In the mean time the cotton in question had been sold and the proceeds deposited with the United States assistant treasurer at Saint Louis, Mo.
After due proceedings had, two decrees were rendered by the court in regard to the cotton claimed by G. A. Le More & Co., the first dated November 6, 1865, and the second dated January 6, 1866. We insert them here verbatim, beginning with the second in point of time.
Decree in the matter of the claim of 323 bales of cotton.
In the district court of the United States for the southern district of Illinois, Satur
day, 6th January, 1866. Before the honorable Samuel H. Treat, judge.
THE UNITED STATES
650 bales of cotton, 788 bales and 52 bags of
cotton, 409 bales and 139 bags of cotton, 1,000 bales of cotton,
This cause having been heard at this term upon the libels, the claim and answer of G. A. Le More & Co., a firm consisting of Gustave André Le More and Léontine Le More, claimants of 323 bales of cotton by Jules Le More, their agent, and the testimony on file, and it appearing to the court from the evidence that the said G. A. Le More & Co., claimants, are the owners of 309 bales of said cotton, and that they are subjects of the Emperor of France, not residing within the jurisdiction and territory of the United States. And it further appearing to the court that the said 309 bales of cotton were lawfully recaptured from the enemy by the United States steamers Black Hawk, Eastport, Lafayette, Neosko, Ozark, Choctaw, Osage, Chilicothe, Louisville, Carondelet, Benton, Pittsburg, Mound City, Essex, Lexington, Ouachita, Fort Hindman, Crickett, Gazelle, Gal. Price Kingwood, Juliett, Avenger, and Brown, of the Mississippi squadron of the United States Navy, commanded by David D. Porter, rearadmiral, and that said vessels are entitled to military salvage for said capture.
Aud it further appearing to the court that the gross proceeds of the sale, amounting to the sum of $130,571.63, have been deposited with the assistant treasurer of the United States at Saint Louis, subject to the order of the court, and that the taxes imposed by the acts of Congress and the trade regulations of the Treasury Department upon the said 309 bales of cotton, amounting to the sum of $4,932.35, and the expenses incurred by the marshal for weighing, storage, cooperage, &c., of said 309 bales, amounting to the sum of $1,099.52, have been paid by order of the court out of said proceeds, and that the sum of $494.40 has been allowed by the court, by consent of said claimants and the captors, by their counsel, and paid out of said proceeds to R. M. Corwine, esq., for his services as a counsel for claimants. And now this cause coming on for final decree, it is ordered, adjudged, and decreed by the court that the following sums be allowed and paid out of said proceeds for costs and charges in this cause, including usual and reasonable fees to the counsel for captors (the district attorney waiving any allowance to him as fees for his services herein), to wit: To the marshal
$1,741 62 To the clerk
1,370 88 To Chs. Eames, counsel for captors
3,917 15 It is further ordered and decreed by the court that out of the residue of said proceeds, amounting to the sum of $117,015.71, the sum of $16,911.91 be paid into the Treasury of the United States, to be distributed to said captors as military salvage, in accordance with this decree.
It is further ordered and decreed by the court, that after paying and satisfying the costs, charges, and salvage aforesaid, the residue of said proceeds, amounting to the sum of $100, 103.35, be paid to said claimants.
It is further ordered that the clerk transmit certified copies of this decree to the Secretaries of the Treasury and Navy of the United States, respectively.
Decree in the matter of the claim to 830 bales.
In the district court of the United States for the southern district of Illinois. Mon
day, November 6, 1865. Before the Hon. Samuel H. Treat, judge.
TAE UNITED STATES
650 bales of cotton, 788 bales and 52 bags In prize.
of cotton, 409 bales and 139 bags of cotton, 1,000 bales of cotton. This cause having been heard upon the libels, the claim and answer of G. A. Le More & Co., a firm consisting of Gustave A. Le More and Léontine Le More, claimants of 830 bales of cotton, and the proofs on file, and the court having considered and being now sufficiently advised in the premises, finds that the said claimants are not entitled to the said 800 bales of cotton, or the proceeds thereof.
It is therefore ordered, adjudged, and decreed by the court that the said claim bo dismissed at the cost of the claimants, and that execution issue therefor.
In the light of the circumstances under which these two lots of cotton were purchased by Jules Le More, as agent of the firm of G. A. Le More & Co., considering the fact that the two purchases were made under like conditions of time, locality, payment, possession, and removal, the honorable Commission would undoubtedly be at a loss to understand how such apparently inconsistent and contradictory decrees could have been rendered by the same court, but for the explanation which is found in the “opinion of the court” in the claim for 830 bales, which is here appended in
Opinion of the United States district court..
In April, 1864, the United States Navy seized 910 bales of cotton, on the banks of the Ouachita River, in the State of Louisiana. That part of Louisiana was then subjeet to rebel dominion, and had been from the breaking out of the rebellion. The cotton was bronght into this district and libeled as prize of war. It was sold under an interlocutory decree, and the proceeds deposited to the credit of the court. There are three claimants to these proceeds: Withenbury & Doyle, Grieff & Zunts, and G. A. Le More & Co. These claims are now submitted to the consideration of the court. The proof discloses this state of facts :
1. The cotton was raised by Tatum and Simmons, near the place of seizure, and sold by them to the Government of the so-called Confederate States in December, 1862.
2. Withenbury & Doyle, being citizens of the State of Ohio, purchased the cotton from A. W. McKee, an agent of the Confederate States, in January, 1864. When the rebellion commenced they were owners and masters of two steamboats running between New Orleans and Upper Louisiana. With these boats they rendered services to the Confederate authorities. The cotton was sold to them in consideration of these services. They, however, insist that the services were rendered under compulsion. They had the permission of the general commanding the United States forces in the Department of the Gulf, to pass through the United States lines into Upper Louisiana, and bring to New Orleans and sell 2,500 bales of cotton.
3. On the capture of New Orleans by the United States forces, in May, 1862, the Louisiana State Bank, a monied corporation, located in that city, had on hand a large amount of Confederate currency. In December, 1862, the commander of the United States forces in New Orleans authorized the bank to dispose of this currency in the