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TITLE OF THE UNITED STATES TO LAND ON AMELIA ISLAND.
The proceedings in the circuit court of the county of Nassau, in the State of Florida, will
have vested the United States with the title to a tract of land on Amelia island when the conveyance is executed. The court had authority to direct the purchase-money to be paid to Mr. Fairbanks, the com
missioner, for distribution.
ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFice,
July 6, 1850. Sir: 1 herewith return the exemplification of the proceedings had in the circuit court of the county of Nassau, in the State of Florida, under the direction of the district attorney, in the case of the United States vs. the heirs of John McQueen, for the purpose of vesting the title to a certain tract of land on Amelia island in the United States, for the purpose of erecting a fort thereon; and am of opinion that, under these proceedings, when the conveyance directed hy the court is executed by Mr. Fairbanks, the commissioner appointed for that purpose, the title will be vested in the United States. The proceedings in the case were had un. der the authority of the act of the General Assembly of Florida of 1845, chapter 25, as amended by the act of 1849, chapter 265.
The court has directed the purchase-money to be paid to Mr. Fairbanks, as commissioner, who is to distribute it among the heirs of McQueen, and to send their receipts to the Engineer department. I think the court had authority to do this under the provisions of the law of 1845 above mentioned. I have the honor to be, respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
REVERDY JOHNSON, Hon. GEORGE W. CRAWFORD,
Secretary of War.
HON. JOHN J. CRITTENDEN, OF KENTUCKY:
APPOINTED JULY 22, 1860.
ADVANCES FOR CONSTRUCTION OF CERTAIN STEAM-SHIPS. Congress having contemplated the construction of five steam-ships for the mail service and for
the ultimate augmentation of the naval armament, and having authorized advances to be made therefor only upon each of them after it should be launched, and the contractors having received the ratable proportion of the amount authorized upon the four of them now afloat, no further advances can be legally made until the fifth shall be launched. The advances of money authorized were intended to be so made as to insure and liasten the building of every one of the five ships contracted for.
ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE,
August 20, 1850. Str: I have had the honor to receive your communication of the 16th instant, relative to the claim of E. K. Collins and his associates for advances under their contract with the government, for building certain steam-ships.
Without any recapitulation of the case, as stated by you, I proceed to answer the question you have submitted.
From the legislation and contract alluded to in your communication, it is quite evident that the views of the government were not limited to the mere performance of a certain mail service by steam-ships. Its further object was to provide for an eventual augmentation of the navy, by the use of those ships, upon the terms stipulated, as part of the naval arma. ment of the country, whenever the public exigencies might require it. The government had, therefore, an interest in the number of those ships, distinct from the mail service. It required the building of five, and Col. lins and his associates stipulated to build them. The advances of money authorized by Congress seem to me to have been intended to be so made as to assure and hasten the building of every one of the five ships con. tracted for.
This intention is effected most directly by apportioning the advances to the number that are in the required progress of construction. The language of the act of Congress appears to me to sustain this construction. It directs that the advances be made “ on each of said ships after such ships shall have been launched."
My opinion and advice, therefore, is, that a ratable proportion of the total sum authorized having been advanced on the four ships that have been launched, no further advance can be legally made until the fifth is launched. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
J. J. CRITTENDEN. Hon. Wm. A. GRAHAM, Secretary of the Navy.
CLAIMS OF MAIL CONTRACTORS FOR EXTRA PAY IN CERTAIN CASES.
The claims of mail contractors for one month's extra pay, in cases where their contracts have
been annulled and the service discontinued, are to be decided by the Postmaster General or by the Auditor of the Treasury for the Post Office Department, as prescribed by the eighth
section of the act of 2d July, 1836. The Postmaster General may obtain the opinion of the Attorney General on such claims, yet
his decision is equally conclusive whether it shall be in accordance with or against such opinion, where one has been obtained.
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL,
August 24, 1850. Sır: There was, some time ago, referred to this office the case of Allen & Kitchen, mail contractors, claiming an allowance of one month's extra pay in consequence of the discontinuance of their contract or service. The questions of law submitted to the Attorney General arise upon a statement of the case contained in the letter of the Comptroller of the Treasury, Mr. Whittlesey, addressed to the Secretary of the Treasury, under date the 7th July, 1849.
From that statement it appears, that, from the time of the passage of the act of the 2d of July, 1836, reorganizing the Post Office Department, it has been “the practice of every Postmaster General to decide whether a contractor, whose contract had been annulled, or whose service under it had been dispensed with, was entitled to one month's extra pay.”
This practice, I think, is warranted and fully sustained by the ninth section of that act; and the Postmaster General having decided against the claim in question, his decision is, in my opinion, conclusive upon the Comptroller and all other accounting officers of the government.
The Postmaster General, if he thinks proper to do so, may require the opinion of the Attorney General to aid him in the decision of any ques. tion of law that may arise upon such a claim; but such a 'reference is entirely discretionary with him; and his decision is equally conclusive whether made with or without such reference, and whether in accordance with or against the opinion of the Attorney General, where such opinion has been asked and obtained.
When the Pestmaster General does not decide on such claims, they are subject to adjudication and settlement by the Auditor of the Treasury for the Post Office Department, as prescribed by the eighth section of the said act of the 20 July, 1836. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
J. J. CRITTENDEN. Hon. TAOMAS Corwix,
Secretary of the Treasury.
LANDS CONTAINING IRON ORE NOT “MINERAL LANDS."
Lands containing iron ore merely are not to be considered as "mineral lands" within the
meaning of the act of 1st March, 1847; but they are to be disposed of according to the laws in relation to the disposition of other public lands.
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL,
August 28, 1850. Sır: I have received your letter of the 27th instant, propounding to me this question, namely: whether, “in view of the previous legislation
of Congress respecting the mineral lands, and the action of the General Land Office, the language or other valuable ores,' in the 2d section of the act of March 1, 1847, (S. L. 1846–7, page 146,) should be so construed as to embrace lands containing iron ore?”'
I answer, no. Lands containing “iron ore merely are not to be considered as “mineral lands,” but are to be disposed of according to the general law for the disposition of other public lands. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
J. J. CRITTENDEN. Hon. Mr. MCKENNON,
Secretary of the Interior.
PENSIONS TO WIDOWS OF REVOLUTIONARY SOLDIERS.
The representatives of a widow of a revolutionary soldier, who received a pension under the
act of 7th July, 1833, from the period of her husband's death to her own, have no claim for further payment on the pretence that her pension should have commenced at an earlier date. The pension having been a personal bounty to the widow herself, and the decision fixing the
çime for its commencement having been acquiesced in by her, it cannot now be contested by
her representatives. All that passes to them on the death of a widow receiving a pension is the money which shall
have actually accrued to her, and remains unpaid, for a pension allowed.
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL,
August 28, 1850. Str: In your letter of the 21st instant, you are pleased to propose for my advice the following question: “ Are the representatives of a widow who died prior to the passage of the joint resolution of August 16, 1842, entitled to the benefit of the act of July 7, 1838?”
It would be difficult to answer the question in the general and abstract form in which it is put. But you inforın me that it grows out of the case of Polly Knight, and refer me to the report of the Commissioner of Pensions and other papers connected with her case.
From that report I have been enabled to learn the matter of controversy, and the particular point to which your general question was intended to apply.
It appears that Dr. John Knight was a pensioner for revolutionary ser. vices under the act of the 15th of May, 1828; that his pension was paid up to the 12th of March, 1838, when he died; that his widow, Polly Knight, under the act of July 7, 1838, applied for and obtained a pension in April, 1839, commencing at the time of his death, according to the practice of the Pension Office as it existed at the time; that pension was fully paid up to the time of her death, which happened before the passage of the resolution of the 16th of August, 1842, and before the expiration of the five years for which it was granted, computing from the death of her husband, on the 12th of March, 1838. These are the only facts necessary to a decision of the case, according to the views I have taken of it.
Upon the above state of facts, the representatives of Mrs. Knight, since her death, contend that she was entitled to a pension under the act of 1838; that it ought to have been allowed to her from the 4th of March, 1836, and not from the death of her husband, on the 12th of March, 1838; and that they are now entitled to receive the amount of pension that would have accrued to her from the 4th of March, 1836, to the 12th of March, 1838.
The single question is, whether this is a legal and valid claim? My opinion is, that it is not, and that the claim ought to be disallowed.
Had Mrs. Knight been entitled to a pension to commence from the 4th March, 1836, yet having, during her life, acquiesced in the decision of the proper officer giving it a different commencement, her representatives have no right, as it seems to me, to contest that matter after her death. The pension was intended as a personal bounty to her, and not as a gratuity to her representatives. All that passed to them on her death was a right to have the money which had accrued under her pension as it had been actually allowed, and which remained unpaid at the time of her death. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
J. J. CRITTENDEN.
Hon. Mr. McKENNON,
Secretary of the Interior.
COMPENSATION OF PROFESSORS OF MATHEMATICS IN THE NAVY.
A professor of mathematics in the navy who may have been required to perform certain duties
at the depot of charts and nautical instruments, and who at the time was a superintendent of meteorological observations by appointment of the Secretary of War, at a salary of two thousand dollars, is not entitled at the same time to the salary of a professor of mathematics
under the act of 3d March, 1835. The salary provided by the act of 3d March, 1835, is due only to professors when attached
to vessels for sea service, or in a yard. He is, however, entitled to a reasonable compens-tion, over and above his salary in the War Department, for services performed in the depot of charts and nautical instruments.
· ATTORNEY GENERAL's OFFICE,
September 2, 1850. Str: In answer to the questions propounded in the case stated in your letter, I have only to say, that, in my opinion, Mr. Espy is not entitled to the pay of a professor of mathematics, because he was never “attached to any vessel for sea service, or in a yard,” and becanse that particular service is expressly made the indispensable coudition of his title to the salary ($1,200) of a professor of mathematics.
But, for the duty or service performed by him at the depot of charts and nautical instruments, under the orders of the Secretary of the Navy, he is entitled to a reasonable compensation, notwithstanding that he was, during the period, employed by the Secretary of War in superintending “ meteorological observations" for a compensation of $2,000. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
J. J. CRITTENDEN.
Hn. WILLIAM A. GRAHAM
S.cretary of the Navy.