Page images
PDF
EPUB

It further appears that ou settlement of accounts by the sequestration commission with the Quartermaster's Department, the sum of $14,286.70 is reported by that commission as the amount of the gross sales of the crop taken by Woodward, and the net amount placed to the credit of claimant's plantation, March 31, 1863, was $6,688.13, and which was received by the Quartermaster's Department and by it used in its operations for and on account of the government, and no part of which the claimant has ever received.

During the time that claimant's plantation was held and occupied by B. F. Flanders, supervising special agent of the Treasury Department, the reports of such agent to the department are of the most conflicting and unsatisfactory character, and evince a disposition upon the part of such agent to befog and conceal the real history of the manner in which such plantation was being conducted, and the real statement of its accounts.

The reports as to the ownership of the plantation are conflicting in this, that it was first reported as the plantation " formerly owned by Charles Payne," disloyal, &c., while another report, which is sustained by all the evidence in the case, shows it to be the property of George E. Payne, and there never was any “Charles Payue” in the parish of Saint Charles; again, the reports as to gross receipts, cost of sales, cost of working plantation, net receipts, &c., of this and other plantations seized in the parish of Saint Charles are conflicting in the extreme in material respects.

For instance, under date of February 29, 1864, Mr. Flanders furnished the Treasury Department with a statement entitled “ Abstract of sales of products of government plantations on which 14 per cent. is retained under section 14 of regulations of Treasury Department," in which the Payne plantation is credited as follows: Gross sales, $36,929.46; cost of sales, $3,133.99; net receipts, $33,795.49; being a total of two hundred and fifty-four hogsheads of sugar and three hundred and fifty-one barrels of molasses.

Another statement, of date July 17, 1864, gives as total sales of same amount of sugar and molasses, evidently the same, with this different result: Gross sales, $36,929.46; gross expenses of sales, $3,103.97 ; net proceeds of products from the Payne plantation,

This last st:itement, however, adds the enormous sum of $16,809.66 “as expenses of working the plantation," and showing a net profit to the government of $17,010.53.

This latter amount of $17,010.83 the petitioner, Payne, received from tlie Treasury Department on the 6th day of July, A. D. 1865, all the while protesting, however, that by such receipt he did not waive his right to claim for further rents and profits and for damages done his realty, and also for personal property alleged to have been appropriated by the government and for its use.

Ordinarily the government would not be liable for the wrongful or unauthorized acts of its officers, civil or military. This, however, is different when the government participates in the transaction by receiving the proceedls resulting from the unlawful acts. Such is this case. The government has received in money as the result of this seizure, over and above all expenses, at least the sum of $23,698.96; the claimant insists a much larger sun. Of this amount the War Department has receiver $6,688.13 at least; claimant insists much more; and the Treasury Department $17,010.83. The latter amount claimant has received, the former he has not, and on claim being made therefor

to the War Department it was denied him—as your committee believe, unjustly.

The act of July 4, 1864, expressly denies claimant any remedy in the Court of Claims (13th Statutes at Large, page 381), and the act of Feb. ruary 21, 1867, prohibits the departments from allowing any claim such as the one under consideration (14th Statutes at Large, 397).

On the 13th April, 1866, claimant presented his petition to Congress, where it bas been pending and referred to the Committee on Claims, at each session of Congress since that time, but no report was made until May 3, 1876, when Mr. Mitchell made a favorable report, but there was no action taken upon it by the Senate. It was again referred in Octo. ber, 1877, but no report was made, and again referred on 10th December, 1879. The record shows that from the 10th day of December, 1862, the second day after the seizure of his property, claimant has been earnest and energetic in pressing his claim.

Even if the committee was in doubt as to the rights of claimant, the case is so exceptional in its character, involving the determination of important questions of constitutional and military law affecting the rights of the citizen, that justice and propriety demand that the claimant shall be given a forum, where, under the rules governing judicial proceedings, his case may be fully heard, and the questions affecting his rights fairly and impartially determined.

Therefore the committee report a bill giving the Court of Claims jurisdiction of the case, and removing the bar of the statute of limitations, and recommend that it pass.

[ocr errors]

1

« PreviousContinue »