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fully indorse a check in payment of “necessaries,” but the Government cannot be called on to inquire into or determine the facts necessary to make such indorsement valid.

It must be understood, that if a bond is registered in the name of an infant, without notice to the Government of the infancy, payment of interest-checks on the indorsement of the infant, to him or other holder, can give no right to reclamation against the Government. As the Secretary of the Treasury is the executive officer as to loans, notice to charge the Government can only be given to him. The act of a party other than the infant in causing bonds to be so registered without notice of the infancy, is such a representation of capacity to indorse that an infant cannot repudiate it without notice to the Government. When an infant accepts the ownership of bonds so registered, it must be with all the consequences of such want of notice; one of which is, that the Goverument cannot be held liable for doing what the agent, by his act, necessarily authorized to be done. To hold it to such liability would, when it was not chargeable with laches, operate as a fraud on the Government. In like case with such implied representation of capacity to indorse, an adult person would, by his act, for himself assert a right to indorse in his own name; and he would be estopped by every principle of reason from denying such right. When he acts for an infant, the latter accepts the act cum onere—subject to a similar estoppel. (Montgomery case, 5 Ct. Cls., 98.)

Any other rule would render it impracticable for the Government successfully to carry out the loan laws and protect the Treasury from loss. Public policy, the necessities of the public service, the salus populi suprema lex, all require, that in such case, where the Government has been guilty of no wrong, it should not suffer. Natural persons dealing with those whose condition can be readily ascertained may, without serious inconvenience, be held liable for paying notes or bills to infants; but it is impossible for the Government to undertake to make such inquiry all over the world, where interest-checks are sent to meet maturing obligations.

The rule now adopted results, also, from the doctrine that, where one of two innocent parties must suffer, the loss shall be on him through whose act or omission it occurred.

It also results from the terins of the contract of the Government in the loan laws and the bonds. If it be said that similar forms of contract impose on natural persons the duty of paying, not to infants but their guardians, it is sufficient, in reply, to say that the Government is not subject to the ordinary laws applicable to its citizens. The Govern

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ment is not included in a statute unless expressly named, and assumes none of the ordinary obligations of citizens arising from the common law, beyond those demanded by public convenience, usage, and justice. (Richey's case, 1 Lawrence, Compt. Dec., 107; Stephani's case, Id., 3.); U. S. vs. Bank U. S., 5 How., 382; Vermilye vs. Adams Express, 21 Wall., 138; 7 Op. Att.-Gen., 599; 8 Op., 1.)

The same principles apply in a case where an infant causes bonds to be registered in his own name. Having power to do this, when the Government accepts the obligation to pay, in reason and justice it only undertakes to pay on such evidence as it has and to the party apparently entitled thereto.

It is more reasonable to require parents and guardians to look after the interest of infants than to require the Government to do so, which would be utterly impracticable in the absence of notice of the fact of infancy.

It must be understood, also, that when the Government employs minors in its service, payments of compensation made to them can give no right of reclamation to a parent-guardian, or to the minor on his arriving at majority, because the assent of the parent or guardian to such employment must be conclusively presumed while the employment is permitted by him to continue. And when the employment is in pursuance of law, and payment made accordingly, no further claim can exist. (1 Blackst., 453; 2 Kent, 193; Schouler's Dom. Rel., 2d ed., 314, 367; Reeve's Dom. Rel., 290; Jenness vs. Emerson, 15 N. H., 489; Campbell vs. Cooper, 34 N. H., 49; Cloud vs. Hamilton, 11 Hemph., 104; Armstrong vs. McDonald, 10 Barb., 300; Snedeker vs. Everingham, 3 Dutch., 143; Everett vs. Sherfey, 1 Iowa, 356; Smith vs. Smith, 30 Conn., 111; Kauffelt vs. Moderwell, 21 Pa. St., 222; Mason vs. Hutchins, 32 Vt., 780.)

The checks issued by the Government in payment of interest due to infants should therefore be delivered and paid only to the proper guardians of the infants. TREASURY DEPARTMENT,

First Comptroller's Office, January 9, 1881.


1. The reasonably necessary expenses of the Assay Commission, authorized by

section 3547 of the Revised Statutes, may properly be paid from the appropriation for "incidental and contingent” expenses of the Philadelphia Mint, no

law having otherwise specifically provided for such payment. 2. If the work of the Commission can be facilitated by furnishivg lunches and meals

at the Mint, they may be so furnished, to be paid from said fund. 3. Wines and liquors, for the personal use as a beverage of the members of the Com

mission, are not such articles of necessity as to make the cost thereof a proper

charge on said fund. 4. The expenses of a dinner, given as a treat or mere act of hospitality, cannot prop

erly be paid from said fund.


Washington, D. C., January 10, 1881. SIR: I acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 5th instant, stating that, for many years past, it has been the custom at the annual meeting of the Board of Assay Commissioners at the Philadelphia Mint, in order that no interruption should occur in the work, to provide lunches, and at the close of the operation, which runs usually well into the evening, a dinner, the expenses of which have been paid from the appropriation for the contingent expenses of the Philadelphia Mint; that no specific appropriations have ever been made for the expenses of the Commission; that payment from that appropriation seems to you proper and necessary; and that, if my opinion concurs with yours, you will instruct the Superintendent of the Mint at Philadelphia to make the customary preparations."

The duties of the assay-commissioners are prescribed by section 3547 of the Revised Statutes, as follows:

"Sic. 3547. To secure a due conformity in the gold and silver coins to their respective standards of fineness and weight, the judge of the district court for the eastern district of Pennsylvania, the Comptroller of the Currency, the assayer of the assay-office at New York, and such other persons as the President shall, from time to time, designate, shall meet as assay-commissioners, at the Mint in Philadelphia, to examine and test, in the presence of the Director of the Mint, the fineness and weight of the coins reserved by the several mints for this purpose, on

H. Ex. Doc. 219-3

the second Wednesday in February, annually, and may continue their meetings by adjournment, if necessary. If a majority of the commissioners fail to attend at any time appointed for their meeting, the Director of the Mint shall call a meeting of the cominissioners at such other time as he may deem convenient. If it appears by such examination and test that these coins do not differ from the standard fine. ness and weight by a greater quantity than is allowed by law, the trial shall be considered and reported as satisfactory. If, however, any greater deviation from the legal standard or weight appears, this fact shall be certified to the President; and if, on a view of the circumnstances of the case, he shall so decide, the officers implicated in the error shall be thenceforward disqualitied from holding their respective offices.”

There is no law which specifically provides for the expenses of the commission. The reasonably necessary expenses, however, are a proper charge, payable out of the fund appropriated for the Philadelphia Mint, as provided by the act of June 15, 1880, (Laws, 223,) which appropriates a sum “for incidental and contingent expenses.” This is somewhat inore comprehensive than a mere contingent fund. If the work of the commission can be facilitated thereby, lunches may properly be fur. nished. Thus, if the work is such that the commission cannot properly leave the mint building in which it is conducted and a lunch be required, it is lawful to provide it. The work may be such that to leave it would be attended with loss of material or the interruption of tests, which cannot be arrested in their progress without loss. If the work of the commission is such that it may seem probable that it will run so late into the evening that dinner cannot be conveniently procured at the usual lodgings of the members, it may be provided in the mint building, or elsewhere, on the principle already stated. You refer to the customary preparations" for lunch and dinner. It is a matter of history that through a long series of years there has been provided, at the conclusion of the work of the commissiou, a dinner, at which wines and other liquors have been served. These are not such articles of necessity as to make them chargeable on a contingent fund; nor is a dinner given as a mereact of hospitality or a treat so chargeable. Public duties are to be performed on business principles. Citizens have a right to indulge in hospitality. Government officers cannot do so at the public expense. The ruling herein made has no reference to any moral question involved in the use of wines or liquors, but is based on the legal use of the public money. Executive officers, in the performance of duties required by law, are to execute the law, and not to prescribe officially the moral rights or duties of citizens arising from considerations other than the proper meaning of the laws. Individual judgment and personal liberty are rights inherent in every American citizen.

The duty of every executive officer faithfully to observe and execute the laws is so sacred and essential to public justice that no departure from it is to be tolerated.

The payments from the fund for incidental and contingent expenses of the Philadelphia Mint will be controlled by the principles herein stateil.



Director of the Mint.


1. The act of June 14, 1880, (21 Stats., 189,) does not make a permanent specific appropriation to pay the "expenses of operating and keeping

in repair" the St. Mary's River Canal, or public works thereon. 2. The Canal case (1 Lawrence, Compt. Dec., 141) and Bundy's case (Id., 184) re-ex

amined and affirmed. 3. The act of June 14, 1880, considered as furnishing an example of the rule that one

part of a statute may be construed by reference to another. 4. Where the language of a statute and the appropriate elements of interpretation

clearly show its meaning, aids to construction cannot properly be resorted to. The act of Congress approved June 14, 1880, (21 Stats., 180, 189,) entitled “An act making appropriations for the construction, repair, completion, and preservation of certain works on rivers and harbors, and for other purposes," after making sundry appropriations, contains one, with legislation added thereto, as follows:

"Improving and operating Saint Mary's River and Saint Mary's Falls Canal, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. And the Secretary of War is hereby authorized to accept on behalf of the United States from the State of Michigan the Saint Mary's Canal and the public works thereon: Provided, Such transfer shall be so made as to leave the United States free from any and all debts, claims, or liability of any character whatsoever, and said canal after such transfer shall be free for public use: And provided further, That after such transfer the Secretary of War be, and hereby is, authorized to draw from time to time his warrant on the Secretary of the Treasury to pay the actual expenses of operating and keeping said canal in repair.”

The canal and public works referred to in this provision are all designed to be operated together. The Saint Mary's canaland the public works thereon were constructed by, and kept in charge of, officers of

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