Title: John M. Binckley to Gideon Welles, 25 April 1868
Date: April 25, 1868
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: National Archives and Records Administration
Whitman Archive ID: nar.00518
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, John Schwaninger, Nima Najafi Kianfar, and Kevin McMullen
April 25, 1868.
Hon. Gideon Welles,
Secretary of the Navy.
On the 18th of February, 1867, a Joint Resolution was approved authorizing the Secretary of the Navy to accept League Island on the Delaware River for Naval purposes, and providing, among other things, "That the said League Island, marsh adjacent, and back channel, with its shores as aforesaid, shall not be received or accepted, until the title to the whole of the same, as herein described, is complete and indefeasible," Etc. 14 Statutes. 396.
In your letter of the 17th instant,—which, with a portion of the papers, was borne by Messrs. Johnson & Smith, counsel for parties interested—you submit the matter for the "examination required by law." But as it was discovered that nothing was among the papers from the District Attorney, whose remaks and opinion are regarded as part of the evidence, (in this case of more than ordinary importance,) the counsel mentioned were permitted to withdraw the papers, with the view of procuring from the District Attorney the usual examination. It having been suggested that the action of that officer should proceed upon some express official authority, it is deemed proper to state that the practice of Attorneys General has been to forego any examination here until the evidence has been matured, in accordance with the rules contained in the enclosed circular of 1850, including the last clause. The Head of the Department charged with the business in which the land title is concerned, has been accustomed to employ the District Attorney for the performance of the duty contemplated in the circular regulations, in advance of any action by this office, under a well-settled usage. I enclose, for example, a copy of an Opinion of Mr. Attorney General Speed, addressed to the Secretary of War under date of the 8th March, 1866. In that case, though, in fact, the call upon the services of the District Attorney was made by the Attorney General, it was deemed to have been done at the instance, and consequently upon the responsibility of the Secretary of War.
Your obedient serv't
John M. Binckley,
Assistant Attorney General.
seq. p 145