Title: Amos T. Akerman to Aaron F. Perry, 10 January 1871
Date: January 10, 1871
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.01614
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Kevin McMullen, and John Schwaninger
January 10, 1871.
Hon. Aaron F. Perry,
Upon my return, after an absence of several weeks, I find your letter of the 14th ultimo.
I learn that the action of this Department in the matter has been explained to you,— and I hope to your satisfaction—by the Solicitor General. But as a matter of justice both to me and to yourself, I will re-state the principal facts.
I knew nothing of the cases against the railroad in Tennessee, or of your connection with them, until informed by the War Department last November, of the pendency of the cases, and of the desire of that Department that the professional services of yourself and Mr. Matthews should be continued on the part of the Government.
When I came to this office last July, after the Act organizing the Department of Justice had gone into effect, I learned that the other Departments had understood that the Act terminated the employment of all special counsel previously retained by them. Although such a construction did not seem to me to be imperatively required by the language of the Act, I did not feel at liberty to overrule it; and therefore, whenever requested by other Departments, and when the magnitude of the cases, and the funds at the command of this Department would justify such a course, I have renewed the retainer of counsel previously employed by them in cases not finished.
As soon as I was informed of these railroad cases, and of the desire of the War Department that the services of yourself and Mr. Matthews should be continued, I was disposed to carry that desire into effect. But having learned, (and with great satisfaction, too,) that you had been elected a member of the next Congress, it occurred to me that under the Constitution of The United States, you could not act as special assistant to the District Attorneys during your Congressional term; and for that reason, and no other, I raised the question in my letter upon the subject to Mr. Matthews. You would have been directly addressed at the same time, but for the uncommon pressure of business in this Department. And I now state what I intended to state before—that there has never been in this office, the slightest intention to treat you with disrespect, or the slightest desire to dispense with your services. On the contrary those services are desired, if it is in your power to render them.
I therefore request that you will inform me whether you are willing, and expect to be able, to continue your services in said cases. If you reply in the affirmative, I shall with pleasure immediately issue to you the commissions required in such cases by the Act to establish the Department of Justice.
If you should decline further services, your settlement will be with the War Department, and not with the Department of Justice—the retainer under which you have hitherto acted having been by the former.
your obd't. serv't,
A. T. Akerman,
question of continuing retainer, in U. S. vs. the Tennessee RR's
see pp. 70
see also Ins. Book B. p 219.