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John M. Binckley to John W. Leftwich, 30 March 1868

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March 30, 1868. Hon. John W. Leftwich, Present. Sir: To your letter of the 27th instant, the Attorney General ad interim directs me to reply as follows. On the 6th March, 1867, Mr. Attorney General Stanbery had under consideration the question referred to him by the Secretary of War, as appears by his opinion of that date, as to the proper disposition to be made of the Memphis Navy Yard property, and came to the conclusions, substantially, that the property had never been captured, and that if confiscable at all, under the Acts of 6th August, 1867, and 17th July, 1862, the condemnation could not extend beyond the interest of the city of Memphis, which was but a bare equity of redemption—the substantial interest having passed to her mortgagees and bondholders before the war—but that before advising definitely what disposition should be made of the matter, he thought it prudent to inform himself more fully by procuring information, respecting hostile use of the property, from the District Attorney. You now represent, as Mayor of Memphis, that the interest of the city urgently requires the immediate restoration of the property, and inquire whether the District Attorney has yet made a Report, and, if so, whether the facts communicated affect the opinion of the Attorney General referred to. I have now to inform you, in response to these questions, that reports have been received from the District Attorney, and also from his predecessor in office, and that they contain no matter which would seem to affect the opinion of Mr. Attorney General Stanbery favorable to the claim of the city. Respectfully, your obedient servant, John M. Binckley, Assistant Attorney General.
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