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Orville Hickman Browning to William H. Seward, 5 May 1868

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May 5, 1868. Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State. Sir: I have the honor to return herewith a letter from Hon. Caleb Cushing, dated 27 ultimo, addressed to you, respecting his compensation for professional services rendered, and to be rendered, your Department; and also, an opinion of the Examiner of Claims in your Department, to the effect that the proposed compensation would be reasonable, and ought to be allowed. These papers came with your letter of the 28th ultimo, addressed to me, in which you say that you transmit them, "with a request that you will return the same to this Department, after your consideration of the subject." Upon inspection of these papers, it does not appear that their subject-matter has any relation to any suit in the Supreme or any inferior Court of the United States, nor to the duty of supervising District Attorneys or Marshals, or employing counsel to assist District Attorneys, nor to land titles, nor to pardons - nor to any special duties which have been devolved by statute or usage upon the Attorney General. On the other hand, no question of law is stated, nor does any thing in the nature of such a question appear to have arisen in the case. Under these circumstances, I do not feel warranted, as Attorney General, to take the subject into consideration. The case seems to be simply a claim for a quantum meruit arising arising​ upon a contract competently made between the Department of State and a distinguished lawyer, for the services of the latter in a public business, within the provens​ of the former. With deference, I think it must be obvious that I could not with propriety give an official opinion in the premises. Respectfully, your obedient servant, O. H. Browning, Attorney General ad interim.
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