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Amos T. Akerman to James H. Platt, Jr., 6 February 1871

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Feb. 6, 1871. Hon. James H. Platt, Jr. House of Representatives. Sir: Although it is not the custom of this office to give Opinions upon legal questions, except at the call of the President, or a Head of Department, or to some officer who is under the supervision of this Department, yet the case of Mr. Edward Higgins, whose letter you have referred to me, is so plain a one that I depart from the rule. He was an officer in the Navy of the United States, and resigned in the year 1854. During the late war, he was in the Confederate military service and rose to the rank of Brigadier General. Unquestionably, he is disqualified from holding office by the Fourteenth Amendment, and cannot hold office, unless relieved of his disabilities. The time when he ceased to be a United States officer does not at all affect the matter. He held an office, and took the oath, and afterwards, aided in the rebellion—and these circumstances constitute a disability. Very respectfully, A. T. Akerman, Attorney General.
Opinion in disqualification case.
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