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Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar to George S. Boutwell, 6 July 1869

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July 6, 1869. Hon. Geo. S. Boutwell, Secretary of the Treasury. Sir: I had the honor to receive your letter of the 30th of May last, with the accompanying papers, relating to a claim of C. A. Perry, & Co., against the United States—in which you request my opinion upon the legal questions involved therein. On examination, I have not been able to find any statement of the facts of the case among the papers—nor, indeed, any statement from an official source of the precise questions on which my opinion is desired. It appears that this claim after having been reported upon adversely by the Third Auditor to the Second comptroller, was deemed by the latter officer, though concurring in the views of the former, to be a proper matter for judicial investigation—and the papers were accordingly transmitted by him to the Secretary of the Treasury for reference to the Court of Claims, under the provisions of the 7th Section of the Act of June 25, 1868, (15 Stat. 75.) But the counsel of claimants subsequently suggesting a different course, namely, that the claim be referred to this office with the question, "What constitutes an impressment into the public service under the Act of March 3, 1849"?—the comptroller, it seems, adopted the suggestion to refer the case here,—and thereupon, at his instance, the papers were transmitted to me by you. This is all the information which the papers afford respecting the "questions involved" in the case;—and it will be observed that the single question there proposed does not purport to emanate from any official source—and is, besides, purely an abstract one. The report of the Auditor does not set out the case, but presents rather a commentary upon the evidence at large. So, likewise, does the communication of the Comptroller. Under these circumstances, I feel reluctantly compelled to return the papers in the case without any expression of opinion, as requested in your letter. But I assure you that upon being furnished with a statement of the facts of the case, as they may be found to be by the Comptroller, or may be agreed upon, together with the questions of law arising thereon, touching which my opinion is desired, I shall be happy to consider the questions, and give my opinion. I have the honor to be, yours respectfully, E. R. Hoar, Attorney General.
Claim of C. A. Perry & Co.
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