In Whitman's Hand

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Title: Orville Hickman Browning to Lyman Trumbull, 25 June 1868

Date: June 25, 1868

Whitman Archive ID: nar.00582

Source: National Archives and Records Administration. 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.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Kevin McMullen, and John Schwaninger

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June 25, 1868.

Hon. L. Trumbull,

Chairman Judiciary Committee,

United States Senate.


I had the honor on the 17th of March last, to transmit to the President of the Senate a Report of the Chief Clerk of this Office, relative of the appropriations required by the office, a copy of which is herewith enclosed. Permit me now to call your attention to certain proposed legislation affecting this office.

The Act making appropriations for the legislative, executive and judicial expenses of the government for the year ending June 30, 1869," makes a deduction in the amount asked for this Office of two temporary first-class clerks, and two thousand dollars in the contingent fund—but $5000: being allowed, instead of 7000: asked for by the Attorney General, and allowed by Congress for several years back. The estimates made for the office were as moderate as a respect for efficiency and promptness in the official work, would permit. A new law about to go into effect adds fresh reason for not cutting down the contingent fund, but rather makes it imperative that the estimated amount be increased. The Bill alluded to is Senate Bill No. 164 "to claims, and for other purposes,"— the fifth section of which abolishes the offices of Solicitor, assistant Solicitor, and Deputy Solicitor of the Court of Claims, and the Assistant Attorney General, now provided for by law; authorizes the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint two Assistant Attorneys General—and makes it the duty of the Attorney General, with such two Assistants, to attend to the prosecution and defence of all matters and suits in the Court of Claims on behalf of the United States. The Attorney General is authorized to appoint two additional fourth-class clerks, and one clerk at a salary of $2000. This increase of force is comparatively liberal, regarded as merely clerical, but the professional assistance contemplated by the Act is as certainly inadequate, upon the best data that I have been able to collect, that the uncommon occasion doubtless exists for the immediate employment of special counsel for the several hundred cases now in course of preparation for the Court of Claims, as I learn.

When you reflect that the regular business of this office is greater now than ever before, and that of the Court of Claims steadily increases, and is said to be much in arrear, that the incoming Attorney General, his two assistants, and the new clerks allowed him, will presumably enter upon this important business without previous connection with this office, or that of the Solicitor of the Court of Claims, you will understand the great embarrassment under which the incoming head of this office must labor, the delicacy of his responsibility, and the danger which must arise to the interests of the Government, both in the Supreme Court and the Court of Claims, for the inadequacy of the assistance allowed to that officer. These considerations are reïnforced by the probability that delays of uncertain duration, incident to the filling of the new offices, even that of the chief law officer, will postpone due arrangements for the approaching terms of court.

The circumstances plainly indicate the propriety of increasing rather than curtailing the amount to be allowed for the contingent expenses of the Attorney General's office. I respectfully suggest that the sum of $9000: be appropriated under that head.

I venture, in the absence of adequate data, but sensible of the necessity of making this communication without delay, to recommend that for special counsel and other extraordinary expenses incident to the execution of the recent Act changing the relations between the Attorney General and the Court of Claims, a sum not less than Fifteen thousand dollars be appropriated.

Very respectfully,

your obedient serv't,

OH Browning

Attorney General adinterim


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