In Whitman's Hand

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Title: Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar to George S. Boutwell, 19 or 20 April 1869

Date: April 19 or 20, 1869

Whitman Archive ID: nar.00878

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, John Schwaninger, Nima Najafi Kianfar, and Kevin McMullen

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April ? 19 or 20, 1869.

Hon. Geo. S. Boutwell,

Secretary of the Treasury.


I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 16th ult, referring to me a communication from the 2d Comptroller in which numerous questions are suggested concerning a claim against the Government pending before that officer, in favor of Herman Kountze for certain mules alleged to have been lost by capture by the Indians, while employed in the military service of the United States.

The claim is preferred under the 2d Sec. of the Act of March 3, 1849, (9 Stat. 415,) which, in addition to other things thereby required to be established by the owner of the property, in order to bring a case within its provisions, casts upon him the burthen of showing that the loss was "without fault or negligence" on his part; and the only subject on which any doubt seems to exist in connection with the claim, is, as to the absence of any fault or negligence in the claimant. The question involved thus appears to partake rather of the nature of a question of fact, to be made out from the evidence submitted, than of a question of law; and it does not, as I conceive, appropriately fall within the province of the Attorney General to consider questions of this sort.

Looking at the matter from this point of view, I feel reluctantly compelled to decline expressing an opinion upon the question proposed by the Comptroller, some twelve in number, many of which, I may observe, appear to me to be very remotely connected, if at all, with what seems to be the real subject of inquiry presented. The papers are returned herewith.

Very Respectfully, &c. &c. &c.,

E. R. Hoar,

Attorney General.


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