In Whitman's Hand

Scribal Documents

About this Item

Title: Amos T. Akerman to E. Harmon, 19 November 1870

Date: November 19, 1870

Whitman Archive ID: nar.01487

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, Vanessa Steinroetter, John Schwaninger, and Nima Najafi Kianfar

page image
image 1
page image
image 2

November 19, 1870.

Mr. E. Harmon,

Gettysburg, Penn.


I have received your letter of the 27th ultimo, enclosing a copy of a letter from the Third Assistant Postmaster General to you, dated September 24, 1870.

Your letter is mainly occupied with blaming a supposed Opinion of mine on the subject of Patent Rights. When an Opinion has been given, in this Department, upon the call of another, and transmitted to the Department that called for it, the control of this Depart. has ceased, and all discussion with this department upon the propriety of it, personally, or by correspondence, is useless.

The letter to you from the Post Office Department, of which you enclose a copy to me, states that the Attorney General had been consulted. It is true that the Attorney General had been verbally consulted by the Postmaster General upon the construction of an Act of Congress relating to contracts with the Post Office Department. The letter does not state, nor would it be true in fact, that the Attorney General was consulted upon the subject of Patent Rights.

Your letter informed me that the prospects of a certain Senator, as a public man, were blasted by a proposition which he made in relation to the property of patentees, and you add to that information that my supposed decision in this case will alarm the same class of property holders, and that the alarm of One Thousand Million Dollars is apt to make itself felt in this country, at the ballot box, and on public opinion and legislation.

Should you have occasion to correspond further with this Department, it is proper that you should know that such considerations are wholly without influence here. When properly called on for an Opinion as to the law, the only inquiry here is, What is the law? And communications which assume that political prospects or elections, or public opinion, will cause a deflection in that inquiry, will receive no attention.

Very respectfully, &c.

A. T. Akerman,

Attorney General.

certain letter acknowledged [&?] answered.


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.