In Whitman's Hand

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Title: Amos T. Akerman to John Angel James Creswell, 4 February 1871

Date: February 4, 1871

Whitman Archive ID: nar.01685

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, Joshua Ware, Kevin McMullen, and John Schwaninger

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February 4, 1871.

Hon. J. A.J. Creswell,

Postmaster General.


You have referred to me certain documents from which it appears that one William J. Jones has procured from a judicial officer in the District of Columbia an injunction against one George Chorpenning alleging that Chorpenning is entitled to moneys from the Treasury, for some claim against the Post Office Department, and that Jones has an equitable right to a portion of said money. The object in delivering these papers to you seems to have been to induce you to prevent Chorpenning from drawing the money upon his claim. You are no party to the suit in which the injunction is obtained. The counsel for Jones concedes that you cannot properly be made a party.

It is obvious that if the operations of the Department of this Government are liable to such impediments, the public business of the country cannot go on. I am unable to see how it is improper for you to be made a party to the suit in which the injunction issued—and how, at the same time, it is proper that you should regard the injunction. Such seems to be the claim of the counsel for Jones, in their letter to you of the 18th ult.

Every reason why the Postmaster General should not be made the direct object of such an injunction, is an equally good reason why he should not be bound to respect that injunction. If the injunction is binding upon him at all, he should have the right, and for the sake of the public interests with which he is charged, it should often be his duty, to appear in the case, and to move to dissolve such injunction. The doctrine of the counsel of Mr. Jones seems to be, that the head of a Department of this Government, in a matter connected with his official duties, must be subjected to all the disadvantages, and yet have none of the advantages, of a party to a suit between private persons. Such a doctrine is preposterous.

I am of the opinion that you are under no obligation to regard the injunction in this case, and that you do whatever appears under the law to be your duty in regard to the dues of the Government to Chorpenning, as if no such injunction had been issued.

Very respectfully, &c,

A. T. Akerman,

Attorney General.

Opinion on certain Injunction &c.


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