In Whitman's Hand

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Title: Amos T. Akerman to Ulysses S. Grant, 4 February 1871

Date: February 4, 1871

Whitman Archive ID: nar.01692

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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Feb. 4, 1871.

To the President.


I have examined the Joint resolution for the relief of certain contractors for the construction of vessels of war, and steam machinery,—and, in reply to your inquiry whether any reasons exist why it should not receive your approval, I have the honor to submit the following suggestions.

The Act of March 2, 1867, (14 U. S. Stat. at Large, p. 424,) directs the Secretary of the Navy "to investigate the claims of all contractors for building vessels-of-war and steam machinery for the same, under contracts made after the 1st day of May, 1861, and prior to the 1st day of January, 1864,—said investigation to be made upon the following basis: he shall ascertain the additional cost which was necessarily incurred by each contractor in the completion of his work, by reason of any change or alterations in the plans and specifications required, and delays in the prosecution of the work occasioned by the Government, which were not provided for in the original contract; but no allowance for any advance in the price of labor or material shall be considered unless such advance occurred during the prolonged time for completing the work rendered necessary by the delay resulting from the action of the Government aforesaid, and then only when such advance could not have been avoided by the exercise of ordinary prudence and diligence on the part of the contractor," etc.

The resolution transfers the investigation to the Court of Claims, and repeals "so much of said Act as provides against considering any allowance in favor of any such parties for any advance in the price of labor and material when he could have avoided that advance by the exercise of ordinary prudence and diligence. The effect of the repeal will be to relieve contractors from the consequences of their own imprudence and negligence. I see no good reason for relieving contractors from the results of their own neglect of ordinary prudence and diligence—and therefore I am of the opinion that the Joint Resolution may be properly referred to the reconsideration of Congress.

Very respectfully, &c,

A. T. Akerman,

Attorney General.

Opinion on approval of certain Joint Resolution


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