In Whitman's Hand

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Title: Amos T. Akerman to W. A. Field, 6 December 1871

Date: December 6, 1871

Whitman Archive ID: nar.02647

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, Anthony Dreesen, John Schwaninger, and Nima Najafi Kianfar

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Dec. 6, 1871.

W. A. Field, Esq.

Boston, Mass.


I have received your letter of the 2d instant enclosing an account for moneys paid out by you in the defence of the case of Fredericks et al. vs. Dickinson.

It seems to me that this account is sent under a misapprehension of the view which I take of the matter, Mr. Dickinson, an Assistant District Attorney, having been sued on a cause of action growing out of his relation to the Government, in which he acted in manifest good faith, I felt authorized to furnish him with professional defence at the expense of the Government. But I do not see how I am authorized, out of the funds of this Department, to pay for expenditures by himself, or expenditures by yourself, not authorized by this Department in the defence. The furnishing of professional defence went to the very verge of what I understand to be my authority in the premises. To go further, and pay costs out of any funds under my control, seems to me unauthorized.

I know of no law, regulation, or instruction, which required him to take into his own hands moneys tendered in satisfaction of an Internal Revenue claim. He was really acting more in the capacity of an Internal Revenue officer than of a District Attorney.

I am obliged in these matters to act upon rules which would be safe and proper in general application. While the amount involved in this instance is small, and I should be gratified to direct payment without further question, I do not see how I can do so without acting upon a principle that would be mischievous. We can pay the counsel whom we specially employ, for their professional services. I do not know what right we have to go further. Your commission to appear as counsel was not understood as an instruction to pay any costs or expenses.

If any considerations occur to you which can remove the difficulties, I shall be happy to learn them.

Very respectfully,

A. T. Akerman,

Attorney General.

certain acc't disallowed


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