United States v. Bowen - 100 U.S. 508 (1879)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Bowen, 100 U.S. 508 (1879)
United States v. Bowen
100 U.S. 508
1. The Revised Statutes of the United States must be accepted as the law on the subjects which they embrace as it existed on the first day of December, 1873. When their meaning is plain, the court cannot recur to the original statutes to see if errors were committed in revising them, but it may do so when necessary to construe doubtful language used in the revision.
2. Sec. 4820 of the Revised Statutes admits of no other reasonable construction than that only the invalid pensioners who had not contributed to the funds of the Soldiers' Home were bound to surrender to it their pensions while receiving its benefits. There is no occasion, therefore, to look at the preexisting law on the subject.
Charles Bowen filed in the court below his petition alleging that the United States unlawfully withheld from him $270, being the amount due him from Sept. 13, 1876, when he was admitted as an inmate of the "Soldiers' Home," to Dec. 4, 1877, upon his pension theretofore granted, by reason of a wound received by him in the military service of the United States.
That court found the following facts:
1. The claimant was a private in Company B, Third Regiment United States Infantry, from the 9th of March, 1861, to the 9th of March, 1864, and during that time, under the provisions of sec. 7 of the Act of March 3, 1859, 11 Stat. 434, there was deducted from his pay the sum of $4.57.
2. An invalid pension was granted to him March 13, 1865, at $8 per month, commencing March 9, 1864, by certificate No. 39,050; the monthly rate of such pension was increased from $8 to $15, Jan. 21, 1867, to commence June 6, 1866; and from $15 to $18, July 8, 1876, to commence June 4, 1872.
3. On the 13th of September, 1876, he was admitted as an inmate of the Soldiers' Home, and his pension from that date to the 4th of December, 1877, to wit, the sum of $264.60, was regularly paid to the treasurer of that institution.
The court found as a conclusion of law that the claimant should recover the sum of $264.60. Judgment in his favor having been rendered therefor, the United States appealed.
The fifth section of the Act entitled "An Act to found a military asylum for the relief and support of invalid and disabled soldiers of the Army of the United States," approved March 3, 1851, 9 Stat. 595, provides
"That any pensioner on account of wounds or disability incurred in the military service, although he may not have contributed to the funds of the institution, shall be entitled to all the benefits herein provided, upon transferring his pension to said asylum for and during the period that he may voluntarily continue to receive such benefits."
The Act of March 3, 1859, making appropriations for the support of the army for the year ending June 30, 1860, 11 id. 431, changes the name of the institution to "Soldiers' Home," and the sixth section declares that
"All pensioners, on account of wounds or disability incurred in the military service, shall transfer and surrender their pensions to the institution, for and during the time they may remain therein, and voluntarily continue to receive its benefits."
Sec. 4820 of the Revised Statutes provides that
"The fact that one to whom a pension has been granted for wounds or disability received in the military service has not contributed to the funds of the Soldiers' Home shall not preclude him from admission thereto, but all such pensioners shall surrender their pensions to the Soldiers' Home during the time they remain therein and voluntarily receive its benefits. "