United States v. Thomas
195 U.S. 418 (1904)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Thomas, 195 U.S. 418 (1904)

United States v. Thomas

Nos. 94-95

Argued October 11, 1904

Decided December 5, 1904

195 U.S. 418

Syllabus

While the intention of Congress in the Navy Personnel Act of March 3, 1899, was to put officers of corresponding rank in the Army and Navy on the same general footing with respect to their general pay and to make the act prospective in its application to any future legislation by which the general pay of army officers might be increased, Congress may increase the pay of army officers for services in particular places and under special circumstances without thereby intending such increase to apply to naval officers.

A captain in the Navy is not entitled to the ten percent additional pay given to army officers under the acts of May 26, 1900, and March 2, 1901, for services in Philippine and Chinese waters or for service beyond the limits of the states comprising the Union.

The term "vessel employed by authority of law," within the meaning of § 1571, Rev.Stat., is restricted to vessels owned or chartered by, or otherwise engaged in the service of, the government and while an officer is traveling on land or on a vessel other than one so employed by authority of law he is not entitled to pay for sea duty.

This was a petition for certain allowances claimed to be due petitioner as a captain in the United States Navy, under Act of March 3, 1899, 30 Stat. 1004, equalizing the pay of Army and Navy officers, and known as the Navy Personnel Act. The findings of fact are too long to be here reproduced, but the several items claimed by petitioner, and from the disposition of which these appeals are taken, are cited by counsel in their brief and by the Court of Claims as follows:

1. From May 26, 1900, to March 1, 1901, he was paid sea pay of a captain at $4,500 a year, and claims ten percent increase of this pay for services in the Philippines and in China, under the Acts of May 26, 1900, and March 2, 1901. 31 Stat. 205, 895.

2. From March 2, 1901, to June 11, 1901, he was paid the sea pay of a captain -- $4,500 a year -- and claims ten percent

Page 195 U. S. 419

increase of this pay for service outside the United States, under the provisions of the Act of March 2, 1901, 31 Stat. 895, 903.

3. From June 12, 1901, to September 30, 1901, he was paid sea pay at $4,500 a year, and claims ten percent increase under the Act of March 2, 1901, for service outside the United States. During this time, he was in the waters of the San Francisco Bay, traveling from San Francisco to Puget Sound, and in the waters of Puget Sound. This claim is made provisionally in case his service in Chinese and Philippine waters is not considered to be service "in China" and "in the Philippine islands," entitling him to ten percent increase from May 26, 1900, to March 1, 1901. In that event, he would claim that his service in waters of the United States was beyond the limits of the states comprising the Union.

4. Between December 2, 1899, when relieved as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Lancaster, and ordered to report to the Navy Department, and February 7, 1900, when he took command of the U.S.S. Baltimore at Hong Kong, China, he was paid only shore pay -- $3,825 a year -- fifteen percent less than sea pay. He claims seam pay, $4,500 a year during that time.

The last item was disallowed. The first three items were at first disallowed, but, on a rehearing, were allowed and final judgment rendered for $568.29. 38 Ct.Cl. 113, 719 . Both parties appealed to this Court.

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