Eastern Extension Telegraph Co., Ltd. v. United States
231 U.S. 326 (1913)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Eastern Extension Telegraph Co., Ltd. v. United States, 231 U.S. 326 (1913)

Eastern Extension, Australia & China

Telegraph Co., Ltd. v. United States

No. 419

Argued October 22, 1913

Decided December 1, 1913

231 U.S. 326



While the Act of March 3, 1887, c. 359, 24 Stat. 505, broadened the general jurisdiction of the Court of Claims, it was not repugnant to or or inconsistent with the limitations of § 1066, Rev.Stat., expressly excluding from such jurisdiction all claims growing out of treaty stipulations, and it did not, therefore, repeal that section.

Claims based on treaty stipulations within § 1066, Rev.Stat., include those which arise solely as the result of cession of territory to the United States.

The policy and spirit of a statute should be considered in construing it, as well as the letter.

Page 231 U. S. 327

Although the Court of Claims has not jurisdiction of claims against the United States based on treaty stipulations, it has jurisdiction of claims based on contracts originally made with the former sovereign of ceded territory and assumed by the United States after the cession, either expressly or by implication.

Where the court below declined to take jurisdiction and the appeal is solely on that question, this Court will not express any opinion on the merits, as they are not before it.

48 Ct.Clms. 33 reversed.

The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of the Court of Claims, are stated in the opinion.

MR. JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the court.

This is an appeal from the judgment of the Court of Claims, which dismissed, upon demurrer, the petition of the claimant for the want of jurisdiction. 48 Ct.Clms. 33.

The petition averred that the claimant, a British corporation, secured from the government of Spain, in the year 1879, a concession for the construction and operation of a submarine telegraph cable between the island of Luzon and Hong Kong, with an exclusive privilege for forty years, under which it maintained a cable from Hong Kong to Bolinao, and that, in 1897, the government of Spain granted a further concession for three submarine telegraph cables to provide communication between the islands of Luzon, Panay, Negros, and Zebu, in the Philippine Archipelago. Among the conditions of the last-mentioned grant, a copy of which is annexed to the petition and made a part of it, are the following:

Page 231 U. S. 328

"Article 9. The concessionaire undertakes to work, at his own expense and risk, the cables of this concession for a period of twenty years, the said term to begin from the date of the taking over of the cables and their adjuncts in perfect working order."

"Article 10. The concessionaire shall enjoy an annual subsidy of

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