Postmaster General v. Early - 25 U.S. 136 (1827)
U.S. Supreme Court
Postmaster General v. Early, 25 U.S. 12 Wheat. 136 136 (1827)
Postmaster General v. Early
25 U.S. (12 Wheat.) 136
The circuit courts of the union have jurisdiction, under the Constitution, and the Acts of April 30 1810, ch. 262, s. 29, and of March 3, 1816, ch. 782, s. 4, of suits brought in the name of "the Postmaster General of the United States" on bonds given to the postmaster general by a deputy postmaster, conditioned
"to pay all moneys that shall come to his hands for the postages of whatever is by law chargeable with postage to the Postmaster General of the United States for the time being, deducting only the commission and allowances made by law for his care, trouble, and charges in managing the said office,"
The Postmaster General has authority to take such a bond under the different acts establishing and regulating the Post Office Department, and particularly under the Act of April 30, 1810, ch. 262. s. 29, 42.
This was an action of debt commenced in the Circuit Court for the District of Georgia by the district Attorney of the United States for that district in the name of the Postmaster General of the United States against the defendants on a bond executed by them in June, 1820, to the Postmaster General of the United States, the condition of which, after reciting that Eleazer Early (one of the co-obligors and defendants in the suit) is Postmaster at Savannah, provides, that if he shall perform the duties of his office
"and shall pay all moneys that shall come to his hands for the postages of whatever is by law chargeable
with postage, to the Postmaster General of the United States for the time being, deducting only the commission and allowances made by law for his care, trouble, and charges in managing the said office, . . . then the above obligation shall be void."
The breach assigned was that the said E. Early did not pay to the Postmaster General the moneys which came to his hands, as postmaster at Savannah, but that the sum of $7,736.64 was still in arrear and unpaid. The defendants pleaded to the jurisdiction of the court that this was
"not a suit in which the United States is a party, nor is the debt declared on one contracted, authorized, or arising under a law of the United States and over which jurisdiction has been given to this honorable court."
On the argument of the cause in the court below, the opinions of the judges of the court were opposed upon the question of jurisdiction, and it was certified to this Court for a final decision.