United States v. Gilmore
75 U.S. 330 (1868)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Gilmore, 75 U.S. 8 Wall. 330 330 (1868)

United States v. Gilmore

75 U.S. (8 Wall.) 330

Syllabus

1. Constructions of statutes in relation to the accounts of individuals with the United States, made by the accounting officers of the Treasury, especially when so long continued as to become a rule of departmental practice, are entitled to great consideration, and will in general be adopted by this Court.

2. But when, after such a construction of a particular class of statutes has been long continued, its application to a recent statute of the same class is prohibited by Congress, and following the spirit of that prohibition, the accounting officers refuse to apply the disapproved construction to a still later statute of the same class, this Court will not enforce its, application.

3. The Act of June 20, 1864, increasing the pay of private soldiers in the army, cannot be construed as having the effect of increasing the allowance to officers for servants' pay.

This was an appeal from the Court of Claims, in which court a suit was instituted by Gilmore, an ex-colonel of the army, for a sum alleged to be due him as allowance for servants' pay, beyond the sum actually allowed him for that purpose by the Comptroller of the Treasury, in settlement of his accounts, Gilmore claiming the same sum ($16) per month for such pay, as was allowed by Act of Congress of June 20, 1864, to private soldiers, and the Comptroller of the Treasury considering that under acts of Congress regulating the matter, he was not entitled to so large a sum. Judgment was given in favor of Gilmore by the Court of Claims, and the United States appealed.

The sum in controversy, in the particular case, was insignificant, but the principle involved extended to numerous claims and large amounts.

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