Parish v. United States - 75 U.S. 489 (1869)
U.S. Supreme Court
Parish v. United States, 75 U.S. 8 Wall. 489 489 (1869)
Parish v. United States
75 U.S. (8 Wall.) 489
1. A contract made by a surgeon and medical purveyor of a military department of the United States with parties for furnishing ice for the use of the sick and wounded in the hospitals of the United States in 1861 was invalid until approved by the Secretary of War. Without such approval, the surgeon could not bind the United States in any way.
2. A contract thus approved being executed by the other parties, superseded a previous contract signed by the surgeon although the latter conformed strictly to proposals made by the parties and accepted by the surgeon.
On the 4th of December, 1863, D. L. Magruder, the surgeon and medical purveyor of the military department of the West, acting under instructions of the Surgeon General of the United States, gave notice that proposals would be received at his office in Louisville, Kentucky until the 20th of that month for furnishing ice to all the general hospitals of the United States at the West, including the division of the Mississippi and the Department of the Gulf, in such quantities as might be required, for the use of the sick and wounded, during the year 1864. Under this notice, Parish & Co., the claimants, submitted proposals which were accepted, and on the 13th of the same month a contract was prepared and signed by them and Magruder by which they were to furnish ice for twenty different places, one of which was New Orleans. It was understood between the parties that this contract was not to be binding until it should receive the approval of the Surgeon General, to whom it was forwarded. It received such approval, and was then dispatched by mail to Magruder; but before reaching him, the approval was reconsidered, and the contract, by order of the Secretary of War, was recalled, and the draft of another contract prepared in its place. After this draft had reached Magruder, he was directed by the secretary to erase from it the name of New Orleans, as one of the places to be supplied with ice, and have it executed in lieu of the contract originally proposed, and this was done. The claimants then executed
the instrument, but, in doing so, they protested against the alteration, stating, however, that they would lay all the facts before the officials at Washington, and seek from them redress. But, notwithstanding this protest, they treated the contract thus made as the only one binding upon them, and carried out their obligations under it. They did not deliver, or offer to deliver, any ice at New Orleans.