The Elgee Cotton Cases
89 U.S. 180 (1874)

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U.S. Supreme Court

The Elgee Cotton Cases, 89 U.S. 22 Wall. 180 180 (1874)

The Elgee Cotton Cases

89 U.S. (22 Wall.) 180

APPEALS FROM THE COURT OF CLAIMS

Syllabus

1. On the 31st of July, 1863, during the late rebellion, E. and C., owning certain crops of cotton in Wilkinson County, Mississippi, executed a paper thus:

"We have, this 31st of July, 1863, sold unto Mr. L. our crops of cotton, now lying in the county aforesaid, numbering about 2,100 bales, at the price of ten cents per pound, currency, the said cotton to be delivered at the landing of Fort Adams, and to be paid for when weighed. Mr. L. agreeing to furnish at his cost the bagging, rope, and twine necessary to bale the cotton unginned, and we do acknowledge to have received, in order to conform this contract, the sum of thirty dollars. This cotton will be received and shipped by the house of D. & Co., New Orleans, and from this date is at the risk of Mr. L. This cotton is said to have weighed an average of 500 lbs. when baled."

At the time of making the contract, the cotton baled was stored under a covering of boards, and a small part of the cotton (about twenty bales) not baled was in the gin house on the Buffalo Bayou, about ten miles from the Mississippi River, at a place known as "The Rocks," or "Felter's Plantation," then without the federal military lines, and G. and L. were together there. Immediately after the sale, L. employed a person living near where the cotton was stored to watch and take care of the same and paid him therefor, and this person continued his care of it till it was taken possession of in the name of the United States. Held that notwithstanding, the words above italicized, the paper of the 31st of July, 1863, was executory only, and had not divested E and C. of their property in the cotton, no money but the thirty dollars having been paid and nothing else dune in execution of the contract, and that, in a suit for the proceeds of it under the Captured and Abandoned Property Act, which gives to the "owner" a right to recover, under certain circumstances, property captured or abandoned during the late civil war, they alone could sue.

2. The same E. and C. (or rather E. alone, who had now become sole owner of the cotton) subsequently to the above-quoted contract with L., made another contract with N. (he not having notice of the first contract) by which E. contracted for the sale to N.

"for so much of the 2,100 bales as N. should get out in safety to a market, for the price of

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