Bradley v. United States
98 U.S. 104 (1878)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Bradley v. United States, 98 U.S. 104 (1878)

Bradley v. United States

98 U.S. 104

Syllabus

A. and the Postmaster General executed an indenture whereby the former leased to the United States, for the use of the Post Office Department, at an annual rent of $4,200, payable quarterly, a building in Washington for three years from and after June 5, 1873, with the privilege of renewing the term for the further period of two years. It was thereby "understood and agreed" by the parties that the indenture was made subject to an appropriation by Congress for the payment of the stipulated rent, and that no payment should be made to A. on account thereof until such appropriation should be available, when the arrears then due would be paid in full, and thereafter the payments be made at the time and in the manner stipulated. Congress made the requisite appropriations to pay the specified rent to the end of the second year of the term. By the Act of March 3, 1875, 18 Stat. 367, making appropriations for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1870, Congress appropriated for the rent $1,800, with a proviso

"that the above sum shall not be deemed to be paid on account of any lease for years of said building, provided, however, that at the end of the present fiscal year, the Postmaster General be directed, upon the demand of the lessor, to deliver up the possession of said premises."

No such demand by the lessor was made. A. having received no rent for the third year, sued the United States therefor and claimed $4,200.

Held:

1. That the parties to the indenture, by their expressed understanding and agreement, intended to incorporate into the instrument the substance of the act of Congress which prohibits any department from "involving the government in any contract for the future payment of money in excess of the appropriations."

2. That the appropriations for two years of the term were not such a recognition by Congress of the validity of the contract as bound the United States to pay the stipulated rent for the third year.

3. That by the said proviso, A. had seasonable notice that no more than $1,800 would be paid to him as rent for the third year, and that he, not having demanded the possession of the premises, must be held to have assented to the terms offered by said act.

Page 98 U. S. 105

This was an action by Andrew C. Bradley for the use of George Taylor, Samuel Cross, and Peter F. Bacon, trustees, to recover the sum of $4,200 rent claimed to be due from the United States for the premises No. 915 E Street, in the City of Washington, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1876.

The court below found the following facts:

1. On the 6th of June, 1873, the Postmaster General and the claimant, Bradley, made and executed an indenture, of which the following is a copy:

"This indenture, made this sixth day of June, in the year one thousand eight hundred and seventy-three, by and between Andrew C. Bradley, of Washington, D.C., of the first part, and John A. J. Creswell, Postmaster General, for and in behalf of the United States of America, of the second part, witnesseth that the said party of the first part, for and in consideration of the rents, covenants, and agreements to be paid, kept, and performed by the party of the second part, doth hereby demise and lease unto the said party of the second part those certain premises, with the four-story brick house and brick stable thereon, situated on the north side of E Street, between 9th and 10th Streets, in the City of Washington, in the District of Columbia, and known as house numbered 915 on said E Street Northwest, to have and to hold to the party of the second part, for the term of three years from and after the fifth day of June, Anno Domini one thousand eight hundred and seventy-three, with the privilege to the said party of the second part of a renewal of the said term for the further period of two years."

"The said party of the second part yielding and paying therefor the annual rent, during the said term and a subsequent renewal thereof, as aforesaid, of four thousand two hundred dollars ($4,200), payable quarterly, on the thirtieth day of September, the thirty-first day of December, the thirty-first day of March, and the thirtieth day of June."

"And it is hereby mutually understood and agreed, by and between the parties hereto, that this lease is made subject to an appropriation by Congress for the payment of the rental herein stipulated for, and that no payment shall be made to said party of the first part on account of such rental until such appropriation

Page 98 U. S. 106

shall be available, and that as soon as practicable after such appropriation shall become available the arrears of the rent then due shall be paid in full, and thereafter payment shall be made at the times and in the manner hereinbefore stipulated."

"And it is hereby agreed by said party of the first part that he will, at his own expense, remove such partitions and construct such partitions, with necessary doorways and doors, in said building, and construct such water closets, with the necessary water connections, as may be required by the supervising architect of the Treasury Department, and that he will leave in good order all gas fixtures now in said building for the use of the said party of the second part; and the party of the second part will keep the said premises in good repair during the continuance of this lease and any renewed term thereof, and the expenses of any alterations of or additions to the interior, not herein otherwise provided for, so as to adapt it to the use of the United States, and not calculated to damage the premises, are to be borne by the party of the second part, and all taxes and assessments legally levied or charged upon the property are to be paid by the party of the first part."

"And it is hereby further provided that in case the premises, or any part thereof, during said term, or the renewal thereof, be destroyed or injured by fire or other unavoidable casualty, so that the same shall be thereby rendered unfit for use, then the rent hereinbefore reserved, or a just and proportionable part thereof, according to the extent and nature of the injury sustained, shall be suspended or abated until the said premises shall have been put in proper condition for use by and at the expense of the said party of the first part; and the said party of the second part covenants to deliver up the said premises to the party of the first part at the determination of this lease, or at the end of any renewal of the term thereof, in good order and condition, reasonable wear and use thereof and injury by unavoidable fire or other casualty excepted."

"And it is further stipulated that the party of the second part may, at or before the delivery of the premises aforesaid, remove such additions to or improvements of the same, placed on the premises by the said party of the second part, the removal of which, as aforesaid, will not injure the premises, as he, the said party of the second part, may elect so to do. "

Page 98 U. S. 107

"In witness whereof, the parties hereto have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year first above written."

"A. C. BRADLEY [SEAL]"

"JNO. A. J. CRESWELL [SEAL]"

"Postmaster General"

"Signed, sealed, and delivered in presence of"

"T. A. SPENCE"

"A. G. MILLS"

2. The premises described in said indenture were sold and conveyed, and the lease was assigned, by said Bradley to Alexander R. Shepherd, and by him conveyed and assigned to George Taylor, Samuel Cross, and Peter F. Bacon, as alleged in the petition and in the amendment thereof.

3. Said premises were used and occupied for the uses and purposes of the Post Office Department, and for the benefit of the United States, under the direction of the Postmaster General, from the time of executing said indenture until and including June 30, 1876, as well as subsequently thereto.

4. The claimants have been paid the rent of said premises, through special appropriations of Congress, up to and including June 30, 1875, but have been paid nothing for the year ending June 30, 1876.

5. It does not appear that demand has ever been made upon the Postmaster General on the part of the claimants for delivery up of the possession of the premises.

On the foregoing facts and the statutes in relation thereto, the court concluded as matter of law that the claimants were entitled to recover the sum of $1,800. Judgment having been rendered for that amount, the claimants appealed to this court.

When the indenture was executed, two statutes were in force.

"No contract or purchase shall hereafter be made unless the same be authorized by law, or be under an appropriation adequate to its fulfillment, except in the War and Navy Departments, for clothing, subsistence, forage, fuel, quarters, or transportation, which, however, shall not exceed the necessities of the current year."

Act of March 2, 1861, sec. 10, 12 Stat. 220; Rev.Stat., sec. 3732.

"It shall not be lawful for any department of the government to expend in any one fiscal year any sum in excess of appropriations made by Congress for that fiscal year, or to involve the government

Page 98 U. S. 108

in any contract for the future payment of money in excess of such appropriations."

Act of July 12, 1870, sec. 7, 16 Stat. 251; Rev.Stat., sec. 3679.

The deficiency bill for the fiscal years ending June 30, 1873 and 1874, contained the following provision:

"For rent of house numbered nine hundred and fifteen E Street Northwest, for further accommodation of the clerical force of the department, from June sixth, eighteen hundred and seventy-three, to June thirtieth, eighteen hundred and seventy-four, four thousand four hundred and eighty-eight dollars and eighty-six cents, and hereafter no contract shall be made for the rent of any building, or part of any building in Washington, not now in use by the government, to be used for the purposes of the government, until an appropriation therefor shall have been made in terms by Congress."

18 Stat. 144.

The act making appropriations for the legislative, executive, and judicial expenses of the government for the year ending June 30, 1875, appropriated $4,200 "for rent of house numbered nine hundred and fifteen E Street Northwest." Id., 107.

The Act of March 3, 1875, id., 367, making appropriations for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1876, contains the following:

"For rent of house numbered nine hundred and fifteen E Street Northwest, eighteen hundred dollars, provided that the above sum shall not be deemed to be paid on account of any lease for years of said building. provided, however, that at the end of the present fiscal year the Postmaster General be directed, upon the demand of the lessor, to deliver up the possession of said premises. "

Page 98 U. S. 111

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