United States v. Mitchell
109 U.S. 146 (1883)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Mitchell, 109 U.S. 146 (1883)

United States v. Mitchell

Submitted March 30, 1883

Decided November 5, 1883

109 U.S. 146


The Revised Statutes fix the annual salary of an interpreter at four hundred dollars. In 1877, Congress appropriated in gross for such offices "at

Page 109 U. S. 147

hundred dollars per annum," and repeated the appropriation in like form down to and including the appropriation Act of March 3d, 1881. A served as such interpreter from July, 1878, to November, 188a, and was paid at the rate of $300 per annum. In a suit to recover at the rate fixed by the Revised Statutes, held that Congress had expressed its purpose to reduce for the time being the salaries of interpreters, and that the claimant could not recover.

This was a suit by the appellee, Charles Mitchell, to recover a balance which he claimed to be due him as Indian interpreter at the Santee agency in the State of Nebraska under section 2070, title XXIII, of the Revised Statutes.

That section, and section 2076, which constitutes part of the same title, and also relates to the compensation of interpreters, are as follows:

"SEC. 2070. The salaries of interpreters lawfully employed in the service of the United States in Oregon, Utah, and New Mexico shall be five hundred dollars a year each, and of all so employed elsewhere four hundred dollars a year each."

"SEC. 2076. The several compensations prescribed by this title shall be in full of all emoluments and allowances whatsoever."

It appeared from the findings of the Court of Claims that the appellee was an interpreter at the Santee Indian agency in the Nebraska, duly appointed under section 2068 of the Revised Statutes, and that he held the office and discharged its duties for several periods between July 1, 1878, and November 22, 1882, his whole term of service amounting to three years and seven months.

During all this time, instead of the salary of $400 per annum as provided in section 2070, he was paid only at the rate of $300 per annum, for which he gave a receipt in full for his services, Congress having appropriated that sum only for his yearly compensation during his term of service.

The appellee, contending that he was entitled to a salary at the rate of $400 per annum, brought this suit to recover the difference between his salary at that rate and the sum which he was actually paid. The Court of Claims rendered judgment in his favor for $353.33, from which the United States appealed.

Page 109 U. S. 148

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