United States v. Mouat,
124 U.S. 303 (1888)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Mouat, 124 U.S. 303 (1888)

United States v. Mouat

Submitted December 14, 1887

Decided January 23, 1888

124 U.S. 303


A paymaster's clerk, appointed by a paymaster in the navy with the approval of the Secretary of the Navy, is not an officer of the navy within the meaning of the Act of June 30, 1876, 19 Stat. 65, c. 159, so as to be entitled to the benefit of the mileage allowed by that act.

The petition of the defendant in error in the Court of Claims was as follows:

"The claimant, David Mouat, respectfully showeth as follows:"

"I. That on the 16th day of November, 1885, he was appointed a paymaster's clerk in the United States Navy, on board the United States receiving ship Vermont, subject to the laws and regulations governing the United States Navy. That the said appointment was approved by Capt. A. P. Cooke, commanding the Vermont, and by D. B. Harmony, Acting Secretary of the Navy. That on the 19th day of November, 1885, he accepted by letter said appointment, and on the same day took an oath to comply with and be obedient to such laws, regulations, and discipline of the navy as were then in force or that might be enacted by Congress or established by other competent authority. Copies of the said appointment, the

Page 124 U. S. 304

letter of acceptance, and the oath are hereto annexed as Exhibit No. 1. [It does not appear to be necessary to reprint these exhibits.]"

"II. That when he received said appointment he was in Chicago, in the State of Illinois, where the appointment was addressed. In the said letter of appointment, he was directed to proceed to New York via Washington, D.C. That after his acceptance of said appointment, and taking the oath aforesaid and the oath to support the Constitution of the United States and to faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which he is about to enter, he proceeded to New York via Washington, D.C., and on November 30, having arrived in New York, reported at the navy yard for duty as directed."

"III. That under the army mileage table, which has been adopted by order of the Secretary of the Navy as the correct table of distances in the United States and as the standard for determining the distances traveled by officers in the naval service, the distance from Chicago to Washington, D.C., is 813 miles, and from Washington to New York 228 miles, the whole distance traveled under orders being 1,041 miles."

"IV. That under the Act of Congress of June 30, 1876, he was entitled to be allowed and to receive the sum of eight cents per mile for this distance, the same being $83.28."

"V. That upon the presentation of his claim for the above amount of mileage, the same was settled and allowed by the Fourth Auditor of the Treasury, but was not allowed by the Second Comptroller of the Treasury, and that the claimant has not received any part thereof."

"That since the passage of the Act of June 30th, 1876, it has been the practice to allow mileage to paymasters' clerks who were ordered to seagoing vessels upon travel as performed within the United States from July 1st, 1876, to February 5th, 1886. It has never been the practice to consider clerks employed by pay officers on shore stations as entitled to mileage."

"VI. No assignment or transfer of this claim nor of any part thereof nor of any interest therein has been made; the claimant is justly entitled to the amount claimed in this petition

Page 124 U. S. 305

from the United States after allowing all just credits and set-offs; he is a citizen of the United States, and has at all times borne true allegiance to the United States, and he believes the facts stated in the petition to be true."

"Wherefore he prays judgment against the United States in the sum of $83.28."

To this petition the United States filed a general demurrer, upon which the Court of Claims rendered a judgment in the petitioner's favor for $83.23, from which judgment the United States took this appeal.

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