United States v. Hendee,
124 U.S. 309 (1888)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Hendee, 124 U.S. 309 (1888)

United States v. Hendee

Submitted December 14, 1887

Decided January 23, 1888

124 U.S. 309


A paymaster's clerk in the navy is an officer of the navy within the meaning of the provision in the Act of March 3, 1883, 22 Stat. 473, c. 97, respecting the longevity pay of officers and enlisted men in the army or navy

This was an appeal from a judgment rendered against the United States in the Court of Claims. The petitioner, in his petition to that court, set forth his claim as follows:

"To the honorable the Judges of the Court of Claims"

"The petition of George E. Hendee respectfully shows to your honors that he is a citizen of the United States and an officer of the navy thereof, to-wit, a paymaster, and that his military history is as follows:"

"Paymaster's clerk, October 1861, to December, 1862, and from August, 1863, to February, 1864; acting assistant paymaster, 25 March, 1864; passed assistant paymaster, 23 July, 1866; paymaster, 27 February, 1869."

"Your petitioner further says that the lowest grade having graduated pay held by him since last entering the service is, under the Act of July 15th, 1870 (Rev.Stat. § 1556), that of paymaster, and that the pay of said grade is as follows"


At sea On shore On leave


1st 5 years after date of commission . . 2,800 2,400 2,000

2d " " " " " " . . 3,200 2,800 2,400

3d " " " " " " . . 3,500 3,200 2,600

4th " " " " " " . . 3,700 3,600 2,800

After 20 " " " " " . . 4,200 4,000 3,000


"Your petitioner says that he is, under the provisions of the Acts of August 5th, 1882, and March 3d 1883, 22 Stat. 287 and 473, entitled to have credit given him upon his said grade of paymaster for all of his service as above stated, prior to the

Page 124 U. S. 310

date of his commission as a paymaster, to-wit: 6 years, 5 months, and 26 days, and that he is entitled to the difference of pay, resulting from such credit, to-wit, to the sum of $___, all of which remains due and unpaid, for which amount he asks judgment."

The following were the facts as found by the Court of Claims:

"I. The claimant was, on the 3d of March, 1883, and still is, a paymaster in the navy. Previously thereto, he had served in the navy as follows: paymaster's clerk from October 10, 1861, to November 30, 1862, and from October 30, 1863, to March 5, 1864; acting assistant paymaster, from April 26, 1864, to July 23, 1866; passed assistant paymaster, from July 23, 1866, to February 27, 1869; paymaster, from February 27, 1869."

"II. Under the provisions of the Act of March 3, 1883, c. 97, 22 Stat. 472, 473, relating to the credit to officers for length of service, there is due and unpaid the claimant the sum of $8,178.01 if he be entitled to have credited to him under said act the time he served as paymaster's clerk as aforesaid, and the sum of $6,313.77 if he be not entitled to be so credited."

"III. The practice of the Navy Department has not been uniform as to the classification of paymasters' clerks and their designation as officers or otherwise, but in several regulations, orders, and official documents they have been designated as officers. The following are copies of official orders:"

"[General Order 153]"


"April 18, 1870"

" Secretaries to commanders-in-chief, clerks to commanding officers, and clerks to paymasters are officers of the navy, within the meaning of the law, and are therefore entitled, under orders from their appointing officers, to 10 cents per mile for travel performed within the United States. Clerks in the navy pay offices are civil employees, and not entitled to mileage. . . . "

Page 124 U. S. 311

"Upon change of the law substituting actual expenses for mileage, the following order was issued: "

"[General Order 193]"


"April 5, 1875"

" General Order No. 153, of April 18, 1870, is hereby annulled. When an officer of the navy who is entitled to a secretary or clerk appoints him from civil life and desires him to report for duty at any given place, the Department, if it approves thereof, will issue the requisite order on receiving official notice of his appointment and request for such orders."

" All officers, including secretaries and clerks, serving on board ships in commission, will receive orders which involve traveling expenses from their commanding officer, senior officers present, commander-in-chief, or from the Department, as the case may be."

"Paymasters' clerks are charged with the 20 cents per month hospital dues imposed by Revised Statutes, § 4808, and the following is a copy of an official letter on the subject on file in the office of the Fourth Auditor from the Secretary of the Navy:"


"February 9, 1882"

"SIR: Your letter of the 21st ultimo, including a communication from Passed Assistant Paymaster J. W. Jordan, U.S. Navy, in regard to pay clerks at navy yards and naval stations, has been received."

"In reply, you are informed that pay clerks, appointed under authority of §§ 1380, 1387, and 1388, Revised Statutes, and in the manner prescribed by the navy regulations, are entitled to medical attendance, and in cases of necessity, to hospital treatment. Twenty cents per month should be deducted from their pay to be applied to the fund for navy hospitals, as is required by § 4808, Revised Statutes."

"The letter of Passed Assistant Paymaster Jordan, with a

Page 124 U. S. 312

copy of U.S. Navy Regulation Circulars, Nos. 21 and 29, are enclosed."

"Very respectfully,"


"Secretary of the Navy"


"Fourth Auditor"

On these findings, the Court of Claims gave judgment for the claimant, from which judgment the United States took this appeal.

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