Maddox v. United States,
82 U.S. 58 (1872)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Maddox v. United States, 82 U.S. 15 Wall. 58 58 (1872)

Maddox v. United States

82 U.S. (15 Wall.) 58


1. Under the statutory provisions, Treasury regulations, and executive orders concerning the purchase of the products of insurrectionary states, a purchasing agent, acting on behalf of the United States, had no authority to negotiate with anyone in relation to the purchase of such products, unless at the time of the negotiation the party either owned or controlled them.

2. Private citizens were prohibited from trading at all in the insurrectionary districts. The object of the law, and the regulations made to carry it into effect, was to encourage the insurgents themselves to bring their products to loyal people.

3. United States v. Lane, 8 Wall. 185, affirmed, on the two points above quoted.

H. A. Risley, Treasury agent at Norfolk for the purchase of the products of insurrectionary states, in November, 1864, contracted in writing to purchase from Maddox and certain persons associated with him, loyal citizens of the United States, a large quantity of tobacco, rosin, and turpentine, situated in the States of Virginia and North Carolina, to be delivered in Norfolk or New York, and sold at certain points mentioned, under the same conditions as other sales of like public property.

With the contract Risley delivered to Maddox and his associates a request for safe conduct and means of transportation.

This request was presented to the President of the United States, who endorsed on it that the property to be transported under the contract should be free from seizure or detention, and that the military and naval authorities be requested to furnish the necessary facilities for getting the products within our lines. These products, at the time the contract was made, and the military safe conduct delivered, were not owned or controlled by Maddox and the others, but they expected to procure them in or about the City of Richmond, in the state of Virginia. In the months of January and February, 1865, they succeeded, in part performance

Page 82 U. S. 59

of their contract, in purchasing a large number of boxes of tobacco -- less, however, than they had agreed to do -- which were subsequently either burned by our military forces, appropriated by them to the use of the United States, or destroyed in the fires in Richmond at the time it was captured in April, 1865.

Hereupon Maddox and his associates filed a petition in the Court of Claims for an alleged breach of contract, and praying judgment for $735,644, with interest.

The United States demurred and the court sustained the demurrer. To reverse that decision this appeal was prosecuted.

Page 82 U. S. 60

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