110 U.S. 720 (1884), Cutler v. Kouns

Citation:110 U.S. 720, 4 S.Ct. 274, 28 L.Ed. 305
Party Name:CUTLER v. KOUNS and another.
Case Date:March 10, 1884
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 720

110 U.S. 720 (1884)

4 S.Ct. 274, 28 L.Ed. 305



KOUNS and another.

United States Supreme Court.

March 10, 1884

In Error to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.

[4 S.Ct. 274] The congress of the United States, by section 3 of an act passed July 13, 1861, (12 St. 255,)

Page 721

enacted that it should be lawful for the president, by proclamation, to declare that the inhabitants of any state or part of a state in rebellion against the United States were in a state of insurrection, and that 'thereupon all commercial intercourse by and between the same and citizens thereof and the citizens of the rest of the United States should cease and be unlawful so long as such condition of hostilities should continue.' By his proclamation dated August 16, 1861, (12 St. 1262,) the president declared, among others, the states of Louisiana and Texas to be in a state of insurrection against the United States, (excepting such parts thereof as might, from time to time, be occupied by the forces of the United States,) and forbid all commercial intercourse between the same and the inhabitants thereof, with the exceptions aforesaid, and the citizens of other states and other parts of the United States. On April 26, 1862, the city of New Orleans was occupied by the forces of the United States, and remained in their possession until the close of the civil war. From the date named New Orleans was therefore exexcepted from the operation of the non-intercourse act. In this state of affairs, on July 2, 1864, an act of congress was passed, entitled 'An act in addition to the several acts concerning commercial intercourse between loyal and insurrectionary states, and to provide for the collection of captured and abandoned property, and the prevention of fraud in states declared in insurrection.' 13 St. 375. Section 8 of the act provided as follows: 'That it shall be lawful for the secretary of the treasury, with the approval of the president, to authorize agents to purchase for the United States any products of states declared in insurrection, at such places therein as shall be designated by him, at such prices as shall be agreed on with the seller, not exceeding [4 S.Ct. 275] the market value thereof at the place of delivery, nor exceeding three-fourths of the market value thereof in the city of New York, at the latest quotations knowm to the agent purchasing.'

In pursuance of the authority thus conferred, the secretary of the treasury designated certain cities, among them the city of New Orleans, as places of purchase, the appointed purchasing agents. By regulations dated May 9, 1865, he directed that, to meet the requirements of the eighth section of the act of July 2, 1864, the agents should receive all cotton brought to the places designated as places of purchase, and forthwith return to the seller three-fourths thereof, or retain out of the price thereof the difference between three-fourths the market price and the full price thereof in the city of New York. While the statute and these regulations were in force, to-wit, on June 6, 1865, the defendants in error, George L. Kouns and John Kouns, brought to the city of New Orleans about 900 bales of cotton, which they had caused to be transported, a part from near Shreveport, in the state of Louisiana, and the residue from Jefferson, in the state of Texas. At the time last mentioned, Cutler, the plaintiff in error, was the purchasing agent in New Orleans, appointed by the secretary of the treasury. As such agent he took possession of the cotton, and before releasing it to the plaintiffs in error exacted from them the one-fourth of its market value in New York, which they paid under protest. They paid the money in three installments--$13,695.92 on June 12, $7,200 on June 15, and $8,588.41 on June 20. The money so paid was covered into the treasury by Cutler. On July 1, 1871, the defendants in error brought this suit against Cutler to recover back the money so paid. Cutler set up several defenses, only two of which it is necessary to...

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