Baird v. United States

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

96 U.S. 430

Baird  v.  United States

APPEAL from the Court of Claims.

In March, 1864, the government, requiring an immediate supply of locomotive engines for the use of the armies operating in Tennessee, made an order upon M. W. Baldwin & Co., a firm of locomotive builders at Philadelphia, for fifteen engines, to be delivered as soon as possible, and to the exclusion of all other contracts or interests. The price fixed upon was $18,947.72 for each engine, and the government tax to be paid on delivery. In addition to this, the firm was authorized to charge the government any advance there might be after Nov. 9, 1863, in the cost of labor and materials used in the construction, and any damage resulting from the preference given this order over other contracts.

The order was accepted upon the terms proposed, and the locomotive delivered at intervals of four or five days, between May 3 and June 30, 1864. The fixed price was paid according to agreement; and, Stpt. 14, 1864, Baldwin & Co. presented their claim for the difference in the cost on account of the advance in the price of labor and materials, which was then stated to be $151,588.17. This claim was audited by the government, and allowed for $97,507.75; and the firm was informed of the amount of the allowance, and the principles upon which the adjustment had been made, as early as Jan. 23, 1865. On the 8th of April, a draft was sent for the amount found due, payable to the order of the firm; which was received and collected without objection.

Subsequently, this appellant, as the sole surviving partner of the firm, brought his action in the Court of Claims, upon the contract, to recover the damages which it was alleged the firm had sustained by giving the order preference over other contracts and interests; and at the December Term, 1869, of that court, judgment was rendered against the United States for $23,750.

On the 2d of May, 1870, one day before the expiration of six years from the date of the delivery of the first engine under the order, this action was brought to recover the 'residue of the amount of the advance in labor and materials over the cost of the same on the 9th of November, 1863; which residue is the difference between the $128,276.50 claimed and the government tax thereon ($3,848.29), in all, $132,124.79, and the $93,507.75 paid, making the residue $38,617.04.' The Court of Claims, while finding that the actual advance over and above what had been paid was the amount claimed, gave judgment in favor of the United States; whereupon the claimant appealed to this court.

Mr. John D. McPherson for the appellant.

The Solicitor-General, contra.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE delivered the opinion of the court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).