United States v. Martin

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

94 U.S. 400

United States  v.  Martin

APPEAL from the Court of Claims.

This was a petition filed by Martin against the United States. The court below found the following facts:--

1. In the year 1866 or 1867 the claimant was employed by the foreman of the steam-heating and gas works at the Naval Academy, at Annapolis, to work for the defendants at $2.50 a day, with the understanding that during the season of steaming, which was from the 1st of October to the 1st of June, his time of labor was to be twelve hours a day. During the seasons of steam-heating he was fireman at the steam-boilers, and at other times he was employed in assisting in repairing pipes, digging, and shovelling, or in ordinary labor and work.

2. In July, 1868, upon the passage of the act constituting eight hours as a day's work for all laborers employed on behalf of the government, called the 'Eight-Hour Law,' 15 Stat. 77, the claimant and other laborers at said academy spoke about that law to the foreman, who put on an additional man in the gas-works (where the claimant was not employed), and reduced the time of labor of the men in said gas-works to eight hours a day. Soon afterward, the men told him they would rather have half a dollar a day additional than to have the eight hours' work. Admiral Porter, then superintendent of the academy, was informed of what the men said, and he told the foreman that he would not give more pay, and that if any one would not work the full hours, he would put some one in his place. The claimant was present and heard this conversation. Nothing more was said or done in the matter, and the claimant went on with his work, laboring the number of hours per day as before, according to the original understanding.

3. From the 25th of June, 1868, when the eight-hour law passed, to the 19th of May, 1869, when the President's proclamation in relation to said act was issued, 16 Stat. 1127, the claimant worked two hundred and thirty-one calendar days, twelve hours each day, and ninety-seven calendar days, eight hours each day. From said 19th of May, 1869, to the time of his final discharge, Oct. 15, 1872, he worked seven hundred and fifty-two and a half c lendar days, twelve hours each day, and four hundred and thirty nine and a half calendar days, eight hours each day.

4. For all of said labor the claimant was paid at the rate of $2.50 per calendar day, except that, for reasons which do not appear in evidence, he was paid at the rate of $2.25 per day for seventy-four days of twelve hours each, in March, April, and May, 1870, and for twenty-six days of eight hours each, in June, 1870. Payments at said rates were made to him at the end of each month during his time of service, and were received by him without protest or objection.

5. While the claimant was so employed, the pay of ordinary laborers at the academy was $1.75 a day; and the firemen were paid $2.50 a day, because the time was longer and the work harder. The wages of firemen in the works of the gas company, a private corporation, at Annapolis, has since the war been $2 a day of twelve hours' labor, and they had more work to do than the claimant had while similarly employed by the defendants.

6. In the year 1873, the claimant made a formal application, in writing, to the Fourth Auditor of the Treasury, for arrears of pay, claimed as due him under the second section of the act of May 18, 1872, 17 Stat. 134, between the 25th of June, 1868, and the 19th of May, 1869, on account of his said employment. The auditor thereupon stated the account, and allowed the claimant $205.63, which was admitted by the Second Comptroller; and that amount was paid to the claimant, who receipted for the same, in writing, in full of the account.

The court below dismissed the petition, but, on a subsequent day of the term, made an order vacating the judgment, and directing, for the purpose of an appeal, a pro forma judgment to be entered in favor of the claimant in the sum of $1,019.49.

The United States thereupon appealed.

Mr. Assistant Attorney-General Smith for the United States.

Mr. Charles E. Hovey, contra.

MR. JUSTICE HUNT 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).