United States v. Temple
APPEAL from the Court of Claims.
This was an action brought in the Court of Claims by Temple, a commodore in the United States navy, to recover mileage for travel under orders.
The controversy arises upon the construction of an act of Congress. The history of our legislation on the subject of mileage to officers of the navy is as follows: The act of March 3, 1835, c. 27 (4 Stat. 756), after giving certain pay, &c., to officers of the navy, declares in the second section that they shall be entitled to no other compensation, but with an exception, thus stated: 'Except for travelling expenses while under orders, for which ten cents per mile shall be allowed.'
This provision was abrogated by a clause in the act of June 16, 1874, c. 285 (18 Stat., pt. 3, p. 72), which is as follows: 'That only actual travelling expenses shall be allowed to any person holding employment or appointment under the United States, and all allowances for mileages and transportation in excess of the amount actually paid are hereby declared illegal.' On June 30, 1876, however, mileage was restored to officers of the navy by the act of that date, c. 159 (19 Stat. 65), which declares that so much of the act of June 16, 1874, 'as provides that only actual travelling expenses shall be allowed to any person holding employment or appointment under the United States, while engaged in public business, as is applicable to officers of the navy so engaged, is hereby repealed; and the sum of eight cents per mile shall be allowed such officers so engaged, in lieu of their actual expenses.'
The travel for which Commodore Temple claims mileage was performed in 1878.
It appears by the findings of the Court of Claims that while engaged in public business he travelled under orders from Washington City, via New York City and Rio de Janeiro, to Montevideo, in South America, and thence back to Washington City, via Rio de Janeiro, Liverpool, and New York. The voyages were performed in vessels not the property of the United States. The whole distance travelled was 16,660 miles. He applied to the accounting officers of the treasury for payment of mileage at the rate of eight cents per mile on the whole distance travelled by him. His demand was refused. But he was allowed eight cents per mile for the distance between the city of Washington and New York, going and returning. For all travel by sea the accounting officers would allow him only his actual expenses.
The Court of Claims allowed him mileage at the rate of eight cents per mile for the entire distance travelled by him. Judgment was rendered in his favor therefor, after deducting the money actually paid him. The United States appealed.
The Solicitor-General for the United States.
Mr. Enoch Totten and Mr. James Lowndes for the appellee.
Mr. JUSTICE WOODS, after stating the facts, delivered the opinion of the court.