James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Alexander James Dallas, 21 March 1816

Treasury Department, March 21, 1816

The Secretary of the Treasury, to whom the President of the United States referred the resolution of the 29th February, 1816, requesting that there be laid before the House of Representatives "a statement of the cases in which he has employed, or caused to be employed, counsel to assist the Attorney General prosecuting causes in the Supreme Court of the United States, stating, as nearly as may be, the amount of the property in dispute in each case, the names of the counsel so employed, the period of employing them, and the compensation granted to them in each case; also, the manner of making such compensation, and the fund out of which the same was paid," has the honor to present the following report:

That it appears to have been the practice of the Government to employ counsel to assist the Attorney General, and also the district attorneys, in cases of great importance, either as to the principle or as to the value involved in the controversy. Thus, for example, so early as February term, 1796, of the Supreme Court, Alexander Hamilton received a fee of $500 to assist the Attorney General in maintaining the affirmative upon the question respecting the constitutionality of the carriage tax, and Alexander Campbell and Jared Ingersoll, counsel maintaining the negative, received a fee of $233 33, under an agreement that, for the purpose of obtaining a final decision, the United States should pay all the expenses incident to the transfer of the cause from the circuit court to the Supreme Court.

That, on the 24th March, 1804, in obedience to a resolution of the House of Representatives of the 3d of the same month, the Secretary of the Treasury presented a statement "of all the moneys which, since the establishment of the present Government, had been paid at the Treasury of the United States as fees to assistant counsel, and for legal advice in the business of the United States, in which were distinguished the several sums, when paid, for what services, and to whom paid respectively," amounting, in the whole, to the sum of $5,022 16.

That the statement hereunto annexed, marked A, contains a like specification of all the moneys paid or payable at the Treasury of the United States, from the 24th March, 1804, until the present time, for the employment of counsel to assist or to represent the Attorney General in causes depending in the Supreme Court of the United States, amounting, in the whole, to the sum of $4,540.

That this Department does not possess the means of stating the amount of the property in dispute in each case in which assistant counsel has been employed in the Supreme Court, but it is confidently believed, from general information, that, in every such case, either the value of the property was great, or the principle of the controversy was important, or the employment of assistant counsel, in the cases of sickness or other casualties, was essential to the public interests, as will more particularly appear by the notes accompanying the statement A.

That the manner of making the compensation to the assistant counsel has uniformly been by issuing the warrants of the Secretary of the Treasury, founded upon the official settlement of the Comptroller and Auditor, and by paying the amount, either out of the appropriation annually passed by Congress "for the discharge of such miscellaneous claims against the United States not otherwise provided for as shall have been admitted in due course of settlement at the Treasury," or out of the appropriations annually made "for the discharge of such demands against the United States, on account of the civil department, not otherwise provided for, as shall have been admitted in due course of settlement at the Treasury."

All which is respectfully submitted.

A.J. Dallas,
Secretary of the Treasury.

Printed Source--American State Papers. 38 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Gales and Seaton, 1831-61)..

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