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Whitfield v. United States, 92 U.S. 165 (1875)

Whitfield v. United States

92 U.S. 165


A. sold cotton to the Confederate States, accepted their bonds in payment therefor, but remained in possession of it until its seizure by the agents of the United States, who sold it and paid the proceeds into the treasury. Held that A. cannot recover such proceeds in an action against the United States.

During the war of the rebellion, Whitfield, a resident of the State of Alabama, being the owner of a hundred and seventy-seven bales of cotton raised by himself, sold it to the Confederate States, agreeing to receive in payment their eight percent bonds. In January, 1865, payment of the purchase price was made and accepted in bonds of the kind agreed upon, payable to bearer and falling due in the years 1868, 1871, and 1880. Whitfield kept the bonds in his possession and at the trial of this case below produced them in open court. The cotton was never taken away by the Confederate States authorities, but remained in his possession until Sept 1, 1865, when it was

Page 92 U. S. 166

seized by the treasury agents of the United States, acting under color of the authority of the abandoned and captured property acts. After the seizure, fifty-nine bales were, pursuant to an arrangement, restored to him, as compensation for putting the cotton in good order, and the remaining one hundred and eighteen bales sent forward to New York, where they were sold by the cotton agent of the United States, and the proceeds paid into the treasury. This suit was brought to recover these proceeds.

In the Court of Claims, the petition was dismissed, whereupon Whitfield appealed to this Court.

Page 92 U. S. 169

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