Search Supreme Court Cases


U.S. Supreme Court

Garfielde v. United States, 93 U.S. 242 (1876)

Garfielde v. United States

93 U.S. 242


The Post Office Department, by public notice, invited proposals for conveying the mails on route No.

"43,132, from Portland, Oregon, by Port Townsend (W.T.) and San Juan, to Sitka, Alaska, fourteen hundred miles and back, once a month, in safe and suitable steamboats."

The notice, after fixing the time of departure and arrival from the terminal ports, contained the following: "Proposals incited to begin at Port Townsend (W.T.), five hundred miles less. Present pay, $84,800 per annum."


1. That under sec. 243 of the Act of June 8, 1872, 17 Stat. 313, this was a sufficient notice that proposals were desired for carrying the mails between Port Townsend and Sitka.

2. That the acceptance by the Post Office Department of the proposal of a bidder to so carry them created a contract of the same force and effect as if a formal contract had been written out and signed by the parties.

In addition to the facts set forth in the opinion of the Court, the court below found that the appellant's proposal was as follows:

"The undersigned, Selucius Garfielde, whose post office address is Port Townsend, County of Jefferson, Territory of Washington, proposes to convey the mails of the United States from July 1, 1874, to June 30, 1878, on route No. 43,132, between Port Townsend, and Sitka, Alaska, under the advertisement of the Postmaster General, dated Oct. 1, 1873, in safe and suitable steamboats, 'with celerity, certainty, and security' (law of June 8, 1872), for the annual sum of $26,000. "

Page 93 U. S. 243

"This proposal is made with full knowledge of the distance of the route, the weight of the mail to be carried, and all other particulars in reference to the route and service, and also after careful examination of the laws and instructions attached to advertisement of mail service."

"Dated, Port Townsend, W.T., Jan. 8, 1874."


He made no proposal under the first part of the advertisement for carrying the mail between Portland, Oregon, by Port Townsend, W.T., and San Juan to Sitka, Alaska.

In March, 1874, the following notice of acceptance was sent to said Garfielde:



"WASHINGTON, D.C., March 2, 1874"

"SIR -- The Postmaster General has accepted your proposal, under advertisement of Oct. 1, 1873, for conveying the United States mail, from July 1, 1874, to June 30, 1878, on [Washington Territory] route No. 43,132, between Port Townsend and Sitka, Alaska, at $26,000 a year, 'with celerity, certainty, and security.'"

"Contracts will be sent in due time to the postmaster at your place of residence, which you must execute and return to the department by the first day of June; otherwise you will be considered a failing bidder, and the service will be relet at your expense."

"You will request the postmaster at the beginning and end of the route to inform this office when you make the first trip."

"Respectfully, &c.,"


"Second Assistant Postmaster General"



"Recorded and sent March __, 1874"

And on the eighteenth day of April, 1874, Garfield was informed by telegram that his "proposal" was suspended; and on the 30th of May, 1874, a contract was entered into between the Post Office Department and one Otis for carrying the mails from Portland by Port Townsend and San Juan, to Sitka and back, at $34,800 per annum.

Page 93 U. S. 244

The Court of Claims dismissed the petition, whereupon Garfielde appealed here.

Powered by Justia US Supreme Court Center: GARFIELDE V. UNITED STATES, 93 U. S. 242 (1876)

Official Supreme Court caselaw is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia caselaw is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.