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Opinion of the Court.
identical with the outward route. Where places are desig. nated as on the line of a mail route from one point to another and back, no reason is perceived for their omission on the re turn. There may be instances where retracing the road is not deemed important, or is impracticable in view of particular exigencies; but if so, the difference in route would be specified. And where the transportation is for a given number of miles and back, this does not mean the number named one way and an indefinite and less number the other.
The contractor was clearly required to return to Salinas from Gabilan by the same way he went to Gabilan from Salinas.
The Court of Claims did not take any other view of the language of the contract, but determined the case to the contrary, upon the ground that the contract had been otherwise “ construed by the claimant, and the responsible power of the defendants, and that construction became and was the contract at the time the services were performed covered by the period of deductions." This conclusion is reached as to the Post-Office Department upon the reasoning that as “it was the duty of the postmasters connected with the mail route at the termini to report to the department the manner in which the service was performed, and the presumption is, that they performed their duty and that the department was advised, not only during the time of the performance of the contract in contro versy but the antecedent contracts, covering the same service embraced in contract No. 46,118;” and as the evidence was, " that on October 23, 1878, the Acting Second Assistant Postmaster General certified to the Auditor of the Treasury for the Post-Office Department that for the quarter ending September 30, 1878, there had been no failure or delinquency in the execution of the contract upon the part of the contractor;” and as “it is safe to assume that for all preceding payments the same certificate was made, based upon reports furnished by the postmasters connected with route No. 46,118;" the acts of “the responsible officers of the department being in possession of the same information and knowledge” as the postmasters, “commit the defendant to the construction of the agreement as placed upon it by the parties who performed
Opinion of the Court.
the labor of its execution, and who were cognizant of the mode in which it was performed."
The Department did not direct or affirmatively permit the contractor to pursue the course he did, and if he could recover in whole or in part, upon the ground of an acquiescence equivalent to assent in a certain mode of dealing with the subject matter of the contract, the burden was on him to show knowledge or information by the Department of his conduct in the premises. No evidence to establish such knowledge or information having been adduced, the case was made to rest upon the presumption that the postmasters at the termini, where the schedules of the time of the arrival and departure of the mails were kept and registers thereof made and returned, were acquainted with the terms of the contract and claimant's non-compliance therewith, and this being presumed, upon the further presumption that they must have reported the failure in performance to the Department.
In United States v. Ross, 92 U. S. 281, 284, Mr. Justice Strong, speaking for the court, says:
“The presumption that public officers have done their duty, like the presumption of innocence, is undoubtedly a legal presumption; but it does not supply proof of a substantive fact. Best, in his Treatise on Evid. sect. 300, says: “The true principle intended to be asserted by the rule seems to be, that there is a general disposition in courts of justice to uphold judicial and other acts rather than to render them inoperative; and with this view, where there is general evidence of act having been legally and regularly done, to dispense with proof of circumstances, strictly speaking, essential to the validity of those acts, and by which they were probably accompanied in most instances, although in others the assumption may rest on grounds of public policy. Nowhere is the presumption held to be a substitute for proof of an independent and material fact."
Section 3849 of the Revised Statutes provides that “every postmaster shall promptly report to the Postmaster General every delinquency, neglect, or malpractice of the contractors, their agents or carriers, which comes to his knowledge."
Opinion of the Court.
By none of the findings of fact is it shown that the delinquency in question ever came to the knowledge of the postmasters at the termini of this mail route. But under Finding VI it appears that “on March 22, 1882, Second Assistant Postmaster General addressed a letter to the postmaster at Natividad and received information from him on April 6. 1882, that the mail was not carried from Gabilan by way of Natividad and Santa Rita, and that such had been the practice since the present contractor had the contract. The postmaster at Santa Rita certified to the Postmaster General that such had been the practice since he became postmaster. The date of the letters as to the continuance of the mode of carrying the mails was May 1, 1882;” and from Finding III, that the Postmaster General instantly repudiated that manner of carrying the mails, and that they were not so carried for the remaining quarter under the contract.
Of course the postmasters at Santa Rita and Natividad knew that the mails did not come back through those places, but it does not follow that they were aware that the contractor was obliged so to carry them. Indeed, as they made no effort to have this state of things remedied, so far as appears, it is rather to be presumed that they were not aware that it was the result of the delinquency of the contractor.
The fact of knowledge on the part of the postmasters of the delinquency, from which the inference is drawn that they reported it, was a fact to be proven and not to be presumed. If they knew of the delinquency it was undoubtedly their duty to report it, but it is not to be assumed that they did report it, without some evidence of such knowledge; and upon this record the irresistible inference is that the delinquency, if reported, would not have been permitted to continue.
The certificate of the Second Assistant Postmaster General is dated October 23, 1878, and states that the mails had been carried “without any failures or delinquencies, so far as shown by returns received, for the quarter ended September 30, 1878.” As the contract was a plain one, and was not performed according to its terms, we think this certificate indi
cates clearly that the returns received" did not show the non-performance. So far from strengthening the alleged presumption that the postmasters reported the facts as they existed, its effect is to the contrary. What they did report, in fact, is not shown; and, inasmuch as under Finding VI no other inference can be drawn than that the first information that the Postmaster General had that the mail was not carried from Gabilan by way of Natividad and Santa Rita, was April 6, 1882, we cannot accept the conclusion that the responsible officers of the Department were in possession of information and knowledge of the conduct of the contractor before that time, and acquiesced in the manner in which he carried the mails during the period in question, or during the preceding years, in respect to which it is found that he so operated the route under a similar contract.
We can find nothing in the findings to justify us in holding that the Department paid this claimant the full measure of his compensation prior to March 31, 1882, with knowledge of the manner in which he was performing the work, or that the Department ever put the interpretation upon the contract which is now contended for, or induced the contractor to enter into the contract by reason of any such interpretation on its part. The deduction of $746.25 was properly made, and the conclusion of law on the facts found was erroneous. The judgment is reversed and the cause remanded with di
rections to enter judgment for the United States.
No. 163. Submitted December 13, 1889. - Decided December 23, 1889.
Plaintiff imported into the United States a quantity of iron advertising or
show cards of various sizes. They were sold here for advertising pur
Statement of the Case.
poses, to hang on walls, or in windows, in public places, and contained generally the name of the person or of the article advertised and some picture or ornament, which were printed from lithographic stones upon the plates of sheet iron in the same way that lithographing is done upon paper or cardboard. The principal part of the value of the completed card was in the printing done upon the material, and not in the material itself; Held, that they were subject to a duty of 45 per cent ad valorem as manufactures, etc., not specially enumerated or provided for, composed wholly or in part of iron, under the last paragraph of Schedule C, Rev. Stat. $ 2502, as enacted March 3, 1883, 22 Stat. 501, c. 121; and not as printed matter not specially enumerated or provided for, under the first paragraph of Schedule M in the same amending act.
This cause was heard by the district judge for the District of New Hampshire, holding the Circuit Court, upon the following agreed statement of facts:
“ This was an action in which the writ was dated April 18, 1884, brought by the Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Company, a corporation located at Boston, in said district, to recover back $1081.42, the amount of duties alleged by them to have been illegally exacted by the defendant Worthington, as collector of the port of Boston, on certain merchandise described in the invoice and entries as iron show-cards' imported by them. The pleadings may be referred to. The plaintiffs imported these cards into the port of Boston from Paris, in France, by different steamers from Liverpool, the importations being made in ten separate lots, and extending from December 19, 1883, to April 2, 1884.
“ On each importation as received the plaintiffs paid the assessed duties under protest, and duly filed such protest with the collector and their appeal with the Secretary of the Treasury. A copy of one of the protests, which may stand for all, is hereto annexed and marked ‘A,' and this action was seasonably brought.
“ The collector exacted a duty of forty-five per centum ad valorem (amounting in the aggregate to $2432.62), under the clause in Schedule C (last section of the tariff law of March 3, 1883, which is as follows: Manufactures, articles, or wares, not specially enumerated or provided for in this act, composed wholly or in part of iron
or any other metal, and