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ing as contracts on the United States, Cuba, the Philippines, or other governments replacing Spain," and formulates the reasons of his Government as follows:

“There is, they consider, no warrant for the contention raised that the obligations undertaken by Spain in relation to the companies in question are divisible into those for the general benetit of Spain and those exclusively for local benefit. To admit such a contention would, in the opinion of His Majesty's Government, leave it open, in all cases of conquest or cession, to the succeeding government to repudiate the obligations of their predecessors on alleged grounds of motives, which, even if they could be proved to have existed, can not affect the rights of property secured to individuals or companies as a cc asideration for executing works of local improvement. Such a contention is, in the opinion of His Majesty's Government, contrary to the recognized principles of international law."

In his letter sent to this Department on February 5 he adds to this:

"The opinion of July 26 had reference more particularly to the case of the Manila Railroad Company, while the opinion of July 27 applied exclusively to the case of the cable companies.

“Nevertheless, the same principle of international law governs both cases, and I am desired by my Government again to press the claim of the Manila Railroad Company, on the favorable consideration of your Government.

"His Majesty's Government are advised that the company are entitled to a recognition of the whole of their claim."

It is evident from these formal statements, and particularly the latter, that what the British Government desires is that the Attorney-General sball adopt the opinion that the concessions referred to are, in all respects, binding, according to their terms, upon some government as succeeding to the contract obligations of Spain.

I have examined the reasoning of my predecessor, and do not find it incorrect. Neither do I think it necessary to give reasons in addition to those already carefully set forth

by him.

I am not aware of any principle of international law, concerning the transfer of obligations entered into as considerations for “works of local improvement” which precludes an inquiry into the question whether a given work situated in a locality--as all physical things must be--is a “work of local improvement.'

It might similarly be suggested that works known to have been contracted for by the imperial authorities, and used and controlled by them for imperial purposes, must be conclusively presumed to be works of imperial improvement. Respectfully,


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The words “members of said organizations in their own right," as used

in the joint resolution of September 25, 1890 (26 Stat., 681), which provides that the distinctive badges adopted by the military associations of men who served in the armies and navies of the United States during the various wars waged by the United States, may be worn upon all occasions of ceremony by officers and enlisted men of the Army and Navy of the United States, include all those who, under the rules of these orders, were eligible for membership, either because of their own service, or because of their kinship to one who had been in the service.


June 14, 1901. Sır: In response to the question submitted in your note of June 10, 1901, I have the honor to return the following opinion:

The joint resolution of Congress, approved September 23, 1890 (26 Stat., 681), reads as follows:

“That the distinctive badges adopted by military associations of men who served in the armies and navies of the United States in the war of the Revolution, the war of 1812, the Mexican war, and the war of the rebellion, respectively, may be worn upon all occasions of ceremony by officers and enlisted men of the Army and Navy of the United States who are members of said organizations in their own right."

The question arises under the latter portion of this resolution, which I have italicized as above, and is, specifically, whether this includes those who are not members of such organizations by virtue of any military or naval service actually rendered by them, but are such members under the rules of those associations, because of their relation to ancestors who had rendered such service, and raises the question what is the meaning of the words “members of said organizations in their own right."

If this was intended to limit the benefit conferred to those members who actually participated in the wars named, and to exclude those who are members of such associations by inheritance only, as it is called, the expression is an unfortunate one, in that it neither expresses such meaning nor clearly indicates those upon whom the benefit is conferred.

I am referred to the report of the Senate committee reporting the resolution and recommending its adoption, from which it would appear that it was the intention of that committee to exclude those who were such members by inheritance. But, in construing an act of Congress, the individual opinions of its members or its committees, on its passage, are not considered as guides to its meaning, and the meaning of this resolution must be determined from its language, its subject matter, purpose, and attendant facts.

The War Department has given to this resolution the broad construction which does not exclude those who are members of those organizations by reason of their relation to an ancestor who was in service in one of those wars; and it is desirable that in the two coordinate departments to which it equally applies, there should be harmony of construction.

The resolution as first introduced named specifically the military organizations to which it applied, viz, “The Society of the Cincinnati,” “The Aztec Society," “ The National Association of Veterans of the Mexican War," "The Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States," and “The Grand Army of the Republic.” There were also other military organizations of similar character; and, to avoid an invidious distinction, the resolution in its present form was substituted, omitting all names, but referring generally to all of them, of which the five named were the principal ones.

While these orders were composed, in the main, of those who actually participated in the wars, out of which they grew, yet many, and perhaps all of them, make eligible for membership therein certain of the male kindred of those members who did so participate, and thus persons may be members of such orders who never performed any military or naval service. But, it is believed that in none of them is there any such thing as membership by inheritance—that is, wbere one can be or be entitled to become a member by reason of his kinship to one who was a member or who participated in such war; on the contrary, this provision simply defines who may become members, and kinship merely makes one eligible for membership if elected. And in order to this his patriotic and moral character must conform to the standard adopted. Still, there may be and are, such members who have performed no military or naval service in either of the wars named; and the real question is, whether they are excluded from the privilege given by this resolution, while it is conferred upon those members of the same order who have seen such service. Except the honorary membership, the members of these orders are men who have seen service in the wars named and, in some cases, some of their descendants. But it is apparent that those of either class, when members at all, are as much members in their own right as the others. Except as to the original founders, those who organized the order, they all come in and become members by some form of election or choice. The fact of military or naval service does not, per se, necessarily entitle anyone to membership. Those of the first class are elected or chosen, in part, because of their own services; those of the other class are elected or chosen to the same extent because of the service of their ancestors. But the reason for the selection or choice can not affect the character of the membership. By the rules of the orders, one is eligible for membership, because of one fact, and another is equally eligible because of another fact, and, when chosen, each is, and equally, a member in his own right. Indeed, it is not perceived how one could be a member in any other way. In any case it seems certain that this expression is quite insufficient to mark any distinction between those who have seen military or naval service and those who have not.


But, beyond this it is entirely certain that, by no legal construction, can this resolution be held to refer only to members of those orders who actually participated in one of the wars named, to the exclusion of those members who did not.

The resolution authorizes officers and men now in the seriice, to wear the badges of “military associations of men who served in the Armies and Navies of the United States in the war of the Revolution, the war of 1812, the Mexican war, and the war of the Rebellion,” when they “are members of said organizations in their own right."

By any rule of construction this must be so construed as to permit its application to the very orders to which it expressly refers. But as to those associations of men who served in the war of the Revolution or the war of 1812 there are no members now in the service who served in either of those wars; and, unless the resolution refers to those members who saw no service, it is quite idle and unmeaning, so far as it refers to those two orders. But, a fundamental rule requires such a construction, if possible, as will give effect and meaning to all the language used. This can not be done, in this case, by holding that the resolution refers only to members of those orders who are such by reason of their own military or naval service.

The same construction must be applied also to the other orders, for the same language applies to all of them, and the same construction is necessary.

And, if anything may be worn in the Army and the Navy besides the insignia of its present service, surely that may be which commemorates the similar patriotic service of the ancestor of the wearer. It is well for the Army and Navy of the United States, when their officers and men take pride in the display of those mementoes which speak of the patriotism and valor of those from whom they are descended, and no construction that is not a necessary one, should be placed upon such an act of Congress, which would forbid to a brave soldier or sailor the display of tokens showing that he is descended also from a brave ancestor.

It is not necessary bere to determine who were intended to be excluded as not being members in their own right; or

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