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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by Little, Brown, & Co., in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
CONTENTS OF No.* I.
AMERICAN LAW REYIEW.
Vol. IV.] BOSTON, OCTOBER, 1869. [No. 1.
It is sometimes said that the same principles are applicable alike to government contracts and the undertakings of private individuals. Regarding this subject, however, in its legal and practical bearings, and not from an ethical standpoint, it will be seen that this statement admits of several important qualifications.
In the first place, usage sanctions among individuals what it may not when Government is concerned. Thus the payment of interest, which will be enforced on ordinary contracts, cannot be claimed from the United States, unless expressly stipulated; for the mercantile custom of paying interest is the foundation of such a demand, and no such custom was ever recognized by this Government where it was the party delinquent.1 And in general terms it may be said, that, while usage shapes much of the law relating to contracts, usage among business men is one thing, and the usage of Government another.
And again, while the contracts of individuals make up an almost infinite variety, and are in general restrained only by the universal principles of morality and public policy, government contracts exist for specific purposes only, arc limited in their scope by the statutes which give them validity, and are peculiarly affected by considerations of public policy. For instance, by the laws of the United States, no public contract can be made with a member of Congress. Whoever, then, proposes to enter into an agreement
1 7 Att. Gen. Opin. 523; Todd v. United Slates, Dev. C. CI. 93. vol. Iv. 1