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EDMUND F. TRABUE, Louisville, Ky.,
EDWIN T. MERRICK, New Orleans, La.,
WILFORD G. CHAPMAN, Portland, Me.,
WILLIAM L. MARBURY, Baltimore, Md.,
JEREMIAH SMITH, JR., Boston, Mass.,
CYRENIUS P. BLACK, Lansing, Mich.,
JAMES S. SEXTON, Hazlehurst, Miss.,
CHARLES NAGEL, St. Louis, Mo.,
D. GAY STIVERS, Butte, Mont.,
WILLIAM D. McHugh, Omaha, Neb.,
Hugh H. Brown, Tonopah, Nev.,
JAMES SCHOULER, Intervale, N. H.,
WILLIAM C. REID, Roswell, N. M.,
A. T. CLEARWATER, Kingston, N. Y.,
HARRY SKINNER, Greenville, N. C.,
HARRISON A. BRONSON, Grand Forks, N. D.,
CHARLES B. WILBY, Cincinnati, Ohio,
JAMES R. KEATON, Oklahoma City, Okla.,
FREDERICK V. HOLMAN, Portland, Ore.,
RODNEY A. MERCUR, Towanda, Pa.,
THOMAS A. JENCKES, Providence, R. I.,
P. ALSTON WILLCOX, Florence, S. C.,
U.S. G. CHERRY, Sioux Falls, S. D.,
John B. KEEBLE, Nashville, Tenn.,
ROBERT G. STREET, Galveston, Tex.,
EDWARD B. CRITCHLOW, Salt Lake City, Utah,
GEORGE B. YOUNG, Newport, Vt.,
EPPA HUNTON, JR., Richmond, Va.,
CHARLES E. SHEPARD, Seattle, Wash.,
D. J. F. STROTHER, Welch, W. Va.,
BURR W. JONES, Madison, Wis.,
John W. LACY, Cheyenne, Wyo.





To the American Bar Association:

The special committee to present to Congress three bills relating to courts of the United States sitting in admiralty, respectfully reports as follows:

The Lien Bill, having been heretofore approved by the President, as already reported, needs no further notice; the bill to authorize suits against the United States for damages caused by government vessels has made no progress since the last annual meeting of the Association.

The bill to provide a remedy for death by negligence upon the high seas and other navigable waters has received much attention from the special committee of the Association. Having been introduced by Representative Peters of Massachusetts in the Sixty-third Congress (H. R. No. 6143), it was on December 22, 1913, reported with unanimous recommendation from the Committee on the Judiciary of the House, certain unimportant amendments having first been made in committee.

On December 16, 1914, Chairman Webb called up the Peters Bill practically in the form last submitted to the Association, only a few minor changes having been afterwards made by the Judiciary Committee. Congressman Bryan of Washington, laboring perhaps under a misconception as to the scope of the measure, vigorously contested it. He seemed to think that the committee proposed a workmen's compensation law for the high seas, and not to realize that the sole purpose is to provide a right of action for death in the admiralty where a remedy exists for injuries not resulting in death; or in other words, to amend the maritime law of the United States by statute as the common law of the states has been amended by state legislation. In consequence of Mr. Bryan's opposition, adjournment was taken without action.


Thereafter, your committee, at the request of Mr. Webb, endeavored to answer the criticisms of Mr. Bryan, and in consequence much correspondence and many personal interviews ensued, members of the special committee and of the committee of the Maritime Law Association appearing in advocacy of the bill before the House committee.

Further amendments having been made by the Judiciary Committee, the bill came up for final passage in the House on January 6, 1915, when it was strongly supported by Chairman Webb, by Representative Montague of Virginia, and others; and despite the unabated opposition of Mr. Bryan passed the House by the encouraging vote of 284 to 14.

Unfortunately, however, the bill was, prior to passage, amended from the floor by the addition of a section, which sought to establish a new standard of limitation of liability, extending even to pending cases. The obvious purpose of this amendment was to govern the special case of the “ Titanic" in the Southern District of New York, in which case the Supreme Court of the United States had already held (May 25, 1914) the measure of liability fixed by the American law in limitation proceedings to be controlling, although the claimants had vigorously contended in favor of applying the more liberal British law to the case. The effect of the amendment would have been to increase the fund for distribution from $91,805.54 to $2,500,000 (approximately).

Moreover, the entire amendment, thus interpolated into the bill immediately prior to passage by the House, was foreign to the subject matter of the measure, which bears no relation to limitation of liability by shipowners, but is solely “ An Act Relating to the Maintenance of Actions for Death on the High Seas and other Navigable Waters."

In addition, the bill was so amended at the last moment, as to be capable of the construction that two recoveries might be had—one under the state act and one under the federal act.

These changes rendered the bill hopelessly objectionable to the special committee of the Association as well as to the committee of the Maritime Law Association, and no report from the Senate Judiciary Committee with adequate changes having been possible in view of the divergent views of those advocating the adoption of the law, the reform long advocated by the Association must lie over until the next session of Congress.

Since the adjournment on March 4, 1915, the Maritime Law Association, in which the movement for the reform originated, has adopted a resolution directing its committee on the death statute to re-draft the bill and to report at a meeting of that Association to be held on November 22, 1915, in New York City.

The special committee of the Association proposes, if continued, to take up with the committee of the Maritime Law Association the matter of reframing the bill so as to obviate some of the difficulties which have developed, and thereafter to bring about its re-introduction at the next session of Congress, which opens December 6, 1915.

Therefore, the special committee now recommends that it be further continued, with directions to endeavor by all proper measures to procure the passage of the proposed death statute, and also of the proposed statute to authorize suits against the United States for damages by government vessels, in conformity with the policy heretofore declared by the Association, and with power to make, in the discretion of the special committee, such amendments of phraseology in either of the bills as it may

deem appropriate or expedient. All of which is respectfully submitted.


Committee. June 15, 1915.

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To the American Bar Association:

Your Special Committee on Government Liens on Real Estate begs leave to report that the only matter pending before your committee relates to the removal and disposition of government liens.

The last report of your committee, recommended that an effort be made to secure the passage by Congress of the proposed act embodied in that report, which was approved and appears on pages 626 to 628 of the proceedings of 1914. No effort has been made by your committee to bring about the enactment of the legislation mentioned, during the past year, as it was deemed better policy that the matter be presented to the Congress which will convene in December of the present year, as, in view of the great amount of business pending before the short session of the last Congress, it seemed to be unwise to attempt to obtain the passage of the bill.

Your committee therefore respectfully recommends that the matter be referred to a like committee to be appointed by the next President of your Association, with instructions to cause the proposed act to be presented to the Sixty-fourth Congress.

Respectfully submitted,


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