1 minute read

Kendall v. United States

The President Fails To Intervene

Frustrated in their efforts to get money that they regarded as legitimately theirs, Stockton and Stokes went to President Jackson himself. Jackson, however, refused to act. Instead, he referred them back to Congress. The House of Representatives did nothing in response, but the Senate reiterated that Maxcy's recommendation should be followed. In other words, Kendall was supposed to pay the $40,000.

Kendall was stubborn, and he believed he was in the right. He refused to pay. So Stockton and Stokes went to the U.S. Circuit Court of the District of Columbia. They asked for a writ of mandamus, an order forcing Kendall to act.

Because the president had failed to take any decisive action in the matter to this point, and because Kendall, as part of the Cabinet, represented the president, Kendall began to feel concerned. He felt that Jackson's lack of action had shown the executive branch in a bad light. In circuit court he filed an opinion of the president's official lawyer, Attorney General Benjamin F. Butler, arguing that a U.S. circuit court had no power to force a member of the executive branch to do anything related to his job.

Stockton and Stokes refused to back down from their claim. The case went to court. Meanwhile, both Kendall and Maxcy turned to the press to argue their points. The case became an 1838 version of a "media circus."

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882Kendall v. United States - Significance, A Carriage And A Pair Of Horses, The President Fails To Intervene, The Separation Of Powers