APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF CLAIMS.
MR. JUSTICE BREWER delivered the opinion of the court.
On September 24, 1896, the appellant entered in to a contract with the United States for the building of an ironclad, afterwards known as the "Alabama." The contract was authorized by act of Congress of June 10, 1896, c. 399, 29 Stat. 361, 378. Under this act and that of August 3, 1886, c. 849, 24 Stat. 215, to which it refers, the Secretary of the Navy was charged with the duty of supervising the contract on behalf of the United States. After the completion of the vessel and the payment of the stipulated amount there was something asserted to be due to the building company as unliquidated damages on account of extra work caused by the United States, for which it brought suit in the Court of Claims. That
court found the amount to be $49,792.66. Relying upon the decision of this court in a case between the same parties for also the building of an ironclad, the "Indiana," United States v. Wm. Cramp & Sons Co., 206 U.S. 118, the Court of Claims rendered judgment for the defendant. The controversy in this, as in the prior case, turns upon the effect of a release. In that it was in this form:
"The William Cramp and Sons Ship and Engine Building Company, represented by me, Charles II. Cramp, president of said corporation, does hereby for itself and its successors and assigns,and its legal representative, remise, release and forever discharge the United States of and from all and all manner of debts, dues, sum and sums of money, accounts, reckonings, claims, and demands whatsoever, in law or in equity, for or by reason of, or on account of, the construction of said vessel under the contract aforesaid."
Here the same terms of release are used, but they are followed by this proviso:
"Provided, that this release shall not be taken to include claims arising under the said contract other than thos which the Secretary of the Navy had jurisdiction to entertain."
That release was executed on May 18, 1896; this on April 19, 1901. We held that the former release settled all disputes between the parties as to claims "under or by virtue" of the contract. Evidently the proviso was incorporated with the purpose of accomplishing some change in the effect of the release. That purpose is disclosed by prior correspondence. On February 13, 1901, the Secretary of the Navy, answering a letter enclosing a claim for extra work of $66,973.23, writes:
"I have to state that while, from a casual consideration of the matter, it might seem proper that the papers should be referred to the bureaus concerned for examination and report, it appears, after a careful consideration of the subject, that the claim, being for unliquidated damages, is of a kind the department has no authority under the law to entertain."
To which the company replied, suggesting this proviso:
"Provided; That nothing herein shall operate as a waiver of this company's right to sue for and recover judgment in the Court of Claims for damages incurred or losses sustained by the company in the prosecution of the contract work which were occasioned by delays or defaults on the part of the United States" -- and adding, in response to the statement of the Secretary, "that the claim being for unliquidated damages, is of a kind the department has no authority under the law to entertain;" that the act of March 3, 1887, c. 359, 24 Stat. 505, known as the "Tucker Act," vests the Court of Claims with jurisdiction to hear and determine ...