This is a bill for the specific performance of a contract dated
The contract provided that if Hazelton should "fail to take advantage of and accept this offer as above within the time mentioned, then this agreement shall be null and void." The bill alleges that a part of the consideration for the contract "was services rendered both before and after the making of said contract, by the plaintiff in bringing the property to the attention of the committees of Congress as a suitable and appropriate site for a hall of records." It sets forth that the plaintiff, before and after the same date, expended much time, labor and money in rendering those services, and what they were, viz., collecting and printing facts for the information of the committees and members of Congress, making briefs and arguments, and drawing a bill for the purchase or condemnation of the square. The bill passed at the session named in the contract. After its passage the plaintiff negotiated, and finally, in August, 1903, concluded a sale of the property in question for $14,395.50, subject to examination of the title and arrangements for payment. It is alleged that the time for settlement under the appropriation has not expired. The bill further alleges that the defendant has notified the plaintiff that he does not intend to keep his contract, but means to convey directly to the United States, and to demand the full price agreed upon by the Government. The defendant has tendered a deed to the United States, which has not been accepted. The plaintiff has offered to the defendant a deed to be executed by the latter and his wife, and tendered $9,000, but the defendant has refused to execute the same. There was a general
We assume that the bill sufficiently shows an acceptance of the defendant's offer within the time, although it does not allege it in terms. We assume also that the consideration is alleged sufficiently, subject to the question whether it is one upon which a contract lawfully may be based. But the court is of opinion that that question must be answered in the negative. Every part of the consideration goes equally to the whole promise and therefore, if any part of it is contrary to public policy, the whole promise falls. Pickering v. Ilfracombe Ry. Co., L.R. 3 C.P. 235, 250; Harrington v. Victoria Graving Dock Co., 3 Q.B.D. 549; Woodruff v. Hinman, 11 Vermont, 592; Clark v. Ricker, 14 N.H. 44; McMullen v. Hoffman, 174 U.S. 639; Bishop v. Palmer, 146 Massachusetts, 469, 474. According to the bill, and no doubt according to the fact, a part of the consideration was services, as we have quoted, and therefore it is not true, as argued, that the plaintiff could have demanded a conveyance on tendering the nine thousand dollars alone. But the services contemplated as a partial consideration of the promise to convey were services in procuring legislation upon a matter of public interest, in respect of which neither of the parties had any claim against the United States. An agreement upon such a consideration was held bad in Tool Co. v. Norris, 2 Wall. 45. Of course we are not speaking of the prosecution of a lawful claim.
It will be noticed further that the conveyance was in substance a contingent fee. The plaintiff was not bound to accept it and naturally would not do so unless he could agree as he did with the Government for a larger price. The real inducement offered to him was that he would receive all that he could persuade the Government to pay above the sum named. It is true that if we take the inartificial statements of the bill literally the part of the consideration which we are discussing was the services, not a promise to render them. The promise to
The general principle was laid down broadly in Tool Co. v. Norris, 2 Wall. 45, 54, that an agreement for compensation to procure a contract from the Government to furnish its supplies could not be enforced irrespective of the question whether improper means were contemplated or used for procuring it. McMullen v. Hoffman, 174 U.S. 639, 648. And it was said that there is no real difference in principle between agreements to procure favors from legislative bodies, and agreements to procure favors in the shape of contracts from the heads of departments. 2 Wall. 55. In Marshall v. Baltimore & Ohio R.R., 16 How. 314, 336, it was said that all contracts for a contingent compensation for obtaining legislation were void, citing, among other cases, Clippinger v. Hepbaugh, 5 W. & S. 315, and Wood v. McCann, 6 Dana (Ky.), 366. See also Mills v. Mills, 40 N.Y. 543. There are other objections which would have to be answered before the bill could be sustained, but that which we have stated goes to the root of the contract and is enough to dispose of the case under the decisions heretofore made.