The United States government (plaintiff) sued Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Company (Canal) (defendant) to recover three unpaid dividends on the government's stock in Canal. Canal had paid fourteen previous dividends. At trial, the government was allowed to introduce evidence taken from United States Department of the Treasury record books that were compiled by constitutional and statutory authority and under the Secretary of the Treasury's direction. The books recorded fourteen dividend payments but not the three payments in question. Canal objected that the record books were inadmissible because they were not certified copies of the original payment records. The government prevailed at trial, and the appellate court affirmed the judgment. On appeal to the United States Supreme Court, Canal repeated its argument that the record books were inadmissible.