Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

JUNE 11, 1834.]
Reports on the Post Office.

(SENATE. that, in case the postage fund failed, he might anticipate from the Postmaster General, on account of that opposithe postage receipts, by borrowing as much money as may tion, the fact has not come to my knowledge. From the be necessary to carry into effect the designs of the fra- year 1810 to the year 1829, I was a contractor under the mers of the law?

Department to carry a number of mails in the State of The Senator from Georgia (Mr. FORSYTH) has remind- New Hampshire. At no time, I believe, did these coned us that Mr. Monroe, as the head of the War Depart-tracts exceed the sum of three thousand dollars per anment, raised money without the authority of law, to assist num. Contracts were issued to me under Mr. Granger, in carrying on the war, in a time of exigency. For that Mr. Meigs, and Mr. McLean. In no instance under either act, the gratitude of every true friend of the country was of these gentlemen, did I ever obtain a contract but on extended to him, as for that and other kindred acts, the terms of fair competition with all other bidders. The circurses of an opposition who refused their money to the cumstance of having been for twenty years a contractor, country in its utmost need, were heaped upon his head. enables me to explain what was yesterday made a grave This act of Mr. Monroe was essentially different from that subject of complaint against the Department in the State of hiring money in aid, of the Post Office Department. which I have the honor to represent. It was as different as the nature of the two Departments In that State, among a number of others, Horatio Hill is different-the one an expending, and the other an ac- is a contractor for several routes. As his name happens cumulating Department-the one hiring money with the to be associated with another, who is the conductor of a certainty that it would be expended without a return, and newspaper--for lie is no political writer, and scarcely a the other hiring money to carry into effect a law which politician himself—the keen optics of the committee were provided no other means for its execution--the one invol- directed to the discovery of some alarming, some astoundving directly the Treasury of the nation, and the other ing favoritism in his case. They could not find, on a only anticipating its own earnings.

careful inspection of the contracts, any extra allowances; The act of March 3d, 1835, is imperative on the Post- but they did find what greatly alarmed the Senator from master General. That act says, “he shall provide for New Jersey. They found written out on the face of his the carriage of the mail on all post roads that are or may contracts, what I have good reason to believe they would be established by law, and as often as he, having regard have found written out other contracts in that part of to the productiveness thereof, and other circumstances, the country, a grant of what is called "the newspaper shall think proper.” And again: “he shall pay all ex- privilege.” Now, sir, can you divine what this newspenses which may arise in conducting the Post Office, and paper privilege means? The Senator from New Jersey in the conveyance of the mail, and all other necessary appears to be altogether in the clouds on this matter; and expenses arising on the collection of the revenue and lest he should continue to suppose that the newspaper management of the General Post Office.” Can any thing privilege in the Granite State were some infernal machine, be plainer than the requirements of the law in this case? slaying his political friends by thousands, I will attempt He must “ provide for the carriage of the mail,” and he to quiet his apprehensions and set him right. must "pay all expenses” for carrying the mail, &c. Do In New Hampshire, as in some of the other New Engnot these positive commands to do, imply the power of land States, almost every farmer and mechanic is well raising the means by which the thing is to be done? informed on political affairs, and takes one or more news

Senators may talk as they will of "the violated laws" papers. Ever since I had any knowledge of that State, in the case of the General Post Office. “The violated in most of the towns through which a mail carrier passed, laws" has been sounded in our ears—it has been sent forth these newspapers are carried and delivered by the carfrom this Capitol and returned again to us much too often riers, at the doors of those who took them.

The prividuring the present session to produce the effect intended, lege of thus carrying and delivering newspapers out of either here or elsewhere. “There is no terror, Cassius, the mail, had been undisturbed ever since the establishin your threats.” Talk of “ violated laws" in the honest ment of the Post Office Department, although the law desire of a public officer to further the public interest. 1 might be so construed as to require that all newspapers once heard of a man, high in office, who, at the last mo- should be carried in the mail. This practice had been ment of his power, drew from the treasury a sum of mon continued without any notice of the newspaper privilege ey to bestow on a favorite, without the color of law, under on the face of the contract; and newspapers were carried the pretence of purchasing land for the public service. out of the mail through all parts of New England. About Little would it become such a man to throw his missiles four or five years ago, some agent of the Departmentat the Postmaster General, for simply anticipating the and these agents have been kept up under all administrafund derived on the postage of letters, by borrowing tions—discovered that persons in some of the cities and money to carry on the establishment until the fund shall larger towns, were in the habit of evading the payment be realized.

of postage, by wrapping their letters in a newspaper, and The charge against the Post Office Department in cor- forwarding them in ihe mail stage. To correct this evil, ruptly expending large sums of money to effect the last an order was issued from the Department directing the carPresidential election, now comes to be considered. riers to carry no newspapers out of the mail. As might

The Senator from Delaware says, “gists of hundreds be well supposed, this order was not well received by of thousands of dollars to the pets and agents of the De- the newspaper readers; they could not readily consent, partment” have been made for purposes of electioneering: while the carrier passed daily by their doors, to travel a Where, and on whom have these gifts been bestowed? distance of half a dozen miles, or even one mile, to a post If we take the extra allowances that have been made, it office, to obtain their newspapers. The Department very will be found that, throughout the Union, they have been soon relaxed its orders in relation to newspapers, and made as often to political opponents as io political friends. suffered the carriers to take them as usual. In some in So far as my personal k{nowledge extends-and it is con- stances, if not in all, where newspapers had been thus fined principally to New England—the old contractors carried by contractors, to put an end to all doubt on the have generally continued in their places; and a large ina- subject, the newspaper privilege-meaning the right to jority of the contractors are not of the party which sup carry and deliver newspapers out of the mail-was noted ports the administration. Very few of the contractors in in the proposals; and where the proposals were accepted, ihat section of the country have ever been known as this condition was of course entered on the face of the active electioneers for the administration. I have known contract. This trifling incident, in no wise altering what many of them to be very zealous in sustaining a former bad been the practice from time immemorial throughout administration; but if any one of them has had less favor the whole interior of New England, is the whole amount

SENATE.]

Reports on the Post Office.

(June 11, 1834.

of the enormity that has been perpetrated with malice consisting principally of old federalists, aided by a portion prepense, by the Department, in the case of Horatio Hill. of nominal republicans, who were more anxious for the if the Senator from New Jersey, or the majority of the honors and emoluments of office, than for the furtherance Post Office committee, will call for persons and papers of any honest principle. The same contractors who were at the Department, he or they will probably find that there here in 1828, in most instances are now contractors; not are cases of contract other than that of Horatio Hill, in one of them, I will dare allege, has lost his contract, or which this newspaper privilege has been inserted; at all been deprived of the benefits of his bid by the present events, they may ascertain that the “patent privilege" is Postmaster General, on account of his political opinions. not confined to the State of New Hampshire, or to one The appointment of postmasters stands on a different side of the political question; and that newspapers are principle from that of contractors. The administration carried out of the mail as well in Maine, Massachusetts, for the time being has a right to prefer its political friends Vermont, and Connecticut, as in New Hampshire. in the appointment of postmasters; and where unreason

It is not my purpose, Mr. President, to combat all the able, violent, and virulent political partisans occupy the positions assumed in the report of the majority of the post offices, it is but following the practice of Mr. JefferPost Office Committee. I have a right to complain that son to supersede them. From the loud complaints which they should go far out of their way to make mistakes in have been thundered in our ears from Georgia to Maine, relation to my State. They would represent us as being it might well be supposed that by this time very few inpeculiarly the favorites of the Department, and they make dividuals, with opinions adverse to the general adminisan invidious comparison between us and our sister Ver-tration, would be found in office. The world would be mont. If I correctly understand the report, they say astonished to learn, that at this moment a majority of the that more than double the amount is paid to contractors post offices in the six New England States are in the hands for carrying the mails in New Hampshire that is paid in of our political adversaries. This fact alone would go Vermont-conveying the idea either that contractors are very far to disprove the political favoritism which is aloverpaid in one, and underpaid in the other, or that one leged against the Department. State has far greater privileges from the mails than the A loud subject of complaint now is, that four several other. I have not had time since the reading of that re- publishers of newspapers are employed to furnish, at a port, to make a minute examination into this matter; but fair price, the printed blanks, paper, twine, and wrapping I will venture the assertion, that if the committee will paper, used in the offices throughout the United States. further examine persons and papers, they will find that These articles are dealt out in large or small quantities to the mail of the United States is carried weekly, monthly, the several offices, precisely as they may be called for: and yearly, a greater number of miles in Vermont than the written requisition of the postmaster is made to the in New Hampshire, and that the cost of transportation postmaster of the place where the articles are supplied, per mile is as great, if not greater, in the former as in who directs what quantity shall be sent; and the certifithe latter State. I presume the mistake of the com- cate of the latter is the voucher in settlement of the acmittee in this matter results from the fact of the connex- count at the end of the quarter. The supplies for all the ion of the routes running through the States of Massa- post offices in a State, may average, in the smaller States, chusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine, into New six hundred to a thousand, and fifteen hundred dollars in Hampshire, by which it is made to appear to them that the larger States, each, in a year. The whole sum exwe really have the benefits which are actually conferred pended for a year in the New England States, will not on our sister States.

probably amount to half as much as will the single job of The political friends of the Senators who assail New printing thirty thousand reports and documents on the Hampshire, who are mail contractors in that State, will Post Office. Seventeen thousand five hundred dollars not thank them for the manner in which their contracts does not appear to be grudged—and the printing paid for are noticed. Even in that State, which is pointed at as at a much higher rate than that paid by the Post Office a greater political sinner than her sisters, much the largest Department for printing blanks to the printer of the amount of money paid by the Post Office Department to Senate-who seems recently to have become to certain mail contractors, goes directly into the pockets of our gentlemen of the North scarcely less an object of favor political opponents; and so long as they shall conduct as than he was four years ago of disfavor. If the Post honorable opponents--so long as they shall continue to Office Department, or any part of its business, can be do business, and treat alike men on all sides of every po- proved to be guilty of any act of extravagance equalling litical question--so long as they shall treat us as fairly as this proposition for printing thirty thousand copies of a they do those who differ from us in opinion—there will report, calculated, wherever it shall be read, to mislead be little disposition on our part to deprive them of at the people, whether intentional or not, in many important least equal rights with others in an bonorable competi- facts, I will freely give my vote to place the Department tion for the pay and emoluments of carrying the public under guardianship, as non compos mentis. mails in the Granite State.

Many of the charges in the report, as well as in the I have said, sir, that the patronage of the Post Office speeches of the Senators from Ohio and Delaware, are Department is not confined to the friends of the adminis- set forth as new offences. There is not a practice in the tration. Of the money paid to mail contractors of the Department which they condemn, (if we except, perextra allowances made to mail contractors in the six New haps, that of having money to any considerable amount,) England States, much the larger portion has gone, and that is not derived from the predecessors of the present continues to go, into the hands of political opponents. I Postmaster General. was in this city as a mail contractor in the fall of The appointment of agents to vjmit the different sections 1828, previous to the closing of my contracts with the of the country, and ascertain the condition of the several Department. The New England contractors were gener- post offices, and the manner in which contracts are perally here at that time. I was not a little surprised to be formed, is loudly complained of.

Yet the fact cannot be told that I was the only open and decided friend of the denied, that these agents were als numerous, and as exelection of Andrew Jackson among them all, and was pensive, in proportion to the extent of the Department, asked how I could expect to obtain any contracts. The under Gideon Granger, Return J. Meigs, or John McLean, contest was then fierce and warm. I was at that time as they are under William T. Bar ry. the conductor of a newspaper, and bad the fortune to be considered worthy of persecution for opinion's sake, by secret-service money, are complained of. Those have

So, likewise, secret agents, and the expenditures of an accidental ascendency of a piebald party in my State, existed under former administrations; and the prompt

JUNE 11, 1834.]
Reports on the Post Office.

(SENATE. anul vigilant manner in which robbery and theft have been of arresting that tendency? I will now propose one of detected by these secret agents, in different sections of my remedies for him to consider, and which, perhaps, the country, furnish abundant evidence of their utility. when he learns it, may be thought by him all-sufficient, so The agents under no former administration, it is believed, far as he is concerned to know. I would recommend to have better performed their duty than those under the the Postmaster General, in the plenitude of his power in present Postmaster General.

the matter of making contracts, to enter into one with On the subject of extra allowances for improvements, Mr. Timothy Upham, of New Hampshire, if that gen. it is well known that they have been made to the extent tleman could be prevailed upon, for a liberal compensaequal to the ability of the Department under all former tion, to engage in it

. The si service to be rendered” by alministrations. It was a rule of the late Postmaster Ge. that contract, should be to oversee, and keep in proper neral, (Judge McLean, ) to extend them as far as the funds subjection, by salutary discipline, a class of most scurrilof the Department would admit. He did extend them, ous libellers in a certain quarter, as well those who have in some years of his administration, beyond the receipts. not, as those who have " the newspaper privilege;" anıl The present Postmaster General has continued to extend whenever, in the performance of his duties under such them; and if in any case he has made an allowance for an arrangement, that gentlemen should find it necessary facilities beyond their value, it must be because he has to inflict personal castigation, he should have leave, in been deceived; if he has committed any errors, they are the slang of the Department, to improve his bid" and errors of the head, not of the heart.

receive an “extra allowance" of at least five hundred Post office twine, and blanks, and wrapping paper, dollars for every such "additional service” rendered. have been furnished by the Department in former times, That, sir, would be one of my remedies. Of its efficacy as they are now furnished; and if friends to the adminis- I leave the member to judge. tration have been preferred to enemies, in performing Mr. LEIGH said, the Senate, perhaps, might rememthis service, we may expect the disappointed party to ber that he had taken occasion, some time ago, to call its complain, but we can feel for them little sympathy. attention to the system of extra allowances to mail con. This party will continue to cry out against proscription, tractors, as exhibited by the Blue Book, and had referred so long as they cannot obtain every thing themselves. to a very remarkable page in that register, containing an Complaints, however, come from them with no very good unusual number of extra allowances, and to large amounts, grace. I have this day read a Connecticut paper, which to mail contractors in Virginia. On that occasion, of mentions, as a consequence of the liberal reign of the course, he had mentioned the names of the contractors to new-fashioned whigs in that State, that at the late session whom those allowances were there stated to have been of the Legislature, in the single county of Hartford, one made; and, as the subject before the Senate was a memosheriff, three judges of the county court, eight judges of rial from Culpeper, he took notice, that one of these con. probate, and eighty-three justices of the peace, were tractors was a resident of that county, and was very active superseded in a single day. Taking all the counties of in politics. This gentleman considered this bare mention that State, at a similar rate, the removal by the self-styled of the facts in his case as an imputation, against which it “whigs,” for opinion's sake, in one month, in that state, behooved him to defend himself before the public; and, would be greater than all the removals made by General without denying the facts at all, he entered into a labored Jackson, during more than five years he has been in vindication of his integrity and purity, and of the fairness office, for all causes whatever.

and propriety of the extra allowances made to him. In On the whole, Mr. President, I cannot say I regret the doing this, his own conscience had been his accuser, the scrutiny which the Post Office Department has encoun- witness against him, and the judge. He (Mr. L.) had tered from the examination of a hostile committee. If made no accusation, given no testimony, pronounced no that committee, secking occasions to criminate the De- sentence. His object was general—to call the attention partment, has discovered any thing censurable, censure of the Senate to the extra allowances exhibited by the should be bestowed as it shall be deserved. If the com- Blue Book-to show that extra allowances, so numerous, mittee has told more than was true on one side, there is and to such vast amounts, were directly contrary to the also good reason to believe that much of the truth remains principle of the laws regulating the Post Office Departto be told in relation to the other side. If they have not ment; that they constituted a system of favoritism, which, spared the transactions of the friends of the administra. if not corrected, must work corruption; and that this abuse tion in connexion with the business of the Department, had been carried to greater excess in Virginia than in there is certainly good reason to believe that the contracts any other State of the Union. and extra allowances for carrying mails, and the blanks, He had never doubted that extra allowances might be paper, and twine, and other jobs furnished to their own made to mail contractors without design to give favors, friends, have passed entirely free from animadversion. without intent to corrupt; and might be received without

I listened attentively to the reading of both reports. the guilt of corruption. He had aimed his censure at the I weighed earnestly the testimony that was adduced to general system; he had entered into no examination of prove corruption or intentional misconduct, on either the particular cases of abuse. Another of the mail contracthead or subordinates of the Department; and I am con- ors to whom Mr. L. had referred on that occasion, strained to say, that although the charges of malconduct (because his name was found on the same remarkable kre made with great confidence, there is much less of page of the Blue Book, and to whom a very large extra evidence to sustain those charges than I had been led to allowance was there quoted,) correctly understanding the anticipate froin the rumors that were in circulation. purpose and temper of his remarks, and having a con

Mr. CLAYTON said: The member from New Hamp-science wholly void of offence, had vindicated his contract shire, who has just made an end of reading his speech, after quite a different manner; he had shown that the Blue has propounded an inquiry to me which, though I do Book misrepresented his case. Messrs. Peck and Welnot often notice things coming from that quarter, I will, ford were stated, in the Blue Book, as being entitled to an on this occasion, briefly answer, for his benefit. In refer- annual allowance, per contract, of $5,221; and to an anence to a remark of mine, made yesterday, that three nual extra allowance of 6,557 dollars. Now, Mr. Wil. years ago I had foreseen the approaching insolvency of ford had exhibited to him the most satisfactory evidence, the Post Office Department, and had then in vain strug- that the utmost amount of extra allowance made to him gled against an administration majority in the Senate, io and his co-contractor, was 2,000 dollars per annum, for arrest the downward tendency of things, the member has extra services; and this was entered on the margin of the inquired what remedy I ever did propose for the purpose original contract; that even this extra allowance was con

VOL. X.-12

SENATE.]
Reports on the Post Office.

Dune 11, 1834, tinued for only a year and three quarters, so that they had gave the officer the highest evidence of its gratitude for received only 3,500 dollars of the extra allowance; that the service. He remined us that Mr. Monroe, while Seethey, at least, were no favorites; that the improvements retary of War, borrowed money of the banks for the use (as they are called) on the route next above theirs had of his Department; borrowed it at a time when the Treasbeen grievously injurious to them; and that the system of ury was empty, and the Government unable to negotiate extra allowances, instead of operating beneficially to them, a loan in the regular manner; borrowed it on his own re. bad given them just cause of complaint, and had been sponsibility, because it was absolutely necessary to enable the subject of complaint to the Department. Mr. L. the Department to furnish those essential supplies for thought it proper to mention the facts, of which he had General Jackson's army which enabled General' Jackson thus been informed, in justice to Peck & Welford. But to make his successful and glorious defence of New Orhe had another reason for mentioning them. The Com

leans. And the gentleman said that this violation of the mittee on the Post Office Department had done as much constitution, in effect, elerated two persons (the Seereas could reasonably have been expected of them; they tary and the General) to the Presidency. This was the had detected numerous and enormous abuses; they had first time Mr. L. had ever heard it surmised that Mr. exposed many errors in the reports made to Congress; Monroe owed his elevation to the Presidency to the pubbut much, doubtless, remained yet unrevealed. They lic confidence and gratitude he had earned by this piece had pointed out instances in the Blue Book, of payments of service, or indeed any one act of public service. reported to have been made, much smaller in amount And, as to General Jackson, it is well known he had than the sums in fact allowed and paid; but they had not regarded the ascription of praise to Mr. Monroe, pointed out the instances of allowances there stated to in this particular, as a detraction from the credit he have been made, far exceeding the sums in truth allowed. claimed for himself exclusively, for the successful defence This case of Peck & Welford was one instance of a mis- of New Orleans. The share of praise bestowed on Mr. representation, or inaccuracy, of the latter kind; and Mr. Monroe, had excited the General's warm indignation-as L.' had no doubt there were other instances of the the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. SOUTHARD] could same kind, equally remarkable, and, he would add, equal-youch, if any gentleman wanted information on the subly unaccountable and inexcusable.

ject. The gentleman from Georgia was better acquaintThe first time he had cast his eyes upon the Blue Book, led with the history of those times than Mr. L. pretended he had been forcibly struck with the fact, that the register to be, and might be able to explain why and how Mr. of officers of Government, other than those of the Post Monroe's violation of the constitution, in the insiance alOffice Department, executive, legislative, and judicial, luded to, contributed to elevate him to the Presidencyincluding the army and navy lists, the public printers,

[Mr. Forsyte explained- but his remarks were not and the directors of the Bank of the United States and distinctly heard by the reporter. He was understood to its branches, occupied one hundred and eighty-six pages, say he had not expressed any approbation of the conduct while the officers and contractors of the Post Office De of Mr. Monroe in negotiating the loan alluded to, nor partment filled two hundred and sixty-seven pages of that given any opinion of the propriety of it.] volume. It was not too much to say, that at least one

Mr. Legu said, he had not attributed to the gentleman moiety of the immense patronage of the Government from Georgia any opinion as to the propriety or improwas exercised through the Post Office Department. How priety of Mr. Monroe's conduct: he only atíributed to the other patronage of the Executive had been exercised, him the words he used—that this violation of the constiMr. L. would not, in the present state of his information, tution by Mr. Monroe, was the operating cause of the elpretend to say-but how the patronage of the Post Office evation of two persons to the Presidency. However, the Department had been exercised, the reports of this com- only question of importance was, whether a precedent mittee (he meant the report of the minority, as well as was to be found in Mr. Monroe's conduct, tpon the printhat of the majority, of the committee, for, as to matters ciple of which the borrowing of money by the Postmaster of fact, there was very little difference between them) General could be excused? The gentleman from Massabut too plainly showed. He had beard the disclosures chusetts (Mr. WEBSTER] had already pointed out many made and admitted in these reports, with astonishment and strong points of diversity between the two transacand indignation. For abuses so gross and palpable, the tions. Mr. L. would not repeat what he had said. He attempt to find even plausible excuses was a vain and only desired to remark, that the plea of necessity could hopeless labor.

never furnish any excuse for a violation of the constituit was now aclmitted, on all sides, that the Postmastertion and the laws, by any officer of Government, if the General, in borrowing money at six per cent. interest, necessity which he relied on for his excuse was a necesfrom time to time, to the amount of near half a million, sity created by himself. The necessity under which Mr. had committed a direct and plain violation of the consti- Monroe acted, was sudden, unexpected, unavoidable; not tution; and the Senators from Tennessee and Georgia, produced by any conduct of his own, by any neglect of [Mr. Grunny and Mr. Forsytu) buth, in the most expli- duty, by any mismanagement or wasteful expenditure of cit terms, admitied that this was such a violation of the the funds appropriated for his Department; it was a neconstitution as could nowise be justified. The most they cessity suddenly imposed upon him by the operations of contended for was, that an excuse might be found for it war, over wbich he had no control. The Postmaster in the necessity of the case. There might, indeed, be a

General had created the necessity which was now pleaddegree of nccessity that might excuse violations of the ed in his excuse. He himself had extended the operaconstitution, in sudden and unavoidable emergencies, for tions of his Department beyond its financial capacity, which no provision had or could have been made by The deficiency of the funds of the Department to meet law; and when such a case of necessity was made out, the expenditure must have been at first trivial; he ought the officer yielding to it ought to be excused and indem- to have known when the expenditure exceeded the revenified; but care should be taken, always, that the case nue, as soon as the fact occurred, and to have retrenched should not be drawn into precedent. This was the use of the expenditure; which he might easily have done, by bills of indemnity on such occasions. The gentleman cutting off the extra services of the mail contractors, and from Georgia mentioned an instance of a head of a depart. so saving the extra allowances. The deficiency of the ment borrowing money, without authority of law, and funds must have grown to its present amount by slow de. therefore in violation of the constitution, yet under such grees. The deficiency then was imputable to himself, circumstances, that his country not only excused the act, and was of itself a palpable instance of misconduct or and refunded the money, but was most grateful, and neglect. He bad deliberately created the necessity to

JUNE 11, 1834.]

Reports on the Post Office.

(SENATE.

borrow money; and that necessity, instead of being an interest and importance. Claims of power, principles of excuse for violating the constitution, was an aggrava construction, acts of right or of usurpation, are in issue, tion of kis fault.

which they must try, and render a verdict of approval or In speaking of the Postmaster General, and imputing condemnation of those to whom they have confided the the whole fault to him, Mr. L. said he had followed the adıninistration of their Government. Elections approach example of other genilemen in the debate; who had re- by which this verdict is to be rendered; and my anxious ferred only to him, because he was the head of the De. desire is, that they may have the evidence before them, partment. But he apprehended that the whole fault was in its most authentic form. These documents are a part not justly imputable to this officer; that many abuses were of that evidence-procured from official sources, collated Taid at his door which were more jus:ly imputable to by faithful men, and clothed with high and responsible others, who stood in the back ground, and were willing sanctions. Let the people hear it, and decide.' if this enough to see him bear the whole blame, if they could be electioneering, so be it. I avow my purpose to be, to be screened from observation and censure. If the Presi- give to the people of the United States full opportunity to (lent was right in the doctrines he had promulgated to the know the manner in which one of the great departments nation, he was responsible for all the abuses of the Post of the Government has been conducted; how their agents Office Department, whether he was actually a party to have acted in their sacred trust; how those agents have chem or not; but Mr. L. held him to no such responsibili. been sustained, and now are sustained, by the Chief Exty. He would gladly be informed, whether the Post- ecutive, and by those who advocate all that is claimed for master General had negotiated his several loans of money power, and all that is doife with the approbation of the without the President's knowledge, without any previous Chief Magistrate. authority given by him, or subsequent sanction?' Was it It is manifest from these reports and documents, that possible, that the l'ostmaster General had taken such the money and agents of this Department have been ineasures, witkeat apprizing the President of his proceed- used to act upon and influence the elections. Their inings, and without -his approbation or sanction? When fuence has, however, been, heretofore, in a great degree was it, that the President was first informed that the secret, unseen, and unknown, even while they were conPoslinaster General was going to borrow, or had borrow- trolling the expression of popular opinion at the polls. ed money! Was it before the first loan was negotiated, This fact has been charged--but denied-and the evier at any intermediate time before the last? From the dence was sealed up in the Department. A part of it is moment the President was informed of the proceedings, now exposed to public observation. Let it be dissemihe sanctioned them, and made them his own, by retain- nated, so that, at the next elections, the people may uning the Postmaster General in office; and, thenceforth, derstand the force against which they bave to contend, the President became rcally responsible for this unconsti- how the money is procured and scattered, and whence tutional borrowing of money. And Mr. L. boped that, the agents are sent. When these things are known, the in the further investigations which this subject required, results may be left to that proud spirit of freemen which some information might be revealed which would enable scorns secret corruptions. Our duty will be discharged him to determine the just share of the blame that ought when we shall have given the warning in time. The duto be imputed to the Postmaster General, and whether ty of the people will be faithfully discharged by them and how much of the censure ought to fall on the Presi- afterwards. dent himself. Justice to the subordinate required, that I expressed some censure of the conduct of the Dehe should not bear the whole blame of what the chief au- partment in allowing one of the clerks to make profit out thorized or sanctioned.

of a contract, not advertised, and which was increased by Mr. SOUTHARD said the course of the debate ren- extra allowance and other contrivances, to an amount of dered it proper for him to add a few words.

several thousand dollars, so as to swallow up all, and more The Senalor from Georgia (Mr. Forsytu) objects to than all, the postage money received in tlie Territory of so large a sum being taken from the contingent fund of Michigan. It has been argued that this was not a violathe Senate for such an object. I do not, said Mr. S., as. tion of law, and that there have been instances in which sent to the estimate of the Senator. It is probably much the same thing has been done before. The law, sir, was higher than it ought to be. And as to the fund, it is quite read by me. Its terms embrace all clerks "employed the same to the people, out of what portion of the money in any post office.” Mr. Temple was a clerk, and be belonging to them the expense is taken. It is theirs, and was employed, at the time, in the General Post Office we are answerable for its expenditure on proper objects. here. Did Congress mean to prohibit clerks in the petty The only question is, whether this be a proper object; post offices at a distance, where no “contract for carryand that depends upon the importance and value of the ing the mail” is made? and did they mean to admit to document itself. Of these, I have endeavored to explain this privilege, the clerks herc—at the very seat of the my views, and have only to regret that the Senator did not danger which was to be avoided—where all the contracts perceive the application of my reasons to the motion. are made? The absurdity ought not to be imputed to

The Senator insists that I am in favor of printing these them, The words of the law, and its reasons, both empapers for electioneering purposes. I bave no anxiety to brace the case which has been mentioned. It is one ayow or disavow the alleged object. All elections, under which is accompanied by most suspicious circumstances. our institutions, are, or ought to be, tests of public opin- The route not advertised the strange reason given for jon upon the principles of our Government, and the the omission—the bid by the clerk in the name of another faithfulness of public agents to those principles. All pub- the transfer to the clerk—the enormous increase of lic documents are designed to exhibit the listory of those the allowances—the property transactions belween the principles, and the conduct of officers in discharge of clerk and the officer who omitted to advertise--form a their duties. No document can be printed which is not combination, of which there is no precedent in other of some value in giving information to the people, to en- times. It looks too much like mingling allowances of able them to exercise wisely their elective franchise--an pay with purchases of private property—and is even awful right which they possess, and must perform, for worse than the large extras to those who make presents gond or evil; awful, because, on its intelligent and virtu. of good wine. ous discharge, depends, not only their own present and But to the precedent adduced. It is that of Phineas future prosperity, but the destiny of their political institu- Bradley. It so happened that an inquiry was made many tions, and probably, in the end, of the liberties of the years ago, in 1816, when Mr. Meigs was Postmaster tzorld. Ai no time, in my opinion, was this duty of more General, into certain alleged misconduct of this Depart

« ZurückWeiter »