« AnteriorContinuar »
(FEB. 3, 1831.
the United States, to be held for their use, the interest on the amount produced by their stock? No, sir, such a
Mr. FORSYTII said he had already consumed more of came extinct, a claim would be set up by the Holland
FEB. 4, 1831.]
Pay of Members of Congress.-- Post Office Department.
and, if decided in their favor, it mattered not whethe" derly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, they were paid in stock or money.
expel a member. Whenever, therefore, it shall be deemed Mr. SANFORD said, he believed the proposition of the necessary by either House to exert the extraordinary pow. gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Smitu) did not essen- er proposed in the resolution, it is under no necessity to tially vary the nature of the bill; but, as it had passed the resort to the other for aid to carry it into effect; and it is other House in its present shape, he did not wish to see it proper that it should be so: for it may be necessary and retarded or embarrassed. He asked, what is this three proper for one House to exercise this power, when it is per cent, stock? A debt that we owe. To whom? To wholly unnecessary in the other. The committee, not ourselves. It is created with one hand, and paid with the being informed of any necessity for its exercise by the other. He considered the amendment of no manner of Senate at present, and believing that when that necessity importance; and he repeated the hope that it would not shall arise, it ought not to be exercised jointly with the be made to embarrass the bill in its progress through the other House, recommend that the resolution be rejected.” necessary stages of legislation.
The report was ordered to be printed. Mr. SMITH, of Maryland, replied, that it was a matter of great importance.
POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT. It was important, if the United States granted these Indians a perpetual annuity, that they Mr. GRUNDY called up the resolution which he had should get something for it. If we give them, said he, submitted the day before yesterday, declaring the sense the perpetuity of six thousand dollars, and the stock is of the Senate, that the committee appointed to examine transferred to us, we get something for it; otherwise, we the present condition of the Post Office Department, were get nothing:
not authorized to call before them as witnesses the perThe question was then taken on the first amendment, sons who had been removed from office by that Departand it was rejected without a division.
ment, for the purpose of testifying as to the causes of their The question was then taken on the second, a verbal removal. amendment, "that the annuity shall be paid out of any Mr. G. said he should not have troubled the Senate on moneys in the treasury not otherwise appropriated,” and this subject, if a real difficulty and serious difference of carried.
opinion had not arisen in the committee. He quoted the The bill was then ordered to be read a third time, by journal of the proceedings of the committee, from which the following vote:
it appeared that Mr. Abraham Bradley had been called YEAS.--Messrs. Barnar:), Barton, Bell, Benton, Bibb, before them; that Mr. IlOlses had proposed to interroBurnet, Chase, Clayton, Dickerson, Dudley, Ellis, Foot, gate him as to the causes of his removal from the office of Hendricks, Holmes, Johnston, Kane, Knight, Livingston, Assistant Postmaster General; that, Mr. Grusdy had obMcKinley, Marks, Naudain, Noble, Robbins, Robinson, jected to the question; and that on taking the vote of the Ruggles, Sanford, Seymour, Silshee, Sprague, Troup, committee, whether it should be answered or not, Mr. White, Willey, and Woodbury--33.
Clayton and Mr. HOLMES voted in the affirmative, and NAYS.-Messrs. Brown, Forsyth, Iredell, King, Poin- Mr. Grundy and Mr. WOODBURY in the negative: Mr. dexter, Snith, of Md., Smith, of s. C., Tazewell, and HENDRICKS, wishing further time for consideration, did Tyler-9.
not vote; and the committee adjourned. Mr. G. reThe remainder of this day's sitting was consumed in marked, that, upon being informed by the Senator who Executive business.
had not voted in the committee, that he should vote differ
ently from him, [Mr. Grunny,) he felt it his duty to FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 4.
appeal to the Senate for its decision. He had stated to
the committee that he would not submit to the course proPAY OF MEMBERS OF CONGRESS.
posed by the gentleman from Maine, should a majority of Mr. McKINLEY, from the Judiciary Committee, to the committee so determine, without first having the diwhom was referred the joint resolution relative to the pay rection of the Senate. Therefore, having the opinion of of members of Congress, passed by the House of Repre- the gentleman from Incliana, (Mr. HENDRICKS,] he had no sentatives, reported: “That the resolution does not ap- alternative but either to submit to what he considered a pear to be designed to regulate the compensation of very incorrect and unprecedented course of proceeding, members of Congress, but to create such penalties for or to offer the resolution under consideration. If the neglect of duty as will ensure their attendance in the re- Senate should decide against him, he cuuld not say he spective llouses, and to compel an amendment of the would proceed cheerfully in discharge of the duty enrules of each House so as to effect this object. All legis- joined, but he would perform it diligently and faithfully. lative powers granted by the constitution, are vested in a He also quoted from the journal of the committee other Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a debated questions, which, from the votes on them, showed Senate and House of Representatives; and cach House is a great want of harmony in their proceedings. He conseparately clothed with ample power to preserve its dig- sidered the inquiry now under discussion as beyond the nity and integrity, and to regulate its own conduct. By province of the Senate or the committee. This body had, the fifth section of the constitution, it is declared that each at the last session, expressed its opinion on the power of House shall be the judge of the elections, returns, and the Executive to make removals, without assigning to the qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each Senate the causes of them. He supposed the question shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller had been settled. The cases then presented, were of a number may adjourn from day to day, and may be autho-character more plausibly requiring the causes to be asrized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such signed. The right to demand the causes was alleged to manner, and under such penalties, as each House may be, that as the Senate was united with the Executive in provide. Thus is the power of compelling the attendance the exercise of the appointing power, it should inquire of absent members conferred separately and exclusively into the reasons why an officer, whose appointment it had on each House, and ought not, as the committee believe, confirmed, had been displaced, in favor of the person to be exercised jointly by both. Nor is it believed to be whose nomination was then under consideration. This necessary to resort to the joint power of the two Houses, argument was overruled by the Senate's decision. And to make or amend the rules by which this object is to be even this pretext, however plausible, does not exist in attained: because, in the same section of the constitution, favor of the present inquiry. power is given to each House to determine the rules of If an examination is to be made into causes of removal, its own proceedings, punish its own members for disor- he conceived that inore accurate information could be ob
Post Office Department.
[FEB. 4, 1831.
tained from the person removing, than from the individual out the causes of such removals. But nothing of this removed. Cases might exist, in which delicacy towards kind had ever been contemplated by the committee. He the individual removed would prevent his acquiring a would take the opportunity, though he regretted to find knowledge of the causes that produced his removal. He himself compelled to do so at this time, to give a brief did not believe this mode of proceeding calculated to se- statement of the facts as they had really occurred in the cure justice in the result. The committee is to call be committee, in justice to those who were entrusted with fore it the very men who have been exasperated at the the inquiry. He should do this with reluctance, because head of this department on account of their dismissal, and, it would have been far better to have suffered them to in the absence of that officer, they are to make their ex have spoken for themselves through a report, as to all parte statements; and, without the advantage of a cross-ex- their proceedings; but as the gentleman who had taken amination, the committee is to make a report, decisive of on himself to introduce the matter, bad voluntarily disthe conduct and character of the Postmaster General; closed a partial history of these transactions, and had reand the depositions thus taken are to furnish materials for probated the course pursued by some of his colleagues in partisan newspapers. Ile did not wish, as a Senator, to strong language, he should feel it his duty, in the course be thus employed.
of his remarks, to place those transactions before the It is true, the committee had sent an inquiry to the Post- Senate in a proper light, to illustrate the true state of the master General on this subject; this was contrary to his question pending before the committee, and to show judgment. His opinion was, that the Senate possessed wliose conduct, in the language of that gentleman, was no constitutional power to make such inquiry. The Chief “ either becoming,” or “calculated to make improper Magistrate and the heads of departments, by the constitu- impressions." tion and laws, have the power conferred on them to ap In his opinion, the proposition contained in the resolupoint and remove the subordinate officers of the Execu- tion was to repeal the power delegated to the committee tive branch of the Government. It is a matter confided by the former resolution, under which they were organizto their discretion. If this discretionary power should be ed. But the gentleman who offered it, from some of corruptly exercised, it would be the duty of the House his remarks, seemed to contend that its object was only of Representatives, the grand inquest of the nation, to to explain and construe that power. In its terms, thie institute an inquiry, collect the cridence, and bring the resolution was only declaratory--in substance, its design offender, by impeachment, before the Senate, in its judi- was, and its effects would be, to repeal an existing power, cial capacity. It would be unbecoming this body to be to smother inquiry, and baffle investigation. If it declared searching after impeachable matter, which, when obtained, what was erroneous in this respect, as he should attempt could not be acted on until the House of Representatives to show before he sat down, the Senate could not adopt it. should take up the subject, and prefer articles of impeach It would seem, from this proposition, that great stress ment. Besides, this kind of investigation would disquali- had been laid by the committee on the causes of the refy Senators from acting impartially, should a case be pre- movals, to which it referred. The resolution seemed to sented for a judicial trial. It would be impossible to pre- carry with it the idea that this had been a principal, if not vent the minds of Senators from being influenced by the sole cbject of the investigation. Insinuations of this these previous investigations. He also considered it un- character had been dropped elsewhere, by those who dignified for this body, or its committee, to call on the knew best, and felt most deeply, how much a scrutiny Executive for the causes of removal, because, if obeclience into the causes of these removals was to be dreaded. But to the call should be refused, there is no constitutional this was not the only important object which he had in power in this body to enforce it; and he viewed it un- view, when he introduced the original resolution to apbecoming in the Senate to make a demand without the point the committee. In explanation of his own object in power to coerce a compliance.
submitting that resolution, he observed, that its aim and He had said thus much on the general principle, with-end were to inquire into the fiscal concerns of the departout any special reference to this particular case. He had ment, and to ascertain, if possible, the true cause of their no apprehension that any portion of the conduct of the decline. He had seen that, under the administration of Postmaster General, if the whole were examined, would the predecessor of the present Postmaster General, the be found to merit censure. He considered this whole finances of the department were in a most flourishing concourse of proceeding highly improper, and therefore cition; that by the report of the Committee on Retrenchasked the Senate to arrest it by the adoption of the reso- ment, in the other House, in 1828, it appeared that, under lution.
his able superintendence, its funds had been brought up Mr. CLAYTON, (another member of the committee,) from an annual deficit of 58,000 dollars, to yield a clear observed, he was not aware, lintil the resolution was sub- revenue of 100,312 dollars, after defraying all the exmitted, that such a course as it proposed was contem- penses of mail transportation, and all the incidental explated; and he could not but express his surprise that it penses of the department. The department produced, at should have been resorted to without the knowledge of|ihe period of that report, an excess of revenue more than the committee, especially as they had not yet come to any sufficient to defray all the burdens arising from clerk hire, decision on the subject-matter of the resolution. He con- the salaries of its officers, and its contingent expenses; sidered the proposition objectionable, because it had the although, according to established usage, appropriations effect to clicit a partial history of the proceedings of the for those purposes were annually made from the treasury'. committee, before any regular report of those proceed. The department then bore its own weight, paid its own ings could be submitted to the Senate. But he was most way, and never made a demand on the treasury, to enable surprised by it, because it was calculated to give the pub- it to establish new post routes, when the exigencies of the lic very erroneous impressions respecting the conduct and country demanded them. This was what the people exgreat object of the inquiry. This resolution declared that pected, and had a right to demand from it; and, until the the committee were not authorized to call before them the present administration came into power, they had never persons who have been dismissed from office, for the pur- been disappointed in their expectations under any Postpose of ascertaining the causes of their removal. From master General. its tenor any gentleman would infer, that no member of Indeed, the predecessors of the present incumbent had the committee would have offered it, unless a disposition actually paid into the treasury of this nation upwards of had been evinced by them to call before thema great num-one million one hundred thousand dollars; and, in reply to ber, if not all, of the persons who had been removed from an interrogatory put to him by the Committee on the Post office by Mr. Barry, numerous as the cases were, to sift |Office and Post Roads, in the other House, at the last
FEB. 4, 1831.)
Post Office Department.
session, Mr. Barry himself admitted that “there had not, regulating the department were administered.” The at any time, been drawn, by the department, any money Postmaster General exercised the right to remove an offifrom the treasury, which it had deposited there. All the cer by virtue of some law, or he had no right to remove. expenses of transportation, and others incident to the de- How he had administered this law, then, it was the duty partment, had been defrayed by its own resources, with of the committee to examine and report. Would the genout any appropriation, at any time, to meet them, from tleman from Tennessee, who said we had no such power the treasury.” At the commencement of the present ses- under the resolution, tell us why this clause did not absion, it might be seen that its concerns were in a very dif-solutely enjoin this inquiry as a duty upon us? Another ferent situation. By the reports of the head of the de- part of it directed the committee “ to examine and report partment, it appeared that, from the 1st July, 1828, to the the entire management of the Post Office Department.” 1st July, 1829, there had been an excess of expenditure, Was the matter of removing a thousand officers no part of beyond the revenue, of $74,714, and an additional excess the management of the department? It appeared rather of expenditure, beyond the revenue for the ensuing year, that this had been the chief business of the department. of $82,124. The expenditures of the year ending the Another clause of the resolution directed the committee 1st of July, 1830, exceeded even those of the preceding to examine and report whether further and what legal year, by the enormous sum of 150,674 dollars. The availa- provisions were necessary to secure the proper adminisble funds of the department, in the first fisteen months of tration of its affairs. It would be recollected that, in the present administration, suffered an ahstraction of 1826, the celebrated committee on Executive patronage, 114,000 dollars. The sums drawn from the treasury to in this body, reported a bill making provision to prevent pay the salaries of officers, and the contingent expenses, this very abuse of removals in the Post Office, and actually also exceeded any ever drawn before. In 1824, the whole transferring the whole power of appointment and remoral amount of appropriations for these purposes was 38,350 from the Postmaster General to the President and Senate. dollars. In 1830, it was 61,290 dollars; and the appro- Perhaps the Senator from New Hampshire, (Mr. Woodpriation demanded for the present year is the same. IT BURY,) who was a member of the present committee, had was, therefore, evident, that if the department had not also been a member of that committee, and probably ap. leaned on the treasury for support, it would already have proved of the principles of the report, and would now nearly exhausted its available funds, accumulated during vindicate the measure of making legal provision on the preceding administrations, and amounting, as the Post- subject. If there could exist a period when such legal master General had stated them, on the 1st of July, 1829, provision was necessary, it now existed; and the power to to 230,000 dollars. And, without considering the appro- make inquiry into the propriety of such a measure, clearly priations from the treasury, it must be evident to every delegated by the resolution, necessarily involved the man who reflected on this subject, that unless some power and the duty to inquire whether the removals had change should be made in the administration of its affairs, been improperly made. this department would soon reach the period of its insol Such were the spirit and the letter of the commission vency.' Such were the considerations which had induced under which the inquiry commenced. The committee him to propose the inquiry. There were others, as little met, and propoundeci
, after considerable deliberation, connected with the subject of removals as these, which nine interrogatories to the Postmaster General, which had impelled him to submit the proposition. He had seen, were delivered to him on the 24th of December last, and that, during the last session of Congress, a Senator from to which he had as yet given no answer. On the 17th of Ohio (Mr. BURNET] had introduced a resolution, calling January, three other interrogatories were proposed by for information in relation to the mail contracts. There them, and sent to him. Among the last, was one inquiry: were, at that time, allegations of gross abuses in regard to "What postmasters have been removed since you came these contracts, which had since swelled into direct charges into office, and for what causes? Please to give their of corruption, in preferring higher to lower bidders, names, places of residence at the time of removal, and and granting extra allowances to political favorites. The the causes of their removal, classifying the cause for resolution of the Senator of Ohio, after having remained brevity's sake.” This interrogatory, as originally proon the table several days, was amended, as was supposed, posed in committee by the Senator from Maine, (Mr. at the suggestion of the Postmaster General himself, (if Holmes,] inquired the causes of the removal of each wrong in this supposition, he wished to be corrected,) and of the discarded postmasters, but was amended by the was adopted in the shape in which it appeared on the votes of the Senators from Tennessee, New Hampshire, journal of the last session. The amendments might there be and Indiana, who shared the interrogatory as it was traced in italics; and the first of these was one postponing actually sent to the Postmaster General. Thus, this officer the information required, “till an early period of the was left at liberty to state the causes of remoral generally, next session.” In this shape, that resolution was adopted. or to state them particularly in such cases as he might seThat next session had arrived, yet had no answer what- lect; and this he might do in as strong language as he ever been given to this call. Nearly a year had passed pleased, to bear him out in making these remorals. And away, yet, neither respect for the Senate, nor a sense of would any man, with a feeling of justice in his bosom, duty, had yet produced a line of reply. Was the labor after giving the Postmaster General this latitude to accuse great? If so, was not the time allowed sufficient to enable and blacken the victims of his proscription, refuse to them the department, with the aid of the new clerks employed the right of stating the causes of their removal, if they there, to answer it fully?
should choose to do so? The files of the department night It was with a view to gain such information as this, and be filled with groundless accusations against them, which to learn the actual causes of the decline in the fiscal con- posterity might bring to light when they might be laid in certs of this department, that the investigation was com- their graves. Might they not now, if they could learn Jenced. Rumor had assigned, as one of these causes, the nature of those charges, be permitted to refute them, the removal, for opinion's sake, of hundreds of expe- and to place that refutation on the same record that rienced and faithful postmasters, and other officers of the should present the imputations against them? Yet the department, and the substitution of ignorant and brawling gentleman from Tennessee complained, that to allow them partisans, who had exhibited no other proof of capacity to testify would be to admit ex parte evidence. than their having voted for the present Chief Magistrate. After these interrogatories had been delivered to the The resolution gave the committee full latitude of inquiry chief of this department, another, rclating to a single to ascertain this or any other cause of abuse. It directed point, had been sent to him by order of the committee on them to inquire and report “in what manner the laws the 28th of January; and, as nothing had yet been re
[Feb. 4, 1851. ceived from him, a request had been added, to know of importance of ascertaining the true nature of those funds him within what time an answer might be expected. Two was unquestionable. The bill pending in the other House communications were then received from him in reply to to establish additional post routes, bad been arrested on the last letter of the committee; the one acknowledging account of the supposed want of funds to defray their ex. the receipt of their letters of the 17th and 28th of Janua- pense. The public demand for these routes, as mani. ry, stating that the department was laboriously employed fested by the daily petitions presented here, demonstrate in answering the inquiries, and would reply when it was the interest which this question had excited; and the horeally; the other answering the last interrogatory of the norable Senator from Tennessee must labor under some committee. The receipt of the most important commu- manifest delusion, in supposing that such an inquiry should nication, that of the 24th December, had not yet been be confined to the Postmaster General. acknowledged. In the mean time, specific charges of That gentleman seemed to suppose that a dismissed of. corruption and fraud, in certain mail contracts, having ficer was incompetent to testify, merely because he had been distinctly preferred to the committee, with offers, on been dismissed. The witness (Mr. Bradley) who was the part of respectable individuals, to sustain the charges brought before the committee, had served his country on oath, it had been unanimously agreed to apply for with great honor to himself for about thirty years. He power to send for persons and papers. The power was hacl grown up in this department, was thoroughly convergranted by the Senate. But when the committee met, sant with all its concerns, and had through life sustained the gentleman from Tennessee objected to its exercise in an irreproachable character. The breath of proscription the very case which had caused thein to ask for the power, could not taint it. The shafts of calumny would fall insisting that inquiry ought first to be made of the harmlessly before it. And if the testimony of such men Postmaster General, whether lie was not in possession of be incompetent, to whom should we go for information? sufficient affidavits and correspondence to make out the To the clerks and officers of the department alone? Were case against himself, and that it would be time enough to they more worthy of credit than the man who had been send for the persons when it should be found that the driven out of office for a manly exercise of the right of charges could not be established by a reference to his opinion? Were those alone worthy of confidence who own records. In this ingenious view of the subject, that had learned to gentleman was supported by the Senators from New
“ Crook the pregnant linges of the knee, Hampshire and Indiana, a majority of the committee. He
Where thriti may follow lawning?” did not hesitate to say, that, from that moment, he, as well There were, doubtless, many high-minded and lionoraas the Senator from Maine, considered that the great ob- ble men holding office under the department. But would ject of the investigation was substantially defeated. An you compel them to appear to give evidence against it, effort, however, was made to examine Abraham Bradley, when you know, from the persecuting and proscriptive the late First Assistant Postmaster General. He was sent temper evinced by it, that, for any material disclosure of for, and attended the committee. Mr. C. then read from abuses, they would probably fall the victims of their own the journals of the committee--"Mr. Woodbury objected integrity in less than twenty-four hours? Perhaps not a to this witness being sworn, unless Mr. Holmes would first few of these men, with their families, were dependent state his object in desiring to have him examined. Mr. upon their offices for bread. They had learned no other Holmes asked the witness how long he had been Assistant means of living. And, for one, he did not hesitate to say, Postmaster General, and what were the duties assigned that he would rather forego the whole investigation, imhim in the department? Mr. Holmes objected to giving portant as he verily deemed it, than to compel one of any further explanation of the object of his question, than them to do an act whiclı
, however pure in its motive, or the question itself conveyed; and insisted on his right to honorable in its performance, might cause him to be dehave the witness examined. It was then decided that the prived of his means of living. witness should be sworn, and answer this question, Mr. It would be seen, then, that while the committee were Holmes, Mr. Hendricks, and Mr. Clayton voting for it, thus trammeled by a refusal to suffer them to inquire into and Mr. Grundy and Mr. Woodbury against it. Mr. abuses from any person who might have been dismissed Bradley was then sworn by the chairman, and answered from office, these abuses must pass without exposure. the question, when Mr. Holmes propounded another The whole object of the inquiry might be frustrated. question: Were you removed from your office, and when, This department, which, by the report of the late Postand, if you know, for what cause or causes? Mr. Grun- master General, for the year 1827, contained not less than dy objected to this question; and Mr. Hendricks, to give twenty-six thousand officers and agents of every descriphimself time, as he said, to examine the resolution, moved tion, among whom there were more than eight thousand to adjourn. Mr. Grundy, Mr. Hendricks, and Mr. Woodl. four hundred postmasters, and more than two thousand bury voted for the ailjournment, and Mr. Holmes and mail contractors, could of itself form an executive army, Mr. Clayton against it.” Thus, continued Mr. C., this ready to march at any time, at the word of its political question had been proposed by his friend from Maine to chief, and storm any position which he might order to be a single witness; and, before the committee had even de carried, however sacred in our civil institutions, and cided upon it, the gentleman from Tennessee had offered though in our soul's just estimation prized above all this resolution to the Senate. It appeared to him, that price. But it would remain to be seen whether this dethe gentleman from Tennessee thought that the commit- termination to hide the light would satisfy the people! tee should never dare to ask information from any other they were awake to the importance of this inquiry. source than the Postmaster General himself, To prove They felt that the exigencies of the country, now demandthis, if proof were yet necessary, he referred to the jour. ing the establishment of so many new post-routes, and nal of the proceedings of the committee of this morning now, for the first time in the history of this department, A resolution was oifered to request Joseph W. Hand, demanding them in vain, called loudly for some radical solicitor of the department, to attend with the book, change in the management of its affairs. They had read, showing balances of accounts had been collected, and to as he had, with astonishment, the report of its chief to the give information as to the actual state of the available Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads of the other funds; when the gentleman from Tennessee objected to House at the last session, in which he declared that "it the resolution, and moved to dispense with Mr. Hand's must be obvious, that, without any considerable improvetestimony, and to call on the Postmaster General on the ment in the mail facilities for at least three years to come, subject; and being supported in this by the gentleman it would be difficult to make the department sustain itself from New Hampshire, the testimony was refused. The in its present operations, without any increase of the num