« AnteriorContinuar »
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.' ist 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 fifteen months of tration of its affairs. It would be recollected that, in the present administration, suffered an abstraction 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 removal 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 mnaster 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 propounded, 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
, (of 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 shaped 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 removal generally,
next session.” In this shape, that resolution was adopted. or to state them particularly in such cases as he might se• That 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 removals. And away, yet, neither respect for the Senate, nor a sense of would any man, with a feeling of justice in his bosom, duty, bad 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 might 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 cerns of this department, that the investigation was com- their graves. Might they not now, if they could learn menced. 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, relating 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 inqnire and report "in what manner the laws the 28th of January; and, as nothing had yet been re
Post Office Department.
[FEB. 4, 1831.
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, had been arrested on the last letter of the committee; the one acknowledging account of the supposed want of funds to defray their exthe receipt of their letters of the 17th and 28th of Janua- pense. The public demand for these routes, as man.. 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 hoready; 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, bad 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 ofcorruption and fraud, in certain mail contracts, having ficer was incompetent to testify, merely because he haul 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 had 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 he 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 hinges of the knee, Hampshire and Indiana, a majority of the committee. He
Where thriti may follow fawning?" did not hesitate to say, that, from that moment, he, as well There were, doubtless, many high-minded and honoraas 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 which, 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 de: have 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 descrip; himself 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. Wood- four hundred postmasters, and more than two thousand bury voted for the adjournment, 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- iermination 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 offered 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 improve. testimony, 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
ber of mail routes.” And, seeing these things, he said to go into the causes of each of the five or six hundred cases; the gentleman from Tennessee, let no friend of the de- to send for the person of each removed officer to obtain partment, or its chief, lay the flattering unction to his soul, evidence, and to summon even third persons, without that, by suppressing this investigation, either directly or number, for explanation and support of either side? He indirectly, they can escape the consequences which in- could not see the utility, any more than the end, of such variably flow from attempts to conceal the true state of an investigation. But there might, he admitted, be some their affairs from an intelligent public.
benefit in our legislation by knowing the general causes Wr. WOODBURY, (also a member of the committee,) which influenced any department in its removals. said, that the question involved in the resolution stood The chairman was in error in supposing that he had forth singly, naked, and, as he believed, virtually adjudi- been a member of the Committee on Executive Patronage, cated by the Senate at the last session. He never anticipat. who had made the report referred to by that honorable ed that all the concerns of the Post Office Department, Senator. He was a member of a subsequent committee and all the proceedings of the select committee, would be on that subject, and approved most of the principles in drawn into its discussion. But the course just pursued by the report of the first one; and, therefore, would regulate, the honorable chairman left no alternative but assent to at all times, when practicable, the influence of the Post his allegations, or a reply. In relation to the personal Office Department, or any other Department, by additional imputation, that a portion of the committee had attempted laws, where laws could reach the evil, and where he had to exclude light, or to baffle inquiry, he would boldly ap- ascertained that the general grounds of removals, or of peal to every other member of the committee for its con- other proceedings in the department, were such as to in. tradiction. Every proposition for information had been jure or to endanger the public interests. Hence, he had met and examined with promptitude, and sanctioned, not objected now to ask the general grounds of removal whenever a majority of the committee deemed it to be in that department, or to investigate, to the fullest extent, embraced within the reference, and presented in a shape its fiscal operations. These operations were conceded to best calculated to elicit the truth. The proceedings of have been the chief object of the original reference. It the committee on the very subject of the present resolu- was with a view to them that the power to send for pertior--the causes of the removal of officers_furnished a sons and papers had been voted for by him: but now, Fery striking illustration on this topic.
when that power was attempted to be turned to a differAn interrogatory was, at an early moment, offered by ent, and, as he believed, improper inquiry, it was high the chairman, addressed to the Postmaster General, ask-time, in his opinion, to ask the direction of the Senate. ing for the causes of removal in each case since his con- He regretted that the member from Delaware had perion with the department. This interrogatory was be- deemed it relevant, on the resolution now under considerlieved by a majority of the committee, as he supposed, ation, to discuss at all the comparative condition of the improper
, after the repeated decisions of the Senate last fiscal concerns of that department, under its present and session against similar inquiries; and it was further thought under its former administration. He stood not here as to be derogatory and unjust to give publication and noto- the mere apologist or eulogist of any man. But the course Piety to all the charges on file against five or six hundred of the honorable chairman demanded a brief reply; and individuals
. The proposition was, therefore, amended, without any invidious contrast between the heads of that and the causes of removal left to be stated in general department, at different periods, he would endeavor to terms, without any personal application. This was set- satisfy the Senate, in a very few words, that the minority ted as a question of power and propriety, and not with of the committee had shown no unwillingness to probe to the least view, in any body, of escaping from any legiti- the quick the pecuniary affairs of the department at any
period of time, and that, so far as these affairs were accuBut, to show the spirit and teniper prompting that in- iately known, their present condition was highly creditterrogatory, rather than those opposed to it, after the able to the great public objects of the creation of the delapse of many days, and after power was obtained to send partment, and to its general fiscal administration for the for
persons and papers, in the examination of another sub- last two years. ject, a question to a witness, involving the same principle The first eight interrogatories proposed to the depart. as to the causes of removal, was again renewed; and a ment by the chairman, in the committee, so far as they remajority deciding in its favor, the minority were compel. lated to its funds, had been adopted without a dissenting led to acquiesce, or, by this resolution, obtain the opinion vote. The extraordinary power to send for persons and of the Senate against the inquiry. Was not this correct papers with a view to the same object, had also been askand parliamentary on the part of the minority? Oughted for, without opposition, in the committee. The minothey first to have asked leave of the majority opposed to rity had been as anxious as the majority to obtain the truth, them. And was it not proper for the Senate to construe the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And when a their own reference, and even to amend or discharge it call on subordinate clerks had been proposed, it had been entirely
, if expedient? The reference was the act of the merely changed into one to the head of the department, Senate. To the Senate the committee were amenable. as more decorous in the first instance, and as the only proThe Senate had their allegiance; could control all their per call until the head should decline or neglect to answer. movements; and to their decision, whether for or against No such neglect had yet occurred. Calls made at the the resolution, he, for one, should bow with all due de- last session, involving an unprecedented degree of labor, ference
. He would sit and examine, early and late, in had precedence, and had put in requisition all the force session and out of session, if so directed.
of the department which could be spared from its current Having thus offered the vindication of the minority for business; calls, one of which, alone, he had no doubt, presenting this resolution to this body, the main, and in- from its character, would present an answer filling, if deed only proper question recurred: Ought the commit-printed, a thick octavo volume. He had so advertised the tee to be limited or not in their investigation of the causes committee, when some of their own troublesome interroof removal from office? He should not.now argue what gatories had been propounded; and it would be oppreshad been so fully argued here only at the last session-sive to ask of the department to make brick without straw. both the uselessness and inexpediency, if not the encroach- The minority, therefore, to avoid delay, had expresscd a ment on constitutional principles, of such an inquiry by willingness and wish to examine the books of the departthis body. He supposed that the Senate was not now dis- ment without so much copying, and had stood ready at all posed to cross its own path on this subject. What would times to proceed, and make the appropriate examination. it lead to in the present instance, were the committee to The Senate would thus judge how far any imputation was
Post Office Department.
[FEB. 4, 1871.
deserved by any of the committee, of a desire to shut out ditures been made on the same labor performed, or on the light, or to check or delay suitable inquiries in relation to increased and improved transportation of the mail for so the funds of the departinent.
many thousand miles further. One word as to the comparative state of these funds. Look to your documents also for an answer to the charge The chairman, (how impartially the Senate must decide,) that the department is bankrupt, and that the aid of Conbegan by saying, that if the salaries of the officers of the gress is invoked and is necessary to avert impending ruin. department, and the repairs of its buildings, were charged Did the Postmaste General say this? No, sir. So far to it, it would be found much in arrear, if not insolvent. from all that, the debts in arrear due to the Post Office, But is it pretended that those salaries and repairs have meet thus far more than all the annual balances against it; ever been charged to it under former administrations and the Postmaster General had officially informed us, Again, it was alleged that the expenditures now exceeded since the commencement of this very session, that, as the the receipts, and that some of its operations, without re- contracts for the next four years had been renewed, and lief from Congress, would become entirely palsied. But in a way to save the department, annually, over 72,000 he contended that, on an examination of dates and figures, dollars, and as the increase of postage is progressive, and considering the effect of our own new laws on the fis- there is “ a foundation for the belief which hias been escal concerns of the department, it was at this moment pressed, that the current revenue of the department for the more effectually answering the object of public accommo- succeeding year, will be sufficient for its disbursements.” dation in the rapid and safe transportation of the mail, than He impugned the motives of no gentleman who differed at any former period of the Government; and that so far from him in opinion, either here or in the committee. Diffrom needing appropriations from Congress to prevent its ferences of opinion would honestly occur both in prirate bankruptcy, it only asked the forbearance of Congress on and public life. But the Senate would now enjoy an opits new, numerous, and burdensome routes.
portunity to decide whether the course pursued by his How stood the facts? In May, 1828, you passed a law friends and himself in the committee had been such as the establishing from two hundred to two hundred and fifty courtesy due to official intercourse with the department new post routes. Here they were; and any gentleman required, and such as the true interests of the Government who chose to read those in his own section of country, justified. would be satisfied, as he would from the nature and bis- In fine, they would see whether any thing thus far bad tory of the establishment, that many of those new routes been developed in the condition of the General Post Office, were not only expensive in the first instance, but exceed- so alarming, so very terrifying, as some gentlemen desired ingly burdensome afterwards, by the income falling short them to believe. of the annual cash.
Mr. HOLMES said, if he were to consult his own indi. What was the consequence? In the year ending July, vidual wishes, he should vote for this resolution. Its ob 1828, while few or none of the new routes had been put ject was to limit the inquiry directed by the Senate. The into operation, and while the department was entirely in committee were to inquire into "the entire management" other hands, the balance against the department was of the Post Office Department, and to this end they were 25,000 dollars. He should use round numbers. He had empowered to send for persons and papers. The resoluno doubt that this deficit happened, not from any miscon- tion under consideration proposed to prohibit the commitduct in the then head of the department, but from the tee to ask a witness why he was removed from office by same kind of causes which had properly operated since the Postmaster General. Now, said Mr. H., as I deem a desire to extend the accommodations of the mail to the such an inquiry essential to the performance of the duty utmost extent the finances of the department would admit. assigned me, the Senate, I know, would not, if they could,
In the year ending July, 1829, only two or three months compel me to perform a duty in a manner which I conof which were under the administration of the present scientiously believe to be wrong. if, therefore, they head, the balance increased to 74,000 dollars. Many of should think proper to pass this resolution, I should ask to the new routes had, doubtless, in the mean time, been put be excused froin further service on the committee; the Se. into operation at a large expense, and not, it is presumed, nate would of course excuse me; and I should be thereby though then, as well as now, open to the imputation of relieved from this troublesome business. But were I the happening from profligacy and fraud.
particular, personal, and political friend of thic Postinaster In the year ending July, 1830, the balance was 82,000|General, 1 should vote against this resolution. So far from dollars. How? By corruption and extravagance? No, sir. being afraid of inquiring into the official conduct of my This balance was created by expenditures under the last, friend, I would court thic strictest scrutiny. Let the wit. and under former laws, which the public interests demand- nesses be partial or impartial, an honest and faithful offied, and which can be seen in detail in our own documents cer can never suffer by inquiry. Let himn submit to the of the present session. By these, it appears that, in the severest ordeal, let every thing be subjected to the strict. last year, still more new routes had been put into opera- est examination, and if he cannot stand, let him fall. These tion, or old ones extended, so as to carry the mail on horse-are no new doctrines with me--they have been the mai. back thirty-one thousand miles further than at any former ims of my whole political life. In a Government like ours, period. Routes had also been extended, expedited, and those who receive and disburse your public moneys, should improved, for the safety of the mail, so that it was con- be watched with a vigilant, and even a jealous eye. Here veyed in carriages one hundred and eighteen thousand is the commission under which we are acting: miles more than in any former year. Yet the chairman “ Resolved, That a committee be appointed to examine talked as if nothing short of the grossest corruption and and report the present condition of the Post Office Dewaste had produced an increased expenditure.
partment; in what manner the laws regulating the depart. But look a step further. If this imputed waste and cor- ment are administered; the distribution of labor, the num. ruption actually existed, not only would the mail not be ber and the duties assigned to cach; the number of agents, transported in such increased distances, and in such im- where and how employed; the compensation of contract. proved ways, but the whole amount of income would be ors; and, generally, the entire management of the departstationary or diminished; whereas, in truth, the receipts ment; and whether further and what legal provisions be of the department exceeded the last year what they were necessary to secure the proper administration of its affairs." in 1828, the last full year of the past administration, near- In proceeding under this broad commission, it became ly 300,000 dollars.
necessary to have power to send for persons and papers, Had the funds been squandered, then, to the winds and and the committee unanimously agreed to ask for this auwaves, or faithfully collected? Had the increased expen-thority, and the Senate as unanimously granted it. The FIB. 4, 1831.]
Post Ofice Department.
committee had sent several interrogatories to the Postmas- nocent man could have objected to the inquiry; and had ter General, of which this was one: “What Postmasters an opposer of this administration done so, it would have have been removed since you came into office, and for been complained of as evidence of hostility: what causes? Please give the names and place of resi- But my principal object was, I admit, ulterior. It was dence when removed, with the time and causes of their to ascertain the causes of the unprecedented number of remoral--classifying the causes for brevity's sake." This removals in this department. This, I know, is a tender interrogatory was put by me, but not in its present shape. subject. Neither the minions of power, nor the slaves of My inquiry was into the causes of removal of each; but ambition, like very well to give reasons. Let motives be the friends of the Postmaster General insisted upon a clas- vlivulged, and tyranny would soon be banished the land. s.fication, which, whatever the intent, docs in effect leave The post office, and the press, when free and unadulteit in the power of the Postmaster General to evade the rated, are the efficient engines to demolish tyranny. To whole inquiry. Now, in this state of the case, and while corrupt these, is the prime object of every aspirant to abthis inquiry, thus modified, is before the Postmaster Gene- solute power. Put into the hands of talents, combined ral, Mr. Bradley, a former Assistant Postmaster General, with ambition, the press, the post office, and the purse, is summoned before the committee. The first question and you may talk of liberty--you may retain the shadow, put by Mr. Holmes was this: “ How long were you As- but you will have lost the substance. sistant Postmaster General, and what were the duties as- Thus far the committee have “made haste slowly.” şgned you in the department?” This question was ob- We have scarcely entered upon the threshold of inquiry, jected to, unless the interrogator would first state to what and now this resolution is offered, without the least notice esamination it was intended to lead. The answer of course to the committee--the object of which is to arrest the Bas that no such explanation would be given; none was whole proceeding, necessary; for the interrogatory carried the intent upon I shall not forejudge the case. I do not say that the the face of it. Even this inere preliminary question was Postmaster General has done right or wrong. This Seseriously opposed in committee, and was at last permitted nate has directed its committee to inquire, and has given to be put to the witness by a majority of one only. Messrs. it ample powers, and I, as one, do not feel at liberty to Clayton, Holmes, and Hendricks, in the affirmative; Messrs. disobey.There is certainly a diminution of the funds of Grundy and Woodbury in the negative. The next ques- the department, indicating that it is insolvent, or verging tion, and which is the fourdation of this extraordinary re- to insolvency; and the Postmaster General has officially insolution, was this: “ Were you removed from office; when; formed us, that, from the 4th March, 1829, to the 2d March, and, if you know, for what cause or causes?" During the 1830, four hundred and ninety-one post officers had been discussion whether this question should be put, a motion removed, not including those in the department, or in the was made by Mr. Hendricks to adjourn, and carried. post office of this city. Blessrs. Grundy, Woodbury, and Hendricks in the affir. This administration owes its existence to its professions mative; Messrs. Clayton and Holmes in the negative. In of economy. The advocates of General Jackson told the this predicament were we, (an inquiry of the Postmaster people, what they were quite willing and very ready to General into his causes of removal, a question to the late believe, that the funds had been squandered, and that GeAssistant Postmaster General why he was removed, then neral Jackson was the very man to correct the abuses. It pending,) and the Senator from Tennessee, without con- has been boldly asserted in this Senate, and gone out to sulting the rest of the committee, asks the Senate to stop the American people, that all this is a miserable pretext, the inquiry--to forbid us to ask the question! Were thie and the whole affair is a mere system of “rewards and Senators from Tennessee and New Hampshire serious in punishments.” It appears, too, that more changes have their endeavors to obtain the causes of removal, when they been made in the post office than in any other departunted in inquiring of the Postinaster General himself, and ment, and that this seems most in embarrassment. Things do they object to an inquiry of the witness? None but the thus appearing, it is most extraordinarily proposed to stiremoving and removed are presumed to know the causes. fle the inquiry which the Senate unanimously directed. You are forbidden to ask the officer removed, and are lim- We have heard much of “bargain and corruption,” as ied therefore to a general inquiry of the Postmaster Gen- well as of “economy::
.” It may turn out that all this " bareral himself, the very officer whose conduct is the subject gain and corruption" has occurred under this administraof investigation. This is a very easy way to let off a detion. If any of it was employed in establishing the former, linquent-he is not only a witness, but is the only witness it has not been yet discovered. It was the general cry
And we must not be too particular in during the last canvass; and if any proofs can be adduced, our inquiries even of him. He is to classify, “for brevi- they may be elicited by this inquiry: ty's søke.” If he chooses to smother the design, let him The number and compensation of clerks in the departresort to generalization. And why are his friends so sen- ment could not have been extravagant, unless we are desitive! If your officer is innocent, he can very safely an- ceived by appearances. We find the number has been swer any interrogatory, however particular. "He is in no greatly increased, and there is a petition now pending danger from any witness, however strong his prejudices. before us for additional pay. Though this does not, to be da honest and faithful officer should never have cause to sure, look much like “retrenchment and reform,” still it
Ours is a Government based entirely is possible that these additional expenditures may become on responsibility, where the acts of every agent should be necessary, from the increased duties of the department. open to public inspection. All secrets are grounds of sus. But I should think that to displace experience, and subpcion and jealousy, and especially when claimed by a sub- stitute inexperience, would sufficiently account for it. It
is impossible, if you remove the most experienced and faithThe two questions which were put to Mr. Bradley, ful officers in a department so complex and ramified, that were manifestly preliminary: They, on the one hand, the business can be done so expeditiously or correctly. It went to show the extent of his means of knowing the state is impossible that the men the most intelligent, practical, of the department. He had held the office thirty years, and faithful, can perform duties so well as those who have and nearly the whole time had managed its fiscal concerns. been trained and disciplined by long practice. Hail he been removed by the present Postmaster General, It is possible, though I cannot admit that it is probable, and if so, for what cause? This, on the other, would that all these six or seven hundred removals were for good show how far he might be prejudiced--presenting at once cause.
The late Postmaster General was a faithful and his knowledge and his bias. Who could have apprehend- vigilant officer and a rigid disciplinarian. It would seem, ed any dlanger from such questions? No friend of an in- at a first glance, that he could not have overlooked :
in his own case.