Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

FEB.9, 1831.]

Post Office Department.

(SENATE.

the real state of the funds of the Post Office Department, ing is met and crushed by the antagonizing consideration, as they appear from the documents before us, has been so that our duty to the people, and our oaths to support the incorrectly represented by the members from New Hamp- magna charta of their liberties, require of us to close every shire and Tennessee, (Messrs. WOODBURY and Grundy,] avenue against the possible abuse of power, and to expose that I am again compelled to trespass upon the indulgence and restrain every encroachment upon their rights. Sir, of this honorable body.

there are, perhaps, a hundred cases appearing on our reBefore I proceed to discharge this necessary duty, suf- cords, in which inquiries have been made here into abuses fer me, sir, briefly, to notice an observation which fell of the Government, for the purposes of legislation; and it from the member from Missouri, (Mr. Bextox,] in the is not too much to say that this is the first time, in the hiscourse of a debate on the salt tax, originated by him, and tory of this body, when such an objection has been advancwhich you then pronounced to be disorderly. He was ed to screen a public officer from a fair and full investipleased to say that the Senate ought not to deny him a gation of the principles which have regulated his official hearing on his important motion to abolish the duty on conduct

. It is no less striking than novel, too, that the alum salt, while they so willingly consented to this inves- friends of the Postmaster General should betray such tigation, “which engaged them as petty constables in great sensitiveness, lest the examination of the committee ferreting out crimes of which they might afterwards be- should lead to his impeachment. When that commiitee come judges.” There was nothing, sir, in the source was appointed in the early part of this session, it was from which this sprung, in the manner in which it was vauntingly urged by his friends here, that they defied the made, or in the occasion which gave it birth, that would investigation, and courted the inquiry. Their cry was, have entitled it to any notice from me, but for the repeti- " none but the galled jade winces."

“ Examine every tion of the argument involved in it, that the Senate ought thing, and you will find all right.” The original resolunot to inquire into impeachable matter. That argument, tion directing the inquiry into the entire management of sir, has been urged by the Senator from New Hampshire, the department, was adopted with an air of triumph, and supported by the gentleman from Tennessee, to de-though the anxiety to avoid the scrutiny of a select comprive the committee of the power of ascertaining the mittee did not very well comport, as I thought then, sir, principles upon which your Postmaster General has re- with the lofty and sounding phrases which accompanied it. moved so many hundreds of officers from his department. When the trial begins, we see that a new light is suddenly If it has not been sufficiently met and answered already, it shed on thie question then decided. A part of the power was because such an argument was not deemed worthy of which was delegated on the committee, must be now reany labored reply. It is not every hypocritical pretencevoked. The light begins to shine too brightly, and the which ingenuity can resort to for the purpose of screen-cry is, we are afraid you will disclose impeachable matter. ing guilt or condemning innocence; not the complaint of In other words, the fear is, that the Postmaster General every sycophant who bends before power, and who would has so grossly violated the law and the constitution, that if prostrate the dignity of the Senate while he affects to we suffer your committee to examine his principles of offimourn over its fall, tbat merits an answer from me. But cial action, with a view to restrain him, we may be comto the gentleman from Tennessee, who represents the pelled to try bim on an impeachment! I will not deny highly respectable Legislature which elected him, and this, sir, becailse it lias, doubtless, been permitted to these who doubtless thinks there is weight in this objection gentlemen to learn much more of the secrets of his dewhen he presses it, I answer that the object of the whole partment than myself; and, as I do not love to contradict inquiry, as expressed on the face of the resolution, under gentlemen when I can avoid it, I agree that the apprehenthe authority of which he and I are acting as members of sions they express may be well grounded. If the proof a committee, is to enable us to legislate; that it was not be not arrested, a scene of barter and juggling for office instituted to lay the foundation for any impeachment; that may be disclosed, the like of which never before disgraced the right which the Senate enjoys as a co-ordinate branch this or any other country. It may be, that the people will of the whole legislative power of the Union, involves the stand agliast at it, and every honest man of the political right to inquire into any and every abuse in all the depart- party which has elevated the chief of this department to ments of the Government which legislation can reach, his present station, shall view this scene of political corand which Congress ought either to limit or prevent. ruption with horror! Does the department cower under The power to inquire wliether a law be necessary, must these charges, sir? Does it, in the face of an honest but be incident and subsidiary to the power to make it. deluded people, still shun the light under the hypocritical

His reasoning to screen the Postmaster General from pretence that we cannot inquire into impeachable matter! this investigation proves too much. It would prevent us Yes, sir, it dare do this; and it has found a supporter here, from examining the conduct of all those subordinate offi- who, while he expresses his fears that we are ferreting out cers of this Government, who are as liable to impeachment crimes of which we may afterwards become judges, deas the President or chiefs of departments. The gentle- nounces is as petty constables for our trouble. Yet, be man from Maine has justly remarked that the Senate is, it remembered that this comes from the chairman of the for some purposes, a judicial, for others an executive, Committee on Executive Patronage; and, as the Senator and for others a legislative body. It exercises all the from Maine, who was a member of it, has alleged, without powers incident to each of these capacities, independently contradiction, in the debate here, from the very author of of others. Was it ever heard that the Senate forbore to the report of that committee, which, in 1826, examined counsel and advise the President in their executive cha- every department of the Government for abuses, and reracter, because they might thereby prejudge matters which, ported six bills to check the current of Executive power, by possibility, might afterwards be submitted to them as with a voluminous exposition of facts and alleged crimes, to legislators? Should we refuse to hear a word to convince lay the foundation of legislative interference. Look at the us of the necessity of passing an act to prevent, by increas- report! One of the bills contains a clause to compel the ing the penalties for extortion in our public officers, be. President to assign the causes for every removal from any cause we might be called upon to try them as judges? office referred to in that bill. It was not only deemed Did we refuse to decide in our judicial capacity a question proper, then, to disclose impeachable matter, but necesof contempt, because such a bill as has since been intro- sary to compel that disclosure for executive as well as leduced, to regulate the law of contempt

, might be brought gislative purposes. Now, the very course recommended before us? The argument, if it deserve the name of one, at that time is right for no purpose. Another of these bills would subvert the power, and obstruct the whole action provided that no postmaster, where the profits of his ofof the Senate. In all such cases the objection of prejudg-| tice amount to a certain sum, shall be appointed to or re

SENATE.]

Post Office Department.

[FEB. 9, 1831.

moved from office but by the President and Senate. The for a smile or a frown, at any moment, by its chief. The argument in favor of this bill then pressed upon the peo- sum of $1,274,000 is paid for transportation of the mail, to ple, was, that the influence and patronage of the depart- individuals who are equally liable, for a smile or a frown, ment were so vast, that it had become one of the “arbiters to be embarrassed by the regulations of the department, of human fate" in this coumtry, and could no longer be (such, for instance, as the loss of a single trip,) and driven safely trusted to a single individual. The committee, in- from its cmployment. If a soldier of the revolution apply stead of telling us they were afraid to ferret out crimes, for a scanty pittance of one bundred dollars per annun, say they “hold themselves to be acting in the spirit of the his claim must be scrutinized, and the will of Congress, constitution, in laboring to multiply the guards, and close tardily expressed, must sanction the compensation, or it is the avenues to the possible abuse of power;" and the im- lost. But how many thousands are disbursed by the chief peachable matter which is now so objectionable a feature of this department, at his will, under the name of extra in this inquiry, was then so glorious a discovery, that six compensation to contractors and officers, of which no acthousand copies of the report were printed by the Senate, count is rendered to Congress or the people? The items and scattered throughout the country: We see here who composing the immense expenditure of $1,274,000, are were the “petty constables" of that day; and if a change no where laid before the public; and it is alleged that, in of times has not produced a change of principle too, we the disposition of it, the grossest abuses of unrestrainer! shall now proceed fearlessly in ferreting out abuses of power have been committed. What check, what control every description which we can reform or inhibit. If, for do you, can you, now exercise over this vast disbursement doing so, we receive the appellation of petty constables, of the public treasure? Is there any department, of this let us rely for our reward on the approbation of our con- or any other Government, whose means of controlling sciences and our country, taking care to merit no more public opinion are so ample, that it is subject to no check humble title than that of honest constables, who never or limit? A nod from its chief now creates, at any mocharge double compensation for their trouble.

ment, a new clerk, with a salary of a thousand or fifteen But it is alleged that this question was decided by the hundred dollars, or drives him from office, and you are Senate at the last session, when they refused to inquire not even consulted as to the propriety of the measure; into the causes which induced the President to sweep the nay, you remain in utter ignorance of the fact, for the anlist of civil officers, and the aid of precedent is invoked to nual report does not condescend to give you a single item effect a suppression of this investigation. Sir, I am not in the whole mass of these disbursements. In addition to aware that this Senate has, in the gloomiest period of sub- all this, more than sixty-three thousand dollars are annual. serviency to Executive will, decided the abstract principle, ly paid away, under the head of “Incidental Expenses, that even the President is above the law, or that his prin- at the will of this chief of a department; and there is ciples of action, while administering the constitution, are not a man on this floor who can state the number, and the not liable to investigation. I know well, that, in the exc- substance, of even the principal items which compose it. cutive sessions during the last year, inquiries, in particular all that you know of it is, that, in the report, a part of cases of removal, were repeatedly refused, some thinking the mighty expenditure of nearly two millions of dollars, the inquiries inexpedient in those particular instances. which this department annually lavishes upon twenty-six The power of the representatives of the States was held thousand officers and agents, is stated to be composed of in slight estination by the advocates of Executive influence " Incidental Expenses!" Sir, is it possible that it can at that day, it is most true; but even then no man pre-escape a thinking intellect, how easy a part of these imtended that all the subordinate officers of the Government mense sums might be paid away to a hireling agent for an should be covered with the same agis which protected electioneering tour, under the pretence of public duty? their chief. The argument then was, sir, that the Presi- Is it, dare it be, denied, that there are secret agents in the dent was answerable only to the people who elected him employment of this chief, whose compensation, defrayed at the polls, and not to their representatives--a distinction out of the public purse, is regulated by his sole control, to which I never bowed with any respect, and which 1 and whose services are never made known to the people, still think is entitled to none. But the chiefs of depart- or their representatives here? Yet, in addition to all ments are neither elected by the people nor the States, these expenditures, the department draws annually from nor answerable to either in any other way than through the treasury the sum of sixty-one thousand two hundred their representatives here, by whom their whole powers and ninety-one dollars, to pay the salaries of certain offiare conferred. The Postmaster General, like the rest of cers and agents, and what are called “contingent expenthese chiefs, is an officer unknown to the constitution, and ses” of the department, making the whole actual annual the creature of the law only. Congress enacted the law disbursement of $1,993,993 95. And, to crown the climax, which constitutes his whole authority for action. It made Congress is now asked (and a bill lies before me which has him. It can repeal that law and unmake him. Upon the actually been reported for the purpose) to increase the very principles conceded by those who sheltered your pay of the present officers to an amount never known bePresident from scrutiny, the chief of this department is fore, by more draughts on the treasury, and to authorize amenable, like every other creature of the law, to his the present Postmaster General to create as many new

And if not, then is every other executive offi- clerks as he pleases, each with a salary of eight hundred cer of this Government at all times, and under all circum- dollars per annum, to be paid, not from the funds of the stances, above the very law which established his office. department, but from the treasury!* Is it not right to You cannot, on this principle, investigate the conduct of inquire, then, for what specific objects these expenditures the most peity officer in the customs, without invading the have been made? why the same labor which was perroyal prerogative; and the principle that the “ King can formed by the old officers, cannot now be done for the do no wrong," which even England knows only in theory, same compensation? and upon what principles the departis here transferred to every subordinate of the Govern- ment has been regulated in constituting the recipients of ment, until every “pelting petty officer” becomes a tyrant, its bounty, or removing the objects of its aversion? amenable to no human tribunal but the will of his political chief.

* On the 26th February, the department sent into the There does not exist in this Government a department Senate an estimate for extra clerk inire, amounting to which, by law, is held so irresponsible to Congress, or the twenty thousand dollars, which was inserted in the appropeople, as the post office. It disburses, annually, from priation bill, and makes the draught on the treasury, to its own funds, $1,932,000 among the people; of which sustain the department this year, eighty-one thousand $595,000 is paid to postmasters, all subject to be removed | dollars.

creators.

FEB. 9, 1831.]

Post Ofice Department.

[SENATE.

It so happened, sir, that, in the course of the few re- passages in only two of Mr. Barry's communications to marks which I yester lay found it necessary to submit in Congress, which cover the whole ground. In March, 1830, reply to the gentleman from Tennessee, who introduced he writes to the Committee on the Post Office and Post this resolution, and commenced this debate, I entered Roads, of the other house, as appcars by the printed reinto some calculation of the state of the available funds of port of that committee, in vol. 3d of the reports of the this department. I did so, as I then distinctly stated, House of Representatives, No. 361, that, on the 1st day of with a view to explain the causes which had induced this April

, 1829, the available funds of the department amountinvestigation, and to exhibit the necessity of ascertaining ed to two hundred and eighty thousand and sixty-five dolthe truth or untruth of what public rumor had most confi- lars, being the sum which he thus admits Mr. McLean had dently alleged--that the declension of the public treasure lest, after paying all the expenses of the department durthere, was owing to the removal of so many experienced ing liis administration;* and, at the same time, he adnits and faithful agents. To this course, sir, that unflinching that, during all former periods of its history, “ all the exchampion and advocate of the department, the gentleman penses of transportation, and others incident to this defrom New Hampshire, has taken great exception. He partment, have been defrayed by its own resources, witlichooses to assume that I, by the more statement of what fout any appropriation, at any time, to meet them, from appears on the official records, (for I did nothing more,) the treasury:” But, in addition to this, he admits that have charged the department with corruption and fraud. Timothy Pickering, Joseph Habersham, Gideon Granger, That 's a result, sir, to which I might arrire by the aid of Return J. Meigs, and John McLean, had actually paid that evidence which the honorable gentleman has refused into the treasury of this nation the sum of $1,103,063, 10 the committee to hear. I would not prejudge the whole part of which had ever been drawn by the department; case, however, while I rejected the testimony, or before but which had remained in the treasury to augment the it was heard. But, if the charge of an expenditure un- revenue, and strengthen the arm of the Government. precedented in the annals of the department necessarily Then, in the same document, he informs the committee, implies, as he scems to consider, a charge of fraud and that "now the greatest possible frugality is necessary in corruption, then, sir, that charge is sustained by evidence the management of the concerns of the department, and which twenty times his force can neither suppress nor without any considerable improvement in mail facilities discredit. The official report shows the amount of es- for, it is believed, at least three years to come, to make penditures for the last year to be $150,574 33 more than the department sustain itself in its present operations, was ever expended in any previous year. To counteract without any increase in the number of nail routes!” Ile the effect of this single fact, the member from New Hamp- proceeds to inform them that the two hundred new mail shire boasts that the receipts of the department have ex- routes, then called for, would cost eighty-six thousand ceeded those of the preceding year by the sum of three dollars, (the treasury, of course, to pay for them, as the hundred thousand dollars. Now, sir, he who affects, with department could not,) and concludes the paragraph by such an air of triumph, to call my attention to "dates and saying, “It is not, however, apprehended, that the exfigures," should be a little more careful in reference to isting state of the department, and a continuation of the them himself. The great difficulty with this sounding de- accommodations already in operation, though its expenses, claration is, that it is not true. The Postmaster General's for the present, greatly exceed its current income, will own report, in the first ten lines of it, proves how misera. require any assistance beyond what will arise from its probly the member is mistaken. The receipts for the last gressive increase of revenue; but, as before stated, with year were $1,850,580 10; those of the preceding year adequate vigilance, the resources of the department are were $1,707,418 42; and the difference in the receipts is believed to be equal to its present exigencies." Here, $143,164 68. The receipts for the year ending the 1st then, we see that, in March last, such was the embarrassof July, 1828, were $1,598,877 95, a sum which is less ment of the department, that, for the first time in the histhan that for 1830, by $251,705 15 only. When the gen- tory of its administration, its funds were equal only to its tleman, in the excess of his zeal to lavish encomiums on then existing exigencies, without a cent to defray the exthe department, only doubled the real excess of revenue pense of the mail routes wbich were called for from all of 1830 over that of 1829, and supposed he was thereby parts of the country. Before that time, we all know, that casting the predecessor of Mr. Barry into the shade, we "all the expenses of transportation were defrayed (and must, in charity, suppose that he had forgotten that the promptly too) from its own resources." Then it could real ratio of increase of revenue, since the latter came into only, by great frugality, “sustain itself in its present opeoffice, had fallen short of that of former years. I do not rations," without being able to pay for any new mail routes slippose, sir, that he wilfully stated one hundred and forty- or mail facilities for three years to come! After this, sir, three thousand dollars to be three hundred thousand dol. comes the important question, have the funds of the departe. lars, but I do suppose that some one had informed him ment increased since the date of this document? So far from that this statement was correct. The fact is, the increase it, your Postinaster General, in his last annual report, tells was two per cent. less than usual. In a country where you, that since that time, and during the year ending on the increase of population is so rapid as in ours, where the 1st day of July, 1830, its expenditures have exceeded the demand of all classes for intercourse through the mail its income $82,124. 8.5; and the two hundred and eighty is constantly growing, the revenue for postage must, and thousand dollars which his predecessor had left, were then will, if proper attention be bestowed upon it, annually in- reduced down to one hundred and forty-cight thousand crease in a corresponding ratio; and a Postmaster General, whose advocate can rest his pretensions to public confi. Mr. McLean, in his communication to the committee, dence upon no better evidence than that increase which dated February 26, 1831, states, that when he left the must be inevitable, affords but slender cause for his advo- office, the surplus funds amounted to $289,140 17, making cate to shout victory before the battle is begun.

nine thousand dollars more than the amount stated by Mir. In connexion with this subject, the member then pro- Barry. Ile also states the whole amount of the excess ceeds to reply to my remark, that, from the statement of expenditures abore the receipts, from July 1, 1828, to of the Postmaster General himself, the department is April 1, 1829, to have been but $59,312 90, including unable to meet the public demand for post routes; and $5,832 15 expended for the new post office builling, that, if that statement be true, unless some change shoull which he says ought to have been a charge on the treaoccur in the administration of its affairs, it would soon sury. Mr. Barry states this excess, during the same time, reach the period of its bankruptcy. Now, sir, to substan- at $12,863 95. See 4th vol. State Papers, 1st session 21st tiate my position, suffer me to refer the member to a few Congress, document No. 118.

SENATE.]

Post Office Department.

(Feb. 9, 1831.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

dollars. From the Postmaster General's answer to a call/call for the information with a view to efiict, that I should of the other House, made last year, to ascertain the excess not notice it but for the imputation attempted to be cast of expenditure which occurred in the three last quarters upon the excellent officer who was removed. Here, as of Mr. McLean's administration, it appears, that the ex- in all other cases where a victim has been singled out for cess for the first quarter of the new administration, which proscription, the effort of the department is to destroy commenced on the ist of April, and ended on the 1st July, I lis reputation. And yet this statement of the Postmaster 1829, was thirty-two thousand dollars, which, added to General has never been printed, nor in any other way has the eighty-two thousand dollars, the excess for the ensu- the proscribed officer been notified of the intended ating year shows that, in the first fifteen months of his ad. tack. But, saying nothing at this time of the truth of the ministration, the funds of the department were reduced statement, and leaving that to Mr. Munroe himself, who one hundred and fourteen thousand dollars. I commend will defend himself against this or any other imputation, the gentleman of "dates and figures” to an examination we cannot but reflect that, in every growing town or city, of these stubborn facts; and when he has learned them, 1 a concurrence of fortuitous and co-operating circumstances may pray his opinion on the question, whether, from the often produces a much greater revenue in one year than records before us, the department is not verging to insol, that of the preceding one. In 1829, when the new postvency, and already rendered inadequate to the purposes of master was appointed, this city was thronged with thouits creation. Sir, he, and his friend from Tennessce, may sands of visiters and applicants for ofiice, whose letter paint an inch thick, yet to this complexion it must come postage, in addition to that which the rapidly growing at last, unless they mean to contend that the Postmaster prosperity of the city produced, must have constituted a General has either wilfully or ignorantly misrepresented formidable item for the Postmaster General to exhibit, in the state of the funds; and I leave them to choose which contrast with that of the preceding year. I shall not stop branch of this comfortable dilemma may to them appear to estimate postage on office-hunting letters at that day, most expedient to hang upon in his further defence. The gentlemen on the other side have far better means of

At the same time, sir, let me by no means be understood judging of this. Deubtless it was enormous. Nor shall to admit that the present Postmaster General's statement of I point the attention of the gentlemen to the many cases the available funds left by his predecessor is correct. His in which the revenue has declined, after the removal of predecessor stated the amount of these available funds to good officers. But as this, and ail like items, are emhave been, on the 1st day of July, 1828, 352,000 dollars, braced in the whole mass of revenue for the year, I anafter deducting all desperate accounts. But his successor, swer all vaunts of this kind from the department, by inin his report to Congress, reduces this sum (by deducting quiring, in turn—what liave you done with the money? for losses since ascertained, and for expenditures) to You tell us that you have expended about two millions of 280,000 dollars, on the 1st day of April, 1829. Whether dollars, and abstracted from ile sunds, in one year, eighty: this does not exhibit these funds at the time his predecessor two thousand dollars besides. How have you disbursed left the office in an unfair light, yet remains to be ascer- this immense sum? And if your inability to comply with tained. What these newly discovered losses consisted of; the public demand for mail routes, presenting, as you adwhether they had not been previously taken into the esti- mit it does, an unexampled state of embarrassment in the mate by bis predecessor, and upon what principle that es administration of this branch of the public revenue, be timate was made, all remain to be examined; and I hope not owing to the improper clismissal of meritorious officers, we shall ascertain them yet, although the gentlemen from and the substitution of inefficient ones to fill their places, Tennessee and New Hampshire have, as we have seen be- to what cause do you ascribe this state of things? fore, refused to hear the evidence of the solicitor of the

To this important question the gentiemen reply, first, department on this important branch of the subject. If that it is to be ascribed to the increased mail facilities these funds have been incorrectly represented to Congress which have been established; and they quote from the by the present Postmaster General, I shall not stop to in- last report, that from the 1st day of July, 1829, to the 1st quire whether his diminution of them was made with a day of July, 1830, the transportation of the mail was inview to disparage his predecessor, upon whose official re-creased in stages equal to seven hundred and forty-five putation he evidently put a slight estimate in bis first re. thousand seven hundred and sixty-seven miles, and on port, nor whether he purposes to place the sum he has horseback and in sulkies, to sixty-seven thousand one deducted from Mr. McLean's estimate futurely to his own hundred and four miles. Admit this statement to be credit as a financier; but if the funds do exist, in spite of strictly true, yet they should have remembered that similar his report to the contrary, why do all his friends in both mail facilities have always been granted before; and they Houses oppose the passage of the post route bill, on the also should have read to us so much of the same report as ground that he lias not the money to defray the expense states that “it is in part owing to these improvements that of establishing the routes?

the amount of revenue is so much augmented.” The But further, sir. My position being fully sustained by necessary effect of these very improvenients must be to the Postmaster General's own statements, ask the gen- increase the amount of postages, and to defray, if not all, tlemen who undertake to decide the matter referred to us at least a very large part of their expense. But if they in his favo: before the investigation is begun, wly is it, had proved å dead loss to the whole amount of their cost, that now, for the first time in the history of the depart- it would not account for one-half of your expenditure. ment, it is unable to defray the expenses of mail transport. We are told in the same report, the average expense of ation on the new routes, which the public have demand- transportation by borse or sulky, is five cents per mile, ed by their petitions here, and which have swelled to and by stages thirteen cents per mile, in the southern diiabout three hundred? It vas boasted by the gentlemen, vision. Now, suppose these improvements, which have that the Postmaster General had collected more revenue “so much augmented the revenue,” vid aligment it to an last year than was ever obtained before in a single year. amount equal to one-half their cost; and suppose that And the member from Tennessee dwelt with hcartfelt le- every mile of this increased mail transportation in stages liglit upon the fact, that the present postmaster of this cost thirteen cents instead of ciglitcents, (the mean ditlercity, who was appointed to fill the racancy occasioned ence between the cost of that mode of transportation and by the removal of Mr. Munroe, bad collected a larger sum the transportation by horses and sulkies,) the expense of in a given time, than the latter did in the corresponding the whole seven hundred and forty-five thousand seven time preceding it. This, sir, with deference to the gen- hundred and sixty-seven miles is but $96,949 71; and tleman, is so small a business, although the Postmaster then adding $3,355 20 for the sixty-seven thousand one General bas, as we see, found a friend here to make the hundred and four miles of transportation by horses and

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

sulkies, at five cents per mile, the whole expenditure year, over the expenditures, of $79,100 61! The report is but $100,304 91; and the one-half of this we have sup. of November, 1827, shows an augmented transportation posed is paid by the increase of revenue it bas produced! of the mail for the preceding year, of four hundred and How does this account for the fact that one hundred and fifteen thousand two hundred and fourteen miles, in stages; fifty thousand dollars were last year expended beyond the and on horseback and in sulkies, of fifty thousand and disbursement of any former year, and that since the re-thirty-two miles--yet exhibits a surplus of revenue for signation of Mr. McLean the whole annual revenue has that year, after paying all expenses, of $100,312! But been sunk, and one hundred and fourteen thousand dollars more, sir. In this very report, Mr. McLean adds, “that drawn from the funds he left?

the surplus funds exceed $370,000; that the means of the But if this excuse be insufficient, say the gentlemen, department are now ample to meet the reasonable wants we have another. There were new post routes established of the country; and that a vigilant administration of its in the time of the predecessor of the present Postmaster affairs, for a few years to come, will place at the disposiGeneral, a part of the cost of which has fallen on the lat- tion of the Government an annual surplus of more than ter. On this subject, sir, I think it can be easily shown, half a million of dollars!" Yet, at this time, sir, when it that the expense of establishing the new routes alluded to, is not able, by the declarations of its present chief, even amounting to something more than two hundred, did not to establish another mail route, its advocates and chamexceed thirty thousand dollars. All the revenue which pions tell me there has been a most vigilant administration the routes established by the law of 1828 produced, was of its affairs! And I am even taken to task by a censor received by the present Postmaster General; not a cent of morum here for daring to inquire into its concerns. it by his predecessor. The whole expense of the first I will now close the examination of these excuses for quarter after the routes were established, was incurred this department by one more brief statement of its forand paid before the 1st of April, 1829, out of the funds mer situation. In the report of November, 1828, it apin the hands of that predecessor, forming, therefore, no pears that the late Postmaster General had, since 1823, deduction from the surplus of two hundred and eighty added, thousand dollars, which was left on the 1st of April, 1829. In stage transportation,

1,949,850 miles; No law has passed since the present Postmaster General In sulkies and on horseback, 1,658,949 miles; came into office, to compel him to establish a single new route. His predecessor establishıcd five hundred and fifty

Making an increase of 3,608,799 miles; three, including those enumerated by the act of 1827, which improvements were “accompanied by great inpaid the expenses of them all without calling on the trea; crease of expenditure on all the important routes; on masury for a dollar, and left more than two hundred and eighty thousand dollars in the department! During all ny or them the mail being then conveyed at the rate of this time, too, there was a corresponding increase of mail during this time rapidly increased, and the surplus left

one hundrecl iniles a day'--yet the amount of the funds facilities of every description. The following statement (says the report) was 352, 105 dollars and 10 cents.

Let will show how little in his day the finds of the depart. it Þe remembered, too, that the number of new post ment were affected by such causes as are now assigned for routes established from 1823 to 1827, was 553, and they their unprecedented clecline: By the acts of the 3d of March, 1823, and 3d of March, lities, amounting io less than one-fourth this amount have

were in the next year increased to 783. Now, wail faci. 1825, two hundred and seventy nine new post routes were sunk'the whole annual revenue, and reduced the surplus established, of which two hundred and fourteen were in- funds to 148,000 dollars! But, in addition to all this, the cluded in the last act. From the 1st of July, 1823, to the demands of this department upon the treasury have much 1st of July, 1824, the transportation of the mail was in increased since 1829. Your appropriation last year was creased four hundred and ninety-five thousand one hundred $13,000 more than for the previous year, and $22,940 and eighteen miles, of which three hundred and seventy more than for the year 1924. In these days of economy, four thousand two hundred and seventy miles consisted of the old furniture for some rooms in the department must stage transportation; the cost of all which Mr. McLean be reformed ont, and the appearance of things rendered estimates at thirty thousand dollars in his report of 1824. By the report of November, 1825, it appears that, from the more suitable to the reigning taste of those who rode into 1st day of July, 1823, to the 1st day of July, 1825, the power on the allegation of extravagance in their predeincrease of mail accommodation amounted to one million five hundred and twenty-eight thousand eight hundred and ness by the gentlemen from New Hampshire and Tennes

Looking to the reasons pressed with so much earnesttwenty-one miles, and during the same time one thousand

see, I ask themrhow they reconcile their argument with the and forty new post offices were established. "Yet,” says the report of that day, “such has been the accession of in his report of November, 1829, (referring to these im

Postmaster General's own statements of his great savings. receipts for postage, that the additional expenditure required by this extension of the mail will be met without have sunk the revenue so much,) he says “the new con

provements in mail transportation, which they now tell us difficulty; and if Congress should think proper to relieve tracts have been made, including all the improvements, for the treasury from all charge on account of this depart. $19,195 37 per annum, less than the sum paid under the ment, the usual appropriations may be drawn from its own expiring contracts.” If this, and the allegation of econofunels.” • In these two years, notwithstanding all these drafts on its finds, so vastly greater than those which have my which his advocates have made, be true, what has be

come of the money he found there when he entered the occurred since the 5th of March, 1829, at a period when department: Sir, these advocates may stifle this inquiry the density and amount of population were far from con- for the present, yet, unless they can render some better ferring the same advantages for increasing its revenue, excuse for the abstraction of these funds than has yet been which now exist, the whole expense was promptly met by its own funds, and yet there was an excess of revenue given, the public will say it is owing to a want of skill or for these two years of $29,177 99! The report of November, 1826, shows an auginented conveyance of the * The appropriation from the treasury this year, for the mail, since 1823, of one million eight hundred and fifty- Post Office Department, made since this debate, is 20,000 seven thousand three hundred and forty-live miles, and an dollars for extra clerk hire, of which 15,800 dollars is exincrease of one thousand seven hundreiland fifty-four new tra clerk bire since March, 1829. The whole draft on the post offices. Yet the revenue was found sufficient for all treasury, to sustain the department now, being annually these expenses, and there was an excess of it in that very about 80,000 dollars.

Vol. VII.--11

cessor's."

« AnteriorContinuar »