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On the 28th day of May last, the second meeting of the board was held at Madison, for the purpose of settling the accounts of the former board of commissioners, to examine into the state and condition of the public buildings, and particularly to adopt proper measures to expedite their completion.
We should liave held our meeting at Madison some time pre. vious to the twenty-eighth of May, agreeably to our intention, when we adjourned our meeting at Milwaukee, but were induced to postpone it to that period in consequence of the engagements of one of the former commissioners, J. D. Doty, Esq., whom we saw at Milwaukee, and who said he would be at Madison from the 25th to the 28th of May. When we met at Madison we found but one of the former commissioners, A. A. Bird, Esq., and dur. ing a stay of six days, neither of the two absent commissioners, nor the person who had contracted to complete the Capitol, made their appearance at Madison.
Soon after our arrival at Madison, we gave due notice, in the Wisconsin Enquirer, of our meeting, in order that the former board, the contractor, and all persons interested, might attend. After a stay of six days, as before stated, we adjourned; the act. ing commissioner remaining ten days longer for the purpose of meeting the contractor, James Morrison, or any of the former board who might appear to adjust their accounts.
During our stay at Madison, we examined into the situation of the Capitol. We found no materials collected for the completion of the Capitol, and we could not ascertain that any preparations had been made, or were making, to obtain them. But two men were employed on the Capitol, which was in a very incomplete state. The hall of the House of Representatives was in the same situation in which it was left at the last session. The Council room was in the same unfinished condition, and no part of the work of the interior of the building appeared to be done since the adjournment of the Legislature, with the exception of a portion of the main passage, which was lathed.
Not having received any intimation from the contractor, James Morrison, that he meant to meet us, the acting commissioner ada
dressed a letter to him on the fourth of June last, informing him that he, the said acting commissioner, was in readiness to dis. charge the duties of his office, and requesting the contractor's at. tendance, to which leiter no answer was received.
Our solicitude to fulfil the duties required of us by the act un. der which we were appointed, urged us to make further exertions to effect a settlement with the former board of commissioners; and on the 17th day of June last, we addressed a letter to each of them, requesting them to meet us at Madison on the 10th day of July following, in order to settle their accounts agreeably to the requisites of the law. ·
We received but a single reply to these letters or notices, which was from J. D. Doty, Esq., and dated at Prairie du Chien, July 13th.
[See copy of letter marked document B.]
In his reply, Mr. Doty acknowledges the receipt of our letter, adds that he is “ sorry to say that my [his) engagements are such as 10 prevent me from doing so until after the first Monday in August. I shall then be very glad to meet you, and settle my accounts as treasurer.”
In conformity with the notices addressed to each of the former board of commissioners, in the letters above alluded to, [See copy of which in document marked C,] we met at Madison on the 10th of July, and having remained until the 16th without seeing any of them, excepting A. A. Bird, Esq., the late acting commissioner, we deemed it to be incumbent upon us as public servants, having important duties to perform, which were intimately connected with the interests of the Territory, to make a report to the Executive, relative to our proceedings, and communicating to him a knowl. edge of the situation of the Capitol, and of the obstacles that were interposed to prevent its completion.
[See document marked D.]
This report seemed to be demanded by the solicitude manifest. ed by our fellow.citizens upon the subject of their public buildings. We deemed it necessary, because the work did not progress ás contemplated in the act to enable the acting commissioner to make his quarterly returns, which were called for by the provisions of that act. We deemed it necessary, also, to account for the al. most total neglect with which some of the most important requisi. tions of that act might seem to be regarded.
At this time (the 16:11 of July) there was scarcely any percep. tible alteration in the situation of the Capitol. No work had been done since our meeting in May, with ile exception of a few yards of lathing; and every appearance indicaied on the part of the contractor, a determination to leave the building in its unfinished state, and make the most of the amount he had received over and above the value of the work as it then was--an amount exceeding seven thousand dollars, and which had been inproperly and ille. galiy placed in his hands. We have examined minutely all the work done under the contract with James Morrison, and afer the most liberal estimate, made with reference to the dificulty of ob. taining materials, the price of labor, lumber, and cvery thing used in the erection of the Capitol, we cannot find that a sum exceeding $13,500, has been expended by him. And for this work it ap. pears he has received from the Territory, (in April and May, 1838,) in property, the sum of $7,960 70 ; and, also, agiceably 10 the statements of the late acting commissioner, and of the late treasurer, he has received $13,000 in money, making the whole amount paid the said Morrison, $20,960 70. Showing a balance
in the hands of the said Morrison of $7,460 70 of funds belonging , 10 the Territory.
We would remark that, with the exception of A. A. Bird, Esqu, * the late acting commissioner, neither of the former commission.
ers, por the contractor, has ever manifested any disposition 10 set
tle or meet with us. A. A. Bird, Esq., has often expressed a wil. · lingness to have a sett!cment, but in the absence of the late treas.
urer with his accounis and vouchers, your commissioners are of the opinion that in pursuance of the law under which they act, they had no authority to make a settlement with but one of tho late board; and, also knew, that were they authorized so to do, the attempt would be futile-worse than useless.
Having in vain exhausted every available means in our power,
to effect a settlement with the former board of commissioners, having witnessed an attempt of J. D. Doty, Esq., the treasurer of the late board, to impress upon the public the belief that this board was illegally and inproperly appointed, under the act of the 8th March, 1839,--an ailempi, 100, made in the face of his leiter to us of the 7th July, in which he recognizes the legality of our powers and professes a willingness to comply with the requisitions of the act of i!1e Territorial Logislature-after being seriously impressed froin á multitude of facts, that the late board and contractor were united in one unhailowed and criminal attempt to wrcst froin the Territory a portion of those means, which the liberalily of the National Legislature had extended 10 it, in order to complete its public buildings,-we were forced to the adoption of the only means left us for the preservation of the public property,--a resort to the judicial tribunals of our country.
In Sep ember last, a suit was instituted in the name of the Ter. ritory, against the former commissioners, for tlic recovery of the public money in their hands. Subsequently to this proceeding we applied for a writ of mandamus in order to obtain possession of the books, papers, money, &c., which they had shown a determi. nation to retain although by us demanded. It was decided, how. ever, at the September term in Iowa county, by Chief Justice Dunn, that a writ of mandamus could only issue fron the supreme court. It is not possible for us to divine what will be the result of this unfortunato stale of things--and we might add this disgrace. ful conduct of the late board of commissioners—but we believe we are fully warranted in the prediction that the 'Territory will be de. barred from the use of the money which is now in the hands of - the late treasurer and contractor until it shall have been recovered by the force of an execution,
A suit has also been commenced against James Morrison, the contractor, in the district court of Iowa county, for the April term 1840, for a breach of contract, and for the recovery of the public money in his hands.
The contract of James Morrison for coinpleting the Capitol ex. ;. pired on the 20th day of Septeniber last.
Believing it to be the duty of your commissioners to prepare the Capitol for the ensuing session of the Legislature, on the 23d day of September last, we took possession of the building after having been refused by the agent of the contractor. Finding it necessary to obtain lumber and other materials to place the building in a situation to be occupied by the Legislature, we immediately de. parted for Milwaukee to obtain them, first fastening the windows and lower door of the building, and placing a lock upon the main door. During our absence, James Morrison, the contractor, broke the lock of the door, and placed some men at work in the Capi. tol; and when we returned we were under the necessity of resort. ing to legal means to dispossess him. By the result of an aciion for forcible entry and detainer, Morrison was compelled to yield to a writ of restitution, which again put us in possession ; and we then commenced fitting up the Capitol for the reception of the Le. gislaiure.
Since we last adverted to the progress of the work by the coh. tractor, he has caused the floor in the Representatives' Hall to be laid, and the lathing to be done to most of the present walls and partitions ; and up to the time we recovered possession of the Capitol, the contractor had caused a part of the floor in the Coun. cil room to be laid.
Having no public funds to aid us in our endeavors to place the Capitol in a comfortable situation for the ensuing session of the Legislature, we were compelled to use our own means, or desist from the undertaking and leave the Capitol in its unfinished
In our expenditures we have, as far as possible, endeavored to unile convenience and comfort with economy; and we believe your honorable bodies will find the accompanying account of our expenses to be even below any amount that would have been an. ticipated, to wit : $231 01. (See document marked E.] In our re. port (of July 16) to His Excellency the Governor, [See document marked D.,] we stated we had good reason for believing that a co. partnership had existed and was then existing between two or more of the former board of commissioners and the contractor,