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The National tribune. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1877-1917, December 01, 1880, Image 5

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82016187/1880-12-01/ed-1/seq-5/

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which is quito long, and the memorials, each hoar
conclusive oviclonco on thoir face that thoy arc not
the spontaneous expressions of the officers who
assume them as thoirs.
The line of thought, the character of expression,
the nature of the arguments, are all familiar and as
easily recognized as the Washington Monument.
There are many phrases in it repeated so often and
so drearily in every report, letter, argument, and
evidence given by the Commissioner for four years
past, that the paternity is apparent. " The voice
is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of
Esau" The signatures are the act of the officers,
the ideas are thoso of Bentley.
Whether he wrote the order himself or not it is
certain that he inspired it, and inspired it so thor
oughly that nearly every sentence has his earmark,
and the unmistakable odor of the tension Office
permeates the whole transaction, and for all the pur
poses involved in the document itself it is John A.
Bentley who usurps the function of commander-in-chief
and adjutant-general of the G. A. B., and does
it for his own private purposes and to forward his
own schemes. So too the newspapers take up the
matter under similar inspiration, and announced,
before the ink on the order was fairly dry, that the
Grand Army of the Republic was wheeling into
line in support of Bentley's measure, and this before
any Post had acted at all on the matter.
Again, in a few days the same papers, under the
same inspiration, announces that the Committee on
Appropriations in the House propose to .put Senate
bill No. 49 G as a rider on the Pension Appropria
tion bill. Yet everybody knows that that commit
tee never did so propose, and that such action would
be a direct violation of the rules of the House, and
could only be done by unanimous consent.
All and each of these arc steps m Mr. Uentieys
method of creating, or, properly, manufacturing
public opinion by indirect and unfair methods.
He is known to have stated in Philadelphia that
the examiners provided for in his bill would have to
be impermanent session in that city, and it is safe
to say that there were many other matters stated by
him quite as significant that are not known.
But the evidence of a deliberate and carefully ar
ranged plot, prepared by Mr. Bentley, are just as
clear from the negative side as from the affirmative.
In this General Order No. 11, so unmistakably
the creature of the Commissioner, there is a demand
made upon the Posts to approve this new measure -
the bill of the Senate Committee and yet the bill
itself is not furnished for their consideration.
Only the first two sections of the bill are given,
out of the nine sections, and those omitted are the
very sections which give vitality to the whole,
which prescribe the manner of carrying the bill into
effect, and which are most open to serious and fatal
They do not give section 7, which authorizes the
Commissioner on his own caprice or pure whim to
investigate any and every case over again " after a
pension has been allowed."
They thus deliberately deprive the very tribunal
they are addressing the Posts of the G. A. B. of
the opportunity of examination of the whole schemo
as reported, and practically ask a blind and incon
siderate indorsement of unknown machinery, bo
cause the headquarters have been "satisfied" by
Mr. Bentley, and have become his unconscious
agents to procure this indorsement.
If the Grand Army of the Republic desire to have
any weight or influence on this great question they
ought to know what they are passing upon, and
speak from such knowledge, and not as passive and
obedient instruments to turn qut ready-made opin
ions to order.
Thoy ought to know the existing evils j they
ought to know what are said to bo the causes ; they
ought to hear both sides j they ought to bo sure
that they understand the Operation and effect of the
measure they are called upon to indorse.
In the debate on the bill in the Senate in tho
winter of 1819, which was thorough, it was igno
'miniously defeated. What did Gen. James Shiolds,
Sonator from Missouri, a horo of tho Mexican war
and of the war of tho rebollion, say, " I should like
know who is tho author of such a bill. Ho deserves
a loather medal and I call upon tho pensioners of
America to give him one." What did Hon. A. G.
Tkurmau, Sonator from Ohio, say of it, " It will
carry terror to the hearts of two hundred thousand
pensioners." Hon. G. I Edmunds, of Vermont,
ffctnooiiy appoaad ths bill as wall as did Sanaiors
Blaine, Yoorhoes, Colliding, ICornan, and other
great lights of both political parties. Wo shall
endeavor in another article to show as clearly as
wo can what this bill No. 496 does in fact mean,
and what may bo naturally expected from its pro
visions if it becomes a law. But our purposo now
is only to expose tho. underhand methods taken
by a high public officer to bolster up by a manufac
tured public opinion, a measure utterly bad in itself
and which will cause still greater delay, hindrance,
and suffering to the army of claimants who are
waiting for tho justice of the Nation, and whose
claims are blockaded in the Pension Office.
Four Millions of Dollars Annually Paid Out
for Fraudulent Pensions.
In tho House of Representatives, on tho 16th day
of December, 1880, the Hon. Jay A. Hubbell, of
Michigan, used these words :
The Commissioner of Ponsions informs me, and the
press of the country has published it, that he is satisfied
that, under tho present system df paying out pensions,
over $4,000,000 (and he does not know how much more)
has been paid out fraudulently out of cyery fifty millions
This, then, is not Mr. Hubbcll's declaration, for
ho is careful to give his authority.
This is Commissioner Bentley's declaration this
is his charge ; this is what he assumes to knoiu ; for
observe he says he is satisfied as to that much, but
does not know how much more.
This charge means that nearly 15 per cent, of the
Pensions are fraudulent.
We challenge Mr. Bentley to the proof. We
challenge him to show by any sort of reasoning, by
any possible state of facts, by any decent show of
argument, that this, or anything like the case made
in this monstrous charge, does in fact exist.
The truth is that Mr. Bentley has slandered by
wholesale a large body of people whom he of all
men is bound to protect. He has done it without
evidence, and he knows it. He has done it as
a means to an end, and that end not tho best for the
Government or tho people.
His records do not show any such state of facts.
His secret service agents even give him no such
data. Tho record of criminal prosecutions shows no
such fearful rate of crime. If it wore true, he ought
to be kicked out of office for incompetency. Any
man who has all the courts, all the law, all the
power of the United States behind him, who has
absolute authority over the admission or rejection
of claims, who has a special detective force of his
own, who has large annual appropriations to detect
and punish fraud, sinks to the level of confessed
imbecility when he makes such a statement. Not
a Senator or Representative but would repel with
scorn such a charge as applied to his own people ;
but Mr. Bentley includes and calumniates all, be
cause he distinguishes none.
Four millions of dollars, and perhaps more, lost
every year, by Commissioner Bentley ! I !
Is not this rather a high figure to pay for tho
doubtful usefulness of. this gentleman ?
What would tho Secretary of tho Treasury think
of one of his auditors, or tho President or a comp
troller, who allowed four millions a year to be
stolen bv fraud ? What would Mr. Schurz, ot the
Interior, say to an Indian commissioner who made
such a confession ? Nay, more j what would be
come of any officer who confessed to four hundred
thousand, or oven forty thousand, lost in his office
by fraud on this Government '!
Gentlemen, if you belie vo Mr. Bentleyif you
think ho told the truth, you would instantly remove
him from an office which bore such results, or you
would be impeachod.
The country can't afford such a luxury as Mr.
Bentley at such a price.
Now remember, for four years ho has been press
ing this cry of fraud.
Is it not time ho should give somo proof, better
than Mr. Hubbell gave, of the Maine swindle by a
clerk in the Pension Office, in 1S64, aud a negro
conspiracy in Detroit, detected and punished uy tue
conviction of Richardson.
Tho wholo body of Pensioners who are covered
by tiis slander challenge and require you to point
out and punish the guilty, aud to leave unharmed
tho reputation of the innocent.
Prove your case and show yourself 4ncompotcnt
for your Office, or admit your oxtravagance ; if not,
you libel aud show yourself unfit for it from want
of judicial mind and judicial impartiality.
The Closing iTear.
Another milestone on tho road of life has been
passed. Bach and all of us are ono year nearer the
hour when the dark curtain will be lifted and we will
pass forever into the silent land. Now, we are not
proposing to preach a sermon, but to prcsont some
philosophic views. The prospect of leaving this
world should never cause a shudder or draw a tear.
Wc know that wo are physical beings, and that all
such must die. In the language of an old English
"Like leaves on trees tho race of man is found ;
rjow green in youth, now withering on the ground.
Ihus generations in their turn decay ;
So flourish these, whon those have passed away."
Each and all of us take life upon certain condi
tions, and are oft operated upon by circumstances
seemingly beyond our control. Those wonderful
laws through which wo are living, breathing hu
man beings, and not mere crude matter, senseless
clods, are wrapt in as much mystery as our condi
tion in the new life. But ono deep conviction per
vades every intelligent mind aye, has a lurking
place oven in that of the rude savage, that beyond
the borders of this life there is another, and there
the disembodied spirits of mortals will be in happi
ness or misery. Whence arises, why exists this
universal conviction, unless it be implanted in our
natures by the Great, Eternal Spirit? The bolief
of the savage in this doctrine may be compared to
his hut of mud and sticks, while that of the man of
learning would resemble the marble palace; but
both are houses in which to dwell.
Well, if we are ever to enter tbo blissful abodes
of the future, beyond the river of life, we must while
here come into accord with what we feel to be the
attributes of superior being3. Leaving out the
question as to the relations of Christ to nis Eather,
we know that when he said, "As the tree falh, so
it lies," he spoke an indisputable truth. Hence, if
our minds are permeated with gentleness, charity,
geniality, purity, we not only ennoble ourselves
and prepare ourselves for this new life, but we be
come able to infect others with like traits and dis
positions. And now, at the dawn of a new year,
may we with cheerful hearts act upon the living
conviction that this life is a blessing intended for
us (otherwise we should not be here), and that as ife
is lived, in honor or in shame, we will enter with
honor r with shamo into our eternal homes.
Bill Pour Hundred and Ninety-six.
We refer all our comrades, patrons and readers
to the exhaustive review we have heretofore given
of Senate Bill No. 496.
We have denounced it and that justly as a contf i
vance to enlarge the power and patronage of the
office, by creating six hundred new officers to be ap
pointed by the Secretary of the Interior, but nom
inated, in fact, by the Commissioner of Ponsions. -We
have stated and stated correctly ; that it is a
slur and an insult upon the large body of examining
surgeons, and was intended to be so ; that Mr.
Bentldy bases one of his chief arguments upon an
alleged want of professional honor on the part of.
these surgoons. t
We have stated, and state again, that these new
examiners have np power of decision, or even of
recommendation ; that they are not allowed to
be judges, in any sense; that thoy are only commis
sioners to take the affidavits of any witness who
may appear, or be produced before them, and to
send on such affidavits to tho Pension office. That
they have no power to issue subpeenas to compel
witnesses to appear or to punish for not answering.
That they havo no sort of resemblance to a Court;
that tho United States whom they pretend to
reprosent cannot summon any witness, however
necessary, to dofend and expose a fraudulent claim
That it is physically impossible for them to do
ordinary justice to pension claimants.
That there must bo long and tedious delays for
many of those who want to be examined, and delays
made expensive by being at a distance from their
homes, and by tho necessity of paying for themselves
and thoir witnesses while thus dancing attendance
and waiting their turn.
That in almost every pension claim witnesses re
side in different districts, in remote States and ter
ritories out of reach of tho claimant, except, by cor
respondence through tho mails, and thus an exam
ination began in ono State, must ba sent from ona
set of commissioners to another until all th links
of tetiino&y are complete if ayer thy cam ba.
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