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The North-Carolinian. [volume] (Fayetteville [N.C.]) 1839-1861, March 30, 1839, Image 1

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. rr ITU T I a H v. n. WE P. K LT. B T
IDITtw ' '
Tbrms $2 50 per annum, H" paid in advance; $3
if paid at the end of six months; or 3 SO at
the expiration of the year. Advertisements in
serted at the rate of sixty cents per square for the
first, and thirty cents for each subsequent inser-
1C3 Letters on business connected with this
establishment, must be addressed H. L. Holmes,
Editor of the North-Carolinian, and in all cases
Report of tlie Minority of the
Select Committee,
To allow either House of Congress, by its
action alone to direct its scrutiny into the con
duct of this or that particular officer without
charge, allegation, or suggestion of miscon
duct would be to usurp an authority not re
cognized by the constitution, and liable in
high party times to great abuse. It would be
an arbitrary exercise of power of no ordinary
character. Similar to the sic volo of the Ro
man lady, it would be the concentrated essence
Of despotism. For the purpose of testing
this great principle, and ascertaining the
Bense of the committee on it, one of the un
dersigned submitted the following resolu
tion: "Whereas, doubts appear to exist as to the
power conferred on the committee by the re
solution of the House of the Representatives;
and, as il is important that a distinct expres
sion of opinion should be given on the sub
ject, for the information of the House, under
whose authority we ac and the people of the
United States,
"Be it resolved That it is the deliberate
opinion of this committee that the authority
conferred oa them, by the resolution afore
said, is Invited in its character; that it is con
fined to fie investigation of the late defalca
tions, and to the actings and doings of the
officers of the Government therein contained,
against whom any charge is made, or suspi
cion rests; but that they are not authorised by
virtue of the said resolutions, to call upon all
or any of the officers aforesaid, to exhibit their
books, papers, accounts, and correspondence,
unless some foundation is laid for the inquiry,
by a distinct charge, general rumor, or the
suggestion of some member of the committee,
upon his responsibility, that there is cause to
believe there is misconduct in the manage
ment of the office; that any other practice
would be dangerous to the rights of individuals-
arbitrary in its character, and in direct
conflict with the genious and principles of
our Republican Government. 1 he commit
tee, so far from considering such a power was
ever intended to be conferred on them, are of
opinion that the exercise of such an unlimited
authority, by the House of Representatives
alone, would be a violation of the constitution,
and the common principles of justice."
Which was rejected.
At a subsequent meeting of the committee,
when the reading of the journal was in pro
gress, the mover of the resolution proposed to
amend it, by striking out the last sentence,
and substituting the following:
"The committee, so far from considering
any other power was intended to be conferred,
are of opinion, the delegation by the House
of Representatives alone, of an unlimited au
thority, to call on all officers, without restric
tion, would be a violation of the constitution,
and the principles of common justice."
"It is evident the object of the mover was
not to change the nature of the proposition,
but to express, in more distinct language, the
idea intended to be conveyed. This reason
able request was inexorably refused, and the
proposition itself not allowed to be inserted on
the journal.
It is submitted, without further commentary,
to the calm judgment of the House, and the
intelligence of the people. The "latter being
seldom wrong in their opinions, in their sen
timents, never."
Jy ine rejection oi uiui lesuiuuuu, uuu uie
course pursued by the majority of the commit
tee, it was manifest to a common observer,
i the case of Swartwout and Price was to be,
i partially, abandoned, and a new field of dis
j covery opened an entered upon.
f The underswned. fnllv lmnressed with this
idea, deemed it a duty they owed to the House
and the country, to have a distinct expression
of opinion by the committee, on the subject
I of the defalcations of Swartwout and Price,
constituting, as the undersigned supposed the
- I 1 L " A C .1 XT .1
(( principal uujei ot uie nouse in raising me
Foi this purpose, on of the undersigned
submitted the following resolution:
"Whereas, under the resolution of the
House of Representatives, one of the great
objects was the investigation into the cause of
die defalcation of Swartwout and Price; and
as the visit of the committee to IV ew York
was to attain that object, the persons and pa
pers being there to enable them to make the
id as the public mind h? been greatly ex
ted on the subject, ana looks to this com
ittee for a thorough investigation into the
ictings and domes ot the persons above men-
) honed:
"Be it resolved, That this committee will
Toceed with all possible despatch to investi-
feate the case of Swartwout, in which they have
fmade considerable progress; and when that is
complete and ended, they will take up the case
of Price, and give that a thorough investigating"
I Which resolution was laid on the table.
ri-,i il i ,i l.. ii . .
'j can unaer me resolution Detore alluded
o, was made on Mr. Hoyt, the presentcollector,
or papers ana documents m relation to his
mcicial conduct. He responded i n a written
mmunication, and among other matters, ask-
uuj committee considered him as a default
and embraced in the resnh
louse of Representatives. Th rw,
ras by a resolution in the following word:
fAReSTJVed' That in resPnse to the letter
if Mr. Hovtof thA SSth inct 4K u: .
j - -uainiian ue
instructed to call upon him again, to furnish
lis committee with all tetters
furnished, from the several officers of the
treasury department, to the late and present
ollector of New York, and from said n.
ors to said officers of the Treasury Denart-
" uj iirst uay oi .January, 1837 up
the 17th day of January, 1839; and also
" all orders and instructions from said offi-
85 fp
"Character Is a important to State, an it Is to imtUvldturtaf ail the glory of the State, is the common property of its citizens.
Vol. I.
cers to said collectors, and the answers of said
collectors thereto, if any, not heretofore fur
nished, since the first day of January, 1837,
up to the 17th day of January, 1839.
"And be it further resolved, That this com
mittee cannot recognise any authority or
right whatever, in any collector, receiver, or
disburser of the public money, to call upon
'the committee, or 'any of its members,' to
prefer or disavow a charge of his 'being a de
faulter,' before such officer sends 'the corres
pondence' of 'his office,' when required under
the authority of the House of Representatives,
'to send for persons and papers,' to enable its
committee 'to inquire into and make report of
any defalcations among collectors, receivers,
and disbursers of the public money, which may
now exist. Nor can this committee, or 'any
of its members,' report whether Mr. Hoyt is
or is not now a defaulter, until, by examina
tion of the 'persons and papers,' for which it
has sent and will send, it shall discover 'who
are the defaulters, and the amount of defalca
tions, the length of time they have existed,
and the causes vhichled to them.' And when
the committed shall have found the facts em
braced by dicse inquiries, or closed its inves
tigation, it will make report thereof to the
House of Representatives."
By this resolution, the House will perceive
(he opinion entertained by the majority of the
committee, as to the extent of their power,
and the mode and manner of carrying it into
The doctrine here avowed is, that an officer
of Government, against whom no charge is
made of defalcation, and no suspicion express
ed, is called upon to exhibit the papers of his
office; not in compliance with the requisitions
of existing laws, but the ipse dixit of a com
mittee professing to act under the order of the
House of Representatives alone, and who say
to him "they cannot report whether he is or is
not now a defaulter, until, by examination of
the 'persons and papers,' for which it has sent
and will send, it shall discover who are the
If the political doctrine contained in the re
solution is the doctrine of the House of Rep
resentatives it is important it should be known
to the people. If it be wrong, they will put
their mark of disapprobation on it- If it is
right, they will give it the sanction of their
opinion. But until they do give it their sanc
tion, the undersigned will consider the doc
trine at variance with every principle of liber
ty and individual right.
Mr. Hoyt complied with the resolution, and
furnished the papers; but demanded of the
committee, as an act of justice and matter of
right, that they would go into a thorough in
vestigation nf"hl5 nfKfiol onnlupt r"- r tVioir
departure from New York. The House will
see hereafter what attention was paid to this
reasonable request.
During the investigation a practice was
pursued in the examination of two and some
times a greater number of witnesses at one
and the same time, embarrassing to the com
mittee, and calculated to produce great confu
sion. Also a practice of allowing interroga
tories to be given to witness, with the
privilege of answering them at their leisure,
and out of the committee room. The injuri
ous effect of the latter practice was strongly
exemplified by permission given, under reso
lution, to David S. Lyon, who was afterwards
proved to be a dismissed officer of the customs,
and stood in the relation of a public prosecu
tor of Jesse Hoyt, the collector, to take the
question or questions home with him, to be
answered next morning.
The resolution is in these words:
"Moved, That David S. Lyon, a witness
duly sworn, and now in attendance, and who
states that he is in ill health, and unable lon
ger to attend the committee this evening, be
permitted to take away with him the first in
terrogatory propounded by Mr. Wise, and that
he be allowed to draw up hi3 answer thereto
in writing, and bring the same to the commit
tee for their consideration at the meeting to
morrow morning."
These practices, so novel and unprecedent
ed, in the opinion of the undersigned, and so
likely injuriously to affect the rights of all
persons implicated in the investigation, it was
deemed necessary to check, if possible, by a
direct vote of the committee. One of the
undersigned moved the following resolution:
"Whereas, The practice adopted by the
committee, of examining two witnesses at the
same time, is calculated to defeat the objoct of
this investigation, and the just expectations of
the country, as well as to produce great em
barrassment and inconvenience to the mem
bers, and particularly when under the rule of
examination, one member is compelled to ex
amine two witnesses at the same time; and
whereas, the injurious effect of this practice is
strongly exemplified by the examination at
the same time, and in presence of each other,
of two witnesses, to wit: Henry Ogden and
Joshua Philips, cashier and assistant cashier,
attached to the custom house, and called upon
to testify to the actings and doings of the
cashier department: be it therefore
"Resolved, That, hereafter, one witness
alone shall be admitted into the committee
room, whose examination shall be complete
and ended before the introduction of another."
1 he other resolution was in the words fol
lowing: "Whereas, The practice of permitting wit
nesses to prepare their answers to interroga
tories out of the committee room, and not in
the presence of the committee, upon the sug
gestion of ill health, real or affected, is dan
gerous in its character and injurious to the
rights of those implicated, as the conduct and
manner of witnesses in giving their testimony
are almost as important as the matter; and as
the intention of the House of Representatives,
from whom we derive our power, was to have
a fair, honest, and impartial investigation:
"Be it resolved, That all and every witness
in the course of this investigation, shall be
sworn and examined in the committee room,
and in the presence of the committee."
The latter was rejected, a substitute' being
offered and adopted, as wilt be seen by refer
ence to the journal; the latter laid on the table.
These acts need no further observation; we
give the text, the commentary can be applied
by others. While on this branch of the sub
ject there was another practice adopted by the
committee, which, in the opinion of the un
dersigned, affected the private rights of indi
viduals, inquiries, not as to defalcations, but
the disposition by officers of the Government
of their own money for party or political pur
poses, as will be seen by a question to, and
answer of, Depeyster, also a dismissed
officer of the customs.
"Question 3. While you were connected
with the custom house, do you know whether
or not the officers of the customs were called
upon to pay any part of ttvsir salaries, at any
assessment or tax thereto for party or politi
cal purposes? If yea, state whether you have
ever, and when you have made any such pay
ment, and state the motive upon which such
payments were made.
"Answer. The weighers were called on to
pay fifteen dollars each for the support of the
elections, and when I declined, Mr. Vandef
pool, the deputy surveyor, observed that I ought
to consider whether my $1500 per annum
was not worth paying 15 dollars for.
Under the impression that it was the price for
my situation, I paid it. The above occurred
during the last spring election for charter offi
cers. During my holding office, for about five
years, I was occasionally called on, but always
declined until within the last two years."
In the pursuit of this object an occurrence
took place in the committee room, which was
deemed of sufficient importance to be spread
upon the journal. The statement is in these
"Resolved, That the following facts be en
tered on the journal:
"Mr. Wise propounded to the witness,
Abraham B. Vauderpool, the following ques
tion, to wit:
"Question 2. Do you know whether the
officers of the custom house have been called
on to contribute sums of money to party and
political objects? What officers have been so
called upon; by whom; for what amount; when
did they contribute; if they refused; was any
intimation given that their refusal might occa
sion their removal; what amount has been so
contributed or collected; and for the support
of what party at any one election?
"The witness took the interrogatory without
objection to propounding the same, and pro
ceeded to write his answer thereto on the pa
per attached to the question, and had written
the following, to wit;
torn house to have been called on for when
Mr. Owens, member of the committee, in
terposed and informed the witness that he was
not bound to answer any interrogatory relat
ing to his private affairs; and thereupon Mr.
Foster, another member of the committee, ob
jected to propounding the interrogatory. The
witness here commenced to tear off what he
had written before objection was made to the
interrogatory. Mr. Wise prevented him from
doing so by forbidding the act. Mr. Foster
insisted that the witness had the right to tear
off what he had written, and that it was not
his answer until it was complete and handed
in, and he asked the witness whether it was
his answer, and he replied 'it was not.' And
the committee having decided that the inter
rogatory should be propounded, the said ques
tion by Mr. Wise was again handed to the
witness, and he returned the following: 'I
decline to answer the second question.' The
witness was then permitted to retire."
If the information given to the witness of
his rights stood in need of justification or
precedent, it is contained in the following
statement of facts, which had previously occur
red in the committee room:
Mr. Owens propounded to Mr. Joseph the
fifth question.
The witness wrote his answer in the follow
ing words, to wit:
"He owed us a very large sum of money on
account of these stock operations, as the re
vulsion of 1S37 had occasioned a very great
loss on the stocks we had, and which were
sold after our failure by the parties who had
them under hypothecation;" and handed the
foregoing answer to Mr. Owens, who, after
reading it, told the witness he had not answer
ed the question fully, not having stated the
amount of Swartwout's indebtedness. Where
upon, the witness replied, "that he would not
wish to state that, as he had not his counsel
here, and the amount was yet to be settled be
tween him and Mr. Swartwout."
Mr. Wrise then observed, in the hearing of
the witness, that, as a judge in this case, he
felt it to be his duty to say to the witness that
he had a right to decline answering a question
relating to his private affairs. The witness,
after some conversation between Mr. Owens,
Mr. Foster, and Mr. Wise, took back his an
swer, and added the following words:
"As to the amount, I do not think it neces
sary to state it, as it as a matter of account
between Mr. Swartwout and ourselves, and
has to be adjusted when we come to a settle
ment with him."
The subject is calculated to attract the pub
lic eye and produce reflection. It affords a
remarkable instance of the course pursued by
the majority of the committee; the respect ob
served to the rights and privileges of witness
es under examination before a committee reg
ulated by no known laws, but governed by the
dictate of an arbitrary discretion.
Jn the opinion of the undersigned, the
question propounded to the witness had rela
tion to his private affairs. The witness Van
derpool answered but in part; but, as soon as
he was informed of his right and obligations
as a witness, he refused to complete it, and
said it wa3 not his answer, and wished to de
stroy it. It was nevertheless retained, as ap
pears by the statement above referred to.
The whole proceeding carries along with it, its
own commentary; and, without further obser
vation it is submitted to the House and the
Whether a committee of this House, ap
pointed under its extraordinary and discre
tionary parliamentary power, undefined and
undcfinable, Is authorized to go into the inves
tigation of the private affairs of officers of the
General Government, in relation to their act
ings and doings as citizens of the State in
which they reside, and having reference to
their domestic elections, (the question is gen
eral, and Depeyster refers to the charter of
elections) is a subject of grave consideration.
It assumes an attitude that places it beyond
the reach of mere parry movements. It strikes
at cardinal principles dear to the American
people. It is the assumption of power not
warranted by the limited constitution, under
which the General Government lives, breathes
and has its being. The doctrine of State
Rights is a mere mockery to the understand
ing, ir kta principle is warranted and acted
upon. Admit it, and the acceptance af office
under the General Government ipso facto de
nationalizes the individual as a citizen of
New York. The right of inquiry involves fhe
right to pass laws. If Congress can say the
officer shall not have the right to use his mo
ney for one purpose, they may say he shall
not use it for another; they may say he shall
not attend the polls; and, putting the cap-stone
to tiis political pillar, they may say he shall
not vote at any election. Sanction this prin
ciple and you have a consolidated government
in all its forms.
This doctrine, like others akin to it, may
be maintained by specious argument and in
genuity. But the people of this country, as
they have heretofore done, in all the proceed
ings, affecting their lives, their property, or po
litical rights, will not be guided by the refine
ments of learning, but consult their under
standing, and be governed by the dictates of
common sense. The evidence on the subject
of money spent for party purposes has refer
ence to Swartwout as collector. The gen
eral conclusion derived from it is, that the
practice is not confined to one party, but per
vades all parties in New York. That it is Jbe
general, if not universal practice, the best
evidence is afforded by the witness, David S.
Lyon, who, according to his own admission,
belonged to both parties, and is well qualified
to testify to the fact.
That the payment was not compulsory but
voluntary, is evident from the answer of De
peyster, who says, for three years out of five,
he contributed nothing, and there is no evi
dence he was proscribed by Swartwout.
With a view of putting a stop to such in
quiries, aud to enable witnesses, particularly
3K n rw 1 nHli.
gations, one of the undersigned offered the
following resolution:
"Kesolved, ihat every witness, upon being
caueu 10 tesiuy, snail De in formed by the
chairman that he is not obliged to answer any
question upon his private affairs, or the pri
vate affairs of others."
Which was rejected.
The examination of this witness, David S.
Lyon, an officer who had been discharged by
Mr. Hoyt from the custom house, had not
progressed far before it was evident his in
tention was to criminate the collector. The
undersigned, considering the plainest princi
ples of justice were violated by allowing the
character and reputation of an important offi
cer of the Government to be attacked as it
were in die dark, without his knowledge aud
without the means of ascertaining the charges
made against him, one of them moved the fol
lowing resolution:
"Resolved, That Mr. Hoyt, collector, be
furnished by the clerk, with copies of all the
interrogatories and answers of David S. Ly
on, a witness examined in this investigation
as far as he has made answers to them, and
having relation to the conduct of said Jesse
Which was adopted.
But this being considered too great an in
dulgence, a reconsideration was moved, and
carried, and an amendment offered as follows:
"Resolved, That Jesse Hoyt, the collector
of New York, be forthicith summoned as a
witness, and that before he be examined the
interrogatories submitted to David S. Lyon,
a witness examined this morning, and his an
swer thereto, be read to him if desired, or he
be allowed to read them, and that he have
liberty to attend the committee during the ex
amination of any witness w'. may be called
upon to testify concerning his official con
duct." . The amendment was adopted, and the re
solution as amended, was voted for by the un
dersigned as a dernier resort, or the same
would have been lost.
They beg leave to call the attention of the
House and the country to this amendment
to this boon given to Mr. Hoyt, in his posi
tion of collector, surrounded as he was by
open and secret enemies, in the shape of of
ficers discharged by him under an imperious
sense of duty to the public and himself, from
their places in the custom house, and foreign
importing merchants, who fancied they had
been injured by him in the discharge of his
duty as collector. They beg the house and
the country to look at it in its two fold aspect
as a subpoena and as an indulgence given to
an Americrn citizen, who had his reputation,
dearer to an honorable man than life itself, at
stake; and say, "if these things can pass us
like summer clouds, and not attract our spe
cial wonder.
Mr. Hoyt was summoned to appear forth
with, not as an ordinary witness, but in the
double character of a witness and party ac
cused. For rapidity of movement and quick
ness of execution, it was more like a warrant
than a subpoena. It was no sooner served
than Mr. Hoyt was in the committee room.
Lyon's testimony, as far as it had gone, was
read to him, and he was instantly placed in
the crucible of one of the members of the
committee, who examined him for many con
secutive hours.
We know not how others felt at the scene
passing around them: but for ourselves, it was
a subject of deep humiliation, and has left an
impression on the memory not easily erased.
In the progress of the investigation into the
officeial conduct of Mr. Hoyt, intimations
were thrown out occasionally in the commit
tee room, that the time had nearly arrived for
the departure of the committee from N. York.
These intimations were warnings not to be
neglected. The evidence against Mr. Hoyt
was in manuscript, though not pVtnted; it
would, as a matter of course, appear o"n the
journal. All that he had to oppose to' it was
his own testimony, and that of one or two
other witnesses. Justice demanded that he
should have a full and fair opportunity to in
troduce rebuting evidence. Propriety and
the peculiarity of his position required this op
portunity should be afforded him in the city of
ioireW iiJovecT the
"By reference to the testimony of David S.
Lyon, a witness examined in the course of
this investigation, it appears charges of a
curious character are brought against the pre
sent collector of New York, Jesse Hoyt, and
intending to implicate Benjamine F. Butler,
the district attorney of New York; and as jus
tice requires the said Jesse Hoyt and Benja
min F. Butler should be heard fully in relation
to the said charges, to enable them to spread
upon the journal of this committee the evi
dence upon which their defence may be found
ed, so that as the journal contains the posi
tion, the antidote (if the testimony furnishes
it) also should appear, for the instruction of
the House and the information of the people
of America -
"Be it resolved, That the committee will
not adjourn its setting in the city of New
York, where the parties reside, and the evi
dence most likely to be found, until the said
Jesse Hoyt and Benjamin F. Buder have full
and ample time to prepare their defence (if
auy they have) to the charges against them
as officers of the Government of the United
It was moved to lay the resolution on the
table until the examination of witnesses was
completed, and was so laid on the table.
Mr. Hoj't himself under circumstances
more particularly developed in the journal,
sent a written communication making the
same demand. It teas neither read nor re
ceived. The ground upon which the rejec
tion of this application was based, was the
refusal of Mr. Hoyt to respond to a question
propounded to him until his communication
was acted on. On the same day, at half-past
four o'clock, P. M. the following resolution
"Resolved, That the committee having ac
complished its principal object, to inspect
the books and papers in the custom-house, in
coming to the city of JVew York, and desirous
to inspect the books and papers in the Trea
sury Department, at the City of Washington,
during the short period now left to the further
prosecution of its inquiries, will adjourn this
day, at 10 o'clock, p. m., to meet at twelve m.,
on Tuesday, the 12th instant, at the room of
the Committee on Commerce, in the Capitol,
and that the witnesses henceforth be summon
ed to appear at that place until further ordered."
It was moved by one of the undersigned to
amend the resolution as follows:
"Whereas, in the course of the investiga
tions of this committee, witnesses have been
introduced aud sworn, whose testimony has
tended to charge the present collector of tlie
port of New York with official misconduct;
and whereas, tlie said collector has applied to
the committee for permission to be heard in
relation thereto, and to go into a full investi
gation thereof, by witnesses to be produced
by him; and requiring that such full investi
gation may be had here, (in the city of New
York,) where he alleges that the witnesses j
whom he wishes to introduce reside; and
whereas, it is due to the fair aud full adminis
tration of justice, that the said collector should
have a full opportunity to rehut the charge thus
made against him; and whereas, several wit
nesses are now under examination before this
committee, the testimony of whom is not yet
closed; and whereas, from the fact that several
witnesses have been under examination at
the same time, the testimony of several of
whom is not now before the committee, either
in manuscript or in print, (a portion of the
manuscript being in the hands of the printer,)
the committee have not at this time the means
of ascertaining the effect to be given to that
testimony, or the nature thereof, and individu
al members of the committee are consequent
ly unable (until a better opportunity should be
afforded to examine said testimony) to deter
mine how much further the examination of
the witnesses should proceed, or want other
witnesses ought to be examined into the
in order to a full understanding thereof; and
whereas, we are satisfied that the full investi
gation of the facts connected with the defalca
tions charged can be better examined into
hero than elsewhere therefore
"Resolved, That this committee will not fix
upon a time for closing the testimony in New
York, until the testimony is at an end; and
that the fixing the time for adjourning to
Washington, by a resolution passed before
the testimony is ended, will be calculated to
deprive the said collector of the right (which
every man has when charged) of showing that
those charges are unfounded, and of protect
in his character from aspersion; will prevent
the individuals of the committee from exam
ining and cross-examining such witnesses as
they may believe ought to be examined; will
set a precedent entirely new and arbitrary in
the administration of justice, dangerous to the
rights and privileges of persons who may be
charged with misconduct; will be deciding a
question, the propriety of which the committee
cannot possibly know, and will be well cal
culated to destroy in the public mind all con
fidence iu the results to which this committee
may arrive
"Resolved That hereaffcr- the time which
the committee wilf be in session, shall be from
ten o ciocK, a. m., till hajt.past four o'clock,
p. Mi, and from seven oclock, p. m., till half
past fen, p. m."
The amendment was rejected and the feso-;
lution adopted..
The determination therein expressed was'
carried into effect and the committee was ad
journed at 10 o'clock at night, while one of
the undersigned was in the act of examining
the witnessess, David S. Lyon, and another
fn the act of submitting a proposition for sub
poena's for Host's witnessesj
In consequence of these proceedings
against Mh jtoyt, the collector, but a very
limited examination was made into the de
falcations of Price, the d istrict attorney. Few
witnesses Were examined,, and fetf facts of
any importance were elicited nof already
known. The undersigned however, regret
a more mclrough investigation Was not made.
They are under the conviction, from the gen
eral complexion of the testimony during the
whole investigation, that Price acted a very
important part in these frauds and pecula
tions.' ,
On the return of the committee to Wash
ington they resinned their arduous duties.
Many witnesses were examined and docu
ments referred to, all of which are incorpora
tomVsVepSrYr' The subjects of inquiry were similar to
those m New York, both as to the extent and
causes of the defalcations; and also the causes
why the same were not known at an earlier
date to the accounting officers at Washington.
In pursuing the latter inquiry it was necessa
ry to go into an investigation of the peculiar
duties required to be performed under existing
laws, practice, or usage, by the Secretary of
the Treasury, the First Auditor, and the Comp
troller. The undersigned will not increase
the volume of this report, by including in it
all the evidence on this subject in detail, but
beg leave to refer to the journal. They deem
if proper, however, for a full understanding of
the duties belonging exclusively to these dif
ferent officers of the Government, in relation
to the auditing and settling of accounts, more
particularly those appertaining to the customs,
to call the attention of the House and the
country to the following documents, and the
questions and answers of witnesses examined
upon the occasion, and in reference to this
The evidence of Mr. Young, chief clerk in
the Treasury Department:
"Question 3. Will you state how the de
partment of the Secretary of the Treasury is
organised, legally and practically, in respect
to settling the accounts of collectors and re
ceivers? "Answer. The power of adjusting and set
tling the accounts of collectors and receivers
in respect to the fetenue from duties and
lands, is by law vested in the accounting of
ficers of the Treasury. Collector's accounts
are adjusted by the First Auditor, subject to
the revision of the First Comptroller; ac
counts of receivers, by the Commissioner of
the General Laud Office, also subject to be
revised by the First Comptroller. The Sec
retary of the Treasury has no power as to the
settlement and adjustment of these accounts,
further than to make allowances for the expen
ses of collection, in cases where there is no
express legislation fixing allowance for such
That of Mr. Woodbury, Secretary of the
Treasury, to the following:
"Question 11. Am I to understand that
you have never considered it to be your duty,
and that you have never discharged the duty,
of superintending the reports of the First Au
ditor and the Comptroller, and that you did
not know, and had no means of knowing,
whether their reports were correct, or whether
they had faithfully done their duty in adjust
ing and settling accounts?
"Answer iu these words. The reports of
the First Auditor, on accounts settled, are,
by law and usage, made to the First Comp
troller, and not to the Secretary of the Treasu
ry; and the reports of the First Comptroller,
on accounts settled, when the balance are
considered suspicious, or proper for suit, are
made directly to the Solicitor of the Treasury.
and formerly to the law agent. Neither in
those settlements, nor in those reports, does
the Secretary of the Treasury interfere; and it
has often been decided by the Attorney Gen
eral, that no officer of the Government has
a right to control or reverse the decisions of
the accounting officers in making those set
dements and reports."
Extract of a letter, dated office of the At
torney General of the United States, October
20th, 1823, signed William Wirt:
"In the origiual organization of the Trea
sury Department, (vol. 2. Laws U S, p. 48,)
the duties of the officers are designated speci
fically. There was one Auditor and one
Comptroller The duty of the Auditor is de
clared to be to receive all public accounts;
and, after examination, to certify the balance,
and transmit the accounts, with the vouchers
and certificates, to the Comptroller, for his de
cision thereon; with this proviso, that if any
person be dissatisfied therewith, he may, with
in six months, appeal to the Comptroller
against such settlement. Here the right of
appeal stops; there is no proviso for an appeal
to the President. With regard to the Comp
troller, it directs that it shall be his duty to
superintend the adjustment aid preservation
of all public accounts, to examine all accounts
settled by the Auditor, and certify the balanc
es arising thereon to the Register; no Tight of
appeal, from his decision, to the President.'
Extract of a letter, dated Attorney General's
Office, April 5, 1832, signed R. B. Taney:
"None of the acts of Congress, prescribing
the mode of settling accounts, and ascertain
ing balances, look to a revision of the ac
counts by the President; except, perhaps,
some laws passed for the relief of particular
individuals, in which the power is expressly
given. The general laws upon that subject
seem to regard the decision of the Comptroller
os final, and require the executive branch of
the Government to act upon it accordingly."
The reasons why the defalcations were the
sooner detected by the first Auditor and no
Comptroller, to whom the duty of auditing and
settliugtha accounts exclusively belonged, are
given in their evidence, aud the general con
clusion derived from it is, that it arose from
the fraudulent manner in which Swartwout

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