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there is nothing in the section to indicate the characteristics and functions of these certificates. If they were to be of the same character as silver certificates in circulation under existing laws, they would at best be receivable only for customs, taxes, and all public dues; and under the language of this section it is, to say the least, extremely doubtful whether the certificates it contemplates would be lawfully received even for such purposes.
Whatever else may be said of the uncertainties of expression in this bill, they certainly ought not to be found in legislation affecting subjects so important and far-reaching as our finances and currency. In stating other and more important reasons for my disapproval of this section I shall, however, assume that under its provisions the Treasury notes issued in payment for silver bullion will continue to be redeemed as heretofore, in silver or gold, at the option of the holders, and that if when they are presented for redemption or reach the Treasury in any other manner there are in the Treasury coined silver dollars equal in nominal value to such Treasury notes, then and in that case the notes will be destroyed and silver certificates to an equal amount be substituted.
I am convinced that this scheme is ill advised and dangerous. ultimate result of its operation Treasury notes, which are legal tender for all debts, public and private, and which are redeemable in gold or silver at the option of the holder, will be replaced by silver certificates, which, whatever may be their character and description, will have none of these qualities. In anticipation of this result and as an immediate effect the Treasury notes will naturally appreciate in value and desirability. The fact that gold can be realized upon them and the further fact that their destruction has been decreed when they reach the Treasury must tend to their withdrawal from general circulation to be immediately presented for gold redemption or to be hoarded for presentation at a more convenient season. The sequel of both operations will be a large addition to the silver currency in our circulation and a corresponding reduction of gold in the Treasury. The argument has been made that these things will not occur at once, because a long time must elapse before the coinage of anything but the seigniorage can be entered upon. If the physical effects of the execution of the second section of this bill are not to be realized until far in the future, this may furnish a strong reason why it should not be passed so much in advance; but the postponement of its actual operation can not prevent the fear and loss of confidence and nervous precaution which would immediately follow its passage and bring about its worst consequences. I regard this section of the bill as embodying a plan by which the Government will be obliged to pay out its scanty store of gold for no other purpose than to force an unnatural addition of silver money into the hands of our people. This is an exact reversal of the policy which safe finance dictates if we are to preserve parity between gold and silver and maintain sensible bimetallism.
We have now outstanding more than $338,000,000 in silver certificates issued under existing laws. They are serving the purpose of money usefully and without question. Our gold reserve, amounting to only a little more than $100,000,000, is directly charged with the redemption of $346,000,000 of United States notes. When it is proposed to inflate our silver currency it is a time for strengthening our gold reserve instead of depleting it. I can not conceive of a longer step toward silver monometallism than we take when we spend our gold to buy silver certificates for circulation, especially in view of the practical difficulties surrounding the replenishment of our gold.
This leads me to earnestly present the desirability of granting to the Secretary of the Treasury a better power than now exists to issue bonds to protect our gold reserve when for any reason it should be necessary. Our currency is in such a confused condition and our financial affairs are apt to assume at any time so critical a position that it seems to me such a course is dictated by ordinary prudence.
I am not insensible to the arguments in favor of coining the bullion seigniorage now in the Treasury, and I believe it could be done safely and with advantage if the Secretary of the Treasury had the power to issue bonds at a low rate of interest under authority in substitution of that now existing and better suited to the protection of the Treasury.
I hope a way will present itself in the near future for the adjustment of our monetary affairs in such a comprehensive and conservative manner as will accord to silver its proper place in our currency; but in the meantime I am extremely solicitous that whatever action we take on this subject may be such as to prevent loss and discouragement to our people at home and the destruction of confidence in our financial management abroad.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, August 7, 1894. To the House of Representatives:
I herewith return without approval House bill No. 2637, entitled "An act for the relief of Eugene Wells, late captain, Twelfth Infantry, and second lieutenant, First Artillery, United States Army."
This bill authorizes the President to nominate and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint the beneficiary therein named a second lieutenant of artillery in the Army of the United States, and it directs that when so appointed he shall be placed upon the retired list on account of disability, thus dispensing with the usual examination and finding by a retiring board and all other ordinary prerequisites of retirement.
Appointments to the Army under the authority of special legislation which names the proposed appointee, and the purpose of which is the immediate retirement of the appointee, are open to serious objections, though I confess I have been persuaded through sympathy and senu. ment on a number of occasions to approve such legislation. When, however, it is proposed to make the retirement compulsory and without reference to age or previous exa nination, a most objectionable feature is introduced.
The cases covered by the special enactments referred to are usually such as should, if worthy of any consideration, be provided for under general or private pension laws, leaving the retired list of the Army to serve the legitimate purpose for which it was established.
A recent discussion in the House of Representatives upon a bill similar to the one now before me drew from a member of the House Committee on Military Affairs the declaration that hundreds of such bills were before that committee and that there were fifty precedents for the passage of the particular one then under discussion.
It seems to me that this condition suggests such an encroachment upon the retired list of the Army as should lead to the virtual abandonment of the legislation referred to.
In addition to the objections to such legislation based upon sound policy and good administration, there are facts connected with the case covered by the bill now before me which, in my judgment, forbid its favorable consideration.
The beneficiary named in this bill entered the military service as first lieutenant in 1861. In September or October, 1870, then being a captain, a charge of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman was preferred against him with a view to his trial on said charge before a court-martial.
The Articles of War provide that any officer convicted of this offense shall be dismissed the service.
The first specification under this charge alleged that Captain Wells did violently and without just cause or provocation assault First Lie tenant P. H. Breslin “by furiously striking and hitting him (Lieutenant Breslin) upon the head with a hickory stick, the butt end of a billiard cue, and did continue the assault (upon Lieutenant Breslin) until forced to desist therefrom by First Lieutenant Carl Veitenhimer, Fourth United States Infantry, thereby endangering the life of Lieutenant Breslin and disgracing himself (Captain Wells) as an officer of the United States Army."
The second specification alleged that Captain Wells "did become so much under the influence of intoxicating liquor as to behave himself in a scandalous manner by violently attacking the person of First Lieutenant P. H. Breslin, Fourth United States Infantry."
These offenses were charged to have been committed on the 3d day of September, 1870, at Fort Fetterman, in Wyoming Territory.
On the 15th day of July, 1870, a law was passed, among other things, to bring about a reruction of the Army, which law provided that the
President should before the ist day of July, 1871, reduce the number of enlisted men in the Army to 30,000, and authorized him in his discretion to honorably discharge from the service of the United States officers of the Army who might apply therefor on or before January 1, 1871.
Before the trial by court-martial upon the charge then pending against him Captain Wells applied for his discharge under the provision of the law above recited, whereupon the charge against him was withdrawn and canceled, and on the 27th day of October, 1870, his application for a discharge was granted.
On the 6th day of July, 1875, he was again appointed to the Army as second lieutenant in the artillery, against which a remonstrance was made by certain officers in the Army.
In August, 1877, Second Lieutenant Wells was charged with being "drunk on duty, in violation of the thirty-eighth article of war."
He was also charged with “conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline."
The first specification under the latter charge alleged that the accused did "engage in an affray with First Lieutenant E. Van A. Andruss, First Artillery.” The second specification under said charge alleged that the accused addressed his superior officer in a defiant and disrespectful manner and neglected and hesitated to promptly obey the order of said superior officer.
All these offenses were alleged to have been committed at Reading, Pa., on the ?d day of August, 1877.
Soon after these charges were preferred a court-martial was convened for the trial of the accused thereon. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and specifications, but was convicted of them all and sentenced "to be dismissed the service of the United States."
On the 6th day of October the proceedings, findings, and sentence of the court-martial were approved by the President, who ordered the sentence to be executed; and on the 13th day of October, 1877, in pursuance thereof, Lieutenant Eugene Wells was dismissed from the service.
Since that time repeated efforts have been made to vacate this judgment and restore the dismissed officer to the service. While a number of committees in Congress have made reports favorable to such action, at least two committees have recommended a denial of legislative relief. Both of these reports were made on behalf of House Committees on Military Affairs by distinguished soldiers, who, after patient examination and with an inclination to be not only just but generous to a fellow-soldier, were constrained to recommend a refusal of the application for restoration. One of these reports was made to the Forty-seventh and the other to the Forty-ninth Congress.
I am impressed with the belief that legislation of the kind proposed is of extremely doubtful expediency in any save very exceptional cases, and I am thoroughly convinced by the facts now before me that the
discipline and efficiency of our Army, as well as justice to its meritorious members, do not permit my approval on any ground of the bill herewith returned.
To the Senate:
EXECUTIVE MANSION, August 11, 1894. I hereby return without my approval Senate bill No. 1438, entitled "An act for the relief of Louis A. Yorke."
In the year 1886 the beneficiary named in this bill was a passed assistant paymaster in the Navy. In December of that year he appeared before a naval examining board convened pursuant to law for the purpose of passing upon his fitness to be promoted to the grade of paymaster.
The investigation of the board was conducted fairly and thoroughly. Much of the evidence relating to the candidate's moral fitness for promotion was documentary, and the examination touching his professional competency was of the usual character in such cases.
Considerable evidence was before the board showing quite a large amount of personal indebtedness owing by the candidate, and it appeared that in a few instances his accounts with the Navy Department had not been promptly settled. It was also shown that he had not at all times deposited the Government money intrusted to his care in the places required by law and the regulations of the Navy. In connection with his personal indebtedness incidents and circumstances were brought to light which certainly indicated that he entertained very lax ideas of honest dealing and fairness and which developed a disregard of the obligations and requirements of his position as an officer in the Navy. He was given abundant opportunity to meet and explain every damaging allegation and every adverse inference arising from the evidence, and his claim, not without foundation it appeared, that the charges against him were instigated by malice was doubtless given full weight.
The examining board on the evidence made the following decisions and findings:
The written examination of the candidate shows that he is deficient in his knowledge of the duties appertaining to the next higher grade; and the record evidence puts in question his moral fitness, and he has failed to establish both his professional and moral qualifications for promotion to the satisfaction of the board.
Therefore we hereby certify that Passed Assistant Paymaster Louis A. Yorke, United States Navy, has the mental fitness to perform efficiently all the duties, both at sea and on shore, of the next higher grade, but he has not the professional and moral qualifications required, and we do not recommend him for promotion,
After the board had thus disposed of the case and had adjourned it was, at the request of the candidate, reconvened by order of the Secre. tary of the Navy, who issued for its guidance the following directions, among others:
The board will inform Passed Assistant Paymaster Yorke of its findings and of the evidence upon which it finds him to be not worally qualified for promotion, and will