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32D CONG.....1ST SESS. Frauds on the Treasury-Gardiner Claim-Mr. Johnson, of Tennessee.
should be made legally wrong. The object of
tate terms to the nations of the world on any sub-
The second section of the bill proposes, upon the conviction of any individual connected with the heads of the Departments, or of any functionary of the Government, in any of the courts of justice, of aiding or prosecuting any claim against the Government, for a fee direct or remote, or for an amount specified or an amount contingent, it shall be made a misdemeanor, indictable and punishable by fine and imprisonment, as the court shall direct. This was considered by the committeeand I think it is considered by the people of the country generally—as a moral and political wrong.
The third section of the bill provides that if any
In the first instance, the Government can pay
Why, sir, the whole history of the world shows that the human race, from its creation to the present time, has lost sight of man as man in his true dignity, and fallen down and worshipped idols. At the present day, we are man-worshippers as well as golden-calf-worshippers. And I think the time has arrived when man should arise in his true dignity, assert and maintain his rank as man everywhere. We have a mission, Mr. Chairman, and that mission is to raise up the downtrodden throughout the world, to spread civil and religious liberty everywhere. I say that this is our true mission. We should keep it in view, and the time will rapidly roll round-more rapidly than we can scarcely imagine-when, under the benign influence of our institutions, an impulse will be given to the human mind which has been unparalleled in the history of the world. Our progress within the last forty years has been greater than all of the nations of the earth put together for six thousand years. Our free institutions, and the elevation to the true standard has given an impulse to the human mind that will spread as the lightning's flash, and we are destined, if we are true to our mission, to extend this impulse throughout the globe. If we are true to our mission we will arise as the morning sun in its glory, and emperors, kings, and nobles, shall sink into insignificance on the page of history, and be looked upon as follies that bewildered and estranged the human intellect from its true path. May God in his mercy and wisdom direct and preserve this Government and people to the accomplishment of our true and glorious mission.
SPEECH OF HON. A. JOHNSON,
the United States. Mr. JOHNSON said:
Mr. SPEAKER: I shall commence what little I have to say upon this subject by asserting-for it|| has really become a debatable question-that there are such things as right and wrong, and that the question of law-making is to sustain legally, what is morally right; and to prohibit legally, what is morally wrong. I know there are various opinions among men, and even among moralists, as to what is abstractly right or wrong in itself. There are some things declared offenses in law which are not offenses morally in themselves. And again, there are other things not made offenses by law which are offenses in sound morals. The great object in making laws should be to sustain, develop, and carry out what is admitted to be morally right. We find more or less violation every day of what we in our minds and hearts consider sound morals, and we find no law to prohibit the violation of those morals. Now, I think, where there is moral wrong, there is political wrong, and it
Now, while a Representative is acting in his character as such, while he is standing as a sentinel upon the watchtowers over the people's interests, while he is protecting the Treasury, can he change his character and divest himself of all interest and become an agent for prosecuting claims against the Government which cannot be paid unless he, acting in the character of a Representative, appropriates money for such payment? We find that interest and prejudice are so closely blended, that they cannot be separated in matters of this sort. And when a member of Congress is acting in his capacity as such, he should not run the risk of being swerved from his duty as a Representative, by becoming an agent for the prosecution of claims against the On the Bill to prevent Frauds on the Treasury of Government for particular individuals. For instance, we agree to pay a certain amount of money, by treaty stipulation with some other Government, or even with an Indian tribe. It is ratified by the Senate, for the Senate is a part of the treaty making power,-and here, for instance, a member of Congress may be interested in a claim which a tribe of Indians or a foreign Power may have against the Government of the United States. The treaty is made, providing for the payment of certain amounts of money, upon certain conditions; it is submitted to the Senate of the United States for its ratification. And here we may find a man, who is acting as an agent for claimants against the Government, acting at the same time upon a treaty, providing for the payment of a large sum of money for the satisfaction of those claims. For instance, you may establish a board of commissioners-as I intend to give a case only for illustration-by which the amount set apart in the treaty may be awarded to particular individuals. Now, in the character of Senators, they may come before the board, and there act, as they
FRAUDS ON THE TREASURY-GARDINER CLAIM.
HO. OF REPS.
say, in a judicial capacity. They ratify the treaty, establish a board of commissioners to whom is confided the duty of awarding millions of dollars-which is intrusted to them-among those who have claims against the Government, and, immediately after the ratification of the treaty, step out before this board of commissioners created by that same treaty, and prosecute against the Government claims which you have provided for in the very treaty they have ratified."
Now, how do you find the practical operation of this thing? Notwithstanding you provide by treaty for the payment of money, there is another power to be exercised before the money can be paid. After having prosecuted the claims to award before the commissioners, the money must be appropriated by the appropriating power, before it can be paid over to the parties to which it is awarded. Then we immediately see the impropriety of members of Congress acting as agents, as their duties as Senators and Representatives come in direct conflict with the duties of a claims agent. They cannot protect the interests of the people in their capacity of Representatives, and at the same time prosecute a claim against this Government. It is a conflict of interest and duty which cannot be reconciled. I know it may be said that we can step out of the House of Representatives, before a board of commissioners, and divest ourselves of all interest in the first character. Can we return from the successful prosecution of claims before that board, to a vote in the Senate, and say we are disinterested?
This whole matter is morally wrong and politically wrong, and it ought to be made legally wrong, and should be punished as contemplated in this bill. It seems to me that it is improper for a member of Congress to form any such connection with claims of this sort. Such a connection is improper, because it is immoral, because it is unsound in politics; and if it is unsound in these two points, it ought to be made so legally.
But, Mr. Speaker, I am going along with this question. There seems to be some two or three other questions connected with it. My intention is, in the main, to discuss the bill and the propriety of its passage; but in this discussion there has sprung up a question not altogether legitimate, and I claim the privilege, which others have indulged in, of diverging from the true line of debate.
When we come to examine this Gardiner claim, which is the root out of which this bill has sprung through this special committee, we find the basis of this claim rests upon the twenty-sixth article of the treaty made in 1831. That treaty provided for and secured certain rights and privileges to our citizens in Mexico. Three of those privileges were, that where our citizens lived upon the coast or in towns, in the event that a war should break out, they should have six months' notice to leave the country and take away their effects. If they lived in the interior, pursuing the business of merchandise, they were to have twelve months. If they lived in the interior or other portions of the country, pursuing any other occupation, so long as they behaved themselves and acted in subordination to the existing authorities, they were permitted to remain and be protected in the enjoyment of their lives, their liberty, and their property.
Under this article of the treaty of 1831, many claims sprung up on the part of the citizens of the United States against the Government of Mexico. They increased. Depredations were committed of various kinds-spoliations, if you think proper to call them so-and claims, in behalf of citizens, accumulated to a very considerable amount.
In 1839, there was formed another treaty with Mexico, which treaty provided for the establishment of a Board of Commissioners to sit upon, and adjudicate the claims of citizens of the United States against the Government of Mexico. That Board was a mixed one. A part of it was created by the United States, and a part by Mexico; and the claims which they might award, were to be paid upon certain conditions. In relation to the claims which could not be agreed upon, there was an umpire to be selected who was to determine upon their validity.
We find that the Board established by the treaty of 1839 resulted in a failure. There were some awards made, it is true, but in many cases there
Frauds on the Treasury-Gardiner Claim-Mr. Johnson, of Tennessee.
to be made out, and what character of proof is to
32D CONG.....2D SESS.
Some of the awards made were not paid, which circumstance resulted in the calling of another convention, and the making of another treaty in 1843, and the creation of another Board. This Board did but little; and there was another convention, which was to have been ratified on the 20th of November, 1843. That ratification never took place. During all this time these claims were increasing, and our citizens were without redress. The difficulties between the two Governments were thickening, and a war was expected.
We find in 1840 that this Mr. Gardiner went to Mexico as a kind of itinerant dentist, plugging and filing teeth for a livelihood. He wandered around until 1843; and the last seen of him was in the city of Mexico, in the year 1844. He was seen there by General Thompson, and by some others. He stated, and it is so stated by others, that he repaired to the interior, where, he alleges, he commenced mining operations to an amount of $300,000. All this time the difficulties between the Governments were constantly increasing, and war was expected. Mr. Thompson returned home, and Mr. Slidell was sent out. War was declared, as you will remember, in 1846. Gardiner commenced mining operations with little or no capital, and in two years' time he had invested, as he assumes, some $300,000. There are contradictory statements in regard to this matter; but it must be manifest to all reasonable and impartial persons who will make themselves familiar with the history of this whole transaction, that Dr. Gardiner had little or no capital to vest in mining operations at that time; and if he had, it is not reasonable to suppose he would have done so, in view of the belligerent attitude about being assumed by the two Governments.
We now come along to 1846; war was declared, this Gardiner was expelled from Mexico, his property lost, and his mines taken from him; and he now comes forward and sets up his claim, under the twenty-sixth article of the treaty of 1831. The war continued; and on the 2d of February, 1848, there was another treaty made. Mr. Gardiner was an observing and a shrewd man, and he saw, as every one who knows anything about such matters knew, that whenever a treaty of peace should be made, Mexico would be compelled to pay money to the United States, and be compelled to provide for the payment of claims, on the part of our citizens, against that Government.
By the treaty with Mexico of the 2d of February, we provide-after agreeing to take so much territory and pay $15,000,000-for the indemnification of citizens of the United States against the Mexican Government to the extent of $3,250,000. By this same treaty, another Board of Commissioners was created, to consist of three members, and to hold its sessions in the city of Washington. Mr. Gardiner, having returned from Mexico to the United States, met here and renewed his|| acquaintance with Mr. Thompson. He stated his case to him, and they at once commence to conjure up or make out this claim-which did or did not exist-to be brought before this Board. The claim was presented, and as the declaration will show, for the sum of $500,000. I will not say that Mr. Thompson, of South Carolina, was cognizant or guilty of anything wrong, but I will state as a fact, that when he came forward with the claim, as the documents will show, he had a programme for the taking of evidence, and as to what had to be done to establish the claim before the Board, and that, too, before he returned to Mexico, and before the declaration was made out. Both Mr. Thompson and Mr. Gardiner had been in Mexico and understood the condition of the two Governments, and were aware that Boards had set at various times upon claims between the United States and Mexico. When Gardiner returned with his proofs, a declaration was made out and filed before this Board.
Mr. STEPHENS, of Georgia. I would ask the gentleman from Tennessee, whether Mr. Thompson did anything more than give instructions conformably to regulations previously established by this Board?
Mr. JOHNSON. I state facts, and it is for others to draw inferences. He drew a chart, or written instructions, by which this claim was to be made out. I am fully aware that lawyers sometimes give instructions as to how a case is NEW SERIES.-No. 5.
Mr. STEPHENS. Is it not the practice in all of the Departments of the Government-the Pension Office, for instance-where claims are to be presented, to establish rules of evidence by which claims are to be supported? Did not this Board do so in this case, and did Mr. Thompson do anything more than give instructions conforming to those regulations?
Mr. JOHNSON. I stated, when I first alluded to Mr. Thompson, that I would not charge that he was cognizant of, or intended to do, anything wrong, but would only state a fact.
Mr. STEPHENS. Certainly; and I ask the gentleman to state another fact.
Mr. JOHNSON. And that fact was that the affidavits were taken, and the case made out, in compliance with those instructions.
Mr. ORR. I will in this connection ask the gentleman a question, as he is familiar with the testimony in the case.
the committee that Dr. Gardiner exhibited to General Thompson the affidavits of certain persons in Mexico previous to the preparation of these instructions, and that those instructions were gotten up for the purpose indicated by the gentleman from Georgia?
Mr. JOHNSON. I think that the gentleman will find that fact stated by General Thompson himself, and by no one else.
Mr. ORR. General Thompson is an honorable man, and it is due to him that his statement of fact should go out. Evidence of parties in Mexico was brought here by Dr. Gardiner, and the instructions given by General Thompson, as I understand him, were to put the affidavits referred to in form.
Mr. JOHNSON. They were instructions to him to make out his case. Here is the published testimony, and it is for the public, and not for me, to draw inferences. We find that in compliance
with those instructions the case was made out and presented to this Board, and that an award was made to Dr. Gardiner of $427,000. About these facts there can be no mistake; and I tell gentlemen now, that before I am done I shall come to the touchstone in this matter. You may talk about high-minded, pure men, who lift themselves above all that is low, and groveling, and disreputable, but there is a point in this case that will put them to the test. One thing has been ascertained since this claim has been allowed, and that is, that it is a fraudulent one, based only upon perjury and forgery. We know that perjury and forgery were the means by and through which the amount of money I have specified as being awarded to Dr. Gardiner, was taken out of the Treasury. Now, this fact, no one will controvert. The committee were of the unanimous opinion that it was a naked fraud upon the Treasury, sustained only by forgery and perjury. Then, if Mr. Thompson and Mr. Corwin are the recipients of money extracted from the Treasury by means of fraud and perjury; if they are the high-minded and honorable men they are represented to be, they will, upon every principle of sound morality and justice upon the doctrine that the recipients of stolen goods shall, so soon as the fact is ascertained, restore them to their rightful owners-replace that money in the Treasury. Everybody acknowledges it is right that this money, which has been filched from the Treasury by fraud, so far as we can reach it, should be enjoined; and if a certain portion is enjoined in the hands of Corcoran & Riggs as money belonging to the Government, is it not equally right that another portion of the same money which has passed into the hands of Corwin and Thompson ought to be enjoined? I know that legally you cannot reach it, but I say that they are morally bound to return it. There is the touchstone. You that talk about honor; you that talk about having no knowledge of a fraud being intended at the time the claim was being prosecuted before the Board, know now that it is a fraudulent claim, and that you have stolen goods in your possession, which I know you are morally bound to restore to the rightful owner, to the last dollar. This tests the whole thing, and why debate it?
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They plead ignorance of the fraud whilst the claim was being investigated; they did not know it was a fraud, but they know now that it is. They know now where and how the money came; and, as honest men, worthy of public confidence and entitled to occupy a high place in the Government, they are bound to restore it.
Mr. GOODENOW. Major Lally ought to be involved in the same category.
Mr. JOHNSON. The gentleman from Maine says that Major Lally ought to be involved in the same category. I say that all, though there were a captain's company, the recipients of the proceeds of this fraud, ought to disgorge. If they retain it, I say in my place here, that in sound morals they are as filthy as a cage of unclean birds.
The gentleman from Connecticut [Mr. CHAPMAN] knows that I will make no unkind allusion to him. Since we formed each other's acquaintance here, our personal relations have been of the most amicable character. I am proud of his acquaintance. I have found him shrewd and active business man. He has talents and business tact, and if I was not convinced of this before, I was
You saw his conciseness, his method, and the dependence of one part of his argument upon another. If you admit his premises, and follow him along to his conclusions, you will see that it is one of the prettiest and fairest cases in the world. It did his head credit; and I will not doubt his sincerity in the basis upon which he placed it. During the delivery of his speech I imagined myself in a criminal court, listening to the defense of a criminal, and that the gentleman was trying to make it appear not that his client was guiltless, but that the prosecution was malicious. It seemed that he wanted to mitigate the sentence of the court or the judgment of the jury, by pleading that the prosecution was a malicious one, without at all looking to the merits of the case.
And we find, too, that is done very adroitly in this connection, by associating the idea of malicious prosecution as regards Mr. Corwin. Says he, "I am not his foe nor is he my foe; can the member from Ohio [Mr. OLDS] say as much?" Do you not see the course which he intended this thing to take, so as to impress upon the public mind the idea that there was enmity and ill-feeling existing between these two gentlemen, and that the whole proceeding here was malicious on the part of the member from Ohio, [Mr. OLDS?] Is it not evident that he desired to give that direction to the public mind? I do not know what the relations are between those two gentlemen. I have met and received them both as gentlemen, and I know nothing of their personal and political differences. I have looked upon them heretofore as equals, so far as those matters were concerned. Nor do I intend to inquire into their personal difficulties. But I can say for myself, as the gentleman from Connecticut [Mr. CHAPMAN] did, that 1 am not Mr. Corwin's foe, and I hope he is not mine. I have no reason to be his foe, as I have never received anything from him but kindness. I have met with him and passed the usual civilities of gentlemen, and nothing unkind has passed between us. The reason I make this remark is that I am in as favorable a condition to speak of this transaction as the honorable gentleman from Connecticut. Then why do you not acquit your man upon the merits of the case, not by innuendo, by indirection, and by making a false issue before the public mind, and there rest your case? What was the other ground upon which the gentleman relied? It was this, that the proceedings were ex parte. Ah! A malicious prosecution, based upon an ex parte examination of the witnesses. How does that fact stand? Was not Mr. Corwin before that committee? Did he not have the witnesses summoned, and did he not cross-examine them?
Mr. CHAPMAN. The gentleman from Tennessee misunderstood me if he understood me to say, so far as Mr. Corwin was concerned, that this was an ex parte examination. I made no such intimation; but I said, in express terms, that so far as Dr. Gardiner was concerned, it was due to him to say that it was ex parte, with the single exception to which I have adverted.
Mr. JOHNSON. I intended to come to that. The impression was made by what the gentleman
32D Cong.....2D SESS. Frauds on the Treasury-Gardiner Claim-Mr. Johnson, of Tennessee.
said, that it was an ex parte proceeding. I do not
yond what had been practiced by all of the mem-
Mr. CHAPMAN. The intention was to make myself distinctly understood.
Mr. JOHNSON. Perhaps it is owing to my obtuseness, and not his want of clearness, and I will let it go in that way; but the impression calculated to be made by his speech was, that it was an ex parte proceeding, and that the witnesses had not been cross-examined. Well, so far as Mr. Gardiner was concerned, there was no ex parte proceeding. Mr. Gardiner was not on trial before that committee, and this bill contains no provision that would punish Mr. Gardiner, so far as I know. Mr. Corwin was the man with whom the committee had to do; and his connection with the Gardiner claim was what the committee were investigating. The gentleman from Connecticut nods his assent. This is the true state of the case. Mr. Corwin was present at the investigation, cross-examined, and had most of the witnesses summoned himself. So far as Mr. Gardiner is concerned, he is not upon trial at all, but we are to get at Mr. Corwin's connection with the Gardiner claim. That is what we are trying to do; and how does the matter stand so far as Mr. Gardiner is concerned? He was not on trial, and he was not before the committee, but he was heard by his counsel. About the close of the investigation, Mr. Gardiner writes a letter to the committee, in which he speaks of the investigation as being an ex parte proceeding, and claims the right of being heard. Did not the committee notify him that he could be heard and fix a day for him to come? Did Mr. Gardiner come?
Do you not see that the two main grounds upon which the gentleman from Connecticut [Mr. CHAPMAN] relies, show that his argument is a specious one, made in true lawyer style, to acquit his client upon special pleading, when there is no merit in his case? That is the position which he occupies. We find in this connection that there has been something said by gentlemen about the committee going beyond the record. What does this resolution say?
"Whereas a strong suspicion rests upon the public mind that fraudulent claims have been allowed by the late Mexican Claim Commission, with one of which it is suspected that Thomas Corwin, Secretary of the Treasury, has been improperly connected: therefore," &c.
How does the fact stand? We are not to investigate whether Mr. Corwin knew that it was a fraudulent claim, (which we will come to directly,) but we are to investigate whether Mr. Corwin was improperly connected with the Gardiner claim. That is the point. Does not this investigation show that he was connected with it, and that he got a part-eighty-odd thousand dollars of it? I think it does. Is not his connection, then, with the claim improper? We say that it was an improper connection, that it was mere speculation, and that it was morally wrong.
In the bill before us, what do we propose to do? We intend to say that legally such a connection is wrong, not binding him more than anybody else, who has been guilty of the like offense. The offense was an improper one. Why was it so? Mr. Corwin was a Senator of the United States, placed there by the people to guard the people's Treasury, to take care of their money, and also, as one of the Senate, with the President of the United States, to make treaties with foreign Governments. We find when this very treaty was concluded between the Government of the United States and Mexico, on the 2d of February, 1848, that Mr. Corwin was in the Senate himself, and acted in his capacity as Senator. We find in this very treaty, as I remarked before, that three millions and a quarter were set apart to pay the claims of citizens of the United States against Mexico. We find that by this very treaty a Board of Commissioners was established. We find that while Mr. Corwin was Senator, when he was acting upon the treaty which made an appropriation of three and a quarter millions to pay these Mexican claimants, he received a fee to prosecute claims before the very Commissioners which he assisted in creating, and got a portion of the money appropriated out of the Treasury.
Mr. STANTON, of Ohio. I wish to know of the gentleman whether he considers that the committee were bound to inquire into anything be
Mr. JOHNSON. The gentleman from Ohio
I do not intend to find fault with the report
Now, do we not see how clearly that misses the case? The resolution required them to ascertain nection depend upon Mr. Corwin's knowledge of the improper connection. Does the improper conits fraudulency? That is the point. The commitone, but that he had no knowledge of the fraud. tee did not say that the connection was a proper This connection was improper without a knowledge of the fraud, and if he had a knowledge of the fraud, it was but an aggravation of the improper connection. That is the whole of it, and you may turn as you please upon this question, he stands improperly connected with this fraudu lent claim, successfully prosecuted against the United States, and the money was obtained from the Treasury.
ed to strike a happy vein of argument yesterday The gentleman from Ohio [Mr. BARRERE] seemupon this question; and it was that Mr. Gardiner sponsible for it. He illustrated it by telling a story was a bad man, and that Mr. Corwin was not rewhich Mr. Clay related of Mr. Grundy, that if Mr. Grundy was responsible for all the criminals he had defended he would have a great amount of sin, for which to answer. That may be all true, but it is not Mr. Grundy defending a criminal in this case, but it is Mr. Corwin aiding a man prosecuting a claim against the Government. He appears for the plaintiff and not for the defendant --for a man who is trying to commit a fraud upon the Treasury with the knowledge of its being a fraudulent claim, as I believe. We say it is wrong in that connection, and still more if he knew it to be wrong. The cases are rot analogous at all.
other really strange ideas. He set out with say-
justify Mr. Corwin's connection with the claim morally, but he is willing to make it an offense legully. I cannot reconcile that sort of argument. It reminds me of a position assumed at one period of time by Professor Hoffman. He wrote as long Virginia resolutions were adopted-that philosago as 1598-just two hundred years before the
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was the mortal enemy of religion, and that truth was divisible into two branches, one philosophical and the other theological, and that what vice versa. Now, the gentleman from Ohio seems was true in philosophy was false in theology, and to occupy this position, that that which is right in morals, is wrong in law, and that that which is right in law, is wrong in morals. I confess I cannot swallow that proposition. It seems to me that morals should constitute the basis of law.
Mr. BARRERE. I believe they have laws in Some of the States that the citizens shall catch fish in certain streams only at certain seasons of the year. It is, therefore, legally wrong to catch fish in those streams at other seasons, but I do not think that if there was no such law, it would be morally wrong.
Mr. JOHNSON. It might be morally wrong in some places and not in others. That would depend just upon the locality and the circumstances of the case. [Laughter.] But the gentleman goes on to justify Mr. Corwin on the ground that the fee was a contingent one. Now, I expect they have got a law in his State that no lawyer shall take a contingent fee; in other words, that if a lawyer brings suit for a certain amount on condition that he shall receive a certain proportion of it, he shall be stricken from the roll of lawyers. They would find him guilty of champerty.
Mr. BARRERE. The gentleman has misunstood me. I did not take the position he supposes with regard to the fee being a contingent one.
Mr. JOHNSON. I think the gentleman will find it difficult to understand his own position, when he sees it on paper. In the States we conmaking sider champerty immoral, and we pass laws a legal offense, because it is immoral. We say that it is morally wrong for a man to go taking contingent fees, and we pass laws to punabout getting up suits in a neighborhood, and ish him. But the gentleman tells me, with his profound understanding of theology and philosophy, that taking a contingent fee in a claim against Now, if champerty is immoral in the States, and the Government is a different thing from taking a contingent fee in a case before a court of justice. a punishable offense under State laws, I ask how, in the name of morals and common sense, it beCongress, and other persons here? Such is the comes right and moral in Secretaries, members of sidered immoral in the States, and are consestate of things here, that practices which are conquently made indictable offenses, can be practiced inquire into them. It is time that we had arrested with perfect impunity here, and no one must inthis thing. The attention of the country is directed to it. It is high time that the indiscriminate plundering which is going on about the Departments, and about this capital, was put a stop
Sir, I have not time to go into the testimony in this case. I had intended to have done so. you will find, on looking over the whole of it, that But the case was shrewdly anticipated by Dr. Gardiner and his coadjutors. He saw the various conventions, and the claims against the Mexican Government; he saw the difficulties thickening; that war would be the result; that a peace would be made, and that the Government would have to indemnify our citizens; and he commenced, with Mrs. Chase, Mr. Larned, and others, making up a basis upon which to rest this spurious claim. He carried on the case shrewdly, until he succeeded in getting it before the Commissioners. It is a the country; and the recipients of the money thus fraud, and a fraud by which a large amount of money has been extracted from the Treasury of fraudulently extracted, should restore it back to and men of sound morals. the coffers of the Treasury, if they are honest men
But, upon a further examination of this case, we find the witnesses differing with each other in their statements of facts. Mr. Payne, who was one of the Commissioners, says that they suspected it was a fraudulent case from the beginning,
The Gardiner Claim-Mr. Olds.
32D CONG.....2D SESS.
and that it excited the closest scrutiny. What does Mr. E. W. Johnson, who was Secretary to the Board, say? He says that the Commissioners suspected the case, and that Dr. Gardiner was called in again and again, and that his counsel were called upon to explain time after time. Who were his counsel? Why Robert G. Corwin and Thomas Corwin. The Board suspected that it was a fraudulent case; the Secretary of the Board suspected it; but these gentlemen did not find it out; and R. G. Corwin swears he never knew of it being suspected till suit had been brought against Dr. Gardiner. The inference is, that they either did find it out, or that Mr. Corwin has more credit for sagacity and talent than he is entitled to. The gentleman from Ohio pronounced a splendid eulogy upon Mr. Corwin yesterday, and spoke of him as being a man of great and shining talents, and of gigantic intellect; and yet with all his sagacity and experience and knowledge of men, he failed to find out that this was a fraudulent claim. The committee by saying that he had no knowledge of its being a fraudulent claim, say that he is a man of extraordinary obtuseness, and is not entitled to credit for sagacity. He either knew that it was a fraudulent claim, or else was too obtuse a man to find it out. If Dr. Gardiner's counsel failed to discern that the claim was a sheer fabrication from beginning to end, it argues but little for their heads and detracts much from their reputation for talents and sagacity; and if they had reason to believe that the claim was spurious, and was sustained by forgery and perjury, it makes them parties to the whole transaction-equally criminal with Gardiner himself, and deserving the withering condemnation of an outraged and betrayed people. The gentleman may take either horn of the dilemma. W. E. Johnson says that the counsel were sent for again and again to explain the claim. So far as the other witnesses are concerned, you might go on still further. Mrs. Chase and General Waddy Thompson seem to be at issue in their testimony. Mrs. Chase says that General Thompson is mistaken in attributing certain expressions to her in relation to Dr. Gardiner; that she never made use of them.
I find that my hour is within a few minutes of being out, which will prevent me from a more minute examination of this case; but I cannot conclude without making an earnest appeal to the House to come forward and sustain this bill, as one step towards arresting and condemning this system of high-handed plundering and swindling, which has been and is being carried on, about Congress and the various departments of Government. Sound morality, common honesty, justice, an eviscerated Treasury, all demand that something should be done to separate these vampires from the body politic. There must be something done to restore public confidence, for it is going very fast, if not already gone. The Government and the functionaries of Government are beginning to stink in the very nostrils of the nation; it is now dead and rotten in many of its parts, while the disease is rapidly making its way into the others less accessible. Its putrid stench is sent forth upon every wind and is arresting the attention of the voracious vultures throughout the land, and they have gathered, and are still gathering, around the carcass, ready to begin their foul work. They come from the mountain tops, with hideous cry And clattering wings; the filthy harpies fly: Monsters more fierce offended Heav'n ne'er sent, From Hell's abyss for human punishment."
charged a duty which I owed my constituents and the country; and even though the committee might acquit Mr. Corwin of the real charges alleged against him, still I felt that I had but discharged my duty, and that I might rather rejoice, than feel mortified at such acquittal. And even now, sir, I regret exceedingly that a sense of duty to myself, and duty to the constituency that I have the honor to represent in this Congress, compels me, in consequence of a remark made the other day, during my temporary absence from the Hall, by the honorable gentleman from New York, [Mr. BROOKS,] to ask the kind indulgence of the House, whilst review, somewhat in detail, this most extraordinary transaction.
I was aware, sir, that an effort had been made, by pensioned dependents, by hired letter-writers, and by paid telegraphers, to forestall public opinion upon the report of the investigating committee; but knowing that sooner or later, the real facts of the case would be spread before the public, I was willing to wait for, and abide by the verdict that should be given upon that report by the American people.
I had supposed that the thousand and one false reports respecting the action of the committee, and the honorable acquittal of Mr. Corwin, which were scattered broadcast over the country, were designed to operate upon the elections then pending over the United States, and more especially upon my own election; for in my Congressional district, these false reports, with all manner of unfair and unjust comments, in handbill form, just upon the morning of the election, came upon us as did the frogs upon the Egyptians, and it might literally be said that they came into our houses, into our bedchambers, and into our very kneading-troughs!" But I had no idea that even the men who gave them circulation, and carried them from door to door, and distributed them from hand to hand, supposed for a moment that they contained one word of truth. I had thought, sir, that when the occasion which gave them circulation, the election, had passed, an American representative would no longer be assailed for having boldly, fearlessly discharged his duty. But I find, sir, from the indication given by the gentleman from New York, that this false impression, this impression produced by these pensioned dependents and hired letter-writters, is to be seconded and continued by the efforts of honorable gentlemen upon this floor; and that, by such a course, if possible, the tables are to be turned upon
OF OHIO, IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, January 6, 1853. The report of the Select Committee to prevent frauds on the Treasury being under considerationMr. OLDS said:
Mr. SPEAKER: When I left my home in Ohio, to return to this capital, I had not the most distant idea that I should feel called upon to trespass upon the time of this House by again adverting to the Gardiner claim. I felt, sir, that in calling for the Committee of Investigation, I had but dis
If gentlemen are not satisfied with their efforts to forestall public sentiment, and with their spurious acquittal of Mr. Corwin, but are desirious of turning the war upon me, I am ready and willing for the conflict.
The gentleman from New York, [Mr. BROOKS,] in reply to my colleague, [Mr. SWEETSER,] is reported in the Daily Globe as using the following language:
"The gentleman from Ohio, in order to evade or avoid these unanswerable facts and conclusions, attempted to abuse the present Administration for its extravagant expenditures, as if their doing wrong would justify him for refusing to do right. Now, if that gentleman will look back and observe the history of this Administration, he will see that in no one single instance, though a large majority in both Houses of Congress are nominally opposed to it, yet has there been no one instance in which they have reversed or condemned its action. The gentleman himself, or rather a colleague of his, did, indeed, in connection with the Gardiner claim, attempt to throw odium upon this Administration; but it was turned back upon him by his own party."
THE GARDINER CLAIM.
Mr. Speaker, the honorable gentleman from New York, when he gave utterance to the language just quoted, should have known that it was unfounded SPEECH OF HON. E. B. OLDS, mittee. He is himself the editor of a public newsin fact, and unwarranted by the report of the com
paper; and if his duty as Congressman did not require him to read the report of the Gardiner committee, certainly his duty as the publisher of such newspaper demanded that he should inform himself of the facts, that thereby he might be able to enlighten and not mislead the public.
I wish, sir, that I could believe that the honorable gentleman had spoken in ignorance, rather than with a desire to pervert and misrepresent the facts connected with the Gardiner fraud. I say, Mr. Speaker, that I hope the gentleman has really spoken in ignorance, and that it may prove true that he has never seen or read the report of the
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Gardiner committee. I am told, sir, that few or none of the Whig papers have published it in full. I should like very much to know whether the honorable gentleman, when he used the language referred to, had ever seen the report published in any form, other than the garbled extracts, scattered broadcast over the country just prior to the Ohio and Pennsylvania elections. Has the honorable gentleman, himself the publisher of a Whig newspaper, ever given that report publicity in his own paper? Mr. Speaker, I will venture the prediction, that even now, notwithstanding the gentleman would have the country believe that the Gardiner committee have honorably acquitted Mr. Corwin, he dare not publish, without note or comment, the report of that committee, with the accompanying testimony, in the New York Express.
Sir, until he has the manliness to do this, let him not attempt to tell this House and the country that I "attempted to throw qdium upon the Administration, but that it was turned back upon me by my own party.'
Mr. ORR, (interrupting.) I rise to a question of order. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the remarks of my friend from Ohio [Mr. OLDS] are not in order when the House is considering the bill now before it.
Mr. OLDS. My remarks apply to the opinion of the committee in reference to this transaction. Mr. ORR. The House is now considering specifically a bill, and the remarks of the gentleman are not applicable to that bill.
Mr. OLDS. This bill is to prevent similar transactions in future.
Mr. ORR. My reason for making the point of order is, that if the gentleman from Ohio goes on with his remarks, some other gentleman upon the other side of the House must be heard upon the other side, and the merits of the particular bill before the House will not be at all enlightened by the discussion.
Mr. OLDS. I trust they will, before I get through.
The SPEAKER. The Chair understands that the bill before the House is reported from a committee appointed to investigate the very transaction to which the gentleman from Ohio refers.
Mr. ORR. What is the bill before the House? The SPEAKER. It is a bill to punish offenses such as the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. OLDS] is now discussing; and the Chair thinks the gentleman is not exceeding the limits generally allowed in debate.
Mr. ORR. I do not perceive the pertinency of the gentleman's remarks to the bill under consideration.
The SPEAKER. The Chair thinks the gentleman is arguing the necessity of the bill, and that his remarks are pertinent.
Mr. OLDS. Mr. Speaker, that the gentleman from New York [Mr. BROOKS] may see his error, and that the country may know in what manner the Committee of Investigation have acquitted Mr. Corwin, and turned back upon me the odium of Gardinerism, I shall direct the attention of the House to the phraseology of the resolution under which the committee was raised. It is as follows:
"Resolved, That a committee, consisting of five members of this House, be appointed by the Speaker to investigate all the facts touching the connection of the said Thomas Corwin, the present Secretary of the Treasury, with the said Gardiner claim; what fee, if any, he was to receive for his services as agent or counsel for said Gardiner; what interest, if any, other than his fee, he purchased and held, either di rectly or indirectly, in said claim, and the amount paid or stipulated to be paid therefor; at what time he ceased to act
as the counsel or agent of the said Gardiner; to whom and' for what consideration he disposed of his fee interest; to whom and for what consideration he disposed of his one fourth interest in said claim."
'This, sir, is the language of the resolution. It constituted the committee, and it pointed out distinctly and specifically the duty required by the House to be performed by the committee.
First. The committee was required to investigate Corwin's connection with the Gardiner claim generally.
Second. The committee was to ascertain his (Corwin's) fee interest in the claim.
Third. The committee was to ascertain what interest he (Corwin) had in the claim, other than his fee interest.
Fourth. The committee was to ascertain the
Fifth. The committee was to ascertain at what time he (Corwin) ceased to act as the agent or counsel for Gardiner.
Sixth. The committee was to ascertain to whom and for what consideration he (Corwin) disposed of his fee interest, and to whom and for what consideration he had disposed of his one fourth interest in said claim.
These, sir, were the specific duties referred by the House to the committee; all the facts touching these specifications the committee were required to investigate and report to the House.
If, as the gentleman from New York charges, the committee have exonerated Mr. Corwin," and turned back upon me the odium" of Gardinerism, it must be found in their action and report upon these specifications.
Pardon me, then, Mr. Speaker, for trespassing upon the time of the House, in applying to each inquiry and specification the finding of the committee; for by this course, without the intervention of pensioned letter-writers, we shall be able to understand who has been exonerated, and upon whom the committee "have turned back the odium." First. The committee was required to investigate Corwin's connection with the Gardiner claim" generally.
That duty, sir, the committee performed; that investigation the committee made. But do they exonerate Mr. Corwin from all connection with the claim, and thus roll back upon me the odium of being Mr. Corwin's slanderer? No, sir; on the contrary, the committee say, that
"In May, 1849, the Hon. Thomas Corwin, then a member of the United States Senate, was employed as counsel in the Gardiner claim by General Waddy Thompson, the original counsel of Gardiner, upon an agreement that Mr. Corwin should have for his fee five per cent. on whatever sum should be awarded to Gardiner by the commissioners. In February, 1850, Thomas Corwin, in company with Robert G. Corwin, Esq., purchased one fourth part of the claim of Gardiner, and this fourth part of said claim was assigned on the 13th of that month to W. W. Corcoran, Esq., who loaned money to the Messrs. Corwin to purchase it, and held the claim for Messrs. Thomas and Robert G. Corwin, in equal shares, as collateral security for the payment of the loan. The Messrs. Corwin paid $22,000, and relinquished their fees on the one fourth of the claim purchased by them, and paid a part of Edward Curtis's fees-what
amount does not appear as the consideration for the pur
Call you this, sir, exonerating Mr. Corwin from all connection with the Gardiner claim? Call you this "turning back upon me the odium" of Gardinerism?
Secondly. The committee was "to ascertain his (Corwin's) fee interest in the claim.”
On this specification the committee say, "that 'Mr. Corwin was employed as counsel in the case by General Waddy Thompson, upon an agreement that he (Corwin) should have for his 'fee five per cent. upon whatever sum should be 'awarded to Gardiner by the commissioners." Is this exonerating Mr. Corwin from having a fee interest, and "turning back upon me the odium?" Third. The committee was "to ascertain what
interest he (Corwin) held in the claim other than his fee interest.
The committee say, that "in February, 1850, Thomas Corwin, in company with Robert G. Corwin, purchased one fourth part of the Gardiner claim."
Call you this, sir, exonerating Corwin from being a part owner of this most fraudulent claim? Call you this turning back upon me the odium?
Fourth. The committee was directed "to ascertain the amount paid, or stipulated to be paid therefor, and the conditions of said purchase."
The committee say: "The Messrs. Corwin paid $22,000, and relinquished their fees on the one fourth of the claim purchased by them, and paid a part of Edward Curtis's fees." The committee; in speaking of the final distribution of the claim, further states, that "the sum of $94,582 was paid to counsel, and $107,187 50 was paid to the assignees of the one fourth of the claim originally sold to Thomas Corwin and Robert G. Corwin."
Call you this, sir, exonerating Mr. Corwin, "and turning back upon me the odium" of Gardinerism?
Fifth. The committee was directed "to ascertain at what time he (Corwin) ceased to act as the counsel or agent of the said Gardiner, and to whom and for
what consideration he disposed of his fee interest, and to whom and for what consideration he disposed of his one fourth interest in said claim ?"
In the same month
In reply to this specification, the committee say: "The Hon. Thomas Corwin resigned his seat in the Senate, and acce the appointment of Secretary of the Treasury, in the month of July, 1850. and previous to his going into the Cabinet of President Fillmore as Secretary of the Treasury, a sale of his fee interest in, and also of his half of the one fourth part of the Gardiner claim, was negotiated through the intervention of Governor John Young, of New York, to George Law, Esq., of New York.".
Inasmuch, sir, as Mr. Corwin and his friends claim his acquittal upon the score of this pretended I am sale, it merits a more extended comment. unable to perceive, even admitting the sale to be genuine, how this makes his acquittal. The resolution of inquiry implies, just what Corwin claims, that a sale of his interest in these Mexican claims was really consummated. This is what public rumor charged, and this was my own belief at the time I called for the investigation.
But, sir, let us examine this pretended sale, and see what it really amounts to.
In July, 1850, Mr. Corwin accepted a seat in Mr. Fillmore's Cabinet; prior to which a verbal contract or sale was made of his interest in this, as well as his other Mexican claims; but, sir, it appears from the report of the committee, that this sale made in July, 1850, was not consummated until November, 1850-full four months after Mr. Corwin had entered the Cabinet of President Fillmore. The committee say:
"The assignment of his fee interest and his interest in the one fourth part of the Gardiner claim, and all his interest in all other claims before the Board of Commissioners, (thirty-seven in number,) was executed by Thomas Corwin to Jacob Little, of New York, in November, 1850, and the money for the purchase was then paid by George Law, to whom the assignment to Jacob Little was at that time transferred. The money for the sale, $80,357, was received by Thomas Corwin, and on the 23d of November was deposited by him to his credit with Messrs. Corcoran & Riggs."
Mr. BROOKS. I do not desire to interrupt the gentleman further than to request that he will extend the quotation he has just made.
Mr. OLDS. I wish, Mr. Speaker, that my time would permit me to read the whole of the report of the committee, and every word of the evidence upon which that report is predicated. It should be read, sir, not only by every member of this House, but by every citizen of the United States. The gentleman can do much towards accomplishing this object by giving the report_and testimony a publication in his newspaper. Dare he do it?
Why, sir, was the consummation of this bargain, made in July, the consideration of which amounted to more than $80,000, delayed until November, a Does not this transperiod of full four months? action, sir, carry upon its very face the evidence that the bargain made in July was a pretense, a mere farce? Why, sir, this sale covered Corwin's half of the one fourth interest, and his half of the fee interest. For these two interests he had only paid a little over $11,000; and yet, with all the uncertainty that hung over this claim at the time that Corwin purchased it, still hanging over it, it is pretended that Jacob Little, a cunning, crafty Wall street broker, and George Law, one of the shrewdest speculators in all the country, stipulated to pay the enormous sum of more than $80,000. Why, sir, if anything more were necessary to show that this pretended sale was a mere farce, it will be found in the following extract from the speech of Robert Corwin, made in Lebanon, Ohio, Mr. Corwin's own town, and published in the Cincinnati Gazette, and other Whig journals in Ohio: Robert Corwin says that:
"In July General Taylor died, and the administration of the Government devolved on Millard Fillmore, who, in looking about him for his constitutional advisers, solicited Thomas Corwin to accept a post in his Cabinet as Secretary of the Treasury.
"In this request he was joined by Daniel Webster, but Mr. Corwin replied that he was interested in a private claim against the United States Treasury; that Crawford had been charged with committing a wrong in being interested in a claim while a member of the Cabinet, and he would not place himself in a situation which would subject him to a similar charge. Several days elapsed, during which he was urged to accept the post, but peremptorily refused, until Governor Young, of New York-now in his gravecame forward and proposed to take Mr. Corwin's interest in all the claims before the Board. Mr. Corwin did not know what was their value, and he proposed to take for his interest whatever sum Governor Young and myself should
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agree upon, but I found the Governor unprepared to pay so much as I considered the interest worth. I proposed myself to purchase Mr. Corwin's claim at the estimate I had proposed to Young, but to this he would not listen, stating that he still should be morally involved in the matter, for if I profited by the purchase he knew I would share it with him, and if there was a loss upon it he would be unwilling that I should bear the loss."
Mr. Speaker, is not this really a very pretty little farce? Why, sir, analyze it, and see its various parts.
Corwin felt that he would be liable to censure, if he accepted the Treasury Department under Fillmore, still holding an interest in claims against that Treasury. The verdict of the people upon Crawford's conduct, flashed vividly across his mind. Sir, it could not well be otherwise; for he had just witnessed the inauguration of President Fillmore. He had just seen Fillmore enter this Hall to receive the oath of office, followed by the Cabinet of the deceased Taylor; and the murmur from yonder gallery of "there come the Galphins," which reached every part of this Hall, was still ringing in his ears. The suspicions of the people must be quieted by at least the semblance of a sale.
He felt, too, that a sham sale to his nephew and partner would evoke rather than quiet the suspicions of the public. In this extremity, through Governor Young, George Law is made to play the part of "dummy." Bob Corwin would convey the impression that Governor Young was himself the purchaser, though the committee assign him the position of negotiator, or rather that of a "go-be
"But I found the Governor," says Bob Corwin, "unprepared to pay as much as I considered the claim worth." No doubt, sir, that Governor Young, seeing this claim enveloped in all the doubts and difficulties that hung over it at the time the Corwins purchased it, was unprepared to raise its value from $11,000 to $80,000. Consequently, by their own showing, this pretended sale remained incomplete and inoperative until these
doubts and difficulties were removed. Messrs. Little and Law were too shrewd operators to place their signatures to an instrument binding themselves to pay any stipulated sum, much less the enormous sum of $80,000, until they had some reliable basis upon which to estimate the value the purchase.
Why, Mr. Speaker, no man can peruse the testimony of George Law and Robert G. Corwin, witnesses sworn at the instance, and to give evidence for, Mr. Corwin, without a settled convietion upon his mind, that the sale in July was a mere pretense, made expressly to deceive and mislead the public mind.
Corwin, though he sold the claim unconditionally, had no knowledge of the amount he was to receive for it; and George Law, the pretended purchaser, though he bought the claim unconditionally, had no knowledge of the amount he was to pay for it; and yet we are told that Corwin had "washed his hands of all interest in these claims" before entering the Cabinet of President Fillmore. True, sir, Mr. Corwin had nominally sold his claims; but I ask every candid unprejudiced mind to tell me whether or not Corwin's real interest in these claims was not precisely the same after, that it was before this pretended sale,-ay, sir, up to the time that Governor Young and Co. fixed and reported to the parties the price to be paid as the purchase money for these claims?
Suffer me, sir, to call the attention of the House to a few extracts from the testimony of the witness referred to. George Law says:
"Soon after General Taylor's death, in the month of July, 1850, I was here in Washington. Governor Young, of New York, called at my room at the National Hotel. He said he had a friend who was offered a seat in Mr. Fillmore's Cabinet, and who had some interest in claims that were then known as Mexican claims,' and that were to be settled by a commission; and that this friend, from feelings of delicacy, would not take a seat in the Cabinet whilst be was interested in such claims. Governor Young was desirous to relieve him from that objection.. I asked him if he thought that was the only obstacle in the way. Governor Young said that it was. I told him that if he (Governor Young) desired, I would purchase those claims. He said that he did, but that the purchase must be unconditional; because he was satisfied that if there was any understanding about the claims if not realized, his friend would not take the place. I told him that there was no necessity for any contingency about them, and that I would leave it to him (Governor Young) to say what the value of the claims was, and I would purchase them at his valuation. Governor Young said he presumed that would be satisfactory;