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information might be defective, is one of the things it was precisely proper in the President to say, for the reason it was true, and in the highest degree consistent with the heroic discharge of duty.
Captain William McKinley took a risk in disobeying an order on a battle field in the Shenandoah valley, when on General Crook's staff; and if Admiral Schley was disobedient when perfectly informed, or knew better than to do as he was told, was a risk that he took as a hero; and a perfunctory finding that he disobeyed an order, may cause an unpleasant sensation and yet inflicts no reproach that is a stain. Here is the significance of the dismissal of the historian who pronounced Admiral Schley “a coward and a catiff.” That act of the President is a slap in the face of those artificers of intrigue that have caused scandal.
The President's message to Congress announces a policy of novelty in both Army and Navy, and consists in drilling the regular troops in masses, and putting into the drill, instruction that covers embarkation and disembarkation. In the Navy there is to be hard work done. We have the ships and guns, and the crews, and the ironclads had better be put to risks on stormy seas, iron clad or not, and worn out in the service rather than to rust out in harbors, or be polished and preserved as elegant and costly toys, to illustrate that
“I11 fares the land to hastening ills a prey,
When wealth accumulates, and men decay." There was at least one unquestionable impropriety in the Navy Department and that the maintenance of the "historian," Maclay, as a "laborer" in the Brooklyn Navy yard, from which he sent the proof sheets of his toil to the home guard at the "concurrent” department. The President ordered the decorative "co-laborer” removed.
The name of this belabored citizen is Maclay, and the correspondence is too curious to omit.
"Office of the General Storekeeper, Navy Yard, New York, December 24, 1901. -John R. Procter, President Civil Service Commission-Sir: On December 23 (yesterday) I received the following communication from the Secretary of the Navy:
“ 'Sir: I am directed by the President to ask Edgar S. Maclay, special laborer, general storekeeper's office, Navy Yard, New York, to send in his resignation.
“JOHN D. LONG, Secretary.' “This communication was addressed to the commandant of this Navy, Yard and was duly forwarded to me. I desire to get an authoritative opinion from the Civil Service commission on the following points:
"First-Has the President of the United States any authority, under the laws governing civil service, to demand the resignation of a civil service employee in the classified list?
"Second-Has the President the authority or power to cause the dismissal of any civil service employee without preferring charges in writing and giving said employee an opportunity in which to make a defense?
"EDGAR S. MACLAY." To this the commission replied as follows:
“Dec. 26, 1901.—Mr. Edgar S. Maclay, Office of the General Storekeeper, Navy Yard, New York, N. Y.-Sir: The commission is in receipt of your letter of December 24, 1901, asking its opinion upon the following questions:
“ 'Has the President of the United States any authority, under the laws governing civil service, to demand the resignation of a civil service employee in the classified list?
“ 'Has the President the authority or power to cause the dismissal of any civil service employee without preferring charges in writing and giving said employee an opportunity in which to make a defense?'
“In response you are informed that it is contrary to the practice of the commission to undertake to answer hypothetical questions. Your separation from the service, according to the facts in your case, as they appeared in the public press, was made upon the order of the Secretary of the Navy, in whom the power of removal rests. The demand of your resignation, followed by your removal, upon the direction of the President, through the Secretary of the Navy, was not in violation of the civil service act and rules, in view of the wellknown facts in your case.
“The object of the rule requiring notice and a hearing was to prevent political removals or removals upon secret charges. No issue of this kind is involved in your case.
“JOHN R. PROCTER, President." President Procter, of the Civil Service Commission, also gave out the following statement bearing upon the case:
"The commission has always held, as shown in its thirteenth report, January 1, 1897;
"'The civil service act did not intend that incompetent persons should be retained in office. The authority of removal and its exercise for proper reasons are necessary for the discipline and the efficiency of the public service. The power of removal is not affected by the law or the rules, further than that they provide that removals shall not be made for political or religious reasons.'
“The rule of the President, July 27, 1897, requiring that a person should only be removed for just cause, and upon reasons in writing, and after an
opportunity for making answer, was for the purpose of preventing political or religious removals, or removals upon secret charges, but was in no way intended to curtail the power of removal for just cause.
“Under this rule the reasons for a removal are to be a matter of record, but it does not impair in the slightest degree the prompt exercise of the power of discipline. In discussing this rule in the fourteenth report of the commission, December 31, 1897, it is stated that “if the reasons are sufficient the officer will not hesitate to make the removal.' It cannot be asserted that Maclay's removal was for political or religious reasons or upon secret charges, as the reason for the department's action is well known, both to Maclay, and to the public."
It will be noticed that Secretary Long was not severe with Maclaystating he was "directed by the President to ask.” That did not risk an iron clad. Maclay stuck to his place until he heard from the Civil Service Commission, and then continued to go to the yard until he was summarily discharged. This was on the day after Christmas. The laboring historian put in an appearance as usual at the Navy Yard prepared to resume his duties. Pay Director Putnam went to Maclay's desk, read him the telegram of dismissal received from Washington, told him that he was dismissed. Maclay left the yard immediately.
This laboring man seems to be the only one that wants a personal quarrel with the President. We presume this appeals to the sense of humor of the President. Maclay is the apple of the eye of the corner in the Navy Department that has managed the Schley case, and the suffering in that quarter seems to be deep. This might as well be allowed to end the case.
There appeared on the day after the closing scene, a pathetic story of the condition of Admiral Sampson. John B. Weeks, of Champaign, Illinois, publishes this letter from the Admiral's wife:
“Washington, D. C., Dec. 23, 1901.-My Dear Mr. Weeks: Admiral Sampson is too ill to really understand your most kind letter, just received, but if he were well he would wish to thank you for it, he cares so much for all 'old times' and for anything that concerns Palmyra.
“The wording of your letter shows that living in the West has not blinded your eyes to the truth concerning recent events. I have enjoyed your expression of the true facts as you understand them.
“My dear husband is quite worn out with a long life of concentrated duty. Physically he is comfortable and happy, but the brain is tired beyond ever being rested.
"ELIZABETH BURLING SAMPSON."
It is stated this letter was written in "reply to a note expressing sympathy with the Rear Admiral in the personal annoyances he has suffered in the controversy with Rear Admiral Schley."
The fact that Admiral Sampson was infirm, suffering from nervous disease, has for sometime been largely known. He was treated by Admiral Schley and his counsel and friends, with the most delicate consideration and respectful attention. No one has forgotten that the Admiral in his youth was a hero, and went down with his ship in Charleston Harbor, and that right or wrong in the unhappy controversy over the varied Santiago strife, he should not when his strength has failed, be held to a rigorous accountability for the errors of others. The truth is not according to the testimony, that he is broken in health on account of the Santiago nightmare, but that the origin of the difficulty was that the strain upon him caused the eccentric incidents, that have prevented the just division of honors, as Admiral Schley said, “honors enough for all.” History will approve the saying and award the division and both admirals will be gratefully remembered in the record that final public opinion will bestow.
The position of the President is that of seeing both sides of the question, and in heated terms of contention, the judicial attitude seems to those under the influence of personal and local excitement, in disregard of the temperature of the combatants.
Rear Admiral Schley appealed to the President from the findings of the Court of Inquiry, and asked the President to set aside the endorsement of the Secretary of the Navy of the findings, and approve the individual opinion of the presiding member of the court, in which he said:
"Commodore Schley was the senior officer of our squadron off Santiago when the Spanish squadron attempted to escape on the morning of July 3, 1898. He was in absolute command and is entitled to the credit due such commanding officer."
Admiral Sampson retired February 9, 1901, having reached the age limit of active service. The Army and Navy Journal states, on the authority of the Admiral's physicians, that "his mind is not clear, and he can not move around without the support of an attendant;" and his case is with authority pronounced "extremely critical.”
During a trip West and South from Charleston to Chicago, and again South, Admiral Schley was constantly received by the public with enthusiasm, and very strongly stated his purpose to keep out of politics.
The President's friends very largely do not have the pleasure of agreeing with him in his review of the Schley-Sampson Santiago case. He is right in saying the action of the American fleet destroying that of the Spaniards was a "captains' battle," and Schley, whatever is said of the signals, was in front and Sampson was last in the procession. It was not the merit of the one ahead to
be there, or the fault of the other to be in the rear. Sampson, technically in command, was far out of the fight. The word "technical" should be used in respect to the “loop” that is charged so seriously to Schley. The loop Sampson made in running up the coast when the fight was over, was a longer one, and avoided the opportunity of the occasion. Sampson's ever present idea was that the Spanish fleet must be plugged up in the harbor. The true hopefulness was that the Spaniards should come out, to be, as it was, destroyed; and the Spanish guns at the mouth of the harbor were over-rated. Sampson's caution under Navy Department orders did not permit him to strike a blow in aid of the army. Blanco's technical command that the fleet should go out, was the breakage of the monotony. The American fleet was more than twice as powerful as that of the Spaniards, and the only hope Cervera had of getting away was to damage the Brooklyn, and run to Cienfuegos or around the West end of Cuba to Havana.
The alleged "misstatements” of Schley were technical, and the disobedience of orders also. The President gives him credit for what he "did in the fight,” and his share of the glory of it will not be affected. It is what one does in the fight that counts. The paper of the President is pervaded by a spirit of showing fair play all around, and an anxiety to close the subject. There has been the official bearing of the Navy constantly to regard as an influence, and there has been duly considered, and properly, the illness of Sampson, and the remembrance of his gallant service when a young man, and his great and useful scientific attainments and personal accomplishments. All these things have plead for him, and there is to be added the public sense that he was in hard luck that fateful morning, to have been called away to consult Shafter at Siboney. The broad truths of history must take into account the fact of the extreme cautiousness of the Navy Department after Theodore Roosevelt left the "technical" citadel of the Navy for activity in the Army.
July 8th, five days after the Spanish fleet was burned and sunk, Blanco cabled to the War Minister at Madrid, General Correa:
“The army, always ready for any sacrifice for the sake of the nation, remains intact up to the present time, and is still full of spirit, for it is maintaining itself in Santiago de Cuba with vigor.”
The dispatch continued in boastful terms to laud the Spanish army and promise the continuance of the fighting ashore.
Admiral Sampson, after the Spanish ships that left the harbor had been put out of the combat, was still afraid that more ships would get out, as if that was not the thing exactly to be prayed for. He said as a reason for ordering the Indiana to turn back to watch for more Spaniards:
“There are still some armed vessels remaining in the harbor of Santiago --at least two, and we did not know then how many more-which could have