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him; that several witnesses were under examination, the testimony of whom was not yet closed; that, from the fact of several witnesses having been under examination at the same time, whose testimony was not before the Committee, either in manuscriptor in print, (a portion of the manuscript being in the hands of the printer,) they had not the means of ascertaining its effect or nature, and were unable to determine how much further the examination ought to proceed, or what other witnesses ought to be examined. In vain did they insist that fixing the time for adjourning to Washington, before the testimony was ended, was calculated to deprive the accused of the right (which every man has when charged) of showing that those charges were unfounded, and of protecting his character from aspersion; that it would prevent the individuals of the Committee from examining and cross-examining such witnesses as they believed ought to be examined; would set a precedent entirely new and arbitrary in the administration of justice, dangerous to the rights and privileges of persons who might be charged with misconduct; would be deciding a question, the propriety of which the Committee could not possibly know; and would be well calculated to destroy, in the public mind, all confidence in the results at which the Committee might arrive. In vain did they present these declarations in the shape of resolutions. They were summarily voted down. The objects desired to be attained at New York were complete. The materials to be worked up into partizan crimination were deemed sufficient. The rest was to them but “ leather and prunella.” The scene was to be shifted to Washington, in order that other persons than Mr. Hoyt might be introduced, in a similar manner, and for similar ends.
What course should now have been pursued, if the examinations so far had furnished the Committee, in their opinion, with evidence on which to charge, with official delinquency, the Secretary and other officers of the Treasury Department into whose acts they were about to scrutinize? What would have been the conduct of persons really desirous to investigate, not to criminate ? It would have been to point out to these public officers the supposed errors or the alleged crimes ; to demand their explanation; to require their exculpation or defence. Was such a course pursued ? Not so; but the exact reverse. The whole progress of examination at Washington will be found, when the journal and interrogatories are examined, to be a counterpart' to that practised at New York. The points of censure and charge were carefully suppressed from the witness. He was kept in ignorance of what had been said by other officers of the Department. Questions were framed to draw particular answers which might meet particular ends. The examination was carried just so far as to elicit the facts that it was intended to use for future and sinister purposes, but no farther; and when, at last, the evidence is spread before the public, it is made apparent that there is not a single officer thus censured, who could not have refuted or explained the charges that are made up, by this anjust and partial mode, had those charges been fairly made known to him, and the opportunity allowed him for defence.
It seems, however, to be regarded as a crime, if the officer who is thus denounced seeks to ascertain and to protect himself against these censures. What is the very first question propounded to the Secretary, when he is summoned before this new inquisition !
Have you seen, read, or heard read or described, or been informed of, any portion of the evidence taken before this Committee ?” Why was not the Secretary of the Treasury to see, to read, to hear, or to be informed of evidence that might tend to inculpate himself; was an attempt making to injure that officer upon testimony kept wholly from his knowledge! Evidence was collected for the purpose of charging the late First Comptroller of the Treasury with highly culpable official neglect; not one word of this appears to have been made known to the person accused; no explanation whatever is sought from him; he is not even allowed the privilege accorded to Mr. Hoyt, of being “summoned as a wit. Ress." The present First Comptroller of the Treasury was subjected to a long examination, yet not a particle of the evidence purporting to affect his statements or conduct, previously obtained and then actually in print, appears throughout the whole course of his examination to have been submitted to him. Fragments of statements collected at New York, and referring to the official conduct of the late Solicitor of the Treasury, several years ago, were to be used in order to charge upon the neglect of that officer, now absent in a foreign country, the frauds of Price; yet, although clerks then in his office, acquainted with the transactions thus intended to be used, and capable of exhibiting them in their true aspect, were within the immediate call of the Committee, not one of them was summoned before it, not one word of defence was allowed on behalf of the absent. The present Solicitor of the Treasury, who is made to participate in the negligence of his predecessor, though summoned before the Committee, is asked no single question that can lead him to suspect the charges that are to be presented against him; is not permitted to see, nor even made aware of the evidence taken at New York, from which partial selections are to be culled, to his detriment; and is left to discover, for the first time, that he is accused of official neglect, when the charge is scattered from one end of the country to the other. Are these proceedings an “investigation?" Did Congress mean that the plenary powers they conferred on this Committee were to be wielded with an unfairness that has no parallel in our political history! chey had even designed that, instead of examining into the defalcations of public officers, they should pursue a system of partizan crimination, could they have believed that the pursuit would have been conducted with such injustice to the individuals accused, and that a deliberate endeavour would be made to assail the character and conduct of functionaries, whose honor, integrity, and fidelity were unimpeached, by obtaining evidence behind their backs and without their knowledge ?
Although the business of the Committee appears, by their journal, to have been substantially finished by the 19th of February, it was not till the 26th that they offered their report to the Houseand not until the 27th that it was actually made. The closing days of the session, when the pressure of necessary business absolutely excluded an examination ; when the quantity of documents to be printed rendered it impossible that the charges could be known or answered on the floor of Congress; were selected as affording addi. tional means of diffusing the attacks with which it was replete, and protecting them at the same time from exposure or reply. As if, however, nothing should be wanting to complete the unfair cha. racter of these proceedings, from first to last, the evidence, obtained as it was—the report made up as it was- -even these were not permitted to speak for themselves. In anticipation of their appearance, an abstract of the “conclusions" of the Conimittee was prepared and scattered in newspapers, over the country. Suppressing or withholding the testimony, which it was pretended would sustain these conclusions, they were put forth by themselves to circulate through the community, and diffuse their secret poison in advance of the evidence, which, when seen, could not fail to prove an antidote (much as the reverse had been designed) to the subtle asser. tions that were promulgated as its true result. A month after the abstract for the newspapers came the report itself, containing the culled portions of the evidence, with the version appended to them; and not until time is given to spread twenty thousand copies of this through the land, are we at last favored with the testimony itself, or allowed the means of examining into the truth of charges that have been thus boldly made and universally dissemnated.
The report, in its whole construction, character, and drift, is a fit sequel to this extraordinary series of proceedings. In vain do we seek to gather from it a connected view of the defalcations-a clear statement of their amount-an exposition of the manner in which they were perpetrated—a suggestion of the modes by which similar frauds are to be prevented. It is wretched in style, though evidently aiming at rhetorical display. It is most intricate and confused in arrangement, although divided and subdivided as if it was the perfection of logical precision. Yet, with all this, the evident object is constantly persisted in. A vague impression is imparted to the reader that the causes of the frauds upon the public revenue have been the improper conduct of the Secretary and subordinate officers of the Treasury; isolated passages are culled from the testimony, or voluminous masses of official correspondence; and “conclusions” are boldly deduced from these which are at variance with the result that a full and candid exposition would have led to. Coupled with this system of crimination is the effort made, through successive pages and attempted to be drawn by skilfully prepared interrogatories from witness after witness, to invalidate the investigations and to deny the truth of the statements made by the Treasury Department and submitted to Congress. These reports, they say, are not to be relied on as auxiliaries in finding out either the law or the facts; and they assert them to be especially defective in the view they give of the duration and manner of Swartwout's defalcation. It was important to their object to invalidate, if possible, the prompt and clear exposition of this mighty fraud which had been laid before Congress by the President. Hence this sweeping declaration ; hence the effort to controvert the statement of the time when the defalcation was commenced, and of the manner of its concealment through successive accounts. The report to Congress had developed a systematic fraud, perpetrated, without intermission, from 1830. An attempt is now deliberately made, and elaborately argued, to prove that the defalcations of Swartwout did not commence till 1837. The report stated that this fraud was successfully concealed by the manner in which his accounts were made up. They are now declared to have been so furnished as to afford no just ground of reproach; and the statement of the Treasury officers, as to their error and deception, are pronounced to be unfounded and unsustained. These positions are boldly assumed. The defaulter is nearly converted into an innocent man, and one is almost led to expect that the political opponents of the Committee were to be put into his place as the perpetrators of his offences.
What can be thought of an official document that ventures to present to the public, for purposes of partizan crimination, assertions so totally at variance with the evidence on which they profess to rely? The Secretary of the Treasury had said, in his report to Congress, that the “first misuse of the public money by Mr. Swartwout, as collector, appears to have commenced in 1830. A series of defalcations, in various items of his accounts, seems to have followed and continued through each successive year, increasing constantly in amount, till near the close of his official term.” of this statement the report says— the Committee do not concur in this view of the matter, nor do they find the facts to warrant the impress of any such early date upon Mr. Swartwout's defalcations;" and it concludes by saying that “the defalcation of Mr. Swartwout, by means of fraud and false returns, commenced in 1837, and not sooner.” And yet the Committee had before them the statement of Swartwout's cashier and agent, in these words : “ As far as my memory serves me, in regard to the difficulties of Mr. Swartwout, I should say that they began not long after his appointment as collector, and that, from that period he has continued to draw sums from time to time; that my assistant (Mr. Phillips) and myself have held frequent conversations with him respecting the sums of money which he had received, and that we often, when he applied to us, urged him to endeavour to obtain money elsewhere, if he possibly could, and not to draw any more from the bank ; that, about four years since, when we again spoke to him on the subject of the amounts we supposed he had received, he requested us to have an interview with him at his house ; that we met him, agreeably to appointment, and that he then assured us, as he had done frequently before, that he did not doubt that before many months the speculations he had entered into would result in such a way as to enable him to pay all up." Nor was this all; they had before them a statement of Mr. Phillips, the assistant cashier, in these words: “Mr. Swartwout came into office, as collector of the port of New York, on the 1st of May, 1829; and as far as my memory serves, but a few months had elapsed before he commenced drawing money for his private uses, which he continued for a period of nearly nine years, without any great intermission." Nor was this all; they had an actual list of more than forty checks, for sums varying from $1,000 to $12,000, drawn by Mr. Swartwout, on the public deposit, for his own use, previous to the year 1837; and they knew that books containing the evidence of other similar checks had been lost or mislaid. Which, then, is erroneous, the statement of the Secretary of the Treasury, or the “conclusion" of the Committee?
Not satisfied with relieving Mr. Swartwout from the imputation of a defaulter during seven long years, when he was deliberately drawing out the public money, and appropriating it to his private use; an atteinpt is made to prove that his accounts were, during the same period, faithfully rendered to the Treasury. “All moneys," say the Committee, “received by Mr. Swartwout as col. lector, prior to 1837, are regularly accounted for by him, in his quarterly returns to the Treasury Department." 16 We do not feel justified," they add, “ in acceding to the correctness of the view presented by the Executive and Treasury officers, that Mr. Swartwout became a defaulter at any time prior to 1837, on either of the items of account above enumerated-amounting, in all, to two hundred and twenty-one thousand nine hundred anı seven dollars and thirty six cents. On the contrary, he accounted for them properly to the Treasury, but was per viited to retain them until his last