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Mr. FESSENDEN. If it creates no debate I will not object.
Mr. WILLIAMS. There will be no debate. The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The special order will be laid aside informally if there be no objection on the part of any member of the Senate. The Chair hears no objection. The question is on the amendment offered by the Senator from Oregon to the amendment made as in Committee of the Whole.
Mr. SUMNER. Let it be so changed. When I drew it, I thought that any subsequent bill might be altered with reference to this.
And the compensation of William Hunter, Esq.. chief clerk of the Department of State, shall be at the rate of $3,500 a year; and a sufficient sum is hereby appropriated for this purpose out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated.
Mr. FESSENDEN. It does not state when the compensation is to begin.
Mr. SUMNER. I presume with the passage of this bill.
Mr. FESSENDEN. You should say "from and after the 30th day of June next.' Mr. SUMNER. I should like to have it embrace the last year. Mr. FESSENDEN. That language will not embrace it, and we never go back in such cases. Mr. SUMNER. Could we not say 46 'from the 1st of January?" Mr. FESSENDEN. Oh, no; we should not do that it would make a bad precedent.
Mr. SUMNER. Then I will insert the words "from and after the 30th of June next."
Mr. FESSENDEN. I wish the Senator would put his amendment in the shape of a new section. It now comes directly after section two.
Mr. SUMNER. I propose that it shall come there.
Mr. FESSENDEN. But you make it come in as a part of section two. It should be a new section.
Mr. HENDRICKS. The proceedings yes-
Mr. FESSENDEN. I will state to the Sen- As I said at the last session, I am very earator that in the legislative and executive appro-nestly in favor of giving an increased compensapriation bill there is an appropriation to pay tion to the clerks in the different Departments. his present salary, which is $2,200, and all that I think they are very ill-paid. My knowledge, it is necessary for the Senator to insert in this having been at one time connected with one amendment is " an amount necessary to pay of the bureaus, justifies me in saying that the the additional salary herein provided for is compensation given to the clerks of the Dehereby appropriated," &c. Otherwise you partments is not adequate, in view of the talent make two appropriations, one in the legislative which is to be found in the Departments, and and executive bill, and one here, for the same in view of the expense of supporting families purpose. in this city; but I think it is a very unfortunate mode of arriving at justice to take out a particular individual and give him an extraordinary compensation, and say then that all the rest of the starving families of those employed in the Departments shall go without pay. This is to be an argument against doing justice to the other clerks. I do not think we ought to
Mr. GRIMES. It ought not to be here at all. Mr. FESSENDEN. I know that, but I want to perfect it as well as I can. I suggest to the Senator from Massachusetts to make his amendment read, "and the amount necessary to pay the increased compensation herein provided for is hereby appropriated," &c.
Mr. SUMNER. Idesire to have it as a new section. The Clerk can change it in that respect.
Mr. FESSENDEN. Let it be read again as it now stands.
The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The amend-
The Secretary read it, as follows:
And be it further enacted, That from and after the 30th day of June, 1866, the compensation of William Hunter, Esq., chief clerk of the Department of State, shall be at the rate of $3,500 a year, and a sufficient sum is hereby appropriated for this purpose out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated.
And be it further enacted, That from and after the 30th of June, 1866, the compensation of William Hunter, Esq., chief clerk of the Department of State, shall be at the rate of $3,500 per annum; and the amount necessary to pay the increased compensation herein provided for is hereby appropriated out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated.
Mr. HENDRICKS. The Senator from Massachusetts reported from the committee a proposition, not the one that is now before the Senate. I do not understand that this particular proposition comes before the body with the indorsement of the committee, but I understand that it is his own proposition.
Mr. SUMNER. I beg the Senator's pardon; he will allow me to interpose an explanation. In the committee the subject was discussed in discretion, to present to the Senate a proposithe alternative, and I was authorized, in my tion in the alternative, as at the moment should seem best. The committee first inclined in favor of the proposition which is now under consideration, but on a second thought it seemed that it might be better to include all the employés of the Department of State, and I was instructed to act accordingly. I presented, therefore, it will be remembered, yesterday, a general proposition, applicable to all the clerks in the employment of the Department of State. That seemed to find little favor; Senators were against it; and I then withdrew it, and substituted the proposition now before the Senate; and on that occasion I assigned some reasons in favor of the proposition which seemed to meet a very generous response from all sides. There seemed to be a general opinion that we ought to do something for this very faithful and eminent public servant.
do it. I think Congress ought to come squarely
Mr. TRUMBULL. It seems to me the form of this amendment is objectionable. It proposes to pay a person by name a particular salary, not to the officer. Is that usual? I would inquire. So far as my recollection of the statutes extends, the salary is affixed to the office, not to the person. The judge of a court, the head of a Department, the head of a bureau, has so much salary; but here is a provision to give a person by name so much salary. I should like to inquire if that is not unprece dented.
Mr. FESSENDEN. Entirely so. Mr. SUMNER. I believe it is unprece dented, and the fact that it is unprecedented is a reason for it on the present occasion. The case of Mr. Hunter was presented last evening as exceptional. He is exceptional in the length of his service, in the character of the labor that he has performed, and in the trust which he has enjoyed. Mr. Hunter is exceptional in all these respects; and in drawing the proposition now before the Senate, I thought it better to treat the case as exceptional, so that it should not in any respect be a precedent.
That brings me to the position of the Senator from Indiana. He thinks we ought to embrace all the clerks in the Departments at
Mr. FESSENDEN. All the chief clerks, as I understood him.
Mr. SUMNER. I understoo, that he went even further, and meant all the clerks and employés in the Departments; he thought they were underpaid. I am sure that those in the State Department, where I am most familiar, are underpaid. I think we ought to do something for them: the committee with which I am associated think we ought to do something for them; and it was on that account that yesterday I brought forward the proposition which, yielding to remonstrances from Senators about me, I finally withdrew. I say this to the Senator from Indiana that he may see that I go along with him in that desire. Iyielded reluctantly to the expression of opinion about me, and withdrew the proposition. What next? I became satisfied that there was at least one member in that body in the service of the Department of State, whose position, as I have said already, was absolutely exceptional; that if you were disposed to neglect others, you ought not to neglect him; that he had a claimI may call it even by that very strong termupon his country, after thirty years of service, for a compensation that should enable him to enjoy, not luxury, but a certain degree of com fort as years begin to creep upon him. When I expressed that opinion, I found there was a general accord about me. Senator after Senator rose to bear his testimony to the extraor dinary merits of Mr. Hunter; and the only question at that time-I think the Senator from Indiana was not in his seat-was interposed by the Senator from Maine as to the propriety of making this motion on the bill now before the Senate. I think that I answered satisfactorily that objection.
Then the question was left open simply on the merits of this individual case. Has not Mr. Hunter rendered services to this Government which at his period of life make it proper to individualize him by name for the increased compensation which is now proposed? In individualizing him by name, you make no precedent except where you can show similar services. It is not a precedent for raising the salary of any other chief clerk, nor raising any other salary unless where you can exhibit a long series of services under peculiar circumstances such as we can exhibit in the case of this gen tleman. I hope, therefore, that the proposition will not be opposed, and I hope that the Senator from Indiana will withdraw his opposition and let it pass unanimously. Let us make this
offering to a good and faithful public servant who has served all the Administrations from John Quincy Adams down to this day, and I believe has enjoyed the confidence of all.
attention I think he will be satisfied, though he is not very easily satisfied where he has made up his mind the other way. I am told that not very long ago a proposition was made to Mr. Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. President, the Com- Hunter that he should become what the Senamittee on Foreign Relations, as has been stated tor from Iowa proposes now, Assistant Secreby the honorable chairman, were unanimous in tary of State. He did not enter into the idea; thinking that the compensation of all the clerks it was not agreeable to him; and for this reain the Department of State should be raised. son: he saw that the office of Assistant SecreThey therefore authorized him, as he has said, tary of State would be a political office to be to propose an amendment increasing them changed with the change of Administration. twenty per cent. That was offered in good He had been there as a public servant knowfaith, and of course supported in good faith bying only his country for more than thirty years, all the members of the committee; but we have and he preferred to continue with the humbler found that it is impossible to have it done. The title, so I am assured, rather than have another Senate entertain a different opinion; and the title which might subject him to the vicissitudes committee are not only now aware that in their of our politics. Now, if we should carry out judgment at least an additional compensation the idea of the Senator from Iowa, which I should be given to Mr. Hunter, but that the know he presents in good faith, we know not Senate almost universally concur in that opinthat Mr. Hunter would not at the close of this ion. I submit, therefore, to my friend from In- Administration be ejected, with others in a diana whether it is actually just, because he is similar situation. I wish to give him this comunable to compensate all the clerks of the De- pliment now in his declining years and to assure partment, to refuse to compensate one as to to him a position from which according to the whose services we all concur and in whose in- course of things under our Government he will creased compensation we all unite. not be ejected. I wish to give him something which shall be an assurance of the future.
I agree with him that they are very badly paid, and I have often been surprised at their being able to live at all with the salaries they receive, not merely in the Department of State but the clerks in the Departments generally. I think it very bad policy to keep them in the service of the country at a rate of compensation evidently not adequate to their support. It appears to me to present temptations that they may be unable to resist. I have no reason to suppose that they have not been able to resist them; but I think it is bad policy to have in the employ of the Government, particularly in the Treasury Department, officers of this description who have very much to do with the actual administration of the finances of the country, upon salaries which are certainly inadequate to support even any one of them who may be without a family; and how they live as some of them do, with families consisting of a wife and sev eral children, how they even manage to feed them, much less to educate them, has always been a mystery to me. I would therefore unite most cordially with the honorable member from Indiana in having them all increased; but that we are not able to accomplish now. I hope he will permit us at least, and those who think with him that the chief clerk of this particular Department is not paid enough looking to his long and faithful service, to adopt this amendment which gives him a rate of compensation by no means exaggerated.
Mr. FESSENDEN. I shall vote against this
Mr. GRIMES. I ask for the yeas and nays on the amendment.
But my objection is twofold. I stated it frankly to the honorable Senator. I do not like it on this bill. To be sure, there is a provision on this bill which looks something like it, but that was put on in the other House, and we did not see fit to strike it out, it being here, because we did not want to differ with the House of Representatives on that subject. But that does not, to my mind, justify putting on another incongruous provision. I think the proper place for a provision creating a new civil office, and providing a salary for it, is on the legislative and executive appropriation bill, which is now on our tables and will be taken up by and by.
In the second place, I do not like the idea of naming a particular individual in this way, although it might have the effect the honorable Senator supposes. To name him personally, and give him the additional compensation as chief clerk, would be productive of the evils which are spoken of. I would rather make for him something in the nature of a permanent position, as suggested by the Senator from Iowa. That he ought to have an increase of salary, from his very long services and his position in the Department, acting, as he does very frequently, as Secretary of State, I am entirely satisfied; and that I should be willing to vote for; but in the position in which the honorable Senator from Massachusetts has seen fit to place the proposition, it cannot receive my vote, although I do not feel disposed to make any active and strenuous opposition to it.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
Mr. GRIMES. I desire to say that I am perfectly content to pay Mr. Hunter $3,500, and if the Senator from Massachusetts will put || his proposition in such a shape that I can consistently do so, I will vote for it with great pleasure. We all know the services Mr. Hunter has rendered to the country in that Department. I believe that it would be well to have a second Assistant Secretary of State there; and if the Senator from Massachusetts will put his amendment in that shape I will vote for it most cheerfully; but this idea of singling out Mr. Hunter as the only clerk in all the Departments of the Government who is to receive an additional compensation is invidious, unkind to the rest of the clerks, and will be attended with very bad consequences, I think, in the future. I can see very well how we are going to be annoyed, when other appropriation bills come up, with clerks, friends of ours, who will come here and be constantly importuning to have themselves named, and then we shall have a personal discussion upon the merits and qualifications of each one of those clerks whose name may be suggested by a member from his State or by a member of the Senate who may be interested in him.
Mr. SUMNER. There is an easy answer to my friend from Iowa, and if I can have his
Mr. SUMNER. Do I understand that the Senator would be for a proposition to make him Assistant Secretary?
Mr. FESSENDEN. Not on this bill.
Mr. FESSENDEN. I admit that.
Mr. GUTHRIE. The chief clerk of this Department, I have no doubt, is very essential to the office, and no new Secretary would like to undertake the business without the information possessed by him, or by some one who had been for some time in the office, and had taken some pains to understand the business. This gentleman knows more about our relations with all the Governments of the world than any other individual in the State Department. He has been there a very long time; he has frequently discharged the duties of Secretary of State, and he is very inadequately paid. I confess that I thought, when the place of Assistant Secretary of State was created, it should have been offered to him, and he should have had the additional compensation which that place would have given him. I am in favor, however, of giving him additional compensation in some form, because it is a real necessity at the present time. If gentlemen can put the proposition in any more appropriate form than that in which it is now presented, I shall be glad, because I feel constrained, knowing this individual and his essential services to the Government, to vote for an increase.
Mr. TRUMBULL. Very well.
Mr. FESSENDEN. I move in line ninetynine of section one to insert the word "five" after "twenty" and before "thousand;" so as to make the gross, appropriation for salaries of consuls general, consuls, and commercial agents. $425,000. We have provided for some new salaried officers here, and it may be well therefore to add $5,000 to the appropriation. The amendment was agreed to.
Mr. TRUMBULL. I now move to strike out section two of the bill.
Mr. SUMNER. I hope the Senator will allow me to finish my amendment.
Attorney General, and the Solicitor in the Treasury Department was appointed merely to attend to the collection of claims, and there may be a propriety for such an officer there. But during the war the War Department had a Solicitor attached to that Department, and so also had the Navy Department. The Post Office Department has now a Solicitor, and a bill is pending, I think, to give an Assistant Solicitor to the Treasury Department.
Mr. GRIMES. The office of Solicitor of the Navy Department expires with the war or within one year thereafter.
Mr. TRUMBULL. I was not aware of that limitation. This is a provision now to establish a Solicitor in the State Department. In my opposition to it I am governed entirely by general considerations. I think that the Attorney General's Department should be an independent Department of the Government, and the construction of the laws to govern all the Executive Departments, the Interior, the Treasury, the War, the Post Office, the State, the Navy, should be the same and should come from the Attorney General's office. If the Attorney General has not now sufficient force in his office give him one, two, or half a dozen assistants, I care not how many, so that the public service requires them, and let one of those assistants, if you please, attend to business that peculiarly pertains to the War Department, or pertains to the State Department. By having them all together and all under one head you will have one construction of the laws. That is not the case now. A member of the Senate stated to me the other day-I think the Senator from Nevada; some Senator, I know that he had been around from one Department to another and had found conflicting constructions of statutes which subjected parties doing business with the Government to a great deal of difficulty, expense, and uncertainty. This ought not to be. There should be a head to the Law Department of the Government as well as to every other.
I will state here that I have had some consultation with the Attorney General on this subject, and that a bill can be prepared which shall place this whole matter under one head. I think it very improper to be making a Solicitor for each one of the Departments. If we are to go on with that system we might as well abolish the Attorney General's office; we do not need it at all. Instead of doing this, let us increase the force of the Attorney General's office as much as may be necessary to give all the advice that is needed in the construction of laws to the various Departments.
Mr. TRUMBULL. It is not a matter of much importance, but it is very manifest that the Senator from Massachusetts, unless he is the committee himself, cannot make these motions from any committee. He has not charge of the bill.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on the amendment of the Senator from Illinois. That Senator moves to strike out section two. The section will be read.
The Secretary read section two, as amended, as follows:
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the President be, and he is hereby, authorized to appoint, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, an officer in the Department of State to be called Solicitor to the Department of State, at an annual salary of $3,000, to commence on the 1st day of July, 1866; and the amount necessary to pay the same is hereby appropriated.
Mr. TRUMBULL. In making this motion, I am not governed by any considerations of objection to having a law officer for the State Department, if one be necessary; and I am not prepared to say that it may not be necessary to have advice in connection with that Department; but the question which influences me is this: before the war the Law Department of the Government was the Attorney General's Department, and all the other Departmentsthe State, the War, the Navy, the Post Office, the Interior-whenever a question arose about which there was a doubt in the construction of a law, referred that question to the Attorney General's office. There was an exception, I think, in the case of the Treasury Department, which has had a Solicitor for some years, and perhaps it is necessary that there should be a Solicitor in the Treasury Department, not for the purpose of advising that Department as to the construction of laws, but for the purpose of aiding in the collection of claims.
I would not interfere with the Solicitor of the Treasury Department because, as was stated by the Senator from Maryland, he is not placed there for the purpose of construing statutes and fixing the rules by which the Departments of the Government are to be governed, but rather to attend to the collection of claims, and that Department may need such an officer. I suppose, from the fact that the office was established there a long time ago, that it is necessary; but the Government having for eighty years been able to get along without a Solicitor in the State Department, and having been able to get along through the war without such an officer, it can, I think, continue to get along without such an officer now, if there is a law officer to whom the State Department can apply for the construction of laws applicable to that Department. I hope the Senate will consent to strike out this second section, and let us have some uniform rule in reference to these Departments.
Mr. FESSENDEN. I hold in my hand a letter from the Secretary of State on this subwhich I will read:
Mr. JOHNSON. The Solicitor of the Treasury was appointed for the very purpose of super-ject, intending the prosecution of suits or the defense of suits in which the Treasury was concerned; but when the Secretary desired any opinion he always consulted the Attorney General.
Mr. TRUMBULL. So I supposed; whenever a legal opinion was desired by the Secretary of the Treasury, it was obtained from the
DEPARTMENT OF STATE. WASHINGTON, February 6, 1866.
SIR: The great number of claims of citizens of the United States on foreign Governments and of the citizens and subjects of foreign countries on this Government growing out of the late civil war and the importance of the principles involved in them, make it indispensable, in my judgment, that the head of
this Department should have the assistance of a professional gentleman properly to dispose of those subjects. To that end I recommend that an appropriation be inserted in the civil and diplomatic appropriation bill of $3,000 for the compensation at that rate by the year of an officer to be called the Solicitor to the Department of State.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant, WILLIAM II. SEWARD. Hon. WILLIAM P. FESSENDEN, Senate.
The recommendation of the Secretary, it will be observed, is that it be inserted in the civil and diplomatic appropriation bill. There is no such appropriation bill at present. There is the legislative, executive, and judicial bill, and the diplomatic and consular bill. In for mer times, there was but one bill entitled as the Secretary has stated.
I differ with the honorable Senator from Illinois on this subject. I do not see the propriety of making so large an establishment of the Attorney General's office. With regard to the Treasury Department, my experience satisfied me that they could not get along there at all without a Solicitor. Questions are arising every day upon which you must have an immediate decision, and the officer to examine the papers and give the decisions should be. an officer who is subject to the control and under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury. He cannot send questions that arise there, involving the examination of papers to see what the statutes are on the particular subject, to the Attorney General's office and wait until the Attorney General, or somebody under his direction, is in a condition to advise him with reference to it. The office of Solicitor of the Treasury Department has existed now for over twenty years, and the business of the Solicitor is now very large. It is true it may originally have been the case that he was appointed merely to look after claims, although I am inclined to think that is not so; it has not been so within my recollection; but the business he has to do now is multiform. There is a great variety of questions arising every day for the Secretary to decide, upon which he wants to know what the law is, and know it immediately, and it is impossible for him to examine them, and he sends them to the Solicitor to have an immediate opinion. The Solicitor lays aside other business which can be disposed of afterward, and attends to the directions of the Secretary of the Treasury. I am satisfied that that officer is indispensable.
I can understand from the letter of the Secretary of State why at the present time he needs this officer, and why he has not needed him before. During the war, claims were not presented to any considerable extent to that Department; before the war there were none; but he says very properly, and we can understand it, that out of the war have grown many claims of for eigners upon our Goverment, and of our citizens upon foreign Governments. Those must be undoubtedly attended to through communications made by the Secretary of State. He is the person to communicate with foreign Governments upon all these subjects; and with the variety of matters arising there it is impossible for him to examine these questions personally. I have no doubt about it. The duties which he is called upon to perform in the ordinary course of correspondence, &c., are enough to occupy all his time.
Now, then, there being this large number of claims there at the present time, he must have an opinion, upon those claims, of somebody else, which he can understand and appreciate, or else he must examine them himself and form his own opinion. He cannot examine them himself. They are peculiar to and ap propriate to his office, and he would be exposed to a great deal of inconvenience if he were obliged to send every claim that comes from foreign Governments or from foreigners, or from our citizens upon foreign Governments, to the Attorney General's office, to an officer not under his control or direction, to be examined, and a report made by the Attorney General; and as the answer must be made by the Attorney General himself, it would lay a very
considerably increased burden upon him. To be sure, as the Senator from Illinois says, you may make the Attorney General's office as large as he states it, with half a dozen Assistant Attorneys General, and they may be divided, one for the Treasury Department, one for the State Department, and one for every other Department, if needed. How far they will be needed for other Departments I do not know; but my own belief is that the same rule would apply to the State Department, with reference to these classes of claims, that applies to the Treasury Department. I am satisfied that no Secretary of the Treasury, with the business that is to be done there, the great variety of cases that arise in regard to which he must During the war, owing to circumstances of have the statutes examined, and have an opin-which we are all aware, Congress authorized ion upon which he can act, which he cannot the appointment of a Solicitor to the War Dedo himself, could get along if he was obliged partment, and I believe the country has not to send all that current business out of his complained of that appointment. There seemed office to get an opinion of somebody else, at to be a necessity for the employment of such his own convenience, and subject to the inter- an officer owing to the great multiplicity of ruptions of others. He must have it at the questions that arose during the war and the instant; and, to a certain extent, the same pressing necessity of an immediate decision must be true of the Secretary of State as re- upon them from time to time. I think that gards all these questions directly before him. necessity at present has ceased, and I think we The officer to look up the information to be may dispense with the services of the Solicitor stated to him should, in my judgment, be an of the War Department without injury to the officer under his control and direction, and public service. should do what he wants done at the time he But, sir, the questions which ordinarily and wants it done, and he ought not to be sub-naturally come before the Secretary of State jected to another Department to get the infor- are of a character on which, it seems to me, it mation required. That is my belier with regard is necessary there should be a decision of the to it; and I shall be opposed altogether to highest law officer of the Government. In that changing our system, which has worked ex- Department are considered from time to time ceedingly well in the Treasury Department, if questions of international law of the gravest it is proposed to make a new arrangement of and highest importance-questions which of the law, as suggested by the honorable Senator all others deserve to be submitted to the calm from Illinois. consideration of the Attorney General, and ought not to be left, in my judgment, to the decision of any inferior law officer. Questions respecting the true construction to be given to treaties, indeed all questions that relate to international law, must naturally come before the Attorney General of the United States; and I object to submitting those questions, or any of them, to an inferior law officer without the concurrence of the Attorney General of the United States. I see no necessity, I must confess, for placing a Solicitor under the control of the Secretary of State. If any question of importance arises in that Department, the Attorney General is the proper functionary to determine it for the Government. He, and he alone, ought to be held responsible for the decision of the question, in case the Secretary of State should deem it necessary to take his opinion. It seems to me the creation of this office of Solicitor to the State Department is entirely an anomaly ; it is without necessity so far as I can see, and I shall vote to strike out the second section for that reason.
of the second section of this bill, and the appointment of a Solicitor under it.
Owing to the complicated nature of the Treasury Department, Congress, many years ago, saw fit to create the office of Solicitor of the Treasury. I have heard no complaint, it is true, of that; still, it has always appeared to me that the most consistent course would have been to confide all questions of law that arise even in that Department to the Attorney General, so that his decisions may be uniform, and so that his construction of the various acts of Congress may be uniform, and be understood to be uniform throughout the United States.
So in the War Department. During the war the Secretary of War could hardly have got along if he had been obliged to send all these questions out of his Department to the Attorney General-everything that arose there to be taken up and decided-and receive the information required when the business of the Attor ney General's office would allow it to be done. I am very unwilling, when a system has been found to be a good one in its operations. for the sake of symmetry merely, or what would || be supposed to be symmetry-because it goes no further than that to change that whole system and enlarge the Attorney General's office. I think that each Department should be independent, so far as the current business is concerned. To be sure, every Secretary is entitled to the opinion of the Attorney General. My practice was, when an important matter arose upon which I wished very particular to rid myself of responsibility, to pass it over to somebody else, to get the opinion of the Attorney General; but, as a general rule, I think it would be better that the ordinary current business and responsibility should be left with the Department where the question arises. I there fore, for these reasons, am opposed to the proposition of the honorable Senator from Illinois, and think it would not be wise to adopt it.
Mr. HOWARD. I concur entirely with the honorable Senator from Illinois in the views which he has presented to the Senate in favor of striking out the second section of the bill. I doubt very much the propriety of multiplying the subordinate law officers in the various Departments of the Government. It leads undoubtedly to a diversity of decision and opinion in those various Departments, whereas it is necessary that there should be harmony and uniformity in the construction given to the laws during the course of their administration. It is made the duty of the Attorney General, by law, to give advice and legal opinions to the varions heads of Departments and to the Presi dent of the United States whenever he is called upon to do so; and although we may appoint a Solicitor for the Department of State, it will still be the right of the Secretary of State to call upon the Attorney General for his opinion upon any question that he may see fit to submit to him; so that the duty of the Attorney General is by no means lighter by the retention 39TH CONG. 1ST SESS.-No. 166.
I do not see the necessity of giving the Secretary of State a Solicitor to act under his especial instructions and control. It is generally supposed that the Secretary of State is, or should be, a gentleman of such intelligence and such information as to make it unnecessary to refer ordinary questions of law to the Attorney General; that he is competent himself to decide most of the questions which come before him; and I think undoubtedly that is true in the case of the present Secretary of State. I do not see the necessity, as I remarked before, of creating another office to accommodate some favorite, under the control and direction of the Secretary of State, and I shall vote against it. Mr. SUMNER. After the very full and accurate statement made by the Senator from Maine, I should deem anything from me superfluous had it not so happened that my attention was drawn at least three years ago to this very question. It is fully three years ago that I received a communication from the Secretary of State similar to the one which the Senator from Maine has read to-day, and from that time to the present my attention has been drawn to the necessity of this office. It has often been the subject of conversation when I have been at the Department of State. Imade myself, at least three years ago, acquainted
with what I might call the necessity of such an office there. Senators all recognized the necessity of such an office during the war in the War Department; and my friend from Michigan, I think, voted for it. I thought at the time there was an equal necessity for the office in the State Department growing out of the new condition of things, carrying with it a class of business for the consideration of that Department which it had never had before.
That brings me to the precise point which has been presented by the Senator from Illinois, and afterward by the Senator from Michigan, that this office is not necessary in the . Department of State; and they proceeded to argue that whatever in the way of legal opinion may be required in the Department of State should be referred to the Attorney General. It seems to me that my friends, when they press that argument, do not take into consideration the precise nature of the business which it is proposed to submit to a Solicitor in the State Department. If it were what perhaps may be compendiously called the great business or the great questions of law that may arise in that Department, I should agree with both of those Senators, that it would be advisable that they should be submitted in the most solemn form possible to the highest law officer of the Government. Probably if such questions should arise in the Department of State, requiring any legal opinion, they would be so submitted. But, as I understand it, the necessity which it is proposed to meet now is of entirely a different character. It refers to matters of what I may almost call current business, occurring, if not daily, at least weekly, on which the Department must express its opinion. For the most part, this business grows out of claims, first, by our citizens on foreign Governments, and secondly, by the subjects of foreign Gov. ernments on our Government.
Now, for instance, to take the first class, the claims of our citizens on foreign Governments; we all know that there is a large class of claims growing out of the depredations of the Ala bama and other cruisers that have sailed out of British ports, amounting to millions of dollars. Before these claims can be presented to the British Government they must be reduced to some form. They should at least undergo some consideration on the part of some functionary of our Government to the end that we should not put forward mere shadows. Our Government owes it to itself to ascertain that the claims have a certain validity, at least in form. How can that be done? As I understand it, only through some legal officer, some person familiar with that business, who can attend to it specially, and in whom the Secre tary of State can rely. It may be said that the Secretary of State can attend to it himself. How so? Absorbed in correspondence of a political character, or of a diplomatic character with foreign Powers, he can have no time to enter into the duties of a solicitor or of an attorney to grind out a claim and reduce it to form in order that it shall be properly presented to a foreign Power. That is a service which ought to be rendered in the Department, under his eye, by some person in whom he has adequate confidence.
That is one side of the case-claims of our citizens on foreign Governments. Then comes the other side-claims of foreign Governments on ours. The relations which I bear to the business of the Senate have made me perfectly familiar with that class of business. It is within my personal knowledge that but few of the Governments of Europe at this moment have not very large claims on our Government, growing out of the recent rebellion. nothing of the validity of the claims. Suffice it to say that they are presented. Those claims are entitled at least to a respectful consideration; they should be entertained to a certain extent, so that when our Government passes upon them, they may at least have a reasonable degree of knowledge with reference to them. But can the Secretary of State obtain that reasonable degree of knowledge? For
question here is not whether you will have them sent out to another Department, but whether you will have an officer of a higher grade and of more intelligence-a man whom you cannot get for $1,800, the salary of a fourthclass clerk-to advise the Secretary as to the facts on these questions. They cannot send these papers out of the Department. If they were required to be sent to the Attorney General's office they would lumber up that office to such an extent that you would require a new building entirely for his Department, with the number of papers that would come into his possession, and it would lead, in my judgment, from the little observation I have had, to infinite delay and infinite confusion in the Departments. That is what I think about it. The real question is, not whether you will send them to the Attorney General-for that is impossible; you cannot send the business of other Departments there-but whether these questions, the infinity of them that now arise, growing out of the war and claims on both sides, are of importance enough to allow the Secretary an officer, with the pay of $3,000, an officer of a higher class than he is at present able to employ. That is the simple question; because, to attempt to carry out the idea of the Senator from Illinois on the subject would, in my judgment, be an entire failure, and must necessarily be so.
Mr. TRUMBULL. How could it be a failure when this Government has been carried on in that way always uutil 1860?
Mr. FESSENDEN. It has not been carried on in that way.
Mr. TRUMBULL. There had been no Solicitor in any Department except the Treasury before 1860.
instance, there are claims at this moment presented by the minister of Prussia, and I understand that the subjects of the claims are scattered throughout the whole country. Can the Secretary of State himself, by his own study, qualify himself to deal with those claims? Then there is another set of claims presented. which also comes within my own knowledge personally, by the minister of the Hanse Towns, and the subjects of those claims are scattered also throughout the whole surface of our country. Must not the Secretary of State be aided by some professional person in the first audit of those claims? I submit clearly that he must. I might go through, also, with other nations, and show you the constant recurring necessity of such an officer in aid of the Department of State.
I submit, therefore, that my learned friends, when they would transfer this duty to the Attorney General, do not conceive adequately || what it is. They imagine that we propose this officer merely to decide on what I have already called great questions of jurisprudence; but it is no such thing. Such questions would naturally go to the Attorney General; but the business which the officer it is now proposed to establish must consider, would not, in the ordinary course of things, go to the Attorney General. The Department of State could not be conducted on that system. It must be handled at home; and to that end, I agree that an officer to be called a Solicitor should be appointed there; who should be in the Department, always within call and ready to give his counsel and aid and diligence to the Secretary
Mr. FESSENDEN. I wish to add also that Senators, I think, misapprehend the question, from a want of familiarity with the business which is transacted at the Departments. Take, for instance, the Treasury. A question comes up for the Secretary to decide under the statute. He must decide it under the statute. That is a matter of business occurring every day. There are more or less of them. Then some question comes up and he is not exactly familiar with the application of the law to the facts; there is some doubt about it; it is not clear; and yet it is before him for decision. Now, what used to be the way of doing that? He had some clerk in the Department who had some legal knowledge. He would at once pass it over to that clerk to examine the case, and state what the law was and the sections of the law. It is the business in his own Department; he cannot send out the paper to be examined by another Department, to get a formal opinion on the subject. There is no time for it, and no necessity for it. In view of that, and of the inconvenience arising there, it was found necessary to have an officer of a higher grade than a mere clerk, whose opinions would be better than you were likely to get from a man receiving a small salary serving there, although he might be a creditable lawyer. For that reason the office of Solicitor was established.
Now, it comes to the same thing in the Department of State. Strike this section out, and what would the Secretary of State be obliged to do? He must pick out some clerk in his Department to do this work, and to report on the cases to him. That will be the amount of it. But on account of the war there is a great variety of these questions that require something better than the opinion he could get from a clerk upon the subject. He wants an officer of a higher grade, to be continually at his hand, to state the facts and the questions of law arising out of each case. The idea that all these papers, this infinite variety of claims and subjects in each Department, must be sent out of that Department to another-every-day business-to be examined, would create infinite confusion. It could not be done, and would not be done.
Mr. HOWARD. It has been done for about eighty years past.
Mr. FESSENDEN. I say it has always gone on inside of the Department; and the
Mr. FESSENDEN. I will tell you how it has been carried on. Great questions, as the Senator supposes, arising in the Treasury Department, are sent to the Attorney General for an opinion. That has always been done; that will be done now; but I tell him there are hundreds of questions coming up from day to day in the Departments that you never think of sending out of the Department, and which could not be sent out of the Department without making confusion in the business of the Department. You cannot do it in the way the Senator proposes; it would not be done; and the only question is, whether you will have an officer of a higher grade to attend to these matters or not. There has not been a necessity for such an officer in the Department of State until at present. But the Senator must see that there will be a very large number of these claims. The Secretary of State has been able hitherto, from the very little business to be done in the Department, to attend to those questions and examine them himself. He would only receive one occasionally. Now they come in in very large numbers. That is the difference.
Mr. TRUMBULL. I never contemplated that every question in regard to the settlement of a claim and every question in regard to what a statute was, was to be sent out of the Department. I never supposed that. I supposed that the Government would be conducted just as it had always been conducted up to 1860; that when the question involved was the construction of a statute of general importance, about which there was a dispute, it would be referred to the law officer of the Government, and that construction would govern the Secretary of the Interior as well as the Secretary of War. But how is it now? Why, sir, the district attorneys in the United States are receiving instructions one way from one Department and another way from another Department; and what are they to do? I have had a letter within a few days from the district attorney for the northern district of New York-I believe it is in my committee-room now-in which he says he has had one sort of instructions from the Attorney General and conducted his business one way under those instructions, and that now he ascertains that the suit which he was conducting in the court is taken out of his hands by an instruction
from one of the Departments of the Govern
Mr. GRIMES. What Department was it? Mr. TRUMBULL. That came from the Treasury. The case was connected, in some way, with the revenue. He was prosecuting the suit; and he writes me that the suit had been settled for three weeks, and he knew nothing about it, without the knowledge of the court or anybody else-a case pending in court. Mr. FESSENDEN. Very likely, and very properly.
Mr. TRUMBULL. No, not very properly. Surely the Senator from Maine does not mean that there should be that want of harmony between the different Departments of the Government. He does not mean that when he, as an attorney, is prosecuting a suit, his client, or anybody else should settle that suit without giving him notice.
Mr. FESSENDEN. Ifit is within the power and jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Treasury to adjust it, it is very proper that he should adjust it.
Mr. TRUMBULL. If he did adjust it he should not do it in that way. I know the Sen ator would not like a client of his to do that if he was attending to a suit for a private party in a court.
Mr. FESSENDEN Let me say to the hon. orable Senator from Illinois that the business of the Treasury Department is not conducted exactly as he used to conduct his law office in the State of Illinois. That is the difference between the two cases. One is a little larger than the other, and involves other questions.
Mr. TRUMBULL. Undoubtedly; but I sup pose we may illustrate great things by small ones.
Mr. FESSENDEN. Not always.
Mr. TRUMBULL. It is not an improper illustration, I think, when speaking of a prac tice which prevails, where an officer of the Government is charged with a duty and is in the exercise of that duty, and he finds that another Department of the Government, without any notice to him, has disposed of the business which is intrusted to him. I know very well the Senator from Maine does not think that proper, because the district attorney might be putting the Government to expense by sum moning witnesses and preparing to try a case in court which had been disposed of without his knowledge. That should not be. That is a small matter, the Senator says. I only men. tion it by way of illustration.
Now, I do not propose that every question that arises in the Departments is to be sent to the Attorney General's office for a legal opinion. I never contemplated any such thing as that. That was not the practice of the Gov ernment during the first seventy years of its existence. Until 1860 no such thing as a Solicitor in the various Departments of the Government was known, with the single excep tion of the Treasury Department. Since then we have been multiplying these officers. Now, if you will notice the letter of the Secretary of State, it is not simply in regard to claims that he desires to have a Solicitor appointed in his Department, but he says that important prin ciples of law are to be settled, international principles. If international principles of law are to be settled, they should not be submitted to a Solicitor employed in one of the Depart ments of the Government, but they ought to go to the head of some Department. They are the most important questions that can be settled, and may involve the honor and faith of
Mr. FESSENDEN. They go to the head of the State Department.
Mr. TRUMBULL. Very well. In England of the Crown are taken when great questions we know that the opinions of the law officers of international importance are involved of a legal character, and I apprehend so here. It ought to be so here.
Mr. SUMNER. But in the British Foreign Office there is a person whose particular duty it is to grind out these particular classes of