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CHARGES PREFERRED BY MR. J. S. TEMPLE AGAINST THOMAS P. CHENEY, SUPERINTENDENT RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE, NEW ENGLAND.
I charge Thomas P. Cheney, superintendent of the railway mail service, first division, with procuring for Albert T. Stahl, chief clerk of the same division of the railway mail service, a leave of absence, with pay, for a term of four months, more or less, with the full knowledge that the said Stahl was to employ the said leave of absence and the said pay in the prosecution of the study of medicine at Bowdoin College, Maine.
Also, that at the expiration of the said leave of absence, the said Cheney granted to the said Stahl an additional month's leave of absence on his own responsibility, the same being without the knowledge or consent of the department, in whom only the power to grant leave of absence exists.
At the expiration of the illegal leave of absence, the said Stahl left Bowdoin College and proceeded to Leominster, Mass., where he located himself as a medical practitioner, he having in the said time obtained a diploma.
Daring the first and legal leave of absence, which was granted with the full understanding that the said Stahl should furnish a substitute to perform his duties in the said department at his own expense, he, the said Stahl, was regularly continued on the pay-roll of the department at an annual salary of $1,400, while, with the full knowledge and consent of the said Cheney, the said Stahl procured a substitute in the person of one Harrington, to whom he paid the sum of $50 per month.
Immediately after the departure of the said Stahl, consequent on his said legal leave of absence, the said substitute, Harrington, was assigned to duty on a postal car running on the Boston and Albany Railroad in the capacity of and doing the labor of a third clerk, which is the lowest grade in the service.
The office thus being deprived of its chief clerk by a leave of absence, with pay, to enable the incumbent to prosecute the study of medicine, at the expense of the government, with the full knowledge of and the connivance of the said Cheney, and the acceptance by the said Cheney of an utter incompetent, and said incompetent having been assigned to duty in an entirely subordinate position by the said Cheney, and out. side the office, it became necessary to find some means of practically filling the office of chief clerk of the railway mail service, and one George S. Blunt, then chief clerk of Boston and Albany railway post-office, was ordered to assume the said duties in addition to those of his already-existing office, which he, the said Blunt, having before him the fear of dismissal, did assume and perform, without additional compensation. At the expiration of the said legal leave of absence of the said Stahl the said substitute, Harrington, was relieved from his duties on the car of the Boston and Albany railway post-office and his services dispensed with; and during the ensuing month that the said Stahl was absent on the sole authority of the said Cheney the said Blunt was still forced to perform the labors and duties of the said Stahl without compensation, although the said Stahl was still carried on the pay-roll of the department and drew his full pay; although publicly located and established as a medical practitioner at Leominster, Mass., a distance of forty-five miles, more or less, from the Boston post
For this month that the said Stahl was illegally absent from his duties, and during which time the said Blunt was compelled by the said Cheney to perform the duties and labors of the said Stahl without additional compensation, and for which time the said Stahl, by the connivance and with the full knowledge of the said Cheney, drew and received from the department the sum of $120, more or less, the said Stahl was establishing and did establish himself as a medical practitioner in the said Leominster; and I charge that the said Cheney must be considered to be either negligent in bis duties in not informing the paymaster of the absence of the said Stahl and his not being entitled to draw and receive the said $120, or to be considered a corrupt and dishonest official in conniving at the drawing and receiving by the said Stahl of the said
I locate September, A. D. 1875, as the said illegal month.
The said Stahl having, connivance of the said Cheney, drawn and received from the department the sum of $120, more or less, for services" as aforesaid," he then, through the direct aid and influence of the said Cheney, obtained from the department leave of absence, with pay, for an additional month. And at even date thereof he wrote or caused to be written his official resignation, to take effect on the 1st day of November next ensuing, and signed the same, and gave it to the said Cheney.
on or about the 1st day of October, A. D. 1875, through the
Thus we charge the said Cheney with obtaining for the said Stahl a leave of ab
sence, with pay, from on or about the 22d day of March, 1875, for the term of four months, more or less, on the condition that the said Stall should furnish a substitute; that a competent substitute was not furnished, and that the said Cheney knowingly accepted an incompetent, and compelled one George S. Blunt to perform without compensation there for the services for which the said Stahl was being paid for rendering, which could only have been done by the direct connivance or the utter negligence of the said Cheney.
That the said substitute furnished by the said Stahl and accepted by the said Cheney was totally an incompetent, and retained by the said Cheney while knowing him to be such.
That the said Cheney received the written resignation of the said Stahl on or about the 1st day of October, 1875, the same to take effect the 1st day of November next ensuing, and, with that in his possession and knowing its contents, permitted the said Stabil to absent himself from his duties, and to practice medicine in the said Leominster, and, either by direct connivance with, or culpable negligence, permitted, sanctioned, and authorized the said Stahl to again defraud the government by drawing and receiving full pay for services not rendered either by person or proxy.
In proof of the foregoing I submit the following-named persons as witnesses: David A. Holmes, superintendent of mails, Boston post-office; Henry Adams, cashier of Boston post-office; J. B. Backup, head clerk, railway mail service; G. S. Blunt, superintendent of letter-carriers; A. T. Stahl, M. D., Leominster, Mass.; J. S. Temple, 415 Washington street, Boston; and in regard to the legal and illegal leave of absence, I refer to the records of the department, also to B. H. Camp, special agent Post-Office Department.
Again, I charge the said Cheney with, on or about the month of September, 1875, having obtained from the cashier of the Boston post-office an order on the furnishing stationer to the Boston post-office for sundry articles of stationery, professedly for the use of the said Cheney's office; but of which articles the said Cheney presented to the said Stahl, as a personal gift, an inkstand. In proof of which I submit as witnesses: A. T. Stahl, M. D., Leominster, Mass.; George S. Blunt, superintendent of lettercarriers; J. F. Jefferds, J. B. Backup.
Again, I charge the said Cheney with the gross violation of the rules of the PostOffice Department, to wit: the soliciting from his immediate subordinates of contributions for the purpose of presentation, or for the purchase of testimonials for presentation to superior officers; in that he caused to be printed and circulated a circular, under date of February 25, 1876, and over his name, calling for contributions for the purchase of a testimonial to be presented to the late Col. George S. Bangs, then resigning the position of general superintendent of railway mail service of the United States.
And also to incorporate in this charge plain proofs of the said Cheney's maladministration of office, in that, during the month of November, 1875, he learned that his subordinates were collecting, by voluntary subscriptions, a sum of money with which to purchase a testimonial for presentation to a then resigning comrade. Immediately upon becoming informed of the said intention of his subordinates, he sent an autograph letter to J. S. Temple, then head clerk railway mail service, who was receiving said contributions, in which he emphatically condemned the same, and expressed himself as considering it as his duty to the service to disapprove of. In consequence of the decided language in said letter (which find annexed and scheduled A), the purpose of presenting said testimonial was abandoned, and all contributions were returned by the said Temple to the donors.
Under date of February 25 next ensuing, only four months later, the said Cheney caused to be circulated over his signature an appeal for contributions for the purchase of the aforesaid testimonial to the said Col. George S. Bangs. Within a few days from the date of the issuing of the said circular by the said Cheney, on the 25th day of February, 1876, as aforesaid, information was circulated among the said subordinates of the said Cheney to the effect that all necessary moneys had then been contributed by the special agents alone, and that a testimonial had been purchased and presented. Whereupon the said recipients of the appeal made by the said Cheney demurred at his levying an assessment for the purpose of purchasing a testimonial already bought and presented, it appearing evident to the said subordinates that an attempt was being made by the said Cheney to extort from them his contribution to the said testimonial. James S. Temple was at once summoned by the said Cheney, and accused of having circulated such reports among his comrades of the railway mail service as had effectually prevented their forwarding contributions in response to the circular appeal of the said Cheney. In reply to which charge, the said Temple referred the said Cheney to his (Cheney's) letter aforementioned (and hereunto annexed and scheduled A), which emphatically disapproved the collection of moneys for that purpose, and also cited to the said Cheney that, in the previous November, he (the said Cheney) had represented to him (Temple) that such appeals were contrary to the rules of the service, and that offenders were liable to censure and dismissal for so offending and violating the rules
of the department. In consequence of which replies the said Temple was summarily dismissed the service; and under date of March 18, 1876, a second circular was issued over the name of the said Cheney (which is hereunto annexed and scheduled B), in which he stated that the presentation had not been made, and that all contributions would be acceptable, no matter how small they might be, &c., and requesting that contributions should be forwarded to him (Cheeney) until April 10, 1876.
For the proof of the foregoing I name the following persons: James B. Backup, head clerk railway mail service; James S. Temple, 415 Washington street, Boston, and any other employé under said Cheney at that time; also the letter and circular annexed.
Again, I charge the said Thomas P. Cheney with defrauding the government by certifying false vouchers and drawing pay for services not rendered. The said Cheney has absented himself from his office and duty without either permission or just and reasonable cause therefor for various lengths of time, varying from one day to ten weeks at a time, his duties being performed by his subordinates as far as their ability would permit.
Official business that could be transacted only by the said Cheney would accumu late during his protracted absences to such an extent that his presence was an imperative necessity, and he would then appear for a brief visit, frequently for a few hours only, and that only in consequence of repeated letters and telegrams received at his office from Washington and forwarded and repeated to him, the said Cheney, at his farm in Ashland, N. H., where I allege and charge that be was personally engaged in the active conduct of the same for the aforementioned ranges of time, i. e., from one day to ten consecutive weeks, which time he has invariably made and signed vouchers for, certifying that he was continuously engaged in the duties of his office, thus substantiating the charge of defrauding the government.
I charge that the said Cheney has absented himself continuously from his duty each and every week, month, and year during his term of office, and that in the majority of instances or cases it can be shown that he was engaged in active employments in connection with his said farm and in other ways not official."
In proof of which I submit the names of the following persons as witnesses: General C. R. Brayton, postmaster at Providence, R. I.; James S. Temple, No. 415 Washington street; C. B. Ladd, head clerk railway mail service; D. A. Holmes, George S. Blunt, and J. B. Backup.
Again, I charge the said Thomas P. Cheney to have been and to be utterly incompetent as superintendent of railway mail service, for the various reasons as stated in my previous charges, and I respectfully submit the following names, who have been or now are in the said service, and who are from experience fully competent to judge thereof, as witnesses to his utter incompetency and to the loose and inefficient manner in which he has administered his office: General W. L. Burt, ex-postmaster of Boston; Charles Field, special agent for New England; David A. Holmes, superintendent of mails, Boston post-office; General C. R. Brayton, postmaster at Providence, R. I.; John Lewis, chief clerk, Boston post-office; General Pickett, postmaster at Worcester, Mass. ; General H. C. Lee, postmaster at Springfield, Mass.; W. S. West, head clerk Boston and Saint Albans, Vt.; James B. Backup, head clerk railway mail service, Boston; Hon. Henry Chickering, postmaster Pittsfield, Mass.; George S. Blunt, superintendent lettercarriers, Boston; B. H. Camp, special agent Post-Office Department.
I also charge the said Cheney with establishing in the State of New Hampshire postal routes for the sole purpose of making employment for personal friends and relatives at the direct and unnecessary expense of the government, and which in some instances has resulted in bringing the postal service into gross disrepute, on account of the negligent and incompetent manner in which said routes have been administered, resulting in some cases in the detention or diversion of mail matter, so that from six to eight days were consumed in the transmission of the same a distance of 30 to 40 miles on a direct mail line, and of the appointment of agents to run on special trains, where there already existed regular mails, said special trains running only five or six months in the year, although the said agents draw pay from the government for the entire year. Of these superfluous routes which the said Cheney has established, simply to reward relatives and personal friends, and which the service would be far more effective without, I name the following, and can name more in addition by an examination of the after-named witnesses: From Contoocook to Hillsborough, N. H.; from Concord to Plymouth, N. H.; from Hooksett to Pittsfield, N. H.; and that the expense entailed on the government by the said Cheney on the routes named (and that the after-named witnesses will name,) exceeds the sum of $150,000 per annum. Also, will show by the after named witnesses that he has continued his relatives on the pay-roll of the department for months at a time when they were absenting them. selves from their duties with his full knowledge and consent.
In support of the foregoing, I name as witnesses Ex-Postmaster Willard, Concord, N. H.; William Conn, Portsmouth, N. H.; William West, head clerk Boston to Saint Albans ; Samuel Hooke, chief clerk Concord post-office, N. H.
JAMES S. TEMPLE.
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS,
BOSTON, January 18, 1878. Then personally appeared the above named James S. Temple, known to me to be the person who signed the foregoing charges, and made solemn oath that the allegations in said charges contained are true. Before me, [SEAL.]
URIAH A. POLLARD,
OFFICE SUPERINTENDENT RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE,
Post-office, Boston, November 27, 1875.
FRIEND TEMPLE: I am informed that you are receiving subscriptions from some of the clerks on the Boston and Albany railway post-office with which to present Geo. with a chain. It is my duty to say that I disapprove of the matter, and I think Geo. would too. The department, I feel sure, would also disapprove it. The principle is all wrong.
Yours very truly,
DEAR SIR: In my circular of February 25, 1876, in relation to a testimonial to Col. George S. Bangs, I stated that the presentation would be made some time during the month of April. It having come to my knowledge that a report has been circulated that the presentation has already been made, and knowing that some who desired to contribute to the fund had been deterred from so doing by such report, I desire to state that the presentation has not been made, and that voluntary contributions for the object named can be forwarded to ine until the 10th day of April next. Any sum, however small, will be acceptable, representations to the contrary notwithstanding. Very respectfully, yours,
THOS. P. CHENEY.
ANSWER OF THOMAS P. CHENEY.
I, Thomas P. Cheney, respectfully submit the following answer to the charges preferred against me by James S. Temple :
I take the liberty of presenting this statement with a view of shortening the investigation and relieving the committee from the labor of drawing from witnesses facts which I have no inclination or wish to conceal, believing that I have honestly discharged my duties to the department and to the public.
In regard to the first charge in relation to Albert T. Stahl, I beg to say that Stahl had been in January, 1875, in the employ of the Post-Office Department for some ten years, of which six years had been in my department. During that time he had been for three years railway post office clerk on the Boston and New York Railway line. At that time he went the whole distance between Boston and New York, running alternate weeks, and being off alternate weeks, the same as all other clerks, no person being found able to endure continuous service on so long a route. During the time he was so engaged he had no leave of absence, and was not absent to my knowledge, but was one of the most faithful and useful clerks in my division, which is the most complicated in the whole country. The line between Boston and New York is exceptional and one of the most difficult in the United States. At the expiration of said period of about three years he was assigned to duty in my office as chief clerk, and he remained in that position down to September, 1875. His duties required daily attendance in the office, and he discharged those duties faithfully and with great ability, without any absence down to February 20, 1875.
In January, 1875, I learned from Mr. Stahl of the difficulties he had been laboring
under, caused by sickness and death in his family, of which I was already informed, and of the efforts he had been making by night studies and by improving his leisure hours to qualify himself for a professional career, and of his desire to attend medical lectures. I thereupon consulted with Mr. Bangs, superintendent of the railway mail service; informed him of the fidelity of Mr. Stahl, of his long service without absence, and of his desire to improve his condition, and advised him that in my opinion his services ought to entitle him to some consideration. I told him of Stahl's desire to attend medical lectures, and asked him if it could be done. Mr. Bangs directed me to apply for one month's leave of absence, and further directed that if I could so arrange it that his duties could be discharged without increased expense to the department by the use of a substitute, that, at the expiration of the month's leave, I might myself allow him to remain away for the remaining period required. It was thought not desirable to make a written application for the extended absence, to avoid making it a record precedent. Accordingly I made a written application on January 29, 1875, for one month's leave for Mr. Stahl, to which I received a reply granting the same, to commence February 20, 1875. Copies of said application and reply are hereto annexed, marked A and B. This leave of absence was unqualified, no substitute being required. Mr. Stabl left for Bowdoin College, with the understanding that when his month expired I should extend the time on his furnishing a substitute.
In accordance with this understanding sanctioned in advance by Mr. Bangs, Mr. Stahl in March furnished a substitute, Thomas F. Harrington. Mr. Harrington had had, I believe, some experience in a post-office and was therefore not entirely unacquainted with his duties. I assigned him to duty on the Boston and Albany railway post-office, believing that he would thus be most useful to the department, and he proved himself to be an efficient and competent clerk. I had no positive knowledge of the compensation given to him by Mr. Stahl, but presume that the statement that he was paid $50 a month is correct.
During the whole of this period the duties of Mr. Stahl were discharged by Mr. George S. Blunt, who was already in the office as chief head clerk of the Boston and Albany line. These duties were freely and willingly assumed by Mr. Blunt, and I always supposed he felt complimented by being assigned to that desk, and he so expressed himself at the time. Mr. James B. Backup, a head clerk, had been previously and was at that time detailed in my office on general work. To enable the business of the office to be properly discharged I detailed William F. Fitch to assist in the duties of the office, Mr. Fitch's place being filled by Mr. Harrington. In this way, though Mr. Blunt was discharging Mr. Stahl's duties, there were the same number of clerks in the office as before, and the same number on the road.
That it may be seen that all this was done openly and with the consent and knowledge of my superiors, I beg leave to call a tention to the fact that during the whole of this time much of the correspondence with the department was in the handwriting and over the initial signature of Mr. Blunt.
It is customary to allow meritorious employés to be absent for special reasons on their furnishing a satisfactory substitute, consent therefor being first obtained. About July 20, 1875, Mr. Stahl returned, assumed the duties of his desk and continued to discharge them till September 1, including that day. Mr. Harrington acted as substitute till Mr. Stahl's return in the latter part of July, and he was never paid by the department. August 26, 1875, Mr. Stahl resigned to take effect October 1, 1875. Believing that he was entitled to an allowance of thirty days on going out of office, I forwarded his resignation with a letter recommending such leave of absence, a copy of which is hereto annexed, marked C. To this application written consent was reeeived, which I have not been able to find. Mr. Stahl was accordingly paid to October 1, 1875, and did not afterward receive any pay from the department.
I beg leave to add, that in making this arrangement I was actuated solely by the desire to properly compensate a faithful officer for continuous meritorious service for years, making up to him the vacations to which he was fairly entitled and had not taken, and that in so doing I received no personal profit and the government suffered no loss.
In regard to the second charge of giving an inkstand to Mr. Stahl, I beg to say that I am informed by Mr. Stahl that I did give him an imperfect one, but I have no recollection of so doing.
In regard to the third charge, I beg leave to state that I did request the suspension of the collection for a testimonial to Mr. Blunt, who is here as a witness, and that I reported my action to the department, and the same was approved, as appears by the letter hereto annexed, marked D. Blant was then in the service and was merely to leave one branch for another.
I also sent the circulars marked E and F in relation to the Bangs testimonial. Before doing so, in company with the other superintendents, the opinion of the Postmaster-General was asked as to its propriety, and his sanction and approval obtained. Mr. Bangs was out of the service when the circulars were issued. All moneys received by me for this purpose were duly forwarded, and I hold a receipt for the same from the treasurer.