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Q. In what division of the Post-Office Department?-A. I do not know a thing about
Q. You could not be mistaken about this letter 1-A. I know that I received such a letter from him.
Q. Do you know his handwriting -A. I do. Q. Did you recognize the letter at the time as in his handwriting ?-A. I think so. Q. Did you offer Mr. Cheney any money to get you the place i-A. I cannot say that I did; I do not think that I did."
Q. Did you talk with Mr. Cheney about it?-A. Yes, sir; he said he would not do anything for me, or anything against me.
Q. Have you tried to be appointed a route-agent within the last few years 9-A. I do not think I have.
Q. You have not made application for a route-agency or a postal clerkship ?-A. No, I think not.
Q. You never offered any money for such a place ?-A. No, sir; I never offered anything for any place for myself in my life.
Q. What is your business in Boston 1-A. I am a real estate and business broker. Q. How much money did you get for coming ?-A. Not a dollar.
Q. What interest bad you in coming here -A. I do not know why I came here. I came here because I was summoned ; that was all I knew.
Q. You do not know on whose suggestion you were summoned 1-A. No, sir; nor did I know on what case I was summoned.
Q. To whom did you first tell the transaction about the payment of money for this Meredith post-office ?-A. It was common talk up there.
Q. Wbom did you tell about it in Boston 1-A. I spoke of it in the office of Mr. Caruthers, the man I am working for.
Q. Did you tell Mr. Temple about it?-A. No, sir; I never saw Mr. Temple until I came here.
Q. Have you any knowledge as to how the information came to the chairman of this committee that you knew something about this matter 1-A. I talked to parties there aboat it, but I have no means of knowing how the information came here.
Q. Did you talk to parties connected with this investigation ?-A. No, sir.
Q. With whom did you talk about it 1-A. I cannot tell you; I bave told you of several 9. Are you acquainted with the law in New Hampshire -A. Somewhat.
Q. Are you aware that there is a statute of New Hampshire which makes it a felony, punishable with imprisonment in the penitentiary, to bribe a voter ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you know that tbat law applies to the man who receives the money, as well as to the man who offers it 1-A. I think so.
Q. And that it also applies to the man who aids and abets in bribery-A. I think so.
Q. And yet you say that they are in the babit up there of buying voters like sheep ? A. I think that the law was made more stringent since I have had anything to do with baying voters. I have not bought voters since the spring of 1872. Q. Was that at the time that the $230 was furnished by you?-A. I think so.
Q. Since then you have reformed 7-A. I have not been in that line of business; I have not been very active in politics since then.
Q. Has the law making your action a penitentiary offense and a felony been passed since 18721-A. There may bave been a law existing at that time, but not so stringent as at present. There was a more stringent law passed since.
Q. And now you come here and tell this committee, coolly and deliberately, that in 1872 you were guilty of a felony in the State of New Hampshire -A. I was guilty of making a trade with voters for their votes. I never paid them a dollar,
Q. But you were accessory to it?-A. Certainly I was.
Q. The law, if enforced, reached you as well as the other party 1-A, I suppose so.
Q. I believe that the same punisLinept exists in the State of New Hampshire for the felony of bribing a voter as exists for perjury ?-A. I cannot say. I am not very unch posted about the laws.
&. I am asking, as a matter of fact, whether you know that that is so or not l-A. I cannot say,
Q. Do you know what the penalty for perjury is in the State of New Hampshire ? A. No, sir, I am not posted in law at all.
Q. Do you make any difference as to the morality of the offense between perjury and the bribery of voters 1-A. I do think there is a good deal of difference. I think there is nothing morally wrong in asking a man to vote as I want him to vote.
Q. And paying him money 1-A. I did not pay voters money.
Q. By soliciting them, and having others pay them !--A. I do not see anything particularly immoral about it. I bave no conscientious scruples abont it.
Q. You had not then and have not now 1-A. No, sir.
By Mr. CALDWELL: Q. Have you changed your views about that since you joined the democratic party! A. I do not think I have.
By Mr. WILLIAMS: Q. Did you not write a letter to Mr Temple stating that you knew something about this affair ?-A. I never wrote to Mr. Temple in my life.
Q. Did you write to any one else here in reference to this matter of Mr. Cheney's!-A. Yes, sir; I did.
Q. To whom -A. To the Postmaster, Mr. Key.
By Mr. GIDDINGS:
By Mr. WILLIAMS: Q. Was it not within six weeks 1-A. It may have been ; I do not think it was ; it was some time within six months.
Q. How did you come to write that letter!-- A. I thought it my duty to. I hadn't any personal feeling in the matter, but I thought it a duty.
Q. Which you owed to your country 1-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you write a letter to tbe editor of a paper in Massachusetts about it?-A. Not in reference to that matter. I do not know that I ever did upon any matter.
By Mr. GIDDINGS: Q. Do you know whether the Postmaster-General caused any inquiry to be made into the subject of your letter?-A. No, sir; I heard nothing about it after I wrote.
By Mr. CALDWELL: Q. Did you detail to him this particular transaction 1-A. I spoke in reference to Mr. Cheney not attending to his duties. I thought he was drawing pay from the government and not rendering any particular service for it.
Q. At the time you had this conversation with Mr. Cheney about the Meredith postoffice he was sick in bed l-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did he get up!-A. Ho sat up on end and wrote the letters to Mr. Cragin and Mr. Patterson, who were the only Republican menubers of Congress at that time from New Hampshire.
Q. Asking them to make no appointment until after the election ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. And he gave you those letters to mail?-A. Yes, sir; I think I deposited them in the post-office; that is my impression. He was not able to go to the post-office; he was sick in bed.
Q. Was he often sick !-A. I never knew him to be sick at any other time. He was troubled with boils, or carbuncles, or something of the kind.
Q. Did you ever know him to be contined to bed by nervous disorders of any sort :A. No, sir; I never did.
By Mr. MONEY: Q. You were asked whether it is not a felony to buy voters in New Hampshire.-A. I kpow it is against the law to buy them. There has been a more stringent law passed there a year ago last June.
Q. It is considered a legal transaction to sell a post-office in that State !--A. That is the only case I ever had connection with of any sale of a post-office.
By Mr. FREEMAN : Q. You said that it was a sense of duty which led you to write this letter to the Postmaster.General; how do you reconcile that high sense of duty with the absense of all sense of duty in the other transaction ?-A. I think that a man should never receive a dollar from the government or from any other person without earning it. I wanted Mr. Cheney to do his duty, and I was willing that he should receive his pay.
Q. You said that you wrote the letter from a sense of duty 1--A. Yes, sir.
Q. Now I want to know how you reconcile the sense of duty which made you write that letter with the absence of sense of duty in buying voters and arranging for the sale of a post-office ?-A. I do not consider that there was anything morally wrong about that matter.
Q. You do not consider it morally wrong to infringe upon a law ?-A. I am speaking about the morality of the thing. In the State of New Hampshire, as well as in other States, there are laws constantly being broken. There are laws on the statute-books as dead letters.
Q. But I want you to explain the spirit which actuated you when you come bere boldly and unbiusbingly and proclaim yourself a violator of the law, and then turn round and write such a letter to the Postmaster-General, and say you did it upder a sense of duty ?-A. I have explained myself the best I can.
By Mr. CALDWELL: Q. Did you ever know of prosecution and conviction under the laws of New Hampshire for bribery 1-A. I never heard of it. I never knew a man to be punished for buying votes.
Q. Have you known anything of that sort since this more stringent law went into effect !-A. Never. Never.
Q. Does it seem to be tolerated there by public sentiment !-A. Why, certainly it is. Those laws were put on the statute-book for effect, and never iptended to be enforced. We do not consider it any more wrong, because we consider it from that point of view that these laws are made on purpose to be violated.
By Mr. MONEY: Q. And because the judges and the juries and the attorney-generals won't enforce them ?-A. You can't convict a man for that offense there. You would be sure to find some man of the opposite party on the jury, and they never would convict. I guess you can prove that by members of the bar right here, now.
Mr. Caldwell intimated to Mr. Eastman that the committee were now prepared to bear wbatever testimony he bad to offer.
Mr. Eastman said that he did not think it fair to require his client to introduce his testimony until all the testimony on the other side was in, and the committee acceded to this view.
WASHINGTON, D. C., March 4, 1878. WILLIAM L. BURT sworn and examined.
By the CHAIRMAN : Question. State your residence and occupation.--Auswer. I reside in Boston. I am the president of a railroad company, and am constructing another railroad through Massachusetts and Vermont. I suppose tbat the reason why I have been subpoenaed bere is that I was postmaster of the city of Boston for nine years, ending two years since.
Q. Are you acquainted with Mr. Cheney ?-A. I have been acquainted with Mr. Cheney from the time that he came into the department as superintendent of the railway mail service when I was postmaster at Boston. He came as the successor to Mr. Vassal. Mr. Vassal bad been there a portion of the year. It was soon after the service Fas organized. Previously to that I think I had seen Mr. Cheney here in Washington, He was an assistant in the Sergeaut-at-Arms' office under Mr. Ord way. I had known Mr. Ordway as an old post-office special agent. My acquaintance with Mr. Cheney personally commenced when he came into the office. He was to have his headquarters there, and I was directed to furnish rooms for the three special agents who were appointed there-Mr. Camp, Mr. Cheney, and the occupant of the office which is now filled by Mr. Field. Mr. Field came in soon afterwards. They had their rooms adjoining mine in the post-office in the Mercantile Exchange building. We continued there until the time of the fire, and then the post-office was removed to the Old South Church. In fitting that up, I was directed by the department to see that rooms were furnished for all the special agents. We did this as well as we could. Mr. Cheney's room, Mr. Camp's room, and Mr. Field's room were all so arranged that they were obliged, in going to their offices, to pass through my room. When we occupied the new postoffice building, the Treasury Departinent placed me in charge of it, and I had the assignment of the rooms, and the room which Mr. Cheney now occupies in the new bailding was arranged for and assigned by me (his and Mr. Field's) on the third story, That continued, and my relations with Mr. Cheney were official and personal up to the time that I left the post-office. That answers the question as to my acquaintance with Mr. Cheney.
Q. Charges have been made here against Mr. Cheney for continuous absence from bis duties while he was holding the position of suporintendent of railway mail service. If you have any knowledge on that subject, state it to the committee.-A. I know nothing of his service on the roads out of Boston. When he first came into the office, I think I went over some of the roads with him. His duties out of office are duties which I should know nothing whatever about. The only place that I should know of his doties would be in his own office, and this only when matters came up in connection with it.
Q. State what you know as to his absence from his office in Boston.-A. When Mr. Cheney first came he had very little assistance. There was no arrangement by which I was to assign them a clerk or an assistant, or any one to remain in his room, and he went to work for himself. Subsequently he had one, then another, and finally three or four men located in the office. After the first six months he was away more, and from that time on he was very considerably away from the office. His duties, whatever they were, were performed there by the men who were representing him in the office. He was there from time to time; sometimes once a week and sometimes two or three times a month, but not regularly. I did not see him with any regularity there, and the business of his office was performed by men in the office representing him. The office never was closed. There was no neglect of its duties for the want of having somebody there. - Q. It could not be closed, could it :- A. It could not be closed. It was an office which ought to be open day and night. It is where the route-agents would report (especially if there is any trouble), and they go and come every hour of the day and night. It is a very important position.
Q. Requiring constant attention ?-A. Yes, sir. The railway mail service is a very rapid service, and requires constant care. A mistake or delay is felt more generally in it than in any other part of the post-office. The free transmission of the mails, especially in large offices like Boston and New York, requires to have somebody constantly in the office of the superintendent of the railway mail service.
Q. You say that Mr. Cheney would be there sometimes two or three times a month A. Yes, sir. Mr. Cheney's home, as I understand, is in New Hampshire.
Q. You do not know where he spent the most of his time -A. No, sir; I have no means of knowing that.
Q. Did you kuow Mr. Cheney's predecessor in office -A. Very well.
Q. How did he attend to the discharge of his duties? Was be there all the time ?A. I should have stated that Mr. Vassal was but a very short time in the department (less than a year, I think) before this change was made. He superintended personally the work, and took actual part in it himself. Afterward, Mr. Vassal was in the employment of the State of Massachusetts, as visiting agent of the State cbarities. I have known him from the time he was in the post-office down to the present time.
By Mr. MONEY: Q. Do you know anything about Mr. Holmes drawing two salaries -A. Yes, sir. Mr. Holmes was a clerk in the railway mail-service. He had been assigned to duty at ope place and another. The department made an application to me to have Mr. Holmes placed in my office as a clerk for the purpose of doing work in Mr. Cheney's office. The department wished to have me appoint him as a clerk, and assign him for duty in Mr. Cheney's office. I did not see precisely how tbat conld be done (he was then a railway mail-clerk, and assigned for duty), but at the request and direction of the Postmaster-General it was done; and Mr. Holmes was placed on my pay-rolls, and drew his pay, a certain amount of hundred dollars per year, as clerk in the office; and he was also on the pay-rolls of the railway mail service for a certain other salary, the two being paid on separate receipts.
Q. When was be placed on your pay-roll !-A. I think about five years ago.
Q. Do you recollect who was Postmaster-General at that time !-A. Yes, sir; Mr. Jewell. Mr. Holmes was a Connecticut man, and had had no experience in our postoffice.
Q. Are you familiar with the administration of the affairs of that office by Mr. Jackson, of Now York ?-A. Reasonably. I will say to the committee that the first car that was run east of the Hudson River in the railway mail service, was put on the road by me. I put the clerks from my own office in that car from New York to Boston, and ran it with my clerks; and from that time until the service was established there bas been a railway department. I had charge of it, and I am almost, as you will see, personally acquainted with all the roads and the men upon them. In my own office I knew every man who runs on all these lines, the times that the mails were to come in, and their connections. I made the arrangements for the connection of the lines uptil they reached out 200 miles from Boston.
Q. What is the custom of the superintendents of the railway mail service as to office duties; do they generally stay in the office l-A. In the case of Mr. Jackson in New York, which you spoke of, I can say that he is wholly devoted to the service. He began as a clerk of Mr. Roswell Hart's, a former member of Congress from the Rochester district in New York. After Mr. Hart's service in Congress expired, he was appointed superintendent in the railway mail service, but he never went to the office, or had anything wbatever to do with it. Mr. Jackson did the work, and on Mr. Hart's term of office expiring, Mr. Jackson became the appointee. Mr. Cheney was appointed in our office about the same time, but he had no man at first who represented him to the extent that Mr. Jackson had represented Mr. Hart. Whenever I had occasion to visit New York (which was very frequent), I always found Mr. Jackson at his post there. There was no doubt about the duties which he performed, both for Mr. Hart and for himself.
Q. Do you know anything about the estimate of unnecessary mail-routes in New Hampshire not required by the service ?-A. I saw a statement to that effect, and looked into the matter. These things are so much a matter of judgment that I could not answer the question, because, while my judgment would be against the establish
ment of such routes, I am not responsible for their establishment, and I should not pass opop the question. There were roads in Massachusetts where, of course, I felt that we oogbt to have mail-routes established. They were important. They were through lines, and I have urged a great many times upon Mr. Cheney and upon the department, and upon the men connected with Mr. Cheney's office, the propriety of appointing mailagents on these roads. This was more to get additional service in that line than to complain of any service that was furnished.
Q. Was any application made to your office for any of these new routes in New Hampshire -A. I think none at all. Originally, closed pouches were made up in the post-office and went to their destination without being unlocked, and without being added to by the officers on the line. If a person in the town of Plymouth, which is on a branch of the Old Colony Road, and which runs through several towns and villages, were to write a letter to a person in the adjoining town, that letter would be sent through from Plymouth to Boston, and would be sent back on a subsequent train to the place of its destination. We had 700 or 800 closed pouches daily out of the Boston post-office. We had more sealed packages out of the Boston post-office than there were out of tbe New York City post-office, although the latter is a much larger district tban Boston. But we had very frequent trains from Boston. These letters would come into the Boston post-office in this way, and we would send them back in the return trains with very little delay. I do not know that on that road there bas been any complaint of inefficient service, nor do I know that the service could be improved by potting a mail route-agent on the road. Between Boston and Providence it was a little different. There the absence of a mail route-agent was a nuisance, and the way that we had to manage in regard to registered letters ( which must be sent by mail agents) was to send registered letters addressed to Providence to stations where there were route-agents going through on other lines to Providence. In this way we got the registered letters from Boston to Providence. That was not a matter, however, for which Mr. Cheney was to blame.
Q. Did tbat system prevail at the time that the New Hampshire lines were established ?-A. It has prevailed until very recently.
Q. Is the Boston and Providence line within Mr. Cheney's jurisdiction 1-A. Certainly Between the Boston post-office and Providence is only 44 miles, but you could Dot send a registered letter containing coupons, or other matters of value, from Bostop to Providence without sending them up to Worcester, or up to Blackstone (at one time they were sent to Webster and Putoam), or by some other roundabout way, to cateb a route-agent on his return to Providence.
Q. Do you think that there was any discrimination made in the establishment of mail fontes within Mr. Cheney's jurisdiction in favor of New Hampshire -A. If you would ask me whether I sonld establish those routes in New Hampsbire, I should bave to say no; bot if you ask me any more than tbat, I cannot answer. I do not know the Teasons which apply to tbem.
Q. If you had charge of that business, you would have established some routes in Massaebusetts, and you wonld not have established those in New Hampshire -A. I think that that is the way I should state it.
Q. Are you acquainted with the circunstances of Mr. Temple's removal from the railway mail service !--A. Yes, sir. Mr. Temple and Mr. West are the two sore things about the office which have come up to trouble the railway mail service in Boston. I know about them both.
Q. State the matter substantially.-A. Mr. Cheney's office has been run and managed by men who bave exercised their judgment and who have represented Mr. Cheney in the management of the office altogether too much, in my opinion. Their personal likes and dislikes have been shown in what they have done or attempted to do, and Jr. Cheney has been held responsible for it without being at all to blame, in muy judgment. If Mr. Cheney had been personally cognizant of the facts attending the removal of Mr. Temple and Mr. West, I think he would not have besitated to have made the matter right. Mr. Temple was a clerk whom I appointed in the Boston postoffice. I recommended his transfer to the railway mail service as a promotion. When I left the office Mr. Temple was there. Mr. West bad been in the service for fifteen years, and was one of the best route-agents that there were.
Q. That is the gentleman that has given testimony before this committee -A. Yes ; I saw his pare mentioned in the newspapers among the names of the witnesses. Mr. West ran on the road from Boston northward toward Montreal, his route ending at Saint Albans. Mr. Merrill, another gentleman in the office, ran with him. In Mr. Cheney's office Mr. Merrill was (as it appeared to me) rather the man who seemed to arrange and dictate matters. The trouble was that these two men, Mr. West and Mr. Merrill, both good men, got into a controversy, and out of some little matter of etiquette Mr. West lost his place. He is a perfectly honest man beyond all question, sod was entitled to the full support of the department, and if, through a matter of indiseretion or temper, be made a mistake, he would be willing to correct it in a proper way. He was removed by Mr. Cheney through Mr. Merrill. I urged that Mr. West be restored.