« AnteriorContinuar »
I transmit a report from the Secretary of State and the documents by which it was accompanied. The dispatch of Mr. Dallas being in the original, its return to the Department of State is requested.
WASHINGTON, March 1, 1861.
To the House of Representatives:
In answer to their resolution of the 11th instant [ultimo], "that the President of the United States furnish to the House, if not incompatible with the public service, the reasons that have induced him to assemble so large a number of troops in this city, and why they are kept here; and whether he has any information of a conspiracy upon the part of any portion of the citizens of this country to seize upon the capital and prevent the inauguration of the President elect," the President submits. that the number of troops assembled in this city is not large, as the resolution presupposes, its total amount being 653 men exclusive of the marines, who are, of course, at the navy-yard as their appropriate station. These troops were ordered here to act as a posse comitatus, in strict subordination to the civil authority, for the purpose of preserving peace and order in the city of Washington should this be necessary before or at the period of the inauguration of the President elect.
Since the date of the resolution Hon. Mr. Howard, from the select committee, has made a report to the House on this subject. It was thoroughly investigated by the committee, and although they have expressed the opinion that the evidence before them does not prove the existence of a secret organization here or elsewhere hostile to the Government that has for its object, upon its own responsibility, an attack upon the capital or any of the public property here, or an interruption of any of the functions of the Government, yet the House laid upon the table by a very large majority a resolution expressing the opinion "that the regular troops now in this city ought to be forthwith removed therefrom.' This of itself was a sufficient reason for not withdrawing
But what was the duty of the President at the time the troops were ordered to this city? Ought he to have waited before this precautionary measure was adopted until he could obtain proof that a secret organization existed to seize the capital? In the language of the select committee, this was "in a time of high excitement consequent upon revolutionary events transpiring all around us, the very air filled with rumors and individuals indulging in the most extravagant expressions of fears and threats." Under these and other circumstances, which I need not detail, but which appear in the testimony before the select committee, I was convinced that I ought to act. The safety of the immense amount of public property in this city and that of the archives of the Government,
in which all the States, and especially the new States in which the public lands are situated, have a deep interest; the peace and order of the city itself and the security of the inauguration of the President elect, were objects of such vast importance to the whole country that I could not hesitate to adopt precautionary defensive measures. At the present moment, when all is quiet, it is difficult to realize the state of alarm which prevailed when the troops were first ordered to this city. This almost instantly subsided after the arrival of the first company, and a feeling of comparative peace and security has since existed both in Washington and throughout the country. Had I refused to adopt this precautionary measure, and evil consequences, which many good men at the time apprehended, had followed, I should never have forgiven myself. JAMES BUCHANAN..
WASHINGTON, March 2, 1861.
To the Senate of the United States:
I deem it proper to invite the attention of the Senate to the fact that with this day expires the limitation of time for the exchange of the ratifications of the treaty with Costa Rica of 2d July, 1860.
The minister of that Republic is disappointed in not having received the copy intended for exchange, and the period will lapse without the possibility of carrying out the provisions of the convention in this respect.
I submit, therefore, the expediency of the passage of a resolution authorizing the exchange of ratifications at such time as may be convenient, the limitations of the ninth article to the contrary notwithstanding. JAMES BUCHANAN.
WASHINGTON CITY, January 25, 1861.
To the House of Representatives of the United States:
I return with my objections to the House, in which it originated, the bill entitled "An act for the relief of Hockaday & Leggit," presented to me on the 15th instant.
This bill appropriates $59,576 "to Hockaday & Leggit, in full payment for damages sustained by them in reduction of pay for carrying the mails on route No. 8911; and that said amount be paid to William Leggit for and on account of Hockaday & Leggit, and for their benefit."
A bill containing the same language, with the single exception that the sum appropriated therein was $40,000 instead of $59,576, passed both Houses of Congress at their last session; but it was presented to me at so late a period of the session that I could not examine its merits before the
time fixed for the adjournment, and it therefore, under the Constitution, failed to become a law. The increase of the sum appropriated in the present bill over that in the bill of the last session, being within a fraction of $20,000, has induced me to examine the question with some attention, and I find that the bill involves an important principle, which if established by Congress may take large sums out of the Treasury.
It appears that on the 1st day of April, 1858, John M. Hockaday entered into a contract with the Postmaster-General for transporting the mail on route No. 8911, from St. Joseph, Mo., by Fort Kearney, Nebraska Territory, and Fort Leavenworth, to Salt Lake City, for the sum of $190,000 per annum for a weekly service. The service was to commence on the 1st day of May, 1858, and to terminate on the 30th November, 1860. By this contract the Postmaster-General reserved to himself the right "to reduce the service to semimonthly whenever the necessities of the public and the condition of affairs in the Territory of Utah may not require it more frequently." And again:
That the Postmaster-General may discontinue or curtail the service, in whole or in part, in order to place on the route a greater degree of service, or whenever the public interests require such discontinuance for any other cause, he allowing one month's extra pay on the amount of service dispensed with.
On the 11th April, 1859, the Postmaster-General curtailed the service, which he had a clear right to do under the contract, to semimonthly, with an annual deduction of $65,000, leaving the compensation $125,000 for twenty-four trips per year instead of $190,000 for fifty-two trips. This curtailment was not to take effect till the 1st of July, 1859.
At the time the contract was made it was expected that the army in Utah might be engaged in active operations, and hence the necessity of frequent communications between the War Department and that Territory. The reservation of the power to curtail the service to semimonthly trips itself proves that the parties had in view the contingency of such curtailment "whenever the necessities of the public and the condition: of affairs in the Territory of Utah may not require it more frequently."
Before the Postmaster-General ordered this curtailment he had an interview with the Secretary of War upon the subject, in the course of which the Secretary agreed that a weekly mail to St. Joseph and Salt Lake City was no longer needed for the purposes of the Governmentthis, evidently, because the trouble in Utah had ended.
Mr. Hockaday faithfully complied with his contract, and the full compensation was paid, at the rate of $190,000 per annum, up to the 1st July, 1859, and "one month's extra pay on the amount of service dispensed with," according to the contract.
Previous to that date, as has been already stated, on the 14th of April, 1859, the Postmaster-General curtailed the service to twice per month, and on the 11th May, 1859, Messrs. Hockaday & Co. assigned the contract to Jones, Russell & Co. for a bonus of $50,000. Their property
connected with the route was to be appraised, which was effected, and they received on this account about $94,000, making the whole amount about $144,000.
There is no doubt that the contractors have sustained considerable loss in the whole transaction. The amount I shall not pretend to decide, whether $40,000 or $59,576, or any other sum.
It will be for Congress to consider whether the precedent established by this bill will not in effect annul all restrictions contained in the mail contracts enabling the Postmaster-General to reduce or curtail the postal service according to the public exigencies as they may arise. I have no other solicitude upon the subject. I am informed that there are many cases in the Post-Office Department depending upon the same principle. JAMES BUCHANAN.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
Whereas objects of interest to the United States require that the Senate should be convened at 12 o'clock on the 4th of March next to receive and act upon such communications as may be made to it on the part of the Executive:
Now, therefore, I, James Buchanan, President of the United States, have considered it to be my duty to issue this my proclamation, declaring that an extraordinary occasion requires the Senate of the United States to convene for the transaction of business at the Capitol, in the city of Washington, on the 4th day of March next, at 12 o'clock at noon on that day, of which all who shall at that time be entitled to act as members of that body are hereby required to take notice.
Given under my hand and the seal of the United States, at Washington, the 11th day of February, A. D. 1861, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.
By the President:
J. S. BLACK,
Secretary of State.