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system is wrong. You are cutting down the appropriations for the nail service and cutting down the pay of the post-office clerks while you are increasing the expenses of the railway mail service. I have clerks in my office to-day who are not receiving compensation enough to pay for their board and washing. I think that if more attention were paid to the post-office clerks who handle the letters of business med, and if they were allowed a decent living, there would be less trouble froin the loss of letters than there is to-day. If there is any department of the government that touches tho people, from the highest to the lowest, it is the Post-Office Department. That is really the department of the people, and wbile the clerks who actually handle the letters are paid such low salaries that they can hardly live upon them, a good many of them, porhaps, will be inclined to go upon the theory that the world owes them a living.
Q. And this railway mail system you think is prejudicing the clerks?-A. Of course it uses up the appropriations which I think ought to go in another direction, but, anderstand me, I do not put my judgment against the Post-Office Department. I am only speaking for myself as an individual.
By Mr. EASTMAN: Q. Sapposing the law to remain as it is and the department to remain under its present organization, I understand you to express the opinion that it is necessary to a proper discharge of the duties of a superintendent of railway mail service that he sball travel over the territory under his immediate supervision ?-A. I think he ought to make himself familiar with it, and familiar with all the wants of the clerks; famil. iar with their fidelity, with their usefulness, with their adaptability to the service, so that he may know who are good clerks and who are bad ones, who deserve promotion and who do not.
Q. Do you not think that a superintendent of the railway mail service would necessarily be absent from the central office a very considerable portion of his time A. More or less.
Q. He could not be in New Haven at the same time as in Boston ?--A. No, sir; but it would not take bim a great deal of time to go over all the roads in his division. That is, it would not take him all the year to do that. The roads can be run over pretty rapidly. Q. But there are a great maoy miles of railroad in New England ?-A. Yes, sir. R. And a good deal of time would necessarily be consumed in traveling over them ?A. Yes, sir, no question about tbat.
Q. And if the superintendent were to visit the leading post-offices in his district, that wonld necessarily consume considerable of his time!-A. Yes, sir.
Q. There are a great many large towns in New England ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. And to visit all these would require the absence of a superintendent a good deal from his office -A. Yes, sir.
Q. Then if it were necessary that communications should be answered which were addressed to bim at the central office they must either wait until his return or he must delegate the power of answering them to some subordinate -A. It is not my idea that a superintendent should start upon a jaunt and go over all the railroads and visit all the post-offices in New England, commencing on a Monday and not finishing for three months, but my idea is that there are tbree days in the week that he could go over the roads and be three days more in bis office and answer such communications as it may be necessary for bim to attend to. But the trouble has been that the communications and the orders received from Mr. Cheney's office have been so frivolous that I supposed they were written more for the purpose of using up time than for any thing else.
Q. As I understand you, the present control of the postal clerks and mail-agents is in the bands of the superintendent at Boston, and not in the hands of the postmasters, where it formerly was I–A. The postmasters have no control over the route agents at all. Formerly the postmasters at the termini of the roads did have control of them. It was their duty to see that the mail-agents signed their registers, &c., and if one of the mail-agents happened to be sick, it was the duty of tbe postmaster to see that somebody was put in his place; but now the amount allowed for post-offices is so small that, in my office, I have not a clerk whom I could dispense with to put on one of those roads to relieve a mail-agent in case of death, sickness, or other emergency. The commission which was sent out by the department not long ago reported that I should bave five more clerks, and should have more pay for clerks to the amount, I think, of two or three thousand dollars; but to-day I have not a clerk that I could dispense with to give relief to a mail-agent without swamping the work in my office.
Q. At the present time, instead of the postmaster having charge of the relief of a mail-agent in case of sickness or sudden emergency, that matter is placed in the charge of the central office at Boston 7-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Then, if the superintendent were to be absent for twenty-four hours, an emergency might arise that would require immediate action on his part 1-A. Yes, sir.
Q. And it would be absolutely necessary to have some one in charge of his office who could attend to such matters ? —A. No, sir; pot absolutely necessary, because, in cases of absolute necessity, postmasters are allowed to relieve the agents on those roads. Not long ago I said to Mr. Cheney that, even in an emergency, I had not any man in my o fice whom I could place on the service, and then I added that I thought that some of the clerks in his office should do this relief-duty, as we were cut so low in our appropriations.
Q. Would not a case of emergency be that a train was about to start and that there was no postal clerk to take the mail ?-A. Yes; I should consider it so.
Q. Now, is it not necessary that there should be some person in the office at Boston to answer letters and to attend to communications in the case of snch emergency? A. Yes, sir; it is claimed that, in cases of emergency, postmasters themselves have to act.
Q. Une the present organization, is it not necessary that there should be some person in the office of the superintendunt to attend to bis duty, if he is absent even for a day?-A. I should not object to one clerk or to one person being detailed to act as his a sistant.
Q. Do you feel that you are sufficiently familiar with the duties of the superintendent's office to determine that one clerk is able to discharge all the duties as the department is now organized ?-A. In answer to that I will say that formerly, when there was no railway mail service superintendent, there was less friction in the department than there is to-day. When it was done by postmasters there was less friction, less complaint, and less trouble.
Q. That is apart from the question. I ask you whether you are sufficiently informed of the management of things, as they are under the present systeni, to say that one clerk is sufficient in the superintendent's office ?-A. I thipk that in a measure I know something of the duties connected with the office. I think that they ought to be performed, as a general thing, by a superintendent and one other clerk. "I think that they are doing a good deal of duties there, much of which is not necessary to be done there, and not for the interest of the postal service. I think that a superintendent and his clerk ought to be enough.
Q. But would it not be necessary for the superintendent to delegate some portion of his power 1--A. Yes, under the present system.
Q. If you knew that Mr. Holmes had been appointed directly by order of the Postmaster-General, would you consider that it was Mr. Cheney's duty to remonstrate with him ?–A. If a clerk were under my direction, appointed by the Postmaster-General, I should consider it my duty to say to him that I did not consider him a proper person, if that was my opinion.
Q. You have instanced the case of the route-agent Canfield, who was acting as a relief, and who was pot receiving, as you thought, sufficient pay. Have you any instance in your own office where you think the clorks do not receive sufficient pas 1-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you always found it easy to correct and adjust the pay according to the merits of the clerks -A. I have always said that there was not enough appropriated to pay the clerks properly.
Q. Do you know whether the same difficulty exists in regard to the railway mail service ?--A. I do not; but I presume it likely that the same thing exists there, and that in consequence of a lack of appropriations clerks have been curtailed too much.
Q. If the same state of things existed would it be within Mr. Cheney's power to correct the abuse ?-A. I think that the attention of the department should be called to it; but I do not tbink that Mr. Cheney can expend more money, or recommend more to be expended, than is appropriated by Congress.
By Mr. TOWNSEND : Q. Has Mr. Cheney the fixing of the compensation of route-agents ?-A. I presume
Oply, as I said before, I think that he should be familiar with the men so as to know what compensation they ought to receive, and so as to put each on the scale of justice and fairness all through.
By Mr. CANNON: Q. How large a place is New Haven ?-A. I presume the population is about seventy thousand.
Q. What is your salary as postmaster there ?—A. Three thousand dollars. Formerly it was four thousand.
Q. Is that a letter-carrier city 1-A. Yes, sir. Q. How many letter-carriers have you there?-A. Only fourteen letter-carriers, when we ought to have double.
Q. How many clerks bave you in your office ?-A. From seventeen to twenty. Eighteen would be the average. Q. What is the deficit in the New
Haven post-office between the local postages and the salaries of letter-carriers 1-A. There is a surplus.
Q. Do yon mean that in New Haven the local postages more than pay the letter-carriers 1-A. I do.
Q. To what amount is there a surplns !-A. Within the last two years I shoit' I say that the surplus ran perhaps from $30 to $150 a quarter. Perhaps in January and Jaly it amounted to more than that. I know that of late the local postages have more than paid the letter-carriers.
Q. I see, in the Post-Office Report, that the local postages at New Haven for the last Fear amounted to $10,621, and the expense of the letter-carrier system to $10,726. How mang deliveries du the letter-carriers make in the day?--A. Some of them make four, some three, some two, and some one. They go over portions of the city radiating from the central portion. In the outskirts there is one delivery a day.
Q. Are those letter-carriers able to go around and make those deliveries ?-A. Not at all times. I have made an estimate of the amount of traveling done by the lettercarriers in New Haven, and it is from eighteen to twenty-two miles a day without counting the running up and down stairs.
Q. And your judgment is that the force of letter-carriers ought to be donbled I-A. It is. The letter-carrier system increases to such an extent that I cannot furnish as many letter-carriers as the business requires, and consequently some of the people drop off from the letter-carrier system and come back to the box system. If I could get the letter-carriers as fast as the free delivery increases, I could very soon bring the post-office boxes to a lower figure; but I am told at the department that the appropriation made for the Post-Office is not large enough to allow any increase in the expense of the letter-carriers in New Haven.
Q. I see that the aggregate number of pieces handled by the letter-carriers in New Haven, last year, was 2,645,000. Do you know how many pieces besides those the eighteen clerks in your office handled ?-A. I cannot tell; but I think the number was much larger than that.
Q. You mean that the letter-box delivery is larger than the letter-carrier delivery ? A. I should think so from the fact that I cannot get letter-carriers enough.
Q. What is the total pay of your eighteen clerks ?-A. About $12,000. The pay of the highest clerk is $2,000 a year, and that of the lowest about $30 a month.
Q. And the pay of your fourteen letter-carriers amounted to about $10,000 7–A. Yes, sir. Some of the letter-carriers are getting about $700 a year, and some less than $600 a year.
Q. Their total pay is $10,726 ?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Then there is paid nearly $26,000 for the expense of ranning that New Haven office !-A. Yes, sir; including letter-carriers and clerks.
Q. Is there any difficulty in getting clerks at the prices that you pay them ?-A. There is difficulty about getting good clerks, because the moment I get a clerk broken io, it is a loss to the public to have that clerk (when once broken in and when understanding where everybody lives and where the letters should go) dismissed. We ought to be able to pay such a clerk salary enough to keep him along, and to be able to grade clerks. My rule is this: We will say that I have $12,000 to pay for the clerks in my office. I take a clerk who has got a thousand-doilar salary, and when he leaves the post-office for some other more profitable business, perhaps, instead of taking a clerk from outside and putting him to that thousand-dollar place, I grade the clerks who are already in up, according as they perform their duty. I give the man who stands next under the thousand-dollar clerk the position of the thousand-dollar clerk, and raise others gradually in the same proportion, and then the clerk whom I take from outside, I put him at the bottom, at $30 a month. In this way I would really supply the place of the thousand-dollar clerk with a clerk at $360, grading the others along in the difference between $360 and $1,000.
Q. You think that this whole railway mail service ought to be abolished and placed where it has been before ?-A. No; I do not say that.
Q. Yoa think that the postmasters ought to look after the business of the railway mail service instead of a general superintendent ?-A. I say that when the postmasters did it there was less friction than there is now.
Q. As it is now, Mr. Cheney, for instance, in the New England division, attends to tbat service 1-A. Yes.
Q. You have never liked that change? It has never met your approval ?-A. Personally I wish to say
Q. You do not think it for the good of the service -A. I think that for the good of the service it was better the other way, but personally we are glad to get rid of it becanse it was a great pnisance to the postmasters.
Q. Have you been making objection with the Postmaster-General to the railway mail system -A. I have said ihat I thought the system was growing beyond a point to which it ought to grow, and that it was becoming too expensive, more so in my judgment than prudence would dictate.
Q. And when some matters of discipline or routine or detail were determined upon
by the superiotendent of the railway mail service which did not meet your approval, you objected to it constantly 1-A. I can say in reply to that that every order coming from my superior, Mr. Cheney, or any other, has been obeyed to the letter. In the office over which I preside, every on, bee lovily and faithfully executed, while on some roads and in some office that is not ine case. They will not obey them and do not do so to-day.
Q: Yet the discipline and the rules enforced by the superintendent of the railway mail service were frequently talked about by you with the employés of that service, were they not! These employés would come to you with their complaints and would get aid and comfort from you l-A. I have listened to a great many complaints, but I have not listened, I think, to any that I ought not to listen to. I never have said to railroad clerks, when they came to me, that this order was frivolous or that that order was objectionable, but I would try to make it as easy as I could, and if I myself saw an objection to the order, I did not express my objection to the clerks themselves. If they came to me with any complaint, I always listened to them.
Q. What was the letter which was written to this man Maxfield who was discharged, which caused that reply froin him ?-A. Not any that I know of.
Q. He did not volunteer that reply, did he? You say that it was to a commani. cation from a clerk in your office. What letter did that clerk write !-A. I do not know.
Q. You do not know what provocation Maxfield had !-A. He did not claim that he had any provocation ; if so, he never made it known to me.
WASHINGTON, D. C., March 5, 1878. THEODORE N. Vail sworn and examined.
By the CHAIRMAN : Question. What is your position ?-Answer. I am general superintendent of the railway mail service.
Q. Did you occupy that position when Mr. Cheney was appointed ?-A. No, sir.
Q. Have any complaints been made to the department or to your office of Mr. Cheney's want of attention to bis duties, or his neglect of duties, or anything of that kind ?-A. No formal complaint of any kind has been made against Mr. Cheney to my knowledge.
The CHAIRMAN. I was under the impression that you had told a member of this committee that you had beard of these charges before.
The WITNESS. We had a general knowledge that there were such complaints to be made. We knew of it through newspaper articles and such things, but no complaint of any kind has ever been made against Mr. Cheney on which an investigation could be based.
Q. Has any complaint been made to you or to the department of any of Mr. Cheney's subordinates 1-A. No formal complaints.
Q. Do you mean by formal complaints, written charges and specifications ?-A. Yes.
Q. Does the department never act upon any complaint that is brought to its attention unless it is in writing and in the form of charges and specifications 1-A. Yes, if it comes in a proper way,
Q. I ask you whether (if no charges and specifications have been made) some sort of complaint has not been made at the department ?-A. Simply these rumors that have been talked about—that there were complaints to be made, or that Mr. Cheney was not attending to bis business.
Q. Have you never received any letters or papers from Mr. Temple on that subject ?-A. I have received anonymous newspaper articles that were supposed to have come from Mr. Temple, but nothing over his signature.
Q. On these loose charges to which you refer, has the department ever taken the trouble to inquire whether there was anything in them ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. What was the result of the in vestigation ?-A. As I stated in the reply sent to thi committee, we knew of Mr. Cheney's absence, but we knew also that he was sick and we knew that he was utit to travel.
Q. How much time was taken up by his sickness ?-A. I am not able to say positively.
Q. Was he disqualified to take charge of his duties on account of the state of his health ?-A. He probably was at times.
Q. He was retained in office thongh, was be not?-A. Certainly. Q. Did he draw his per diem of' $5 a day?-A. I have no knowledge whatever of that. I have nothing to do with it.
Q. You know what are the duties of the assistant superintendents under you?-A. Certainly.
Q. Can an assistant superintendent like Mr. Cheney draw his per diem of $5 a day and furnish vouchers for it without having performed the service? In other words, if Mr. Cheney was absent at his farm or was engaged in any outside business, could he legally draw his $5 a day 1-A. If Mr. Cheney was engaged in outside business, I do not think he could.
Q. Could he if he were absent from his duties ?-A. That would depend altogether upon the construction of the law. Q. How is the law construed in your department? Does every superintendent in the railway mail service draw $5 per diem for every day in the year 1-A. A superintendent draws his per diem every day that he is actually employed as superintendent in the railway mail service.
Q. When he is not actually employed does he draw it?-A. I suppose not. Q. Can be draw it legally if he is not actually employed! Is he not prohibited from drawing it? Suppose that a man is sick for two months and absent from his duties, does he draw his per diem of $5?-A. That I cannot say. If he is in a stual employment he draws it. Q. He has to furnish a certificate as a voucher!-A. Certainly. Q. Has Mr. Cheney furnished those certificates !-A. That I cannot say. Q. Do they not come to your office !-A. No, sir; they go to the Auditor's office.
Q. I have a statement from Mr. McGrew, the Sixth Auditor, commencing on the 7th of Jaly, 1869, and extending to January, 1878, showing a per diem paid to Mr. Cheney ranging from $118.75 for the 24 days in the month of July, 1869 (wbich is the smallest amount I see), ap to $130, $140, and $145, and at that average for every month from Jaly, 1869, up to January, 1878. I ask you whether Mr. Cheney was entitled to draw the $5 per diem for every day during that time ?-A. That is not a matter which would be referred to me. Mr. Cheney, I suppose, is actually employed as superintendent from the time he is assigned to such duty until he is relieved from that assignment.
Q. And the construction is that when a man is assigned to duty, he is entitled to his per dien whether he perforins duty or not?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Does that apply to every case of a superintendent? Do you know of any case here a superintendent has not drawn his per dieın because he was not on actual dotyl-A. Yes, sir.
Q. And yon say that a superintendent bas to furnish a certificate as a voucher before be draws his per diem !-A. Certaivly.
Q. There are nine division superintendeuts in the railway mail service, are there not ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Out of those nine, how many, within your knowledge, have not drawn per diem for every day!-A. The vouchers are not examined at our oflice. They are sent through our office, and we send them to the Auditor.
2. Bat you say you bave known some of those assistant superintendents who have not drawn per diem for every day l-A. Oply from what they have said to me when they have been on leave of absence, or something of that kind.
By Mr. SLEMONS: Q. Is this per diem given whether the snperintendents are in the office or out on the lines ?–A. The decision of the Attorney-General, which was called for last year, was to the effect that a superintendent or special agent can draw his per diem for every day that he is actually employed in bis official capacity. The matter was referred to the Attorney-General for his decision. This per diem allowance was beld up last year for about two months and a half, and the whole matter was referred to the AttorneyGeneral. I know that it was a question whether a superintendent could draw his per diem uuless he was actually traveling. The Attorney-General decided as I have stated. Q. Is that the construction of the law now?--A. It is.
By the CHAIRMAN: Q. When Mr. Money went to the Post-Office Department with these charges, did you not tell bim that yon know more about the matter than the people of Boston did, and that it was all a pack of lies upon Mr. Cheney ?-A. No, sir.
Q. What did you tell him ?-A. I do not recollect the exact conversation. When I beard yesterday that Mr. Money bad that impression of it, I asked the PostmasterGeneral what Þis recollection of the conversation was, and the Postmaster-General said that I stated to Mr. Money that I could or would give the facts of the case, or something of tbat kind, as we had them in the department, and that I would do it as quickly as possible.
Q. Did you not express any opinion in the matter ?–A. No, sir; I do not recollect having expressed any opivion.
Q. Tbe sam and substance of wbat you said is tbat there have been no formal charges against Mr. Cheney (apd by that you mean charges and specifications), Holmes, or any of his subordinates, and that the only information received by the Post-Office Department has been those anonymous newspaper articles. . That is all the information the department has had, and the department has not investigated