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H. B. (Henry Bidleman) Bascom.

The Methodist Church property case. Report of the suit of Henry Bascom, and others, vs. George Lane, and others, heard before the judges Nelson and Betts, in the Circuit Court, United States, for the Southern District of New York, May 17-20, 1851 online

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Online LibraryH. B. (Henry Bidleman) BascomThe Methodist Church property case. Report of the suit of Henry Bascom, and others, vs. George Lane, and others, heard before the judges Nelson and Betts, in the Circuit Court, United States, for the Southern District of New York, May 17-20, 1851 → online text (page 67 of 87)
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Mr. BARBEE. That would have been offensive. We did not want to
make that statement, and so we just left it where it was.

Senator PASCO. You do not like the term "withholding." You know
that a witness on the stand swears to tell the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth. Did you feel you were up to that standard?

Mr. BARBEE. Yes, sir; I did.

Senator PASCO. And you told the whole truth?

Mr. BARBEE. Yes, sir.

The CHAIRMAN. Tell us when this contract was made with Stahl-
inan to pay him 35 per cent fee?

Mr. BARBEE. I can not tell now without the records.

The CHAIRMAN. Tell us about when it was?

Mr. BARBEE. That is a point which I do not recollect.

The CHAIRMAN. Have you got a copy of the contract?

Mr. BARBEE. I think we have it here.

The CHAIRMAN. Will you produce it?

(Dr. Denny, a member of the book, committee, said that the contract
was made on the 29th of July, 1895).

The CHAIRMAN. Who made this contract?

Mr. BARBEE. The book committee.

The CHAIRMAN. Who composed that committee?

Mr. BARBEE. It is very hard for me to call them all. Let me explain.

The CHAIRMAN. Have you got the records here to show who the
members of the committee were?

Mr. BARBEE. I can show who the members of the committee were



METHODIST BOOK CONCERN SOUTH. 11

easily enough, but not from memory. The committee is composed of
thirteen men. There were five of them residents in Nashville and the
other eight resided in different parts of the country.

The CHAIRMAN. And it was this committee of thirteen that made
the contract with Stahlman for 35 per cent on the 29th of July, 1895.

Mr. GARLAND (counsel). Mr. Smith has the contract and will pro-
duce it.

The CHAIRMAN. Were you a member of the book committee?

Mr. BARBEE. No, sir; a book agent can not be a member of the book
committee.

The CHAIRMAN. You were cognizant of this agreement at the time it
was made?

Mr. BARBEE. I was. The book committee can not sign a contract
formally themselves, because the book agents are the men to sign it,
and they did sign it, but the contract was made by the book committee
itself.

The CHAIRMAN. And it was signed by you and who else?

Mr. BARBEE. By me and Mr. Smith.

The CHAIRMAN. By you as the senior book agent?

Mr. BARBEE. Yes/

The CHAIRMAN. Who actually signed these dispatches to Senator
Bate and Senator Pasco?

Mr. BARBEE. That would be right hard to say. We were both
present.

The CHAIRMAN. You and Mr. Smith consulted about them?

Mr. BARBEE. Yes.

The CHAIRMAN. And for whatever may be in them you are both
responsible?

Mr. BARBEE. Yes.

The CHAIRMAN. What did you mean by saying that you regarded
Senator Bate and Senator Pasco as your attorneys?

Mr. BARBEE. I had better now withdraw that language. It was an
awkward expression.

The CHAIRMAN. You can explain what you meant by it.

Mr. BARBEE. I meant first that Senator Pasco had charge of the
claim in the Committee on Claims for years. He had been managing
it and had been reporting to us, while Senator Bate, as one of the Sena-
tors from Tennessee, had charge of it in the Senate chamber and had
taken a great deal of interest in it and seemed to be fathering it. As
a matter of course, I did not intend to convey the idea that a member
of the Senate was acting as our attorney.

The CHAIRMAN. You meant that Senator Pasco had the bill in
charge?

Mr. BARBEE. Yes.

The CHAIRMAN. And you had been in corrrespondence with him
about it?

Mr. BARBEE. Yes.

The CHAIRMAN. I may have misunderstood you, but I think you
indicated an idea on your part that Senator Pasco had drawn up hi*
letter to you in such a way as to draw from you a particular answer.

Mr. BARBEE. Yes; that is the way it impressed me that he had
his mind upon that one point.

The CHAIRMAN. And that he had put the fee at 40 per cent, so that
you could evade the answer?

Mr. BARBEE. No, I would not insinuate that; because that would
not be respectful.

The CHAIRMAN. You did not think he did that?



12 METHODIST BOOK CONCERN SOUTH.

Mr. BARBEE. !No, sir.

The CHAIUMAN. What did you mean by saying that Senator Pasco
had written a letter so as to draw from you a positive answer.

M r. BAUBEE. I supposed he was acting upon the principle which
I mentioned in my testimony a few minutes ago, namely, that it was
none of his concern, or anybody else's, to know whether we were pay-
ing any one, and that he did not intend to draw that out.

The CHAIRMAN. He evidently did when he wanted an answer from
you.

Mr. BAKBBE. He said that he wanted a denial.

The CHAIRMAN. Senator Pasco said in his letter

Some malicious persons are circulating a slanderous story about the Capitol with
the evident purpose of obstructing the passage of our bill. It is to the eift-ct that
you have made a contract with Mr. Stahluian to pay him 40 per cent of the amount
recovered.

Do you think it was a fair answer to say that there was nothing in
that report, if the sum to be paid was different from 40 per cent?

Mr. BAUBEE. Yes.

The CHAIRMAN. If the sum to be paid was 35 per cent, you thought
it a fair answer to say that the statement that it was 40 per cent was
untrue?

Mr. BARBEE. I did not mean that as an answer to a suggestion of
35 per cent or any other sum, but as an answer to one single point,
namely, that we were to pay 40 per cent.

The CHAIRMAN. Did you believe that that was what Senator Pasco
was particularly anxious to know!

Mr. BARBEE. It did not occur to me to say that Senator Pasco was
particular about eliciting any information at all. He used the term
"40 per cent," and asked for a denial as to that.

The CHAIRMAN. Senator Pasco had assumed, in this letter, that there
was no contract at all?

Mr. BARBEE. He had.

The CHAIRMAN. And you had not told him that you had a contract.
You concealed that from him '.'

Mr. BARBEE. You may use the term "conceal," if you choose.

The CHAIRMAN. Had you told anybody outside of the book commit-
tee that you had such a contract with Mr. Stahlman?

Mr. BARBEE. The contract to pay him 35 per cent!

The CHAIRMAN. Any kind of a contract 1 ?

Mr. BARBEE. I do not recollect what language we may have used,
but I never concealed the fact that Mr. Stahlmau was our regular rep-
resentative and attorney.

The CHAIRMAN. Did you tell anybody that you had a contract with
him for a specific sum?

Mr. BARBEE. I do not recollect that I did.

The CHAIRMAN. You said a while ago that it was not known to your
people. What did you mean by that?

Mr. BARBEE. What I meant was that we did not make it a common
talk among our people. We kept it as a professional and business
matter.

The CHAIRMAN. You had never notified either Senator Bate or
Senator Pasco that you had a contract with any one?

Mr. BAUBEE. I have no recollection of having so notified them unless
you take a certain telegram which I sent to Senator Bate last December
as a notification.

The CHAIRMAN. What was that?



METHODIST BOOK CONCERN SOUTH. 13

Mr. BARBEE. Senator Bate had been desiring me to come to Wash-
ington, and he sent a telegram to Nashville in December. I was
absent at the time attending the conference. The telegram' asked me
if I could not come to Washington. It was forwarded to me at Bryan,
Tex., by mail, and from there I telegraphed to Senator Bate that his
telegram had been mailed tome at that place and that he could consult
or confer (I do not know which term I used) with Mr. Stahlman who
represented me and who had full authority in the matter. That clearly
conveyed to Senator Bate that Mr. Stahlman was our representative.

The CHAIRMAN. I suppose this other statement in your telegram
that "he is a gentleman upon whose statements you may implicitly
rely. He is our friend and neighbor and official member of our
church*'

Mr. BABBEE. That telegram was sent to Senator Pasco.

Senator PASCO. But there is no mention in this that he was your
agent. I said in my letter that a story was being circulated that you
had made a contract with Mr. Stahlman, and you failed to mention to
me that he was your agent, although I was seeking for information.
Instead of saying that he was your agent, you said "he is a gentleman
upon whose statements you may implicitly rely. He is our friend and
neighbor and official member of our church whose interest in our
church reached beyond and above pecuniary considerations." You
failed utterly to mention the fact that he was your agent. Was that
failure designedly?

Mr. BARBEE. No. 1 had no idea you wanted to know that fact.

Senator PASCO. The whole tenor of my letter was to know if you had
an agent to whom you were to pay 40 per cent or any other per cent.

Mr. BARBEE. I always spoke of him as our attorney.

Senator PASCO. You referred to him as a friend and neighbor, and a
gentleman upon whose statement we might implicitly rely; all leading
me away from the truth.

Mr. BARBEE. If we had supposed that you did not know that Mr.
Stahlman represented us, we would have stated it.

The CHAIRMAN. When you were inquired of as to whether you had
made a contract, I think it was belittling the question to say that you
had not made a contract for 40 per cent. You should have told the
thing just as it was. I think it belittles the whole matter for you to
say that because you did not pay 40 percent the statement was untrue.

Senator FAIRBANKS. If there was any question as to Senator Pasco's
letter there could have been no doubt about Senator Bate's telegram.

Mr. GARLAND (counsel). Senator Bate's telegram was based upon
Senator Pasco's letter.

Senator STEWART (to the witness). I understand you to have acted
under the supposition that Senator Pasco did not desire information,
but simply wanted a denial of the fact for use in the Senate. Is it
your idea that he did not desire any real information? I understand
you to state, in substance, that that was your view of Senator Pasco's
letter. Is that so?

Mr. BARBEE. The honorable chairman of this committee and other
Senators have stated

Senator STEWART. No matter what they have stated. Did you
understand from Senator Pasco's letter that he did not desire any real
information on the subject of the contract?

Mr. BARBEE. I understood one thing and one thing only, and that
was that Senator Pasco desired us to deny that we were paying 40 per
cent.

S. Rep. 1416 2



14 METHODIST BOOK CONCERN SOUTH.

Senator STEWART. How did you construe this language-
Some malicious persons are circulating a slanderous story about the Capitol with
the evident purpose to obstruct the passage of our bill. It is to the efl'ect that you
have made a contract with Mr. Stahhnan to pay him 40 per cent of the amount
recovered.

Would that have been any less slanderous if the story had been 50
per cent, and would you have answered in the same way?

Mr. BARBEE. Yes, sir.

Senator STEWART. Then it was the particular 40 per cent which
attached the character of untruth to the story, was it?

Mr. BARBEE. Yes.

Senator STEWART. No other amount would have answered the
purpose?

Mr. BARBEE. I did not say that.

Senator STEWART. Suppose it had been 50 per cent, would the story
not have been equally slanderous!

Mr. BARBEE. A little more so.

Senator STEWART. Suppose it had been 39 per cent, would it not
have been equally slanderous?

Mr. BARBEE. No, sir. The truth is I would not have thought 50 per
cent any too much.

Senator STEWART. Senator Pasco further says :

It was not necessary for me to get any contradiction, because I know very well that
the agents of the publishing house knew better how to conduct their trust than to
make such an improvident bargain, and I knew also that there was no power to make
such a contract, so I did not hesitate to denounce it as a malicious slander, and I
am sure also that the Senators who came to me for information upon the subject are
thoroughly satisfied with my statement.

Then you think that Senator Pasco denouncing it as a malicious
slander depended upon the exact percentage of 40 per cent, and that
you would be entirely relieved from responsibility if you denied that
there was any other percentage agreed to than 40 per cent?

Mr. BARBEE. I did not say that.

Senator STEWART. You did not want to place him in a position of
denouncing it as a slander, if it turned out to be true, did you? You
did not want to get him in that fix?

Mr. BARBEE. No, sir.

Senator STEWART. He denounced it as a slander, and you think that
if it turned out that he was not exactly right about the percentage, he
would be justified in denouncing it as a slander, a mistake having been
made about the percentage?

Mr. BARBEE. 1 understood him, and he said

Senator STEWART. That is not what 1 asked you. Do you think that
Senator Pasco would be justified in denouncing it as a malicious slander
if you had agreed to pay something different than 40 per cent?

Mr. BARBEE. It is a matter of opinion what a malicious slander
would be

Senator STEWART. Did you want him to stand as denouncing 40 per
cent as a slander, if the actual amount was 35 per cent?

Mr. BARBEE. I did not want to justify it or to nujustifyit. I simply
denied that we were paying 40 per cent.

Senator FAIRBANKS. What did you understand Senator Pasco as
meaning when he said " and I knew also that there was no power to
make such a contract?"

Mr. BARBEE. That bothered us for a while, unless he meant that
there was no power in the book agents aside from the book committee.



METHODIST BOOK CONCERN SOUTH. 15

Senator FAIRBANKS. Did you understand that be only challenged
the power to make a contract at 40 per cent?

Mr. BARBEE. Or any other percentage.

Senator FAIRBANKS. Then, if you had no power in your organiza-
tion to make any contract, do you think that in view of that Senator
Pasco wanted you to equivocate?

Mr. BARBEE. No; I do not think he was trying to equivocate.

Senator STEWART (reading from Senator Pasco's letter) :

But as a matter of caution it will be very well for me to have a positive denial
from you, which I can use, if it appears necessary, either before the bill comes up
for action or on the floor of the Senate, so I suggest that you send me a telegram on
Monday as to the facts of the case, and authorizing me, as I am sure you can, to
deny this statement.

Did you understand from that that Senator Pasco wan led you to con-
ceal the facts in the case any of the material facts?

Mr. BARBEE. No; I do not mean to be understood that he was sug-
gesting any concealment.

Senator STEWART. Do you not think that if the contract was for 35
per cent or 40 per cent, that the concealing of that fact would be very
material? Do you not think that material to his inquiry ?

Mr. BARBEE. I do not.

Senator STEWART. Then you think that the sole inquiry was fixed
upon the idea of 40 per cent, and that if you denied that he would go
before the Senate and say that there was no contract?

Mr. BARBEE. I have stated time and again that I understood Sena-
tor Pasco to be asking me directly whether we paid 40 per cent. That
is what we understood and that is what we answered that and no
more.

Senator STEWART. If the fee had been 50 per cent, you would have
answered in the same way?

Mr. BARBEE. 1 do not know.

Senator STEWART. You would have denied that it was 40 per cent
if your contract had been for 50 per cent, would you?

Mr. BARKEE. Why, as a matter of course. Understanding it in that
way; yes.

Senator WARREN. Taking the ground that Senator Pasco wanted a
denial, what would have been your answer, if the contract had been for
40 per cent?

Mr. BARBEE. I will tell you exactly. I would have said, "Excuse
us, Senator, but that is a matter between us and our attorney, and is a
question as to which we do not recognize the right of anybody to
inquire."

Senator WARREN. Then if Senator Pasco had happened to hit upon
the right sum, your answer would have been the same?

Mr. BARBEE. Yes, sir.

Senator PASCO. Where do you understand the final power to make
contracts in your church to rest?

Mr. BARBEE. Do you mean in reference to the publishing-house
business?

Senator PASCO. Yes. You say that the contract was not made by
the book agents, but by the book committee. Where do you under-
stand the power to make a final contract to rest, under the law of your
church ?

Mr. BARBEE. I do not know that I comprehend your question, but I
will answer it as I do comprehend it. A formal contract to be legal



16 METHODIST BOOK CONCERN SOUTH.

must be signed by the book agents. The name of the house is "The
Book Agents of the M. E. Church South."

Senator PASCO. You say that tliis contract was made by the book
committee, and yet you say that it was not made by the book agents.
I understand that the first step is for the book agents to make a con-
tract. What is the next step. That is not binding, is it!

Mr. BARBEE. Ob, yes. The corporate name of the house is "The
Book Agents," and the particular book agents represent that corporate
name. The law of the church provides that they shall act under the
direction of the book committee.

Senator PASCO. That is the second step?

Mr. BARBEE. No; not the second step in a transaction like this.
Views were exchanged back and forth, one way and the other, and the
decision was reached by the book committee that they would give Mr.
Stahlman 35 percent, he taking the whole risk and paying all the
expenses.

Senator STEWART. Have you given all the information that you have
in reference to the disposition of this matter?

Mr. BARBEE. If you want to know what was done with the balance
of the money

Senator STEWART. No; you have no knowledge whatever, have you,
of the disposition that was made of the $100,800!

Mr. BARBEE. No; I do not know what Mr. Stahlman did with the
money.

Senator STEWART. The two checks which you drew after the $40,000
exchange on New York, you do not know what was done with that
money?

Mr. BARBEE. No, sir.

Senator STEWART. No explanation was given to you as to what was
done with it?

Mr. BARBEE. Nobody presumes to inquire what you gentlemen do in
your private affairs, and I did not inquire what Major Stahlman did
with the money.

Senator STEWART. You do not know of any person being interested
in that money?

Mr. BARBEE. No, sir.

Senator STEWART. Nobody connected with the Book Concern got
any of it?

Mr. BARBEE. No one, so far as I have heard.

Senator STEWART. Did you have any commission yourself?

Mr. BARBEE. Positively, no, sir.

Senator Stewart. To whom were these checks made payable to Mr.
Sfahlman?

Mr. BARBEE. Yes.

Senator STEWART. Who was the cashier of the bank on which these
checks were drawn?

Mr. BARBEE. I do not recollect whether the checks were on two
banks or one. The Fourth National Bank was the bank through which
we got the 840,000 exchange on New York, and I think it was one of
the banks on which a check was drawn. The junior agent can tell you
that exactly. He is the one who did the checking.

Senator FAIRBANKS. Did you see Mr. Stahlman after your receipt of
Senator Pasco's letter?

Mr. BARBEE. No, sir; Mr. Stahlman was here in Washington. We
telegraphed him immediately that we had sent this dispatch to Senator
Pasco, and asking him to see him.



METHODIST BOOK CONCERN SOUTH. 17

Senator FAIRBANKS. Have you copies of the telegraphic correspond-
ence between you and Mr. Stahlmau respecting this matter?

Mr. BARBEE. Yes, sir.

Senator FAIRBANKS. Have you got the copies here?

Mr. BARBEE. Do you mean correspondence reaching back?

Senator FAIRBANKS. No; the correspondence with reference to this
particular transaction.

Mr. BARBEE. Yes; we have got the correspondence here.

Senator FAIRBANKS. Be good enough to produce it.

Mr. BARBEE. You will have to ask the other agent when he comes in.

Senator FAIRBANKS. Did you report this transaction to your general
conference?

Mr. BARBEE. Yes, sir.

Senator FAIRBANKS. When was that conference held, and where?

Mr. BARBEE. On the oth of May. 1898, in the city of Baltimore.

Senator FAIRBANKS. How long did the conference continue in session ?

Mr. BARBEE. About three weeks.

Senator FAIRBANKS. When did you make your report to the con-
ference?

Mr. BARBEE. The first days of the conference.

Senator WARREN. I suppose that naturally in all these years, there
has been a large amount of expenses in prosecuting the claim.

Mr. BARBEE. We had contracts with gentlemen residing here before
we made the contract with Mr. Stahlman.

Senator WARREN. After paying $100,800 to Mr. Stahlman, had any
portion of the balance of the money to be paid to other attorneys for
prosecuting the claim?

Mr. BARBEE. Oh, no; we paid none.

Senator WARREN. Do you know whether or not Mr. Stahlman paid
for the services or expenses of anybody else? Did he pay anybody con-
nected with the church or with the book concern any portion of the
$100,800 which he received?

Mr. BARBEE. He did not pay me anything, and I am quite certain
that he did not pay anything to anybody else connected with the Book
Concern.

Senator WARREN. You feel that you can answer that in the negative ?

Mr. BARBEE. We made him pay the whole of the expenses. He took
the whole risk. I made three trips to Washington myself and all my
expenses were charged up to him.

The CHAIRMAN. That was part of the $2,800?

Mr. BARBEE. Yes.

Senator WARREN. You feel positive that the disposition of this sum
paid to Stahlman would not disclose any amount paid either for ex-
penses or fees directly or indirectly to any person connected with the
Church affairs except as you have stated?

Mr. BARBEE. Yes, sir. All that the church got out of it was $187,200,
which is there now in Nashville.

Senator WARREN. When did you furnish this $2,000 to Staljlman?

Mr. BARBEE. At different times. It may be that my associate, Mr.
Smith, can tell you exactly or approximately, but I did not charge my
memory with it.

Senator WARREN. You have stated here that in answering Senator
Bate and Senator Pasco the occasion justified a rather diplomatic
answer I may say an adroit answer. Are you answering this ques-
tion with the same adroitness, and if Mr. Stahlman had contributed
$20,000 or $25,000 as a gift would you consider that outside and entirely



18 METHODIST BOOK CONCERN SOUTH.

apart from the answer you have given? That is to say, would you con-
sider that that was not a fee because it was not put in that exact form!

Mr. BARBEE. I would regard it as a fee and as a corrupt thing to do.
If he should otter it to me I know that I should.

Senator FAIRBANKS. You said a moment ago that Mr. Stahlman took
all the risk. What did you mean?

Mr. BARBEE. I meant whatever it might cost him.

Senator FAIRBANKS. The Church had loaned him $2,000 on a mort-
gage?

Mr. BARBEE. Yes.

Senator FAIRBANKS. Then did not the Church take the risk and not
Mr. Stahlman?

Mr. BARBEE. I think that it cost him a good deal more than $2,000.

Senator FAIRBANKS. Do you recollect how recently that loan was
made?

Mr. BARBEE. No; but it reached back not less than a year ago. I
think that the first loan for $1,000 goes back as far as two years ago.
The first loan was given on a mortgage on property worth three or four
times the amount. For the second loan we took the security of the
Banner Publishing Company, a very prosperous newspaper in Nash-
ville.

Senator PASCO. With reference to the contract with the Church for
this large sum of money, you say that the first step in making the con-
tract was by the book agents, but that it had to be approved by the
book committee. Did that end it all ? Is the contract complete when
made in that way?

Mr. BARBEE. You did not understand me correctly.

Senator PASCO. State the right steps, if I have not stated them.

Mr. BARBEE. The book agents, Barbee and Smith, when they have
a financial problem, call the book committee together at once, lay the
question before the committee, and (as was the case with Mr. Stahlman)
they brought him forward, and the book committee consulted with him
and decided what must be done, and then the book committee handed
the matter over to the book agents to make the formal legal contract.

Senator PASCO. Then this contract was made with the book agents?

Mr. BARBEE. The legal form of contract was, but the trade itself
was made by the book committee.

Senator PASCO. Does not the rule of your Church require that all
these matters shall be under the control of the general conference?

Mr. BARBEE. No, sir; but every thing in the Church is under the con-
trol of the general conference. The general conference has original
jurisdiction.

Senator PASCO. My view of the power of the book agents as expressed



Online LibraryH. B. (Henry Bidleman) BascomThe Methodist Church property case. Report of the suit of Henry Bascom, and others, vs. George Lane, and others, heard before the judges Nelson and Betts, in the Circuit Court, United States, for the Southern District of New York, May 17-20, 1851 → online text (page 67 of 87)