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 71 of 87)
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us, as per blank also hereto attached, what you have succeeded in doing.

Congress is now in session ; the bills are before committees of both Houses. We
earnestly appeal to you, therefore, to go actively to work at once. There is no time
to be lost.

In the belief that with the active and prompt assistance asked for success will
crown our efforts, we are,

Sincerely, yours, BARBEE & SMITH, Agents.

Senator FAIRBANKS. You prepared that circular and statement as
the employed agent of the book committee?

Mr. STAHLMAN. I did.

Senator FAIRBANKS. Were you under contract with the committee
at the time?


Senator FAIRBANKS. What was your contract?

Mr. STAHLMAN. The contract was to prosecute this claim before
Congress and they in the prosecution of the claim were to invoke the
aid of the ministers, the laymen, and the friends of the church. In
pursuance of that contract, under which I was to receive 35 per cent as
my fee, this circular was sent out and the response was favorable in
practically all cases.

The CHAIRMAN. Who signed that circular?

Mr. STAHLMAN. Barbee and Smith. I prepared it just as an attorney
would prepare a paper or brief or bill, and would ask his client to say
whether or not the statement was true, and whether or not it repre-
sented everything correctly. In addition I prepared a letter to the
bishops of the M. E. Church South, which 1 will read, and which met
the approval of the book agents. It was signed by the book agents
and was acted on by the bishops.

Senator FAIRBANKS. I suggest that as that has only a collateral
bearing on the matter, we do not stop to have it read now. You may
put it into the record.

Mr. STAHLMAN. I would rather read it.

Senator PASCO. We are not questioning the value of Mr. Stahlman's
services. They might be worth $100,000 or $150,000. We are not
questioning that. That is not one of the disputed points.

Mr. STAHLMAN. I thought it was.

Senator CLAY. I thought that the sole question was in reference to

The CHAIRMAN. That is what I announced the misrepresentations
which had been made by anybody with reference to securing the pas-
sage of the bill not as to the merits of the bill or as to the value of
the services rendered.


Senator PASCO. We are not proposing to take a featherweight from
the value of the services.

The CHAIRMAN. If you want to put in the letter you may do so, but it
would save time not to read it.

Mr. HAWKINS (counsel). In some of the debates in the Senate on
the resolution, Mr. Stahlman's name was mentioned as one who had
looted from the church or the Government or from the superannuated
preachers and had deprived them of their income. That was made one
of the matters pertinent to the introduction of the resolution.

Senator PASCO. If you read the resolution you will see that it does
not cover that.

The CHAIRMAN. The question whether Mr. Stahlman took money
from the church fund is a question which we do not propose to inquire
into. We have no remedy if he did. We only want to know how we
were dealt with in the matter.

Mr. STAHLMAN. Pardon me one second for a suggestion. In the
debate on the passage of the resolution for this investigation it was
intimated, and in fact was so stated, that I was a very rich man; that
I had made certain representations with reference to this matter; had
collected an enormous fee to which I was not entitled, and that I had
placed myself in the attitude of a man who ought to be tabooed, the
declaration of one Senator being that I was a thief.

The CHAIRMAN. I do not recollect anything of that kind.

Mr. STAHLMAN. It is in the Kecord. Another Senator said that the
church ought to return every dollar of the money. Now, my purpose
is to show to this committee (and I think it is right and fair that I
should be allowed to do so) what I did and how I did it, and I am pre-
pared to tell everything in connection with it from its inception to
its end.

The CHAIRMAN. We do not wish to deprive you of any right to pre-
sent your case before the committee, but we are not going to inquire
into that, unless we change our views. It is nothing to us whether
you earned your money or whether you did not.

Mr. STAHLMAN. The inference, Mr. Chairman, is I want to be respect-
ful, because I am dealing with the United States Senate, regarded as
the greatest deliberative body in the world the inference is, and it
has been charged, that there was an outrage perpetrated on the church
through this contract.

The CHAIRMAN. What we are inquiring about is the outrage perpe-
trated on the Senate by the concealment of facts which if known might
have changed the Senate's action.

Senator PASCO. If an outrage were perpetrated by the contract it
was upon the church, and that is a matter which the church itself must
investigate. The only matter for the committee to investigate is whether
an outrage was perpetrated on the Senate by the willful misrepresenta-
tion of the parties engaged in this matter. If there was an outrage per-
petrated upon the church the church is capable of following that up
and acting upon it, but the Senate has not intrusted it with that

Mr. COLYAR (counsel). I do not wish to raise any question after a
decision has been made, but Mr. Stahlman is very perspicuous in his
statements and will be brief, but I would like that he be allowed to
state the facts in his own vindication.

Mr. GARLAND (counsel). What was the purpose of the $5,000 amend-
ment to the bill in regard to agent's fees, if it was not to be a measure
of value?

Senator PASCO. That amendment did not prevail.


Senator CLAY. Senator Lodge's amendment was withdrawn on the
statement being made on the floor of the Senate that no fees at all were
to be paid. That statement having been made, the amendment was
withdrawn because the friends of the measure thought that if adopted
it would throw the bill into a conference, and possibly give trouble and
endanger its final passage.

Senator FAIRBANKS. Because of that statement the amendment was
laid upon the table almost unanimously.

Senator CLAY. Yes; and I think that you made the motion.

Senator FAIRBANKS. I did.

The CHAIRMAN. But for that statement the amendment would have
been adopted.

Mr. GARLAND. The impression that I got was that Senator Lodge
was induced to withdraw because there would have been difficulty in
the bill again passing the House.

Senator PASCO. It has been alleged on the floor of the Senate that
Mr. Stahlman assured Senators that he was not to receive a dollar for
all these services.

Mr. STAHLMAN. It is a very serious matter for a Senator on the floor
of the Senate to call a man a thief, or to say that he should be tabooed
and that he has not a shred of character left. That is a very serious
matter. Now, I desire the privilege of stating every material fact con-
nected with the progress of this claim.

The CHAIRMAN. We will give you that liberty, but we can not sit
here for days.

Mr. STAHLMAN. It will not take me days.

The CHAIRMAN. If you are willing to make your statement in a gen-
eral way

Mr. STAHLMAN. It will not take long.

The CHAIRMAN. Well, go ahead.

Mr. STAHLMAN. As I stated, in addition to the circular letter accom-
panied by the statement of facts culled from the Senate report of 1878,
I drafted a letter to the various bishops of the M. E. Church South.
That letter was submitted to the book agents, and it was sent by them
to the several bishops. I will not detain the committee by reading the
letter, but I will file it.

The letter is as follows:

DECEMBER 31, 1895.
Bishop C. B. GALLOWAY,

Jackson, Miss.

Dear BISHOP: The claim of the publishing house is rfcated in hrief extracts from
the reports of the several committees of Congress in the pamphlet hereto attached.
The claim filed aggregated $457,000. The amount reported by the committee was
$288,000, which the publishing house agreed to accept in order to effect a settlement.
The original report was made by the Senate committee of the Forty-fifth Congress
in 1874, failure to pass the bill since that time being due largely to an absence of
unitd effort to secure its passage, although recommended fdr passage by committees
during two subsequent sessions of Congress.

We are now promised support which we have not hitherto had, but in order to
enlist Senators and Members of Congress it will be necessary for friends of the church
to do some active work.

When the claim was presented to Congress some twenty years ago it was sup-
ported, SM the report shows, by Bishops Morris, Janes, Simpson, Ames, Bowman,
Merrill, Peck, and Haven, and others of the M. E. Church, they having written let-
ters or signed petitions in favor of the payment of our claim. It is, of course, very
desirable that these indorsements should be renewed; not only on the part of those
who aided ns before and are still living, but those who fill the vacancies created by
death, as well as those who have been chosen bishops by reason of the enlargement
of the College of Bishops. We have, therefore, upon mature reflection, concluded that
yon ar the proper representative of our church to make an appeal to the bishops of


the North for assistance. We are persuaded that letters will be more effective than
a petition and can be obtained with less delay. Will you not, therefore, at your
earliest convenience, write these friends asking them each to write to one or more
Members of Congress and Senators, with whom they are acquainted, urging the
passage of the bill which has been introduced and is now pending before the War
C'laims committee of the Senate and House. The bill as introduced is called "A bill
for the relief of the book agents of the Methodist Episcopal Chnrch South."

In addition to letters addressed to Senators and Members with whom the bishops
may be acquainted, it would aid us very much if they were each to write letters
to the Hon. Thaddeus M. Mahon, chairman of the Committee on War Claims of the
House, and the Hon. Henry M. Teller, chairman of the Committee on Claims of the

For convenient reference we send you a number of copies of extracts from the
reports of the several committees of the Senate and the House, and also a number of
the lists of members of the Senate and House of the present Congress, including a
list of committees on War Claims in the Senate and House, of which you may send
to each bishop copies. The first for the purpose of having them understand the
merits and status of our claim and the second upon the assumption that the several
bishops may personally know a number of Senators and Members of Congress and
would be glad to write such Senators and Members on our behalf.

We inclose a list of bishops and post-office addresses for your convenient infor-

In addition to the foregoing, we shall be glad if you will write to such prominent
members or ministers of the North, East, and West, whether connected with the
Methodist Episcopal Church or other denominations, as you believe may be willing
to render assistance, inclosing also to each of them a copy of committees' reports
and a list of Senators and Members, asking them to write to the chairman of Claims
Committees and auch friends in the Senate and House as they may feel disposed to

We deem it desirable for you to ask the bishops and other friends to advise yon
what Senators and Kepresentatives they have written to, and advise us, in order that
our friends in Washington may be able to locate these letters and thus obtain the
benefits which such letters may give.

The foregoing methods are suggested by a brother who is rendering valuable aid
in connection with this claim, and who from his large experience recognizes the
value of systematic and well-directed efforts. It is for these reasons that we make
such specific suggestions, which we trust will entirely meet with your views.

We recognize that a compliance with the foregoing request will entail much labor
and expense upon you, and yet it is deemed very essential by our friends. We are
therefore prepared to advise that you employ a stenographer and typewriter and
send to us a bill for his services, including postage and stationery.

Yon may be assured that we are not taxing yon alone, but we are asking other
friends of the church throughout the entire connection to render like aid in their
, respective sphere.

Congress is now in session; the bills, as stated, are pending before committees of
the House and Senate. There is no time to be lost. May we not, therefore, beg that
you give us your prompt and active assistance ?

Sincerely, yours, .

Mr. STAHLMAN (continuing). This letter was accompanied by a state-
ment of facts to enable the bishops (some of whom knew little about
the matter) to understand thoroughly and to invoke the help of their
friends in all parts of the country, whether they resided North, South,
East, or West. On or about the same time the Book Concern of the
African Methodist Church at Nashville, presided over by Dr. Smith,
had been destroyed by fire. I knew that it could be materially aided
by the Book Concern of the M. B. Church South furnishing it with
literature, books, periodicals, stationery, and everything of that sort.
I called upon Dr. Smith. Now, Mr. Chairman, 1 went about this
matter just exactly as a man would in a lawsuit, doing everything in
favor of his client and presenting facts in favor of his client. I had
a conference with Dr. Smith. I said: "You know that these people
here were injured by the war. You know something of the facts of
the case. Look over this pamphlet." He looked it over and said,
"That is right," and he said he would write to some of the bishops of
his church. I framed the letter for him, just as an attorney, represent-


ing a client in the case. Here is a copy of the original letter sent by
Mr. Smith to his bishops:

NASHVILLE, TENN., January 1, 1896.

DEAR BISHOP: Our friends of the publishing house of the M. E. Church South
have bad a claim pending in Congress for twenty years for use and damage to the
publishing house during the war. It is, as shown by the several reports, an
eminently just claim, indorsed, as will be seen, by the bishops of the Methodist
Episcopal Church even when sectionalism was running high.

These brethren have been uniformly kind to us since we located in Nashville,
having aided us in substantial ways. They are, therefore, entitled to our help. I
have been asked to kindly help them by requesting you and other bishops of our
cburch to write letters to the Hon. Henry M. Teller, chairman of the Committee on
Claims of the Senate, and to the Hon. Thaddeus M. Mahon, chairman of the Com-
mittee on War Claims of the House, recommending the passage of the bill now
pending for the payment of this claim.

I earnestly recommend that this be done, and trust it will be your pleasure to write
the letters and forward them to me by return mail so that I may hand them to our
friends, to be forwarded by them to Washington, with other letters and petitions.
Sincerely, yours,


Mr. STAHLMAN (continuing). These gentlemen responded. I think
the chairman of this committee received a n timber of letters from the
bishops of the African Church. I do not think that their responses
came because an attorney brought them out, but because they were
satisfied the facts of the case justified the payment of this claim. In
addition to that, when the African conference met in Baltimore a few
months after that, they unanimously adopted a resolution recommend-
ing the payment of this claim. In addition to that, Dr. Smith, being
in touch with all these bishops, told me that they were willing at any
time to do anything else required of them in the same line. He, said,
" We have realized that you helped us in our distress, and we are willing
at any time to go to Washington in a body to present the case and to
help you." They came to Washington.

Senator PASCO. Did they come at their own expense?

Mr. STAHLMAN. I am coming right to that. I will make no conceal-
ment. Dr. Smith came to me and said: "These bishops are ready to
go to Washington." That was after the Senate Committee on Claims
had reported the bill for $150,000. I think it was in 1896. That bill
had been rejected by the book committee. Then a bill was introduced
to submit the matter to the Court of Claims. That bill passed the
Senate without objection. It hungup in the House. It was believed
that something could be done to bring it up in the House. We were
quite as ready to have the claim go to the Court of Claims as we were
to have a direct appropriation. And, to be perfectly frank, I believe
that if it had gone to the Court of Claims we would have got $400,000.
But what we wanted was some action. These gentlemen came on to
Washington and called upon the Speaker. I happened to be in Wash-
ington and met them here. I said to Dr. Smith:

"I do not want these men to come to Washington city at their own expense. I
will see that their expenses are paid. They have come here from different parts of
the country from Philadelphia, Jersey City, Chicago, Atlanta, Athens, Ohio, and
elsewhere. They have come here to undertake to help us, and I will pay their

I do not know that Barbee and Smith knew anything about that.
Perhaps they did, perhaps they did not. But the bill failed of passage
in that session of Congress, although it had passed the Senate. The
Fifty- fifth Congress came, and I said:

W T e simply can not rest upon what we have done in the Fifty-fourth
Congress, because there are any number of Kepresentatives and Sena-


tors in the Fifty-fifth Congress who were not in the Fifty-fourth
Congress and who do not know anything about this claim.

I submitted to Barbee and- Smith a circular with another statement
of facts. The statement of facts is as follows:


The facts with respect to this claim are taken mainly from House Report 352, sub-
mitted by Mr. Lester from Committee on War Claims to 54th Congress, and, briefly
stated, are substantially as follows :

"The Book Agents of the M. E. Church South" is a corporation chartered by the
legislature of Tennessee in 1854. The object of this institution is "to advance the
cause of Christianity by disseminating religious knowledge and useful literary and
scientific information in the form of books, tracts, and periodicals."

The net proceeds of the publishing house, established at Nashville by and under
the control of this corporation, are, as provided under the organic law of the church,
set apart "for the benefit of the traveling supernumerary, superannuated, and
worn-out preachers, their wives, widows, and children."

Under this organization, and with this object in view, large sums of money were
accumulated through contributions and other sources for the purpose of establishing
an extensive publishing house plant in Nashville, Tenn., and such a plant was
established and was in full and successful operation when the war between the
States broke out in 1861, and up to the time the Federal Army, under General Buell,
reached Nashville in February, 1862.

When, after the fall of Fort Donelson, the army of General Buell reached* the
vicinity of Nashville, and was camped on the opposite side of the river from the city,
it appears that the mayor of Nashville, with city officials and citizens (including
among the latter the present chairman of the book committee of this publishing
house), met General Buell and informed him of the city's condition, and invited him
to occupy and protect the city, and that General Buell " expressed gratification at
the proceeding," and assured the deputation "that protection to both persons and
property of all peaceable citizens would be fully extended by the Army of the
United States," and requested the mayor to so inform the people by proclamation.
Whereupon the mayor, on the 26th of February, 1862, issued his proclamation,
stating, among other things, that "the committee representing the city authorities
and the people have discharged their duty by calling on General Buell in Edge-
field on yesterday. The interview was perfectly satisfactory to the committee, and
there is every assurance of safety and protection to the people both in their persons
and their property. I therefore request that business be resumed and all our citi-
zens of every trade and profession pursue their regular vocation."

On the same day (February 26th) General Buell issued a proclamation, in which,
among other things, he said :

"We are in arms not for the purpose of invading the rights of our fellow-country-
men anywhere, but to maintain the Union and protect the Constitution. . . .
Peaceable citizens are not to be molested in their personal property; all wrongs to
either are to be promptly corrected, and the offenders brought to punishment, 1 '' etc.
" If the necessities of the public service require the use of private property for public
purposes, compensation is to be allowed," etc.

General Butler, in his proclamation upon entering New Orleans, stated that " all
rights of property of whatever kind will be inviolate, subject only to the laws of the
United States." The Supreme Court in the case of " The Venice," decided that this
clause "only reiterates the rules established by the legislative and executive action
of the national Government in respect to the portions of the States in insurrection,
and occupied and controlled by the troops of the Union;" and that " wherever the
national troops have established order under national rule the right of person and
property have been in general respected and enforced."

There was no formal surrender at New Orleans or Nashville, but in Nashville there
was formal submission, while in New Orleans the mayor refused to give the pledge
of submission.

The orders or proclamation of General Buell were much broader and more definite
than General Butler's; they reached to the conduct of officers and men, enjoining
them against all interference with property, etc., and expressly provided for com-
pensation for property taken for public use.

There can be no doubt but what the proclamation and order of General Bnell
were intended and should have the effect of giving a " full measure of protection to
persons and property consistent with a necessary subjection to military government/'
and that from and after February 26, 1862, citizens of Nashville who remained peace-
able and their property could not be regarded as enemies or their property as enemy's


The people of Nashville, after that period and until the close of hostilities, engaged
freely in their business pursuits; the courts were open; the civil administration of
the law prevailed ; there was no disturbance of the relations which should exist
between the military and civil authorities, and it is owing to this condition of
affairs, satisfactorily established by history in connection with this property and
the use of it by the Army, that furnishes abundant foundation for this claim.
There can be no doubt but what the property was protected by the proclamation of
General Buell. This fact derives additional force from the proclamation of the
President, dated August 16, 1861, in which he declares certain States and parts of
States in rebellion and exempts States and parts of States and such territory as
"may be from time to time occupied and controlled by forces of the United States
engaged in the dispersion of said insurgents." And in this connection it may be
stated that during the entire time from February 26, 1862, to the close of the war the
city of Nashville was in undisturbed possession of the Army of the United States.

On the 24th of May, 1862, a libel of information was filed by the United States
district attorney in the circuit court of the United States to sequester, condemn, and
sell, and to confiscate the proceeds of the property, real and personal, of the corpo-
ration known as " The Book Agents of the Methodist Episcopal Church South." On
the 3d of June, 1862, the corporation interposed its claim to the property, gave
security for costs, and asked to be allowed to intervene for its rights of property and
possession. The bond to replevy the property was filed on the 4th of June, 1862.

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 71 of 87)