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to General Belknap; and, if so, who was it!

A. No one that I remember. No other except what I have already stated, the
ennversation with Mrs. Bower.

***** * *

Mr. Morton. I submit the following interrogatory t

Q. Did General Belknap personally or through any person or by letter ever in-
quire of you why this money was sent, and did you in anyway ever assign a reason
to him for it?

A. Never to my best recoUection.

Mr. CONRLINQ. I propose a question which may have been answered in sub-
stance, but I should like to have on answer to it:

Q. Was your intention to send money to General Belknap and your act in send-
ing it in consequence of any communication between you Mid Greneral Belknap ?
And, if there was sny such communication, state it

A. No, sir ; there was not

* * *****
Mr. Logan. I desire to ask a question which I send to the Chair.

The PuEsiUEXT pro tempore. The question propounded by the Senator from Illi-
nois will bo read.

The Chief Clerk read as follows :

Q. From the conversation with the present Mrs. Belknap, mentioned by yon in
Tour answer to my former interrogatory, you spoke of on understanding with the
former Mrs. Belknap, now deceased. Please state what that undcrstanung was.

* * *****
The WmcBss. I think not

Mr. CoNKUxo. W bat does the witness mean when he says he thinks not f
The Witness. I do not think I suted that I had an understanding with Mrs.

Belknap.
Q. (By Mr. Carpkntsb.) As I understand, the first money that yon sent was

■ent to the former Mrs. Belknap, now deceased I



A. Yes, sir.

Q. And that was sent without any arrangement between you and anybody f

A. Yes, sir.

Q. A dean, dear present f

A. Yes, sir.

* * * * * * *

Mr. Morton. I propose the following question :

S, How often after tne first money was sent to BelknM> and before your ezMni-
on before the committee of the House did you meet General Belknap, and waa
the money ever referred to iu conversation at any of these interviews f

A. For the first two or three years, I saw him perhaps two or three times a year.
The first money I sent General Belknap must have been in the spring of 1871. I
suppose probably through that year and 187S and' 1873 1 met him two or three
times a yosr; but I have no reooUeotion of the money having been referred to in
any conversation between us.

By Mr. Manager McMahon:
*** * * * 1

Q. What is your best recollection as to whether you did or did not have a conver-
sation with him personally, while you were here attending the funeral of his sec-
ond wife t

A. I can only state that I have a very indistinct impression about it I have
sometimes thought that I said something to General Buknap on the night of the
funeral, but I sometimes think I did not, and that the only conversation I had was
with Mrs. Bower.

By Mr. Cabpbntek :

Q. Is there any way in your mind to strike an average between those two im-
pressions f

A. I cannot I never shall know ; I never shall be certain about it

Q. The Senate will never know ^m you, then f

A. I have thought about it night and day, but the more I think about it the leas
I know.

In this connection I propose also to read what the witness said in
his examination before the Committee on the Expenditures of the
War Department. In that statement, on page 191 of the Hecoud, he
said:

The WrrNlflS. In reply to your questions, I would state that in the summer of 1P70
myself and wife spent some weeks at Long Branch, and on our return to New York
Mrs. Belknap and Mrs. Bower, by our invitation, came for a visit to our house.
Mrs. Belknap was ill during this visit some three or four weeks, and I supfiosu iu
consequence of our kindness to her she felt under some obligations, for she asked
me one day in the course of a conversation why I did not apply for a post-trader-
ship on the frontier.

• * * * * **

Mrs. Belknap and Mrs. Bower returned to Washington, and a fow weeks there-
after Mrs. Belknap sent me word to come over. I did so. She then told me that
the post-tradersbip at Fort Sill was vacant ; that it was a valuable post as she un-
derstood, and that she had either asked for it for me or hat prevailed upon the
Secretaiy of War to agree to give it to me. At all event«», I called upon the Sec-
retary of War. and as near as I can remember made application for tnis post iu a
regular printed form. The Secretary said he would appoint mo if I could tiring
proper recommendatory letters, and this I said I could do. Either Mrs. Belknap
or tne Secretary told mo that tlie present tnwler at the post, John S Erans, was an
ap])licant for re-appointment, and that I had bettersce film, he being in the city, as
it would not be fair to turn him out of oflice without some notice, as he wouhriuse
largely on his buildings, merchandise, d&o., if the otllce was taken from him, and
Uiat it would be proper and Just for me to mako some arrangement with him for
their purchase if I wanted to run the post myself. I saw Kvans and found him
alarmed at the prospect of losing the puice.

Mr. Evans first proposed a partnership, which I declined, and then a bonus of a
certain portion of the profits if I would allow him to hold the position and continue
the business. We finally ain^cd up<m 815,000 per year. Mr. Evans and myself
went on to New York together, where the contract was made and executed, which
is herewith submitted. (Paper marked A.) During our trip over, however, Mr.
Evans saw something in t^e Army and Navy Journal which led him to think that
some of the troops were to be removed from Uie fort and that he had ofiered too
large a sura, and before the contract was drawn it was reduced by agreement to
$1:2,000, the same being payable quarterly in advance.

When the first remittanco came to me, very probably in November, 1870, 1 sent
one-half thereof to Mrs. Belknap, either, I presume, certificates of deposit or bank-
notes, by express. Being in Washington at a funeral some weeks after this. I had
a conversation ^ith Mrs. Bower to the following purport, as &r as I can now re-
member, but must say that Just here my memory is exceedingly indistinct and I
Judge in part perhaps from what followed as to the details of the conversation. I
went upstairs in the nursery with Mrs. Bowers to see the baby. I said to her,
"This child will have money coming to it before a great while." She said, " Yes.
The mother gave the child to mo, and told mo that the money coming from me she
must take and keep for it" I said, *'All right" and it seems to me isaid that per-
haps the father oiight to be consulted. I say it seems so, and yet I can give no
reason for it for as far as I know the fother knew nothing of any money transac-
tions between the mother and myself. I have a faint recollection of a remark of
Mrs. Bowi-r that if I sent the money to the father that it belonged to her, and that
she would get it anyway.

Further on in this same testimony the court will see in what light
these remittances were probably viewed by the respondent. I quote
from page 192 of the Bbcord :
She-
Mrs. Belknap, says the witness —

wanted me to go before the committee and represent that she and I had business
transactions to^rether for many years and that all this money I had sent the Secre-
tary was money that she had from time to time deposited with moas a kind of biuiker,
ana that she had instructed me to send it to the Seci'etary for her.

To these last extracts I call particular attention, because they are
contained in the testimony which the managers produced to prove a
confession or admission by the defendant. The testimony was put in
by them for that purpose, and of course that part of the testimony
which controverts the accusation is as ^od for us as the other part,
if there is any such thing in it, is good for them.

In the course of this examination a Senator made an argument to
the witness in the form of a question, implying that remittances by
installments were ijconsistent with his assertion that they were
presents. In the absence of positive proof to the contrary regular
remittances of equal sums carries an implication of payment, but not
more than a single remittance could convey ; and the i>ositivo asser-



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TKIAL OF WILLIAM W. BELKNAP.



291



tioDB of the witness that the remittances were all presents is as cred-
ible as if he had spoken of one remittance only. And the circum-
stances stated by witness in explanation of the transaction show that
the number of remittances do not any way affect the character of the
transaction at idl. He says that when* he transferred the place to Evans
he at the time of the transfer resolved to give the Secretary's wife
one-half of the bonus. If the bonus had been a round sum paid in
hand and he had handed over to Mrs. Belknap one-half of it, not in
pursuance of any agreement or understanding express or implied to
^that effect, but £i*om a feeling of gratitude, as he expresses it, it could
not be pretended that the de&ndant had either given the appointment
or retained the appointee in office in consideration of a contract for
money.

It does not alter the character of the transaction that the bonus
was not paid in hand biit was paid in installments as it was received,
and a contract could no more be implied from a remittance of the one-
half of the bonus in installments than it could be from the remittance
of a round sum. As the witness swears positively that the appoint-
ment was not made for any pecuniary consideration and that the ap-
pointee was not continued in office for any such consideration, it can-
not be inferred that the officer would have been removed on failure
to pay.

And this view of the case is demonstrated by the course of the
managers to accord with their own line of reasoning. They studi-
ously sunpressed the facts showing the origin of the appointment.
This oould only have been done because they felt that the disclosure
of the origin of this appointment and the nature of the consideration
on which the witness expressly declared that it was conferred was
fatal to the charge made in the several articles of impeachment.
What other motive could they have had for failing to require Marsh
to give his story in the chronological order he hiul given it before
the Committee on Expenditures in the War Department but the con-
viction this proof negatived the conclusions they sought to draw from
the unexplained facts of the appointment and the remittances which
followed 7 They evidently supposed that we would not supply that
deficiency, because we had shown so strong an indisposition to bring
before the public the names of those with whom Marsh had dealt in the
beginning, and they did not anticipate that we would strike out the
key-stone of the arch of presumption upon which they had built.
They rested their case without asking their witness whether the
statement made in the articles as to the consideration on which those
remittances were made was true. Without mentioning anybody's
name, we asked their witness that question, and the answer is a di-
rect and positive contradiction; and the result is that all the articles
are proved to be absolutely false by the only witness who is adduced
to substantiate the consideration of which this appointment was
made, which is the point on which the case presented in each one of
"^e articles turns.

There are a number of immaterial circumstances upon which the
managers rely indirectly to defeat the effect of this direct testimony
on the part of their own witness. They undertook to show, first j
that Marsh had said, in a conversation with Bellcnap bad in the
spring of 1872, that he had a contract with Evans, and also that that
fact appears in Colonel Griersqn's letter written in answer to the in-
quiries made by the Secretary of War on the publication of the famous
article in the New York Tribune of 1872. But if the Senate will advert
to the facts under which this appointment was maile, it will see in a mo-
ment that Grierson'sand Marsh'sstatemen t on that point was important.
After the promise had been given to Marsb, Evans appeared here, and
an interview took place between Massh and Evans, the result of
which was that Marsh applied to the Secretary to let the appoint-
ment stand in Evans's name, as that would be more convenient for
him at the time. When Evans applied, and told the Secretary how
large an amount of money he had invested in buildings and in goods
at the station, the Secretary told Marsh, as Marsh testifies at page
164 of the Record, that he must make some arrangement with Evans,
and that he would not appoint him unless he did so. This is Marsh's
account of the interview.

A. He said he woald appoint me to this place, post-trader at Fort Sill, I think,
and he then told me that I had l)etter go and see Mr. Evans; that he was in the



city and an applicant for re^tppointment ; and tliat if I was to ran the post myself I
withont buying oat ms stock and boildings ; it would ruin hioi, or someihins of



think be said"! oagbt to make an arrangement with him to bay out his stock of
goods and his building^ because it would not be fair to turn him out of bis |>osition



that kind, and ne would not consent to it.

The Secretary had therefore said to Marsh that he would not consent
to allow him to ruin Evans, and that he must go and make some ar-
rangement with him by which their matters could be accommodated.

Marsh's statement which I have just read you from his testimony
before the Committee on the Expenditures of the War Department is
to the same purport, hence the Secretary had required Marsh to arrange
with Evans. Marsh had accordingly made the required arrangement,
and Marsh had notified the Secretary that he had made it ; and it is also
in evidence here that Evans communicated to the Secretary through
Marsh. What other conclusion could the Secretary have formed in
relation to them than that there were business arrangements between
Marsh and Evans, and if business aJtrangements existed was it not
fair to presume that it was a partnership f That relation was implied
as it seems to me in the terms of Marsh's letter, in which he says that
he wanted the business to stand for the present in the name of Evans,
for the reason that it was not convenient for him to take charge of



it himself. So when it was afterward disclosed to the Secretary by
Marsh, in a conversation, that he had a contract with Evans, and
when Colonel Griersou writes to him that he learns Evans makes
remittances to Marsh, this was no more than the Secretary would
have inferred from the facts already within his knowledge.

The question is simply whether it was wrong for the Secretary to
appoint Marsh, his friend, and not to appoint Evans, with whoni he
had no such relations. Will the Senate hold this to be an offense f
We may have a very defective civil service. I am not here to recom-
mend favoritism in the administration of public affairs. But who is
there in this body, or among the managers, or in the House they rep-
resent, who has not recommended his fnends for appointment to office
over those who were strangers to him f Who has not given place to
friends when he had the power to do so f If this be an offense, it is
one which few of those I am now addressing have not committed, and
it would be a sufficient answer to the accusation to say. '^ He that is
without this sin among you let him cast the first stone.''

No inference derogatory to General Belknap can be drawn from the
fact that he used his political power to give position to one who had
been kind to those who were dear to him. It was a political appoint-
ment, and he disposed of it after the manner of the times, as he, as
all know, the heads of Departments, and members of Congress, and
other public men dispose of or recommend the disposal oi sucn ap-
pointments. The crime comes in only when the party who makes or
recommends such an appointment does so for pecuniary considera-
tion to himself. He may have made all his appointments from fa-
voritism, without justifying any unfavorable inference here. Indeed
the evidence shows that, while he was doing what everybody else
does in giving places to their friends, he did not indulge his kindly
feeling so far as to be unjust. He maintained in this transaction the
character for justice which all who have associated with him attrib-
ute to him. He therefore made it a condition with Marsh that he
should make some arrangement with Evans by which Evans's just
rights should be saved.

Evans had no right to the place. Congress, in passing the act
which turned him out and put the power of making appointments in
the hands of the Secretary of War, adjudged that he nad no right to
the place. He therefore had no possible claim upon the Secretary
of War for the continuance in the place, but he had invested largely
in building and transporting merchandise there, and thus entitl<Ml to
some consideration, and he was certified to also as an upright man, and
it was therefore but right that the Secretary, in exercising the right
given by Congress to supersede him by a persimal or political friend,
should require his friend to make some arrangements to save the in-
cumbent from ruin. And this the Secretary required absolutely.
And now it is sought to turn this circumstance against him. If he
had been the mercenary which it is sought to represent him to be, he
would not have interfered. He would have ^ven Marsh the place
unconditionally to make the most of it for division between them.
But he takes directly the contrary course, and in the spirit of an hon-
est man exacts justice from Marsh for the stranger.

In this case, as the evidence shows, the consideration originated in
his private relations. The man andnis family had been kind to Bel-
knap's family, but he nevertheless imposed it as a condition that he
nmst bring political indorsements, and he promised and finally se-
cured the usual political indorsements upon which such offices are
given, and we have here on file with the appointment the recom-
mendation of a man of very great eminence in politics in the West,
and it appears bv the record that one of the most distinguished mem-
bers of this body also joined in the recommendation, whose recom-
mendation has probably been lost. It is not at all tlie habit of the
Departments to preserve mere recommendations to office after a cer-
tain number of years have elapsed ; it would overwhelm the archives
to keep the voluminous recommendations that are put there for office,
and therefore they are not rotamed for any number of years, nor are
they preserved with any special particular care after the appoint-
ments are made, and hence it is not at all remarkable that the recom-
mendation of ona of the gentlemen whose names entered upon the
book as having joined in the recommendation of Marsh is not to be
found. There is record evidence that there was such a recommenda-
tion, if it be important to consider it all.

But the case was disposed of jusC as other cases have been disposed
of ; the position given to a political friend of the Secretary, on the
recommendation of his political friends, because he is certified in this
recommendation by Mr. Stevenson to bo a good republican was a pass-
port to office not at all peculiar to this Administration. It is the habit
of all administrations to confer office on their political friends. Hence
this case, so far as the appointment goes, stands upon no different
footing from any other appointment. It is the appointment by an
officer upon considerations of which he alone was the proper judge
and made so by the law, and that appointment was conferred upon
his f nend, and he yet obliged that friend to make just terms with the
incumbent.

Hence the knowledge which the respondent had of the relations
between Marsh and Evans, that Marsh did not £[0 there himself to
carry on the business, but that Evans was carrying it on, and that
he received commnnications through Marsh of Evans's wants, and
acted upon them in the due course of official proceedings, was aground
for the assumption that he had a contract of some kind with Evans,
and probably a partnerahip. This also the resjK)ndont knew accorded



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292



TRIAL OF WILLIAM W. BELKNAP.



with the usages of the service, as testified to by Evans himself. Both
the men who had been there before, Durfee and Peck, were partners
in business, and did not live there at all, and yet they hod tniderahips
at that point, and were carrying them on at that time, at this very
Fort Sill by other persons, while they themselves lived at Saint Louis
or elsewhere. So the Secretary naturally supposed that Evans was
a partner of Marsh, upon whom and through whose iniineuce the
appointment was conferred, and it was notning extraordinary, and
no assumption derogatory to him can be based upon it, that he knew
that there was a contract between them and that Marsh was receiv-
ing money from Evans.

Another circumstance upon which great stress is laid in this group
of triiies is that complaints were made by Lvans through Marsh. I
have explained that in connection with what I have already said
about the knowledge of the contract, and I shall pass to other con-
siderations.

The third is the whisky order. After the great amount of time
with which the explanation of that matter occupied the Senate and
the complete refutation which was made by the official ordeis that
there was involved in the whisky order any favoritism to Marsh and
Evans, it cannot be necessary for me to dwell at any lengih upon this
matter. A great stress, however, was laid upon it as a great stress
is laid upon all these circumstances, and I think the Senate ought to
infer from the stress laid on these unimportant circumstances by the
prosecution the absolute poverty of the case on the part of the prose-
cution.

Think of the time, of the trouble, of the attention of this body,
which has been attracted to this whisky order for the argument it
was supposed to afibrd in support of the charges by showing Belknap's
interest in Evans's affairs, and an immense importance was attached
to it by the prosecution for that reason ; and when you come to sift
it down what is it f It appears that the officers at Fort Sill them-
selves wanted the post-trader to have the liberty to introduce a larger
quantity of liquor at one time than he was allowed by the exis' .ng
regulations to introduce, and that the application being ma<le by the
post-trader for that liberty, it was referred by the Secretary of War
to the several officers in due order of their grade, the subject duly
considered, and the order given after each one of these subordinate
officers had severally and aeriaihn given his sanction to it. When the
Senate see the enormous weight that is attached to this petty and
paltry and utterly insignificant circumstance; the days that have
oeen exhausted here in this sultry season ; the weight that these gen-
tlemen have laid on this immense whisky favor as they supposed, and
then see how it all vanishes to nothing, you cannot fail to see how
utterly frivolous and trifling and ridiculous the pretense is that Bel-
knap went oat of his way to help Evans because he knew he was in-
terested in his business. It is enough to show that the order in rela-
tion to whisky, after it had been considered and reported on in due
form by the post-commander, by the division commander, and the de-
partment commander, is freely left entirely to the commander of the
post and revokable at his pleasure, whenever the necessity for it
ceased.

Now pass to another one of these mighty and wonderful favors ad-
duced with such a parade of circumstance to destroy the chimaoter of
this respondent, and that is the grant of this extraordinary favor of
the extension of the military reserve. It is true that the application
was made by the trader; but it is also true that it ran the gauntlet
of the military ordeal, went from post commander to division and
depaitment commander, to the Adjutant-General, and to the Interior
Department, came to the Secretary, and finall v to the President himself,
and the question discussed and duly considered by all these various
officers as to whether it was a proper order to be made for the public
service, and only passed on and granted by the Secretary of War when
it had come up from every one of the subordinate posts, sanctioned and
indorsed by overv one, and finally approved by the President of the
United States with all the sanctions going before him. It does seem
to mo that it is one of the most significant things connected with this



Online LibraryUnited States. CongressCongressional record : proceedings and debates of the ... Congress → online text (page 131 of 172)