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with. And the husband, no matter how vile a wretch he might be,
had, as against the wife, the absolute control of their children. Both
the wife and diildren were entirely subject to his will, which he
might enforce by physical chastisement. And many a wife lingered
out a wretched existence, subject to the constant cruelty of her hus-
band, rather than leave his house, abandoning her children to his
bnitality and tyranny. Of course the infiuence of a wife's affection,
and her gentle ways, often mitigated this condition of wretchedness ;
but the law did nothing to alleviate it.

But as our civilization ripened, and as the Christian religion was
diflused, teaching that women, as well as men, have souls to be saved,
women have at Inst been recognized as being entitled to certain civil
rights ; which in our country, more than any other perhaps, have
Ji)een conceded and guarded by legal enactment. In Wisconsin, for
instance, for the purpose of holding and managing their own prop-
erty, wives are, in effect, divorced from their husbands. The sepa-
rate estate of a woman at the time of marriage, and everything accru-
ing to her by inheritance, or by her own industry, during marriage,
is absolutely her own ; and she may contract and be contracted with,
sue and be sned, in respect of her own property, as thongh she were
unmarried.

I am not here concerned in the discussion of the wisdom of this
change, or its effect upon domestic happiness. I am simply dealing
with the fact. The change has doubtless produced much good; but
good modified, perhaps, by some undesirable accompaniments.

But every human tribunal, to administer justice^ mnst consider the
circnmstances surrounding the person on trial. The hnsband of to-
day has no more legal right to interfere with the contracts, or with
management of the separate estate of his wife, than he has to do the
same thing with his next>door neighbor. Under the old ways it would
have been impossible for a wife to have received or expended a thou-
sand dollars without her husband's understanding the whole matter.
But to-day, in legal contemplation, for a husband to investigate the
pecuniary transactions of his wife, is mere impertinence. He may by
special love-making persuade or cajole his wife into a confession upon
the subject, as the wife might formerly have done with the husband ;
but he has no more legal right to investigate her financial transactions,
than the wife formerly had, or now has, to investigate those of her
husband. A corresponding change has taken place in the relations
between lovers. Formerly , and especially in England under the feudal
law, courtship was, in great measure, a matter of business negotiation.
The portion to be settled upon the bride, and the financial prospects of
the bridegroom, were matters of considerations of far more importance
in the negotiation of marriage in high life, than compatibility of tam-
per or mutual affection. But in our day and country a lover who
should institute inquiry into the financial condition of his intended,
would instantly be rejected by her, and kicked out of doors by her
father. A lover nowadays, wooing a damsel, not for what she mi,
but for what she haSt must carefully conceal his design.



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328



TRIAL OF WILLIAM W. BELKNAP.



Let U8 now apply theee faoU to the case before as. The proof is
clear and explicit, that the first $1,500 sent by Marsh was sent to Mrs.
Belknap ; and it was expressly understood between them that the
fact should be concealed from the Secretary. And the testimony of
Marsh before the committee, introduced, by the prosecution, shows
why this was done. Marsh testifies that Mrs. Belknap told him, that
any present he might make her must be made without the Secretary's
knowledge ; because she said that a person had once offered him $10,000
for a post-tradership, and the Secretary had kicked him down stairs.
This was the only remittance prior to the death of the former Mrs.
Belknap. Marsh testifies that at her funeral in Washington, he went
up stairs in General Belknap's houhe with Mrs. Bower to see the
child : that he said to her, " This child will soon have money coming
to it.'' She said. / know t/, and my sister left the child to me. Marsh
says that be thinks he remarked to her tbat it might be best to speak
i4} the father (General Belknap) about it, aud that she replied tbat,
if he sent tbe money to Greneral Belknap, it belonged to her, and she
should get it. Marsh testified on this trial that he had sometimes
thought he did speak about it to General Belknap that night, and
sometimes he had thought that he did not. I asked him whether he
could strike an average between these impressions ; he answered, he
could not, and that the more he thought about it, the less he knew
about it. In the absence of any proof that he did consult the respond-
ent upon the subject at that time, you are bound to presume that he
did not. Because no inculpatory circumstance can be considered as
established in a criminal case by the testimony of a witness who can-
not say whether or not such circumstance existed.

Now, Senators, let me pause again to strike another balance on the
ledger of testimony. Up to this point not a word of evidence tends
to show that the respondent had the slightest suspicion that Marsh
was making presents to anybody; and all the direct evidence in the
case is to the effect that he had not. Let us then proceed from the
interview between Marsh and Mrs. Bower at the funeral of the former
Mrs. Belknap.

There is no testimony fixing precisely the time at which the court-
ship between General Belknap and Mrs. Bower, his present wife, com-
menced : and probably it would be impossible for either of them to
fix the time precisely. Mrs. Bower was the sister of the former Mrs.
Belknap ; and Mrs. Belknap, on her death-bed, had confided her in-
fant daughter to the care of Mrs. Bower ; and she remained a mem-
ber of the family of General Belknap for tbe purpose of performing
this duty. The line which separates the highest decree of respect
from the beginnings of love, is very vague and uncertain. As the sis-
ter of his wife he had respected her, and loved her within the bounds
of brotherly affection. After the death of his wife she remained a
member of his family, devoting herself to the care and nurture of his
infant daughter. And gradually, no doubt, and impercepti bly to both,
the feelings appropriate to their former relations, grew and ripened
into love. While this was in progress, other remittances were made
by Marsh. And the testimony of Marsh, in relation to the interview
between himself and Mrs. Bower at the time of the fnneral, shows
that she regarded herself as entitled to such subsequent remittances
as Marsh might make. The former Mrs. Belknap, who would not
permit her husband to know anything of the remittances made by
Marsh, had manifestly communicated to her sister the secret of th6
arrangement. And Mrs. Bower thereaft'Cr pursued the policy adopted
by her sister, and concealed from General Belknap the real nature of
the transaction.

This was very easy for her to do. She had a separate estate
amounting to about $40,000 ; and during the period of their court-
ship it was an easy thing for her to say to him, that these moneys re-
sulted from investments which Marsh had made for her. And this
she might consider as one of the harmless delusions which have been

Eracticed by sweethearts npon their lovers, and wives upon their
nsbands, from time immemorial.

It was very natural for General Belknap purposely to abstain from
any investigation of this matter ; and a word from her to the effect
that sbe expected remittances from Marsh, which she had directed to
be sent to him, would of course prevent any inquiry on his part In re-
lation thereto. Mrs. Bower was subsequently in Europe for nearly a
year before her marriage to Belknap ; and it was a matter of forget-
fulness on our part that we did not prove that $3,000 of this money
was remitted to her there.

Mr. Manager McMAHON. I do not like from the counsel the state-
ment of facts which were not proven and which if proven would
have been fully explained.

Mr. CARPENTER. My statement is in and I do not know how I
can get it out.

Mr. Manager McMAHON. I simply wish to state that we could
have explained that, and shown tbat the money was not sent to her
as part of this remittance. We would have explained why it was
sent to her. We knew it exactly and I think the gentlemen failed to
put it in because they knew we could explain it.

Mr. CARPENTER. O, no I we forgot it. It is one of those acci-
dents which will occur in a long trial. What these managers could
have done is something enormous. What they have done toward
introducing testimony to convict the respondent* is very trifling. One
thing they nave shown, however, is tbat $l,500of this mouev is loaned
in Iowa, and stands in her name to-day. But of course I claim noth-
ing from tbe evidence we did not introduce.



Marsh, testifying in his crazy way, says in general that when he
would receive remittances from Fort Sill, he would write to the re-
spondent asking how he should remit it, and the respondent would
give him directions, which he would obey. I do not feel authorized
to charge Marsh with intentional perjury in this case. But it.is cer-
tain there is a screw loose in him somewhere. It is evident from his
conduct after giving testimony before Mr. Clymer's committee, and
from portions of his testimony given on tbis trial, that his mind is
somewhat dnsettled. This is to be borne in mind, however, that as to
the first remittance, where he was held to the point, he swears that
he sent it to Mrs. Belknap, not to the Seoretary; and likewise as to
the last payment, in regard to which he was particularly inter-
rogated, he swears that the respondent directed him by letter to send
the remittance to Mrs. Belknap, at 2022 G street. That this letter
miscarried, and he wrote the Secretary again, and received a reply
directing him to pay the money to Mrs. Belknap, at St. James Hotel.
New York. These are the only instances as to which Marsh pretendea
to have particular recollection. As to all the others, he says he tes-
tifies only from general recollection, not remembering any particular
letter.

Now let me call your attention to what Marsh says took place at
General Belknap's house, when he came here to testify before Cly-
mer's committee. He says he went to the house of General Belknap,
and remained overnight ; and had a long interview with Mrs. Belknap.
He says, in his general style of swearing, tbat General Belknap was
in and out of the room at several tiroes, and understood the general
nature of their conversation. This is evidently the mere inference
of Marsh ; and he does not pretend to state a word that was said by
General Belknap, or a word that was said to him. But he does say
that Mrs. Belknap over and over again requested and urged him to
tell the committee that the moneys he had sent to her through the
Secretary were the result of investments he had made of her indi-
vidual property. He says he went to bed late at night, greatly dis-
turbed uy the matter and did not sleep. That be oame down early in
the morning, saw the Secretary before breakfast, and told him that
he had made up his mind to leave the country. The Secretary urged
him not to do so ; telling him that, after having been subpoenaed bero
in regard to charges against him, his leaving the country without
testifying would ruin him, the Secretary. Marsh replied that if he
went before the committee, he would ruin him. General Belknap
thought not, and to the last implored bim to stay and testify to the
truth. Mr. Clymer, after reading the testimony of Marsh given be-
fore the committee, says that Mr. Blair, as attorney for General Bel-
knap, put one question to Marsh, but does not state what it was. And
although the Kbcord does not show this, I am sure the managers
will not controvert the statement I am about to make. I am in-
formed that Mr. Blair asked Marsh whether the Secretary at this time
requested him to go before the committee and state anything that
was untrue; to which Marsh replied, "No, certainly not." At all
events, in the absence of any testimony that he did make such re-
quest, the presumption is that he did not.

Now, Senators, consider this scene, and what is the natural infer-
ence from it. If General Belknap had been t'Old by his wife that
these moneys belonged to her, and were sent by Marsh to her, through
him, as the result of investments of her private funds, this would ex-
plain why the respondent feared nothing from Marsh's stating the
whole truth before the committee. If tbe respondent did know the
facts, then his persistent effort to overcome the purpose of Marsh to
leave the country, — ^his persistent efforts to induce Marsh to go before
the committee and testify to the whole truth, prove the respondent
to be an idiot, who ought not to be subjected to impeachment ; for
although the facts might not convict him of any offense, yet he must
have known from the present attitude of the press toward the Ad-
ministration, and the present condition of public sentiment, the ex-
posure, exaggerated by malice, would do him serious harm as a pub-
lic man.

Again, npon the theory I am suggesting, the suggestions of Mrs.
Belknap to Marsh were perfectly natural. If she had left her hus-
band under the belief that these moneys were her own, and the re-
sult of investments of her individual property, she would have been
anxious, above all things, to have this supported by Marsh's state-
ments. Her anxiety would have beeo to preserve the confidence of
her husband ; knowing full well that whatever clouds may gather
above husband and wife, they are safe, while no clouds gather be-
tween them.

This theory, and this alone, explains Marsh's anxiety to get ont of
the country, and the Secretary's anxiety that he should remain and
swear to the facts. Marsh, not knowinj][ what had passed between
the respondent and his wife, and supposing that the respondent was
acquainted with the whole transaction, naturally concluded tbat his
testimony would injure the respondent. While the respondent, to-
tally ignorant of the real nature of the transaction, apprehended no
harm ut>m a disclosure of the real facts.

The light shed by ciroumstances may be faint and pale ; but in a
case where judgment must rest upon circumstances, the judge must
be guided by such light, dim though it may be. And if tbe proof
leaves a reasonable doubt, charity must turn the scale in favor of in-
nocence. Silence is sometimes more eloquent than speech. And in
determining a cause the absence of one fact may be as convincing as
the presence of another.



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TRIAL OF WILLIAM W. BELKNAP.



329



The theory I suggest is supported hy much of the evidence in this
case. It is not contradicted by any. Marsh says he supposed that
the money sent after the death of the child was for the respondent.
He says, however, that this was merely his mental conclusion, and
that he never exchanged a word with respondent or any one else upon
the subject. The fact that the respondent never exchanged a word
with Marsh upon the subject, is as fully explained upon the theory
that he understood the money to belong to Mrs. Belknap, aa upon the
theory that he knew all the facts. And here, again, the rule of law
applies, that if a fact— in this case the silence of the respondent — is
as reooncilable with one theory as the other, then it must be referred
to the theory of innocence.

Senators, I suggest this scene at the house of General Belknap for
your earnest consideration. I have stated as clearly as I can the
proper conclusion to be deduced from it. Considering this branch
of tne case, I think it sheds light upon other parts of the testimony,
and contributes greatly to support the theory of the respondent's
innocence. It certainly affords no evidence of ffuilt, but suggests one
great moral lesson, which I state for the benent of the ladies in the
gallery,— Sweethearta and wives, never keep a secret from your lovers
and husbands.

Now let me refer to some circumstances strongly indicating the
innocence of the respondent. And first, let me refer to the letter of
Bobinson, who had been court-martialed and dismissed the service.
While his case was pending in the Department, for approval or dis-
approval of the finding of uie court-martial, ho writes the respondent
a letter, dated April 2, 1875, saying he is thoryughly posted in regard
to the tradership at Fort Sill, and that if the finding of the court is
set aside, and he is not dismissed from the service, he will inclose to
the Secretary all the evidence and papers in his possession; but,
otherwise, he shall publish and pursue the matter to extremity. The
Secretary took up the case, recommended the dismissal of Robinson,
and sent the papers to the President for that purpose ; and the Pres-
ident dismissed him. And then the Secretary filed his letter with the
record in the Department. It is proverbial that one misstep leads to
another. And it is inconceivable that, if the Secretary believed that
there was anything in connection with that post-tradersbip injurious
to him, he would have placed upon the records of the Department a
letter making such statements ; especially as the letter was marked
"l)ersonal,^ and need not have been placed on file at all.

The manager. Mr. Jbnks, the other day read a passage from this
letter to show tnat Robinson was court-martialed for not paying his
bills to Evans. This is entirely untrue. I have here an office copy
of the charges and specifications, and the findings of the court, in
that case. X will state from it, as part of my argument, what the
charges were, and then hand it to the managers. He was charged
that upon several occasions he bad drawn his pay twice and certified
to false vouchers; that he had borrowed several hundred dollars fiom
a sergeant of his company, and had refused to pay him ; but he was
not charged with owing and not paying Evans, nor was Evans men-
tioned in the case at all. So that pretense falls to the ground.

I will now hand this document to the managers, [handing it to Mr.
Lord.]]

Again, the manner in which these remittances were sent, shows the
inuocence of the Secretary. If there had been anything about them
which was improper is it possible that the Secretary would have fur-
nished by receipts and bjr indorsement of checks passed to his own
credit all the necessary evidence of bis own guilt f

But the managers say there was a great abuse at Fort Sill, and that
Evans was compelled to charge over upon the officers and soldiers the
amount he had to pay to Marsh.

In the first place, Evans flatly contradicts this. He testifies that
after he made this contract with Marsh, and returned to Fort Sill, he
did not mark up the price of a single article sold to officers or sol-
diers.

Again, Evans testifies that immediately after his return to Fort
Sill, about the 1st of November, 1870, he showed to General Grierson,
commander of the poet, a copy of the contract between him and
Marsh, and explained the whole transaction to him. By a circular
order issued by the Secretary June 7, 1871, it was directed as fol-
lows:

Commanding oflBoers will report to the War Department any breach of military
regnUtious, or any mieoondnot on the part of poet-traders.

Thus it appears that General Grierson had been fully aware of the
relations between Marsh and Evans from November 1, 1870, and was
expressly commanded by the circular of June 7, 1871. to communicate
to the Department any misconduct on the part of tne post-trader at
bis post. The pretense that Grierson was afraid of ofibnding the Sec-
retarv, by obe^^ing the circular order of June 7, 1871, is absurd as well
as false. His information was derived from Evans, and Evans him-
self testifies here that he never heard until very recently that the
Secretary was in any way benefited by the Marsh contract. There-
fore Grierson, when he received the Secretary's circular order of June
7, 1871, could not have been deterred from executing it by fear of dis-
pleasing the Secretary who had issued it ; and not a word was received
at the Department from Grierson upon this subject until after the
publication of the Tribune article, when the Secretary called upon
him to report the facts. Is it to be supposed that an honorable offi-
cer, cognizant of a great abuse under his own command, and expressly
commanded by the circular order of the Department, Juue 7, 1871, to



report the same, would remain silent upon the subject for years f One
thmg is certain ; there was no such abuse at Fort Sill, or Grierson
ought to be court-martialed and dismissed the service.

The testimony of Evans explains why the Marsh contract did not
increase the prices. He was engaged in other business, and was a
Government contractor ; and the great benefit resulting to him from
the appointment was not from the business of post-trader, but that
the appointment secured him a home on the reservation ; so that the
post-tradership was with him altogether a secondary consideration.

In February, 1872, an article appeared in the New York Tribune
disclosing the relationship between Marsh and Evans. Now the man-
agers say that, if the respondent had been an honest officer, he would
instantly have interfered, removed Evans, and have done I know not
what. But I submit to you that such a proceeding by the Secretary,
based upon nothing but a newspaper article, would have been strong
evidence against the Secretary ;— evidence upon which it might be
fairly asserted that he had prior personal knowledge of everything
stated in that article. This is precisely what he would have done ir
he had been guilty. On the contrary, I submit, that the course pur-
sued by the &cretary waa precisely that which would have been pur-
sued by an officer that meant to do his duty. He did not break into
a panic, over a newspaper article, as he probably would have done if
he had known it to be true and felt any anxiety upon the subject.
He wrote to the commandant of the post to report the facts of the
case.

General Grierson answered this letter under date of February 28,
1872, and his answer wae received in the Adjutant-Generars Office
March 9, and referred to the Secretary March 11, 1872. In the light
of the testimony given in this case the letter of General Grierson is
remarkable and seems disingenuous. He complains that Evans has
demanded exorbitant prices for his goods, and attributes this to a
contract between Marsh and Evans, which from a reading of the let-
ter one would suppose had just come to his knowledge. But Evans
testifies that he showed a copy of the contract to General Grierson
about November 1, 1870, and ne could imagine that making a report
of the fact to the Secretary of War, as he was expressly commanded
to do, by the circular of June 7, 1871, would offend the Secretary, he
does not inform us, and it is not easy to apprehend.

But passing this, the letter of Grierson was received by the Secre-
tary on the 11th of March. While the matter was under considera-
tion General McDowell called to see the Secretary, and in a friendly
interview mentioned the subject ; and the Secretary requested the
general to write an order which would correct the abuse. Thereupon
General McDowell did draft an order, which, after submitting to Mr.
Garfield, of the House of Representatives, he handed to the Secre-
tary ; and this was issued as a circular order on the 25th of March,
1872.

The managers have, with great ii^ustioe, sought to misrepresent
the action of the Secretary in this matter ; and one of the managers
the other day charged that the Secretary was guilty of falsehood in
this, that he represented to General McDowell that *^ he had appointed
Marsh and he supposed he had received the office.'' And the mana-
ger further charged that the Secretary did not show Grierson's letter
to General McDowell. This is a ^tuitous misstatement on the part
of the manager. There is no evidence that General McDowell did
not see Grierson's letter, or that the Secretary sought to withhold it
trom him. Nor is it true that General McDowell was ignorant of the
real circumstances of the case at Fort Sill. In the first place, the
Tribune article which set McDowell in motion stated that Evans was
the post-trader, and was paying a stipend to Marsh. And let me
show you by his own testimony that he did understand the facts of



Online LibraryUnited States. CongressCongressional record : proceedings and debates of the ... Congress → online text (page 149 of 172)