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Q. Have yon not testified that he did t

A. I do not reoollect.

Q. Did yon not testify before the board of managers that he did t

A. I do not reoollect

Q. Were yon not sworn before the board of managers in their room in this build-
hifff

A. Iwas.

Q. Wasnotthatanestionpnttoyont

A. I have no reoollection of it 1 may have said something in general terms ; I
do not recollect

Q. What do yon say now ; did he not take an interest in having the law changed
so as to vest the appomtment of post-traders in himself?

A. To the best of my recollection he did take some interest

Mr. Manager LORD. Senators, had I known that this point was
to take so much time, and had I thought perhaps sufficiently on the
eflect of the record of the Senate, I might not have introduced it at
all, for it is not an exceedingly important point. I only referred to
it in a general way as lying at the foundation .of the case, having
proposed not to examine the evidence in detail but simply to bring
it before you in a general way.

The next point to which I call your attention is the situation of
Mr. Evans, the post-trader at Fort Sill. He was there with a large
amount of property ; as IrecoUect it, from $80,000 to $100,000. No com-
plaints had ever been made of him. So far as I remember, he had the
recommendation of every officer, high and low, at the post. There
was no reason why he should not be re-appointed. There was every
consideration why ie should be re-appointed, having taken these
goods off into that vast wilderness so far from civilization and hav-
ing this amount of property there liable to sacrifice or destruction if
removed. Certainly, if disturbed in his place, he would be subjected
to immense loss, and he had high claims on tne consideration of the
Secretary of War. He sees the Secretary of War, and the Secretary
of War tells him tbat he had promised this post to Mr. Marsh.
Whether he had or not is for you to say. I care not to go over the
ground again and call your attention to the discrepancy of the let-
ters; but it is sufficient to say in the line of my argument that Mr.



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338



TRIAL OF WILLIAM W. BELKNAP.



Belknap, the defendant, told him to see Marsh. Finally it turns out
that the defendant sent Marsh to see Evans, and then this contract
between them was made. The next point of evidence to which I call
vour attention is a matter to which reference has perhaps already
been sufficiently made. It has great sic^nificauce. It shows precisely
what Mr. Marsh thought Secretary BelKnap knew and had agreed to.

This is the letter :

Ke w York Cnr, October 8, 1870.

Dbar Sir : I hftve to ask that the appointment that yon have siveD to me as post-
trader at Fort Sill, Indian Territory, oe made in the name of Jolin S. Evans, as it
would be more convenient for me to nave him manaf^e the business there at present.



Your obedient servant,



C. P. MABSH.



P. 3.— Please send the appointment to me, 51 West Thirty-fifth street, Kew York
City.
Hon. "W. W. Belknap,

Secretary qf War, Washington City,

Senators, I refer to this not only for the light which it throws on
the transaction at the time, but I refer to it more for the light which
it throws on the future transactions. To my mind this letter itself
under the circumstances has in it the most conclusive evidence of the
defendant's guilty knowledge of this whole transaction. Take this
letter, hand it down into the then future, and see what was before the
late Secretary of War all the years he was receiving these gifts, ex-
press package after express package, and writing upon them O. E.,
those Joyful words signifying that all was well because all was se-
cret This letter was before his mind all the while, though '' semi-
officially'' kept out of sight, in fact taken away from the War Office
and falling into our hands by some strange proceeding unnecessary
to detail. Here is a letter in which the Eusush language could not
put plainer the proposition that Mr. Marsh only is the post-trader,
and IS the man of power. He is the man of substance, and Evans is
only a man of straw. Mr. Marsh says : " I desire the appointment
that you have given to me to be made " not to John S. Evans, not as-
signed to John S. Evans, not transferred to John S. Evans, but ^* I de-
sire it t^ be made in the name of John S. Evans." Would this un-
certain and shrinking Marsh dare to have ^vritten the letter to the re-
nowned Secretary if it had not been true f Had he not had some
previous understanding with him that for a consideration the place
at Fort Sill was to be his, and his only f Would he have dared to say
to him, '* Make out that appointment given to me not in my name,
although I am the real party, but make it out in the name of John S.
Evans r' Let me repeat: carry that letter right on through the trans-
action ; assume, as you must assume, that General Belknap had that
letter or ita substance always in his mind ; that he weighed well its
words; that he understood its import perfectly : then is it not true,
Senators, that whenever he received $1,500 or $700, as the case may
be, he knew that he was receiving it from the actual post-trader at
Fort Sill, the man whose word would have removed John S. Evans
quicker than the lightning's flash from heaven f Is not this truef Is
tnere a Senator here who dares to go down to history on the allega-
tion that this is not true f Does not every Senator here know that
the wave of the hand of Marsh, the making of the request by him
that John S. Evans be removed, would be foflowed up instantly with
his removal by the Secretary of War f Therefore, under these cir-
cumst-ances is it not true that every one of these sums of money re-
ceived by General Belknap was received by him with the knowledge
that it came from Marsh in consideration that he had appointed hun
through the delusive form of Evans, post-trader at Fort Sill f

In regard to one situated under the UDf ortunate circumstances that
we find the defendant here, it is always painful to refer to things in
his past life which to him must have been indescribably painful ; and
yet the cause of truth sometimes compels us to enter the death cham-
ber. What do we find? We find $1,500 had been sent to General
Belknap as Mr. Marsh thinks for his wife. I perhaps shall have some-
thing more to say about that presently. It was sent to General Bel-
knap, and delivered to General Belknap, and then the wife dies. Mr.
Marsn is found at the funeral, and he thinks that something was said
to him by General Belknap on the question of this money. I am not
going to dwell verv much on this point ; bat how did Mr. Marsh come
to this conclusion f He is the witness who undertook to exonerate
General Belknap by a letter to the committee, the witness who had
prepared a written statement to the Committee on War Expenditures
which would entirely vindicate General Belknap if it had been true.
How did this unwilling witness come to this conclusion— this witness
who wanted to flee from justice, who begged to be permitted to cross
the sea, and to whom Greneral Belknap so truthfully said : ^* You can-
not cross the sea without ruining me; it must not be known to the na-
tion and to the world that you came here to Washington and then fled
across the sea after an interview with me; go before the committee
with your regard for me ; go with your reticence ; go with your power
to conceal, and I am safe enough ; far safer than though you flee across
the sea and have it said that I persuaded you to leave the country t"

How did this unwilling witness, this witness who fled to Canada to
avoid telling the truth, ibis witness who appears to you under all
these circumstances, get it into his mind that he told General Belknap
that night something about this money t Is not the answer in every
one of your mindsf Is not the evidence sufficient to legally convince
you that General Belknap that night did say something in his quiet
way about this matter, or else that Marsh spoke to him about it?



How else, I ask you again, did this idea get into Mr. Marsh's mind,
which he could not and cannot rid hinlsehf of T The ghost will stay
by him; the belief wiU still be there; and yet when pressed and
cross-examined by defendant's counsel, he can be led to say, ^'The
more I think about it the less I know about it." Nevertheless I be-
lieve it is true, absolutely true, that on that night he and General Bel-
knap did have some conference on this subject. And yet, perhaps, it
is not important for you to decide this question, for as we proceed we
shall show the most abundant evidence that General Belknap know
from whence this money came and for what purpose it camq. I call
the attention of the Senate to the fact that before the Tribune article,
with which yon are all familiar, was printed ; before the letter from
Greneral Grierson, with which you are also familiar, was received ;
before General McDowell made that famous order, by which he seemed
to know — guided by the Secretary, not by his own intent — how not
to do a thing. General Belknap had receiv^ six payments sent to him
periodically. Fifteen hundred dollars once and again and again had
been sent to him by a man who had said to him, '^I am the post-
trader at Fort Sill ; I hold you to the contract ; I reserve the right
to remove this shadow, Evans, whenever I see fit, but for the sake of
my convenience I direct you to appoint him pro tempore in his name."
I put it to the consciences of you Senators, as I have a right to do,
after the long and elaborate arguments and appeals made by the most
eloquent and ablest counsel of the nation— I say I have aright to put
it to the conscience of each Senator, can you say to your conscience,
to your Judgment and belief, under this evidence, that General Bel-
knap did not know when he received such sums of money that they
came as an unhallowed offering from this post-trader f

Something has been said here that there was no injury to the sol-
diers and the emigrants. The witnesses all seem to be strangely un-
der some influence ; but no matter. The witness Evans said he did
not put up the price of goods on account of these large payments,
but after a while lowered the price of the goods. What nonsense this
seems unexplained, though we may ask. What difference did it make,
if true, with the crime of the defendant f Bat it did make a differ-
ence with the soldiers, according to the testimony of Mr. Evans. On
cross-examination, he said the price of goods lowered because the
freights lowered, and if those freights had not lowered and other
causes had not transpired, then the $12,000 would have come out of
the soldiers by an advance in prices ; this $12,000, or rather in all
$43,000, followed the laws of trade, and as the freights lowered the
price of the goods lowered. If Mr. Evans had not l^n compelled to
pay these moneys, as freights lowered the soldiers and emigrants
would have had the advantage by a diminution in prices.

I now call attention to a tumin|F-poiut in this case that, it seems to
me, Senators cannot escape and wul not desire to escape. You should
acquit General Belknap if there is reasonable doubt of his guilt : not
a mere possibility, not a mere phantasy; but if there is, after looking
at the whole evidence, a reasonable doubt in your minds as to his
guilt he is entitled to the benefit of it. The Tribune article, detsyling
accurately just the transaction ; the letter from General Grierson, also
detailing accurately just the transaction ; the order of McDowell,
made on the face of it to correct abuses, were all before the Secretary
of War.

He had been told, therefore, of the sufferings of the soldiers. He
had been told how much they had to pay on account of this extor-
tion from Evans. The defendant knew nothing of the lowering of
freights, but after having knowledge of the other facts, if he did not
know them before, he still receives periodically once in three or six
months, as the case may be, these sums of money. After the Tribune
article and the Grierson letter and the McDowell order, he received
ten separate and distinct payments. Gifta, do you call them f gifts
that conceal themselves out of sight t gifts that crawl like a serpent f
What nonsense. A man who in a bona fide way receives a gift of a
friend is proud of it ; it is evidence of the appreciation of his friend ;
but in this case these gifts were not onl v carefully concealed and kept
out of sight, but when revealed the blow was like the thunder-bolt
of divine justice : the defendant went into the dust before it and a
nation looked on with sorrow and amazement.

With a knowledge of all the facts, in the view of all these circum-
stances, the Secretary of War did not remove Evans, but allowed
him to remain ; and, Senators, let me call your attention to further
circumstances under which he allowed him to remain. He knew that
he had given him the sole tradership at the place ; that he had given
him licenses in regard to liquor; that he had extended his territory;
and yet with these three distinct privileges added to the prior trad-
ership, he allowed Evans to remain as post-trader and hold them all.
Why, after he had heard and knew of the fact that Evans was pay-
ing $12,000 a year to the real post-trader. Marsh, then $G,000 a year,
of which the Secretary was receiving half, did he allow him to re-
main t Is there more than one explanation f Is there any possible
explanation excepting that he was influenced, that his official action
was influenced, that he allowed him to remain because he was re-
ceiving certain periodical sums f And, Senators, I put you this ques-
tion on your consciences : if Evans had failed or refused to pay the
$12,000 or the $6,000, or if this contract had never been made, or if,
having been made, the Secretary of War had never receivecl any part
of the money, I put it, 1 say, to your consciences to answer whether
Mr. Belknap, the Secretary of War, would have continued Mr. Evans



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TEIAL OF WILLIAM W. BELKNAP.



339



in his place. Is it not absolutely certain that bnt for the reception
of this money from time to time by the Secretary of War the post-
trader Evans eo nomine would have been removed f

The learned counsel, Mr. Black, made one observation which is
precisely applicable to this case. He said '^ gifts may be used to cover
essential bribery." Precisely what he meant by a gift after his for-
mer definition of it, I do not caro now to say, but I quote his lan-
guage : " Gifts may be nsed to cover essential bribery." Was there
ever a case to which it applied more than to this casef Call these
things gifts f Let Marsh come on the stand over and over again
and swear that they were gifts ; that it was a pleasure to him to
make such pifts; were they not still gifts "which were used to cover
essential bribery?" And while Mr. Marsh, in his weakness and in his
difficulty may have come to the stand and sworn to this honestly, yet
is it not nevertheless true that not one solitary dollar of this money
would have been paid by him to the Secretary of War had it not
been under an arrangement, express or implied, with that officer f Is
it not true that the pleasure of giving these gifts would have wholly
and utterly disappeared but for the fact that Evans was holding this
post-tradership as his creatnre, and paying him this $12,000 and
$6,000 a year, naif of which he gave to the Secretary of War with
the knowledge that if withdrawn Evans would lose his place f No,
these gifts come under those comprehensive words spoken by some
one not veiy long ago, " additicm, division, and silence." Fraud does
not lift up its head ; neither did this transaction lift up its head.
Senators will remember that these gifts did not come from any gen-
erous operation of the human soul. Mr. Marsh had not just seen
General Belknap and received some good dinner or some word of
kindness. They were not gifts that came now and then after pleas-
ant interviews and after rides on the road or dwelling together at
Long Branch ; but they were gifts that came periodioauyy Just as the
sun rises and sets ; they were gifts that came month by month or
quarter by quarter ; gifts that were no gifts.

I call the attention of the Senators for a few moments to the refer-
ence which one of the counsel made to the case of Speaker Kerr. I
regret that the counsel, in his desperation, brought it into this case
and that he made in regard to it so baseless an assertion. I am con-
strained to say here in honor of the House to which I belong that its
verdict in favor of the Speaker was unanimous and by a standing
vote. The House, with tne utmost unanimity, pronounced the prose-
cution against Speaker Kerr an infamous conspiracy, and pronounced
his character entirely pure ; the House declared that the evidence
against him was peijured testimony, for this was the language of the
report unanimously adopted, which was brought in by a republican
member of the House. In fact, all the motions were made by repub-
licans. Undex these circumstances I deem it my duty here to say
that the counsel had no right to compare the case of the defendant
with that of Mr. Kerr. Here is a case where General Belknap con-
fesses that he had the money from year to year, from quarter to quar-
ter. In the other case Mr. Kerr upon his oath denied at once that
ho had ever had a farthing of the money, and the man who testified
against him not only contradicted himself, but was absolutely con-
tradicted by several members of the House and other highly respect-
able witnesses. Therefore the evidence, the circumstances, the char-
acter of Mr. Kerr, all conspired to prove that he was absolutely inno-
cent of the charge made against him. In the judgment of the House,
In the public judgment, and so it will go down in history, BIiciiabl C.
Kerr stands on the high eminence on which he stood before a peijurer
poured forth his venom.

We are not here to detract from the evidence of the general good
character of the defendant. As the case stands, undoubtedly inde-
pendent of the transaction before this tribunal, the defendant has
shown that he had borne a good character; but the counsel had no right
to say what he did in regard to the other House ; he had no right to
say, under the objections made here and under the arrangements made
with counsel and under the rules of evidence, that nothing in all these
transactions appeared against General Belknap. We are not here to
nrge that anything did appear against him ; but I only say that the
counsel had no right to take the position he did, because we should
have had no right to brin^ in the evidence if it existed ; and the lead-
ing counsel on the other side well knows that on appearing before the
senatorial committee it was announced by the managers that they
would not go beyond the articles, nor attempt to go beyond the arti-
cles. Therefore a large number of the witn esses of the defendant, num-
bering in the first place one hundred and ninety-seven, were stricken
from the list.

It appears in the evidence before the Senate that Mr. Marsh at one
time was approached on the subject of going before the committee
and saying that this was Mrs. Belknap^s money. The defendant's
counsel who last addressed yon, (and to this I call the attention of
the SenatOj) said that he had been positively inhibited by his client
from bringing forward the defense or offering evidence that thi» prop-
erty was the property of his wife, or that he believed it was the
■property of his wife. But he said notwithstanding he had been for-
tidden to bring forward such evidence, he nevertheless would look
into the case, and unless his client pulled him down, as he elegantly
expressed it, ^* by the coat-tails," he would go on and show the Senato
from the evidence that this property was the property of Mrs. Bel-
knap, at least that General Belknap believed it was the property of
Mrs. Belknap.



I



Senators will observe in regard to the sincerity of this defense that
although General Belknap rose from his seat several times and ap-

Eroached the counsel, it was not for the purpose of pulling him down,
ut it was for the purpose of handing him fragments of evidence
which ho thought would sustain this strange plea. I tell you, Sen-
ators, that this is an attempt at imposition, so it seems to me, that
has been seldom attempted in a court of justice. Counsel stands up
before you and would have you believe that here is an absolute de-
fense. The counsel says that this property General Belknap thought
wa^the property of his wife, that his hands are entirely clean and he
entirely innocent ; but he tells you that for some unknown and un-
accountable reason his client will not permit him to bring forward
the evidence ; and yet right in this very tribunal, his client hearing
every word he says, the counsel stands up and tries to convince the
Senate of the United States sitting as a court of impeachment that
such was the fact. Was there ever such hollow nonsense and such
miserable hypocrisy f Ay, if General Belknap had told him that he
had evidence that it was his wife's property or he had evidence to
show that he believed it was his wife's property, and then had abso-
lutely forbidden him to use it— had the counsel attempted to show
what was so forbidden, the defendant would have hurled him from
the case and said, *' Sir, I have forbidden all this." So far from it he
actually aids him — as we have seen—in collating the testimony sup-
posed to bear on that point.

But, Senators, we assume that if any such defense existed it would
have been brought forward. Have you any doubt that it woid have
been brought forward? If the defense existed showiiy^the entire
innocence of General Belknap, is there any question, I repeat, that
it would have been brought forward, and if such a defense existed
might it not have been brought forward f Where is Dr. Tomlinson
and the other withesses who claimed to know something about it,
for I believe it is disclosed in some of the evidence that Dr. Tomlinson
wanted Mr. Marsh to make such a statement before the congressional
committee t Where were Mr. Belknap and his wife? Why were
they not offered as witnesses f Did the counsel know that we should
have objected to them f If we had objected to them aa witnesses,
did the counsel know that this Senate in a quasi civil prosecution
would not have admitted their testimony t I can say for one of the
managers that had the testimony been offered I would have hesitated
long l>efore attempting to excluae it. When it is now so universal in
the States to receive the evidenoe of the parties and in the United
States courts in all civil actions, a serious question would have been
presented. In so far as this is a civil action, or if on account of
the pleadings or otherwise this could be treated as a quasi civil ac-
tion, then I repeat, a very serious question would have been presented
whether General Belknap and his wife were not both competent wit-
nesses. But it is a significant fact that they did not make the least
attempt to introduce them. They did not xnake the least attempt to
introduce any evidence to show that this money belonged to the wife
or that General Belknap supposed it belonged to his wife. On this
subject they were entirely silent, and from this I infer that no such
evidence existed, that it is a mere pretense, a mere assumption, some-
thing that must be dropped utterly and entirely from the case.

But, Senators, there is another circumstance to which I wish to
call your attention, and that is the resignation of General Belknap.
Why did General Belknap resign f Is tnere more than one answer
to this question f Why did he resigrn f If General Belknap had been
grounded in truth and innocence, why did he go down like the oak
before the whirlwind f It has been suggested tnat it was to save the
feelings of somebody else; it was to save the reputation of his wife;
it was to keep shame from his children. Did not General Belknap
know, that strong stalwart man, pust as well as any Senator knows,
that in law and in fact the man is the head of the household ; that
If he could have held up his head in that tempest and said, " I
am innocent," it would have made no difference in the public judg-
ment to any great extent whether his wife had been dealing in this
tradership ornott Did he not know that if he were an innocent man he
could still be Secretary of War ; that no one would undertake to
turn him out for the fault of his wife f Did he not know that as long
as he, the head of that household, stood up and could say, '' I am in-



Online LibraryUnited States. CongressCongressional record : proceedings and debates of the ... Congress → online text (page 154 of 172)