« ForrigeFortsett »
of justice; there were delays, I know. The expenses of litigation were very heavy, except during Mr. Colton's administration of justice, when they were very trifling. He would not allow any lawyer to plead verbally in his court.
Question by the judge advocate.—Would a person purchasing gold dust from you have run any risk of the kind you have mentioned in your answers to questions put by the accused, either of getting a spurious article or of not being made safe in case of a mistake?
Answer.—He would h.irdly have got a spurious article; and he would have been made good. We ourselves felt so safe in gold dust, that I have often bought and sold thousands of dollars' worth without opening the packages.
The examination being concluded, the testimony of the witness, as hereinbefore recorded, is read over to him, and is acknowledged to be correctly recorded, and he is discharged.
Rodman M. Price, a witness for the defence, being duly sworn by the president of the court, is examined by the accused as follows:
Question I.—In what mode was the eighteen thousand dollars paid by Commodore Jones to you, on account of the Navy Department, and for which you receipted to him in August, 1849; in what capacity and for what purpose was the payment made to you? Please state all the circurnstances in detail of that transaction.
Answer.—I received from Commodore Jones a bill of lading for twelve hundred and six ounces of gold dust, shipped, I think, in March, 1849, on board the U. S. ship Dale, at San Francisco; for which I gave him a receipt for eighteen thousand dollars, ($18,000 ) I did this as acting navy agent for California. The payment was made to me to place me in funds forgovernment purposes. I used this bill of lading at once by cashing it, transferring it to the house of Finlay, Johnston, <fc Co., receiving Irom them twenty one thousand dollars, ($21,000.) The difference between the eighteen thousand and the twenty one thousand dollars, I paid over to Commodore Jones. Commodore Jones was to have the entire benefit of the full yield of the gold at the mint of the United States, and 1 first allowed him on the settlement $18 the ounce, which it was supposed it would yield. The return of the mint was, I think, received in November following; and it appeared that the yield was not so great by some two or three hundred dollars, which amount Commodore Jones returned to me. My instructions under which I was ordered to the west coast, by the JNavy Department, made me the agent to raise the necessary funds for naval purposes; and I was in the habit of drawiug bills of exchange upon the Navy Department, which by my instructions were not to be negotiated at less than their face. At the time I took this bill of lading, I had great difficulty iu selling any exchange without loss, and with the bill of lading I put myself in funds without any loss to the government. It was sold on better terms than 1 could have sold exchange at that time. I realized funds upon it, which at that time I could not do upon bills of exchange.
Question 2.—Examine the paper now shown you, purporting to be an unsigned copy of your receipt to which you have referred, with certain memorandums at the foot. Is the whole of that paper in your handwriting; and were those memorandums made by you at the time of the transaction? Was what Commodore Jones refunded to you upon getting the mint returns, the difference between $18 the ounce and the value per ounce as ascertained at the mint?
Answer.—The paper and memoranda are in my handwriting, and my recollection is, that the whole was made at the time the paper bears date, viz: August 30,1849.
The paper is read, as follows:
Received, San Francisco, August 30, 1849, from Commodore T. Ap C. Jones, commander-in chief Pacific squadron, eighteen thousand dollars, ($18,000,) for which I am accountable to the government of the United States. [Given in triplicate.]
Paid cash 83,708
1,206 ounces, at $18 ..... 2l,7uS
Endorsed to Mr. J. W. Finlay for $21,000.
The amount refunded by Commodore Jones was the difference between eighteen dollars the ounce and the value per ounce as ascertained at the mint.
The examination in chief being concluded, the witness is examined by the judge advocate, as follows:
Question 1.—Upon the occasion of the transaction with the bill of lading, had you applied, as purser or navy agent, to Commodore Jones, as commander-in-chief, for public moneys in his hands to be applied to naval purposes?
Answer.—He knew that I was in want of funds, and that I was then a borrower from the disbursing officers of the army, pledging my bills of exchange until I could negotiate them.
I do not know that I made any application to him directly. The disbursing officers of the army had in charge the civil fund, and they made advances from that fund.
Question 2.—How long had you been in want of funds for naval purposes, "and when did you begin; and how long did you continue to raise funds in that manner, or by selling your bills of exchange as described?
Answer.—I had difficulty in negotiating bills from about July 1, 1849, till January following, when I left.
Question 3.—When did you arrive on that coast with the appointment you have mentioned?
Answer.—I arrived at San Francisco in February, 1849.
Question 4.—Was it in March, 1849, or in August, at the date of your receipt, that Commodore Jones negotiated his bill of lading of gold du*t with you?
Answer.—It was at the date of the receipt. The gold dust had been shipped in March, and it was that which made the bill of lading negotiable.
Question 5.—Did Commodore Jones, when negotiating that transaction with you, state that the amount of public money in his hands was eighteen thousand dollars, (§ 18,000 ?)
Answer.—No. I think he did not make any such statement. He stated he would like to turn over that amount to the government. The whole transaction I considered in this light, as if Commodore Jones came to me and paid me eighteen thousand dollars ($18,000) in hard money for account of the government. I was merely made the agent to negotiate the bill of lading standing between the house of Finlay, Johnston & Co., who took the bill, and Commodore Jones. They gave me twenty-one thousand dollars, ($21,000.) I retained eighteen'thousand dollars ($18,000) for the government, and paid over the balance to C/ommodore Jones.
Question 6.—If Commodore Jones had given you that bill of lading as a bill of lading of gold dust belonging to the government, it would then have been equivalent to paying you twenty one thousand dollars (§21,000) in money, and you would have receipted for it as so much money?
Answer.—Having negotiated it for twenty one thousand dollars, (§21.000,) I would have receipted for that sum if requested by him to do so. I know nothing about the gold dust being bought with government money. I would have receipted for any amount of dollars required for naval purposes which Commodore Jones had paid to me.
Re examined by the accused.
Question 1.—Were not all bills of exchange drawn by you at San Francisco, on account of the navy, endorsed by Commodore Jones?
Answer.—Yes. I think they were drawn payable to his order as commander-in chief, and by him endorsed as commander in-chief.
Question 2.—What was the average rate of interest per month on good securities in San Francisco from March to September, 1849?
Answer.—I should suppose from five to ten per cent, a month.
Question 3.—If you had known that the gold dust for which the bill of lading was given was public property, would you have taken upon yourself to retain the whole proceeds of the bill in your hands, or would you have been governed exclusively by Commodore Jones's direction as to how much was to be turned over to you, and how much retained by himself?
Answer.—I should have been governed entirely by Commodore Jones.
By the court.
Question.—Would you have given the fall mint value for the gold dust mentioned in the bill of lading, without receiving the policy of insurance, and deducting the amount of freight, as per bill of lading, to be paid?
Answer.—I would not, as a disbursing officer, have taken the bill of lading.
By the judge advocate.
Question.—Look at your original receipt for the eighteen thousand dollars, (SI8,000;) is it signed by you as purser, and is that the same receipt of which the unsigned paper referred to in your previous testimony is a copy?
Answer.—It is signed as parser, and is the same receipt to which my testimony refers.
Re-examined by the accused.
Question 1—Where was Commodore Jones in the month of July, 1849—was he in San Francisco any time during that month?
Answer.—I really cannot answer, except that he was in the hay ef San Francisco. His flag was there; but whether he was in the town, I do not remember. My impression is that he was in the town. 1 do not recollect his being absent any length of time.
Question 2.—In what month or months of the year 1849 did Commodore Jones accompany General Smith and the Hon. T. Butler King to the mines?
Answer.—Upon reflection, I think I am mistaken in my previous answer in giving my impression that Commodore Jones was at San Francisco during July, from the fact that I was laboring under a misapprehension about the arrival of Mr. King. He arrived about the 1st of May, and 1 was under the impression he had arrived in the previous steamer, and that Commodore Jones had returned from the expedition in which he accompanied him, earlier than July. But I now remember distinctly that Mr. King and Commodore Jones did not return from the mines until early in August, from the fact that Mr. King was my guest, and taken sick at my house immediately after his reiurn; so that Commodore Jones must have been absent from San Francisco during the entire month of July.
The testimony of the witness, as recorded, is read over to him, and is acknowledged to be correctly recorded, and he retires,
Albion K. Parris, a witness for the defence, being duly sworn by the president of the court, is examined by the accused, as follows:
Question 1.—How long and in what capacities were you connected with the Tieasury Department?
Answer.—I was connected with the Treasury Department as Second Comptroller for over fourteen years.
Question 2.—What were the understanding and practice of the accounting officers of the treasury, and of yourself, as Second Comptroller, as to taking cognizance and adjusting accounts of the fund commonly called the Mexican contribution fund—that is, before the act of March 3, 1849, requiring officers to account for that fund as if it were money drawn from the treasury?
Answer.—Some time prior to 29th October, 1847,1 was informed by the Auditors that some of the disbursing officers in Mexico and California were in the habit of intermixing the moneys of the contribution fund with the moneys drawn from the treasury in their accounts.
The Second, Third, and Fourth Auditors (who reported to me) and their clerks applied to me for directions. On consideration, I directed them to expunge from the accounts all charges of the contribution fund, considering that the officers of the treasury had nothing to do with that fund, and that it was improperly intermixed with money drawn from the treasury. Upon the propriety of this direction I conferred with the Secretary of War and of the Navy, informing them what directions I was about to give, and they concurred in the measure. Those directions were carried into effect by the Auditors; and at no time were the moneys of the contribution fund audited by the accounting officers, with my knowledge, until the act of the 3d March, 1849. That act provided the mode of settlement; and afterwards we took cognizance of the fund in accordance with its provisions.
Question 3.—Is there any provision of that act that still remains unexecuted—for example, the provision referring to the President the amount to be sallowed officers for the collection and disbursement of the fund? And how happened it that such provision has never been carried into effect?
Answer.—So far as I have knowledge there has been no decision by the Executive as to the amount of compensation to be allowed to the officers for collecting and disbursing the contribution money. The mode of operations at the treasury under the act of March 3, 1849, is as follows: The Secretary of War if the officer is a disbursing officer of the army, and the Secretary of the Navy if it is a purser, examines the accounts and ascertains how much money of the contribution fund has been ?eceived by the officer; how much of it he has turned over to the other disbursing officers; and how much he has laid out for expenses; and certifies these facts to the accounting officers, and requests them to charge the balance against the officer, and in this way it gets upon the books of the treasury.
No allowance was ever made, so far as I know, for collecting and disbursing the fund.
The accounting officers receive the Secretary's certificates as conclusive of the amount received, the amount paid over, and the amount expended. They did not go behind the Secretary's certificate to inquire into the legality of the disbursements or their amounts. For the balance, the officer is held directly accountable at the treasury, in the same manner as if the amount had been drawn regularly from the treasury and charged against him.
Question 4.—Do you know of any regulation or usage of the accounting officers, or of any department of the government, under which the accounting officers take account of and charge or credit public officers with the profit or loss accidentally accruing to them from the possession of the said contribution fund in the course of their disbursements or appropriations of the fund?
Answer.—I do not.
The examination in chief is closed.
The hour of adjournment having arrived, the testimony of the witness as recorded is read over to him, and is acknowledged to be correctly recorded. The court is adjourned until half past 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.
January 21, 1861—Half-past 10 o'clock a. m.
The court met pursuant to adjournment.
Present; the president, and all the members except Captain Read.
The record of the proceedings on yesterday is read and approved. The following certificate is received by the court from Surgeon Washington, touching the absence of Captain Read:
This is to certify that the illness of Captain George C. Read continues, and prevents him from attending the court-martial.
B. WASHINGTON, Surgeon United Stales Navy. Washington, January 21, 1851.