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To prove the motive which impels the human action is always difficult and often impracticable. It is, therefore, possible I may have attributed the sudden change in the conduct of some of the officer* (to whom my despatch No. 34 refers) to the wrong cause. But, as they had generally borne fair reputations in the service, and especially Lieutenants Green and Marchand, and, so far as I then knew, Lieutenant Craven too, I could find no better reason for their arraigning themselves against law and order than the maddening effects of the gold mania, which few—very few indeed— anywhere were able to entirely resist. Joseph W. Pennington, a warranted gunner of previously excellent character, one of the tainted to whom my letter 34 particularly referred, subsequently deserted outright, as appears by one of the accompaniments to my despatch No. 52, or 53, read in evidence before the court.
To the 1st and 2d specifications to the 5th charge, "oppression," I answer that neither the law nor the regulations of the navy limit or make any mention as to the time or manner of promulgating sentences of naval courts-martial: that is left entirely to the discretion of the officer ordering the court; and so variant is the practice, that it would be in vain to seek for precedent to establish any rule. It is doubtless within the knowledge of every member of this court martial that many trials have taken place even under the orders of the Navy Department, and the proceedings never made known or published. So much for the practice. The motives which operated with me in the case will be found in the following facts:
It may be true, that the last court which tried Lieutenant Stanly, in the bay of San Francisco, in 1849, found him "technically" not guilty of the charge of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, bnt guilty of disobedience of orders. Reference to the proceedings of that court now referred to, will show not only the character of the charges on which Lieutenant Stanly was tried and convicted in part, but that the proceedings of that court were irregular throughout, and that to these irregularities Lieutenant Stanly's escape from full conviction was mainly owing. Within the period of about seven months Lieutenant Stan! had been twice tried, and twice convicted of what in an enlisted person would have been termed desertion; that is, for absenting himself from his ship without permission and remaining on shore all night, in contempt for the lawful orders of his superiors.
As to oppressively withholding Lieutenant Stanly's leave of absence, I need only say that such permits sent to officers on foreign or distant service have never been treated as imperative orders from the Secretary of the Navy. The commander of the squadron, to whom such permits are always sent, exercises his own discretion as to when, or even whethrr he will deliver them at all. If the officer's services, in the opinion of the commander of the squadron, are required on the station, he will withhold all leaves or furloughs until, in his judgment, he can deliver them without detriment to the public service.
Such is, and always has been, the rule and practice in our navy; and it appears to me not only proper and necessary, but absolutely indispensable. I have no idea that the Navy Department, or a general court-martial composed of experienced officers, will now or at any time attempt ru set up any other practice. See Mr. Secretary Preston's letter of June 25, 1849, seven days after the date of Mr. Stanly's leave, in which he recog nises this rule in the broadest sense.
In the present case, Lieutenant Stanly's leave of absence reached me at San Francisco the 18th day of August, 1849. He was then absent in the St. Mary's on the coast of Peru.
On the 3d of October, 1849, he returned under c/iarges on which he was tried by a court-martial soon after. It would have been obviously improper for me to have delivered a leave of absence to an officer under serious charges preferred by his captain for trial by court martial, and especially in this case, as it would have been granting an extraordinary mdulgeuce to the least deserving officer of the squadron, at an eventful time when like favors were constantly denied to the most meritorious— to officers who had faithfully discharged their duty under every privation without a murmur.
I conceived it to be my solemn duty, as it certainly was my desire, not to add to the mortification already experienced by the faithful under my command, by extending of my own accord any indulgences to one of Lieutenant Stanly's equivocal standing in the squadron and in the navy. I therefore determined to send him to Panama in the " Southampton," well knowing, if I communicated the sentence of the court to Lieutenant Stanly and gave him his leave of absence while in California, that he would not leave that station, and that the officers long confined, by unremitted duty, to their ships, would with good reason feel themselves further annoyed in witnessing his escape and the indulgence granted him at their expense.
To Lieutenant Stanly's evidence lor two and a half days before the court, I bug leave to direct the court's particular attention. It is replete with malice and misrepresentation; more especially his evidence in relation to the insanity of Lieutenant Hall, who was a member of the Jirst court martial by which Lieutenant Stanly was tried and condemned at San Francisco in 1849, and to what Lieutenant Stanly said about my granting Commander Johnston and Lieutenants Pickering and McCoruiick orders to nominal duty on shore to enable them to travel or engage in private business.
I had several witnesses in attendance on the court martial, summoned to testify as to Lieutenant Stanly's general conduct while under my command; but after Lieutenant Stanly gave his own testimony, the introduction of any other evidence to further discredit him would have been a waste of time, and an unnecessary incumbrance of the record.
Without further comment on the conduct and character of that truly unfortunate officer, Lieutenant Fabius Stanly, 1 leave him and his allegations against me to the decision of the court. The leading facts on which the charge of falsely, scandalously, and maliciously writing a letter to the Secretaiy of the Navy, as set forth in second specification to third charge, and also first and second specifications to fifth charge, are now fully before the court, and it would be supererogation in me to add a single syllable by way of comment on the c/t'iracter of these charges.
THOS. AP C. JONES,
And after reading the said paper, the accused requests that the court will receive tomorrow such additional notes in writing as may be furnished by his counsel upon the legal questions arising upon the defence.
The court is cleared; and being again opened, and the accused being in attendance, the following order, passed in the closed session,is read by the judge advocate:
It is ordered that the court will receive from the accused any further paper in the nature of a continuation of his defence which he Miay present at the opening of the court to-morrow morning at 11 o'clock.
And thereupon, there being no further business before the court, it is adjourned until to morrow morning at 11 o'clock.
January 29, 185L—11 o'clock a. m.
The court met pursuant to adjournment.
Present: Captain Charles Stewart, U. S. N., president; Captain Tiewis Warrington. U. S. N., Captain John Dowries, IT. S. N., Captain Henry E. Ballard, U. S. N., Captain William B. Shubrick, IT. S. ,\ , Captain Lawrence Kearny, U. S. N., Captain John D Sloat. U. S. N., Captain Matthew C. Perry, U. S. N.; and J. M. Carlisle, esquire, judge advocate.
The record of the proceedings on yesterday is read and approved.
The accused appears in court, and submits certain unfinished notes in writing, prepared by his counsel, Walter Jones, esq., and requests that the judge advocate may read them to the court, which is accordingly done, as follows:
Mr. President and gentlemen of the court-mnrtial: After forty-five years of service in the navy—a service often arduous, often diversified with novel, difficult, and perplexing circumstances, and through which I had passed, if not with distinguished honors, yet without st iin or reproach—after 1 had reason to hope that the honorable fame which I had kept unblemished through all the vicissitudes of my past life was not waning with increasing years—I find myself, for the first time, before a court martial, to answer a voluminous set of charges emanating ostensibly from the Navy Department, but, in fact, instigated, promoted, and labored by a knot of malcontents among the subordinate officers lately under my command on the Pacific station.
Now, lo and behold, what sort of charges they have at lengih trumped up against a man to whose name dishonor had been as much a stranger as to the name of any living man!—charges, ringing the ch.inges of every kind and degree of obloquy, from the all abhorred turpitude of "wilful and deliberate falsehood," and of fraud, peculation, and embezzlement, to the trivialities of inconsequential negligence.
I stoop not to complaint, but the rather hasten on to fie demonstration of the falsehood and malignity from which these imputations of acts and motives, at once so flagitious and detestable, so base and fordid, have sprung.
I proceed to the performance of this task under a firm persuasion that the call for some defence against the recoils of these charges will be found far more imperative on those who contrived them, than on me for any justification of my character against their direct force.
I propose to take up and consider all the charges consecutivelv, withrut regard to the order in which they stand in the book, which draw in question my dealings with a certain description of public money, consisting of the military contribution fund, so called.
Those charges make more than three fourths of all that have been exhibited against me; and consist of twelve specifications, running through four oF the charges. Of these twelve specifications, I proposo, in the first place, to take up and examine, consecutively, the six which are limited exclusively to imputations of fraud, peculation, and embezzlement in the disposal of one particular portion of the said contribution fund; being the identical sum of ten thousand six hundred and forty three dollars (§1(1,643 09) which was transferred by my order from the custody of Purser Reynolds, on the 3lsi of October, 1848, and by him exchanged for gold dust—nine hundred and eighty-three and a quarter ounces (983^ oz.)—which he delivered to me, and took from me a receipt for the same sum of money which he had given for the gold dust.
The following summary of these six specifications presents a distinct view of the material /ails and circumstances put in issue by the charges of fraud and malversation in the disposal of the particular sum of money in question:
Specification 1.—That on the 31st of October, 1848. off Monterey, in Upper California, he unlawfully and fraudulently, and for his own private uses, speculations and gains, withdrew from the public use, and from the custody of Purser Reynolds, the sum of ten thousand six hundred and forty-three dollars and nine cents (£10,643 00) of the contribution fund.
This specification calls for proof that he fraudulently withdrew the aforesaid sum of money from the public use, and converted it to his own private use.
Specification 2.—That on the 1st day of November, 1848, and at divers times between that day and the 26th day of the same month, at San Francisco, he unlawfully and fraudulently converted to his own use, by adventuring the same in his own private speculations and by dealing with the same as his own private funds, divers sums of money, amounting to $i0,643 09, of the public moneys of the United States.
This specification calls for proi>f, first, that he fraudulently converted the aforesaid sum of money to his own use; and secondly, that he did so by the means stated—that is, by adventuring the same iti his own private speculations, <fcc.
Specification 3 —Charges and sets forth, in detail, certain fraudulent means and contrivances by which he unlawfully and fraudulently converted the public moneys of the United States to his own use, and committed a fraud against the United States; such public moneys being identified as the very $10,643 09, transferred from the custody of Purser Reynolds to that of Purser Wilson.
These fraudulent means and contrivances may be summed up thus:
1. That on the 31st of October, 184S, off Monterey, he did fraudulently, and by color of his office and command, cause and procure the sum of $10,643 09 of the public moneys of the United States, and of the military contribution fund, to be transferred from the custody of Purser Reynolds to that of Purser Wilson, with intent to convert the said sum of money to his own use.
2. That with this intent, (that is, with the primary intent to convert the said sum of money to his own use,) hedid unlawfully and fraudulently deliver to Mr. Wilson a certain written order, dated Monterey, November I, 184S, which is set out verbatim in the specification; and in which, for certain intents and purposes, therein alleged, of public expediency, and of relief to the inhabitants of California from certaiu commercial and financial embarrassments, caused by a scarcity of the legal currency, be instructed Mr. Wilson, on his arrival at San Francisco, to exchange so much of the contribution fund, as might be then in his hands, for uncoined gold, at the current market price, &c.
3. That, by the means aforesaid, and with the intent aforesaid, he caused and procured divers quantities of uncoined gold to be purchased, by Purser Wilson, at San Francisco, in November, 1848.
4. That he did, fraudulently, and by color of his office, cause and procure the said uncoined gold to be delivered by Mr. Wilson to him, on board the ship "Ohio," in San Francisco bay, on or about the 25th of November, 1848, and did, then and there, take and receive the same for his own use and private traffic and gain.
5. That he did, then and there, fraudulently and deceitfully, give to Purser Wilson a receipt in writing, dated November 25, 1848, which is set out verbatim in the specification; and in which the receipt of the sum of $10,643 09, in full of all demands on account of the same amount for which he, Purser Wilson, gave triplicate receipts to Purser Reynolds on the 31st of October, 1848, is acknowledged; whereas, in truth and in fact, the sum of money mentioned in the receipt, or any part thereof, was not then and there, or at any time, received; but that, in lieu thereof, uncoined gold was received, to his own use and for his private traffic, &c.
6. That the said uncoined gold, at the time it was so received, was of much greater value than the sum of money falsely pretended to have been received.
All these six averments of fraudulent acts and intents constitute a multifarious series of frauds, all conducing to the end of a fraudulent conversion of the public money, and are of the essence of the defence charged in this third specification; substantive proof, therefore, of each and every of the consecutive frauds, constituting that series, is called for by this specification.
Specification 4—Charges that Commodore Jones having, in the manner and under the circumstances set forth and charged in the last preceding specification, purchased the uncoined gold therein mentioned, with the public moneys of the United States therein mentioned, upon the pretexts set forth in his written order to Purser Wilson therein recited; and having received the said gold on board the said ship " Ohio," afterwards, on the 25th of November, 1848, at the bay of San Francisco, fraudulently converted to his own use 275^ oz. of the said uncoined gold, parcel of the same gold which had been purchased with the public money as aforesaid; and that he so converted it by shipping it on his own private account to New York, on board the ship Lexington, &c.
This specification having invoked and incorporated into its substance the multifarious series of tiaudulent acts and intents charged in the 3d specification as going to the conclusion of a fraudulent conversion of the public moneys, calls, in like manner, for proof of the same fraudulent acts and intent, as well as of the specific averment in this fourth specification: First, that the said 275^ ounces of gold was parcel of what had been purchased by Mr. Wilson with the public money; and, secondly, that being so, it was fraudulently converted as charged.
Specification 5.—This specification having, in like manner as the fourth, invoked from the third, and incorporated into its substance by reference, the same multifarious series of fraudulent acts and intents, trf course calls alike for the proof of them.