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APRIL 10, 1830. Read, and, with the bill, committed to a Committee of the Whole House to-morrow.
Mr. MCINTIRE, from the Commitee of Claims, to which was referred the
bill from the Senate, for the relief of Elisha Tracy, made the following
The Committee of Claims, to which was referred the bill from the Senate
for the relief of Elisha Tracy, report: That the petitioner was appointed a Deputy Commissary General of purchases, on the 15th day of July, 1812, and continued to discharge the duties of that office, until the 30th June, 1815, for which services he has received his regular pay as allowed by law. Previous to this time, he had been in public service as agent for fortifications and ordnance, which duties he continued to perform, together with other duties in the Quartermaster's Department, and some other analogous duties, and as issuing Commissary during the time he was Deputy Commissary General of purchases, and six months after. For these duties, he was paid the рау. and emoluments of an Assistant Deputy Quartermaster General, from the 1st July, 1812. to the 30th September, 1814; and the same for the last six months after his pay as Deputy Commissary General of Purchases stopped. This allowance was made him by the special order of the Secretary of War, as an extra allowance for extra duties in the several capacities in which he served, and not as an officer holding that office. He was, during that time, allowed fifteen hundred dollars for clerk hire; five hundred of which was paid to his clerks as inspectors of olothing
The Committee of the Senate, in their report, were of opinion that this al. lowance, by the Secretary of War, was not a full and adequate compensation for his arduous services; and in the bill have provided for his relief, the difference in pay between an Assistant Deputy Quartermaster General, and that of an Issuing Commissary, for three years.
This committee, considering that the allowance for extra services was made by the Secretary of War with a knowledge at the time, of the extent of the petitioner's services, and all the circumstances attending them, is of opinion that, at this day, and at best with but a partial view of the case, it would be unsafe and improper to revise the Secretary's decision. The Secretary was surely competent to judge of the value of extra services, especially as he was familiar with what was extra and what ordinary services in similar cases. It is mere matter of judgment, and, to revise this aftor a
lapse of fifteen years, would not be advisable nor justifiable, unless there was evidently a great palpable error. Indeed, the Government can never know when it has discharged its obligations to its agents for their services if the decision of its highest officers is to be appealed from in all cases, and unlimited as to time. It is believed, and the experience of every man who took any part in the public transactions at that period is appealed to sustain the belief, that scarcely an officer of the Government, of any grade, was not frequently called on to discharge duties not strictly within the range of his duties, upon a rigid construction of them, few of whom ever claimed or received any extra pay.
If all these transactions are at this day to be called up, there will be no end or limit to legislation on the subject. To be perpetually legislating on these subjects by special laws for relief, renders stand ing laws and provisions for fixed compensation, and the establishment of executive and accounting officers, nugatory.
This committee do not perceive any gross injustice in this case that would justify legislative interference. The petitioner no doubt discharged the duties assigned him with promptitude and fidelity, for which he has received a compensation of about two thousand dollars per annum, in the grade he held, and the pay and emoluments of a captain of infantry for extra servi
It may be, some other officers fared better, but it is believed most others were obliged to be satisfied with the pay and emoluments of but one office, whatever services they might have performed.
The other item embraced in the hill is the sum of $348 25, advanced by the petitioner for interest on money loaned at banks for the use and benefit of the Government.
This committee has looked into the evidence of this, and all that can be found are two certificates of the cashiers of Norwich and New London banks, that the petitioner had accomodation at those banks of certain sums, for certain periods, which, in their opinion and belief, was for the use and benefit of the United States. To say nothing of the objection, that these are mere certificates and not under oath, and not such evidence as is required by this committee to substantiate claims before it, this evidence is too loose and uncertain for sound, cautious legislation, in matters of so long standing.
The petitioner may have rightful claim for this and other items in his petition and papers, but, in the opinion of this committee, he has failed to adduce that unequivocal proof that is requisite to enti le him to relief.
The inference the petitioner would have drawn, that because, at the several periods when his accounts were stated, balances were found in his favor, he was in advance to the United States out of his private funds, for which he ought to have interest, does not follow. At that period, it is well known, that disbursing and purchasing officers frequently, when out of funds, and the exigency of the service required, or a favorable opportunity presented, made purchases, took receipts, and gave due bills, to be paid when in funds. In this way they appeared, on the face of their accounts, to be in advance to the United States, when in point of fact it was the sellers of the articles purchased that were so. How far, or if at all, this was the case with the petitioner, does not appear from his documents.
The petitioner has received as purchasing commissary
$5,724 95 1,637 97 387 20
The Committee of Claims of the Senate, in its report of this case, on which this bill is founded, refer to the case of Amasa Stetson for a precedent. On recurring to that claim it appears a bill was, on the 5th of May, 1824, passed for his relief, for a specific sum, as compensation for services, of various descriptions, interest on money advanced, and warrants issued in his favor. In the report of the Senate on the subject of that bill, it is stated, that for nearly four years service of great value and responsibility, he had received only $5,444 74, and proposed to give him the pay of an issuing commissary for three years, three months, and a third, amounting to $3,618 67. In the House the bill was altered in its whole phraseology, to embrace pay for services and interest on money and warrants, and by which it does not appear how much was allowed for each. In that case, Stetson had not received any thing for extra services, nor does it appear he received any thing for clerk hire. The bill was passed under the peculiar circumstances of that case, and cannot be a precedent, as to amount, in any other case. Even if allowed the amount named in the report of the Senate, it did not, when added to what he had before received, amount to so much as the petitioner in this case has received, considering the difference in the term of service and the clerk hire. Stetson's pay as purchasing commissary
$5,444 74 Extra, as issuing commissary, if received
respect to interest paid by the petitioner for money necessarily used in the public service, if any such has been p:id, or for interest on moneys actually advanced by him, necessarily, in the purchases he made, and the benefit of which last purchases the United States has enjoyed, if any such have been advanced, the committee give no opinion to exclude the petitioner, should he hereafter satisfactorily show that he has paid such interest or made such advances. The proofs adduced do not satisfy the committee on this part of his claim.
The committee therefore recommend the adoption of the following resolution.
Resolved, that the bill from the Senate for the relief of Elisha Tracy be rejected.
HO. OF REPS.
JUDICIAL TERMS-SOUTHERN DISTRICT, NEW YOh.
APRIL 12, 1830.
Mr. BUCHANAN, from the Committee on the Judiciary, to which was re
ferred the bill from the Senate, entitled “ An act increasing the terms of the Judicial Courts of the United States for the Southern District of New York, and adding to the compensation of several District Judges of the United States," reported the same with the following amendments:
The Committee on the Judiciary, to which was referred the bill from the
Senate "increasing the terms of the Judicial Courts of the United States, for the Southern District of New York, and adding to the compensation of several District Judges of the United States," report the said bill, with the following amendments:
Strike from the third section of the said bill the words "thirty-five hundred," and insert, in lieu thereof, three thousand; and strike from the said section all after the words “ in quarterly payments."
Strike from the bill the fourth section, and insert, in lieu thereof, the following section:
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That hereafter there shall be allowed to the District Judges of the United States, for the Districts of Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, each, the yearly compensation of two thousand dollars; to the District Judge of North Carolina, the yearly compensation of sixteen hundred dollars; and to the District Judge of Vermont, the yearly compensation of one thousand dollars; to be paid at the Treasury of the United States, in quarterly payments.