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PHILIP AND ELIPHALET GREELY.
APRIL 26, 1830.
Mr. GILMORE, from the Committee of Ways and Means, made the following
REPORT: The Committee of Ways and Means, to whom was referred the petition
of Philip and Eliphalet Greely, report: That the petitioners, inhabitants of the town of Portland, in the State of Maine, set forth, that, in the month of August last, past, they imported, in the brig Chilo, from Cadiz; a cargo of eleven hundred and forty-seven hogsheads of salt, which salt was regularly entered at the custom-house, in Portland aforesaid, and the duties thereon secured according to law. That, for want of a market, (it being salt generally used in cod and bank fisheries) they were under the necessity of storing a part of the cargo: That, under the inspection of two officers appointed to the said vessel, they did store, in No. 29, Long wharf, (a store long used for salt and other heavy goods) five hundred hogsheads of said salt: That, on the 26th of March last, there was a violent storm, attended with an unusually high flood of water; and by the violence of the wind and flood, said store, No. 29, was, in part, washed away, and every bushel of the five hundred hogsheads of salt was washed away and lost. They pray a remission of the duty on said five hundred hogsheads of salt, amounting to one thousand and forty-two dollars and eighty cents.
The evidence is, in substance, as follows:
1st. The Collector's certificate, that the duties on 11,96133 bushels of salt, imported in August last, was secured by P. Greely and others.
2d. Henry H. Boody, Weigher and Gauger, testifies that five hundred hogsheads of the above salt were stored in No. 29, Long wharf; the duties thereon amounted $ 1,042 80; that he was on the wharf on the day of the storm, and has no doubt the salt was destroyed. Nathan Nutter, the Inspector, testifies in substance, the same. Several witnesses corroborate their testimony. James Jewett, who has resided there since 1784, and is at present proprietor, clerk, and wharfinger of Long wharf, has not, during that time, known the water to rise so high, as during the late storm on the 26th of March last; states that the store was m:ich stove and shattered, and all the salt was washed therefrom; that he was at the store the greater part of each day, and believes none of the salt had been removed previous to the storm.
Your committee are of opinion that there was no want of vigilance or proper care, on behalf of the owners of the salt, and that an ordinary insarance would not have protected them against the loss. It is a case that will seldom occut': they, therefore, recommend that the prayer of the petitioners he granted; and report a bill accordingly.
JONATHAN WALTON AND JOHN J. DE GRAFF.
APRIL 27, 1830.
Mr. VERPLANCK, from the Committee of Ways and Means, to which was
referred the case of Jonathan Walton and Company, made the following
The Committee of Ways and Means, to whom was referred the petition
of Jonathan Walton and John J. De Graf, report:
That, during the late war, the petitioners, carrying on business in the city of Schenectady, New York, under the firm of J. Walton and Company, were engaged, under the authority of the Naval Department, to act as agents for the transportation of ordnance, provisions, building materials, munitions of war, &c. to the several naval stations upon Lakes Ontario, Erie, and Champlain; where it is well known large forces were collected, and fleets of great cost and magnitude built and equipped, especially upon Lake Ontario. The Agents were held responsible as common carriers for the safe delivery of the public property at the several stations: this amounted to several millions of dollars, much of it consisting of the most bulky and heavy articles, transported from a great distance, and mostly by land, at great expense and labor. They were to be furnished with funds, and to receive a compensa
all disbursements made by them, in the execution of their contract. Commodore Chauncey thus states the terms of the agency in relation to his station, where by far the largest expenditure was made. “They were to produce me receipts for all moneys disbursed by them, and on the amount of the accounts for such disbursements I was to allow them a commission of 5 per cent. and I was to pay them by draughts on the Navy Agent at New York. In making this arrangement it was my understanding that they should receive pay in such money as was current in the State."
That this was the intention of the contract is confirmed by all the other official and private correspondence in relation to it.
The undertaking appears to have been executed with the greatest diligence, promptitude, and fidelity, during the whole war; as appears from letters from the Secretary of the Navy, of Mr. Anderson, the Superintendent for transportation, the certificate of Mr. Eckford, who was at the head of the navy yards on the lakes during that period. The petitioners were frequently largely in advance to the Government, and when the finances of the coun
try became embarrassed, especially after the capture of Washington, the draughts of Commodores Chauncey and McDonough in payment of their previous disbursements were protested for non payment, and lay over for a long time. At other times the draughts were withheld or delayed for the purpose of avoiding the protest as detrimental to the credit of the service.
Messrs. Walton and De Graff were ultimately obliged to receive Treasury notes in payment, instead of the current money of the city of New York, where the draughts were payable; these notes being then at a depreciation below other current paper much exceeding the amount of the commission allowed them as agents.
They were, in consequence of the same disappointments of regular payments, conipellerl, in order to prevent the utter failure of their contract, the execution of which was of vital importance to the defence of the nation, as well as to their own credit, to make large loans from several banks of the State, on their own personal credit, on which interest to a considerable amount was paid by them, before they were relieved by payment in Treasury notes.
All the facts alleged by the petitioners are supported by very full and clear documentary evirience---as the letters of Secretary Jones, Commodore I. Chauncey, the Superintendent of transportation, the protests of the draughts, the certificate of Mr. Echtor.l, those of the officers of various banking companies, through which the business was transacted, and of other persons concerned in the management of these transactions. Most of these persons are well known to some of this committee as men of high standing and intelligence, and the evidence and character of others are supported by the certificates of Mr. Dudley, of the Senate, General Van Rensselaer, of the last, and Mr. Arnold, of the present House of Representatives.
Application has been repeatedly made at the Treasury, for allowance for these losses, but without success, from the want of authority in the Department, though the equity of the claim has never been denied. The expectation of some precedent being settled for the adjustment of such losses, or of a general law being passed for allowing the depreciation upon Treasury notes, induced a longer postponement.
The Committee of Ways and Means have at this session been instructed to inquire into the propriety of passing a general bill providing relief for such cases, but, upon deliberate investigation of the subject, they became satisfied of the extreme difficulty of passing any such general law, which would not open the door to great frauds, and thus were in consequence discharged by the House from the further consideration of the subject.
The petitioners can, therefore, obtain relief only by a special act. Their claim, amounting in the whole to a sum between 20,000 and 24,000 dollars, is composed of various items, depending upon the calculation of interest and discounts, the relative depreciation of Treasury notes bearing interest with current money at given times, all which can be adjusted far better by an accounting officer of the Treasury, than by Congress or its committees.
As the several draughts and payments ought, when due, to have been paid in the money then current at par in New York, which, though beneath the par of specie, was much less so than the Treasury notes, this difference seems to be the equitable rule of compensation for the non-fulfilment of the contract by the Government. This was the principle upon which several similar cases have been settled, and is specially recited in the act for the relief of James Bryers, 7 Laws of the United States, 202. It is also in strict