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Answer. The difficulty was between you and Professor Henry. You contended that you had the right to use it as you pleased. Professor Henry insisted that a portion belonged to the Smithsonian Institution. There was the difficulty, as I understood it.
Question, (by Professor Henry.) Did you ever understand that my name was to be put to it?
Answer. No. You refused to have any responsibility for it. As secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, you claimed for thai Institution the right to a portion of the materials used in the article.
Question, (by Mr. Pearce.) Is the article, in your opinion, Mr. Browne, of such a character as to confer great reputation upon the writer, so that the reputation thus conferred would be worth buying by such a man as Professor Henry?
Answer. I think, setting aside certain facts and figures indicating temperatures, &c., it is of little value. I was under the necessity of making notes, to reconcile contradictions in some cases. Portions of the article conflicted with other parts of the report. It contradicted a man who asserted that a certain crop grew in a certain district. It asserted that such a crop could not grow there on account of the climate; that it would not support it. In several cases there were notes at the bottom of the page. These I put there by way of explanation, or to throw further light on the subject.
Question, (by Mr. Blodgett.) Did you send me a revised proof?
Answer. I went to you on one occasion with a proof. I delivered it to you.
Question, (by Mr. Blodgett.) I mean the revised proof. It is a technical term—the last proof. Did you send me the last proof?
Answer. It was not my business to do so. I thought that it was needless to take my time up in that way. It was left to you and the printer. The printer told me that he had sent you the proofs which were necessary.
Question, (by Mr. Blodgett.) Did you tell the messengers which I sent to your office that the revised proof was not ready?
Answer. I have no recollection of it. I had no communication with you until it was in type and ready for the press.
Question, (by Mr. Blodgett.) Did you not make an arrangement with Mr. Claxton by which the proof was to be kept from me until the edition was printed?
Answer. I have no recollection of it. Some difficulty had occurred in regard to the notes which bad been appended. It led to some slight changes in the article, which were regarded by the Commissioner as corrections. The necessary alterations and corrections were made, and then the work was printed.
Adjourned, to meet on Friday evening next, at half-past seven o'clock.
FRIDAY EVENING, FEBRUARY 16, 1855.
Committee met pursuant to adjournment.
Question, (by Senator Pearce.) Will you state the practice in the Light-house Board and other bureaus of the government, in regard to opening letters ? Does or does not the head of the bureau, in his discretion, exercise the right of opening letters addressed to his subordinates ?
Answer. In the Light-house Board there is a chairman and two secretaries, to whom official commurications are generally addressed. The entire mail is opened by the chief clerk, upon being brought by the messenger, endorsed and registered, and laid on the tables of the two secretaries respectively. The propriety of opening letters by the secretary or chief clerk and other officers has never been questioned. In the absence of Captain Hardcastle, I open all letters that do not present external evidence of being from a private source. Letters addressed to the chairman of the Board are invariably opened by the secretary, and I believe this to be the usage of all other bureaus.
Question, (by Mr. Meacham.) I understand this to refer to official letters?
Answer. The chief clerk opens all letters not bearing marks of being private.
Question, (by same.) Do they claim the right to open all letters ?
Answer. Question never raised. All letters opened, and when found to be private, handed over. This practice is indispensable in our office.
Question, (by Chairman.) If a letter should come addressed to you, without your official title, would it be opened in your absence?
Answer. It would be opened and disposed of, as its character should indicate.
Question, (by Mr. Jewett.) Do all your letters go to ihe Light-house Board?
Question, (by same.) Do you know of any literary or scientific institution exercising the practice of opening letters addressed to subordinates in those institutions?
Answer. I never heard anything on the subject of the practice of such institutions.
Question, (by Chairman.) On opening a letter addressed to the chairman of the Board, would you claim
the right to examine the letter before handing it over ?
Answer. A letter came to-day, addressed to Commodore Shubrick, as President of the Light-house Board, on the envelope. It was opened and found official, and answered before the commodore saw it.
Question, (by Chairman.) Has the right ever been claimed by the head of the Board, as such, to open letters ?
Answer. Question has never been raised.
Question, (by Chairman.) In case it should appear on the outside of the letter to be private, would the right be claimed to open it?
Answer. By no means.
in which you have heretofore been employed as a clerk, in regard to opening letters ?
Answer. While I was a corresponding clerk in the Post Office Department, the mails were assorted by a messenger, and those letters belonging to the Postmaster General and the several bureaus of the department were laid upon the tables of each respectively. Letters addressed to clerks were not opened by any one but the clerk to whom they were addressed.
Question, (by Mr. Witte.) Does the head of the bureau claim the right to open letters addressed to his clerks?
Answer. Never heard of any such right being claimed by any one of them. Letters addressed to clerks have remained unopened upon their desks a considerable time when they were absent, unless by a private arrangement with some one they were forwarded to the owner. Such was the case with my own letters, and I know it was so with others.
Question, (by Mr. Witte.) To whom are official letters usually addressed in the Post Office Department?
Answer. Letters on business are usually addressed to the Postmaster General, the chief clerk of the department, the several assistants of the Postmaster General, or their chief clerks. No rule of the department, as far as I know, requires other than bids for mail service to be addressed to any particular officer.
Question, (by Mr. Witte.) Is there any rule of the department that gives to the clerks the right to receive a letter known to be an official letter, or to answer it, other than chief clerks?
Answer. I know of no such rule.
Question, (by Chairman.) Are not all the letters addressed to clerks by name, opened by them in the first instance ? Answer. Yes, as far as my knowledge extends.
Question. Is it usual for official letters to be addressed to clerks, other than chief clerks?
Question, (by Mr. Witte.) Is it within your knowledge that important official leiters, requiring the action of the Postmaster General, have been addressed to any clerk other than a chief clerk?
Answer. I have known a few such cases-only such as resulted from a personal acquaintance with the clerk on the part of the correspondent. But I never knew of an answer being returned to any such letter except over the signature or the proper officer of the department.
Professor Baird called.
Mr. Baird.—1 am a native of Pennsylvania, of Reading ; was educated at Dickinson college, in Carlisle ; graduated there in 1840, and was appointed Professor of Natural Sciences in 1845; entered upon the active discharge of my duties, as professor, in 1846, and continued until 1850, when I was nominated as assistant secretary of the Smithsonian Institution by Professor Henry. Came to Washington in October, 1850, and have been here ever since. Previous to coming to Washington, had written and published several minor literary essays,
but my principal work has been the translating from the German, and editing the Iconographic Encyclopedia.
Question, (by Mr. Meacham.) Have you any testimony to give in relation to the 1st and 2d specifications ?
Answer. I prefer answering questions.
Question. Have you ever been annoyed by any espionage on the part of the secretary, by his claim to open letters ?
Answer. I never heard him claim the right. Several letters came to me opened. · Question, (by Mr. Meacham.) Do you know of the secretary's having claimed that right of his subordinates ?
Answer. I have heard that he did ; I never knew, of my own knowledge, of any such claim.
Question. What was the practice in regard to opening the mail that came to the Institution ?
Answer. The mail comes to the Institution, and after being assorted, my letters are sent to me at my room.
Question. Have you ever been required to go to the secretary's room to open your letters ?
Answer. There was, at one time, a rule established, or proposed, that all the officers of the Institution should assemble in the office of the secretary, after the arrival of the mail, or at some specified hour, each one then and there to open the letters addressed to him; that all business requiring reference to the secretary, or consultation, on the part of the officers, might be then attended to. I cannot remember how long this rule continued in force, but that has ever since been, to a certain extent, an understanding among us.
Question. Why were the subordinates required to open their letters in the presence of the secretary ?
Answer. I think I answered this question before, when I said that the reason assigned for the rule was, that all business requiring consultation might at once be attended to.
Question. Have you ever felt or expressed it as a personal grievance that the secretary required this at your hands ?
Answer. I have so considered it.
Question. Why did you so consider it, if it was for the purpose you named above ?
Answer. For several reasons ; first, on account of the loss of time involved in visiting the secretary's room at times when he himself was not present; secondly, a personal preference of reading my letters in my room at my leisure, and subsequently referring them to the secretary.
Question. Did you ever consider this requisition as a system of espionage over your correspondence, on the part of the secretary ?
Answer. I did at one time so consider it.
Question. Has the secretary ever threatened to dismiss you; and if so, for wbat cause ?
Answer. I have no recollection of a threat from the secretary. I have heard him mention the possession of the power of removing subordinates.
Question. Has he ever threatened to dismiss you unless his orders were obeyed implicitly, and without question.
Answer. He has never made any such threat to me, as far as I can recollect.
Question. Has the secretary ever used towards you ungentlemanly and abusive language ; and if so, in what respect ?
Answer. I have had one (at least) interview with the secretary, in which there was a somewhat warm discussion in regard to certain supposed facts. This was in reference to an article for appearance in Putnam's Magazine, by a friend of mine, and supposed to have been prepared at my suggestion or instigation. The data of which were supposed to have been derived from myself. Professor Henry charged me with having been concerned, in that way, with the article, which I denied. The circumstances of the interview I cannot recall, my memory of facts not being very good. I have no recollection of the interview beyond the facts stated, and that it was a warm one and lasted some time. It concluded, however, I think, with a considerable weakening, as far as I could judge, of the impressions of the secretary in regard to the circumstances. I denied entirely the allegations.
Question. Had you any reason to suppose that the secretary had had access to your private correspondence?
Answer. I had no knowledge of his having had access to my private correspondence.
Question. How, then, did the secretary suspect you of having furnished the data referred to?
Answer. I presume from the fact that the article had been written by a particular friend of mine.
Question. How many hours per day have you been compelled to labor in the Institution?
Answer. I get up at 7, and go to bed about Il; all the intermediate time is devoted to the Institution. I have no other business.
Question. Is that labor bestowed exclusively upon your own department or not?
Answer. My duties in the Institution consist in having charge of publications, exchanges, and the museum.
Question. Has the secretary afforded you the necessary mechanical and clerical assistance in your department?
Answer. For some time he did not afford what I considered the necessary and
proper assistance in those branches. Question. Have you complained that your overworking there was bringing upon you a disease which you believed would terminate your life?
Answer. I labor under incipient disease of the heart, the symptoms of which become much aggravated by long continued and laborious mental, clerical and mechanical efforts.
Question. Have you not stated that your duties at the Institution compelled your wife to forego her ordinary domestic duties, to aid you, for want of proper clerical assistance?
Answer. For want of clerical assistance, my wife has, at different times, been compelled to devote a considerable portion of her time to assisting me.