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33d CONGRESS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. SREPURT 2d Session.

PATRICK C. MILES.
[To accompany Senate bill No. 447.]

JANUARY 30, 1855.

Mr. HENDRICKS, from the Committee on Invalid Pensions, made the fol

lowing

REPORT.

The Committee on Invalid Pensions, to whom was referred Senate bill

No. 447, for the relief of Patrick C. Miles, have had the same under consideration, and report:

That the said Patrick C. Miles served in company K, of the 1st regiment of infantry, in the war with Mexico, and faithfully discharged his duty as a soldier.

as a soldier. At the storming of Monterey his conduct was most gallant. In that engagement he was struck by a cannon ball and lost his right leg; and was also struck by a piece of a shell, whereby his right arm is partially put permanently disabled. Because of these injuries, he was honorably discharged, and was pensioned at the rate of eight dollars per month, which he now receives. It has been the uniform policy of the government, both in its general and special legislation, to provide pensions of but eight dollars per month for private soldiers and non-commissioned officers, in case of total disability. The committee are satisfied that where the disability is so entire, as in the case of Sergeant Miles, that he cannot contribute anything by his labor towards his support, this sum is insufficient, and that a larger sum ought to be given. The committee have hesitated to recommend a departure from the general policy in particular cases. On the other hand, they believe that if relief were provided by general legislation, very many cases would be brought within such law, that were not intended to be provided for; and that it would be safer for Congress to retain the control of such cases, and grant special relief when required, rather than empower the Pension Office to discriminate, in cases of total disability. Entertaining these views, the committee report this bill back to the House for its action, without making any recommendation thereon.

CONGRESS

GEORGE DENNETT.
[To accompany Senate bill No. 336.]

JANUARY 30, 1855.

Mr. T. WENTWORTH, from the Committee on Commerce, made the fol

lowing

REPORT.

The Committee on Commerce, to whom was referred Senate bill No.

356, granting relief to George Dennett, for alleged services performed by him whilst he was naval officer at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, respectfully report :

That said George Dennett was appointed naval officer for the port of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and that he took the oath prescribed by law, and entered upon the discharge of his duties on the 13th of March, 1839. It appears that the said office was vacant from the 18th day of December, 1839, till the appointment of said Dennett.

The petitioner states, “that by circulars of the Treasury Department, dated December 15, 1838, and March 15, 1839, the naval officers at the respective ports of entry in the United States were directed to open and keep a set of books of the revenue receipts and light-house expenses, so as to form a check against the books kept in the collectors' office;" and that he did open said set of books as from the date of said first circular, and examined all the vouchers and original papers necessary therefor in the office of the collector and of the naval offcer, and made out said accounts as required by said circular;" and the petitioner alleges “that these duties were novel in the office, and were extra, and were not required by virtue of any statute of the United States detailing them as part of the duties of the naval officer.”'

The petitioner further alleges that his commission "directed that he should hold the office from the 18th December, 1838, for the term of four years,” and “that the usual and average receipts of the office were, for many years, $581 35 per annum,” and “the time covered by his said commission, and for which no pay was allowed him, was eighty-five days;" that “the average pay of the office was $1 594 per diem, being, for the said eighty-five days, $135 55;” and “his commission having covered that time, he having performed the services incumbent on the office for that period, having received no recompense for the same," he humbly desires Congress to “grant him relief in the premises, by causing him to be paid out of the treasury of the United States the said $135 55 remuneration."

By the statement in the petition, the claim in this case is, that, in

asmuch as the petitioner was, by his commission, to hold his office for four years from the 18th of December, 1838, he claims the salary and fees accruing to the office from that time to the 13th of March, 1839. And there probably being no data by which he could ascertain the actual fees of his office in that interval, (none probably being taken,) he makes an average of several years, and thus fixes his compensation.

The committee are of opinion that an officer has no claim for his salary before he qualifies under his commission, and fees that he never earned are in no case due him from the government, and therefore, upon the case as made by him in the petition, nothing is due.

But the bill from the Senate proposes to pay him seventy-five dollars for alleged services in opening a set of books, and entering thereon certain transactions occurring from December 18, 1838, to March 13, 1839, and is founded upon an expression in the Secretary's letter accompanying the papers.

No evidence has been offered to the committee of the amount of these services; and as the claim, as made by the petitioner, was for the salary and fees during the interval, rather than for extra labor performed after he assumed the office, the inference would seem to be, that that mode of compensation was the most beneficial to the petitioner; and whether the actual labor of opening the books occupied a day, they are entirely without proof, and unable to form an opinion.

It is the duty of the petitioner to prove the services for which he asks compensation, and then to submit to Congress if they be such as of right ought to be paid.

The committee are of opinion that the case must be a very strong one that would justify Congress in paying a public officer extra for services in bringing up the books of the office to which he had been appointed. It is quite common, amid the frequent changes of officers under the government, for offices to remain vacant for a time; and if the principle be admitted, that in all such cases government pays a reasonable compensation for any extra service, however slight, a door would be opened to the admission of almost countless claims.

In the present condition of the country, there appears no necessity of offering even a slight premium for official candidates, and your committee, as at present advised, are unwilling to adopt the principle that, in a case like the present, a public officer should receive any compensation for his mere official duties, beyond that fixed by law. They therefore recommend that the bill do not pass.

CONGRESS, )

Session."

MEMPHIS NAVY YARD.
[To accompany bill H. R. No. 711.]

FEBRUARY 1, 1865.

Mr. F. P. STANTON, from the Select Committee, made the following

REPORT.

The Select Committee to whom was referred the President's message of

the 1st January, 1855, in answer to a resolution of the House, on the subject of the Memphis navy yard, having had the same under consideration, submit the following report :

The navy yard at Memphis—the only establishment of that kind in the Mississippi valley-had been in existence for about ten years. During that period great progress had been made towards the accomplishment of the work projected: valuable buildings had been erected, and other improvements completed, at a cost to the government, in round numbers, of one million dollars. In the closing hours of the last session of Congress, without any recommendation to that effect by the Executive, and with apparently little consideration on the part of the Senate and House of Representatives, the navy yard and its appurtenances, with all the costly improvements already mentioned, were suddenly and unceremoniously abandoned, and ceded to the city of Memphis. The city authorities have accepted this unexpected but munificent gift, and the property is now vested absolutely in them. It is believed that the sale of this property to private individuals, for private uses, would place in the city treasury not less than five hundred thousand dollars. This depreciation of value would be only a natural consequence of the change of purpose, yet would still leave a very handsome fund at the command of the public authorities of Memphis.

But the people of Memphis, through their proper representatives, the board of mayor and aldermen, have, in the most solemn manner, declared their conviction that the establishment unexpectedly ceded to them is “a great national work, of equal importance to any similar work in the eastern States, and that justice to the citizens of the great valley of the Mississippi demands its continuance.” They have accordingly offered to retrocede this valuable property to the govern-. ment, upon condition that the establishment shall be reinstated according to its original design ; “not as a ropewalk alone, but as a depot of construction and equipment of government vessels for the navy.”

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