soles were filled with shavings, hats that dissolved often in a month's showers, and clothing made of old cloth, ground up and fabricated over again.
In the navy yards there was a system of corrupt bargains between the public servants and contractors, under which goods of inferior quality and short of quantity were accepted as of the lawful standard and count; public property was purloined and carried off in open daylight; scores of superfluous men were quartered on the pay rolls by politicians; navy agents colluded with ring contractors to buy of them all supplies at highest market rates on an agreement for a fifteen per cent. commission, and clerks in the yards, for a consideration, would slip the pay requisitions of these ring thieves from the bottom to the top of the pile that awaited the official certificate of approval, so that they might draw their money at once, to the prejudice of honest dealers.
There was no such thing as the taking of a general account of stock — not even a keeping of the accounts by double entry.
The old regular officers in charge of bureaus, high toned and unsuspicious, were flattered into a fatal sense of security by subordinates bound body and soul to thieves.
In the military arsenals, the same rottenness prevailed.
Here and there were to be found public servants without a moral ulcer within their breasts.
But such were annoyed and hampered in the execution of duty, overridden, too, often by positive orders from superiors to receive supplies not up to army standard, and, when too obstinate, were removed to posts less desirable.
The army standards were themselves debased under the plea of an exigency.
In the lettings of contracts, a fair competition was frustrated by the transparent conspiracy of bidders, who would put in absurdly low proposals under fictitious names, and then bid themselves at the highest price that, from surreptitious information received, they knew would throw out honest competitors and secure them the contract.
Their profits were calculated to come out of the delivery of inferior articles of skimped measure to government inspectors, with whom they had an understanding.
Presents of horses, carriages, jewelry, wines, cigars, and friendly help toward promotion, though passing under a politer name than bribery, effected the same results as though they had not. Every artifice that rascally ingenuity could devise, and clever men and women carry out, was resorted to to procure the brigadier's stars or the colonel's eagles for ambitious incompetents.
The sacredest secrets of our government were sold to the enemy; loud-mouthed hypocrites trafficked across the lines; the very medicines for the sick were adulterated, and dishonest gains were made