delay of some months in considering the question.
I was permitted to suggest the new office of Inspector
of the Navy Department, and Mr. Veeder
was appointed to the berth.
But that amiable and non-combative old gentleman was soon forced, by the powerful influences arrayed against him, to retire, and since that time, as I learn, the old routine has, in a large degree, been re-established.
Contractors and employes whom I convicted have been restored to favor, and a series of. scandals is now being investigated by the present Congress.
My temporary detail to the Navy Department had not at all relieved me of my War Department duties.
Quite the contrary; it seemed as though the more I had to do in the former field of labor the greater were the calls upon me in the latter.
A subcommittee of the Committee
on the Conduct of the War
, visiting my New York offices one day, found the desks, chairs, and floor covered with the business papers of the navy ring, a dozen clerks assorting and analyzing them, and I taking depositions about army frauds in an adjoining room.
They had come there to investigate my doings, at the instance of complaining contractors; but a half hour's observation amply sufficed, and they returned to Washington
, and reported that if I asked for the whole power of Congress I ought to have it, for at least two departments of the government were rotten with fraud.
My narrative, as may readily be conceived from what has been given above, might be indefinitely extended.
But I have not the heart to expatiate longer upon this chapter of national infamy.
It is my deliberate conviction, based upon the inspection of many bureaus, and the examination of some thousands of witnesses, in every walk of life, that at least twenty, if not twenty-five, per cent.
of the entire expenditures of the government during the Rebellion
, were tainted with fraud.
That is to say, that over seven hundred million dollars were paid to public robbers, or.worse than wasted, through improvident methods.
If the loss of the money were the only thing to be deplored, it would be, comparatively, a trifling affair; for this country has boundless resources, and unprecedented recuperative capacities.
But every dollar of this ill-spent treasure contributed toward a demoralization of the people, and the sapping of ancient virtues.
Let any one who surveys the present condition of public morals dare deny that we have made long strides toward the overthrow of the Republic