steamships for purposes of public defence. I directed the Commandant of the Navy-Yard at Philadelphia to purchase or charter, and arm an equal number for the same purpose. I directed the Commandant at New-York to purchase or charter, and arm an equal number. I directed Commander Gillis to purchase or charter, and arm and put to sea two other vessels. Similar directions were given to Commodore Du Pont, with a view to the opening of passages by water to and from the capital. I directed the several officers to take the advice and obtain the aid and efficient services in the matter of His Excellency Edwin D. Morgan, the Governor of New-York, or, in his absence, George D. Morgan, Wm. M. Evarts, R. M. Blatchford, and Moses H. Grinnell, who were, by my directions, especially empowered by the Secretary of the Navy to act for his Department in that crisis, in matters pertaining to the forwarding of troops and supplies for the public defence. On the same occasion I directed that Gov. Morgan and Alexander Cummings, of the city of New-York, should be authorized by the Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, to make all necessary arrangements for the transportation of troops and munitions of war in aid and assistance of the officers of the army of the United States, until communication by mails and telegraph should be completely reestablished between the cities of Washington and New-York. No security was required to be given by them, and either of them was authorized to act in case of inability to consult with the other. On the same occasion I authorized and directed the Secretary of the Treasury to advance, without requiring security, two millions of dollars of public money to John A. Dix, George Opdyke, and Richard M. Blatchford, of New-York, to be used by them in meeting such requisitions as should be directly consequent upon the military and naval measures for the defence and support of the Government, requiring them only to act without compensation, and to report their transactions when duly called upon. The several departments of the Government at that time contained so large a number of disloyal persons that it would have been impossible to provide safely through official agents only, for the performance of the duties thus confided to citizens favorably known for their ability, loyalty and patriotism. The several orders issued upon these occurrences were transmitted by private messengers, who pursued a circuitous way to the seaboard cities, inland across the States of Pennsylvania and Ohio, and the northern lakes. I believe that by these and other similar measures taken in that crisis, some of which were without any authority of law, the Government was saved from overthrow. I am not aware that a dollar of the public funds thus confided without authority of law, to unofficial persons, was either lost or wasted, although apprehensions of such misdirections occurred to me as objections to these extraordinary proceedings, and were necessarily overruled. I recall these transactions now because my attention has been directed to a resolution which was passed by the House of Representatives on the thirtieth of last month, which is in these words: “Resolved, That Simon Cameron, late Secretary of War, by intrusting Alexander Cummings with the control of large sums of the public money, and authority to purchase military supplies without restriction, without requiring from him any guarantee for the faithful performance of his duties, when the services of competent public officers were available, and by involving the Government in a vast number of contracts with persons not legitimately engaged in the business pertaining to the subject matter of such contracts, especially in the purchase of arms for future delivery, has adopted a policy highly injurious to the public service, and deserves the censure of the House.” 1 Congress will see that I should be wanting equally in candor and in justice if I should leave the censure expressed in this resolution to rest exclusively or chiefly upon Mr. Cameron. The same sentiment is unanimously entertained by the heads of the departments, who participated in the proceedings which the House of Representatives has censured. It is due to Mr. Cameron to say that although he fully approved the proceedings, they were not moved nor suggested by himself, and that not only the President, but all the other heads of departments were at least equally responsible with him for whatever error, wrong or fault was committed in the premises.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.