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Doc. 24.-letter of Cornelius Vanderbilt.

New York, May 14, 1861.
Dear sir:--Being informed that you are about making a visit to Washington, I take the liberty of asking the favor of you to lay before the Government the enclosed proposition, which I addressed to the Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, under date of the 20th ultimo. To this proposition I have received no reply, and I attribute this to the multiplicity of business which has engrossed the attention of the department. You are authorized to renew this proposition, with such additions thereto as are hereinafter set forth. I feel a great desire that this Government should have the steamer “Vanderbilt,” as she is acknowledged to be as fine a ship as floats the ocean, and, in consequence of her great speed and capacity, that, with a proper armament, she would be of more efficient service in keeping our coast clear of piratical vessels than any other ship. Therefore, you are authorized to say, in my behalf, that the Government can take this ship at a valuation to be determined by the Hon. Robert F. Stockton, of New Jersey, (the only Ex-Commodore of the Navy,) and any two Commodores in the service, to be selected by the Government; and if this will but answer [153] will the Government accept her as a present from their humble servant?

The Atlantic and Pacific Steamship Company have authorized me, as their President, to offer to this Government the following steamers, viz.:

The Ocean Queen, of 2,502 tons, is new and complete in every respect.

The Ariel, 1,300 tons, in fine condition.

The new iron steamship Champion, built in 1859, 1,420 tons, drawing a very light draught of water, say 7 feet, light, and 12 feet, deep laden-carries sufficient coal to run her 25 days.

Also the steamer Daniel Webster, 1,035 tons, drawing a draught of water, say 10 feet, laden.

The price of either, or all, of said steamers, I am likewise authorized to submit to the decision of the Board of Commodores named above.

I am induced to make this communication, because I am desirous of protecting the Government against speculative attempts to take advantage of its necessities; and also, to make it known, that there are vessels of a capacity to meet all their requirements, which can be obtained without resorting to those belonging to citizens of the so-called “Confederate States,” or to those sailing under a foreign flag.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


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