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The bill to prevent quartermasters and commissaries from robbing the Government, which was presented a few days ago by Mr. Orr, of Mississippi, from the Military Committee, contains some provisions of singular severity. Proceeding on the around that every man is to be regarded as a rascal until he can prove that he is an honest man, it compels the officer to give in, under oath, once in every twelve months, a schedule of all the property he possesses, and to account for any accumulation that may occur in the interval. We cannot conceive that such a law would have but one effect: It would compel every honest quartermaster and commissary to resign, for no man of spirit and honesty would accept an office in entering upon which he would Stand in the light of a criminal, and continue so to stand until he had proved himself to be innocent. The inquisition into the private affairs of individuals, which the law prescribes, is entirely opposed to the genius of our laws and the character of our people. Pass this law, and the chance is that peculation will increase many hundred fold, for the simple reason that it will drive all honest quartermasters and commissaries out of the service, and substitute for them rogues, who regard no oath and will be restrained by no law. The reason assigned for proposing a law of such excessive severity is, that there have been enormous peculations in the Quartermaster and Commissary Departments. If such be the case, we submit that it would be more consistent with justice to point out the individual culprits, and punish them to the extent of the law, than to stigmatize a whole class, many of them not even suspected, and the majority having characters which have never been impeached. If this law pass, to say that a man is a quartermaster or commissary will be equivalent, in the public mind, to saying that he is a reseal. We protest against the injustice of stigmatizing a whole class for the sins of some half dozen members. In the discussions upon the subject, unbounded license of language seems to have been indulged in. Quartermasters and commissaries are said to have made "baronial fortunes." But the charges have been so general, and so vague, that it seems impossible to fasten them upon any one individual. The whole class, the honest as well as the dishonest, come in for a share of the imputation. Clearly, this is very improper. If there are individuals in the service who have made these enormous fortunes, and if it be clear that they have made them out of the public money, let them be pointed out. Let them be tried by the laws already existing for peculation and robbery. Doubtless the Quartermaster General would lend all the assistance in his power to detect and punish such culprits. We understand he is anxious that all such should be pointed out, that he may aid in bringing them to justice. Is not this preferable to making general and intangible charges against whole bodies of men, confounding the innocent with the guilty, and casting suspicion upon the honest man without bringing the criminal to judgment? We think so, decidedly; and we insist upon it that the guilty be prosecuted where they are known to be guilty. An honest man will be restrained from peculating by his own sense of right. A reseal will be restrained by no oath whatever. In the selection of officers, if more attention were paid to the character of applicants, we should have fewer malversation in office. That is the main point, after all. The character of the man is a better guarantee than any oath of office that was ever devised.
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