Naval Court of Inquiry Concerning the Conduct of Captain Isaac Hull When He Served as the Commandant of the Charleston Navy Yard Beginning in July 1815.
Navy Department, July 31st, 1822
Gentlemen: You are hereby appointed a court of inquiry, and required to assemble on the 12th day of August next, at the United States’ navy yard in Charlestown, in the state of Massachusetts, to examine, minutely, into the official conduct of captain Isaac Hull, since his appointment as commandant of that yard: and you will report to me all the facts and circumstances which shall be disclosed by the inquiry, together with your opinion in relation to the same. You will please to appoint a gentleman possessing the requisite qualifications to officiate as judge advocate. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, SMITH THOMPSON.
To John Rodgers, Isaac Chauncey, and
Charles Morris, captains of the U. States navy.
Navy department, Nov. 15, 1822.
I certify that the above is a true copy of the original.
This court, in obedience to the warrant of the secretary of the navy, having examined into the official conduct of captain Isaac Hull, since his appointment as commandant of the navy yard at Charlestown, and having considered the testimony and the defence or statement of Capt. Hull, report the following as all the material facts and circumstances disclosed by the inquiry:
It appears that capt. Hull was ordered to the navy yard at Charlestown the 1st day of July, 1815, took command there in the same month, and has continued to the command to the present time.
As no charges or specifications were exhibited against capt. Hull, the court was left, by the terms of the warrant, to discover, from a general investigation of his official conduct, if, in any respect, he had failed in the faithful performance of his duties. To this end, a series of general interrogatories were prepared, embracing the whole course of duties on this station; and these have been propounded to all such persons as were supposed to have opportunity of knowing anything of his conduct, or to possess any means of information on the subject; and all the witnesses have been permitted to testify freely as to the reasons for their belief where it appeared they did believe that captain Hull had failed in the performance of any duty. The restriction of witnesses to their own knowledge, without permitting them to disclose what they had heard from others, would, it is obvious, have precluded the court from resort to many unknown sources of information, to which the court might and ought to resort, for evidence of those facts and circumstances which had given occasion for the ordering of this court, and which it was expected this court should report upon to the department.
Had charges and specifications been exhibited, these would have incidentally directed the court to witnesses connected with the transactions to be investigated. The duty of this court would have been less arduous, but the result of their inquiry might have been less satisfactory.
By the course they have pursued, which, however, they presume will not be sighted as a precedent in any other than a perfectly similar case, no source of information has been left unexamined; and they confidently believe that every transaction which has given rise to any imputation against captain Hull, has been spread upon their record in such a manner that the government may be satisfied that the conduct of captain Hull, during his command, has been fully inquired into, and that no instance of misconduct has escaped the attention of the court.
In presenting their report or statement of all the facts and circumstances disclosed by the inquiry, the court will follow the analysis of captain Hull’s official duties, which suggested the standing or general interrogatories propounded to the several witnesses.
In respect to the first branch of their inquiry how far public property has been converted to the private use of captain Hull, or of any other person with his knowledge? they find that some public property at first appeared to have been so converted, but, on investigation, it appears this was, in fact, applied to public use; some appears to have been borrowed for his use, and afterward returned; some appears to have been taken for his use by his orders, and some without his orders or knowledge; but an equal quantity of the same kind, or an equivalent of a different kind, has been returned. But, it does not appear to the court that any public property, with captain Hull’s knowledge, has been converted to his own use without his returning some equivalent: neither does it appears that any public property has been converted to the use of others with his knowledge or assent.
Pursuing this analysis of the evidence, the court, in obedience to the warrant, proceed to state the facts and circumstances respecting this branch of their inquiry in regard to property which at first appeared to have been converted to captain Hull’s use, but, on investigation, appears to have been applied to public use. It was proved that several sticks of timber were taken by captain Hull’s orders from the navy yard to remove certain buildings of captain Hull’s. On investigation, it appears that these buildings were situate on the Woodward estate, purchased by captain Hull, on his own account, at the suggestion of Mr.Crowninshield, then secretary of the navy, upon an understanding that the government might subsequently purchase such portion thereof as might be deemed necessary for the convenient enlargement of this navy yard: that the government did take a portion of this estate on an appraisement fairly and satisfactorily made: that the department agreed to remove the buildings thereon to land of captain Hull at the public charge; and this timber was used to remove his buildings conformably to this agreement. It also appears that all this timber was subsequently and seasonably returned into the yard, and is now there in the use of the United States.
It was proved that some glass was taken from the store to be set in the buildings of captain Hull after they were removed from this estate. On investigation, it appears that the government engaged not only to remove captain Hull’s buildings from that portion of the Woodward estate which government might take for its own use, but also to place the buildings, after removal, in as good order and condition as before, and that this glass was taken to replace that which was broken in the removal.
It was stated in evidence that a shovel, three pairs of tongs, a pot-bale, and pot hooks and grid-irons, were made at the smith’s shop; but, on investigation, it appears that these were made for public use: the shovel and tongs for the fire places in the yard, and the residue of these articles for the quarters of an officer attached to, and residing in, the yard, and, after his decease, they were returned into the public stores.
It also appears that six small rakes, worth from 12 to 15 cents each, were made and used in capt. Hull's’garden, but were used also in the yard.
To this class of cases may be referred the purchase of medicines at the public charge for the use of capt. Hull’s family.
It appears that captain Hull did obtain of Dr. Elliot, an apothecary in Boston, a quantity of medicines to the amount of $53 54 cents, for the use of his family; that these were paid for by the navy agent, were by him charged in account to the government, and was allowed by the department. It further appears, from the testimony of Mr. Crowninshield, late secretary of the navy, and several surgeons in the navy, that it had been the practice at the naval stations, in this place, at Portsmouth, New-York, Philadelphia, and Washington, and on the Lakes, of the surgeons of the navy, to supply medicines from the public stock for the use of the officers’ and men’s families. It appears that captain Hull had obtained this supply from Dr. Elliot, under full conviction that this was conformable to usage, and it fully appears to this court that captain Hull did not at the time doubt his right to this as a customary allowance, but so insisted with Dr. Elliot, who, on receipt of the money, transferred the amount to the debit of the United States, and acknowledged receipt of his money as from the government.
In respect to public property, borrowed by captain Hull for his own use, it was proved, that four sticks of timber were taken by his orders and used to remove a small house of his own in the vicinity of the yard; but these were returned without injury, and it does not appear that the U. States have suffered any inconvenience from this use of them.
In respect to public property taken by captain Hull’s orders for his own use, it appears that 300 pound of nails were taken from the navy store by his orders, and were used in his buildings; for these he returned 320 pounds of a different kind, but of equal value and utility. It also appears that 23 pounds of spikes were taken for his use with his knowledge, at different times, in small parcels, and for these he returned a like quantity and of equal quality. It also appears that 1000 feet, in board measure, of sawn pine timber, were taken for his use, upon his order, and, subsequently, a quantity of the same kind was returned.
These are all the instances of the taking of public property for capt. Hull’s use, by his orders or with his knowledge at the time, during his command on this station.
In respect to public property, taken for his use by mechanics in his employment, it appears that, at a time when he was confined to his house by indisposition, his carpenter obtained from the yard a quantity of clear pine plank of the value of 12 dollars, and, instead of this, returned, on the same day, a quantity of merchantable plank of the same value and of equal utility.
It also appears that a bar of iron, about two or three feet long, was taken by one of his mechanics from the smith’s shop, and used in capt. Hull’s buildings for the chimney bar, but another of equal value was returned.
It also appears that hoops were put on a wheel of captain Hull’s travelling carriage, immediately after a journey by captain Hull with Mr. Barker, master builder, into New Hampshire, for the service of the United States, in quest of timber for the navy yard: but this was without his knowledge at the time.
It appears that two small pieces of yellow pine, and one of oak, were taken to make some cellar cills, of the estimated value of one dollar and a quarter; but this does not appear to have been known to captain Hull at the time.
In respect to public property converted to the use of others, it appears that an ax was made for lieutenant Ward and delivered to him on his engagement to return it; also that a gridiron was made and delivered to sailing master Waldo; also, that two garden rakes were made and delivered to James Bogman, gunner of the yard, for use in his garden within the limits of the yard.
It also appears that a small oven door, 14 by 9 inches, was made of a piece of sheet iron, and also a frame for this, by the blacksmith, for his own use, but it does not appear thatcaptain Hull knew of either of these instances of the conversion of public property to the private use of others.
These are all the instances of the conversion of public property to private use, which were proved to the satisfaction of this court. Some witnesses did indeed mention other articles of very trifling value, as dog nails, old hinges, & c. but, on investigation, it fully appeared that the materials were not public property, or that the witnesses who mentioned such articles, as appears by the record of evidence, were so fully discredited that their testimony could not justly have any weight with this court.
The next branch of the general analysis is the employment of mechanics or others for private use, while in the pay of the United States, for the same time they were so employed, and the employment of the navy yard teams for capt. Hull’s or others’ private benefit.
In respect to this branch of the inquiry, the court find that some men, and the oxen of the yard, have appeared to have been employed for private use, but, on investigation, it appears that they were engaged in public service; that sometimes the men and teams were employed for captain Hull’s use, but he made an ample return for such service to the United States; and that some men have been employed for the use of others, but without his knowledge.
In respect to the employment of the men, apparently for his use, or the use of others, but in fact for the use of government, it was proved that men were employed in removing the buildings and fences from that part of the Woodward estate which was taken by government for the enlargement of the yard, and in re-setting broken glass, and otherwise re-fitting captain Hulls’ building thus removed. But, on investigation, it appears that these were so employed, conformably to the verbal agreement between captain Hull and the government before mentioned, for removing buildings from the ground taken by government, to other land of captain Hull, and putting them in the same good order and condition as before their removal, and in setting up the fences on the new boundary line of the yard.
It was also proved that men and teams were employed in transporting cord wood and chips to captain Hull’s and other officers’ quarters; but, on investigation, it appears that the cord wood was fuel which the government delivered agreeably to the regulated allowances to officers on this station at their quarters; and the chips were removed conformably to the regulations of the navy commissioners recorded in these proceedings.
It also appears that a laborer was employed in sawing and piling capt. Hull’s wood, and the wood of capt. Shubrick, attached to the yard; but it appears that this is not inconsistent with the regulations of the navy yard: the government customarily delivers allowance of fuel at officers’ quarters in a fit state for use.
In respect to the employment of men and teams by capt. Hull, for his own use, it appears that one man was employed about half his time, in the spring and summer, in the cultivation of the commandant's garden within the yard. This was a laborer in the yard, who was regularly mustered there, paid by the United States, and labored the rest of his time in the public service: on investigation, it appears that capt. Hull is allowed 3 servants, at 8 dollars each a month, and one ration a day that he has not drawn pay for for more than two servants since April last, which is a saving to government of 15 dollars per month. Besides this, also, it appears to the court, that the labor of this man, in setting out valuable trees purchased by capt. Hull, and otherwise permanently improving this appendage to the yard, is a substantial benefit to the public property.
It also appears that capt. Hull has employed the government teams in carting earth from his land when digging a cellar, and in hauling stones to be laid there. But, on investigation, it appears that this earth was hauled within the navy yard, to improve the passage or road from the gate by the stores, where it was useful and indeed necessary, and that, while the cart was loading with this earth, and without any interruption or delay of public work, the oxen were employed to haul a few large stone, not exceeding seven in number, for a short distance.
Although it would seem, from various witnesses, that there is much evidence of employment, by capt. Hull, of mechanics and laborers for his private use, while these were in pay of government, yet, on investigation, and very careful examination of the master mechanics and laborers, themselves, it does not appear that any mechanic, laborer, or other person, has received pay of government for any portion of the time he was employed in captain Hull’s service, except the instance of the gardener before mentioned; and, although, two witnesses positively assert their belief that they have received pay of government for the time they were employed in capt. Hull’s service, yet the testimony of the witnesses is so discredited by the direct contradiction of the master mechanics, who had better opportunities of knowing, and whose duty it was to know the fact, that this court cannot regard their testimony as worthy of credit.
In respect to employment of men of the yard for the use of others, without capt. Hull’s knowledge, it appears that a laborer was employed the greater part of his time for the use of an officer in the yard: but this, though not purposely concealed, was unknown to capt. Hull. It also appears, that another laborer, acting as an under assistant to the store keeper, was occasionally employed by him in some domestic services. It does not, however, appear, that there was ever any occasion which called capt. Hull’s attention to this practice, or that it ever came within his knowledge. It does not appear that the government’s team had been otherwise employed for private use.
The next branch of the general analysis, is the neglect of any duty by capt. Hull, as commandant of this navy yard.
It appears to the court that capt. Hull has suffered a sailing master to attend to the mustering of the men in the yard, instead of a lieutenant, which the recent regulations for mustering the men prescribes, and that the check-roll has not been kept conformably to these regulations; some other person than the clerk of the yard having been allowed to call the men.
It also appears that capt. Hull has not always exacted of the purser of the yard strict compliance with his duties, according to the regulations now in force.
It also appears, that capt. Hull gave lieutenant Percival leave of absence from the United States, without first obtaining the assent or authorization of the navy department. But it appears, however, that there were more than a sufficient number of officers on the station at the time this leave was granted, and during the absence of lieutenant Percival, to perform all requisite duties.
It als appears, that lieutenant Percival received his full pay for the time he was so absent, that capt. Hull approved his account, but not until after the letter of the 4th auditor, under date of the 3rd September, 1818, recorded in these full proceedings, had been exhibited to capt. Hull. It further appears, that the letter of lieutenant Percival to the 4th auditor, under date of the 27th August, 1818, also recorded in these proceedings, was not seen or it’s contents known to capt. Hull, before it was sent to the department, or before he approved the account of lieutenant Percival, nor, indeed, until very recently. It further appears to this court, that the payment, by lieutenant Percival, of the sum of 126 dollars, through the hands of sailing master Waldo, was repayment to capt. Hull of money which lieutenant Percival held in his hands, and claimed in satisfaction of certain charges, and that, on the disallowance of these charges by capt. Hull, this money was repaid: That this repayment was not made with any reference to capt. Hull’s approval of lieutenant Percival’s public account for his own pay, but was entirely disconnected with that subject.
The next branch of analysis is, negelect of any proper measures for the detection of Fosdick’s fraud, by capt. Hull, or his collusion with Fosdick in this peculation.
It appears to this court, that the fraud of Fosdick was effected by his procuring the men to sign their names to the payrolls, in which either the time they had worked or the amount of their pay was not written, and that these blanks were filled up by Fosdick after the men were paid, with more time than they had worked, and larger sums than were due them; then he drew from the navy agent the whole amount, and kept the excess above the just sum due to the men, for his own use. On inspection of the pay rolls laid before the court, they appear to be fair, and to each is subjoined, in common form, a certificate by the person paying the men, that he has compared it with the muster roll, and found it correct, and below this is the approval of capt. Hull.
This is in the usual course, and no circumstance of any kind ever occurred to capt. Hull’s knowledge, during Fosdick’s service in the yard, to excite the least mistrust of his correctness, or doubt of his integrity. It appears that Fosdick had been highly recommended to capt. Hull’s immediate predecessor, capt. William Bainbridge, and that persons of high standing warmly recommended him to capt. Hull. No officer in the yard sustained a fairer reputation for integrity or talents in his particular station than Fosdick. But it appears to this court that, on the first intimation of the fraud, capt. Hull instantly adopted, and constantly, zealously, and ably pursued at Charleston, Boston, New York, and New Orleans, all proper and requisite measures for the detection of this fraud, and the recovery of satisfaction for the U. States, and that, through his activity and zeal, in an eminent degree, a full and complete satisfaction was obtained from the property and effects of Fosdick.
It further appears, that capt. Hull, in negotiating with Fosdick for this satisfaction, was more rigorous and unyielding than the other commissioners appointed for this purpose: That Fosdick complained of this treatment of him by capt. Hull as harsh, and was greatly incensed against him at the time: That Fosdick then complained that the government would get from him more than he had taken from the United States: That in this state Fosdick’s affairs, it was represented to him by an intimate friend that some persons suspected capt. Hull of being concerned with him in the transaction, and advised him, upon motives of policy, to expose capt. Hull, if in fact he had been concerned. This Fosdick instantly denied, declaring in effect that the fraud could not have been conducted by more than one person, and that no person was concerned with him in the transaction. It also appears, from the testimony of the district attorney of this state, and of the state of New York; also of an eminent counselor of the city of New York, and of the hon. Judge Livingston of the United States’ supreme court, that the conduct of capt. Hull, throughout his pursuit of Fosdick, was that of a perfectly innocent man, and highly zealous officer. No fact or circumstance appeared in any manner tending to prove or to justify any suspicion that capt. Hull had ever been connected with Fosdick in this fraud, or ever knew of its existence, till discovered by examination of some pay rolls, with reference to the true time which certain men had labored. Of all the witnesses examined on this subject, none expressed a present belief of such connection or collusion, except lieut. Joel Abbot and Daniel Loman; but these were so utterly discredited, as appears on the face of the record, that they were deemed unworthy of any credit by this court.
The next branch of the analysis is oppression; and in respect to this branch, the court find no evidence tending to prove any oppression by capt. Hull of officers or men, except in respect to disallowances of chamber money, wood and servant money, and in respect to his refusal to lieut. Abbot of leave to visit Newburyport. It appears that lieut. Joel Abbot, who states that one of his reasons for procuring orders to this navy yard, was that he might receive chamber money, made application to capt, Hull for this allowance. Capt. Hull was in doubt if he might with propriety allow it, and corresponded, and suffered lieut. Abbot to correspond, with the department on the subject the whole of which correspondences are annexed, in copies from the original record of the trial of lieut. Abbot by a court martial, and are as follows: The letter of lieutenants Abbot and Caldwell, and sailing master Ferguson, to the secretary of the navy, under date January 2d, 1821, and his answer of the 16th of the same month; a letter from Constant Freeman, accountant, to capt. Hull, dated 30th March, 1816; one from T.H. Gillis for the accountant, to the same, dated 16th May, 1816; capt. Hull’s letter to Constant Freeman, 4th auditor, dated 17th July, 1817 Constant Freeman’s reply, dated 26th July, 1817 another letter to same, from capt. Hull, dated 30th of September, 1820 Constant freeman’s reply, dated 4th of October, 1820; capt. Hull’s letter to the secretary, dated 9th of October, 1820, and the secretary’s reply, dated 10th November, 1820.
It appears that lieut. Abbot was very importunate with capt. Hull on this subject, reiterating his solicitations for this allowance, in a manner not usual for officers, and not pursued by lieut. Caldwell and sailing master Ferguson.
It is represented by lieut. Abbot that capt. Hull repulsed him with harsh and profane language. On the other hand it appears that capt. Hull is not in the habit of using such language to officers. It appears, that capt. Hull gave much attention to this subject of chamber money, and to the particular application of lieut. Abbot and others.
In respect to the allowance of wood, it appears that there were two boatswains in the yard, one of whom was old and infirm, and only able to do light work, and as, by the regulations, there was an allowance of wood only for one, capt. Hull advised or directed, that this allowance of wood should be divided in some way between them. It does not appear that they or either of them objected or have complained.
In respect to the allowance of servant money, it appears, that the gunner of the yard had received, through mistake, servant money, as if entitled to this allowance, and, on being directed, he refunded it without objection or complaint.
It appears that capt. Hull did refuse lieut. Abbot leave to visit Newburyport; but it does not appear to this court that capt. Hull was appraised by lieut. Abbot, on his first application, that Mrs. Abbot was dangerously, or otherwise, indisposed. But, it appears, that, although lieut. Abbot had been allowed leave of absence oftener and for longer periods than other officers on the station, at or about that time, yet leave was granted as soon as representation was made by lieut. Abbot that his wife was near confinement, and it was very desirable he should visit her, although, as it appears in evidence, this was an indulgence attended with inconvenience to the service.
It does not appear that Mrs. Abbot was dangerously sick at that time, although it appears in evidence, lieut. Abbot has made representations of her situation to this effect, which he does not confirm in giving his testimony.
It appears, that lieut. Abbot was at Newburyport from the 14th or 15th of February, 1821, to the 22d, when he returned to the yard, and that he did not, while at Newburyport, request an extension of his leave. He states, that he desired it, but refrained from asking it, because he knew capt. Hull would refuse it.
It appears, however, from the testimony of capt. Shubrick, that an extension of lieut. Abbot’s leave would, no doubt, have been granted as soon as asked for.
It appears that he did renew his application for leave of absence on the 28th of the same month, representing Mrs. Abbot’s recent confinement, and leave was immediately granted. It appears that this lady was alive till the 15th of April following, and that lieut. Abbot was absent on leave from the 28th or 29th of February, until after her decease, and never since has been on duty in the yard.
The court being required to state all the facts and circumstances disclosed by the inquiry, which are of moment, in connection with the object of this investigation, deem it their duty to state the following:
It appears in evidence, that captain Hull deposited his own paints in the public paint store; that this was a temporary deposit, and ceased as soon as another convenient place was in readiness, to receive it.
It also appears that some hinges, and chimney-bars and crane-eyes, taken from his, captain Hull’s, houses, were deposited in the smiths’-shop, in the yard, and these deposits, probably, gave rise to rumors of improper use of public property.
It also appears that he employed mechanics and laborers on his private property, who had been or were subsequently mustered in the yard for the United States, and this under circumstances which might naturally lead persons, not acquainted with all the circumstances, to suspect that the government’s time was appropriated to private benefit.
It appears also that he bought a quantity of lumber from a government contractor, who had landed this with government timber in the navy yard, and that this was transported from the navy yard to captain Hull’s estate, near Chelsea bridge, by a team often employed there in the service of the United States, and that capt. Hull paid for the transportation, yet the purchase and transportation of it from the navy yard did excite the attention or respectable persons. It also appears that captain Hull permitted the same persons to muster and pay, at the same time and place, men employed for his private use and men in the employment of the United States.
It also appears that, when the buildings were removed from the Woodward estate, a barn of the estimated value of one hundred dollars, and a wood shed of the estimated value of twenty dollars, both belonging to captain Hull, were moved into the yard, and have ever since been used in the United States service, as their property, without any recompence therefor to captain Hull.
It also appears that, previous to the purchase, by captain Hull, of his real estate near the western entrance to the navy yard, the small buildings there had been occupied by disorderly persons, to whose shops the men of the navy yard resorted at night, and where articles of value, pilfered from the yard, were purchased: That captain Hull endeavored to get rid of these tenants, but was unable to do so without purchasing this property himself: That he did purchase it, and it is now occupied by decent and orderly tenants.
In conclusion, this court deem it their duty to state, that lieut. Joel Abbot, whose testimony covers more than fifty pages of the record, did not appear to have knowledge or information of any facts which, in the opinion of this court, authorized the general expressions or imputations against captain Hull, contained in his letter of the 11th January, 1822. And, on his examination, which was conducted, as the court believes, with the greatest indulgence and patience, he was constrained to admit, in respect to almost every such imputation, that he had no better authority for making them, than common reports, which he had never investigated or traced to their source.
And this court regret, for the honor of the service, to add, that very many of lieut. Abbot’s declarations, under oath, in which it appears to this court that he could not have erred through mistake, are distinctly and directly contradicted by most respectable and disinterested witnesses.
No other facts or circumstances, tending to implicate captain Hull, in respect to his official conduct, could be collected from any source within the control of this court, and they have reason to believe that no others exist.
The preceding statement, therefore, embracing, in the opinion of this court, all the facts and circumstances disclosed by the inquiry, which the court is required to report, is respectfully submitted with the following opinion in relation to the same:
This court is of opinion that the conversion of articles in this yard, belonging to the United States, to the private use of individuals, whether by loan, exchange or otherwise, is incorrect. But, as it appears, to the satisfaction of this court, that all the articles which have been so converted to private use, with the consent or knowledge of captain Hull, have also been replaced, by similar or other articles of equal or greater value, the court are, therefore, of opinion that no loss has, in fact, resulted to the United States; and that no fraud was practiced, sanctioned or intended by captain Hull in these transactions.
The court are further of opinion, that the employment of persons, while in the pay of the U. States, for the private advantage of individuals, excepting such as are specially allowed by the regulations, is incorrect: But the court are further of opinion that, in the particular instances of this kind which were sanctioned or known to captain Hull, the deviation from the regulations has not been the cause of loss to the United States.
The court are further of opinion, that the deviations in this yard, from the regulations prescribing particular forms to be observed, in mustering and paying persons employed in navy yards for the United States, was improper, inasmuch as such deviation was made without the previous sanction of the navy department. But it is also the opinion this court, that no loss has resulted to the United States from this deviation.
The court are further of opinion, that the permission granted to lieut. Percival, to visit Europe, by captain Hull, without the previous sanction of the secretary of the navy, was incorrect. But the court are further of opinion, that no injury did, in fact, result to the United States from the permission thus granted.
This court are further of opinion, that captain Hull, in allowing articles, belonging to himself, to be placed in the public stores containing similar articles belonging to the United States, and in permitting the same persons to muster and pay, at the same time and place, within the navy yard, men employed for his private benefit, and other men who were employed for the United States, was indiscreet, inasmuch as such conduct, though in itself innocent, may, nevertheless, give rise, in the minds of persons not acquainted with the real nature and all the particulars of such transaction, to vague impressions of misconduct in public officers.
The court are further of opinion, that the charge made by captain Hull’s orders, against the U. States, for the medicines furnished for the use of his family by Dr. Elliot, was allowed by the general usage of the service at that time.
The court are further of opinion, that, in withholding his sanction to allowances for chamber money, fuel and candles to officers not permanently attached to the yard, captain Hull was justified by his instructions from the navy department.
The court are further of opinion, that, in his conduct towards the officers, mechanics and others, under his command, captain Hull has been guilty of no act of oppression or unjustifiable severity, but, on the contrary, he has, so far as was consistent with his duty to the United States, granted every proper indulgence.
The court are further of opinion, that the purchase of property, in the immediate vicinity of public stations, by officers attached to such stations may excite surmises injurious to the reputation of such officers, and therefore is not discreet. Yet it is the opinion of the court, that the particular purchases of this kind made by captain Hull, were made with no improper view of private advantage to himself, but originated in solicitude for the public interest, and were prosecuted with expectations of public benefit, which the United States, in the opinion of the court, have realized in the removal of disorderly persons from the vicinity of this navy yard.
And finally, this court is of opinion, that, with the before mentioned exceptions, the conduct of capt. Hull, since his command of this yard, for strict personal attention to the preservation of the public property committed to his charge; for the judicious applications of the means placed at his disposal for the public service; and for the faithful performance of all his other official duties, has been correct and meritorious.
JOHN RODGERS, President.
George Sullivan, Judge Advocate.
The president of the court and the judge advocate having, respectively, set their hands to the above record, and this court having acted on all matters committed to them by the warrant of the secretary of the navy, ordering this court, the court was thereupon adjourned, without day.
Attest, GEORGE SULLIVAN,
Navy department, Nov. 15, 1822.
I certify that the foregoing has been carefully examined and collated with the original, and is a true copy.
Source: "Naval Court of Inquiry, Navy Department, July 31st, 1822." Niles Weekly Register 23, no.12 (23 November 1822): 187-192.