United States. 1829. Annual report of the Secretary of the Navy. Washington: For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. Govt. Print. Off.
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Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, Showing the Condition of the Navy in the Year 1829.
Communicated With the President's Message of December 8, 1829.
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, SHOWING THE CONDITION OF THE NAVY IN THE YEAR 1829.
COMMUNICATED WITH THE PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE OF DECEMBER 8, 1829.
Navy Department, December 1, 1829.
To the President of the United States:
The Secretary of the Navy respectfully presents the following report:
The naval force of the United States, which has been kept in active service during the present year, has been composed of the different squadrons employed in cruising on the stations heretofore assigned them.
The squadron in the Mediterranean has been continued in that service, with the exception of the Delaware seventy-four gun ship, and the schooner Porpoise, which have been withdrawn, the latter having been represented by the commanding officer to require extensive repairs. The return of the Delaware was decided on under a belief that the present state of our political and commercial relations in the Mediterranean did not require the employment of a ship of this class in that sea; that all the necessary protection could be given to our commerce by frigates and smaller vessels; that these promised to be more efficient, in the pursuit and capture of such vessels as might be expected to assail it, and were less liable to suffer from the danger of the Mediterranean navigation. The Constellation frigate and the sloop Ontario were accordingly ordered to join the squadron; the former conveying to England and France the newly appointed ministers to those countries. Information has been received of the favorable execution of these duties. Our ministers have been landed at their respective points of destination; and these vessels, it is presumed, have, before this, assumed their stations in the Mediterranean squadron.
It is to be regretted that instances of insubordination have been manifested among the officers of this squadron. Courts-martial have been necessarily resorted to, and some of the refractory have been sentenced to temporary, and others to permanent dismissal from the service. It is gratifying, on the other hand, to know, from authority entitled to confidence, that the general conduct of the officers of this squadron has been such as to preserve, among the states and sovereignties on the Barbary coast, the favorable opinion of the American character which has been earned by the gallantry and honorable deportment of their predecessors.
The naval force under the command of Commodore Ridgley, and ordered to cruise on the West Indian station, consisted, in the early part of the year, of the sloops Falmouth, Hornet, Erie, and Natchez, and the schooners Grampus and Shark.
Several acts of piracy having been reported to have been committed in the month of February last, the Natchez, which had returned to the United States for repairs, was ordered to rejoin the squadron. After cruising a few weeks, and there being no reason to apprehend a recurrence of these depredations, she again returned to the United States, and has since sailed to Colombia, taking out Mr. Moore, the United States minister to that government, whence she was ordered to proceed to Rio Janeiro, to convey to the United States, Commodore Creighton, whose command had been transferred to Commodore Cassin. This vessel was also required to afford a passage to Mr. Harrison, the late minister to Colombia, on his return to the United States.
The recent invasion of the maritime frontier of the Mexican States by the forces of Spain having led to apprehensions that our commerce, in that quarter, might suffer by the encroachments which belligerents are so ready to make on neutral unprotected rights, the Peacock was equipped, and, taking out Commodore Elliott, to relieve Commodore Ridgely, was ordered to repair to the scene of these renewed hostilities. The Erie, which had also returned for repairs, sailed soon after to rejoin this squadron.
It is due to the late commander, Commodore Ridgley, to say, that, as far as the means had been afforded him, he has kept his little squadron employed with vigilance and activity; and, on a late occasion, this has been gallantly demonstrated at Tampico, in the firm and prompt course pursued by Master Commandant Norris in the rescue of the property of one of our countrymen from the grasp of unjust power.
For the last few months, except in the case just referred to, no information has been given to this Department of any new act of piracy or aggression on the commercial rights of the nation; but there can be no doubt that a relaxation, in the policy lately pursued, would be followed by an immediate repetition of these depredations.
The squadron on the coast of Brazil and Buenos Ayres has been maintained to its usual extent, and has been varied only by the interchange of relief ships for those which had performed the ordinary routine of duty. The presence of this squadron, small as it has been, has probably obtained for the commercial interests of our country a security which would not have been granted to defenceless merchantmen. Peace having taken place between these two nations, nothing is to be dreaded by our merchant ships from an interference with belligerent privileges. Yet many reasons forbid the diminution of our naval force on these coasts. The annually increasing commercial intercourse between the United States and these countries, calls upon the government to be prepared to multiply the means of its protection. Many complaints have been made by certain officers of this squadron against each other, of oppression on the one side, and of insubordination and neglect of duty on the other. The parties charging each other have been ordered to repair to the United States. Immediately after their return, a tribunal will be established to investigate these complaints, and to render justice alike to the aggressors and the aggrieved.
The squadron on the Pacific coast of South America consists of the frigate Guerriere, the sloop St. Louis, and the schooner Dolphin. No changes have been made in the forces of this squadron. Commodore Thompson has succeeded Commodore Jones in the command; and the Guerriere and St. Louis have taken the places of the Brandywine and Vincennes. Commodore Jones has returned to the United States in the former, and the latter, acting under orders from the late Executive, after touching at the Friendly and Sandwich Islands, will return by the way of the Cape of Good Hope. No information has been presented to the Department inducing a belief that an increase of this force is necessary; though doubtless good
policy forbids that any portion of it be withdrawn. Annexed is a statement, marked A, showing the disposition of the public vessels now in commission.
The report of the Commissioners of the Navy, which is herewith transmitted, marked B, furnishes a detailed statement of the number of ships-of-war in ordinary, their present condition, and the amount which will be required to fit them for service. These ships are represented to be in a state of premature and rapid decay, and, when the manner in which they have been disposed of at the stations is considered, this ceases to be a matter of surprise, how much soever it may be of regret. It has been the practice, when ships-of-war were to be laid up in ordinary, to place them under the general superintendence of the commandant of the yard, whose avocations have been so multiplied by the Department that he has but little time to devote to this duty. Thus, they remain exposed to the wasting agencies of the seasons, rain, and sunshine, and to all other causes which favor the decomposition of the materials of which they have been built. This sudden destruction of a fabric, upon the construction of which so much skill has been exercised, so much money expended, and upon the preservation of which so much of the commercial and national security depends, cannot but demand that immediate and effectual means be adopted to arrest its progress. The impolicy of cutting down the best timber in the country, and converting it into ships, which are to be subjected to this process of rapid destruction, would seem to be too glaring not to have been noticed, and too ruinously wasteful not to have been discontinued as soon as perceived. Within the last few years, the vessels which were in preparation on the stocks have been allowed to remain, under the protection of houses erected over them. In the report marked C, the Commissioners have offered suggestions as to the measures necessary for preventing the progress of an evil, which threatens to render abortive all the efforts of a nation for the establishment of an effective naval force. The attention of the President is respectfully invited to this branch of the concerns of the navy, as a matter of minor importance to no one which can be presented to his consideration.
In addition to the measures proposed by the Commissioners for the accomplishment of the objects to which their report refers, it is proper that some remarks be offered on points connected with this subject, and on which their opinions were not required to be expressed. It is believed that the true policy of the government will be to discontinue, for the present, the building of ships-of-war, unless for some specific object or immediate emergency; to provide for the thorough repair of the ships in ordinary; for the erection of the necessary sheds for their protection; and for the establishment of a police at each of the naval stations, to superintend and enforce the employment of the means recommended by the Board of Navy Commissioners for their preservation, and such other as the experience of the navy may have shown applicable to this purpose. To carry the latter objects into execution, an additional appropriation will be required; but their completion must result in an important saving in the naval expenditure, and would give to the nation, instead of the decaying fabrics of which the ships in ordinary now consist, a marine force which could be made to act promptly and efficiently for its defence.
The duty of preparing ships for service is, by the established regulations, committed to the commandants of the yards, whose great object seems to be to hurry the equipment, and to incur as little expense as possible Thus their preparation is imperfect, and the nation has to encounter a considerable expense in foreign ports to obtain the requisite supplies and repairs. The materials for effecting these are sometimes not to be procured, and the ship, being through the whole cruise in a crippled state, performs the service out and home at the risk of her loss, and perhaps that of her crew. Such a system, in peace, is hazardous; and in time of war, dangerous in the extreme. Some cases have been brought to the notice of the Department, in which ships ordered on voyages of two or three years have been so carelessly equipped, that the whole cruise might be said to be a series of dangers and escapes, and their safe return a matter rather to be wondered at than expected. In every instance in which it can be conveniently done, the officer who is to command should attend to the equipment of his ship for sea. No one is so much interested in the proper discharge of this duty; no one will perform it so well.
It has been usual to discharge seamen at some foreign port, whenever the period of their enlistment expired, or to pay the expenses of their return to the United States. Both these plans are objectionable; the first, because it often leaves the seaman a wanderer on a foreign shore, where he either must suffer from want, or go into the service of other nations; thereby diminishing the number of this useful body of men, or inflicting a heavy burden upon the funds provided for the support of the navy. To guard against both these inconveniences, the practice is proposed to be adopted, of making the cruises of the ships-of-war shorter than has been customary, and enlisting the crews for such a term as certainly to allow of their return to the United States before the expiration of the period of enlistment.
The navy yards established and now in operation in the United States are located at the following places: Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Brooklyn, New York, Pensacola, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, and Norfolk. There is scarcely any part of the expenditure for the establishment of a navy which has contributed so much to exhaust the general fund intended for its support, as that which has been applied to objects connected with the building and maintaining of navy yards. It appears from the report made to Congress by the Secretary of the Navy, for 1828, that the permanent expenses under this head, including naval, ordinary, hospital, and civil, amount, annually, to $268,744. The great expense incurred in the support of these numerous establishments, makes it proper to inquire whether it may not be materially diminished by a reduction of their number, without affecting, injuriously, other important interests of the navy. The opinion entertained by those most conversant with such subjects, seems to be, that the number now in operation is greater than the public service demands; that the reduction of them would effect an important diminution of expenditure; and that by concentrating the means and materials for building, repairing, &c., at two or three points most favorable for such purposes, it would tend greatly to promote the general objects of these establishments.
The Commissioners of the Navy Board were directed, on their late visit of inspection into the condition of the navy yards, to examine them with a view to this reduction of their number, and to ascertain, as far as practicable, whether there may not be selected, on the numerous bays and harbors of the United States, other sites, embracing greater facilities and advantages than those which have heretofore been employed for those objects.
The report made by the board, marked C, is herewith transmitted. It affords much interesting information on the points referred to them and connected therewith, and is especially entitled to commendation for the independence of its views on a subject which, from its effects on local interests, is calculated to excite local jealousy and opposition. The document is earnestly recommended to your consideration.
Various representations have been made to the Department, of the advantages offered by the harbors of the small keys in the Gulf of Mexico, called the "Dry Tortugas," as a naval rendezvous and depot of supplies. Should these representations be correct, and the harbor found susceptible of defence, the importance of the position would be equal to that of any other on our southern coasts. In the month of May last, Commodores Rodgers and Patterson were instructed to visit them, and make such general examination as would lead to a just estimate of their value and aptitude for the purposes contemplated. This service was performed by Commodore Rodgers—Commodore Patterson having unfortunately been prevented, by disease contracted on the journey, from joining in this examination.
The report made by Commodore Rodgers, marked D, is herewith transmitted. The result of his observations was so favorable as to justify a full and minute survey. Accordingly, Lieutenants Tattnall and Gedney, experienced officers, and well qualified for this service, were ordered to repair to the point designated, and have, for some weeks, been engaged in the performance of this duty. Their return is daily expected; and, when the information obtained by them shall have been received, it will be duly presented to your notice.
The value of the live oak growing on the public lands, on the southern coasts of the United States, as a source of supply of the best timber for the purposes of the navy, has been long properly estimated by the public, and various laws have been enacted by Congress with a view to its preservation. This has been found to be a task of no ordinary difficulty. The great value of this material for the building of vessels of every description, and the high estimation in which it is held, make it an object of pillage to the unprincipled of all nations; and this is not likely to be restrained but by the adoption of measures more coercive in their character than those which have been hitherto employed. It has been the practice to rely on the vigilance of agents, distributed over different districts on the coasts. These agents have been required to guard the public interest, and to bring to justice such as should be found trespassing on its rights. Hitherto their efforts have been unsuccessful. In a few instances only have the agents been able to detect the depredators, or obtain restitution of the property. From the nature of the country in which this timber is found, it must often happen that agents on the land can afford but a very imperfect protection against these violators of the public rights. The whole coast presents a series of bays and creeks, readily accessible to such boats as can bring off the timber; while the adjacent district may consist of impervious forests, or morasses and swamps, which forbid the approach of a superintending force.
It is respectfully proposed that these agencies be discontinued, and that the protection of the public interest in this timber be confided to a marine force, adapted to the navigation of the bays and inlets on which it is produced.
Other important services might be rendered by the vessels employed on this duty. They might, if required, aid in the enforcement of the revenue laws, and, if competent officers were attached to them, afford facilities for the collection of materials for charts of these hitherto almost unexplored coasts.
Sundry testimonials have been presented to the Department (see copies and extracts marked E) showing that canvas, made of cotton, had been successfully employed in the merchant service of this and other countries, and partially in the navy; all favoring the presumption that this article might be advantageously used in the navy of the United States. It was determined, therefore, that some experiments should be made, to test the accuracy of these statements. The execution of this duty has, for the present, been committed to the superintendence of Commodore Elliott, and the experiments are now in progress.
Some trials will, also, be made of cordage prepared from this material.
It is, also, proposed to institute a course of experiments on the canvas and cordage made of American water-rotted hemp, which has been represented as possessing durability and strength at least equal to the same qualities of the imported article. The importance of being relieved from a dependence on foreign supply, for materials essential to the very existence of a navy, justifies a full and decided trial of the products of our own country.
The practice has, for some years past, prevailed in the Department, to make allowances, or extra compensation, to officers who have been required to perform services not strictly within the line of their professional duty.
It is presumed that this practice had its origin in the belief that the compensation allowed these officers was insufficient for their necessary support, and an inadequate return for their merits and services. Congress has not only yielded to, but indirectly sanctioned the procedure, by adopting estimates for the appropriations founded on these anticipated allowances; and the officers themselves now view it as a source of emolument, which ought not to be denied to them. This state of things is irregular and unequal in its operation, and not a little embarrassing to the officer having the administration of the Department. If the compensation now allowed by law is too small, it should be increased; but let it be fixed, and not left to be dispensed at the pleasure, or by the favoritism of any one.
The compensation now made to the officers of the higher grades in the navy, is probably far below what their distinguished talents and services entitle them to receive; and compared with the amount given to officers of the same, or correspondent rank in the army, is remarkable for its inequality and insufficiency. Annexed is an exhibit, marked F, of the relative rank of the two classes of officers, and of the amount of compensation made to each under the existing laws. It is difficult to understand on what principle of justice, or good policy, is founded this difference in the compensation made to officers in the same service, and of the same established rank. Is not the same eminent talent required for the command of a squadron as for the conduct of an army? An equal share of professional skill? Is the naval officer less exposed to personal danger? Is his responsibility lighter, or are his labors less arduous? Does he contribute less to guard the interest, or sustain the rights and honor of his country?
The establishment of schools for the instruction of the junior officers of the navy, in the various branches of science appertaining to their profession, has so often been recommended to the favorable consideration of Congress, and has so uniformly been passed by, without obtaining their sanction, that it is with reluctance the subject is again introduced to their notice. A firm belief, however, that its tendency would be to qualify them for a better discharge of the high trust which may, at some future day, devolve upon them, in their capacities of commanders, forms a sufficient motive for renewing the recommendation, and submitting some views on the subject, which have not been so much insisted on, and which may be entitled to consideration. It has been remarked by a naval officer of much experience and observation, that no inconvenience in the navy is more sensibly felt than the general ignorance, of the officers, of foreign languages. In addition to which, there is often great difficulty in procuring competent and proper
persons to act in our ships-of-war as interpreters and linguists; nor has any allowance ever been made by Congress for the pay and subsistence of such persons. The perplexities and disadvantages under which our officers are placed by these circumstances, may readily be conceived. They are brought in contact, during their cruises, with nations speaking different languages; subject to be drawn into correspondence with the authorities of different places; under the necessity, often, to board vessels of other nations for the purpose of examining their papers and documents; and often without the ability to understand their import and tendency. In time of war, valuable prizes are lost from an inability to translate their papers, and to detect covered property and simulated documents; unnecessary and illegal detentions of vessels are made, and consequent damages obtained from the government.
The schools which have been employed at New York and Norfolk, in the instruction of midshipmen in the elementary branches of mathematics, have been mere temporary arrangements made by the Department, and have never been fostered or recognized by law. Their introduction into use has not been effected by means very regular or direct, but they have been tolerated by government, having been found useful, notwithstanding the very limited range of instruction afforded by them. It is respectfully proposed that, until some better system can be matured, these schools be authorized by law; and that such appropriation be made for their extension and support, as will enable the young officers to acquire a knowledge of such foreign languages as may be important for them to possess in the future pursuit of their profession.
The laws relating to pursers in the navy are believed to be defective in some of their provisions. At present they do not provide a limitation to the periods of their continuance in office, nor for the renewal of their official bonds. Many advantages would probably result from their being appointed for stated periods, and made to renew their bonds, as is now required of navy agents, collectors of the customs,& c.
The mode of compensating them is not such as to lead to a correct discharge of their duties, nor such as is likely to advance the public interests. The profits of these officers arise principally from a per centage, which they are authorized to charge on the articles they sell to the crews of ships. A part of these is furnished from the stores of the government, and the remainder by an advance made to them, to be sold at their risk, and for their own advantage. The temptation to increase their profits by improper demands, upon a class of persons little qualified to detect imposition, may sometimes be difficult to be resisted, and ought not to be presented to them. When their dealings are conducted upon principles of the utmost fairness, the income of pursers, in ships of the largest class, amounts to two or three times the compensation of the commander—an extent of remuneration which their services cannot merit, and which is the more odious, when it is known to be drawn from the pockets of men, who, of all others in the employ of government, earn their scanty wages with the most unremitted toil, and incessant personal danger.
In lieu of their present emoluments, it is proposed that they receive an annual salary, varied according to the responsibility imposed on them, by having a larger or smaller amount of stock entrusted to their care, and the degree of labor required for its disposition and preservation. Under a system of regulations which would enable the seaman to obtain his little supplies of nautical comforts at rates fixed, known and moderate, and without dread of imposition, the naval service would acquire a popularity with them it has never enjoyed; and the present difficulty of recruiting seamen would be diminished to an extent important as to time and expenditure.
In conformity to an act of the last session of Congress, in relation to the Africans stranded on the coast of Florida, a vessel was chartered, and has sailed with them for Liberia, with the exception of two, who were unavoidably detained by sickness. They were placed under the direction of an agent and an assistant surgeon of the navy, with a liberal supply of hospital and other stores. An effort was made to send to their native country, by the same vessel, two Africans who had been introduced into Alabama, a few years since; but, so strong had their attachment become to this country, that they availed themselves of an opportunity, while preparing for the voyage, to make their escape; since which time they have not been recovered by the agent of the government. No cases of importation of this description of persons have come to the knowledge of the Department within the present year.
It may be proper to remark, that drafts have been lately presented by the agent at Liberia, for the purchase of munitions of war, to enable the colonists to defend themselves against the attacks of the neighboring tribes, with which they were threatened. These claims were rejected, on the ground that no law was known to exist which authorized their payment, or which justified any expenditure beyond a temporary support to the restored captives.
The present confused and unsettled condition of the fiscal concerns of the Navy Department, makes it proper that the subject be brought to the notice of Congress; since it is believed that their interposition alone can lead to an equitable and final adjustment. In the month of March last, when it was discovered that these derangements in the finances existed, reference was made to the Board of Navy Commissioners, for such explanations as they might be enabled to give. Their communication in reply accompanies this report, marked G. From a desire to present such minute and detailed information on this subject as may be necessary for its proper illustration, the Fourth Auditor of the Treasury was requested by letter, (copy of which is annexed, marked H,) to report on the present condition of the accounts of his office, showing the probable origin of these embarrassments, and to suggest such measures as he might think necessary to correct the evil. His answer is annexed, marked I.
The vacancy created in the command of the Navy yard at Washington, by the death of the venerable and highly esteemed Commodore Tingey, in February last, has been supplied by the appointment of Commodore Isaac Hull. In April, this officer commenced the discharge of the duties of the station, and has since, by great industry and judicious arrangement, reduced the chaos of materials accumulated there to good order, and introduced a system of discipline and economy favorable to the general operations of the establishment.
The laws concerning the marine corps, and the act of 1800, establishing regulations for the government of the navy, are recommended for revision. The papers marked K and L, contain the estimates for the navy and marine corps; and those marked M, N, O, are lists of deaths, dismissals, and resignations.
The annual reports on the navy pension and hospital fund, &c., will be presented at the usual time.
The act of Congress, authorizing the establishment of the Board of Navy Commissioners, appears to have been designed to provide auxiliaries to the Secretary of the Navy, in the discharge of the ministerial duties of the Department. This body was required to be selected from amongst the most experienced of
the naval commanders; to whom, a knowledge of those duties was presumed to be familiar, and by whom they might be expected to be most correctly discharged.
The subjects placed under the superintendence of the board, by this distribution of the duties of the Department, are numerous, and of almost unlimited variety.
It may be justly questioned, whether the present organization of this body is such as to secure the necessary attention to the diversified subjects placed under its direction; and whether a judicious division of its duties would not facilitate the proper execution of the objects proposed by the institution of this branch of the Department.
Respectful reference is made to a communication from the Navy Board, in answer to inquiries having relation to this subject, herewith transmitted, marked P.
The present naval corps of the United States is believed to be more numerous than is required for the wants of the service; and more than can be advantageously employed, with reference to their own advancement in the knowledge and practice of their profession.
"There can be no national establishment," says a distinguished naval character, "like that of the navy of the United States, which will not, in the course of years, receive into its ranks some who are illy calculated to uphold its character, much less to contribute thereto by their talents and subordination.
"There may exist, also, some who, when received into the service, were calculated to become its ornaments, but who may, through various concurring causes, have degenerated into a reproach. Happily for this institution, the government retains in its hands the corrective for any defects in the corps.
"It is now twenty-eight years since a judicious pruning was given to the navy; a period sufficient to admit some useless suckers to repose under the shade of its virtues and its valor. The time would, therefore, seem to have arrived, to correct some of the evils of the service, by a peace establishment; and which it would go far to effect, by ridding it of the useless and insubordinate portion of its materials. The remainder would be preserved in more correct views of the service, and their management become more easy to the Executive Department."
If, in pruning these excrescences from the too luxuriant growth of the navy, some branches should be lopped off, which, in their day, have borne good fruit, let it be remembered that the navy pension fund, with its ample stores, is open for their sustenance and support; and, it may be added, that the navy asylum, on the Schuylkill, is now so near its completion as to promise, at an early day, to afford a permanent and comfortable residence to its disabled founders, and to such as, though not disabled, may have merited by their bravery, or long and faithful services, the gratitude of their country.
All which is respectfully submitted.
Schedule of papers accompanying the report of the Secretary of the Navy, December 1, 1829.
A. Statement of the United States vessels-of-war now in commission, their disposition, &c.
B. Statement showing the present state and condition of the United States vessels-of-war on the stocks, and those in ordinary, and repairing at the several navy yards.
C. Report of the Commissioners of the Navy, dated October 19, 1829, in answer to inquiries of the Secretary of the Navy.
D. Report of Commodore John Rodgers, dated July 3, 1829.
E. Copies of papers in relation to cotton canvas.
F. Statement showing the relative rank, pay, &c., of officers of the army and navy.
G. Report of the Commissioners of the Navy, dated March 31, 1829, respecting appropriations for the navy.
H. Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, dated November 10, 1829, on the state of the accounts of the navy.
I. Report of the Fourth Auditor of the Treasury in reply to the Secretary of the Navy. K. Estimates for the navy for the year 1830, and first quarter of 1831.
L. Estimates for the marine corps for the same period. M. List of deaths in the navy since December 1, 1828. N. List of dismissions from the navy during same period. 0. List of resignations in the navy during same period.
P. Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, dated November 13, 1829, to the Commissioners of the Navy, and their reply, dated 23d of the same month.
Statement of the United States vessels of war now in commission, their disposition, &c.
In the Mediterranean.
|Delaware, 74 guns||Commodore W. M. Crane, sailed on the 19th February, 1828; ordered home.|
|Java, 44 guns||Commodore James Biddle, sailed on the 1th June, 1827.|
|Constellation, 36 guns||Captain A. S. Wadsworth, sailed on the 12th August, 1829.|
|Warren, 18 guns||Master Commandant Charles W. Skinner, sailed on the 22d February, 1827.|
|Lexington, 18 guns||Master Commandant Wm. M. Hunter, sailed 19th May, 1827.|
|Ontario, 18 guns||Master Commandant Thomas Holdup Stevens, sailed 21st August, 1829.|
|Fairfield, 18 guns||Master Commandant Foxhall A. Parker, sailed 20th August, 1828.|
IN THE PACIFIC.
|Guerriere, 44 guns||Commodore Charles C. B. Thompson, sailed 14th February, 1829.|
|Vincennes, 18 guns||Master Commandant "Wm. B. Finch, sailed 31st August, 1826.|
|St. Louis, 18 guns.||Master Commandant John D. Sloat, sailed 14th February, 1829.|
|Dolphin, 12 guns.||Lieutenant Commandant John P. Zantzinger, sailed in 1821. (sic)|
IN THE WEST INDIES.
|Hornet, 18 guns.||Master Commandant Otho Norris, sailed 5th February, 1829.|
|Erie, 18 guns.||Master Commandant David Conner, sailed 2d November, 1829.|
|Peacock, 18 guns.||Master Commandant Edward E. McCall, sailed 26th September, 1829.|
|Natchez, 18 guns.||Master Commandant Alexander Claxton, sailed 9th July, 1829.|
|Falmouth, 18 guns.||Master Commandant C. W. Morgan, sailed 20th January, 1828.|
|Grampus, 12 guns.||Lieutenant Commandant "Wm. K. Latimer, sailed 24th May, 1828.|
|Shark, 12 guns.||Lieutenant Commandant Thomas T. Webb, sailed 5th November, 1828.|
ON THE COAST OF BRAZIL.
|Hudson, 44 guns.||Commodore Stephen Cassin, sailed 27th September, 1828.|
|Vandalia, 18 guns.||Master Commandant John Gallagher, sailed 16th December, 1828.|
December 1, 1829.
Statement showing the present state and condition of the United States vessels-of-war now on the stocks, and those in ordinary and repairing, at the several navy yards.
PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE.
Alabama—ship of the line. This ship requires thirty strakes of plank, on each side, to complete the carpenters' work of the hull. Masts and spars nearly finished. Progress has been made in finishing her inboard works. She can be prepared for sea in about three months.
Santee—frigate of the first class. This ship requires twenty-three strakes of plank, on each side, to complete the carpenters' work of the hull. Masts and spars complete, excepting a few spare spars. Progress has been made in her inboard works. She can be prepared for sea in about three months.
Concord—sloop of the first class. This ship is finished, and has her lower masts in. She can be ready for sea in ten days.
Virginia—ship of the line. This ship can be prepared for sea in four months. Her hull is nearly complete. Progress has been made in her gun carriages, masts, spars, and inboard works. One suit of square-sails made. Tanks, ballast, cannon, and anchors provided.
Vermont—ship of the line. This ship can also be prepared for sea in four months. Her state and condition is nearly the same as the Virginia.
Cumberland—frigate of the first class. This ship is planked, inside and outside, to the spar deck sills, excepting a few strakes left out for the circulation of air. Orlop, berth, and gun decks nearly laid. Spar deck framed and kneed. Progress has been made in the masts and spars; one suit of square-sails made; boats partly built; tanks, cannon, ballast, and anchors provided. This ship can be completed in three months.
Columbus—ship of the line. The hull of this ship requires considerable repairs to fit her for use. Her bottom requires examination, and, perhaps, coppering: to be caulked throughout. She may be equipped for sea in seventy-five days.
Independence—ship of the line. The frame of this ship is believed to be sound, but she will require new decks, outside plank, galleries, head, and part of inside plank, new spars, caulking, and coppering.
Constitution—frigate of the first class. The frame, generally, is believed to be sound; but she requires new outside plank, from the wales, inclusive, to the rail, new ceiling in the hold, new berth and orlop decks, beams, and knees, spar deck plank, galleries, head, caulking and coppering.
Sabine—frigate of the first class. Is nearly complete in her hull; masts and spars made; joiners' work ready for putting up. It will require four months to complete this ship.
Savannah—frigate of the first class. Is nearly complete in her hull; masts and spars nearly finished; joiners' work ready for putting up. It will require four months to complete this ship.
Ohio—ship of the line. The outside plank of this ship, from the water to the rail, and part of the inside plank, are decayed. She requires considerable repairs, It will take five months to repair this ship.
Washington—ship of the line. A part of the frame of this ship, being white oak, is decayed. The
outside plank, from the water to the rail, and nearly all the inside plank, are decayed. She will require caulking throughout, and coppering. Six months will be required to repair this ship.
Franklin—ship of the line. The plank on this ship is nearly in the same state as that on the "Washington. She will require caulking throughout, and coppering. Five months will be required to repair this ship.
United States—frigate of the first class. Part of the ceiling, orlop deck beams, knees, and wales, are decayed. She requires caulking, and her copper to be repaired; masts and spars defective. Seventy days will be required to repair this ship.
Boston—sloop-of-war of the first class. Some decay has been discovered in the wales of this ship; she requires caulking, and to have the copper examined. Thirty days will be required to repair this ship.
Pennsylvania—ship of the line. This ship is planked to the spar deck port sill, excepting a few strakes left out for air. The orlop, lower, and middle gun decks are laid; the upper gun deck and spar decks are partly laid. The laying of the decks, planking between the spar deck ports, building the head and galleries, making the port shutters and rudder, is the principal work to be done, excepting the caulking and coppering. This ship may be launched in six months.
Raritan—frigate of the first class. The hull of this ship is nearly completed; the head, galleries, port shutters, and rudder, is the principal work now to be done, excepting caulking and coppering. She may be launched in three months.
Cyane—sloop-of-war. This ship requires heavy repairs, inside and outside.
Sea Gull—receiving ship. In good order.
Potomac—frigate of the first class. This ship is complete in her hull, masts, and spars; gun carriages and boats nearly complete. Some decay has been discovered in the wales of this ship, and it may be necessary to renew a part of them. Can be fitted out for sea in three months.
Columbia—frigate of the first class. This ship has fourteen strakes of plank on each side; orlop and berth decks laid, and gun deck partly laid.
New York—ship of the line. To complete the hull of this ship, several strakes of plank, in each of the decks and bottom, are required. In all the other departments of her construction and outfit, progress has been made. She may be prepared for launching in three months.
St. Lawrence—frigate of the first class. Has her gun deck beams in, wales on, and other plank. She may be launched in four months.
North Carolina—ship of the line. A part of the outside plank of this ship, and decks, are decayed. She will require repairs, and to have her copper examined.
John Adams.—Is now stripped for repair, and some progress has been made in the preparation of materials.
Macedonian—frigate of the second class. This ship requires a thorough and extensive repair. Congress—frigate of the second class. This ship is so far completed in her repairs, that she may be sent to sea in fifty days.
Navy Commissioners' Office, October 19, 1829.
Sir: The Commissioners of the Navy have given to the subjects to which, by your letter of the 13th ult., you were pleased to direct their inquiries, all the attention and consideration which their limited opportunity and time admitted, and they now respectfully submit the result.
The plans of the several navy yards indicate the improvements made in each, consisting of officers' quarters, store houses, ship houses, blacksmiths' shops, timber sheds, timber docks, spar sheds, boat sheds, &c., with the dry docks in progress at Norfolk and at Boston; and the paper A will show the number and description of ships in ordinary, and the state and condition of each.
The query, as to the number of navy yards now established and in operation, is one of such importance as to command the most earnest attention and investigation. The commissioners are fully sensible that its discussion may excite strong local feeling, and they are aware of the responsibility of any opinion they may express upon the subject; but, referring exclusively to the unbiassed dictates of their judgment in the performance of an important official duty, and claiming the indulgence which a liberal community will not fail to extend to honest efforts, looking solely to the advancement of the public good, they approach the question with a confidence proportioned to the sincerity of their convictions.
"Is not the number of navy yards greater than is consistent either with economy or the wants of the service?"
To maintain any one yard beyond the number necessary for building and equipping our ships with the utmost dispatch, can, in no view, be considered as consistent either with economy or the wants of the service.
It is obvious that the greater the number of navy yards, the greater must necessarily be the expense. A yard used for general purposes, that is, for building, repairing, equipping and victualling a navy, requires nearly a full set of officers to superintend it, although it may be only occasionally used for such purposes. The principle of accountability in each yard being necessarily the same, the same system of checks must be maintained, whether the amount of expenditure be large or otherwise. In yards not constantly used for general purposes, some of the subaltern officers might probably be dispensed with, but not in sufficient number to affect materially the aggregate amount of expenses, if we keep in view the preservation of system.
Were we to disregard economy, plausible reasons might be assigned even for an increased number
of yards. It might be urged that multiplying their number would multiply the chances of reaching one of them in cases of emergency, such as distress in storms or disasters in battle; but when we look to the localities of our present yards, there are but few of them that can claim a decided preference, even in this, the most favorable, but certainly fallacious, view of the subject. The harbor of Boston can be entered only when the wind shall happen to be fair; its snow storm's in winter, its fogs in spring and fall, present serious and frequently insuperable difficulties. The same objections apply with considerable force to Portsmouth, N. H. New York, Philadelphia, and Pensacola, are all objectionable, as neither of them is easily accessible, and the two latter cannot be entered by ships of great draft, even at high water.
If the number of navy yards were confined to the number necessary for the service, in peace or in war, many advantages would result. The expenses would be reduced, and efficiency greatly promoted; system and uniformity might be more easily preserved, and the accountability of those having the direction rendered more certain and precise. By reducing the number of yards more work would necessarily have to be done at each. This would enable the government to concentrate artificers, ship carpenters, and other necessary mechanics, and give them constant employment, and the government would have it in its power to select and retain in its service the most valuable, at fixed and moderate wages. We should escape the inconveniences to which we are now exposed, by employing mechanics at so many different points to execute the public works, and discharging them when such works are done. This state of things not only compels us frequently to pay high wages, but to accept the services of inferior men; those possessing the most skill become discontented when discharged, and will never return unless from necessity. By having few yards, and those judiciously arranged, and provided with the necessary conveniences, much might be gained in the amount of daily labor performed. Ship carpenters and other mechanics, working under cover, can not only do more work per day, but lose no time from rainy or other inclement weather—a consideration important to the government, and calculated to render employment in its service an object of competition with the best men. While no time would be lost when working under cover, without a cover it is believed that, for six months of the year, the work per week would not average more than 4 1/2 days, thus occasioning a loss of one-fourth of time, to save which mechanics would readily agree to probably ten per cent. less wages; while a ship built under cover is worth, probably, twenty-five per cent. more than when built in the open air, constantly exposed to sun and rain.
It would be difficult to estimate fully the value of chosen bodies of mechanics, selected for their skill and industry, and prepared with every necessary convenience, faithfully to execute the public works in the best manner and in the shortest time. In peace, economy would be greatly promoted; in war, the highest interests of our country would be subserved.
Among other considerations claiming attention it may be observed that, by reducing the number of navy yards, many materials suitable for the construction of small vessels would, in the building of large ships, be saved. In the present state of things such materials are distributed among so many yards that the expense and difficulty of collecting them at any one point frequently exceed their value.
Viewing this question, then, in reference to the expense and to the efficiency of our naval establishment, the Commissioners are decidedly of the opinion that the present number of navy yards is "greater than is consistent either with economy or the wants of the service."
The question here arises, what number of navy yards does the navy, viewed in its present and probable future state, require, to secure to it all the advantages and facilities necessary to render it in the highest degree efficient?
To form a satisfactory opinion upon this important point, we must look to our seaboard and consider well the localities of our harbors. It will be found that, although numerous, there are but few of them which can be safely entered by ships of the line, or even large frigates; and surely it will be conceded that none other should be selected as a general rendezvous for our navy.
Our maritime frontier presents two prominent positions, of which a skillful invading enemy would endeavor to gain possession, as enabling him more effectually than any other to harass our coasting and foreign trade, and cut off our internal communication by water, while they would also enable him, with but a small military force, comparatively, to compel us to maintain more than ten times his number of troops to protect points in the very heart of our country which he might be continually threatening, although he might never seriously design to attack. These positions are precisely those which we should most vigilantly preserve from his grasp. The very reasons which render them objects of great interest to him, render them doubly important to us. If he, possessing them, could thus seriously annoy us, we, having them in possession, could then most effectually protect our line of coast, and assail him, should he attempt a blockade. An enemy, excluded from these positions, can nowhere upon our coast find more than temporary shelter for his ships. It is, indeed, confidently believed that, if we had these two points well secured, (and we surely possess amply the means of rendering them so) the inducements to maintain a squadron upon our coast would be so diminished, the difficulties, inconveniences, and hazards would be so numerous and so serious, that an enemy, even one physically and numerically our superior in force of ships; would find it his interest to avoid such an attempt.
The history of our revolutionary war, and our experience during the last war with Great Britain, indicate these two positions too clearly for them to be mistaken. Our past sufferings admonish us that the Chesapeake Bay and the waters near Rhode Island are our most vulnerable points; but while this is admitted, there is great satisfaction in the reflection that they are known to be susceptible of perfect defence; and, from their relative positions to each other, their accessibility at all times to ships of the greatest draft of water, and their greater range of anchoring grounds than are afforded by any other harbors in our whole line of coast, they form, in the opinion of the Commissioners, the two most important and desirable points for the general rendezvous of our navy, in peace as well as in war; and these, they think, would, in every view, be the most judicious locations for our chief naval depots.
The central position, the mildness and salubrity of the climate, the facilities of ingress and egress, and the almost inexhaustible supplies of ship timber afforded by the Chesapeake and its tributary streams, render it superior to any other place on our whole line of coast for a great naval station and depot; and next in the order of importance, for such purposes, is Newport, Rhode Island, or some other spot in Narraganset Bay.
Aside of all the considerations which recommend these as the most important positions for naval depots and stations, in reference to the local advantages and facilities they afford for the rendezvous of
ships, there are other views which strike our minds with increased force and interest, and conduct us to similar conclusions.
Let us, sir, for a moment, contemplate a state of war, and suppose these to he the general rendezvous of our guarda costa, consisting of the line-of-battle ships, aided by steam batteries. These, co-operating with the permanent fortifications now in progress, would place these points in a state of security, and enable us to protect extensively, if not effectually, our inland and coasting trade, and to render invasion difficult and hazardous at any point, and probably impracticable at most; while our frigates, sloops-of-war, and smaller vessels sailing thence, as they would be able to do at all times, and returning, as they might, in all winds, would annoy the commerce of the enemy in distant seas, even on his own coasts and at the mouths of his harbors; to protect which he would necessarily be obliged to draw the larger part of his force from our coast (if stationed there.) We might thus compel him to act on the defensive, while the chances of our merchant and other vessels returning safely into port would be greatly increased. The importance of a navy does not depend so much upon the number of ships, as upon their size and efficiency, and a judicious disposition of them, in reference to our own protection and the annoyance of an enemy to the greatest possible extent.
In time of peace our ships, particularly those of the line and frigates, ought to be laid up in situations where they could most easily be united, and their services most readily commanded, in defensive operations against an enemy coming suddenly upon our coast, and bringing with him, as it might happen, the first intelligence of his having declared war against us In this view of the subject the two positions referred to again present themselves as being more desirable than any other for the rendezvous of our navy between the Chesapeake and Newport; each being so accessible, so easy of egress and ingress, that a junction of forces, stationed at them, might generally, if not all times, be effected in less than forty hours. This is an advantage of vast importance, not possessed by any other two posts fit for the rendezvous of our ships-of-war on our whole maritime frontier. Between Boston and the Chesapeake, to form such a conjunction under ordinary circumstances, it might take ten days, or even a longer time; but, with adverse winds and other causes not unlikely to occur, the detention would be incalculable; for, so long as they should continue, a ship-of-war might not be able to get out of the harbor of Boston.
But we have incurred great expense in establishing other yards, and what shall be done with them?
At Boston, the buildings and improvements are highly valuable, and the dock now in progress at that yard makes it desirable that it should be retained as an auxiliary establishment. Its dense and active population, its numerous artificers and mechanics, and other resources it affords, give it facilities in the building and repairing of ships. It is understood that a canal is in contemplation between Massachusetts Bay and the waters of Rhode Island; and should this work be completed upon a scale sufficiently extensive to admit the passage of steam batteries and sloops-of-war, it would become highly important as presenting the means of affording additional protection to our whole line of coast east of Cape Cod and Nantucket South shoal, by a direct, safe, and speedy communication between Boston and Newport; while merchant vessels bound to Boston would often, particularly in time of war, avail themselves of this channel to reach their destined port. For our ships rendezvousing at or near Newport, Boston might thus be relied upon as furnishing many of the necessary supplies that may be required, either during peace or war.
As has heretofore been observed, Portsmouth, N. H., is liable to particular objection; and its remote position, and Boston intervening, deprive it of any advantages it might otherwise possess as an auxiliary establishment. New York, Philadelphia, and Pensacola are neither of them easily accessible; the two latter cannot be entered by ships of great draft of water at any time.
The yard at Washington has been established at great expense; it possesses factories of chain cables, anchors, cambooses, blocks, castings, and laboratory stores generally; and advantages attach to these valuable factories being conducted under the immediate eye of government; and although, like Philadelphia, it does not afford a sufficient depth of water to admit the passage of ships of heavy draft, with their guns and stores on board, yet still, considering its connection with the Chesapeake Bay, and the facility with which the hulls of ships of the largest class may be towed to Hampton Roads or Norfolk, by common steamboats, it will be seen that it is not destitute of advantages, even as a building yard, if viewed in the light of an auxiliary to a larger and more important establishment in the lower waters of the Chesapeake.
Upon the whole, with respect to the number of yards, viewing the question in all its aspects, the Commissioners of the Navy, with great deference, submit the opinion, that with the exception of the yards at Boston, Washington, and Norfolk, and another near the Gulf of Mexico, (principally as a place for the deposit of stores) all of our other yards might, in the course of a few years, (allowing time to remove the ships, &c.) be dispensed with, without injury to the naval service, provided an establishment be made near Newport, R. I.; that the places of general rendezvous, in peace and in war, should be the Chesapeake Bay and the waters at or near Newport; that the yard at Washington should be retained as an auxiliary to the one, and that at Boston as an auxiliary to the other. And the opinion is confidently entertained that economy and efficiency would be greatly promoted by such an arrangement.
As to the most advisable position near Newport, a satisfactory judgment cannot be formed until a thorough and minute examination shall have been made. It is known that there are several suitable places, but it is not known which is entitled to a preference.
With regard to "the preservation of ships in ordinary from the injuries arising from climate," much has been said and written by men of practical information, and many theories still exist upon the subject. It is believed, however, that the climate from the Chesapeake eastward, does not differ so much as to affect materially the preservation of ships at any one of our yards more than another; that, if a ship be originally built of the best materials, and be in sound condition and well caulked, when placed in ordinary, she may, by excluding the sun and rain, keeping her thoroughly clean, dry, and well ventilated, and winding her occasionally, be preserved in that state in either of the yards. The great cause of early decay in our ships is confidently believed to be, in their having been planked with timber, sometimes cut in the wrong season, (although always endeavored to be guarded against in the contracts) most generally not well seasoned, and not unfrequently to the union of both causes. The frames being of live oak, may almost be considered as imperishable.
These observations apply to all ships placed in ordinary, whether they have been in actual service or not prior to their being placed there. While in actual service, it is found that ships do not decay as rapidly as they do when lying in ordinary unprotected from the weather; but if protected in the way
above suggested, they may be preserved much longer in ordinary than while in service at sea, as they are not subject to the wear and tear, and vicissitudes of climate, which vessels in service are exposed to. It would be a difficult task indeed to "estimate the losses sustained under the present system of management, with reference to the quality and condition of the materials used in the construction of our ships." From necessity, ever since the creation of our navy, we have been compelled to use, to a great extent, unseasoned timber in the construction and repair of our ships; hence immense expenditures and great loss of time (invaluable in war) arising from the necessity of frequently repairing them.
The remedy for this evil consists in providing extensive supplies of ship timber, and placing it in a state to be well seasoned before it shall be used, and by never using, either in the construction or repairs of our ships, timber that shall not be perfectly seasoned. The Commissioners earnestly recommend this subject to your consideration; and they would also respectfully recommend that our vessels in ordinary be all placed in the state previously indicated as necessary to preserve them from decay. They cannot be so preserved without being well protected by close coverings or roofs over them. It was, indeed, hoped that this point, often heretofore urged, would have so far claimed the favorable attention of Congress as to have induced that honorable body to have made the necessary appropriations.
It may be proper here to submit the result of our observations and inquiries with respect to the modes of seasoning ship timber. As to the best methods, many opinions exist, and it is yet an unsettled point among the most experienced and intelligent. Weighing all these opinions, and referring to our own past experience, we incline to the conclusion that the following would be found as effectual, if not more so, than any other that could be adopted, viz:
Live oak timber. Let it be immersed in water for twelve months, then taken up and placed under cover to protect it against the sun, rain, and high winds; its immersion is recommended by the fact, that it renders it less liable to split or rent.
White oak timber. Let it be docked about eighteen months in fresh, or two years in salt water, then taken up and sawed into such sizes as may be required, then placed under cover for two or three years, when it will be fit for use.
Yellow pine. Let it be docked for about twelve months, then taken up and sawed to proper sizes for use, then placed under cover for about two years.
Mast timber. Let it be immersed in water and covered in mud, and continued in that state until it shall be required for use.
All timber ought to be cut, if practicable, when the greatest portion of the sap is arrested in its circulation, (say from the first of November to the last of February,) and after being immersed in water, ought never to be taken out at any other season than early in the spring, if to be avoided, and it should then, as early as may be practicable, after being sawed or reduced to proper sizes required in ship building, be put under sheds so constructed as to admit a free circulation of air, but at the same time to shield it from too much exposure to the sun and strong currents of air. It is believed, if the timber used in the construction of our ships was to undergo a process like this, that their durability would be increased twofold.
The Commissioners entertain no doubt that much loss has been sustained by "launching ships before they are required for service." On the stocks, well protected, a ship can be preserved almost without expense for a great number of years—probably as long as the furniture of a house, particularly if built of the best materials and properly ventilated.
Launched, and not protected while building by a house or other covering from the weather, as has, from necessity, been the case with many of our ships, and continuing unprotected, their decay soon commences and becomes destructive, particularly in their planking.
As to the effect of different kinds of water upon copper on ships lying in ordinary, salt water is, doubtless, more corrosive than fresh. In fresh water, where there is not a strong current, such copper as is used for our ships (32 oz.) would probably last twenty to twenty-five years. In salt water the effects upon copper, depending probably upon the degree of saltness, differ at different places. The bottoms of our ships, in some situations, soon become barnacled, and even muscles and oysters attach themselves to the copper and prove very injurious. In other situations, when the water is only a little brackish, a crust is formed on the external surface of the copper, which some suppose protects the interior copper, and it may do so in a small degree. But the fact admitted, that copper can be preserved longer in fresh than in salt water, still the contrary is, no doubt, the case with regard to the timber of ships, which is universally believed to be more durable in salt than in fresh water; and this is a far more important material than copper in the construction of our ships, whether we refer to the cost or the difficulty of providing it.
Suitable copper may be readily obtained at all times and seasons; but it requires years to procure suitable ship timber. And it may be remarked, as worthy of consideration, that the water is salt in all of our harbors in any way calculated as rendezvous for our navy.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. John Branch, Secretary of the Navy.
Washington, July 3, 1829.
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that, in compliance with your instructions of the 6th of April last, I left this city on the 12th of the same month, accompanied by Commodore Patterson, L. Baldwin, Esq., civil engineer, and Mr. George Baldwin, his assistant, but that, owing to unavoidable delays in descending the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and seven days' detention at New Orleans, we were prevented from reaching Pensacola until the 14th of June.
Commodore Patterson was unfortunately taken ill on our passage down the Ohio, and such became his prostration of strength, occasioned by the severity of his disease, said to be inflammatory rheumatism, that, by the time we arrived at New Orleans, all hopes of a speedy recovery, likely to enable him to accompany us further, had entirely vanished. The untoward event, I can assure you, sir, occasioned me much pain and regret, as well on account of his own sufferings, and those, too, under circumstances of
the most aggravated character, as that it deprived me of the many advantages I had promised myself to derive from his advice and assistance.
Arriving at Pensacola, as before mentioned, and having made the necessary preliminary arrangements, our operations were commenced the next day: the engineers, on an examination and survey of the navy yard and adjacent waters, in reference to their suitableness for the erection of wharves and the construction of a marine railway for the repairs of sloops-of-war and smaller vessels; whilst, at the same time, my own attention was directed to a general examination of the whole establishment with regard to its police, its expenditures, the number, size, and character of its buildings, and other improvements, &c.; and I now have the honor of submitting to you, for the consideration of the President, a report upon those and upon all other matters to which your letter of instructions directed my attention.
Plan No. 1 will, on examination, be found to contain a correct and minute delineation of the Pensacola Navy yard, with all the improvements which have been made therein up to this time, showing the depth of water at different distances from the shore, including the number and description of houses, and every other appendage now belonging to that establishment. But before venturing further on the subject of additional improvements, I would respectfully suggest to the President and yourself the propriety of entering more fully than seems to have been hitherto done, into an investigation and analysis of the geographical position, in regard to the protection of our commerce and the suppression of piracy in the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indies: bearing in mind the small depth of water on Pensacola bar (22 feet 6 inches at high water), the difficulty of ingress and egress at all times; the sterility of the soil in the vicinity of the yard and for forty miles in every direction; the impossibility of preserving salted provisions and bread for any great length of time; and more particularly the high prices of labor and provisions, and the uncertainty and difficulty of obtaining mechanics and laborers from time to time, as the exigencies and nature of the service to be performed may render expedient. These circumstances being considered, and their consequences duly weighed and understood, lead to the conclusion that the President and yourself will, on a closer examination of the subject, perceive that Pensacola, as a naval station, neither possesses by nature nor can be made by artificial means to supply, in an essential degree, any of the requisites called for in an establishment, the object of which is to afford succor and give efficiency to the operations of a naval force, such as it would be found necessary to employ in giving anything like efficient protection to so important and extensive a commerce as is constantly to be found passing to and from the Gulf of Mexico and adjacent seas, from every part of our extensive seaboard, from the Mississippi to Maine.
Whether the view I have taken of this subject, in relation to the obstacles attendant on Pensacola being made a principal naval station, even admitting it to be intended only for the security and protection of the immense amount of commercial products to which the Ohio, the Mississippi, the Missouri, and their almost numberless tributary streams are constantly giving vent, has anything of correctness in it, no person is better capable of deciding than the President himself: for, in addition to his ability to understand the subject fully in all its relations, he is known to be familiarly acquainted with the position, properties, and localities of the country to which the preceding remarks are intended to have reference.
In addition to the plan No. 1, herewith handed you, I shall, in a few days, receive from Mr. Baldwin, another plan of the navy yard; such as will serve as a guide in the direction and application of all future expenditures in the erection of quarters for officers, warehouses, blacksmiths' shops, timber sheds, sail lofts, rigging lofts, joiners' shops, and wharves; also, a report on the practicability and cost of constructing a marine railway, suitable for the repair of sloops-of-war and other vessels. These, when received, I shall also have the honor to lay before you.
With respect to the most eligible site that could be found for the erection of a naval hospital, at a convenient distance from the navy yard, permit me to refer you to paper B, of which the following is a copy:
The undersigned, with the advice and assistance of L. Baldwin, Esq., civil engineer, examined the lands in the neighborhood of the Pensacola Navy yard, with a view, in conformity with your instructions, to the selection of a suitable site for the erection of a naval hospital, and has the honor to report that—whatever kind of building it may be deemed expedient to construct for this purpose, between the village of Barrancas and the navy yard, distant from the former a little more than a fourth, and from the latter about half a mile—a suitable spot, on land already belonging to the government, for the location of such establishment, is to be found, containing nearly, if not all the advantages most desirable in such an institution, viz:
1. The site herein recommended is such as to ensure to it complete protection from two forts, intended to be erected to the eastward of it, one of which is already commenced; the other, preparations are making to commence; the first, on the west end of Santa Rosa Island; the other, on an eminence in advance of the Barrancas.
2. It has the advantage of easier access than any other place, by land as well as by water; not only with the navy yard, but with the shipping in the harbor.
3. It stands on a high, airy, and commanding position; affording a fine view of Pensacola Bay, and of the sea, to the utmost extent of human vision.
4. It lies within forty yards of a never-failing spring of as good water as any to be found in the neighborhood.
5. It is situated in the midst of an extensive grove of young thrifty live oaks, pine, black oak, magnolia, and red bay trees.
6. Being upon the highest part of a hammock, the land, although not rich, may be made, with but little labor and expense, to produce vegetables in as great abundance as any other spot in the vicinity.
It is believed that a frame building, the cost of which not exceeding $8,000, would be found amply sufficient for the accommodation and comfort of any number of officers, seamen, and marines, that our squadron, cruising in the West Indies, would ever find it necessary to send to an establishment of this kind. Such a building, if constructed of good materials, would last, it is thought, twenty-five or thirty years, without further expense than occasionally a coat of paint, and such trifling repairs as the invalids of the institution could, from time to time, be able to make.
The site recommended has already on it the sills of a building; the dimensions of which, and the cost of completing it, you will find described on paper H. This building, if completed, would, it is thought, answer sufficiently well for the present.
Upon the subject of the land sold to the Navy Department by Colonel Joseph M. White, on his own account, and as agent for Judge Henry M. Brackenridge, and for Francisco and Ferdinando Morino, I spent five days in examining the four tracts. The two first consist of 1,600 arpents: 1,200, the property of Col. White, cost the Department $2,700; 400, belonging to Judge Brackenridge, cost $2,200. These two tracts are bounded on the south by Santa Rosa Sound, and on the east and west by lands belonging to the United States; the eastern boundary of the first (1,200 arpents) being six, and the last (400) about four miles distant from the extreme end of Deer Point.
On the tract purchased of Judge Brackenridge, (see plat No.—,) I should suppose, from the best examination I was enabled to make, that one-fourth of the whole may be considered what is commonly denominated hammock land—the soil from twelve to eighteen inches deep, consisting of decomposed vegetable substances and oyster shells, intermixed with the fine white sand, forming by nature so large a portion of the soil of Florida, particularly that part bordering on the Gulf of Mexico. On one part of these hammocks, one hundred or more live oak trees, of large growth, are to be seen, and on the other, large stumps of the same tree are found; thus furnishing, if not conclusive, strong presumptive evidence that a soil that had once given growth to such timber, might, with care and proper management, be made to produce it again; if not by transplanting young and thrifty trees, at least by sowing acorns taken from trees of large growth while in a sound healthy state. On the adjoining 1,200 arpents, purchased of Colonel White, (see plat No.—) I am led to believe, taking the whole together, that not more than one-sixth part can properly be called hammock lands; this, particularly the hammock land, is similar in quality to that purchased of Judge Brackenridge; and from the number of large stumps to be met with, it is inferred that large live oak trees had once grown on it. At present, however, it has but few, if any, of this description, although it contained several thousand young trees, twelve to twenty and twenty-five feet in height, and two, three, and four inches in diameter. The timber on the easternmost part of this tract consists principally of a stunted growth of pitch pine, intermixed with scrub, black jack, and water oaks.
The improvements on the two tracts are as follows: On that purchased of Judge Brackenridge, a frame dwelling, one story high, (not plastered) containing two large, and four small rooms, with a large passage running through the centre, having a portico in front and another in the rear of the house; a log kitchen, a stable, and other small out-houses; two gardens—the large one having in it several hundred small orange and peach trees; the other, used principally as a vegetable garden, has some small fruit trees and shrubbery. In addition to these, there are two new rough log buildings, sufficiently capacious to accommodate twenty negroes. On the tract purchased of Colonel White, there are no improvements, other than the remains of two small log buildings, said to have been built by General Call.
At the time I visited these lands, there were twenty hands employed in cutting down, and clearing out from among the young live oaks, all the undergrowth and other trees, such as white bay, black jack, scrub, black and water oaks, magnolia, &c.; and, in this way, it was judged by Mr. Davis, the overseer, who accompanied me, that nearly or quite 200 arpents had already been cleared; in addition to two avenues in a north and south direction, and another in the centre, running east and west, that had been cut through the woods to give free circulation to the air, and prevent injurious effects from fires, such as these lands had previously been subjected to from Indian hunters and others. On the lands thus cleared, the overseer assured me that there were now growing 173 full grown trees; 426 of six inches and over in diameter; 11,635 between two and six inches; and 9,965 of two inches and under; making in the whole 22,202, which he had already counted.
From the limited examination I was enabled to make of these lands, it is impossible for me to say with precision how many acres had been cleared, or how many live oak trees they contained; but from what I did observe, (and my whole attention was given to the subject,) I am strongly inclined to believe that the overseer's statement is nearly if not quite correct.
Colonel White I found was at Tallahassee, and as it would have required twenty days for a letter to reach him by due course of mail, I was under the necessity of giving up the expectation of seeing him before my departure; and Judge Brackenridge having left Pensacola for Philadelphia before my arrival, precluded my obtaining from him an account of the expense that had already been incurred, or of the sums necessary to satisfy existing claims against the lands, for the improvement of which he had been appointed the superintendent.
I now come to the two tracts, one consisting of 1,250 arpents, purchased of Colonel White for the sum of $2,361.11; the other of 800 arpents, purchased through him, as the agent of Francisco and Ferdinando Morino, for the sum of $3,000. In the examination of these lands I spent two days, and was assisted in my researches by Captain Woolsey of the navy, and a respectable Spaniard, a native of the village of Barrancas, named Cummings or Cummin.
The 1,250 arpents (see plat No.—), are bounded on the north by the Grand Bayou, south by the Grand Lagoon, east by the Gulf of Mexico. On this tract, which lies about three miles west of the Barrancas, there is a large hammock of about 150 arpents, that contains some large live oaks, and a considerable number of others of recent growth, from three to six inches in diameter, intermixed with pitch pine, red bay, black oak, magnolia, and other trees of a small size. This hammock does not appear to differ in the quality of its soil from those inspected on Santa Rosa Sound; and from what I was able to observe by passing around it and into it in two places, as far as the undergrowth would permit me to penetrate, I am led to believe that the number of arpents of hammock it was said to contain does not differ essentially from what has been stated. The remainder of this tract consists of one-third, perhaps, of impenetrable swamp, covered with juniper, white bay, and other trees peculiar to such land; the remaining two-thirds of sand, in most places thinly covered by pitch pine, none of which are large enough for spars.
The tract of 800 arpents is bounded on the north by the Grand Bayou, on the west by the village of Barrancas, and on the east by the navy yard. This tract has on it two hammocks, one containing perhaps thirty-five or forty, the other twenty or twenty-five arpents; but although it has, like the other hammocks, a large number of small live oak trees, and some large stumps of the same kind of timber, I saw none of large growth. The soil, like all the rest, is generally very sandy, and unfit for cultivation. It is, however, pretty well clothed with small trees, such as pine, red bay, black jack, water oak, and other wood suitable for fuel. Its chief value consists in its vicinity to the Great Bayou—the number of springs of good water it supplies, and the fine elevated prospect that part bordering on the Bay of Pensacola affords of the sea. It is on this ground that the erection of a hospital is recommended, should one be thought expedient.
On my return from Pensacola in the Erie, sloop-of-war, (which ship, owing to the bad state and condition of her bottom and standing rigging, it was deemed advisable to send to the United States for repairs) I called at the Dry Tortugas, where I spent four days in the examination of its singular harbor; and this I was enabled to do effectually by the assistance of Mr. Baldwin and Captain Turner, with the boats of the Erie.
The Tortugas, so called, consist of eleven small islands, or keys, encircled by an immense roof or bank, formed of coral, which breaks off the sea in every direction, and contains within its embrace an outer and an inner harbor; the first of which, besides affording a safe anchorage at all seasons of the year, is sufficiently capacious to ride in security all the navies of Europe; but what is most singular, there is within this harbor another still more secure, which in its character may be said to be unique; uniting as it does sufficient depth of water for ships of the largest class to a narrow entrance, not more than 120 yards wide; ease of ingress and egress; and may be entered or departed from at all times, let the wind be from what point of the compass it may.
This singular harbor, when considered in reference to its geographical position and the defence of our southwestern coast, may justly be looked upon as the advance post of that portion of our maritime frontier, and in this light must strike every one as possessing peculiar advantages, lying, as it does, directly in the track of all vessels passing to and fro, not only between it and the Mississippi, but between every part of West Florida and our eastern States; whilst at the same time there is no one spot on our whole line, from north to south, that presents the same facilities in communicating with the several ports in the Island of Cuba, as well as those in the Gulf of Mexico, even as far south as the Bay of Honduras on the Spanish main.
These, however, are not all its advantages; for on referring to the chart, it will be seen that not only the commerce of Havana and of the Island of Cuba generally, but even the homeward bound trade of Jamaica, would be subjected to its grasp, were its natural advantages to be aided by the erection of suitable works for the protection and convenience of a competent naval force.
With all these advantages, it must be confessed that nature has not supplied it with every essential necessary to the perfectibility of such an establishment, inasmuch as no fresh water or firewood of any consequence is to be found on either of the keys; water, however, might be supplied by the erection of cisterns, and wood from Key West and the eastern part of the peninsula of Florida, without much inconvenience or expense.
The base of the whole of these keys is formed of concrete rock, composed of coral and shells, giving to each a foundation of the most solid and permanent kind; seven of them are clothed with a rich grove of mangrove trees of small size, and various shrubbery; but the other four contain little or no vegetable productions, although turtle and fish in the greatest abundance are to be met with everywhere. For a minute delineation of all that relates to these islands or keys, permit me to refer you to the accompanying charts.
All the papers received by me, having any relation to the lands purchased of Colonel White and others, are herewith transmitted. It would be difficult to determine the value of these lands; for, notwithstanding they all contain considerable quantities of timber, suitable for firewood, and those parts called hammocks might be made to produce live oak, it is believed, still, for the purposes of cultivation there is but a small part, I should think, that is of any value whatever. All which is respectfully submitted.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your most obedient servant,
Honorable John Branch, Secretary of the Navy.
The drawings, plans,& c., connected with this report will, when received from the engineer, be transmitted.
Copy of a letter from Warren B. Davis, Esquire, to the Secretary of the Navy, dated—
Washington, August 12, 1829.
I take the liberty, partly based on some personal intimacy, but chiefly as one of the representatives of a neglected portion of this confederacy, of addressing you on a subject that I consider of public interest.
I respectfully request that you will cause an experiment to be made in the naval service of the United States, for the purpose of ascertaining the fitness and utility of cotton as the principal element of sails, rigging, &c., and of its comparative cost, strength, durability, advantages and disadvantages. This request is predicated on information I have received of the results of some partial experiments recently made in the United States sloop-of-war the Boston, lately returned from a South American Atlantic station, and on other facts and experiments in the merchant service. That sails, rigging, &c., of cotton fabric, have been long used in the navigation of the Grecian Archipelago, is well known; and the fact that the Austrian as well as the Greek ships in the Levant are clothed entirely with that material, is amply sufficient to prove that cotton is there used, not as a substitute, but in preference to hemp. Hemp is one of the staple productions of that country, and forms an important item in the list of her exports; cotton is not, but is imported from other countries. I am informed that the superior celerity of the Greek ships, and what are usually called the Baltimore clippers, is attributed in part to their use of cotton canvas.
The maintopsail of the Boston, which I understand was mostly used and relied on during the long voyage from which she has just returned, was of cotton canvas; and that experiment was abundantly satisfactory to the officers on board of its strength, durability and usefulness. An officer of that ship, of skill, science, and the most scrupulous accuracy, has promised me a written statement of the facts referred to, as well also of some experiments in the merchant service; these shall be furnished you as soon as received. These facts, together with the certificates subjoined, I hope will be considered sufficient to
authorize a full and fair experiment; especially as the cost of an extra set of sails, &c., would be but little, and repay that little by their service. This application is justified not only by its probable important results, but by frequent and recent precedents.
The Navy Department has been repeatedly and pressingly importuned to test the comparative merits of American hemp, sail duck, &c.; and in 1828 the Naval Board of Commissioners made a full report on the subject, which was immediately followed by a law imposing the heavy and oppressive duty of $45 per ton on unmanufactured hemp until the 30th June, 1829, and $5 per ton annually, until the duty shall be $60 per ton. A similar call was made in 1827, and responded to in 1828 by the Secretary of the Treasury, on the culture of silk. If I mistake not, a resolution was adopted by the House of Representatives at the last session of Congress, directing the Secretary of the Treasury to digest a plan for supplying the American navy with cordage and canvas of domestic produce and manufacture. The request I make is at least as humble; it is only to use an article already within your reach, to test its usefulness and importance.
If the result of the experiment should be as I most confidently expect, its importance to the nation will be vast indeed. It would increase the demand for almost double the amount of cotton now annually produced in the United States. If successful here it would be speedily adopted by the navigating interests of other countries, and increase the demand, and open a market for that product to an amount beyond the reach of calculation.
Hemp can be profitably cultivated only on a few rich alluvial spots, or veins of land; but cotton (not unequally burthened as it now is) would yield to honest industry wealth and comfort from the 36th deg. of north latitude to the utmost verge of our southern and southwestern limits. The wealth added to the general stock of national riches by the cultivation of hemp is small indeed, according to the Treasury reports, from 1818 to 1827 inclusive.
During the latter year, the exports of hemp and canvas amounted only to $63,074; but the exports of cotton during the same year, from seven States only, amounted to $29,359,545; that article alone being of greater value than all other exports of all the other States together, and yielding, by the duties imposed upon its returning exchanged value, more than half the revenue of this government. But, however advantageous the experiment may prove to a particular section of our country, I admit that it can be properly asked for or expected on the ground alone of national interest.
In the present case the result can be of no local or sectional interest, unless it proves useful and beneficial to the nation. The former will depend upon, and be the consequence alone of the latter. Its success and future triumph will require no aid from legislation, no exclusive privileges for itself, or burthens upon the industry or encroachments upon the rights of others.
I herewith enclose you a part of the testimony I have received, and have the honor, &c., &c.
Navy Department, August 24, 1829.
Sir: I have received your communication of the 12th instant, containing your views of the expediency of introducing into our navy the use of cotton canvas.
The testimonials presented by you from highly respectable sources, of the result of various experiments in the merchant service, added to the trial made of a topsail of that material, during the late cruise of the sloop-of-war Boston, are sufficiently satisfactory to authorize a more extended experiment.
The fitness of this great staple of our country for the manufacture of canvas, suitable for naval purposes, shall, as it deserves, be fully and fairly tested. I have accordingly, with the approbation of the President, ordered a full suit of sails for the sloop-of-war Peacock, now fitting for sea, to be made of cotton canvas.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. Warren R. Davis.
Copy of a letter from. Isaac McKim, Esq., to Warren B. Davis, Esq., dated—
Baltimore, August 15, 1829.
I received, this morning, your letter of the thirteenth instant, requesting my experience and opinion respecting cotton duck, which I shall give with great candor, as I have no interest in the use of cotton duck farther than the general interest of the country. Having been constantly engaged in the shipping business as owner for about thirty years past, and particularly in fast sailing Baltimore schooners, my attention has been constantly applied to whatever would improve their speed in sailing, as those vessels are generally employed in such voyages where everything depends on fast sailing, and, when the British orders in council were in force, France was principally supplied with colonial produce by this description of vessels, under French imperial permits, and sometimes I have been under the necessity of standing my own underwriter to the amount of $100,000 on a single vessel. Thus situated, every attention was bestowed on the outfit of the vessel; but at this time I was not acquainted with the great value of cotton duck. It was during our late war with Great Britain that it began to be introduced, and my first knowledge of it was in about 1813, by being used on a Baltimore schooner called the Tuckahoe, and which vessel, in consequence, had the reputation of outsailing all the other Baltimore schooners. In 1815 I built two fine schooners, burthen about two hundred tons each, the one called the Tropic and the other the Plattsburgh; both those vessels' principal sails were made of cotton duck, and fully answered expectation as far as heard from, both being uncommonly fast sailing vessels, and in which I consider the cotton duck had a principal share. In the year 1823 I built the fast sailing schooner Yellot, burthen about one hundred and. eighty tons, and this vessel's sails are entirely made of cotton, both light and heavy sails; her reputation for fast sailing is not exceeded, if equaled, by any vessel of her class. She has made two voyages round Cape Horn, with cotton duck, and two to Smyrna. None but cotton duck has ever been used during these voyages; and so fully satisfied am I with cotton duck that I shall never permit any other to be used on board my vessels, as I am fully convinced that it is far superior to all other duck, without exception.
In the first place the cost is rather under the best Holland duck; second, that it will outlast any other duck, as it never mildews; that a vessel, with a suit of cotton duck sails, will sail nearly a mile per hour faster than with sails of any other description. This fact is so well established that all the fast sailing boats in the Chesapeake Bay, as Mr. Hooper, a respectable sailmaker of this place, has just informed me, have no other sails than cotton duck. Mr. James Cooper, a highly respectable pilot for the
port of Charleston, has informed me, in a conversation respecting cotton duck, within a few days past, that he was obliged to use cotton duck in self-defence, as he found the other pilot boats laid nearer to the wind with cotton duck sails, and outsailed his boat, but when he put the cotton duck on her he outsailed them. Captain Kelly's fine ship Peruvian, built in this port, has made four voyages round Gape Horn with no other sails than cotton duck; he prefers it to all other canvas, as to its lasting, and increasing the sailing of his ship. I saw a sail on board the other day, which had made the above voyages, and looked quite well; he has promised me a certificate respecting the wear of the Peruvian's sails, which, when received, I will send to you.
I am much pleased to hear that the Secretary of the Navy has it in contemplation to make an experiment of cotton duck. I am fully persuaded that it will succeed if attempted, and that it will be a great step for the country, the navy, and all concerned. As it respects the navy, it will give them the capacity of outsailing or catching their enemies, as may best suit the occasion; but I hope the experiment will be fairly made; that is, let a sloop-of-war or frigate have an entire suit of sails, (both light and heavy sails) made of cotton duck, and go out in company with another sloop-of-war, or frigate, with the canvas now in use in the navy, and have a trial of sailing; after this has been done, let the vessel with the cotton duck sails unbend them, and put to the yards the canvas now in use, when the difference in point of sailing will be perceived. As for the cost of the experiment, it is not worth mentioning; the sails will not be lost, and, in justice to the country, the experiment ought to be made without delay. There is only one objection to the use of cotton duck, which requires consideration; and that is, whether it is more likely to take fire, in time of action, than other canvas; in answer to this, I say let a fair experiment be made at the Navy yard, Washington, under the inspection of the President, Secretary, and all concerned. My plan would be to have an old mast rigged with shrouds, &c., with a foreyard and cotton duck sail affixed thereto, and a similar mast and foreyard, with foresail affixed of the canvas now in use by the navy; then let as many 24-pounders be fired at those sails, at such distance as the wad would strike, and see which sail caught fire first. The only way to meet objections is to have the experiment made to test them. As to the strength of yarns by weight, I am not acquainted with that manner of trying; but, if a principal sail will make two voyages round Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope, I want no further wear out of it, as it has then more than done its full duty. The mere fact that a vessel, with cotton duck sails, will sail faster than with any other canvas, is sufficient to cover a great many objections; but I maintain it is cheaper and better in every other respect, besides the price of the cloths:
Best cotton duck, No. 1, 40 cents per yard, 22 inches wide.
Best cotton duck, No. 2, 38 cents per yard, 22 inches wide.
Best cotton duck, No. 3, 36 cents per yard, 22 inches wide.
Best cotton duck, No. 4, 34 cents per yard, 22 inches wide.
Best cotton duck, No. 5, 33 cents per yard, 22 inches wide.
Best cotton duck, No. 6, 32 cents per yard, 22 inches wide.
Best cotton duck, No. 7, 31 cents per yard, 22 inches wide.
Best cotton duck, No. 8, 29 cents per yard, 22 inches wide.
Best cotton duck, No. 9, 28 cents per yard, 22 inches wide.
Best cotton duck, No. 10, 27 cents per yard, 22 inches wide.
I think No. 1 rather too heavy for the navy, as it weighs nearly a pound to the yard, of 22 inches wide. I, however, make use of this number for the schooner Yellot's three lower sails. As for cotton rope, I am sorry that it is not in my power to give you any information respecting it, as I have never seen any of it used. As for cotton rope or yarn that is exposed to the air for a length of time, I should think it would do it great injury. Plenty of the first quality cotton duck can be had here. With the best wishes for your success and a tender of any further information in my power, I am, &c., &c.
Copy of a letter from J. Edward Calhoun, lieutenant United States navy, to Mr. Charles Crook, junior, of Baltimore, dated—August 13, 1829.
In reply to your inquiry concerning the maintopsail, made of cotton duck, which was used by the Boston sloop-of-war during her late cruise on the coast of Brazil for a period of more than three years, I have to state that it was bent oftener than any other maintopsail in every kind of weather, and that at the termination of the cruise it was the best sail in the ship. I know that the commander of the Boston, judging from that single specimen of cotton canvas on board, agrees with me in opinion that it is stronger, holds wind better, lasts longer, and is not more liable to mildew than the canvas made of hemp.
I am, &c., &c.
U. S. Ship John Adams, Pensacola Bay, February 5, 1827.
Sir: In reply to your letter of the 21st December, which I this day received immediately on my arrival here, I had only a maintopsail of cotton that was bent at Norfolk in March last, and has been in constant use nearly the whole time since; my ship has been actually at sea two hundred and forty days, and sailed eighteen thousand five hundred and eighty-seven miles in the above period, including the hurricane months, which were excessively boisterous; and this ship requiring the maintopsail, it was always carried as long as practicable.
The injuries which topsails sustain from frequent reefing, &c., is well known by the Navy Commissioners. I have had the above-mentioned topsail middle stitched to strengthen the sewing, which had given way in several places, and I now pronounce it as good as it ever was, having this day examined it minutely to enable me to make this report.
Cotton sails hold more wind, are much more pliable and easily handled, and, upon the whole, I think highly of them for square sails.
Baltimore, March 26, 1827.
The ship Peruvian, built at this port in 1824, burthen upwards of 5,000 barrels, of which I was (until lately) part owner, was fitted, as regards sails, with cotton canvas, manufactured at your establishment in this city, with which she made two voyages to the Pacific ocean, and is now on her third voyage, to Gibraltar and South America, with her original sails except a few light ones. It is the opinion of the captain, who is part owner, and mine also, that cotton canvas is far preferable and much more durable than any other heretofore used. I am the better convinced of this fact from having another ship (the Hope) in the same trade, which was fitted with Holland and Russia duck sails, which, although nearly new previous to her departure from home on her last voyage, scarcely lasted to the Pacific and back.
Being so entirely convinced from experience of the decided superiority of cotton duck, I give it the preference in all cases, and should be highly gratified if the government could be prevailed on to use it on our ships-of-war, as they would unquestionably find it much to their advantage.
Baltimore, January 10, 1828.
I hereby certify that the ship Galen, under my command, performed a voyage to Batavia, Amsterdam, and back to Baltimore, with an entire new suit of cotton duck sails, which duck was manufactured by Mr. Charles Crook, jr., of the city of Baltimore. I was ordered to the Pacific and back to Baltimore; I was again ordered to Matanzas, Amsterdam, and back to Baltimore. The Galen was again ordered to Matanzas; from thence to St. Petersburgh, Russia, and home, and is now on her second voyage to the Pacific; and I am of opinion that the original cotton duck sails are quite sufficient for the said second voyage to the Pacific, and will now wear longer than a new suit of Holland duck.
Baltimore, February 1, 1825.
In compliance with your request to give you information respecting cotton duck, I have to inform you that I have used that article on vessels, from the year 1812 up to this time, when it could be obtained in this market.
In 1812 I got as much from Massachusetts as made two suit of sails; although it was not well manufactured, I found it to wear extremely well, and to have every valuable qualities, that hempen canvas had not.
I found it much less liable to chafe; it was more even, and keeps close in its texture, until it is entirely worn out A sail of cotton duck will hold the wind quite as well when it is two-thirds worn, as when it is new.
In hempen canvas it is well known that after it is half worn the most of the wind escapes. I have lately obtained some cotton duck, manufactured by you, which is far superior, in my opinion, to anything I have ever seen of the kind. Although I have not had it a sufficient time to prove entirely the wear of it, I am fully persuaded that it will be found equal, if not superior, to hempen canvas made in any country.
I am extremely anxious to hear of the cotton canvas having a trial by our experienced officers in the navy, who would be much better able to judge of its quality.
Some persons will say that it is more liable to mildew than hemp; but I am of a different opinion, from the experience I have had.
Baltimore, January 28, 1825.
This is to certify, that for two voyages, one of which to Smyrna, in the schooner Yellot, I have used the cotton canvas, and prefer it decidedly to any other; it wears better and holds wind better, whereby a vessel will sail much faster, and it does not mildew more than any other canvas.
H. S. CURTIS.
Extract from a letter of Captain Woolsey, dated—
Pensacola, March 8, 1828. In answer to your letter of 20th December, relating to the cotton maintopsail, I have to remark that it had lain in store a long time in Key West, before it was received on board the Constellation; one or two of the middle cloths, near the head of the sail, were damaged in store, and had soon to be mended, but the rest of the sail has had a fair test, in all weathers; is now bent, and still continues good. For the West India service, I think canvas of that description as good as hempen, and for all the high sails, I think cotton equal in all respects to hempen in any climate.
Norfolk, October 7, 1826.
I have directed Captain Wilkinson to report fully and particularly the strength and durability of the cotton maintopsail, furnished that ship last year. It was bent on the first of November, worn seven weeks in very stormy, wet weather, (four of them at sea,) and was then handled in the Gosport Navy yard, where it remained about the same length of time, and was again bent on her preparation for sea in February. When I last saw the ship, (in June,) it was then in use and reported to be in good condition.
From the whole I have seen of that sail, I am inclined to think favorably of the article for sails, and to believe that we have no cause to fear its greater combustibility than canvas made of hemp; it stands flapping and chafing as well, if not better, than sails commonly do of other materials.
Baltimore, March 22, 1828.
We, the undersigned, owners, masters and sailmakers, of the city of Baltimore, certify that the ship Peruvian, of this port, was completely clothed with cotton duck, manufactured by Charles Crook, jr., of Baltimore, and that it is now upwards of three years in service, during which time the Peruvian has been
three voyages to the Pacific ocean, and back to this port; notwithstanding, it is our unanimous opinion that the said clothing is quite sufficient for a voyage to South America.
THOMAS A. LANE,
Baltimore, August 24, 1829.
Isaac McKim, Esq., Baltimore:
Sir: I take the liberty of recommending to you Crook's cotton canvas. I had a suit of sails made of it for my ship Peruvian, in 1824, which were in constant use for three years; and at the end of that period, after making three voyages to Lima and back, the sails would, in my opinion, last a voyage to South America. From thirty-five years' experience, I have never found canvas to equal it, as to durability, and the propelling of vessels.
I am, respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
Baltimore, August 25, 1829. Dear Sir: I received yours of the 22d inst., relative to the use of cotton duck. I have made use of cotton duck for the last ten years, and am confident that it is the best duck for sails of any description. It will last much longer, and retain its thickness to the last, and cost less than either Russia or Holland. It is used by three-fourths of the ships owned at this port. My brig Pacific has a suit of cotton duck, a part of which is now on her, of Nos. 3, 4, 7 and 8, now on a voyage to Rio Janeiro; which has been in constant use (except the little time she has been in port) for thirty-four months, without a shift sail, or in other words, one to supply their places. Had I forty sail of ships, I should use it for them in preference to any other duck.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. H. CONKLIN.
Lieutenant Thomas R. Gedney, Washington.
Paterson, N. J., September 7, 1829.
Sir: From the interest you manifest in the subject of cotton, as a suitable material for sail cloth, I have thought the following communication might be acceptable to you, though coming from an entire stranger. Few persons, I believe, are acquainted with the extent of the present use of cotton duck in the merchant service, though but a trifle compared with the use of other duck.
I have been engaged, since 1822, in manufacturing of cotton sail cloth. The first two or three years to a small extent; subsequently, the consumption of it increased yearly, so that, for the last two years, I have made and sold from 2,500 to 3,000 bolts, of 50 yards each, per annum.
From 1822 to 1st May, 1828, say six years, I made 10,300 bolts of 50 yards each; from 1st May, 1828, to the first instant, I have made 9,600. How much has been made at the Baltimore factory, I do not know; I presume, however, from what I hear, that they do not make as much as I do, perhaps 1,500 to 2,000 per annum. There is a small establishment near Boston, but not much done, nor is it of a good quality.
From the time I have been in the business, and the quantity which I have sold, the conclusion may be safely drawn that cotton duck is approved of, and that it is gradually forcing itself into more general use.
My principal sales have been in Philadelphia and Baltimore, but principally in Philadelphia, where it is purchased by the same persons, year after year; not only for coasters and bay craft, but also for ships in the India trade, and those round Cape Horn. There are ships which have had it, and no other, in use for three years.
There is a prejudice against it, drawn from the frail texture of cotton shirting, which "gives all at once;" but this does not apply to cloth of the strong texture of my sail cloth; and wherever it has been used long enough to require repairs, it is as susceptible of repairs as any other duck. In the navy, I believe, the objection hitherto has been its liability to take fire, or rather the presumption that it was more liable to take fire than flaxen or hempen cloth. This I believe to be as ill-founded as the other objection above mentioned; and this prejudice, I rather think, is giving way. I am confident that it is not more liable to be set on fire, or, if on fire, that it would burn with more rapidity, than the same texture of flaxen or hempen sail cloth, for this reason, that the duck is made of three and four fine yarns twisted together; the warp and the filling is therefore a solid twine; it is as compact as the flax, and instead of being only two threads, it is three, four and five finer threads. Besides, I have for some years past furnished the steamboats on the Delaware with cotton cloth for awnings; as passage boats, they have them up at all times, and if more combustible than flax duck, would not be used. As my duck is made of double and twisted threads, no starch or sizing is required in the operation of weaving, and, of course, it is not so liable to mildew.
In fact, I could produce numerous certificates as to its durability, &c., if it was required. But the cotton sail cloth used in the Mediterranean sea and in the Levant, as also in the East Indies, is made of two or more single threads, laid and kept together by a thick coat of starch, which causes mildew, and when washed out, leaves the duck more open and of a loose texture, consequently, more exposed to fire.
Several officers of the navy, however, do not object to it on this account, and I am happy to learn that it is to be tried in the navy. It will stand the test, and I am confident will go far to remove existing prejudices to its more general use in the merchant service, and thus be affording a new demand for cotton in this country, for the supply of our own ships, as also giving an article for export.
If my memory is correct, at least 30,000 bolts of heavy sail cloth is annually imported from Russia alone; besides much more from England and Holland, and a great amount of raven's duck. I have, within a few days, sent samples of my duck to the Navy Commissioners at Washington, where you can see it, if so disposed.
Craving your indulgence for this long communication, I remain,
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. Warren R. Davis, Washington.
Philadelphia, August 18, 1829.
Sir: In answer to your inquiries respecting cotton canvas, I can state, from three years' experience, I would give it a decided preference over linen, for the following reasons: it wears better, is much closer, and retains its closeness until worn out. We have tried it for sails to our packets for three years past, and have found it less liable to mildew.
For awnings to our steamboats, which occasionally throw out a good many sparks from the chimneys, we think it less combustible; feeling confident that linen would burn out much more quickly.
We occasionally make a strong pickle, with a small quantity of lime slacked into it, and wet the sails and awnings with it, and always make a practice of doing so when new, to take sizing out of the canvas.
M. C. JENKINS,
Steamboat Newcastle, of the Union Line.
W. A. Slacum, Esq.
Extract of a letter from Commodore J. D. Elliott to the Secretary of the Navy.
New York, September 9, 1829.
Prejudice existing in the minds of some against the introduction of cotton canvas, (but with whom I am disposed to differ) I do most earnestly solicit that, for each of the ships attached to the squadron under my command, you will cause to be made a mainsail, a maintopsail, a maintopgallantsail, a main royal, two maintopgallant studdingsails, a main stormstaysail, a mizen staysail, a lower studdingsail, two foretopmast studdingsails, a fore and maintopmast staysail, and a jib; and that a foresail, a square-sail, a foretopsail, and a jib, with hammock cloths, hammocks and bags properly sewed and fitted, be sent out for each of the schooners. The kinds of sails just mentioned have been enumerated because most worn.
By complying with my solicitation, you will be enabled to obtain the united information of all the officers of the different grades, attached to the squadron, and who are supposed to represent different sections of the Union, being natives of the different States.
The enclosed copy of a letter which I had occasion to address to the Marquis of Parangua, minister of marine of Brazil, and in which my views touching the utility of cotton canvas for the purpose alluded to, are fully explained, is herewith submitted to your consideration.
Extract of a letter from Com. Jesse D. Elliott to the Marquis of Parangua, minister of marine of Brazil, dated—
U. S. Ship Cyane, Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, November 27, 1826.
With a disposition to interchange specimens of such materials, the product of our own continent, of which you possess the most bounteous part, I beg leave to tender you two specimens of the kind of canvas of the staple of both Brazil and North America. One is new, and is a facsimile of the maintopsail of several heavy sloops-of-war, which we have recently constructed, launched and equipped for sea; one of which, the Boston, now in this port, has had the maintopsail in constant use for nine months, and the officer in command of the vessel unhesitatingly declares it infinitely superior to the European hempen canvas. The second is a piece of a lighter sail, and condemned after having been in constant use four years.
Extract of a letter from the Son. John Branch, Secretary of the Navy, to Commodore Jesse D. Elliott, dated—September 15, 1829.
Sir: Your favor of the 9th instant has been received, and, duly appreciating the importance of the subject to which it refers, I have not neglected to bestow the most deliberate consideration on its contents.
That prejudices should exist against the introduction into the naval service of an article, the practical importance of which has not been fully tested by experience, is not to be wondered at. If, however, the contemplated innovation be an improvement, these prejudices must necessarily give way to experiments, which shall demonstrate the value and importance of the discovery.
I am much pleased, on this occasion, to have the benefit of your aid in giving a fair trial to the merits of the proposed substitute for the canvas now used in the United States navy.
You may rely upon the best efforts of the Department to afford you an opportunity of making this trial, under circumstances the most favorable to their success; and that your requisitions for the cotton sails, hammocks, &c., shall be complied with as speedily as they can be prepared, and if not ready to put on board the Peacock before her necessary departure from the United States, they shall be forwarded to the squadron by the Erie, or by some other safe conveyance. Wishing you a successful cruise and safe return,
I remain, very respectfully, &c.,
Com. Jesse D. Elliott, New York.
The following is the relative rank between officers of the army and officers of the navy:
A captain of the navy, under five years, ranks with a lieutenant colonel;
a captain of the navy, over five years, ranks with a colonel;
a captain of the navy, over ten years, ranks with a brigadier general;
a captain of the navy, over fifteen years, ranks with a major general;
a master commandant ranks with a major.
Neither the pay nor the rations of a navy officer of any grade are affected by duration of service; a captain, if commanding a squadron, is, by law, entitled to $1,200 as pay, and $1,460 for rations, making
$2,660 per annum; if not commanding a squadron, then his pay and rations amount to $1,930. A master commandant is allowed $1,116.25 per annum.
The following shows the amount of the pay, &c., of certain officers of the army, considering each as commanding a separate post:
|Major general||$6,512 64|
|Brigadier general||4,422 48|
|Lieutenant colonel||2,372 32|
The following shows the relative pay, &c., of officers of the army, and the proposed pay of officers of the navy, of assimilated rank, agreeably to the above scale:
|Maj. Gen.||Brig. Gen.||Colonel.||Lieut. Col.||Major|
|Army||$6,512 64||$4,422 48||$2,941 32||$2,372 32||$2,106 32|
|Proposed pay for the navy||3,000 00||2,700 00||2,400 00||2,200 00||1,800 00|
Exclusive of rations, which are not to be drawn except when officers are in actual service; then they are to commence from the date of their orders for service, and to terminate at the striking of the pennant.
Navy Commissioners' Office, March 31, 1829.
Sir: The Commissioners of the Navy have had the honor of receiving your letter of yesterday's date, with the statements therein referred to, which enable them to reply to your previous letter of the 11th, and to comply, they hope, with its requisitions, in a manner satisfactory to you.
The statements now respectfully submitted, and marked A, B, C, D, present every view of the state of the appropriations to which they refer, deemed essential to a thorough and perfect understanding of the subject.
The paper A exhibits the sums appropriated for the year 1828; the balances in the Treasury on the 1st of June, 1828, when the arrangement A, No. 2, took effect, and the board began to approve requisitions under the heads of appropriation therein set forth; the whole amount of the requisitions approved by the board, from the 1st June, 1828, to the 21st March, 1829, and the balances thence deducted, to which is added the amount accruing from the sale of various articles, thus giving a general view of the proceedings of the board with respect to the appropriations in question.
The paper B shows the state of these appropriations at the several agencies in the United States, on the 1st of June, 1828, and 1st March, 1829, (except that at Pensacola, which has not been received.) To this paper the Commissioners respectfully invite your particular attention. It shows that, while agents have ostensibly large balances in their hands, under certain heads of appropriation, they have made overpayments under others, nearly counterbalancing them. The last returns from the navy agent at Philadelphia, (which embrace all the navy appropriations) exhibit balances on hand, $69,761.58; overpayments under other heads of appropriation, $69,230.13; thus making the actual balance of money in his hands $531.45. The agent at Norfolk had, by his last return, balances on hand, $103,248.33; but he had overpaid, under other heads of appropriation, $92,259.41, thus making the actual balance of money only $10,988.92.
The Commissioners beg leave to observe that while this state of things continues the fiscal system of the Department will remain confused and imperfect. Early after the organization of the board it was foreseen that, unless some precise and correct system should be adopted and persevered in, the navy appropriations would get into a confused and unintelligible state; and the board, on numerous occasions, expressed that opinion to the Secretary of the Navy; finally they decided to address to him an official letter upon the subject (copy of which, marked B, No. 2, they submit herewith), but the propositions then made were not concurred in; and it was not till the board were apprised of the actual state of the appropriations, in May, 1828, that they ventured to renew the subject, at which time the arrangement A, No. 2, was entered into. This arrangement, if carried fully into effect, would, with but slight improvement, keep the Department in possession of every information as to its fiscal concerns.
The great defect in the fiscal branch of the Department, remitting moneys without a perfect knowledge of the objects upon which they are to be expended, and the cost of those objects, has existed in a greater or less degree ever since the establishment of the Navy Department, yet it has ever appeared to the board to be susceptible of remedy.
If we know the amount of the appropriations, the objects of expenditure, their probable cost, the particular items chargeable to each appropriation before remittances are made, and see that no moneys are issued but for authorized objects and under the appropriate heads, and positively instruct the disbursing agents not to apply moneys under one head of appropriation to objects chargeable to another, and require of them prompt settlements at the treasury, every desirable check would exist.
These objects were in view at the time the Commissioners addressed their circular of May 28, 1828, to the navy agents, but they have not been enabled to enforce the principles laid down in that circular, because of orders given, unknown to them, to apply moneys to other than their legitimate objects. Under such orders the agent at Philadelphia applied a sum in his hands belonging to "gradual increase," amounting to-more than $30,000, to five other distinct appropriations, viz., sloops-of-war, navy yards, five schooners, contingent prior to 1824, and contingent for 1826. This is mentioned merely as an example of the difficulties the board has experienced in enforcing the principles of their circular of 28th May, and to show existing defects in practice. It is far from the intention of the board to throw the slightest shade of censure upon any one in any way concerned in administering the affairs of the Department; but evils, to be remedied, must be known, and the board has felt itself bound to make them known to you, sir, solely with a view to their remedy.
The board is sensible that, until Congress adopted the practice of appropriating for the first quarter
of a succeeding- year, it was frequently unavoidable to authorize the application of moneys, for the time, to other than their legitimate objects. The moneys, however, thus applied, ought to have been refunded to the appropriations to which they belonged, as soon as the general appropriations were passed. But now, and so long as Congress shall adhere to the practice of appropriating in anticipation for the first quarter of the succeeding year, the necessity of taking moneys from one appropriation and applying them to another no longer exists, and need never be resorted to except in cases of emergency.
The paper C, shows the requisitions approved by the board under each appropriation, for each agent, and the aggregate amount at each agency. By comparing this with the preceding paper B, it will be perceived that there were balances on hand at some of the agencies on the 1st June, 1828, and that they continued on hand on the 1st March, 1829; that no requisitions were made by those agents, or none approved under those heads, and, consequently, that those balances were not required at those agencies; instance, $900 at Portsmouth, belonging to " gradual improvement;" $2,532.39 at Baltimore, belonging to "gradual increase." It will also be perceived that, at the Norfolk, New York, and Boston agencies, large balances belonging to "ten sloops" were on hand on the 1st of June. More than a moiety of these balances was unnecessary at those places, and has since been drawn from them, and remitted to other places where the moneys were needed.
Upon examining the general returns made to this office, it was found that in one case $20,920.68 had been paid out of the appropriation for "sloops-of-war," instead of being paid out of that for "repairs," and in another case that $9,183.23 had been paid out of the same appropriation instead of being paid as follows: $5,266.12 out of "repairs," and $3,911.11 out of "navy yards," and they recommended the proper transfers in the cases, so as to restore the amount to "sloops-of-war."
It will be seen (paper B) that the appropriation for sloops-of-war owed, on the 1st of March, 1829—
|To the agent at Norfolk||$1,173 53|
|To the agent at Baltimore||359 87|
|To the agent at Philadelphia||34,113 18|
|To the agent at Portsmouth||1,343 30|
|Making an aggregate of||$36,989 88|
This appropriation appears to be exhausted, and the sloop Concord is not yet completed.
The appropriations made by Congress for building ten sloops-of-war were as follows:
|Act of 3d March, 1825, appropriates||$500,000 00|
|and the proceeds of the sale of vessels, &c.,
on the lakes, "to the repair and building of sloops-of-war."
|Act of 18th May, 1826, appropriates||350,000 00|
|Act of 19th March, 1828, appropriates||201,350 00|
Of the ten sloops thus provided for we have ascertained, by a minute examination of the returns made to this office, that seven of them have cost as follows:
|The sloop Boston||$108,849 02|
|The sloop Lexington||112,080 08|
|The sloop Vincennes||115,889 77|
|The sloop Warren||104,368 00|
|The sloop Natchez||112,729 18|
|The sloop Falmouth||106,717 70|
|The sloop Vandalia||98,669 17|
Making the average cost of each $108,471.84 4/7.
The returns with respect to the three other sloops-of-war, viz: Fairfield, St. Louis, and Concord, are not complete. It is known, indeed, that the Concord is not yet entirely finished. As far, however, as these returns have been received, they make their cost to be:
|St. Louis||57,800 00|
If we estimate the cost of these three at the average cost of the seven, it would make the aggregate cost of the whole ten sloops, $1,084,718.45, or $33,368.45 more than the amount specifically appropriated; but this excess is more than covered by the proceeds of the sale of vessels, &c., on the lakes, which on the 1st October, 1825, amounted $52,150.27.
The paper D has been prepared with a view to show the amount of unpledged funds under each of the specific heads of appropriation referred to, and as a guide to future operations. It assumes the balances in the treasury, on the 21st March, 1829; adds thereto the balances in the hands of the agents not required for any authorized purpose, and. deducts the amount of existing contracts and engagements, and the amounts due at the several agencies arising from overpayments, and exhibits the following result, viz:
Balances in favor of
|Balances in favor of|
|1. Provisions||$493,514 64|
|2. Repairs of vessels||82,430 84|
|3. Pay of superintendents, &c||51,876 86|
|4. Ordnance and ordnance stores||51,775 56|
|5. Medicine and hospital stores||23,353 24|
|6. Navy yards||164,133 04|
|7. Gradual improvement||330,740 38|
|8. Gradual increase||$103,296 73|
|9. Contingent expenses||130,261 15|
|And a balance against—|
|10. Ten sloops-of-war, of||36,989 88|
The contracts on account of "repairs of vessels" and "gradual improvements of the navy" are, as will be seen by this paper, extensive. Those for the former are for timber and canvas, &c., to be used in the repairs of vessels. They should all be completed in the course of the present year, agreeably to their respective stipulations. Those for the latter are for the live oak frames of ships of the line, frigates, and sloops-of-war, and for timber and stone,& c., for the docks now erecting at Norfolk and at Boston. The contractors for live oak frames may or may not, at their own option, complete their contracts within the present year, as they are allowed nearly the whole of the year 1830 to deliver the timber. It is quite probable that most of them will avail themselves of this stipulation in their contracts to a considerable extent, and although the contracts amount, for "gradual improvement," to $536,475.80, we may not have to pay, this year, more than $300,000.
The large balance due to the agency at Norfolk, under the head of contingent expenses, is deducted from the balance on hand, so as to show what the balance of that appropriation would be if that debt were paid out of it. This debt has, it is believed, been accumulating for years, and the appropriation for this year cannot legally be applied towards discharging it, because it is by law confined to expenditures arising within the year.
The actual balance of the contingent appropriation, applicable to expenses arising within the present year, is $184,520.20.
With these explanations, the paper D indicates, as nearly as they can be ascertained, the balances of the several appropriations now to be disposed of as the government may think advisable. All which is respectfully submitted.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your most obedient servant,
Honorable John Branch,
Secretary of the Wavy.
State of the navy appropriations.
Repairs of vessels in ordinary, wear and tear, &c.;
Pay of superintendents, storekeepers, &c.;
Ordnance and ordnance stores; medicines and hospital stores, &c.;
Navy yards—their improvement and repairs;
Gradual improvement of the navy;
Gradual increase of the navy;
Contingent expenses, defined, 1828, 1829.
March 21, 1829.
Statement showing the amounts appropriated under certain heads, (those committed to the board,) of expenditure for the year 1828; the balances in the treasury on the first of June, 1828, (when the Commissioners began to approve requisitions;) the sums appropriated for 1829; the amount of requisitions approved by the board to the 21st of March, 1829, &c., being a general view of the proceedings of the board with respect to the appropriations.
|Provisions.||Repairs of vessels.||Pay of
|Ordnance, &c.||Medicines, &c.||Navy yards.||Ten
|Appropriations for 1828||$505,000 00||$510,000 00||$59,102 00||$50,000 00||$28,200 00||$105,000 00||$201,350 00||$500,000 00||$240,000 00|
|Balance in the treasury,
June 1, 1828
|$370,324 99||$253,642 45||$41,236 78||$42,824 54||$10,429 61||$25,225 35||$1,898 34||$776,959 69||$10,232 30||$136,055 90|
|Appropriated for 1829||850,550 00||475,000 00||59,552 00||50,000 00||27,000 00||205,000 00||500,000 00||47,619 88||255,000 00|
|Transferred to||9,183 23||48,229 92|
|A||$820,874 99||$728,042 45||$100,788 78||$92,824 54||$43,429 01||$230,225 35||$11,081 57||$1,276,959 69||$106,082 16||$391,055 90|
by the board from 1st June
to 31st December, 1828.
|$25,294 52||$287,831 87||$31,304 40||$25,901 42||$7,309 32||$17,196 75||$75,843 72||$206,543 64||$20,196 15||$85,112 43|
by the board from
1st January to
21st March, 1829.
|82,855 82||101,844 44||15,590 00||10,874 82||5,549 63||17,192 86||6,776 20||74,709 52||35,894 34|
|Transferred from||5,266 12||3,917 11||48,229 92|
|B||$108,150 34||$394,942 43||$46,794 46||$36,776 24||$12,858 95||$38,306 72||$82,619 92||$329,483 08||$20,196 15||$121,006 77|
|The difference between A and B
show the respective balances
in this view of the
appropriations, to be
|$712,724 05||$333,700 02||$53,994 32||$56,048 30||$30,570 66||$191,918 63||Excess. $71,538 36||$947,476 61||$85,886 01||$270,049 13|
|Add proceeds of sales
of various articles
|125 51||3,936 68||491 50||1,108 22||727 95||923 39|
|$712,850 16||$337,636 70||$53,994 32||$56,539 80||$30,670 66||$193,026 85||$71,538 35||$947,476 61||$86,613 96||$270,972 52|
Note.—The "transfers" entered on this sheet are those known to the board. There are others, not sufficiently known to be entered. Money requisitions, also unknown to the board, have been issued, and there have been deviations between requisitions approved by the board and those issued by the Secretary. All these items must be added to, or deducted from, (as the case may be,) the respective amounts exhibited on the last line, to make them correspond with the balances in the treasury, as received from the Secretary of the Navy, 30th March, 1829.
A, No. 2.
Navy Commissioners' Office, May 28, 1828.
Sir: It has been arranged, with the approbation of the Secretary of the Navy, that all requisitions for money, coming under either of the following heads, shall, instead of being made upon him, as heretofore, be made directly upon the Board of Navy Commissioners, and, if approved by them, they will be transmitted to the Secretary of the Navy, who will order the remittances to be made accordingly, viz:
"Pay of superintendents, naval constructors, and all the civil establishments at the several navy yards and stations."
"Repairs of vessels."
"Ordnance, and ordnance stores."
"Repairs and improvements of navy yards."
"Completing ten sloops-of-war."
"Gradual improvement of the navy."
"Gradual increase of the navy."
"Medicines, surgical instruments, and hospital stores."
"Contingent expenses, defined"—so far as to embrace the following items, chargeable under that head, viz:
Freight, and transportation of materials and stores of every description; wharfage, dockage, storage, and rent; for printing, and for stationery of every description, and for books, maps, charts, nautical and mathematical instruments, chronometers, models and drawings; for purchase and repair of steam and fire engines, and for machinery; for purchase and maintenance of oxen and horses, and for carts, wheels, and workmen's tools of every description; for pilotage; for cabin furniture of vessels in commission; for taxes on navy yards and public property; for assistance rendered to public vessels in distress; for incidental labor at navy yards, not applicable to any other appropriation; for coal and other fuel for forges, foundries, and steam engines; for candles, oil, and fuel, for vessels in commission and in ordinary; for repairs of magazines and powder houses; for repairing moulds for ships to be built. All the remaining items chargeable under this head, are under the exclusive direction of the Secretary of the Navy, upon whom, for them, or any of them, requisitions must, as heretofore, be made.
Every requisition upon this board must be accompanied by a statement, showing how the moneys previously received under the same heads of appropriation have been applied, and the balance on hand.
Every requisition must be made in triplicate, and the whole sent to this office; if approved by the board, one will be delivered to the Secretary of the Navy, who will then act upon it, one to the Fourth Auditor of the Treasury, and the other will be retained in this office.
No expenditure whatever, under either of the previously recited heads of appropriation, must be incurred without the previous written authority of the board, except such as come under special contracts, made or authorized to be made by the board; and the board will never authorize an expenditure without the previous exhibit of a satisfactory estimate by the proper authority, showing the amount of the expense of completing the object proposed.
No moneys belonging to one appropriation must be used for another, without the special previous authority of the Secretary of the Navy.
So far as depends upon the board, they are determined to bring the funds committed to their management into a state perfectly intelligible; nor will they be deterred by any temporary inconvenience that may, in any way, arise from preferring what they conceive to be the injunctions of the law upon the subject of navy appropriations.
To your monthly returns of money you will add a column for moneys which you may receive for articles sold, stating in such column the kind of articles sold, their net amount, the bank into which you may have paid the amount, and to what appropriation you have credited it.
I am, &c.,
E. G. Parrott, Navy Agent, Portsmouth.
James Biddle, Navy Agent, New Castle, Del.
James Beatty, Navy Agent, Baltimore.
Thomas Tingey, Navy Agent, Washington.
Wm. Sinclair, Navy Agent, Charleston, S. C.
Nathaniel Amory, Navy Agent, Pensacola.
J. E. Paulding, Navy Agent, New York.
Richard D. Harris, Navy Agent, Boston.
George Harrison, Navy Agent, Philadelphia.
Miles King, Navy Agent, Norfolk.
J. P. Henry, Navy Agent, Savannah, Geo.
Nathaniel Cox, Navy Agent, New Orleans.
Exhibit showing the, state of the navy appropriations committed to the management of the Navy Commissioners, at the time they were committed and at the dates of the last returns, at the several navy agencies in the United States; taken from the returns of the respective navy agents made to the Board of Navy Commissioners.
|Names and dates.||Provisions.||Repairs
|June 1, 1828||$1,345 28||$507 48||$2,229 00||$184 00||$903 03||$324 09||$1,059 09|
|Jan. 1, 1829||*473 15||1,483 94||216 69||*74 00||124 83||*863 03||$750 92||627 63|
|June 1, 1828||77,849 97||56,486 49||*954 51||*1,606 78||4,643 87||29,344 26||$28,060 49||520 24||*3,181 20||51,716 29|
|March 1, 1829||50,62 35||*12,625 64||*1,312 32||2,303 47||7,535 74||*1,173 53||30,239 85||*681 20||*54,259 05|
|June 1, 1828||1,806 97||*1,039 83||*709 00||*939 79||2,532 39||606 62|
|March 1, 1829||885 39||*359 87||2,532 39||*383 06|
|June 1, 1828||12,395 62||15 70||*228 84||45 39||*14,833 65||*11,950 34||2,589 48||25,731 26||*164 29|
|March 1, 1829||19,741 72||3,874 15||177 38||176 49||*10,414 74||*34,113 18||15,065 24||12,193 99||*1,234 99|
|June 1, 1828||16,838 09||4,961 01||755 82||1,186 60||662 60||8 39||13,773 68||*3,864 34||754 86|
|March 1, 1829||16,642 28||985 40||862 50||150 93||811 03||1,354 13||31 74|
|June 1, 1828||10,814 03||3,967 19||364 42||559 39||10,202 33||7,366 22||36,501 48||2,827 25||1,818 33|
|March 1, 1829||1,285 34||14,086 39||364 42||220 66||3,102 97||12 00||7,731 32||737 45||319 25|
|June 1, 1828||940 56||171 15||618 20||101 55||2,116 87||462 80||900 00||683 83||16|
|March 1, 1829||1,930 85||3,580 99||31 20||381 62||*1,343 30||900 00||594 44||*585 63|
B, No. 2.
Navy Commissioners' Office, August 27, 1821.
Sir: The Commissioners of the Navy beg leave to state that they find themselves frequently at a loss on the subject of contracts and expenditures, for want of precise information as to the state of the appropriations by which the extent of the contracts and expenditures must necessarily be governed; and, in expressing their opinion upon requisitions for money made by the different disbursing officers, a duty you have been pleased to enjoin upon them for some months past, they have felt much embarrassed for want of information as to the sums of money advanced under the different heads of appropriation to the respective agents for specific objects.
The Commissioners are fully apprised of your intention to confine the expenditures so that their amount shall not exceed the sums appropriated by law, and they are desirous of contributing every exertion in their power to the accomplishment of your views upon the subject. In this spirit, and with this view, they beg leave, respectfully, to submit to your consideration the following observations:
To carry your views into effect it appears to the Commissioners—
1st. That the objects of expenditures and their amount should be ascertained with as much precision as may be practicable, prior to any expenditure being authorized, so that by comparing the sums respectively appropriated with the cost of the objects considered of the first importance to be accomplished, the authorized expenditures may be kept within the limits of the law.
To explain our meaning more particularly, we will suppose that $490,000 dollars have been appropriated for repairs; the question arises, how shall this sum be applied? It is found on estimate, after careful survey, that there are vessels in ordinary requiring repairs to the amount of $370,000; say frigate A, $100,000; B, $60,000: C, $70,000; D, $140,000, leaving only $30,000 for the vessels in actual commission, consisting of one 74, three frigates, and three sloops-of-war. It would be desirable to repair all the vessels, but the appropriation will not admit of it, since $30,000 would be obviously insufficient for the vessels in commission. The repair of one or more of the frigates must thus be suspended, in order to retain out of the appropriation a sum sufficient for the vessels in commission. A decision upon this point can thus be satisfactorily made, and such expenditures only authorized as will confine them to the sum appropriated.
2d. That the disbursing officers, in their requisitions for money, should state distinctly, not only the appropriation to which the amount required is chargeable, but the specific object to which it may be intended to apply it, the contract under which, and the particular contractor to whom the payment is to be made.
Note.—This mark (*) indicates overpayments.
3d. That no requisition for money should be attended to that may be deficient in any of these essential particulars.
4th. That all disbursing officers should be instructed never to make a money requisition until the amount actually due, or very nearly the amount actually becoming due, shall have been satisfactorily ascertained, and then to confine the amount of the requisition to the amount due or becoming due, including their legal commission; and if the amount of the requisition should afterwards be found to exceed or fall short of the sum actually required, such excess or deficiency to be specially noticed in the requisition next to be made under the same head, and a corresponding deduction from or addition to such requisition be made.
5th. That all agents charged with the disbursements of moneys he instructed not to apply any moneys in their hands to any object or objects whatever, other than such as may be known to be legally chargeable to the appropriation out of which such moneys were remitted to them.
6th. That a special book be kept, showing, at all times, not only the general state of the funds, but the amount of the respective warrants drawn upon the respective appropriations, and the objects arising tinder those appropriations for which moneys are from time to time required and remitted, and to which they are to be applied, so that, by comparing the amounts of the warrants with the estimated amounts of the various contracts and authorized expenditures, and the progress made in the execution of the contracts, a satisfactory judgment may be formed as to the propriety of making the remittances that may from time to time be required by the respective agents, and the precise state of the funds be known.
Thus, for instance, it has been estimated that the repairs of the frigate A will cost $100,000, and you have authorized her repair. Let this sum, then, be stated on the books as the cost of this object, and let all the warrants remitted to the disbursing agents for this object be entered on the same page, so that the whole amount applicable to the object, and the sums remitted from time to time, shall appear, and the balance at any moment accurately ascertained; thus, receiving, as we do, weekly accounts of all the work performed in the several building yards, and monthly reports as to the progress made in the execution of contracts, and the expenditures under all the various heads at the several yards, a check will be established which will enable the Department to decide, in the most satisfactory manner, as to the expediency of making remittances.
If you will be pleased to direct the Commissioners to be furnished with a transcript, weekly, of all the warrants thus drawn, the Commissioners of the Navy will be at all times possessed of the requisite information to enable them to discharge that branch of the duties confided to them which relates to contracts and expenditures. They will keep such a book as has been recommended, which may be compared monthly, or oftener, with the one kept in your office, and thus the one be a check upon the other.
Our contracts embrace the great mass of the expenditures under the heads of repairs, provisions, navy yards, gradual increase, and ordnance, and they are specific as to prices, so that, if the quantities of the articles required be ascertained, the amount of any proposed expenditure may be stated with all possible accuracy prior to its being authorized. This can be done in all cases, excepting, probably, on pressing emergencies that may occur within the United States; and as regards our vessels on foreign service, estimates of their probable expenditure may always be made with sufficient accuracy, and such sums could be retained out of the general expenditure for their use as they would probably require.
It appears, sir, to the Commissioners of the Navy, that such rules and restrictions, if punctually observed, would produce essential benefits to the service; moneys remitted under such checks would, it is presumed, be applied to their legitimate objects. The necessity now daily occurring in the Auditor's Department, of transferring sums of money from one head of appropriation to another, in consequence of moneys either having been required or remitted under wrong heads, or having been applied by disbursing officers to objects to which they were not legally applicable, would cease to exist so soon as all the accounts now outstanding should be settled, and the Department would be enabled, at all times, to form a satisfactory estimate as to the actual state of its fiscal concerns, and regulate the expenditures so as to prevent their exceeding the sums appropriated by law.
In submitting these observations to your consideration, the Commissioners beg leave to remark that, should you concur in opinion with them, and determine to adopt these or similar suggestions, they will most cheerfully take upon themselves any portion of the additional trouble arising that you may be pleased to assign unto them.
I have the honor to be,& c.,
Hon. Smith Thompson,
Secretary of the Navy.
Exhibit showing the amount of the requisitions from navy agents, approved by the Board of Navy Commissioners, during the year 1828 (from 1st of June), and to the 21st of March, 1829, under the several heads of appropriation committed to the direction of the board; also the amount at each agency, and the aggregate amount of the whole.
|Portsmouth, N. H.||1828.||$4,000 00||$2,504 00||$11 44||$432 00||$14,268 00||$3,948 40||$28 928 84|
|Portsmouth, N. H.||1829.||$530 00||940 00||1,000 00||1,295 00|
|Boston||1828.||671 64||72,300 00||3,900 00||$1,000 00||12 00||$92,139 51||$8,000 00||4,561 99||265,469 14|
|Boston.||1829.||26,318 00||22,500 00||2,000 00||1,000 00||26,000 00||5,066 00|
|Now York||1828.||10,493 96||93,839 13||4,032 42||19,394 10||5,680 85||2,566 71||3,976 31||6,934 51||26,192 56||253,386 80|
|Now York||1829.||37,123 60||21,473 31||2,246 64||7,765 87||2,000 00||1,067 02||8,599 81|
|Philadelphia||1828.||6,380 00||12,100 00||3,500 00||2,935 00||800 00||7,000 00||25,502 83||4,050 00||5,261 64||8,613 30||86,902 77|
|Philadelphia||1829.||958 28||1,729 70||1,000 00||600 00||3,400 00||675 00||1,737 02|
|Baltimore||1828.||7,748 92||4,795 72||4,494 04||1,861 99||7,685 64||34,368 89|
|Baltimore||1829.||5,206 34||969 23||339 50||172 72||498 62||359 87||236 30|
|Washington, T. Winn||1828.||8,433 00||11,279 00||2,960 00||2,136 00||23,861 00||1,098 00||10,390 00|
|Washington, T. Winn||1829.||4,050 00||4,551 00||2,043 00||1,724 00||1,475 00||6,937 00|
|Washington, T. Winn, sundries||1828.||500 00||45 80||3,500 00||1,572 09||90,391 24|
|Washington, T. Winn, sundries||1829.||1,615 62||152 20||1,823 33||245 20|
|Norfolk||1828.||92,364 02||5,488 98||555 08||396 47||978 26||105,336 14||15,292 70||338,018 96|
|Norfolk||1829.||7,719 60||49,506 58||2,352 42||74 25||2,276 91||547 70||292 33||46,559 52||8,278 01|
|Pensacola||1828.||3,020 00||6,847 00||35,946 52|
|Pensacola||1829.||5,000 00||2,500 00||500 00||500 00||14,079 52||3,500 00|
|New Orleans||1828.||300 00||8 75||308 75|
|$108,150 34||$389,676 31||$46,794 46||$36,776 24||$12,858 95||$34,389 61||$82,619 92||$281,253 16||$20,196 15||$121,006 77||$1,133,721 91|
|The money requisitions
issued by the Secretary of the Navy
under these appropriations,
from June 1, 1828, to March 1, 1829,
appear, from a statement
received with his letter
of March 30, 1829, to be
|$306,799 02||$432,590 59||$50,111 92||$39,992,60||$21,456 19||$54,614 02||$48,722 22||$415,446 19||$15,017 41||$207,520 72|
Balances in the treasury under certain appropriations for five navy [those committed to the direction of the Board of Navy Commissioners] on the 22d March, 1829, as appears from a statement received from the Secretary of the Navy with his letter of March, 1829; to which is added balances in the hands of agents, not wanted by them, amount of contracts,& c., now existing, &c., &c.; the whole showing the amount of unpledged funds under each head, 2lst March, 1829.
|Provisions.||Repairs of vessels.||Pay of
|Ordnance, &c.||Medicines.||Navy yards.||Ton sloops.||Gradual improvement.||Gradual increase||Contingent
|Balances in the treasury,
March 21st, 1829
|$455,775 82||$315,955 00||$51,876 86||$53,373 46||$23,353 24||$177,807 44||$866,316 18||$99,467 56||$187,963 88|
|Add balances at Norfolk agency||50,863 35||7,535 74|
|Add balances at Baltimore agency||2,532 39|
|Add balances at Philadelphia agency||19,741 72||12,193 99|
|Add balances at Boston agency||364 42||737 45|
|Add balances at Portsmouth agency||900 00||594 44|
|C.||$526,380 89||$315,955 00||$51,876 86||$53,737 88||$23,353 24||$185,343 18||$867,216 18||$115,525 83||$187,963 88|
|Contracts and engagements now existing||$32,866 25||$220,898 52||$650 00||$10,796 10||$536,475 80||$11,547 90||$1,240 90|
|Balances due to Norfolk agency.||12,625 64||1,312 32||$1,173 53||681 20||54,259 05|
|Balances due to Portsmouth agency||1,343 30||585 63|
|Balances due to Baltimore agency||359 87||383 06|
|Balances due to Philadelphia agency||10,414 04||34,113 18||1,234 99|
|D.||S32,866 25||$233,524 16||$1,962 32||$21,210 14||$36,989 88||$536,475 80||$12,229 10||$57,702 73|
|Deduct D from C, and the amount
unpledged under each head
of appropriation, is
|$493,514 64||$82,430 84||$51,876 86||$51,775 56||$23,353 24||$164,133 04||$330,740 38||$103,290 73||$130,261 15|
|And the appropriation
for ten sloops is indebted
Copy of a letter from the Secretary of the Navy to the Fourth Auditor of the Treasury, dated—
Navy Department, November 10, 1820.
The present confused and unsettled state of the fiscal accounts and concerns of the Navy Department makes it proper that its cause be made the subject of inquiry; and that measures be adopted for the correction of the existing evil, and the prevention of its future occurrence.
You are requested to make a statement of your views of the causes which have led to this state of things, and to express your opinion particularly on the following points:
1. Have these embarrassments in the public accounts arisen from the complexity or intricacy of the act of Congress of 1809, which declares "that the sums appropriated by law, for each branch of expenditure in the several Departments, shall be solely applied to the objects to which they are respectively appropriated, and to no other?"
2. Are the provisions of that law so difficult of execution as necessarily to lead to this perplexed condition of the general accounts of the Department; or are they to be ascribed to the ignorance, or any particular misconduct on the part of the officers who have had the management of its concerns?
3. Does the law of 1809, in relation to specific appropriations, afford any peculiar salutary check upon the officers employed in its execution, so as to ensure the proper application of the appropriations to the objects for which they have been granted? or, may it not, by its intricacy and complexity, favor the concealment of irregular and illicit practices, by the difficulty of detecting them?
4. Could not a system be devised which would afford all the restraints imposed by this law, which would be simple in its principles, intelligible in practice, and which would be free from the disorder and confusion attendant upon the one now in operation?
5. Can this unsettled state of the accounts of the Navy Department be adjusted by any means within the power of its officers; or will it be necessary to appeal to Congress, for the purpose of effecting this object?
Treasury Department, Fourth Auditors Office, November 30, 1829.
Sir: Your letter of the 10th instant, propounding to me certain inquiries relative to the accounts of the Navy Department, has been considered with the attention due to the importance of the subject. With the application I have bestowed upon the duties of this office, I cannot yet speak with that entire confidence of its condition, which would justify important changes, without further lights. The results of my observation, and the opinions I have formed, will, however, be communicated to you with the utmost frankness.
Money is the sinews of power and the source of corruption. English liberty has been considered safe only so long as the power of granting supplies to the King resides in the representatives of the people. Our institutions have gone further. Here the representatives of the people not only grant supplies, but prescribe the objects to which they shall be applied, and the manner in which the accounts shall be kept.
It is a safe, and, I think, a correct principle, that the Executive cannot, rightfully, increase or diminish the emoluments of public officers, whose compensation has been fixed by law. When they are subjected to unusual expenses in the public service, he may grant them allowances sufficient to cover those expenses, but no more. He cannot, rightfully, under pretence of paying their expenses, or under cover of commutation, or any other device, increase their lawful emoluments. Yet, the pay and emoluments of our naval officers are chiefly of Executive creation; and, where the representatives of the people have fixed them by law, the Executive has, by various expedients, much increased them.
In a former report, I stated to you, in detail, the course which had been pursued in relation to the marine corps. To that communication I refer you for all I could now say, in relation to that branch of the subject.
But Executive legislation, in relation to the navy proper, has been even more extensive, and not less in violation, as I conceive, of the true principles of our government.
An act of Congress, passed 25th February, 1799, fixes the pay and emoluments of captains, commanding ships of thirty-two guns and upwards, at $100 per month, and eight rations per day, and allows the commander of a squadron eight rations in addition. The ration has been commuted at twenty-five cents. Hence, the lawful allowance of a commander of a squadron is $1,930 per year. To increase their income, the Executive formally allowed them a commission of 2 1/2 per cent, on all bills drawn for the support of their squadron; and, more recently, $2,000 per year, in lieu of commissions, with $30 per month, or $360 per year, for cabin furniture. Here are $1,930 allowed by law, and $2,360 by the Executive, making their whole emoluments, deducting only what they actually pay for furniture, $4,290. I do not say this is too much, considering the expenses they necessarily incur in supporting the honor of our navy in distant seas and foreign ports; but might not the Executive, with equal right, increase it to $10,000? Would it not be better—would not the commander feel better in receiving it, and the Executive in paying it, were it an allowance made by law?
The commutation price of the officer's ration is twenty-five cents; the contract price not over fifteen. The commutation is not fixed by law, but by the Executive will. In speaking of rations, the law knows no distinction between the seaman's ration and the officer's ration. Yet, by Executive regulation, the officer is allowed sixty-six per cent, more for his ration than the value of the seaman's ration. The money paid the officer for sixteen rations would purchase twenty-six seamen's rations. Under color of commutation, therefore, the Executive allows the officer more than his lawful rations, and thus increases his emoluments. These remarks apply to every officer of the navy.
The Executive also allows a captain, commanding a line of battle ship, $25 per month, or $300 per year for furniture; a captain, commanding a frigate, $20, or $240 per year; a master commandant, commanding a sloop-of-war, $15, or $180 per year, and a lieutenant commanding, the same sum.
These allowances are, unquestionably, designed to increase the emoluments of those officers.
As strange as it may seem, there is no act of Congress giving any compensation whatever
captains of the navy, when on shore, whether unemployed or stationed at the various navy yards; excepting only the Navy yard at Washington. The act of 1799 only provides a monthly pay for captains commanding ships: "one hundred dollars per month and eight rations per day to captains commanding ships of thirty-two guns and upwards; and seventy-five dollars per month and six rations per day" to captains commanding ships of twenty and under thirty-two guns. All the pay and emoluments of captains on shore, and at shore stations, originated in Executive legislation. On furlough, they are allowed half the highest grade of pay; under orders, or waiting orders, they have full pay. But the most extensive Executive legislation, in relation to them, consists in the pay and emoluments allowed them at the navy yards. In Philadelphia, for instance, the captain is allowed $100 per month, 16 rations per day, $600 house rent, $65 for candles, 30 cords of wood (now commuted at $6 per cord), and three servants, at $8 per month; amounting in all to $4,066.75. With the exception of the monthly pay and rations of a few of the officers, all the allowances, made to all those stationed at and employed in navy yards, are of the Executive creation. Take, for instance, the estimates of last year, for the Navy yard at Norfolk, in which all the following items are authorized only by Executive regulation:
|Pay.||Rations.||Rent.||Candles.||Wood, cords.||Servants, $8.||Servants, $6.|
|Clerk to storekeeper||450|
|Clerk to yard||900|
|Clerk to commandant||750|
|Clerk to commandant||360|
|Clerk to master builder||420|
|Inspector and measurer of timber||1,050|
|Keeper of magazine||480|
|In addition to the foregoing allowances,
there are also the following in connection
with navy yards, viz:
|Allowance to furnish commandant's house||$696|
|Allowance to furnish master commandant's house||319|
|Allowance to furnish surgeon's and purser's house||224|
|With oil-cloth carpets in addition.|
The pursers, stationed at several of the yards, have, for many years, presented claims for a commission on money paid to mechanics and laborers; but it was repeatedly decided that no such allowance could be made, because such payments were a portion of their regular duties. Within the last two or three years, however, an allowance of $600, under the name of clerk hire, has been made, with the avowed object of covering this claim.
By law, the navy agents are limited to one per cent. on their disbursements, provided that the amount
shall, in no instance, exceed $2,000 per annum. The language of the law is tantamount to a prohibition upon the Executive. Yet, foreign navy agents have been allowed 2 1/2 per cent. upon disbursements, besides large sums for office and incidental expenses; and, in some instances, their compensation has been increased to $4,000 or $6,000 per annum. Domestic agents have been allowed round sums, for contingent expenses, without being required to produce vouchers, with the evident intent of swelling their emoluments beyond $2,000. Some of the principal agents have received the round sum of $1,800 for clerk hire; $150 for office rent; $240 for porter hire, and $60 for fuel and candles. Others have been allowed less sums. To one agent, at least, a commission of 2 1/2 per cent., and 1/4 per cent. over $2,000, has been allowed on vast sums of money, swelling his emoluments to many thousands.
Let me not be understood to mean, that the compensation allowed by law is, in all cases, adequate. I design, only, to show that the Navy Department has disregarded the law, and taken the liberty to increase the emoluments of these agents, according to its own discretion. If the compensation of agents was found inadequate, it was the duty of the Secretary to represent the case to Congress, and obtain a change in the law, rather than attempt to remedy the defect by indirection.
To certain surgeons, until recently, there has been a stated annual allowance, as purveyors of medicines,& c., in effect increasing their emoluments.
To all officers, a commission of 15 cents per mile has been allowed, for traveling expenses, when, on many routes, their actual expenses are scarcely one-third of that sum, and, by this means, their emoluments are increased.
A commutation for wood, at $6 per cord, has been adopted. At some places, this exceeds the actual cost, and the excess goes to swell the officer's emoluments. At others, it falls short, and the officers complain. At one place, by express direction of the late Fourth Auditor, the purser was instructed to pay the officers the value of their allowance for wood, according to the market price, and take their receipts for so much wood, and not for money. Upon vouchers, thus made false by official authority, the officers have claimed $8 to $8.50 for their wood.
The commissioners of navy yards have been allowed $450, in addition to their regular pay as captains of the navy, while employed in the business of navy yards, and their traveling expenses.
The Commissioners of the Navy have been allowed $3 per day, when absent from duty, and traveling expenses.
Officers engaged in the examination of midshipmen and surgeons have the same allowances. Assistant surgeons, and midshipmen attending examination, are allowed $1.50 per day, and traveling expenses on returning.
Captains acting on courts of inquiry and courts-martial are allowed $3 per day, and master commandants and midshipmen $1.50, with their traveling expenses.
Officers attending as witnesses are allowed $1.50, and traveling expenses; citizens are allowed $3, and traveling expenses.
Officers employed in surveying harbors have been allowed from $1.50 to $3 per day.
Officers ordered home from foreign stations, or returning on a sick ticket, are allowed their passage money.
Seamen discharged in foreign countries are sent home at the expense of government.
Officers necessarily traveling to the city, for the settlements of their accounts, are allowed traveling expenses, and $1.50 per day, for expenses while detained.
Officers taking the place of their superiors, in the temporary command of ships or stations, have been allowed the pay and emoluments of those superiors.
The expenses of officers, when sick, have been paid, deducting, formerly, their whole pay and rations, and recently, one-half.
In addition to all these allowances, by Executive authority, we have a variety of offices and agencies emanating from the same source.
Under the law authorizing the establishment of dry docks, the Secretary of the Navy has created the office of engineer, with a salary of $4,000 per annum, $80 per month for board, when absent from home, 15 cents per mile for his traveling expenses, and all his incidental expenses paid besides.
There is an assistant engineer, appointed by the principal, at $4 per day, with traveling and other expenses.
We have had a superintendent of live oak plantations in Florida, with a salary of $400, and an overseer, appointed by him, with a salary of $500.
We have had agents for surveying live oak lands in Florida, at $4 to $5 per day, in addition to their expenses.
A custody fee of fifteen cents per day has been allowed to the sheriff of Florida, for keeping Africans landed from slave ships.
We have an agent at Liberia for receiving Africans, at a salary of $1,600, and an outfit of $500. We have architects of navy hospitals, who receive salaries of $2,000 per year.
Until recently, the Navy Department employed a special agent, who was a clerk in this office, and allowed him one per cent. on heavy disbursements, when the law expressly provides that all disbursing officers shall be appointed by the President, and nominated to the Senate.
* Many other special agents have been employed for particular services, and many thousand dollars paid to them by way of compensation.
The original authority for most of these allowances exists only in letters from the Secretary of the Navy to the Fourth Auditor. For some of them not even that authority, or any other, except precedent, can be found. An account has been allowed by the Secretary; another one like it is allowed on the same principles; the precedent becomes a law, and even its origin is forgotten. This kind of legislation has been as fluctuating as it has been loose. Sometimes more is allowed, and sometimes less; the navy is full of complaints of partiality; and almost every man thinks that he has a right to some allowance, because a similar claim has been allowed to others. The Auditor is harassed with arguments drawn from expediency; the hardship of the case; its similarity to some allowance heretofore made; and because some have procured improper allowances, he is censured because he does not put all upon an equality, by making improper allowances to others. Everything is dark and uncertain; and, instead of being able at once to turn to some law or lawful regulation, by which to test every claim which is presented, he is compelled to spend hours and days in hunting for old letters, and looking into precedents.
Some boldly claim allowances without law or authority, because their cases, or others like them
were embraced in the estimates on which the appropriations were founded. In their view, an estimate authorizes an expenditure. So far has this impression gone, that men, employed by contract, at prices less than the estimates placed upon similar services, have advanced serious claims to the whole amount estimated. It is in vain to urge that the estimates are, or ought to be, based on some existing law; that they form no part of the appropriation law; that Congress, almost uniformly, appropriates less than is estimated, without leaving any record explaining what part they disapprove; no arguments avail with those who consider custom as law, or find their own convenience or their interest in setting their own rules above those of the legislative power. Congress have confidence that the Executive officers will be governed by law in their estimates; they never scrutinize them with an impression that they are to be taken as law after their adjournment; and instances are not wanting where they have been deceived into appropriations for objects other than those which the estimates seemed to present. Next to allowing the Executive to make appropriations by his own authority, is the danger of considering an appropriation, based on an estimate without shadow of law to authorize the estimate or make the appropriation necessary, as sufficient authority for expending the money. Yet, such has been the practice of the government; and from this practice have sprung many abuses.
It may be well supposed, that almost an entire want of legal and fixed system in the allowances made (for the Department has not obeyed its own estimates) must materially affect the accounts of this office, and the appropriations made by Congress. By some new rule, or upon some unknown reason, many thousand dollars have been suddenly and unexpectedly allowed. By a repetition of these allowances, means to pay which have always been found, the state of the appropriations, and consequently, the accounts of the Department, have been miserably deranged.
This leads me to speak of the manner in which the public moneys are drawn from the treasury, and the accounts kept.
By acts of Congress it is declared that all moneys appropriated shall be applied to the purposes for which they are appropriated, and no other, except that transfers in certain cases may be made, by the President, from one appropriation to another. In the Navy Department, the power of transfer extends only to pay of the navy, provisions, medicines and hospital stores, repairs of vessels, and clothing. From either of these to any other, transfers may be made within the year for which the appropriations are made; and an account of such transfers is required to be laid before Congress within the first week of their next succeeding session. On the first of February of each year the Secretary of the Navy is required to lay before Congress a statement, under each specific head of appropriation, of the amounts appropriated for the service of the preceding year, of the amounts expended, and of the balance remaining on hand at the close of the year.
When a navy agent or other disbursing officer wants money, he writes to the Secretary, stating the heads of appropriations under which it is wanted. The Secretary issues a requisition upon the Secretary of the Treasury for a warrant for the amount, stating each item under its proper head of appropriation. The Comptroller countersigns it, and charges each item to the proper appropriation. The Auditor registers it, and charges the items to the disbursing officer, also under the proper heads. The officer renders his accounts for disbursements under each head, and receives a credit under each.
There are now unclosed accounts on the Fourth Auditor's books, under upwards of forty heads of appropriation. Many disbursing officers have accounts under ten or fifteen different heads, which are precisely like ten or fifteen separate accounts. Did every person receiving money from the Navy Department ask for it under the proper heads, expend it under the proper heads, and render his accounts under the proper heads, and had no transfers ever been made, or, when made, had they been reported to Congress, and the deficiency immediately supplied, there would have been little or no irregularity in the accounts of the Department. But the irregular and unlawful practice of the Department, encouraging and producing similar irregularity among all its fiscal officers, has defeated the object of specific appropriations, and involved its accounts in almost inextricable confusion.
When agents have called for money under heads of appropriation which were exhausted, former Secretaries have not hesitated to send them money under other heads. This is a virtual transfer from one appropriation to another, and a violation of law. When the officers account for this money it stands charged to them on the Auditor's books under one head, and they obtain credit under another. The money has in fact been applied to purposes other than those for which it was appropriated. But, when another appropriation is obtained under the deficient head, the amount borrowed is refunded. This is another virtual transfer, and a double violation of law, because it is a transfer from one year to another.
When the Auditor and Comptroller have settled an account belonging to a head of appropriation which is exhausted, the practice has been to pay it by an advance out of another appropriation. This is also a palpable invasion of the law; the money is applied to purposes for which it was not appropriated; the account can never be closed on the books of this office unless Congress make another appropriation under the deficient head; and, even then, it must come out of another year's appropriation.
Millions of money have been expended by the Navy Department for purposes other than those for which it was appropriated. The accounts now unadjusted, arising solely from these irregularities, probably embrace more than a million of dollars. Many of them are as much creditor under one head as debtor under another; but the Auditor has no power to transfer the amounts and close them. It is probable that $30,000 would pay all that is really due upon these accounts, and an appropriation of that sum, with power to make the necessary transfers, would furnish the means to close them. No talents or skill can adjust them without the interposition of Congress.
In every case where a transfer is made from one appropriation to another, or where money has been forwarded under one head to be expended under another, or where an advance is made under one head to pay a debt due under another, the Comptroller's books do not represent truly the purposes for which the money is expended. For instance: an agent asks for $10,000 under "pay of the navy;" it is sent to him under "provisions;" it is intended to be applied, and actually is applied to "pay;" yet on the Second Comptroller's books it is charged to "provisions," and, under that head, is reported to Congress. Hence, there has not been for many years a correct report made to Congress of the purposes to which the money appropriated has been applied.
On recurrence to the Comptroller's report for 1828, you will find the first column headed "balances of appropriations on the first day of January, 1828;" the second, "appropriated in 1828;" the third, "repayments in 1828;" these three added together form the fourth, headed "amount applicable to the service of 1828;" the fifth is headed, "amount drawn by requisition from the Treasury during the year 1828;"
and this subtracted from the fourth, forms the sixth, headed "balances of appropriations on the 31st of December, 1828." The first column gives the amount standing to the credit of each appropriation on the Comptroller's books on the first day of January, 1828; but as all transfers made during the preceding year are debited to the appropriation from which the money was taken, and credited to that in aid of which the transfer is made, those balances are far from a true representation of the actual state of the several appropriations at that time. None of the principal appropriations appear to have been exhausted; yet some of them were exhausted, and had borrowed large amounts from others. The amounts, so borrowed, were repaid out of the appropriations for 1828. Before the expiration of that year some of the appropriations were again exhausted, and sums of money again borrowed from others. All sums thus refunded are borrowed, as well as all sums transferred from one head of appropriation to another for the purpose of adjusting accounts, are included in the column of "repayments." It is obvious that none of these sums can at all increase the "amount applicable to the service of the year 1828;" yet they are all added in to make up the items of the columns thus headed. The bona fide repayments are small in amount. Of the $369,909.94 under the head of " repayments in 1828," it is not believed that the actual repayments amount to $60,000. The report, therefore, represents that there were upwards of $300,000 applicable to the service of 1828 more than actually were so applicable.
Indeed the system of borrowing from one appropriation to make up deficiencies in another is nothing more nor less than anticipating the appropriations of the next year. For instance: "pay afloat" is deficient; to make up the deficiency the Secretary borrows $10,000 out of "provisions;" this $10,000 is refunded out of the sum appropriated for "pay afloat" for the next year. Thus, $10,000 of the appropriation for "pay afloat" in 1828 is actually anticipated, and spent in 1827, and the amount applicable to the service of 1828 is reduced in that sum. Yet, by representing the payment of this debt as a repayment, the Comptroller's report represents it as increasing that amount.
The fifth column is not a true representation of the "amount drawn from the Treasury during the year 1828," because it includes all transfer requisitions which take nothing from the Treasury, but merely transpose the money from one appropriation to another. In some cases that column represents the same sum of money as drawn from the Treasury twice over. It is represented as drawn from the Treasury by the requisition which transfers it from one appropriation to another; and it is represented as drawn again by the requisitions which take it from the latter appropriation and pay it out to public officers or agents. Hence that column represents the amounts drawn from the Treasury as much greater than they really are.
The "balances of appropriations on the 31st day of December, 1828," are made up in the same manner as the balances in the first column. They are far from conveying to Congress any correct idea of the state of the appropriations.
In fine, from the Comptroller's reports neither Congress nor anybody else can obtain any accurate information in relation to the amounts expended under each head of appropriation, or of the actual condition of the appropriations. As a system of book-keeping, exhibiting the amounts debited and credited to each appropriation, the mode of keeping these accounts in the Comptroller's office is, doubtless, correct; but it does not enable the head of the Navy Department to give to Congress that information which the law requires. From inspection of the Comptroller's books, and conversations with those who keep them, I am satisfied that to obtain from them correct information of the state of the appropriations is now wholly impracticable. So many and so complicated have been the transfers, the refundings, the advances under wrong heads, &c.,& c., that the skein can never be unraveled, and the only remedy for the past is to cut the knot.
It is just to the present Comptroller to state that he is devising means to change the mode of keeping his books and make them present the truth of every transaction.
Though appropriations are made for specific years, no effort has been made, except in relation to contingencies, to confine payments, out of the appropriations for any one year, to the accounts accruing within that year. With the exception above stated, accounts accruing ten years ago are paid out of the appropriations for the current year. The comptroller's books do not profess to give the expenses of each year, but only the payments. Large sums have been taken out of the appropriations, within a few years past, to satisfy old claims. This is, doubtless, one cause of the deficiency in some of them, which has in fact existed, and has been known in the public offices for several years. It may be doubted whether there was money enough, under any one of the principal heads of appropriation, in 1828, to pay up all accounts, accruing before the 1st of January, 1829; and it is probable that there was an aggregate deficiency, exceeding half a million of dollars.
It is difficult to ascertain fully, and detail accurately, all the practices which have embarrassed the accounts of the Navy Department; and perhaps it is more difficult to point out a remedy. But the result of my reflections shall be freely given.
As a first step to an effectual reform in the business of the Department, I would suggest the propriety of an appeal to Congress, to remodel the whole system of pay and emoluments of the naval officers, leaving as little as possible to the discretion of the Executive. Every indirect and covert allowance should be discontinued and forbidden; and the pay of all the officers made so certain as to leave no room for construction, and so liberal as to remove present inducements to seek an increase by indirect means. The regular pay of officers of the navy is far below that of officers of the army, in similar grades. Certainly, their services and dangers are not less. Bearing their country's flag to every clime, they are exposed to dangers, disease and death, in a degree far beyond anything encountered in time of peace by the officers of the army. By the feeble health and broken constitutions of many, returning from distant cruises, who present themselves to me for a settlement of their accounts, I am constantly admonished of the hardships these brave men have to encounter. Let not the country be unjust to them.
The lawful compensation to commanders of squadrons is peculiarly inadequate. By their skill and valor they have made our flag glorious, and attracted to our ships the attention of the world. When they enter foreign ports, or meet foreign squadrons, they are obliged to receive and return the visits of those whom curiosity or admiration attracts on board their vessels. As unwilling to be outdone in courtesy as to be conquered in battle, they are compelled to incur expenses which their regular pay and emoluments are inadequate to meet. Let them no longer be subjected to the humiliation of begging indirect and unauthorized allowances from the Executive, when an ample compensation ought to be accorded to them by the representatives of the American people.
It is more important that Congress should give us a system of pay and emoluments, because discretionary allowances by the Executive tend to injustice, corruption and endless jealousies. While the officer
of nice feelings stands aloof, and relies upon his country to provide for him, the less scrupulous make themselves the assiduous flatterers of those in power. Their success operates as a premium for subserviency, and disheartens those of honest principles and lofty minds. The supple and corrupt may monopolize the favors of the government, while the independent and honest are kept in obscurity, or driven from the public service. The minds of officers, instead of being devoted to the interests and glory of the navy, are employed upon the means of persuading the Secretary or accounting officers to eke out their emoluments by additional allowances. If every claim is not allowed which bears a resemblance to such as have been allowed to others, they are dissatisfied, and complain of partiality and injustice. If an accounting officer be corrupt, and it be understood that claims will be favorably considered in proportion as claimants minister to his passions, his partizan feelings, or his necessities, it is fearful to think how far the poison might spread in this essential arm of the national defence!
How vastly important is it, therefore, not only to the safety of the Treasury, but to the character and efficiency of our navy, that all discretion, in making pecuniary allowances, should be taken from the Executive officers. To its moral character, I verily believe, does our navy owe all its glories. By preserving that character we shall make it invincible. Give the officers liberal pay; make it fixed and certain; place them in a situation to claim it as a matter of right; teach them to consider themselves dependent on no Executive officer for their emoluments, but on their country only; they will then devote themselves, not to this or that man who may chance to hold the office of President, Secretary or Auditor, but to the glory of their flag and the interests of the republic. The navy will become as remarkable for its high honor and strict morals, as it is now distinguished for its valor.
I doubt whether the present system of supplying seamen on board ships with comforts, is not injurious to the morals of the navy. It affords an over-active temptation to pursers to cheat the seamen; and that they are sometimes overcome by it, we have ample proof. But I am not prepared to suggest a remedy.
Public economy, no less than the character of the navy, demands a well-defined system. Although the pay of every officer might be nominally much increased, the aggregate amount paid them would not be greater than it is. Perhaps it would be less; at least the increasing profusion which always attends a loose system, would be checked, and the ultimate effect would be a saving of public money.
One of the most important results of a well-defined system would be, the restoration of confidence to the public officers, and of truth to their records. Truth is the basis of all morals, of all useful religion, of society itself. Yet, our public books and records have been filled with systematic falsehood. Does any one suppose that a commission has been allowed to the commanders of squadrons, for the purpose of paying them for the trouble of drawing bills? The trouble is nothing; the name given to the allowance is a mere pretence. Lately $2,000 has been allowed them in lieu of commissions. This is one step nearer a direct allowance without pretence. The truth is, the allowance is made to increase their emoluments, and nothing else. Who, on finding from the books of this office, that $600 has been allowed to pursers for clerk hire, would doubt that this money has been paid for clerks? Yet, such is not the fact. The allowance has been made solely to cover a charge of commission on moneys paid to mechanics and laborers, and to increase the purser's lawful emoluments. Who would doubt that the navy agents paid out for house rent, clerk hire, &c., &c., the sums which have been allowed under these names? Yet, such is not the fact—at least in many instances. It is designed as an expedient to increase their allowances beyond one per cent. on their disbursements, or to make it exceed $2,000. The public books are full of such pretences and falsehoods. Sometimes, it is believed, vouchers, false in substance as well as form, have been used to draw money from the Treasury. So familiar has the mode of doing business under fictitious names become to many honest men long in office, that it is difficult to convince them of its evil tendencies and intrinsic wrong. Is it not important to correct this? Where is the security for the faithful application of the public money, when the records of its distribution are permitted to be falsified? There is no safety, unless even the appearance of falsehood be rooted out. Indulgence in one untruth, blunts the moral sense, and leads to another. A falsehood in form leads to falsehood in substance. By degrees the evil creeps on, until the sluices of the Treasury are opened, and the people look in vain to their public books to see for what purposes their money has been paid.
You will perceive by the facts herein stated, that the whole object of specific appropriations has been defeated by the irregular and unlawful practices of the Navy Department. The annual reports to Congress give no correct information of the expenditures under each head, and for any purpose of that kind are no better than blank paper. They are worse: for they mislead and deceive. I find that most of those experienced in the public accounts attribute their present condition in the Navy Department to the system of specific appropriations. I am not prepared to admit that it is so much the fault of the system, as of its administration. The system is difficult, but certainly not impracticable. All will admit that it ought to be enforced or abolished. I know of but one mode of enforcing it. Let Congress give us an appropriation to meet all arrearages, under every head of appropriation, prior to the first day of January, 1830. Let every account in the Navy Department be settled up to that day, and all balances due, paid out of that appropriation. Let careful estimates be made for expenses accruing in 1830, and no part of the money appropriated for that year be paid on any account accruing prior to that year. Compel every disbursing officer to make careful estimates of the amounts needed by him under each head; forbid his paying out money for other purposes than those for which it is sent to him; and refuse him credits for all overpayments. Let no transfers be made, except in the emergency and in the manner prescribed by law; and let such as may be made be reported to Congress, as the law requires, that the deficiency may be supplied.
With strictness and severity in executing the law, I think the present system practicable. But it is complicated and difficult, and in some respects unsafe. Let any member of Congress or other person, however talented and intelligent, enter this office and attempt to ascertain for what purpose the public money has been paid during the last four years. Where will he look for the information? Will he turn to the books? They will give him none. The entries are all in general terms, under each head, and give no clue to the real character of the vouchers. Will he ask the clerks? Their recollections are indistinct and unsatisfactory. He can procure what he wants only by a personal inspection of the ten thousands of vouchers in thousands of accounts, which it would take months to examine. I have been in this office about six months, and all I know of past transactions has been obtained by accident, in the necessary routine of business, or in tedious investigations. What there may be concealed in the numerous boxes and piles of papers which fill the passage, the shelves, and the pigeon holes of the office, I know not, nor can
I ever know, without opening and carefully inspecting the contents of every bundle. Without a long research we cannot tell what the building or fitting out of any ship has cost, or anything else of those hundred items of information which are always interesting, and often useful. The various items are scattered "through the books of the office under various heads of appropriation, from which it is always difficult and sometimes impossible to cull and collate them. These heads of appropriation, as they appear in the books of this office, are like splendid abstractions, more beautiful in theory than useful in practice.
It appears to me all the benefits now derived from specific appropriations might be realized without their inconveniences, by requiring the Department to present specific estimates, by appropriating a sum in gross for the support of the navy, and by requiring the Secretary to account annually for the sums expended under each head of his estimates. To enforce the present system, liberal estimates must be made under each head to meet unexpected emergencies, because one head cannot depend for relief on another; but upon the plan suggested, a general allowance for emergencies would be sufficient, and the aggregate amount of appropriations need not be so great. To enforce the present system, it will also be necessary to keep a balance under each head in the hands of every disbursing officer, thereby magnifying the aggregate at his disposition and multiplying the chances for fraud and defalcation. Under the plan suggested, the money in their hands would constitute a general fund, applicable to all naval purposes, and the whole sum continually entrusted to them need not be so large.
Whether the system be changed or not, the interposition of Congress is absolutely necessary. Without it, that which is now confused, must become worse confounded. If they will but give us the means of paying up arrearages, and not compel us to draw upon the appropriations of 1830, to pay debts accruing in all preceding years, we can do much ourselves towards extricating the accounts of the Department from their present embarrassment. Without that, we can do nothing, unless, indeed, we cease to pay all such accounts, and refer them to Congress, which would be great injustice to the creditors of the public.
My solicitude on this subject is great. None appears to me more to need or deserve the consideration of Congress. A system of pay and emoluments, and a reform in the mode of keeping the accounts, would place it on high ground. I want no discretion. I wish to be able to turn to some law or lawful regulation for every allowance I am called on to make. I wish to make every transaction of this office so plain that every member of Congress, and any man of common capacity in the country, can understand it. There are no mysteries in good government. To manage the affairs of the American people, it is not necessary to deceive and blind them. Honesty in official duties, and truth in disclosing all that is done, will rivet the government in the affections of the people, and make our Union as firm as our mountains.
From my want of experience, I do not flatter myself that any great value ought to be attached to my suggestions. If they shall lead to investigations which shall give efficiency to the navy, and place the administration of its affairs on the basis of the Constitution, I shall be more than compensated for the trouble of making them.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
John Branch, Esq.,
Secretary of the Navy.
|1. For pay and subsistence of officers, and pay of seamen, other than those at navy yards, shore stations, and in ordinary||$1,239,220 47|
|2. For pay, subsistence, and allowances of officers, and pay of seamen at navy yards, shore stations, hospitals, and in ordinary||224,229 25|
|3. For pay of superintendents, naval constructors, and all the civil establishments at the several navy yards and stations||57,680 00|
|4. For provisions||457,537 50|
|5. For repairs of vessels in ordinary, and for wear and tear of vessels in commission.||590,000 00|
|6. For medicines, surgical instruments, and hospital stores, and all other expenses on account of the sick||30,500 00|
|7. For ordnance and ordnance stores||30,000 00|
|8. For repairs and improvements of navy yards, and for the covering and preservation of ships in ordinary||450,00000|
|9. For gradual increase, to be applied to that appropriation, being the amount expended in the substitution of iron water tanks for casks,
making the sum of
|From which may be deducted this sum, restored to gradual increase||47,619 88|
|10. For defraying the expenses that may accrue during the year 1830, for the following purposes, viz:|
|For freight and transportation of materials and stores of every description;
for wharfage and dockage, storage and rent; traveling expenses of officers, and transportation of seamen;
house rent, chamber money, fuel, and candles, to officers other than those attached to navy yards and stations;
and for officers in such quarters where there is no hospital, and for funeral expenses; for commissions, clerk hire and office rent;
stationery and fuel to navy agents; for premiums and incidental expenses of recruiting; for apprehending deserters;
for compensation to judge advocates; for per diem allowance for persons attending courts-martial and courts of inquiry,
and for officers engaged on extra service beyond the limits of their stations; for printing and for stationery of every description,
and for books, maps, charts, nautical and mathematical instruments, chronometers, models and drawings;
for purchase and repair of steam and fire engines, and for machinery;
|for purchase and maintenance of oxen and horses, and for carts, timber wheels, and
workmen's tools of every description; for postage of letters on public service; for
pilotage; for cabin furniture of vessels in commission, and furniture for officers'
houses at navy yards; for taxes on navy yards and public property; for assistance
rendered to vessels in distress; for incidental labor at navy yards, not applicable
to any other appropriation; for coal and other fuel for forges, foundries and steam
engines; for candles, oil, and fuel for vessels in commission and in ordinary; for
repairs of magazines and powder houses; for preparing moulds for ships to be
|11. For contingent expenses for objects arising during the year 1830,
and not hereinbefore
B, No. 1
Estimate of the pay and subsistence of all the persons of the navy, attached to vessels in commission, for the year 1830.
|Number of vessels in each, class||4||1||10||2||4||21|
|Masters commandant||10||2||12||14,115 00|
|Lieutenants commanding||4||4||4,705 00|
|Surgeons of the fleet||4||4||8,045 00|
|Surgeons' mates||8||2||10||2||4||26||21,268 00|
|Boatswains' mates||12||3||20||4||8||41||10,716 00|
|Gunners' mates||8||2||10||2||22||5,016 00|
|Carpenters' mates||8||2||10||2||4||26||5,928 00|
|Sailmakers' mates||4||1||10||4||19||4,332 00|
|Captains' stewards||4||1||10||2||4||21||4,536 00|
|Captains' cooks||4||1||10||2||11||3,672 00|
|Armorers' mates||4||1||4||9||1,620 00|
|Ships' corporals||8||2||10||1,680 00|
|Masters of the bands||4||1||5||1,080 00|
|Musicians, 1st class||16||3||19||2,736 00|
|Musicians, 2d class||12||2||14||1,680 00|
|Ordinary seamen||480||100||300||50||28||958||114,960 00|
|Add for one ship of the line, one sloop of the first
and one of the second class, per B 2,
Estimate of the pay and subsistence for one ship of the line, one sloop-of-war of the first, and one of the second class.
|Masters commandant||1||1||1,176 25|
|Surgeon of the fleet||1||1||2,011 25|
|Surgeons' mates||4||1||1||6||4,908 00|
|Boatswains' mates||6||2||2||10||2,280 00|
|Gunners' mates||3||1||1||5||1,140 00|
|Carpenters' mates||3||1||1||5||1,140 00|
|Sailmakers' mates||2||1||3||684 00|
|Captains' stewards||1||1||1||3||648 00|
|Captains' cooks||1||1||1||3||648 00|
|Armorers' mates||2||2||360 00|
|Ships' corporals||4||4||672 00|
|Master of the band||1||1||216 00|
|Musicians, first class||6||6||864 00|
|Musicians, second class||5||5||600 00|
|Ordinary seamen||240||30||25||295||35,400 00|
Estimate of the pay, rations, and all other allowances of officers and others, at the navy yards and stations, for the year 1830.
PORTSMOUTH, N. H.
|Amount of pay,
|Master commandant||1||60||5||$300||40||20||2||2,010 75|
C.—Estimate of pay and rations—Continued.
rent per annum.*
|Amount of pay,
|Carpenter's mate||1||19||1||319 25|
|Able seamen||4||12||1||941 00|
|Ordinary seamen||6||10||1||1,267 50|
|Clerk to storekeeper||1||300 00|
|Clerk to commandant,
to do duty as clerk to master builder
|Clerk to yard||1||600 00|
|Master builder||1||1,500 00|
rent per annum.*
|Amount of pay,
|Master commandant||1||60||5||40||20||2||1,710 75|
|Surgeon's mate||1||30||2||$145||16||14||1||950 75|
|Carpenter's mate||1||19||1||319 25|
|Carpenter's mate, as caulker—||3||19||1||957 75|
|Boatswain's mate||1||19||1||319 25|
|Able seamen||14||12||1||3,293 50|
|Ordinary seamen||26||10||1||5,492 50|
|Surgeon's mate||1||30||2||145||16||14||1||950 75|
* House rent is estimated for officers only in cases where no house is furnished by the government.
* House rent is estimate
C.—Estimate of pay and rations—Continued.
|Clerk to storekeeper||1||500 00|
|Clerk to commandant||1||750 00|
|Clerk to commandant||1||$40||480 00|
|Clerk to yard||1||900 00|
|Master builder||1||2,300 00|
|Clerk to master builder||1||420 00|
|Inspector and meas. of timber||1||900 00|
|Master commandant||1||60||5||$300||40||20||2||2,010 75|
|Surgeon's mate||1||30||2||145||16||14||1||950 75|
|Teacher of mathematics||1||40||2||90||12||9||1||981 75|
|Teacher of languages||1||40||2||662 50|
|Carpenter's mate||1||19||1||319 25|
|Carpenter's mates, as caulkers.||3||19||1||957 75|
|Boatswain's mate||1||19||1||319 25|
|Able seamen||14||12||1||3,293 50|
|Ordinary seamen||26||10||1||5,492 50|
|Surgeon's mate||1||30||2||145||16||14||1||950 75|
|Clerk to storekeeper||500 00|
|Clerk to yard||750 00|
|Clerk to commandant||40||480 00|
|Clerk to commandant,||900 00|
|Master builder||2,300 00|
C.—Estimate of pay and rations—Continued
|Clerk to master builder||1||$420 00|
|Inspector and meas. of timber.||1||900 00|
|Master commandant||1||60||5||300||40||20||2||2,010 75|
|Able seamen||4||12||1||941 00|
|Ordinary seamen||6||10||1||1,267 50|
|Surgeon's mate||1||35||3||145||16||14||1||1,102 00|
|Clerk to storekeeper||1||300 00|
|Clerk to yard||1||600 00|
|Clerk to commandant||1||750 00|
|Master builder||1||2,000 00|
|Clerk to master builder||1||25||300 00|
|Inspector and meas. of timber.||1||700 00|
|Master commandant||1||75||6||40||20||2||1,982 00|
|Master, in charge of ordnance||1||40||2||662 50|
|Gunner, as laboratory officer||1||20||2||90||12||9||1||741 75|
C.—Estimate of pay and rations—Continued.
|Cords of wood
|Gunner, keeper of magazine||1||$20||2||$90||12||9||1||$741 75|
|Boatswain's mates||2||19||1||638 50|
|Carpenter's mate||1||19||1||319 25|
|Able seamen||6||12||1||1,411 50|
|Ordinary seamen||8||10||1||1,690 00|
|Surgeon's mate||1||30||2||145||16||14||1||950 75|
|Clerk to storekeeper||1||450 00|
|Clerk to yard||1||900 00|
|Clerk to commandant||1||1,000 00|
|Clerk to commandant||1||480 00|
|Master builder||1||2,300 00|
|Clerk to master builder.||1||420 00|
|Inspector and meas. of timber||1||900 00|
|Master chain cable and anchor maker||1||1,000 00|
|Machinist and engineer||1||1,000 00|
|Assistant master builder||1||1,000 00|
|Master plumber and camboose maker||1||1,200 00|
|Master commandant||1||60||5||$300||40||20||2||2,010 75|
|Surgeon's mate||1||40||4||145||16||14||1,253 25|
|Teacher of mathematics||1||40||2||90||12||9||1||981 75|
C.—Estimate of pay and rations—Continued.
|Cords of wood
|Carpenter's mate||1||19||1||319 25|
|Carpenter's mates, as caulkers||3||19||1||957 75|
|Boatswain's mate||1||19||1||319 25|
|Able seamen.||14||12||1||3,293 50|
|Ordinary seamen||26||10||1||5,492 50|
|Clerk to storekeeper||1||500 00|
|Clerk to yard||1||900 00|
|Clerk to commandant||1||750 00|
|Clerk to commandant||1||40||480 00|
|Master builder||1||2,300 00|
|Clerk to master builder||1||420 00|
|Inspector and meas. of timber||1||1,050 00|
|Keeper of magazine||1||480 00|
|Surgeon's mate||1||30||2||145||16||14||1||950 75|
|Master commandant||1||60||5||40||20||2||1,710 75|
|Surgeon's mate||1||30||2||$145||16||14||1||950 75|
|Carpenter's mate||1||19||1||319 25|
|Able seamen||4||12||1||941 00|
|Ordinary seamen||6||10||1||1,267 50|
C.—Estimate of pay and rations—Continued.
|Cords of wood
|Surgeon's mate||1||30||2||145||16||14||1||950 75|
|Clerk to storekeeper||1||300 00|
|Clerk to yard||1||900 00|
|Clerk to commandant||1||600 00|
|Master builder||1||2,000 00|
|Clerk to master builder||1||25||300 00|
CHARLESTON, S. C.
|Portsmouth||$14,199 00||$3,492 75||$4,400 00||$22,091 75|
|Boston||16,663 25||19,118 75||$3,902 50||8,250 00||47,994 50|
|New York||19,297 50||19,118 75||3,902 50||8,250 00||50,628 15|
|Philadelphia||15,483 50||4,511 75||4,029 75||6,150 00||30,241 00|
|Washington||14,126 25||5,686 75||3,600 00||12,650 00||36,063 00|
|Norfolk||18,931 50||19,118 75||3,902 50||8,880 00||50,898 15|
|Pensacola||14,327 25||3,269 50||3,600 00||6,100 00||27,296 15|
|Baltimore||6,216 50||6,276 50|
|Charleston||6,216 50||6,276 50|
|Sackett's Harbor||1,141 75||1,141 75|
|Naval constructor||3,000 00||3,000 00|
|$126,729 00||$74,563 00||$22,931 25||$57,680 00||$281,909 25|
Papers B, D, E, and F embrace the sums making the first item in the general estimate. The naval, ordinary, and hospital estimates, on paper C, compose the second item; and the civil estimates, on paper C, make the third item in the general estimate. The fourth item is explained by paper G.
Estimate of the number, pay, &c., of officers, required for five receiving vessels, for the year 1830, as part of the first item of the general estimate.
|Masters commandant||1||1||1||1||4||$4,705 00|
|Surgeons' mates||1||1||1||3||2,081 25|
|Boatswains' mates||1||1||1||1||1||5||1,140 00|
|Carpenters' mates||1||1||1||1||4||912 00|
|Able seamen||2||2||2||2||2||10||1,440 00|
|Ordinary seamen||6||6||4||6||2||24||2,880 00|
Estimate of the pay, &c., of officers, &c., attached to recruiting stations, for the year 1830, as part of the first item of the general estimate.
|Masters commandant||1||1||1||1||1||5||$10,053 15|
Exhibit of the officers, &c., awaiting orders and on furlough, as part of the first item of the general estimate for 1830.
|Waiting orders||14||4||90||1||56||171||$152,670 50|
|On furlough||3||4||1||2||10||3,354 62|
Estimate for provisions required for the navy for the year 1830.
|For vessels in commission, per paper B, No. 1||4,178 persons.|
|Marines on board||618 persons.|
|For vessels in commission, per paper B, No. 2||1,104 persons.|
|Marines on board||128 persons.|
|For receiving vessels||82 persons.|
|At one ration per day, is 2,230,150 rations, at twenty-five cents each, is||6,110 persons,||$557,537 50|
|From this amount may be deducted this sum, as a balance will probably remain on hand at the expiration of the year||100,000 00|
|Estimate of the sums required for the support of the office
of the Secretary of the Navy, for the year 1830.
|Secretary of the Navy||$6,000 00|
|Six clerks, per act of 20th April, 1818||$8,200 00|
|One clerk, per act of 26th May, 1824||1,000 00|
|One clerk, per act of 2d March, 1827||1,000 00|
|Messenger and assistant messenger||1,050 00|
|Contingent expenses||3,000 00|
|Substitute proposed, and respectfully submitted,
for the salaries of the clerks.
|One chief clerk, at $2,000||$2,000|
|Two clerks, each at 1,600||3,200|
|Two clerks, each at 1,400||2,800|
|One clerk, at 1,200||1,200|
|Two clerks, each at 1,000||2,000|
Comparative view of five number of clerks employed in each of the principal departments, and their compensation.
|Number in each, at—||Total number
|Chief clerk, $2,000.||$1,600.||$1,400.||$1,150||$1,000||$800|
|Department of State||1||3||4||3||2||13||$17,000|
|Department of Treasury||1||2||4||1||1||9||12,950|
|Department of War||1||3||5||8||1||18||22,600|
|Department of Navy||1||1||2||3||1||8||10,200|
Estimate of the sums required for the support of the office of the Navy Commissioners, for the year 1830.
|Commissioners of the Navy||$10,500|
|Clerks and draftsman,
per acts of April 20, 1818,
May 26, 1824,
and March 2, 1827
There will be required for the support of the navy during the first quarter of the year 1831, eight hundred and fifty-one thousand and forty-one dollars and eighty cents, in addition to the unexpended balances that may remain on hand on the first of January, 1831.
|1. For pay and subsistence of officers and pay of seamen other than those at navy yards,
shore stations and in ordinary
|2. For pay, subsistence, and allowances of officers and pay of seamen at navy yards, shore
stations, hospitals and in ordinary
|3. For pay of superintendents, naval constructors, and all the civil establishments at the
several yards and stations
|4. For provisions||114,384 37|
|5. For repairs of vessels in ordinary, and for wear and tear of vessels in commission||147,500 00|
|6. For medicines, surgical instruments, and hospital stores, and all other expenses on
account of the sick
|7. For ordnance and ordnance stores||7,500 00|
|8. For repairs and improvements of navy yards, and for the covering and preservation of
ships in ordinary
|9. For defraying the expenses that may accrue during the first quarter of the year 1831,
for the following purposes, viz:
For freight and transportation of materials and stores of every description;
for wharfage and dockage, storage and rent;
traveling expenses of officers and transportation of seamen;
house rent and chamber money, and fuel and candles to officers
other than those attached to navy yards and stations,
and for officers in sick quarters where there is no hospital, and for funeral expenses;
for commissions, clerk hire and office rent, stationery and fuel to navy agents;
for premiums and incidental expenses of recruiting; for apprehending deserters;
for compensation to judge advocates;
for per diem allowances for persons attending courts-martial and courts of inquiry,
and for officers engaged on extra service beyond the limits of their stations;
for printing and for stationery of every description, and for books, maps, charts,
and nautical and mathematical instruments, chronometers, models, and drawings;
for purchase and repair of steam and fire engines, and for machinery; for purchase
and maintenance of oxen and horses, and for carts, timber wheels, and workmen's tools of every description;
for postage of letters on public service; for pilotage;
for cabin furniture of vessels in commission, and for furniture of officers' houses at navy yards;
for taxes on navy yards and public property;
for assistance rendered to vessels in distress;
for incidental labor at navy yards not applicable to any other appropriation;
for coal and other fuel for forges, foundries, and steam engines;
for candles, oil and fuel for vessels in commission and in ordinary;
for repairs of magazines and powder houses;
for preparing moulds for ships to be built, and for no other object or purpose whatsoever,
|10. For contingent expenses for objects arising during the first quarter of the year 1831,
and not hereinbefore enumerated
Estimate of the amount required for the support of the office of the Navy Commissioners, for the first quarter of the year 1831.
|Commissioners of the Navy||$2,625 00|
|Secretary to Commissioners of the Navy||500 00|
|Clerks and draftsmen,
per acts 20th April, 1818,
26th May, 1824,
and 2d March, 1827,
|Contingent expenses||450 00|
|Total amount||$5,687 50|
Estimate of pay for officers, non-commissioned officers, musicians, and privates, and subsistence for the officers the United States marine corps, for the year 1830.
|One lieutenant colonel commandant, $75 per month||$900 00|
|Five brevet lieutenant colonels, $75 per month||4,500 00|
|Four captains, $40 per month||1,920 00|
|Twenty-four first lieutenants, at $30 per month||8,640 00|
|Sixteen second lieutenants, $25 per month||4,800 00|
|One surgeon, $60 per month||720 00|
|One sergeant major, $10 per month||120 00|
|One quartermaster sergeant, $10 per month||120 00|
|Five clerks, $20 per month||1,200 00|
|One drum major, $9 per month||108 00|
|One fife major, $9 per month||108 00|
|Seventy-one sergeants, $9 per month||7,668 00|
|Seventy-three corporals, S8 per month||$7,008 00|
|Twenty drummers, $7 per month||1,680 00|
|Twenty fifers, $7 per month||1,680 00|
|Seven hundred and fifty privates, $6 per month||54,000 00|
|Extra pay to the adjutant paymaster, and quartermaster, at $30 per month||1,080 00|
|One lieutenant colonel commandant, six rations per day, 2,190 rations, 20 cts.||$438 00|
|Five brevet lieutenant colonels, six rations, 10,950, rations, 20 cts.||2,190 00|
|Four captains, at three rations, is 4,380, at 20 cts. each||876 00|
|Twenty-four first lieutenants, three rations, 26,280 rations, 20 cts||5,256 00|
|Sixteen second lieutenants, two rations each, 11,680 rations, 20 cts||2,336 00|
|One surgeon, four rations, 1,460 rations, 25 cts||365 00|
(Signed) JOS. L. KUHN,
Paymaster Marine Corps.
Estimate of pay for officers, non-commissioned officers, musicians, and privates; and subsistence for the officers of the United States marine corps, for the first quarter of the year 1831.
|One lieutenant colonel commandant, $75 per month||$225 00|
|Five brevet lieutenant colonels, $75 per month||1,125 00|
|Four captains, $40 per month||480 00|
|Twenty-four first lieutenants, $30 per month||2,160 00|
|Sixteen second lieutenants, $25 per month||1,200 00|
|One surgeon, $60 per month||180 00|
|One sergeant major, $10 per month||30 00|
|One quartermaster sergeant, $10 per month||30 00|
|Five clerks, $20 per month||300 00|
|One drum major, $9 per month||27 00|
|One fife major, $9 per month||27 00|
|Seventy-one sergeants, $9 per month||1,917 00|
|Seventy-three corporals, $8 per month||1,752 00|
|Twenty drummers, $7 per month||420 00|
|Twenty fifers, $7 per month||420 00|
|Seven hundred and fifty privates, $6 per month||13,500 00|
|Extra pay to the adjutant, paymaster, and quartermaster, $30 per month||270 00|
|One lieutenant colonel commandant, 6 rations per day, 540, at 20 cents||108 00|
|Five brevet lieutenant colonels, 6 rations per day, 2,700, at 20 cents||540 00|
|Four captains, 3 rations per day, 1,080, at 20 cents||216 00|
|Twenty-four first lieutenants, 3 rations per day, 6,480, at 20 cents||1,290 00|
|Sixteen second lieutenants, 2 rations per day, 2,880, at 20 cents||576 00|
|One surgeon, 4 rations per day, 360, at 25 cents||90 00|
JOS. L. KUHN,
Paymaster Marine Corps.
Estimate for expenditures in the Quartermaster department of the United States marine corps, for the year 1830.
|For 400 non-commissioned officers, musicians, privates, and washerwomen,
serving on shore, at one ration per day each, is 146,000 rations, at twelve cents per ration, is
|For deficiency of appropriation for pay and subsistence last year, being the amount less than estimated for||*11,973 05|
|For 938 non-commissioned officers, musicians, and privates, at $30 each, is||$28,140 00|
|For 100 watch coats, at $6 25/100 each, is||625 00|
|For the officers, non-commissioned officers, musicians, privates, and washerwomen, and for public offices, hospitals, and armory||9,098 00|
* The alteration of items opposite to which asterisks are placed, was made at this Department, the explanations offered in support of them not being deemed satisfactory.
Navy Department, November 27, 1829.
|For traveling expenses of officers, and transportation for men;
freight of stores from one station to another;
toll, ferriage, wharfage, and cartage; expenses of recruiting;
per diem allowance for attending courts-martial and courts of inquiry,
and for officers on extra duty;
compensation to judge advocates;
house rent and chamber money, where there are no public quarters assigned;
incidental labor in the Quartermaster's department;
expenses of burying deceased persons belonging to the marine corps;
printing and stationery; postage on public letters;
expenses in pursuing deserters;
keeping in repair the barracks at the different stations;
straw for the men;
spades, axes, shovels, picks, and carpenters' tools;
|For the purchase of 1,500 set of accoutrements, at $2.75 per set||$4,125 00|
|For the pay of armorers, keeping arms in repair,
armorer's tools, drums, fifes, flags, and ordnance stores
|For medicines, hospital-stores, and surgical instruments
for officers and marines, serving on shore
|For completing the officers' quarters at head-quarters||3,000 00|
|Appropriation required for the first quarter of the year 1831,
agreeably to the foregoing estimate.
|For subsistence||$4,380 00|
|For clothing||7,191 25|
|For fuel||2,274 50|
|For contingencies||*3,500 00|
|For military stores||500 00|
|For medicines||592 25|
E. J. "WEED,
Q. M. M. C.
Head-Quarters Marine Corps,
Quartermaster's Office, Washington City,
November 7, 1829.
|Names and rank.||Date.||Cause.||Place.|
|Thomas Tingey||February 23, 1829||Not known||Washington.|
|Samuel M. Breckenridge||June 4, 1829||Explosion of Fulton||New York.|
|Augustus Cutts||June 12, 1829||Not known||Portsmouth, N. H.|
|Elnathan Judson||May 8, 1829||Consumption||Washington.|
|Samuel G. Clarkson||May 17, 1829||Yellow fever||Pensacola.|
|John Denny||September 19, 1829||Not known||New York.|
|Gardner Thomas||September 25, 1829||Not known||New York.|
|Cave Jones||January 29, 1829||Not known||New York.|
|Joshua H. Justin||April 8, 1829||Consumption||Norfolk.|
|James B. Lardner||do||Not known||Pensacola.|
|N. G. C. Slaughter||do||Small-pox||Pensacola.|
|G. M. Meredith||do||Not known||Coast of Brazil.|
|Joshua W. Larkin||May 20, 1829||Fall of a block||Callao Roads.|
|James M. Prevost||Not known||Pacific.|
|Charles Root||December 8, 1828||Not known||Coast of Brazil.|
|John Lord||July 9, 1829||Not known||Boston.|
Navy Department, December 1, 1829.
List of dismissions from the navy of the United States, since 1st December, 1828.
|Edmund L. Dubarry||November 5, 1829.|
|William Belt||April 7, 1829.|
|Thomas V. Wiesenthal||April 7, 1829.|
|James R. Boyce||April 7, 1829.|
May 21 1829.
|Edward McLaughlin||October 2, 1829.|
|Abram J. Bennett||December 31, 1828.|
|Joseph S. Gannon||December 31, 1828.|
|Patrick F. Bradlee||April 4, 1829.|
|Charles D. Drake||October 30, 1829.|
|William P. Livingston||July 8, 1829.|
|Richard D. Millen||April 4, 1829.|
|Robert H. L. Paterson||November 14, 1829.|
|Lloyd L. Spillman||June 3, 1829.|
|H. H. Van Rensselaer||April 4, 1829.|
|Zaccheus R. Fuller||June 30, 1829.|
|Miles King, Nathaniel Amory, John N. Sherburne.|
Navy Department, December 1, 1829.
List of resignations in the navy of the United States, since the 1st December, 1828.
|Edward Cutbush||June 10, 1829.|
|George Logan||June 16, 1829.|
|Joseph B. Wilkinson||June 2, 1829.|
|Benjamin C. Wilcox||December 15, 1828.|
|Frederick A. Thompson||December 31, 1828.|
|John Wyman||March 17, 1829.|
|Samuel Haight||March 17, 1829.|
|John H. Maulsby||April 6, 1829.|
|Samuel W. Ellis||April 6, 1829.|
|George P. Ricker||February 17, 1829.|
|John Woods Barker||May 20, 1829.|
|Pierson Hurd||May 29, 1829.|
|William H. Harrison Gray||June 4, 1829.|
|Alexander W. Wilson||June 13, 1829.|
|Lewis C. F. Fatio||July 7, 1829.|
|Meredith Myers||July 7, 1829.|
|George H. White||July 17, 1829.|
|Alexander McClung||August 29, 1829.|
|William Rowan||November 10, 1829.|
|James Minzies||August 29, 1829.|
|LIEUTENANT OF MARINES.|
|Thomas B. Barton||March 13, 1829.|
Navy Department, December 1, 1829.
Copy of a letter from the Secretary of the Navy to the Board of Commissioners of the Navy, dated—
Navy Department, November 13, 1829.
From the reflection I have been able to bestow upon the present organization of the Navy Department, I incline to the opinion that it is susceptible of improvement, particularly in its fiscal branch, its forms of administration, and the distribution of its duties.
Should further inquiry confirm this opinion, it will be proper for me to submit an improved system for the consideration of the President, and with this view I wish to avail myself of your information and experience.
I request, therefore, that you will lay before me your opinion whether the present organization of the Department may not be improved, and, if so, how? with such observations as may appear to you to belong to the occasion.
Navy Commissioners' Office, November 23, 1829.
The Navy Commissioners have had the honor of receiving your letter of the 13th inst., requiring of them to lay before you their opinion of the present organization of the Navy Department—whether it may not be improved, and, if so, how? with such observations as may appear to them to belong to the occasion.
The duties of the Navy Department are various and complicated: so much so, indeed, that no one individual, however gifted, would be competent even to their general superintendence.
We may be assisted in forming judicious conclusions, by classing these duties under general heads, and considering them in their separate, distinct nature; and by referring to the practices which have obtained in the administration of them, since the first organization of the Department.
The general heads by which these duties are distinguished, and under which they may be classed, are:
1. Administrative or Executive.
Those of an administrative character consist, essentially, in dispensing the various offices created by law; issuing orders and instructions to officers for service; employing the national marine; convening courts-martial; and generally in seeing that the laws in relation to the navy are duly and faithfully executed. In discharging these high functions, consultations with the President of the United States become necessary; the officer vested with these responsible trusts is the medium through which the President makes known his will to the navy.
Those of a ministerial character: such as the construction, building, and equipment of vessels of war; their armament; their classification; the procurement of naval stores and materials; the preservation of ships in ordinary; the construction of docks, arsenals, ship houses, storehouses, timber sheds, shears, shops, &c.; the victualing and clothing of the navy; and which involve the necessity of having experienced professional men to perform them.
Those of a fiscal character, which embrace the expenditures of the service, in all its numerous branches, and under all its various heads of appropriation. This branch of the Department requires, in the performance of its ordinary duties, a thorough knowledge of accounts, and of all the laws and regulations of the service in any way affecting its expenditures; and it would be greatly improved by a practical knowledge as to all the various stores, munitions, and materials essential in the different departments of the service.
The duties which relate to the execution of the laws in reference to sick and disabled seamen discharged from the service, the apportionment of pensions, the necessary regulations for the government and support of hospitals, the naval asylum, &c., have been assigned by law to special boards, consisting of the Secretary of the Navy, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Secretary of War,
The office of Secretary of the Navy was established in the year 1798. He was charged with the multifarious duties here classed under the administrative and ministerial heads; and an Accountant of the Navy was charged with the fiscal duties, subject to the revision of the Treasury.
Under this arrangement, although the navy, at that time, had not attained one-fourth of its present magnitude, it was found that these duties were burthensome in the extreme; and although it was very generally admitted that the Secretary of the Navy was remarkable for his capacity and industry, and that the office of Accountant was well filled, yet, it is known that the duties were very imperfectly performed— unavoidably so—and that the public interest greatly suffered. This arose from a multitude of mixed duties, pressing upon each other, each requiring to be done at one and the same time.
While the Department continued thus organized, great losses of treasure and of time were not unfrequently occasioned by a single order; among other instances, one might be cited in which it became absolutely necessary to expend upwards of $60,000 to correct an error in the structure and internal arrangements of a ship; an error arising, solely, from the absence of professional knowledge.
Cases of this kind, with other considerations, contributed, no doubt, to the existing modification, which assigns all the ministerial duties to a Board of Navy Commissioners, leaving a general superintending direction to the Secretary of the Navy.
By a subsequent law, Congress abolished the office of Accountant of the Navy, and created that of Fourth Auditor, as a substitute, attaching it to the Treasury, and subjecting its statements to the strict revision of a Comptroller.
Prior to the act of Congress, of 3d March, 1809, (an act further to amend the several acts for the establishment and regulation of the Treasury, War, and Navy Departments,) it was the practice in the office of Accountant of the Navy so to keep the accounts of the navy as to show the cost of objects—the building of a ship, for instance; but that law declares that money warrants shall be charged to the specific appropriation under which the money is to be disbursed. This produced a change in the form of keeping the accounts; objects are lost sight of, and specific appropriations seem to claim exclusive attention.
The act of 1809 declares that all money warrants "shall specify the particular appropriation or appropriations to which the same shall be charged," and that the moneys paid in virtue of such warrants shall "be charged to such appropriation or appropriations;" that "the sums appropriated by law, for each branch of expenditure, shall be solely applied to the objects for which they are respectively appro-
priated, and to no other." But it authorized the President, on the application of the Secretary, to direct "that a portion of the moneys appropriated for a particular branch of expenditure be applied to another branch of expenditure in the same department."
Thus, under the law of 1809, the President might transfer from any one appropriation to another; but this authority of the President was, by act of 1st May, 1820, confined to three appropriations, viz: "provisions;" "medicines and hospital stores;" "repairs of vessels;" so that, from none of the other appropriations can a transfer be made.
Is the existing organization susceptible of any improvement; and, if any, what?
The administrative or executive branch of the Department, of which the Secretary of the Navy is the immediate chief, needs not, it is presumed, the interposition of law to render it more efficient. It is not improbable, however, that improvements might be introduced in the arrangement of its detail duties, which would have a tendency to secure more prompt information upon various subjects, that would greatly aid the Secretary in the discharge of his duties. The books of his office should show the extent of the means at his disposal, and the state and condition of every branch of the service, that he may be prepared, not only to act upon all subjects claiming his personal attention, but to answer any call from the President, or from Congress, without delay.
The duties assigned to the Board of Navy Commissioners are far too extensive to be committed to the management of any one individual; yet, one individual, acting without consultation, and trusting entirely to his own resources, could certainly perform more of any particular business than two or three could perform: for instance, a special report, of importance to the interests of the navy, is called for; an individual, having no one to consult in making such report, might probably prepare it in a few hours; but, when associated with two other individuals, each possessing the same rights, each charged with the same duty, each equally responsible, consultation becomes indispensable; disagreement in opinion may exist; argument on both sides is adduced; and finally, the decision is made, but not, possibly, till one, two, or more days, shall have elapsed. The decision, when thus made, will probably be more correct than if it had been made by one member; yet it is very obvious that the consumption of time would be much greater in the one case than in the other.
But there are many, very many cases, of too much importance to the national interest to be committed to any one person, however eminent in his profession, however extensive his experience. These cases involve principles, essentially bearing upon the vital interests of the navy; where an erroneous decision might seriously affect the efficiency of our vessels-of-war, or occasion great and unnecessary expenditures of money; numerous cases might be cited, in which it would be certainly unwise to trust the decision to any one person.
The decision of a fundamental principle is one thing; the carrying that principle into effect, is another; the latter duty may be safely trusted, where it would be highly dangerous to confide the former. The function of designing the dimensions and form of a ship, her armament, her outboard and inboard works, her masting, sparring, &c., requires, in its performance, the exertion of the highest professional attainments; and when the designs shall be matured, and distinctly indicated by drawings, models, and instructions, their execution, involving the minutest details, requires vigilant and laborious attention, to see them faithfully executed in all their parts.
From these premises, we are led to infer that, in the present organization of the Board of Navy Commissioners, defects exist; that they consist, essentially, in grouping together too great a variety of duties to be performed in the best manner by the board itself, collectively acting upon each case; but which might be subdivided, so that each member, giving particular attention to the branch confided to him, might perform his own part in the most satisfactory manner.
We have seen that, as now organized, the Board of Commissioners is charged, to speak in general terms—
1st. With the building, repair, and equipment of our vessels-of-war. 2d. With the construction of docks, arsenals, storehouses, wharves, &c. 3d. With the victualling and clothing of the navy.
Under these three general heads, the duties of the board may be classed; but it may be useful to present a brief view of the detailed duties arising under each head.
First. The building, repair, and equipment of vessels-of-war involve, 1st. The designs as to their forms; their length, breadth of beam, depth of hold; their internal arrangements; the sizes and position of their masts, and the manner of making them; the dimensions of their spars; the quantity and dimensions of their rigging; their sails; their armament, including the form, size, weights, and calibre of their guns; their small arms of every description, powder, ball, &c.; their gun carriages, the sizes of their timbers, with the lengths and thicknesses of their planks; their boats; their chain cables, &c.; and such a classification of the whole, that every article of equipment, belonging to any vessel of a particular class, shall answer for every other vessel of the same class. 2d. The procurement, by contract or otherwise, of all the various materials and munitions necessary to build and equip them agreeably to the designs. 3d. The operative part, which combines all these materials, and renders the ships complete in their construction, their numerous internal arrangements, and their equipment generally.
The repairing of ships, while it involves most of the duties to be performed in building them, imposes other duties, not included in building. The state of the ship to be repaired, is one, and this can only be done by a thorough examination of all her parts; inspecting all her stores, remedying deficiencies that may be found in her structure, introducing improvements that may have been suggested by experience, &c., are other duties.
The numerous estimates, and the voluminous correspondence, indispensable in discharging the duties arising under this head, with the mass of other business connected with them, would give full employment to any one individual, however competent. We mean for the superintendence of any one individual; for no man living could, in his own person, go through the drudgery of all its details. He would require several subordinates, which we will presently consider.
Second. The construction of docks, arsenals, storehouses, and general attention to navy yards. Under this head, numerous and important duties arise: the planning of all the various improvements; the procurement, by contract or otherwise, of all the materials required in making them; the regulation of labor appertaining to this branch, and the preservation of stores; supervising the various factories of anchors, chain cables, blocks, cambooses; the procurement, preservation, and distribution of books, maps, charts, chronometers, and other nautical instruments; stationery, fuel, and candles, &c., are among these duties.
Any one individual, to give them that vigilant, careful attention, which the faithful performance of them would require, would find constant employment; several subordinates would be essentially necessary in discharging these duties.
Third. The victualing and clothing of the navy. Under this head the duties are numerous: the quantity of the various articles forming the rations, the quantity of slop clothing, medicines, and hospital stores required for the several ships and squadrons in service, and the several stations on shore, must be ascertained and procured, by contract or otherwise, and transported to the ships and stations needing them; the ordering of surveys, when necessary, upon any of the articles belonging to his department; the receiving of surveys ordered by the commanding officers of squadrons; the regulation of labor appertaining to this particular branch; the preservation of its stores and issuing the necessary instructions, will form a mass of business abundantly sufficient to occupy the time of any individual. Subordinates in this, as in other branches, would be indispensably necessary.
Under these three general heads the present duties of the board might be classed; each member taking the superintendence of one; each carrying into effect the designs and decisions of the whole; each responsible for the execution of such designs and decisions.
As now organized, each member of the board has to give his attention to all the duties arising under the previously recited heads; and it is out of the question to suppose that any one can give that careful attention which the public interests at all times require. The mind of man is not so constituted as to be able to embrace, digest, and thoroughly understand such an infinite variety of subjects; many of them pressing for decision at one and the same moment; many of them being complex in their nature and requiring great research, calculation, and consideration to enable even the most experienced and intelligent to comprehend them so far as to be able to pronounce a satisfactory opinion upon them.
To general principles, and to new principles and improvement, each member might give such attention as would, with his professional experience, enable him to meet others in discussion and assist in forming the best possible conclusions. The board, enlightened by the observations of each of its members, thus prepared for the examination of any question arising, might reasonably be expected to decide judiciously; while each member would proceed to execute the particular part assigned to him with all the advantages afforded by a general consultation. A spirit of emulation would naturally arise among all the members; each would be ambitious to excel in the discharge of his appropriate duties; and the happiest results might be confidently anticipated and felt in the precision, dispatch, intelligence, and economy, which it is to be hoped would distinguish each branch.
The necessity, 1st, of a board to decide upon general principles, and upon all new principles and improvements; 2d, of a subdivision of duties, to be executed in conformity with the decisions of the board, is deemed to have been sufficiently illustrated and established by the preceding remarks. We will now, sir, attempt an arrangement of the duties of the board, and of its branches, upon the most efficient and economical basis.
The board, to perform the general duties reserved to it as a board, will require a secretary and a copying clerk; a secretary to keep a journal of all its proceedings; stating the time of meeting, the objects, the decisions; whether they relate to the introduction of a new principle, improvement in the mode of building, equipping, or repairing of ships, improvement or alteration in any of the buildings, docks, wharves, shears, factories, &c., in the navy yards, changes in the manner of putting up, procuring, or preserving provisions and other supplies, with the reasons at large for such decisions, and the results of all the experiments in all the various branches of service. Also, to draw up, under the direction of the Navy Commissioners, when convened as a board, all reports of a general nature relating to the duties of this branch of the Navy Department; to give to each member of the board a copy of any of the decisions of the board affecting his branch of duties, and to aid, as far as may be in his power, the chief of each branch in the execution of his duties. He would have the special charge of all papers and communications suggesting improvement in any branch of the service, or relating to any discovery at sea having a tendency to improve the science of navigation: He would also be charged with the safe keeping of all journals describing coasts and harbors, and of all reports showing the properties of our ships, their best trim of sailing,& c. To assist in the performance of these various services a copying clerk would be required.
Whenever required by the Secretary of the Navy, or by either of the members, the board would convene and proceed to decide upon the questions presented for consideration. It would also have stated meetings as the public service might render necessary. In particular it would convene, at some stated time, to receive from the Secretary of the Navy the determination of the Executive, as to the number and classes of ships intended to be kept in the service during the ensusing year, and their stations, that they might proceed and prepare the estimates for the service, with a full understanding of the will of the Executive upon the subject.
The building, repairing, and equipping department would require, besides its chief, a naval architect and a draftsman, an ordnance officer, three able clerks, and one copying clerk.
A naval architect would be required in supervising the building and repairing of ships, and in devising drafts, models, moulds, &c.; and a draftsman would have, as at present, full employment in making the various drafts, which are very numerous, extending, as they do, to all parts of a ship, their armament, gun carriages,& c., &c.
An ordnance officer is essential to the inspection and proving of all guns, arms, and ammunition, and making returns, showing their state and condition.
A first clerk, to assist the correspondence, examine all money requisitions, keeping accurate accounts thereof, to assist in preparing the annual estimates, to have the charge of all papers connected with money requisitions, or relating to experiments made in this branch of service.
A second clerk and assistant to keep an account of all the stores coming under the cognizance of their chief; of all labor employed in his department; to receive all returns and pay-rolls, showing the cost of new ships, the repairs of old ships, the state of contracts, &c., keeping accurate accounts thereof; to file all offers for contracts; prepare scales, showing the various bids; to draw up, under the direction of their chief, all contracts and agreements; to file all letters relating to the duties with which they are charged, and keep them so arranged that reference may, at any time, be had to them without delay, and to do such other business as may be required of them.
A fourth clerk, to keep the letter books, and do such copying and other business as may be required of him.
Other officers would act under the directions of the chief of this branch: officers to attend particularly to the preservation of ships in ordinary, and carry into effect instructions upon that important subject; timber masters, to inspect, measure, and receive all timber, keeping special accounts thereof, showing when it was received, when cut, when immersed in water, when placed under cover, when and for what vessel used, &c., always taking care that the best seasoned timber shall be first used; surveyors, (to be selected from the officers of the yard) to take special accounts of all the stores of a vessel about to be received in ordinary; to have all their stores, their rigging, their sails, boats, &c., minutely examined, and their state and condition accurately reported, that such disposition may be made of them as the public interest may require.
The department of docks, navy yards, &c., would require, besides its chief, a civil engineer, two able clerks, and one copying clerk.
A civil engineer, in the construction of docks, wharves, arsenals, &c., is obviously required.
A first clerk, to assist in the correspondence, examine all money requisitions, keeping accounts thereof, to assist in preparing the general estimates, to prepare all signal books for distribution, keeping precise accounts, showing to whom signals were issued, charging such persons with them, and holding them specially accountable therefor, on their return from a cruise, or on leaving the ship they may have commanded, and to have the charge of all papers relating to experiments in this branch of the service.
The second clerk to keep accounts of all stores; all returns, as to the cost of docks, arsenals, shears,& c.; the employment of labor attached to this branch; the state of contracts, keeping accounts thereof; to file all offers for supplies, and to prepare scales as to the bids to furnish them; to draw up, under the direction of his chief, all contracts and agreements; to file all letters and papers, not specially assigned to any other clerk, and keep them so arranged that reference may, at any time, be had to them without delay; and to do such other business as his chief may require of him.
A copying clerk, to keep the letter books and do such copying and other business as may be required of him.
Other officers would act under the special direction of the chief of this branch. He would, for instance, require a special officer to take charge of all the nautical instruments, books, and charts, not on board of ship, to keep them in order for use when required. Among other duties, he would be required to attend particularly to the time-pieces, or chronometers, to ascertain precisely their character, such as their rate of deviation from true time, whether they are affected by changes of weather, &c., &c., for the information of those who may have to use them at sea. The character of each chronometer, thus ascertained, should be delivered to the officer receiving the chronometer itself.
The victualing and clothing department would require, besides its chief, a surgeon, as medical assistant; two able clerks and one copying clerk.
The surgeon would be required to assist in procuring medicines and hospital stores and surgical instruments, and in distributing them as the service may require. It would be his duty to examine all accounts for medicines, &c., and all requisitions for money to pay such accounts.
A first clerk, to assist in the correspondence, examine all money requisitions (other than those assigned to the surgeon), keeping accounts thereof; to assist in preparing the general estimates, to draw up all contracts and charter parties under the direction of his chief, and to keep all papers connected with experiments in this branch of the service.
A second clerk, to keep an account of all provisions and slop clothing procured for the service, where deposited, from whom obtained, the prices of each article, to whom delivered for use; receiving, examining, and filing all returns, showing the various issues, the quantities left on hand, surveys, &c.; to file all offers for supplies, and scale them for decision, keep all the papers connected with such supplies, the state of each and every station as to supplies, all the shipments made, &c., &c.; and to do all such other business as may be required of him.
A copying clerk, to keep the letter books, and do such other copying as may be required of him.
Other officers would also be required, to act under the immediate direction of the chief of this branch: for instance, officers to inspect provisions and slop clothing, to hold surveys upon them, to attend particularly to all shipments, and guard against all impositions in the quality and condition of articles delivered under contracts,& c.
It will be seen that this arrangement proposes that money requisitions shall pass the special examination of the branch under which they are to be expended; the reason is obvious—that branch will possess precise knowledge upon the subject, and will be enabled to decide promptly and correctly whether the requisition should be approved or not: for instance, should money be required under the head of "repairs," the requisition would be sent to the officer having charge of "the building, repairing, and equipping department," who would cause it to be examined minutely, and, if found correct, he would approve it, and submit it in that state to the Secretary of the Navy, who would cause a warrant for the amount to be issued, and placed in the hands of the disbursing agent, to be applied by him in conformity with his instructions; thus, in its incipiency, using every precaution to ensure its faithful application and expenditure.
But, with these precautions, which would, unquestionably, greatly improve the existing practice, we should still be uncertain as to the application of money, according to instructions; none but the officer giving the instructions can decide, to a certainty, whether the moneys are expended according to those instructions; and this he ascertains by comparing the one with the other on his records. It is, moreover, to be presumed that his professional knowledge, which enables him to judge correctly as to the kind, quality, quantity, and prices of the articles required in the department of the service specially committed to him, would be of particular value in the examination of all accounts originating in expenditures directed by himself. This admitted, it results that every account of expenditure should be examined and approved by the officer having the superintendency of the branch which approved the money requisitions, and from which the instructions for its expenditure were issued. Accounts, thus examined and certified, might be sent to the Fourth Auditor of the Treasury, and there undergo such further examination as to their calculations as would ensure their correctness. Such an arrangement would impose auditorial duties upon each branch of the Department, and, in that case, additional clerks would be required, viz., two for the first-mentioned branch, and one for each of the others.
Under such an arrangement, disbursing agents, residing in the United States, might be required to forward their accounts weekly; that is, to send, at the termination of every week, their vouchers for disbursements during that week. Upon being received, they would be immediately examined, and, if found
correct, the amount would be passed to their credit, and they would be so informed; if incorrect, the error would be corrected, while all the circumstances are fresh in the memory of all parties. This course would be attended with advantages both to the government and to the individuals concerned, to whom the prompt settlements of accounts should always be desirable; and it is not perceived that it would occasion much, if any, additional trouble to either party. It would require the constant and vigilant attention of both; and these are duties which every public agent should be desirous of rendering.
Disbursing agents, out of the United States, should be required to take quadruple vouchers for their expenditures, so as to enable them to send two in each case, and retain two in case of accidents. They should then be required to forward one set of their accounts by the first opportunity, and another set by the next earliest; we should thus, much earlier than at present, possess a knowledge of the foreign accounts of the Department.
With regard to the principle upon which navy appropriations are made by Congress, and the forms and rules observed in their administration, by the Department, it is hoped that a reference to the communication which the Commissioners had the honor of submitting on the 31st March last, will repay for the trouble of making it. There are numerous facts exhibited in that communication, which will assist us in forming satisfactory conclusions. But it may be sufficient, on this occasion, to select from among them the following, viz:
|The returns of one of the disbursing
agents exhibited balances on hand
|Overpayments, that is, expenditures exceeding the sums remitted,
under certain specific heads of appropriation
|Actual balance of money in his hands||$531 45|
|The returns of another disbursing agent showed balances on hand||$103,248 33|
|Actual balance of moneys in his hands||$10,988 92|
One of the agents, having upwards of thirty thousand dollars in his hands, belonging to, and remitted to him out of the appropriation for "gradual increase," applied the amount to the payment of accounts arising under five other distinct heads of appropriation, viz: sloops-of-war, navy yards, five schooners, contingent prior to 1824, and contingent for 1826.
The principle which confines the application of navy appropriations to the particular objects for which they are made, or which, in other phrase, declares that "the sums appropriated by law for each branch of expenditure shall be solely applied to the objects for which they are respectively appropriated, and no other," has thus, in numerous instances, been violated in practice. The inquiries of the Commissioners lead them to believe that this has been done sometimes intentionally, as the least of two evils; at other times, unintentionally, arising from misapprehension on the part of disbursing agents and others, as to the proper head of appropriation to which disbursements should be charged.
The cases particularly cited, are principally, it is believed, of the former class. The agents were instructed, it is understood, to apply moneys in their hands, under certain heads, to the payment of accounts arising and due under other heads. Such accounts were, it is said, of such a nature, that payment of them could not be postponed without violating the public faith; to preserve which, it became necessary to violate the law.
Of the latter class, cases are cited in our communication of the 31st March last, to which we beg leave to refer you.
The Commissioners, not having been charged with the duty of adjusting and settling navy accounts, can give no precise information respecting them; but the deep interest they have taken upon all subjects affecting the service in which they have the honor of holding commissions, has induced them from time to time to make inquiries; from which they are fully satisfied that the intention of the law of 1809, in its provisions as to the application of the specific appropriations, has never been carried into full effect, in any one year since its enactment. The theory of specific appropriations would seem to embrace exact and precise accountability; and this consideration, no doubt, had some weight in producing its adoption. But the test which has been applied, in the expenditure of millions of dollars, during the last twenty years, has certainly not confirmed the anticipations of its advocates.
The Commissioners will not say that it is utterly impracticable to carry this system literally into effect. If Congress were to make the appropriations sufficiently large to guard against every possible contingency, and to ensure an adequate amount, under each head, to meet every possible expense arising under that head; and if all the agents were so thoroughly acquainted with their duties, as to be able at all times to decide correctly as to the specific heads of appropriation to which each and all of the numerous articles required should be charged; then, if the Department would take care to keep in the hands of all the disbursing agents a balance under each and every head of appropriation, so as to enable them promptly, and in good faith, to redeem all the public engagements at their respective agencies, a literal execution of the law might be expected. But would Congress make excessive appropriations? No enlightened friend of the navy would make such a proposition. And experience fully shows that disbursing agents, even those most accustomed to navy business, will occasionally misapprehend instructions, and unintentionally pay accounts out of the wrong appropriation. And we would observe, that the absolute necessity of keeping balances in the hands of the agents, under each appropriation, would make the aggregate of balances so large as to form a serious objection. In no case would it be expedient; in some cases it might be unsafe to entrust such balances even to bonded agents, for they would generally far exceed the amount of their bonds.
The estimates upon which the appropriations are founded are prepared with all the care and accuracy of which the fallible judgment of man will admit. Yet, after all, they are but estimates; and until it shall be given to us to foresee the events of futurity, the fluctuations in the markets of the world, and the casualties of the ocean, we shall never arrive at precise accuracy in our calculations as to the expense of a navy employed in every known sea, and experiencing the vicissitudes of every known climate. A degree of accuracy, sufficient for practical purposes, may be gained; and this is all that can be reasonably expected. Yet, even in this case, it will be found that some items in the estimate are too low, others too high; but take the whole together, and they may prove sufficient. The item of "pay of
the navy"—the expense of which may be approximated nearer than that of any other item of naval expenditure—is liable to be affected in its amount by unforeseen contingencies. For instance, seamen's wages may rise, and it may become necessary to give them a bounty to induce them to enter into the public service. A few more seamen, or a few less, than the number estimated for, would produce a variation between the expenditures and the estimates.
Besides, it has not always been the pleasure of Congress to appropriate the whole amount of the estimates, which has frequently occasioned embarrassment; instance, the estimate for "repairs of vessels," for the year 1829, was curtailed in the appropriation $75,000, and that for "navy yards," was reduced $225,000. The reductions occasioned the suspension of important measures, contemplated when the estimates were made; the postponement of which, must ultimately create additional expense.
But nearer views of the existing system of naval appropriations may be required for its thorough comprehension. Let us see it in practice.
If a single dollar be taken, intentionally or otherwise, from one appropriation, and applied to another, it is a violation of law. Suppose a ship is about to be equipped for important service, and there should be large balances under all the appropriations, excepting that for ordnance, which is exhausted; under the law, however urgent the necessity, not a cent could be drawn from either of the redundant appropriations for the purchase of arms. It was surely never the intention of Congress that a vessel-of-war should be sent to sea without being, in all respects, thoroughly prepared to defend the honor of her flag; yet, in the case supposed, she could not be properly prepared, without violating the law of appropriations. Similar embarrassments would arise from a deficiency in either of the appropriations, from or to which transfers are forbidden. Thus the law, in gaining an object of diminutive value, when contrasted with its main design, (the employment of ships of war,) would, if literally observed, defeat the intentions of Congress.
Towards the close of every year some of the specific appropriations are found to be deficient. The ships, probably, whose expenditures occasioned this deficiency, are abroad in distant seas. Bills are drawn upon the government for their support, and under this very head of appropriation whose deficiency has just been discovered. These bills cannot be protested; they must be paid; and, under such circumstances, the Secretary of the Navy has generally directed them to be paid out of some of the redundant appropriations. Demands are made from other parts of the world, and by disbursing agents in the United States, upon the same deficient appropriation, and moneys are remitted under other heads to enable them to meet pressing engagements. When the accounts of disbursing agents are received for settlement, if all the appropriations under which their disbursements have been made should then be sufficient to enable the Auditor to settle them, it is done by warrants of payment and, repayment; the former purporting to be warrants authorizing the payment, to the disbursing officer, of specific sums, corresponding, in their respective amounts, to his overpayments; the latter purporting to be drafts upon him, requiring him to pay into the treasury certain unexpended balances in his hands, under those heads of appropriation where his expenditures were short of the remittances made to him. By these warrants not a cent is taken out of the treasury or paid into it; the disbursing officer, in whose favor or upon whom they are drawn, is wholly ignorant of them. They result from a Treasury arrangement, and are said to be indispensably necessary in adjusting the accounts of the appropriation. If, however, any of the appropriations should be insufficient, so that these warrants of fictitious payment could not be drawn upon them without showing that the expenditures under them had exceeded the sum total of the appropriation, then the accounts of the disbursing agents must remain unsettled. It is believed that there are numerous accounts precisely in this situation, at this time, that have been so for some years past, and that such accounts can never be settled without the interposition of Congress.
These complex, fictitious operations, in the settlement of navy accounts, were unknown till the year 1809, and until then accounts could always be settled by the plain and simple rule of charging individuals with the amount of moneys placed in their hands for disbursement, and crediting them with the amount of their disbursements when properly vouched. The law of 1809, requiring that accounts shall be kept so as to be charged to the appropriations, renders these operations necessary in their adjustment, while it has greatly multiplied the forms, and increased the labor, without any advantage that the Commissioners can perceive.
That all disbursing agents should be required to account satisfactorily and promptly for all the moneys placed in their hands; that the forms of keeping, rendering, and settling their accounts should be so plain and intelligible as to be clearly understood, not by able accountants only, but by every member of the community (for every member has an interest in them,) are propositions which no one, it is presumed, will attempt to controvert. It has, we hope, been satisfactorily shown that the act of 1809 has not produced these effects; and a modification of that law, and of the act of the 1st May, 1820, heretofore recited, appears to be necessary in the accomplishment of results so desirable.
The Commissioners would recommend that the accounts be kept so as to show the cost of building ships, of repairing them, their annual cost in the service, and the cost of every authorized object or improvement; that the estimates be made so specific as to be distinctly understood, so that every appropriation shall be made with a thorough understanding as to the amount required for each object; that the power of transferring from one appropriation to another, as the exigencies of the service may render necessary, be committed to the President; that, at the commencement of every session of Congress, reports be made, showing the expenditures of the year, and the various objects to which the moneys appropriated shall have been applied.
If these suggestions, and those heretofore presented in this communication, relative to the organization of the different branches of the Department, and the duties appropriate to each branch, be approved, the board would further respectfully recommend that the appropriations for the navy be, hereafter, made under the following general heads, viz:
For pay and subsistence of the navy.
For building, repairing, and equipping vessels, including their wear and tear at sea, and ordnance, and ordnance stores.
For navy yards, docks, wharves, and all improvements therein. For provisions, medicines, and hospital stores.
For contingent expenses, such as transportation, traveling expenses, the purchase of books, maps, charts, chronometers, nautical instruments, and other articles necessary for the service, and not specifically provided for.
This arrangement would leave the first item, viz.: pay and subsistence of the navy, under the immediate direction of the Secretary of the Navy; the second, third, and fourth items would come under the immediate direction of the respective branches heretofore proposed; and the last item, viz: "contingent expenses," to be drawn upon by each, as such expenses should arise in each branch, until experience should inform us as to the probable amount required under each branch, when the appropriation might be divided into specific sums for each.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your most obedient servant,
Honorable John Branch,
Secretary of the Navy.