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[See p. 701.]
January 21, 1857.
(Senate Report No. 315.) Mr. Fish made the following report:
The Committee on Foreign Relations, to whom was referred the memorial of Auton L. C. Portman, late clerk to Commodore M. C. Perry, while in command of the East India Squadron, praying additional compensation for his services as Dutch interpreter during the negotiations with the Japanese authorities, have had the same under consideration, and now report:
That it appears from the memorial that Mr. Portman was the clerk of Commodore M. C. Perry while in command of the East India Squadron, and during the negotiations with the Japanese authorities acted as Dutch interpreter for the United States; that owing to the refusal of the Japanese ministers to conduct the negotiations in the Chinese language a large amount of interpreting and translating was thrown upon and discharged by the memorialist; that the only compensation received by him for those delicate and responsible duties was the salary of $500 per annum, at which he was rated on the books of the ship; and he therefore asks that such additional compensation shall be now allowed him as, together with that heretofore received, shall be proportionate to the importance of the services rendered.
The statements of the memorial are supported by the certificates of Commodore M. C. Perry, commanding, and Capts. Henry H. Adams, Sidney S. Lee, and Franklin Buchanan, attached to the expedition.
From the report of Commodore Perry in relation to that expedition it appears that the time employed in conducting his negotiations with the Japanese Government embraced a period of a little less than one year, during which, it is reasonable to presume, the memorialist was required, in addition to his regular duties as clerk, also to perform those of interpreter.
In reply to a letter of inquiry addressed by the committee to the Navy Department, the Secretary, under date of July 16, 1856, says:
Clerks in the naval service are appointed by officers entitled to them, with the sanction of the Department. My impression has always been that in selecting their secretaries and clerks the commodores endeavored to secure such as could aid them in their correspondence by their attainments in different languages. I am not aware of any precedent for extra pay on account of translating or interpreting performed by their clerks.
Whilst the committee are disposed to concur with the Secretary of the Navy in the opinion here indicated, that for the ordinary translating and interpreting incident to their position clerks in the naval service should not be entitled to receive extra compensation, yet they can not but regard the present case as resting upon entirely different grounds. Mr. Portman's duties as interpreter in the conduct and negotiation of a treaty between our Government and that distant and secluded Empire involved much and delicate responsibility. They were beyond and additional to his regular duties as clerk to the commodore, and for their performance he is, in the opinion of the committee, properly entitled to additional compensation.
In estimating the amount of additional compensation, the committee are of opinion that $1,000 would be just and reasonable. They therefore report a bill in his favor for that amount, and recommend its passage.
S. Doc. 231, pt 3—44
[See pp. 706, 721.]
January 21, 1857.
[Senate Report No. 316.)
Mr. Fish made the following report:
The Committee on Foreign Relations, to whom was referred the memorial of John H. Wheeler, esq., late minister resident of the United States at Granada, praying the reimbursement of expenses incurred by him for the relief of American citizens in distress in that country, have had the same under consideration, and now report:
The memorial sets forth that a party of American citizens, while crossing the Isthmus en route from California to New York, were attacked by the natives at Virgin Bay, on the lake of Nicaragua, on the 19th of October, 1855. Some of them were killed, others wounded and robbed. That another party of hostile natives, strongly armed, were at the same time collected at San Carlos, on the other side of the lake, who had also fired upon passengers going by that place. Thus hemmed in by hostile forces on each side of the lake, and cut off from the means of access to gither ocean, they were compelled to resort to Granada and apply to the memorialist, then minister resident of the United States at that place, for protection and such other relief as they required. That the memorialist promptly afforded them the protection and relief asked for, procured comfortable quarters, and supplied them, to the number of 250, with food for two days and nights. That during their stay at Granada two of their number died and were buried, and on their departure three had to be left behind on account of their wounds.
These statements are fully supported by the affidavit of Dr. W. E. Rust, one of the said party, and also by that of Joseph N. Scott, general agent of the Accessory Transit Company across the Isthmus, who adds that the memorialist “freely gave his time, money, house, and clothes to his suffering countrymen, as some of them were robbed of everything by the enemy at Virgin Bay."
It further appears that the memorialist applied to the Department of State for the reimbursement of those expenses, to which application the Secretary replies, under date of February 5, 1856, that “this Department has no fund from which it is authorized to reimburse such expenditures. Although inconvenience and hardship may be the result of this inability to replace the funds which our diplomatic representatives often advance out of their private means for the relief of their distressed fellow-citizens in foreign countries, the Department has no mode of relief at command, and can only suggest an application to Congress for such aid as the circumstances warrant."
The amount claimed by the memorialist is but $500, which seems to be quite moderate, and barely adequate to cover the actual expenses incurred; and whilst the committee are unwilling to recommend the adoption of a policy that might encourage our representatives abroad in indiscriminate or wasteful application of charities, under the expectation of reimbursement by the Government at home, yet the peculiar circumstances of this case are such as, in their judgment, to entitle the memorialist to the very small amount of relief asked for. They therefore report a bill in his favor, and recommend its passage.
[See pp. 665,721.]
February 5, 1857.
[Senate Report No. 359.) Mr. Pratt made the following report:
The Committee on Foreign Relations, to whom was referred the resolution of the Senate of the 19th December, 1856, with the accompanying papers, relative to the claim of John P. Brown, principal interpreter of the Turkish language to the United States legation at Constantinople, for additional compensation for diplomatic and judicial services performed by him at various intervals during the years 1838, 1839, 1852, and 1854, have had the same under consideration, and report:
The Secretary of State, to whom the resolution was referred by the committee for information, in his reply, dated January 30, 1857, says:
As to the services of Mr. Brown as chargé d'affaires from the 11th of April, 1838, to the 19th of July, 1839; from the 30th of July, 1852, to the 5th of July, 1853, and from the 19th of December, 1853, to the 31st of January, 1854, the records of this Department show that during those periods he was left in charge of the legation, and that he performed the duties devolved upon him in a manner satisfactory to this Government.
In regard to the claim for compensation for judicial services under the act of August 11, 1848, the Secretary adds: “That act has never been construed by the Executive as intending to allow diplomatic agents and consuls in Turkey compensation for such services.”
Concurring with the Secretary in his construction of the act of August 11, 1848, the committee are of opinion that Mr. Brown is not entitled to the compensation claimed by him for judicial services during the several periods named in his accounts; and they therefore recommend that that portion of his claim be disallowed. The claim for diplomatic services, however, stands upon different grounds, and being fully supported by the records of the Department of State, entitles him, in the opinion of the committee, to the difference between the compensation heretofore received by him as principal interpreter and that allowed to a chargé d'affaires of the United States. They therefore report a bill in his favor for that amount, and recommend its passage.
February 25, 1857.
(Senate Report No. 420.] Mr. Weller made the following report:
The Committee on Foreign Relations, to whom was referred the memorial of Charles S. Todd, late United States minister to Russia, praying that he may be allowed the amount of certain items which were disallowed by the Department in the settlement of his accounts, have had the same under consideration, and now report:
It appears from the memorial that in the settlement of Mr. Todd's accounts, after his return to the United States, the following items were disallowed, viz: 1. This sum, paid for printed books, consisting of McCulloch's Commer
cial Dictionary, Arrowsmith's Atlas, Vattel's Law of Nations, Wheaton's International Law, American Almanac, Edinburg and Quarterly Reviews, maps of Europe and America. Wheaton's Right of Search, Westminster Review, and Life of General Harrison, amount ing to the sum of
$78.84 2. For one-half of the expenses paid by him for the Government steamer from Cronstadt to St. Petersburg, on his arrival
$22. 20 3. This sum, expended by him at benevolent concerts given by Count Brenkendoff and Princess Galitzin
21.50 4. For overcharges in bringing the currencies of Russia and Hamburg into dollars and cents
46. 40 5. For payment made by John Miller, of London, and included in his account against the legation. t) John Samson
5.32 6. For attending the baptism of the infant duke at Zurko, the imperial village, 15 miles from the capital
12.17 7. For expenses of attending military reviews, etc
324, 36 8. For overdraft on the London bankers on account of salary
572.03 9. For expenses of office rent, heating and lighting the chancery, and wages of an office messenger
2, 471.80 In support of the first item above named, the memorialist states that upon taking charge of the legation at St. Petersburg he found the library destitute of all the books and maps therein specified, with the exception of a worn-out copy of Vattel's Law of Nations, and that the bod ks, maps, etc., purchased by him for the use of the legation were necessary for the proper performance of its duties, and on his return to the United States were left by him for that purpose.
In support of the second, third, sixth, and seventh items, the memorialist shows that the expenses thus incurred were rendered necessary in compliance with the etiquette of the Russian capital, and that a failure to observe that etiquette would have materially lessened the efficiency of our minister at that court.
The eighth item, which was for his salary from the day on which he had audience of leave with the Emperor until the day of his departure from St. Petersburg, is supported by a reference to precedents in the cases of Mr. Dallas, one of his predecessors at the Russian court, 1839, and of Mr. Cass, our minister at Paris, in 1812, in both of which cases the salaries continued for some weeks after the audience of leave.
In reference to the ninth and last item the memorialist shows that an office was necessary for the preservation of the public archives and for the proper transaction of the duties of the legation; that on account of the territorial extent of the city of St. Petersburg the services of a messenger were indispensable to the legation, and further, that similar allowances are made for the missions at London and Paris, at both of which courts the expense of living is far less than it is at St. Petersburg.
The Secretary of State, to whom the memorial was referred by the committee for information as to the facts set forth therein, under cover of a letter, dated 24th of January, 1847, inclosed a statement from the Fifth Auditor's office, setting forth the several items disallowed in the settlement of Mr. Todd's account, with the reasons therefor, and also copies of letters from Messrs. Webster, Upshur, and Buchanan, while they respectively held the office of Secretary of State, together with a copy of a circular letter from the Department of State, dated July 25, 1845.
From a careful examination of these several documents, and a comparison with statements of the contingent expenses of our foreign missions, contained in the published executive documents, it would appear that such allowances have heretofore been made to depend upon no determinate rule, but rather upon the existence of such peculiar circumstances in each case as in the judgment of the Secretary for the time being justilied them.
In the opinion of the committee the books and maps embraced in the first item were, under the circumstances, essentially necessary to the legation at St. Petersburg; and having been purchased by the memorialist for that purpose, and left by him on his return to the United States for the use of the legation, it is but just that the amount thus expended by him for the public benefit should be reimbursed.
The committee are also of opinion that the amount of expenses embraced in the second, third, sixth, and seventh items, resulting from a compliance with the etiquette of the Russian court, necessary to the efficiency of our minister there, and involving additional charges, should be allowed. And further, that the charge for office rent, heating and lighting the chancery, and wages of a messenger, are, under the circumstances, just and reasonable, and should also be allowed.
In reference to the charge for loss in exchange embraced in the fourth item, the Secretary of State, in the letter above mentioned, says:
That actual losses by exchange are allowed by the accounting officers of the Treasury on the rendition of accounts and vouchers to sustain such charges.
And with regard to the charge contained in the fifth item, it appears, from the statement of the Fifth Auditor, above referred to, that it was not rejected, but only suspended for want of satisfactory explanation. As no special legislation seems to be requisite in order to a proper settlement of the two last mentioned items, the committee deem it best to leave them to the action of the Department under existing laws and regulations, without any legislative instruction.
With regard to the charge embraced in the eighth item, the Secretary of State, in the letter above mentioned, says:
The general rule as to the termination of the salaries of ministers is, that they are to cease on the day of the audience of leave. If that rule has been departed from in particular cases, it has been on account of some peculiar circumstances attending them.
In this case the existence of such peculiar circumstances is not sufficiently clear to the minds of the committee to justify them in overruling the action of the Department, and consequently they are not prepared to recommend its allowance.
In accordance with the views above presented, the committee report a bill authorizing the settlement of the accounts of the memorialist, and the allowance of the charges embraced in the first, second, third, sixth, seventh, and ninth items, above mentioned, and recommend its passage.
[See p. 695.]
February 28, 1857.
(Senate Report No. 432.]
Mr. Weller made the following report:
The Committee on Foreign Relations, to whom was referred the petition of Frederick A. Beelen, secretary of the United States legation to Chile, praying to be allowed the difference between his present salary, $1,500 per annum, and $2,000 per annum, from July 1, 1855, to January 1, 1857, have had the same under consideration and now report:
It appears from the petition that in August, 1854, Mr. Beelen was appointed secretary to the legation of the United States in Chile, with