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compelled to receive certificates of indebtedness that would not sell in the market at par, what, in addition to the cash market price, would you consider should be added? — Ans. From five to ten per cent, I should think."

"Cross-Question 50. Upon a Government contract, to run three months or one year, with a reservation of twenty per cent, a bid being made which amounts to a refusal for twenty or thirty days, and subject to terms of Government payment, what would you consider a fair addition to the cash market price on a sale to the Government? Ans. At least ten per cent."

“Cross-Question 52. Among Boston merchants what is the character of the house of Smith Brothers & Co. for integrity and fair dealing? -- Ans. A No. 1."

Such is the testimony of a Government witness. In the face of this testimony, concurring with the reason of the case, it is hard to tolerate the allegation against these respondents founded on price. Indeed, it is hard to tolerate the allegation on any ground.

Under these seven heads, this whole case, so far as concerns the contract for tin, may be considered. It appears that the loss to the United States, from the delivery of Revely instead of what is called Banca, was not more than one hundred dollars in a mass of transactions amounting to more than one million two hundred thousand dollars; that, according to extensive and long-continued usage, Revely is included under Banca; that, according to usage at the Navy Yard, it was treatanca; that the whole transaction and the delivery were open and without any concealment that Revely was actually accepted by the officers of the Government in performance of the contract; that the respondents never expected to supply other than Revely; and,

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lastly, that the price paid shows that Revely was intended. This is enough. I forbear to go into the evidence of founders and plumbers, derived from experience, of assayers and chemists, derived from analysis of the two tins, and also of business men, as to their comparative value, for all this is superfluous. To charge fraud against the respondents under such circumstances is cruel, irrational, preposterous. Their conduct cannot be tortured or twisted into fraud. As well undertake to spin sunbeams into cables, or extract oil from Massachusetts granite.

It is difficult to imagine the origin of these unfortunate proceedings, which, beginning in unheard-of harshness, threaten to end in unexampled injustice, unless arrested by the President. But there are certain facts which may shed light upon some of the hidden springs. Nobody supposes that the able and candid Head of the Navy Department became acquainted with this prosecution until after it had been already conceived, shaped, and set in motion. Others in the Department used its great powers, if not for purposes of oppression, at least recklessly and unaccountably.

It appears that Franklin W. Smith, one of the respondents, published a pamphlet, in which he exposed abuses in the contract system of the Navy Department; and it is understood that sundry officials felt aggrieved by these disclosures. The spirit of these officials appears sufficiently in the following extract from a letter of a Government witness, holding an important. position in the Navy Department, addressed to another witness, himself also an official.

"I have been summoned before the Select Committee of the Senate for investigating frauds in Naval Supplies; and

if the wool don't fly, it won't be my fault. Norton, the Navy Agent, has complained that I have interfered with his business he and his friend Smith are dead cocks in the pit. We have got a sure thing on them in the tin business. They that dance must pay the fiddler."

The writer of this letter, after appearing before the Senate Committee at a later day, came on from Washington to appear before the court-martial at Charlestown as a witness against the respondents, where he underwent a cross-examination on which I forbear to comment. If the prosecution did not originate in the spirit which fills his letter, it is evident that this spirit entered into it. "If the wool don't fly, it won't be my fault"; "Dead cocks in the pit"; "A sure thing on them in the tin business": such are the countersigns adopted by the agent of this dark proceeding, showing clearly two things: first, the foregone conclusion, that these respondents were to be sacrificed; and, secondly, that the case turned on "the tin business."

It is hard that citizens enjoying a good name, who had the misfortune to come into business relations with the Government, should be exposed to such a spirit; that they should be dragged from their homes, and hurried to a military prison; that, though civilians, they should be treated as military offenders; that they should be compelled to undergo a protracted trial by courtmartial, damaging their good name, destroying their peace, breaking up their business, and subjecting them. to untold expense, when, at the slightest touch, the whole case vanishes into thin air, leaving behind nothing but the incomprehensible spirit in which it had its origin.

Of course, the findings and sentence of the Court

ought, without delay, to be set aside. But this is only the beginning of justice. Some positive reparation should be made to citizens who have been so deeply injured.


WASHINGTON, March 17, 1865.


The President promptly overruled the judgment and sentence. The result was received with manifestations of joy. The defendants, whose cruel prosecution had been protracted for six months, had an ovation in the congratulations of their friends and fellow-citizens. Strangers at a distance, feeling that public liberty had suffered through them, sent their sympathy. The press gave expression to the prevailing sentiment. Nor was Mr. Sumner forgotten. The defendants made haste by telegraph to say: "Accept the lasting gratitude of Smith Brothers, their families, and their many friends." Others wrote in the same spirit, as, for instance, J. C. Hoadley, of New Bedford, who, though not knowing the sufferers, said: "I thank you, in the name of all fair dealing, for your opinion upon the case of Franklin W. Smith"; and John Clark, who, having been connected with the press in Boston, had passed into the public service, wrote from Norfolk :

"Will you permit me to thank you for your able exposition of the case of the Smith Brothers? I do not know those parties; but I am interested in public liberty, and I have seen no abler defender of it, since the beginning of the war, than you have shown yourself to be on this occasion. I thank you, Sir."

From these expressions it appears that the effort of Mr. Sumner was regarded as not only a defence of the individual citizen, but a contribution to good government. The testimony of Mr. Clark was of the more value, as he had not been accustomed to sympathize with Mr. Sumner in his public course.

Independent of its character, this case has an incidental interest. It was one of the last, if not the last, having a personal relation, that ever occupied the mind of President Lincoln. His indorsement, overruling the judgment and sentence, bears date March 18th. This was Saturday. Meanwhile the Rebellion was about to fall, and the President left Washington, by boat, Thursday, March 23d, for City Point, the headquarters of the Army of Virginia, where he remained till after the

surrender of Richmond, returning to Washington Sunday evening, April 9th, and being assassinated Friday evening, April 14th.

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Some circumstances associated with this case help exhibit the character of the President. They will be stated briefly. As soon as Mr. Sumner had prepared his Opinion, he hurried to the President. It was late in the afternoon, and the latter was about entering his carriage for a drive, when Mr. Sumner arrived with the papers in his hand. He at once mentioned the result he had reached, and added that it was a case for instant action. The President proposed that he should return the next day, when he would consider it with him. Mr. Sumner rejoined, that, in his opinion, the President ought, not to sleep on the case, that he should interfere promptly for the relief of innocent fellow-citizens, and urged, that, if Abraham Lincoln had suffered unjust imprisonment as a criminal, with degradation before his neighbors, an immense bill of expense, a trial by court-martial, and an unjust condemnation, he would cry out against any postponement of justice for a single day. The President, apparently impressed by Mr. Sumner's earnestness and his personal appeal, appointed eleven o'clock that evening, when he would go over the case, and hear Mr. Sumner's Opinion.

Accordingly, at eleven o'clock that evening, in the midst of a thunder-storm, filling the streets with water, and threatening chimneys, Mr. Sumner made his way to the Presidential mansion. At the very hour named he was received, and at the request of the President proceeded to read his Opinion. The latter listened attentively, with occasional comments, and at the close showed his sympathy with the respondents. It was now twenty minutes after midnight, when the President said that he would write his conclusion at once, and that Mr. Sumner must come and hear it the next morning, "when I open shop," said he. "And when do you open shop?" Mr. Sumner inquired. "At nine o'clock," was the reply. At that hour Mr. Sumner was in the office he had left after midnight, when the President came running in, and read at once the indorsement in his own handwriting, as follows:

"I am unwilling for the sentence to stand and be executed, to any extent, in this case. In the absence of a more adequate motive than the evidence discloses, I am wholly unable to believe in the existence of criminal or fraudulent intent on the part of one of such well-established good character as is the accused. If the evidence went as far toward establishing a guilty profit of one or two hundred thousand dollars, as it does of one or two hundred dollars, the case would, on the question of guilt, bear a far

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