Page images
[graphic][merged small][merged small]

The Virginius, an American ship Aying the American flag, was seized near Jamaica by a Spanish man-of-war on October 31, 1873, because of the fact that the American vessel was transporting men and arms to aid the Cubans, who at that time were engaged in their Ten Years' War with Spain in an endeavor to throw off Spanish dominion. President Grant demanded from Spain the release of the ship, but the Spanish authorities in Cuba took matters into their own hands while negotiations were still under way, and shot the captain of the Virginius, 36 of its crew, and 12 of its passengers. The news of the massacre created great excitement in the United States, and for a time war with Spain seemed inevitable. Finally, however, the United States admitted that the vessel was flying the American fag illegally, and Spain disclaimed any intention to insult the American fag, and the incident became closed. (See Virginius, The, in Encyclopedic Index.)

property exacts implicit obedience to the requirements of the law, in the administration of the public service and rigid accountability in the expenditures therefor. It is submitted that a corresponding responsibility and obligation rest upon it to make the adequate appropriations to render possible such administration and tolerable such exaction. Anything short of an ample provision for a specified service is necessarily fraught with disaster to the public interests and is a positive injustice to those charged with its execution.

To appropriate and to execute are corresponding obligations and duties, and the adequacy of the former is the necessary measure of the efficiency of the execution.

In this eighth month of the present session of Congress-nearly one month of the fiscal year to which this appropriation applies having passed-I do not feel warranted in vetoing an absolutely necessary appropriation bill; but in signing it I deem it a duty to show where the responsibility belongs for whatever embarrassments may arise in the execution of the trust confided to me.


EXECUTIVE MANSION, July 31, 1876. To the Senate of the United States:

In response to the resolution of the Senate of July 20, 1876, calling upon the President to communicate to the Senate, if in his opinion not incompatible with the public interest, any information in regard to the slaughter of American citizens at Hamburg, S. C., I have the honor to submit the following inclosures, to wit:

No. 1. Letter of the 22d of July, 1876, from Governor D. H. Chamberlain, of South Carolina, to me.

No. 2. My reply thereto.

No. 3. Report of Hon. William Stone, attorney-general of South Carolina.

No. 4. Report of General H.W. Purvis, adjutant and inspector general of South Carolina.

No. 5. Copy of evidence taken before a coroner's jury investigating facts relating to the Hamburg massacre.

No. 6. Printed copy of statement by M. C. Butler, of South Carolina.

No. 7. Printed letter from the same to the editors of the Journal of Commerce.

No. 8. Copy of letter from Governor Chamberlain to the Hon. T. J. Robertson.

No. 9. An address to the American people by the colored citizens of Charleston, S. C.

No. 10. An address by a committee appointed at a convention of leading representatives of Columbia, S. C.

No. 11. Copy of letter of July 15, 1876, from the district attorney of Mississippi to the Attorney-General of the United States.

No. 12. Letter from same to same.

No. 13. Copy of report of a grand jury lately in session in Oxford, Miss.

These inclosures embrace all the information in my possession touching the late disgraceful and brutal slaughter of unoffending men at the town of Hamburg, S. C. My letter to Governor Chamberlain contains all the comments I wish to make on the subject. As allusion is made in that letter to the condition of other States, and particularly to Louisiana and Mississippi, I have added to the inclosures letters and testimony in regard to the lawless condition of a portion of the people of the latter State.

In regard to Louisiana affairs, murders and massacres of innocent men for opinion's sake or on account of color have been of too recent date and of too frequent occurrence to require recapitulation or testimony here. All are familiar with their horrible details, the only wonder being that so many justify them or apologize for them.

But recently a committee of the Senate of the United States visited the State of Mississippi to take testimony on the subject of frauds and violence in elections. Their report has not yet been made public, but I await its forthcoming with a feeling of confidence that it will fully sustain all that I have stated relating to fraud and violence in the State of Mississippi.


EXECUTIVE MANSION, August 11, 1876. To the Senate and House of Representatives:

I transmit herewith a telegram of the 5th of August instant from Lieutenant-General Sheridan to General Sherman, a letter of the 11th of the present month from General Sherman to the Secretary of War, and a letter from the latter of the same date to me, all setting forth the possible needs of the Army in consequence of existing hostilities.

I would strongly urge upon Congress the necessity for making some provision for a contingency which may arise during the vacation--for more troops in the Indian country than it is now possible to send.

It would seem to me to be much more economical and better to author. ize an increase of the present cavalry force by 2,500 privates, but if this is not deemed advisable, then that the President be authorized to call out not exceeding five regiments, 1,000 strong each, of volunteers, to serve for a period not exceeding six months.

Should this latter authority be given, I would not order out any vol. unteers unless in my opinion, based upon reports from the scene of war, I deemed it absolutely necessary, and then only the smallest number considered sufficient to meet the emergency.


EXECUTIVE MANSION, August 14, 1876. To the House of Representatives:

In affixing my signature to the river and harbor bill, No. 3822, I deem it my duty to announce to the House of Representatives my objections to some features of the bill, and the reason' I sign it. If it was obligatory upon the Executive to expend all the money appropriated by Congress, I should return the river and harbor bill with my objections, notwithstanding the great inconvenience to the public interests resulting therefrom and the loss of expenditures from previous Congresses upon incompleted works. Without enumerating, many appropriations are made for works of purely private or local interest, in no sense national. I can not give my sanction to these, and will take care that during my term of office no public money shall be expended upon them.

There is very great necessity for economy of expenditures at this time, growing out of the loss of revenue likely to arise from a deficiency of appropriations to insure a thorough collection of the same. The reduction of revenue districts, diminution of special agents, and total abolition of supervisors may result in great falling off of the revenue. It may be a question to consider whether any expenditure can be authorized under the river and harbor appropriation further than to protect works already done and paid for. Under no circumstances will I allow expenditures upon works not clearly national.


WASHINGTON, August 14, 1876. To the House of Representatives:

In announcing, as I do, that I have attached my signature of official approval to the "Act making appropriations for the consular and diplomatic service of the Government for the year ending June 30, 1877, and for other purposes,” it is my duty to call attention to a provision in the act directing that notice be sent to certain of the diplomatic and consular officers of the Government “to close their offices."

In the literal sense of this direction it would be an invasion of the constitutional prerogatives and duty of the Executive.

By the Constitution the President “shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint, ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls," etc.

It is within the power of Congress to grant or witlihold appropriation of money for the payment of salaries and expenses of the foreign representatives of the Government.

In the early days of the Government a sum in gross was appropriated, leaving it to the Executive to determine the grade of the officers and the countries to which they should be sent.

Latterly, for very many years, specific sums have been appropriated for designated missions or employments, and as a rule the omission by Congress to make an appropriation for any specific port has heretofore been accepted as an indication of a wish on the part of Congress which the executive branch of the Government respected and complied with.

In calling attention to the passage which I have indicated I assume that the intention of the provision is only to exercise the constitutional prerogative of Congress over the expenditures of the Government and to fix a time at which the compensation of certain diplomatic and consular officers shall cease, and not to invade the constitutional rights of the Executive, which I should be compelled to resist; and my present object is not to discuss or dispute the wisdom of failing to appropriate for several offices, but to guard against the construction that might possibly be placed on the language used, as implying a right in the legislative branch to direct the closing or discontinuing of any of the diplomatic or consular offices of the Government.


[For message of August 15, 1876, withdrawing objections to Senate bill No. 779, see p. 4342.]

WASHINGTON, August 15, 1876. To the Senate of the United States:

I transmit to the Senate, in answer to its resolution of the 24th ultimo, a report from the Secretary of State, with its accompanying statement.*



EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 3, 1876. To the House of Representatives:

I have the honor to return herewith without my approval House bill No. 1561, entitled "An act transferring the custody of certain Indian trust funds from the Secretary of the Interior to the Treasurer of the United States," for the reasons set forth in the accompanying communication from the Secretary of the Interior.



Washington, February 2, 1876. SIR: I acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 29th ultimo, transmitting House bill No. 1561 and requesting this Department to report whether any objections to its becoming a law are known to exist.

Aggregate number of civil officers in or connected with the Department of State from 1859 to 1875, inclusive.

« PreviousContinue »