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to be considered by the committee, and a re- strange thing, as the Senator from New York port made on it.”
has said, that year after year by our own laws Mr. Logan: “A matter of this kind certainly we have declared that the only public servants every Senator in the Chamber is just as familiar not fit to be trusted in communicating with with as the Committee on Post-Offices and Post- the people about public affairs are Senators and Roads. This is a mere resolution authorizing Representatives. · A head of department, any Senators and Representatives and Delegates to of the department clerks, everybody in the frank official letters sent to their constituents executive service of the country is thought by them. That is what it embraces. How can worthy to be trusted to communicate concernthe committee give any more information on ing public affairs with everybody else through it than there is in the resolution ?"
the advantage of the mails, it costing the United Mr. Davis, of West Virginia : “I appeal to States nothing to carry the free communicathe Senator to allow the reference to be made; tions except on a very few routes. It is true but if he prefers not, I reckon we had just that the postage that you would force Senators as well take a test vote on it, and therefore and Members and citizens to pay, and which I move that the joint resolution be referred otherwise they would not pay, is so much loss to the Committee on Post-Offices and Post- to the accumulated taxation of the people. Roads."
That is true; but I think that every cent that Mr. Logan: “I move, as an amendment to you lose in allowing a citizen to send to any that motion, that the committee be instructed Senator a letter on any subject of public conto report back immediately."
cern—and we all know that ninety-nine hunMr. Conkling, of New York: “I have no dredths of these letters are about subjects of objection to a reference of this resolution to public concern-is ten thousand times counterthe Committee on Post-Offices and Post-Roads; balanced by the advantage that there is to a but if it is to be referred I agree with the Sen- country constituted like ours in this absolutely ator from Illinois that it should be with a di- free intercommunication. Therefore I am not rection of the Senate that it shall come back afraid of the opinions of my constituents or presently, a direction which I can not doubt anybody else on such a subject. The present is proper; and I say that for this reason: the course of procedure is very unjust to Senators whole question is whether we want the legis- and Members. Every chairman of a committee lation of Congress to so continue that every in respect of the absolute performance of his clerk in a post-office, every clerk in a depart- duties is taxed day by day. When I had the ment from the head clerk of that department honor to be chairman of the Committee on the down, may send through the mails matters of Judiciary, I found that I was taxed to the expublic business, while at the same time the tent of several dollars a week, and I have no members of this body and of the House of Rep- doubt my friend from Ohio [Mr. Thurman) is resentatives shall be compelled to defray each now to a large sum, in paying postage in refrom his own pocket the great volume of post- spect to matters that we had no more indiage which is borne upon communications com- vidual concern in than a resident of France, but ing from the soldiers, the sailors, the widows, that the public had concern in. I am in favor the beneficiaries under the pension acts, and of this reference and for an immediate report, other persons who send letters not touching in order that the committee may consider our business but their business. That is the whether they shall not extend this right-I whole question.”
would not call it a privilege ; rather a right and Mr. Edmunds, of Vermont: "I think that a duty-to all the correspondents of Senators the idea in a republic like ours that the rep- and members of Congress; or if they think resentatives of the people are to be taxed it unfit to do that, to be careful to define the for communicating with them about any mat- word 'official' in some way, so that we can ter of public concern, whether you call it honorably and honestly understand it all alike official business or political business, is wrong. as to what is covered by what is called 'offiI believe the more you can encourage the cial business of Senators. I do not know prepeople by carrying their letters and commu- cisely what that would mean." nications to members of Congress from and Mr. Eaton, of Connecticut: “Mr. President, I upon all possible subjects, the more good you have no doubt about the propriety of this resodo to republican government and the dissem- Jution. I have been paying postage, as my friend ination of intelligence upon which it rests. from Vermont says he has been. I have done Therefore I have always voted against the it to-day and every other day, as well as I can abolition of the franking privilege, so called, remember, for a long time past; but after the and always voted in favor of its restoration, remarks which have been made here, is there and I mean to do it again. We all under- any necessity to instruct the committee? In stand how this notion of abolishing it got up. my judgment the committee will report as A few great city papers started it because they speedily as possible.” thought they would increase their circulation Mr. Thurman, of Ohio: “Mr. President, I by cutting off as far as possible communication have a little delicacy in speaking on this subbetween Members and Senators at the capital ject. My political life is so nearly at an end and distant parts of the country; and it is a that it might be supposed I was interfering
with those who are to remain here. But I and hundreds of thousands under the official can not forbear making a remark.
frank of a department ?". “ The franking privilege was taken away be Mr. Logan: “What has that got to do cause it was so flagrantly abused. If there had with official communications from the departnever been any abuse of that privilege, it never ments ?" would have been taken away. It was really Mr. Thurman: “I should say that was an misnamed a privilege ; that is, in the sense of abuse of the privilege." being a privilege of the members of Congress. Mr. Conkling : " That was under the law as It was the privilege of the people far more it stands now." than of any member of Congress. It enabled Mr. Garland, of Arkansas : "Mr. President, the people to receive what they otherwise so far as the principle of the resolution is conwould not have received, in the form of docu- cerned, as I understand it, I indorse it; for, in ments and other information of the workings brief, I think that Senators and Representand doings of the Government. It was the atives ought to be entitled to the franking people's privilege, and not the privilege of the privilege upon all official business sent through members of Congress. But it was flagrantly the mails by them. But this subject is like abused, and when I say that I speak with some most other subjects, the more it is considered knowledge on the subject and do not let any- the larger it grows. I once heard a soldier body suppose that I am going to make a con say as to the beef they got in the army, that fession, for I am not conscious that I ever did the more they chewed it the thicker it got; so abuse it myself—but it was so flagrantly abused the more we masticate this subject the larger that there was a demand, and I believe both it seems to get. political parties had a sort of struggle with “ The joint resolution proposes to make an each other who could go the farthest in advo- addition to a regulation that already exists. It cating the repeal of that privilege.
would necessarily form a portion, either by an “ Some years ago (I will not say what year addition or an amendment of some character, it was, but it was the year of a presidential of the postal laws that now exist in the United election) I was passing, in the recess of Con- States. I am in favor of the Committee on gress, through one of the corridors of this Capi- Post-Offices and Post-Roads taking the joint tol, and seeing three or four hundred people at resolution and incorporating its theory in the work, sending off all sorts of matter, I asked a present existing laws and modifying it further, friend of mine, the chairman of the committee and in their own good time reporting it back under whom these men were working, ‘Won't to the Senate. In the first place the existing you give me one of those bundles that you law provides that, have put up there, and let me see what kind “Senators, Representatives, and Delegates in Conof food you are sending off to the people ?' gress, the Secretary of the Senate, and Clerk of the
Why, certainly,' said be, and he told one of House of Representatives may send and receive through them, "Give Mr. Thurman one of those bun- the mail free all public documents printed by order of dles.' He gave it to me and I have it yet, and tive, Delegate, Secretary of the Senate, and Clerk of
Congress; and the name of each Senator, RepresentaI could show that it contained not one single the House shall be written thereon, with the proper line of frankable matter; and furthermore, that designation of the office he holds, and the provisions in the case of one man whose frank appeared of this section shall apply to each of the persons upon it, it was written in four different hand- named herein until the first Monday of December writings, showing that four different clerks following the expiration of their respective terms of had been writing that man's name, and that
" There is one provision in reference to conman, as I know, was not less than five hundred miles from this Capitol at that time."
gressional documents. Then there is a provisMr. Logan : "At the time the law was re
ion relating to the Agricultural Department, pealed, it was done at the dictation of a few
as to how Senators and Representatives may newspapers of the country and of a Postmas- transmit seeds, etc., through the mails. Then ter-General, who sent out instructions to every
we have the ‘Congressional Record' and expostmaster in the United States to have a peti- tracts from that, which go free: tion signed and sent to Congress to repeal the “The 'Congressional Record,' or any part thereof, law, and the postmasters were instructed to or speeches or reports therein contained, shall, under get names to these petitions. That was the the frank of a member of Congress, or Delegate, to be
written by himself, be carried in the mail free of postway it came to be stricken from the statute
age under such regulations as the Postmaster-General book, and it was not for the reason assigned may prescribe. by the Senator from Ohio."
“ That by the laws is put under regulations Mr. Thurman : " Has the Senator never heard of the speech of a distinguished mem
to be prescribed by the Postmaster-General. ber of the Government made to his constit- Now, we have gone further, and provided uents, a political speech ? "
that letters, etc., on Government business may
free: Mr. Logan: “I have heard of many of that
" It shall be lawful to nit through the mail, Mr. Thurman: “Of one that was sent, as it ters relating exclusively to the business of the Gov
free of postage, any letters, packages, or other matwas stated in the newspapers, by thousands ernment of the United States : Provided, That every
such letter or package to entitle it to pass free shall “I recollect in the course of my reading to bear over the words official business' an indorsement have seen that it was once a very grave quesshowing also the name of the department, and, if from a bureau or office, the names of the department tion before one of the courts of England whethand bureau or office, as the case may be, whence er a turkey came within the designation of a transmitted.
bird, and after a long argument and long ex“What I have read embraces the features in amination it was solemnly decided that a turreference to free postage. The difficulty in the key came within the classification of the word proposition of the Senator from Illinois, it oc- bird.' It is possible some one might doubt as curs to me, is that it is too loose, it is too liable to whether, if I was writing to my constituents to misconstruction ; in other words, it is not about a peck of oats, that could be deemed offisufficiently guarded in its language to make it cial business.' I might feel inclined, for the safe. We have heard from several Senators purpose of self-protection, to say it was ofwho have been in the Senate longer than I ficial business, but the Senator from Missouri have of abuses under these sections that I have or the Senator from Tennessee miglit not think just read as to letters, etc., on Government busi- so.” ness. In order to make it, in common phrase, Mr. Conkling: “Will the Senator allow me the more binding, the protection is to require to make an inquiry? Am I right in supposing an indorsement of the words official business' that he stated that speeches which are not a upon the matter, and there it ends with the part of the Congressional Record,' not made signature of the person or persons sending it in Congress, go free through the mail ?” or a stamp showing that. If all the abuses Mr. Garland : “I say I have received under existed in reference to this feature that were these superscriptions pamphlets of different indicated by the Senator from Ohio [Mr. Thur- kinds that it did not occur to me referred to man), and the Senator from Vermont (Mr. Ed- any particular official business or any legislamunds), what may we not expect under the tion in Congress or pending before either utmost scrutiny in the way of abuses under House." this pbraseology indicated by the Senator from Mr. Conkling : “But speeches?” Illinois ?”
Mr. Garland : "Speeches." Mr. Blair, of New Hampshire : “Does the Mr. Conkling: “Speeches not made in ConSenator from Arkansas mean to be understood gress?" that we receive under franks speeches not Mr. Garland: “Speeches not made in Conmade in Congress ? ”
gress; a speech made, for instance, before the Mr. Garland : Yes, speeches and docu- Bankers' Association in New York.” ments, and pamphlets of various kinds." Mr. Conkling: “Mr. President, if I under
Mr. Blair: “Under the frank of members stand the Senator from Arkansas aright, he of Congress ? "
says that he himself has received through the Mr. Garland : “No, but under this section mail communications covered by the official 249 from governmental officers. There is no frank of the executive officers of the Governone to determine whether the matter is official ment, which communications contained no business' or not, or what kind of official busi- public or cial business, but speeches made ness it is. In the section which I have just by somebody-I did not hear by whom-and read allowing the indorsement of the super- not made in either House of Congress. Do I scription official business' upon official en- understand and report the Senator aright?” velopes signed by the head of a department, Mr. Garland: “ The Senator from New or a clerk in the office sending them, no one York quotes me with litoral correctness, with is provided to determine whether they are on this exception: that so far as I could see they 'official business.' This joint resolution in re- pertained to no official business and no matter gard to Representatives or Senators uses the of legislation pending in either House of Consame words official business. It is possible gress.' that neither the Senator from Illinois nor any Mr. Conkling: “Mr. President, if a stinging other Senator could go into enacting a law so commentary, if a sharp and thorough criticism as to define specifically what is meant by 'offi- upon the absurdity of the law as it now stands cial business,' and what particular letters would were needed or possible, the Senator from come under that characterization. To protect Arkansas has pronounced that cominentary. against that in the matter of the 'Record’it Here are provisions under which any and is provided that that shall be sent under regu- every clerk in the Post-Office Department and lations prescribed by the Postmaster-General; in every other department; every postmaster, but here this is left without any protection. every deputy-postmaster, every postmistress, It is not worth while for a Senator to say that every deputy-postmistress, every man, woman, we all know what official business' is, be- and child, as far as I know, engaged in concause we know in the practice of the law that ducting the public business, may determine words very simple in every-day use and com- each by himself or herself at the time that it mon acceptation, when they are to be inter- is 'official business,' place upon mail-matter a preted in law sometimes mean very different frank which exempts it from postage and carthings, and are sometimes construed to be very ries it free through the mail wherever the mail different from their plain meaning.
goes on land or sea, or inland on water or on
horse, wagon, or stage-coach. How is this mail - matter to which he has referred was done? Not by the sign-manual of the person, transmitted throngh the mail. not as the honorable Senator from Illinois is “Mr. President, I submit that if a condition compelled to frank, what he is not privileged of things could exist which would show plainly to frank, but compelled frank in the course and clearly the peremptory and urgent duty of of his duty, by putting his name broadly upon changing this condition of the statute, here it it and the title of his office, so that everybody is. If any Senator will affirm by a bill that may know exactly the individual from whom the franking privilege should be cut off altothat frank comes, but by placing upon it a gether, that there shall be a special account of printed stamp as good in the hands of one man postage in every department, that each shall as in the hands of another, a stamp which like pay its postage and have it charged to that money has no color, and leaves no track and fund, so be it. I will not say I will vote for no trace.
it, but I say it will be respectable compar“I believe the Senator from Vermont (Mr. atively; but to leave the law to stand as it Edmunds] said that the men who make the does now, to leave the Senator from Illinois laws are picked out as the only public ser to be mulcted because he happens to come vants unsate to be trusted with franking offi- from a large and populous State, and because cial matter; and they whose business is, not he happens to bave been a distinguished milieven to interpret the laws but only to ex- tary otficer, which leads pensioners naturally ecute them, and that not only in the highest to resort to him over the country-to leave but in the most paltry function, they en masse, him to be mulcted at the rate of ten dollars a not some of them, but all of them without ex- week to pay out of his own pocket, not bis ception, are denoted by the law as safe and own but official postage, while every head of proper trustees and custodians of this franking a department is furnished with official stamps power. And then, as if to cap the climax of under which editions of speeches may be sent absurdity, they are to do it, not by making a out and all manner of other matter, is, I hummark, not by putting an initial, not by signing bly submit, an absurdity so gross and an injusa name, not by leaving a track or trace by tice so indecent that it rightfully appeals to which they can be known, but by an anony- the self-respect of every Senator and of every mous printed stamp, which one man's hands Representative, and it also appeals to the reas well as another's can affix to a document. gard that they have for the interest of the Thus you have it said that a Senator or Repre- cripples, the mourners, the orphans, the pensentative is not fit, although he signs his name, sioners of this country, who I think have quite to exert this power, and that any and every as much right to receive, being exempted from other officer of the Government is fit without the three or twelve cents it would cost to pay any sort of responsibility connected with the the postage on them, their pension papers as act, or any mode of identifying him; and thus, any Cabinet minister has, when he is mored to as might not unnaturally be supposed, although utter his voice to his countrymen, to command I should like to know, if I could, without pry- the means out of the public purse to send out ing into it unduly, from which department an edition to fall like a snow-storm from the such a speech as the Senator refers to came, mail over the whole country.” and who was the author of that speech, it The joint resolution was referred to the turns out that speeches oratorical, political, Committee on Post-Offices and Post-Roads. didactic discourses made by we know not whom, whether as electioneering documents
In the Senate, on January 14th, a joint resofor a party or electioneering documents for an individual, are sent out, not I infer in an ex
lution appropriating $2,500 to meet the exceptional case to the Senator from Arkansas, penses of the International Sanitary Conferbut sent out generally. It is possible that the
ence at Washington was considered: Senator from Arkansas, ardent and well known letter here from the Secretary of State, which
Mr. Davis, of West Virginia: “ There is a as he is as a supporter of the present Admin- in justice to the committee ought to be read.”. istration, may have been selected from pure favoritism and a little compliment and decora
The Presiding Officer: “The letter will be
read." tion sent to him, a speech with an official
The Chief Clerk read as follows: frank, perhaps intended to make the Senator
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, from Arkansas feel good, to let him under
WASHINGTON, December 27, 1880. stand that he was on a footing with the most Sır: In reply to your letter of the 21st instant, favored nations,' that compliments and atten- touching the joint resolution approved by the House tions were paid to him such as are withheld of Representatives and now before the Senate, appronot only from the rest of his fellow-citizens priating $2,500 to meet the expenses of the Inter
.national Sanitary Conference, have the honor to but even from his brother Senators. But mak- inform you that the amount estimated for by this Deing all allowance for the distinction of the Sen- partment was $10,000, or so much thereof as might be ator, making deduction for his intimate rela- found necessary. The expenses which the Department tions with those who wield this franking priv. Will be required to meet under the joint resolution of ilege, I take it that the result of his statement incident to obtaining the responses of foreign governis that generally and at large this particularments) mainly of the employment of skilled stenog
raphers and clerks capable of reporting speeches and widely as to the extent of the meaning of the propositions made in French or Spanish, and of the term commerce, and what is embraced in it. daily composition and printing of the protocols of the Intercourse, travel, and whatever is connected just how much these items will amount to. If the with the travel of persons as well as the transconference remains in session only a few days, it is mission of goods, is commerce, and falls within possible that the sum appropriated by the resolution the scope of the general power that Congress of the House of Representatives may be suflicient to defray expenses. But if the sessions are at all pro
has to regulate it. tracted, and especially if the discussions should take · Upon a former occasion, where a similar an extended range, the necessary cost of the most eco- question arose in respect to the creation of the nomical management of the conference might amount Board of Health and clothing it with certain to the sum originally suggested by this Department.
powers, the same question arose. Of course I I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant, WILLIAM M. EVARTS.
do not pretend that Congress ever had the auHon. HENRY G. Davis,
thority to appropriate money to any such purChairman of the Committee on Appropriations, pose unless the things to be done, the powers Senate.
to be exercised, are proper and legitimate Mr. Carpenter, of Wisconsin: “Mr. Presi- regulations of commerce and falling within dent, I find myself once more compelled to sit that clause of the Constitution, but I think at the feet of the Democratic doctors on a con- that Congress has the power in the regulation stitutional question. I want to know from of commerce to so regulate it as to strip it of them what authority is conferred by the Con- elements dangerous to human health as well as stitution of the United States upon Congress those which are injurious to the pecuniary into vote any money out of the Treasury for any terests of trade or revenue." such purpose. I want to know, in the second Mr. Carpenter: “Mr. President, nothing is place, whether Congress can appropriate any more ungracious and nothing more unpleasant pablic money for a cause over which and as to than to be constantly compelled to interpose which it has no jurisdiction. I want to know, objections to things which everybody will agree in the third place, who will vote for an appro- are desirable to have done. Take the subject of priation of money touching a subject not com agriculture. Everybody says it would be a good mitted to the Federal Government by the Con- thing to improve it, and to improve the constitution of the United States. I would be veniences for carrying it on. So with educavery glad indeed if any Senator on any side of tion; so with public health; so with a thousand this Chamber would furnish me the informa- things, which in the frame-work of our Constition in reply to those three questions, or either tution has been left to the States and not conone of them."
ferred upon the General Government. If the Mr. Harris, of Tennessee: “It was my pur- proposition were to be submitted to amend pose to say that I had no hope of being able to the Constitution so as to commit the regulation give to the Senator from Wisconsin such in- of education to the General Government, I formation as will be satisfactory to him, hav- would vote for it. If the proposition were to ing heard the views of the Senator upon pre- be submitted to permit the United States to vious occasions as well as upon this in respect provide for the public health of the Union, I to this question.
might vote for that; but when I came into “ If there be a constitutional warrant, as I this Chamber I was compelled under the rules have believed and still believe there is, for of this body to go to the desk and swear to this appropriation and kindred appropriations support the Constitution of the United States, that have been made, it will be found to rest by which I understood then, and understand upon the power to regulate commerce with now, that I took an oath that in any act or foreign nations and among the several States." thing done by me as a Senator I would ob
Mr. Carpenter: “That would be touching serve and obey the Constitution ; I would the communication of diseases?"
exercise my best judgment and reason, and in Mr. Harris: “It is touching commerce; and all things act in conformity with the Constiif the Senator will take the trouble to investi- tution. gate the legislation of Congress upon the sub “Upon this question I can see no more powject of commerce (which he has doubtless done er in Congress to enter upon the regulation of very many times, and is very much more fa- the health of the Union, or to invite convenmiliar with it than I am), he will find that tions with foreign nations to consult with and there are innumerable instances in which Con- advise us, any more than I can see the power gress has legislated regulating commerce in the to do anything in the world that you can deminterest of health and comfort as well as in onstrate is desirable to have done by someother respects, regulations as to what passen- body. ger-vessels shall carry and what they shall “I believe sincerely that the prosperity of not carry, all of which regulations are in the this country depends upon an honest and faithinterest of human health and the safety of ful observance of the constitutional distribuhuman life.
tion of sovereign powers between the great “But the power to regulate commerce the Republic and the States; and although $2,500 Senator and I can not possibly differ about. for this purpose is a mere bagatelle, yet the I do not think it probable we can differ very vote of Congress appropriating any money for