Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/506

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

reported on this point. The description given of the torpedo by Commander Brown is on record, and does not justify the claim of original invention made by these parties. It represents the torpedo to have consisted of two demijohns connected together, filled with gunpowder, and exploded by means of the ordinary friction primer. The letter of Commander Brown further declares that other parties rendered "most material aid in the destruction of this vessel, and are justly entitled to much of the credit of the success."

Independently of this objection to the claim, the legislation above recited seemed to be conclusive against it. The policy of the law plainly provided that inventors should have the exclusive privilege of their inventions and should be entitled to the rewards promised them, only on condition that they should file in the Navy Department such a description of their invention as would enable the Government to render available the right of using the invention which it had reserved for itself. In the present case the Government was deprived of its right to use the alleged invention by the failure of the claimants to give the description or file the proper papers in the Department till May, 1863, or about five months after the destruction of the "Cairo." The high bounty of fifty per centum, the largest, it is believed, ever allowed for a similar service, was granted by Congress according to the act of 21st April, 1862, and it may be reasonably assumed that such extraordinary bounty was partly in consideration for this right expressly reserved to the country.

Upon these grounds and especially upon the important principles to which reference will be subsequently made, the Secretary of the Navy rejected the claim of McDaniel and Ewing, who appealed to the Executive from his decision. The views of the Head of the Navy Department were sustained, and application was then made to Congress, which afforded the claimants a fresh tribunal by directing the Secretary of the Treasury to adjust their claims. The joint resolution directing this reference was passed in February last, and the Secretary made a report to Congress at its present session stating the value of the vessel and armament destroyed, but also stating that no investigation had been made of the merits of the claim or of the originality of the invention. The