Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/508

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

in torpedo service and submarine defenses. Scarcely one has failed to suggest and essay new devices and combinations, many of which have proved successful. Numerous vessels have been destroyed, but the claim under consideration is the only one that has been presented to the attention of the Government. None of the other officers seem to have imagined that it was not their duty to devote all their mind, talent, and inventive faculties in performing the service to which they were assigned without any other pecuniary reward than the pay and allowances accorded by law to other officers of the same grade.

If the present joint resolution should give sanction to the opposite view of the duty of an officer, it is easy to perceive how injuriously it will affect the service. It is less easy to estimate the amount of the claims on the Treasury that would thus be sanctioned.

If these claimants are to be rewarded for the destruction of the "Cairo," why are they to receive the whole sum allowed by the law? There seems no ground for excluding the others who aided in the enterprise and who, in the language of Commander Brown, rendered most material aid, and are justly entitled to much of the credit of success.

My examination of the legislation leads me to a view of the policy of Congress quite different from that which would be implied by the passage of this joint resolution. The three acts above recited seem to me clearly to indicate a desire to encourage private enterprise and to stimulate the investment of private means in the effort to destroy the armed ships of the enemy by awarding a reward (originally of twenty per centum, afterwards increased to fifty per centum) to private armed vessels and to private individuals operating at their own expense with torpedoes or other devices for the public defense. They do not seem to me to have contemplated offering the same reward to the officers and seamen of the Navy, paid and maintained at public expense, for doing their duty in waging war on the vessels of the enemy on the high seas or in rivers and harbors.

I have deemed this full explanation of the facts and law of the case due to Congress as justifying the refusal to sign what is apparently an unimportant bill for the relief of private claimants,