DES MOINES, March 8, 1862.
It is evening, and the heavens are lighted up with almost constant flashes of lightning. The thunder sounds natural once more, but seems a little out of place sounding above those immense snow drifts. A genuine thunder shower, with weather to suit, will make some change in external affairs before many days. The mails, which have been accumulating all the week at Marengo, reached here this evening, and were welcomed by a crowd of citizens at the office. The Legislature was about to petition Congress or the clerk of the weather for additional mail facilities. The necessity is now removed, however, and we trust will not soon occur again.
Yesterday the House had a long and animated discussion on a Senate bill for the partial relief of the sureties of James D. Eads for his default on his third official bond as late Superintendent of Public Instruction. It seems that he obtained forty-nine sureties in Lee county. The majority of the House committee hold that it was shown before the committee that out of this number of sureties six have died leaving their estates insolvent, fifteen never had any property, not even a homestead, and the balance only such property as the law exempts from execution. The judgment against Eads and these sureties was $29,000, and the bill as it came before the House provided for the release of said sureties provided they would make up for the State a sum of $5,000. This it was thought they and their friends might do. The friends of the bill urged its passage as a measure of economy to the State and of mercy to the parties sought to be released thereby. They argued that it was utterly impossible to force the parties to pay anything, as they were execution-proof, and hence by the passage of the bill the State would probably gain the amount of $5,000. Under these circumstances they held that it was but just that this heavy judgment now hanging over the sureties, and tending to discourage and depress them, should be removed. The opponents of the bill presented various arguments, but the main one was, that it was unwise and impolitic for the State to establish a precedent of this kind. If these men are released from their just liabilities, the State will be obliged to listen to appeals of distress of a similar nature from other quarters – appeals just as reasonable as this, and which, if the precedent be established, cannot with justice be refused. If a beginning is once made, the State may go on releasing the sureties of the legion of defaulters, and thus suffer its property to be squandered even worse than it has been. Twenty-four of the ex-County treasurers are said to be defaulters and if when a surety loses his property, or puts it out of his hand, he is to be released what will become of the deficit in all these cases? In fact why have any sureties at all? This argument was used with much force by the opponents of the bill, and killed the measure past all hope of a resurrection. The enacting clause was stricken out, and the bill will be sent back headless to the place where it originated.
To-day the House has been occupied on a certain claim from Dubuque. It seems some merchants in that city, at the request of the Mayor, furnished certain soldiers of the first regiment with clothing, with the express understanding that they should look to the State for pay. In the haste and confusion incident to the fitting out of that regiment, it was impossible that everything should be done according to the forms of law. These soldiers were in the greatest need, and the Mayor urged these parties to furnish them clothing trusting to the State to reimburse them. – They did so and have presented their claim to the Auditing Board. The Board cannot, however, audit it as it did not originate according to law. The transaction was irregular, and they are not now empowered to audit any claims of that kind. Hence it is presented to the Legislature. The board have examined it and find it just, and a resolution was to-day introduced by Mr. McLenan of Dubuque authorizing them to allow it. – On this resolution a long discussion arose, and the claim had to be referred to the committee on claims. There are many just claims throughout the State that are irregular like this, but perfectly just. These should be provided for in some way, and yet the great fear is that a door will be opened for the admission of claims by those counties or individuals who donated more or less to the soldiers on a first impulse, and when fired with patriotic zeal. If these claims should come in, the State might pay $200,000 or $300,000 more than it will under the law. It is the fear of opening any door of this kind that makes the Assembly so cautions about allowing some of these small and apparently just claims. The greatest danger with the House is, not that it will be extravagant, but that it will ignore the just claims of some private citizens who have, through patriotic impulses, and through faith in the State, stepped forward in a needful hour, and trusted the State without complying with the forms of law. It is to be hoped they will not do this.
The committee on schools recommend that the salaries of Professors in the State University be reduced, and that the number of Professors be diminished by two.
The special House committee, to whom was referred the subject of empiricism and quack doctors, report that this evil cannot be cured by legislative enactment. The remedy lies with the people.
Speaking of the committee on schools reminds me that I have not made mention of its worthy chairman.
Mr. [__throck], of Cedar county, was born in Pennsylvania, but removed to Ohio when quite young. He was educated in Franklin College, and read law at West Union, Ohio. After being admitted to the bar he practiced his profession seven years in Highland county in the same State, and served one term as Prosecuting Attorney. In July, 1860, he removed to Tipton, Cedar county, Iowa, where he has since resided, and where his ability has been recognized by the citizens in electing him, at the first election at which he was eligible to office, to the State Legislature. He is a good legislator; sound, discreet and eminently practical. He always speaks briefly, forcibly and pointedly, and deals in solid argument rather than rhetorical display. The committee on schools and State University find him an able chairman. A sound republican, and able lawyer, a genial man, he fills his position with credit to himself and to his county.
– Published in The Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, Iowa, Thursday Morning, March 13, 1862, p. 1