WASHINGTON, March 14. – SENATE. – The bill introduced by Mr. Hale, from the Committee on Naval Affairs to-day, provides for the construction, under the direction of the Secretary of the Navy, of an iron clad steam vessel of not less than 5,000 or 6,000 tons burthen and of great speed and strength, to be used only as a ram, for which purpose $100,000 to be appropriated. – Also $13,000,000 for the construction of iron clad gunboats; $783,000 for the completion of Steven’s Battery, and $500,000 for extending the facilities of the Washington Navy Yard, so as to mould and forge plates for the armored ships.
The relations between the United States and foreign nations are now, it is said, entirely free from apprehensions whatever of disturbance. The tone of all correspondence is conciliatory.
The Senate confirmed Brig. Gen. McDowell, as Major General of Volunteers.
It is the freely expressed opinion of members of Congress, many of whom have opposed the completion of Steven’s Battery, that the bill will pass. Mr. Steven’s plan is not the only original of mail clad vessels, but his battery is superior to any application of the same principle in any other country.
WASHINGTON, March 17. – SENATE. – Mr. HARRIS presented a petition from the citizens of New York asking Congress to dispense with the agitation of the slavery question and attend to the restoration of the Union.
Mr. WILSON of Mass., presented a petition for the emancipation of the slaves.
Mr. LANE of Kansas offered a resolution that the committee on Territories inquire into the expediency of so altering the boundary of Kansas as to include the Indian Territory. Adopted.
Mr. FESSENDEN from the Committee of Conference on the bill providing for the purchase of iron made a report which was agreed to.
Mr. HALE offered a resolution that the Naval Committee into the expediency of appropriating money to make experiments and for providing iron clad vessels of war. Adopted.
The joint resolution authorizing the President to assign the command of the troops in the field to officers without regard to seniority, was taken up after discussion.
On motion of Mr. NESMITH of Oregon the resolution was recommitted to the Military Committee.
On motion of Mr. FESSENDEN the Post Office Appropriation Bill was taken up.
Mr. LATHAM offered an amendment that the Postmaster General be authorized to establish a mail less than semi-monthly between San Francisco and Crescent City, including the intermediate points. Agreed to.
Mr. LATHAM also offered an amendment that American steamers and sailing vessels bound for foreign ports shall receive such mails as the Post Office Department may choose to place on board and promptly deliver the same, and that the Letter Company for foreign ports shall receive any mail matter from Consuls, &c., the compensation being the usual postage.
Mr. SHERMAN moved to add, and provided the Government shall not pay more than it receives. On motion it was agreed to. The amendment was then adopted and the bill passed.
The bill for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia was then taken up and postponed until to-morrow.
Mr. TRUMBULL, from the Committee on Judiciary, reported back the House bill to facilitate judicial proceedings for captured property.
Went into executive session.
HOUSE. – The House passed the Senate joint resolution that if any State, during the present rebellion, shall make any appropriation to pay the volunteers of the State, the Secretary of War is authorized to accept the same and use it. To be applied by the Paymaster General to the payments designated by the Legislature’s act making the appropriation, in the same manner as if appropriated by act of congress, and also to make any sureties that may be necessary for the disbursement and proper application of such funds for the specific purpose of which they may be applied by the several States.
The House concurred in the report of the Committee of Conference on the bill regulating sutlers, who are authorized to have a lien on the soldiers for only one-sixth of the amounts. The penalties were added for violating this provision.
A resolution was adopted calling on the Secretary of War to inform the House by whose authority certain vessels were recently chartered and the amount of compensation to be paid for the same, &c.
Mr. LOVEJOY, asked leave to introduce a resolution instructing the Committee on the District of Columbia to inquire by what authority Mr. Bressler of Georgetown, had been arrested and sent to gain; whether such arrest was not in violation of the provision in the Constitution, which says no person shall be deprived of his live or liberty without due process of law.
WASHINGTON, March 18. – HOUSE. – The House considered the Senate bill to increase the efficiency of the Medical Department of the army.
During the discussion, Mr. BLAKE said he had no doubt that the army of the Potomac had been well and medically provided for, but it was not so with the Western boys who had been murdered by neglect. He had received letters from fathers and mothers beseeching him to have something done, so as to save the lives of their children.
Mr. BLAIR of Mo., replying, said the first steps to be taken were to place at the head of the medical department, a Director General who combines experience with great surgical skill.
Mr. BLAKE caused to be read an article in the Cincinnati Times, showing gross inefficiency in the Medical Department.
Mr. KELLOGG, of Illinois, pronounced the article a scurrilous and vile slander, and this was apparent upon its face. It was bad taste to have the article read.
Mr. BLAKE regretted, with pain, that the gentleman, (Mr. Kellogg,) thought it necessary to administer such a rebuke. His want of good taste might be owing to his early training. The article states facts which came under the editor’s observation
The subject was then passed over, and the House went into committee of the whole on the Tax bill. The proceedings were confided to discussing and amending its general provisions.
SENATE. – Mr. FESSENDEN offered the following resolution:
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Navy furnish the Senate with copies of all contracts with R. S. Stevens for floating battery; also a statement of all payments and allowances on said contract and the report of the commissioners appointed to examine the battery.
Mr. SUMNER introduced a bill to remove all disqualifications of color in carrying the mails. Referred.
Mr. WILSON, of Massachusetts, from Military Committee reported back Joint Resolution authorizing the President to assign the command of troops without regard to seniority, with an amendment striking out the portion giving the President power to dismiss from the service.
The amendment was adopted and the resolution passed.
On Motion of Mr. TRUMBULL the bill to provide for judicial proceedings on captured property and for the better administration of the law, was taken up and passed.
The resolution offered by Mr. STARKE, of Oregon, that the papers in referring to the loyalty of Starke be referred to the Judiciary Committee, was taken up.
Mr. Hale thought the question was already done, and hoped the Senate would spend no more time upon it.
Mr. HOWARD wanted to know if the Senator from Oregon (Starke) intended to go into an investigation of the question.
Mr. STARKE said he had offered the resolution, in order to show that he had no indisposition to meet the charges of his loyalty anywhere, but he (Starke) had no intention of being his own prosecutor.
After further discussion by Messrs. Hale, Browning Howard, Trumbull and Howe, Mr. WILKINSON moved to lay the resolution on the table.
The motion was disagreed to, by yeas 3, nays 35.
YEAS – Messrs. Hale, Saulsbury, and Wilkinson.
Mr. TRUMBULL moved to amend the resolution so as to make it referable to a select committee of five. The motion was carried.
The resolution was then adopted, yeas 37, nays 3.
NAYS – Messrs. Howard, Hale, Saulsbury.
Mr. CLARKE introduced a bill to furnish supplies to the sailors who were on board the sloop of war Cumberland.
The bill for the abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia was taken up.
Mr. HALE merely wished to reply to the statement of the Senator from Kentucky, in regard to the effects of this bill. If passed, the most dangerous and fatal form of secession is when it argues that it is not safe to perform a plain and simple duty for fear of disastrous consequences, and this question of emancipation had rarely been argued in this country on the great fundamental principle of right and wrong. The question was never asked in political circles what is due to the individual, but what is to be the consequences.
– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, March 22, 1862, p. 4