APPLICATION OF CAPTAINS AND MASTERS COMMANDANT OF THE NAVY FOR AN INCREASE OF PAY AND EMOLUMENTS.
COMMUNICATED TO THE SENATE APRIL 12, 1832.
Washington, April 11, 1832.
The undersigned beg leave to request that you will do them the favor to present the accompanying memorial to the body over which you have the honor to preside.
With high respect, your most obedient servants,
W. B. FINCH.
J. H. AULICK.
To John C. Calhoun, Vice-President of the United States and President of the Senate.
To the honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, in Congress assembled:
This memorial of the undersigned captains and masters commandant of the navy of the United States is submitted with all the deference and respect due to your honorable bodies. In presenting the result of their experience as to the inadequacy of the pay and emoluments attached by law to their rank and official responsibilities, your memorialists confidently cherish the hope that the subject will be considered by your honorable bodies with all the favor to which, in your wisdom and impartial justice, it may appear to be entitled.
Your memorialists are aware that this subject has heretofore been frequently presented to the consideration of Congress by the Executive Department of the government; and it is believed that every chief of the Navy Department has concurred in the. object of your memorialists. The facts and circumstances almost daily presenting themselves, in the course of service, to their knowledge and observation, have convinced them, and induced their several appeals, in their communications to your honorable bodies, for a reasonable and just increase of the pay and emoluments of your memorialists.
With such efforts in their behalf, by their immediate chief, your memorialists have hitherto been restrained, by considerations of delicacy, to await the result in silence, while such representations were emanating from such a quarter. In the earlier periods of the service, the officers classing with your memorialists were few in number, the naval forces very limited, their services but casual, their distances from home but small, and their returns at short periods.
Your honorable bodies are aware, from the number of years since the establishment of the navy, that several of its members, under all its disadvantages, have devoted their best years to its service. That, while the navy was yet in its infancy, they served in the junior ranks; sometimes commanding sloops-of-war as lieutenants on lieutenants' pay; sometimes as masters commandant commanding frigates, on the reduced pay attached to that commission. Then, however, they had youth on their side, and were unincumbered with families; then, not even the conduct of war on a peace establishment, nor the sufferings of barbaric dungeons, were of any consideration to them, although their appeals to the generosity and liberality of their relatives and friends, to enable them to support themselves under their incarceration and imprisonment, were frequent and considerable. It was also, until now, not an improper consideration with the officers, and has at all times hitherto had due weight with them, that the resources of the country were laboring under heavy claims originating in the war of the revolution, the armed neutrality against France, the war with Tripoli, the purchase of Louisiana, and the late war with England. But now those claims have ceased, and the situation of your memorialists is reversed.
Your memorialists beg leave to present to your honorable bodies some of the facts touching their actual situation in their commands, which have been verified by their experience. On preparing themselves for a cruise (a period now seldom less than three years), they are, in the first instance, obliged to encounter a heavy expense in their outfits, oftentimes obliged to borrow the means on exorbitant terms, owing to the additional risk of reimbursement incurred by the lender; for, on the ocean, and in many parts of the world which they are obliged to visit, there are but sparse markets for them to resort to for such supplies as their customs and habits render essential, and which are only to be obtained at most exorbitant prices; and it not unfrequently happens that a gale of wind will destroy all their stock, and much of the provisions laid in for their comforts and necessities; besides, many other causes exist in the destruction or deterioration of their supplies, in addition to the breaking in of the ocean into their frail bark, the dampness of the atmosphere, the foundering of their vessel, the effects of battle, or the stranding of their command. As respects a resort to foreign markets, the naval officer's duties oftentimes throw him into situations where he can find but little relief therefrom unless at an excessive expense. His duty on the peace service frequently requires his presence in blockaded ports or besieged places, for the protection of our fellow-citizens, their property, and their commerce; under such circumstances, the markets cannot but be extravagant, and the prices of articles they require exorbitant; and here they often find their necessities much increased by the desolate and plundered condition of their countrymen, all of whom fly to them, not only for protection, but for sustenance and support.
Your memorialists are aware that some are under the impression that the captains and other officers derive considerable resources from prize money, which, if it were the case, is only applicable to a state of war with foreign nations; and although the navy may be considered in a perpetual state of war, yet the suppression of the slave trade, of piracy, and the protection of commerce are not of a character to yield anything under that head; although they may call for the same enterprise, anxieties, hazards, dangers, and exposures as actual war, yet their fruits in prize money or glory (the great incitements to and rewards of efforts), have hitherto been found to contribute no pecuniary relief.
Your memorialists believe it can be shown by satisfactory evidence, and by the actual circumstances in which all the deceased naval officers died, that they had derived little or no advantage from any war
they have as yet been engaged in. Some died deeply in debt to the government; and it is believed the memorials of their wives and families, presented to Congress, will evince to your honorable bodies that nearly all of them have been left destitute.
Your memorialists, in adverting to the results of prize money during the late war with Great Britain, will not be found in error when they state to your honorable bodies that the officers profited but little under that head, with perhaps one or two exceptions; for, the difficulty of getting captured property into port, owing to the universal blockades of England, they were not only ordered but obliged to destroy most of them, and much of what they did attempt to get home was recaptured by the enemy, and of that which did arrive safe, one-half of the proceeds was taken for the navy pension fund; one-half of what remained for the captors was taken under the law imposing double duties; and court charges, port charges, marshals' and auctioneers' commissions, and agents' commissions absorbed nearly all the residue. Of the ships-of-war captured, they were generally so knocked to pieces in the action that they could not be navigated into port, and were obliged to be burnt; or if brought in and taken by the government, nothing like their value was allowed, in consequence of their damaged state from the battle, which, in effect, made the captors pay for the damages done to them in their efforts to subdue them.
In thus presenting to the view of your honorable bodies the actual situation of these grades of officers of the navy, your memorialists regret that they have been under the necessity of going so much into the detail of their experience; but they felt that it was due to your honorable bodies to place their situation properly before you, that you might afford them such relief as may seem to you meet and proper. And your memorialists will ever pray.
CHAS. C. B. THOMPSON.
DAN'L T. PATTERSON.
W. B. PINCH.
C. S. M'CAULEY.
J. H. AULICK.
THOS. AP CATESBY JONES.
CHARLES W. MORGAN.
April 11, 1832.