ON THE CLAIM OF JOHN PERCIVAL, MASTER COMMANDANT OF THE NAVY, FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN OBTAINING THE RELEASE OF AMERICAN SEAMEN FROM THE NATIVES OF THE MULGRAVE ISLANDS, AND IN VISITING THE SANDWICH ISLANDS, IN 1825 AND 1826.
COMMUNICATED TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FEBRUARY 9, 1833.
Mr. Anderson, from the Committee on Naval Affairs, to whom was referred the petition of John Percival, a master commandant in the navy of the United States, reported:
That the petitioner, as he sets forth, was, in August, 1825, in command of the United States schooner Dolphin, and was dispatched by Commodore Hull, the commander of the United States squadron in the Pacific ocean, on a voyage to the Mulgrave Islands, to relieve a part of the crew of the American whale ship Globe, who had been there left by mutineers of that ship. That he was directed to return by the Sandwich Islands, and, in the course of his cruise, to make scientific observations and discoveries, and to cultivate friendly relations with the natives on the various groups of islands he might visit. That he was absent over eleven months, and was the first American ship-of-war that ever visited the Mulgrave or Sandwich Islands; and, to effect the object of his cruise, was put to considerable private expense in presents to the natives and their chiefs: without which presents the delivery of the survivors of the crew of the Globe would not have been effected; and that all these presents were made in the name of the President of the United States. For these expenses, amounting in the whole to five hundred dollars, he asks remuneration. In support of his petition, the orders of Commodore Hull, issued, it appears, in obedience to orders from the Navy Department, are produced; also, the deposition of the purser as to the amount of the extraordinary expense the petitioner was subjected to in executing these orders; which go fully to sustain the claim.
As vouchers could not be had for such expenditures, the amount is estimated by the petitioner and purser under oath; and is far less than has been allowed to other officers, for like expenditures, who have subsequently visited a part only of these same islands.
As he was absent on this cruise nearly a year; visited upwards of twenty islands, to the chiefs of which he made presents; was obliged to spend over two months at one island to overhaul and repair his vessel, the committee are of opinion that the sum claimed is reasonable, and report a bill for his relief.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, in Congress assembled:
The memorial of John Percival, a master commandant in the navy of the United States, respectfully showeth:
That, in the month of August of the year 1825, your memorialist, being then in command of the United States schooner Dolphin, was dispatched by the commander of the squadron in the Pacific on a voyage to the Mulgrave Islands, to relieve a part of the crew of the ship Globe, who had been there left by mutineers of that ship; that his orders directed your memorialist to return by the Sandwich Islands, and, in the course of the cruise, to make scientific observations and discoveries, and cultivate friendly relations with the natives on the various groups of islands he might visit; that your memorialist was absent on this cruise upwards of eleven months; that the Dolphin was the first government vessel which had ever visited the Mulgrave and Sandwich Islands; and, in fulfilling his instructions, your memorialist was put to considerable private expense in presents to the natives and their chiefs, and otherwise; and without making such presents the delivery of the survivors of the crew of the Globe would not have been effected. These presents were given in the name of the President of the United States, as were those subsequently made in the visit to the other islands.
Wherefore your memorialist prays that he may be remunerated for the extraordinary expenses thus incurred by him in the discharge of his official duty.
List of expenses incurred by Captain Percival, as near as can now be ascertained.
Articles purchased on the coast of Peru, and charged by Purser Bates.
Calicoes, fish-hooks, clothing, &c.
Two principal entertainments to the chiefs of Sandwich Islands, given on board the Dolphin , &c
Entertainments on shore to the chiefs, and presents of wine, &c., to them; also extraordinary expenses of Captain Percival while on shore, when the Dolphin was undergoing repairs.
Boston, January 11, 1833.
United States of America, Massachusetts District, ss:
Personally appeared Master Commandant John Percival, and made oath that the above list and estimate of expenses incurred by him is just and true.
JNO. M. DAVIS,
Justice of Peace, and Clerk of Mass. Dist. Court.
I, John A. Bates, a purser in the navy of the United States, declare that I was acting purser of the United States schooner Dolphin, in the years 1825 and 1826, while under the command of Lieutenant Commandant John Percival, when she was dispatched to the Mulgrave Islands to relieve the crew of the whale ship Globe , and during her subsequent cruise. Before leaving the coast of Peru, by direction of Lieutenant Percival, I purchased numerous small articles with the view of their being distributed as presents among the natives of the various islands we might visit, and charged them to him. I have not preserved a particular account of all the articles so purchased; among others, however, I remember and find a memorandum of a charge of them against Lieutenant Percival, of sundry articles of jewelry and ornaments, beads, handkerchiefs, combs and knives, and cotton cloths; the amount of these was about one hundred dollars. I know of Lieutenant Percival's purchasing, for the purpose above mentioned, calicoes, fish-hooks, and probably other small articles, the names of which I cannot now recall to mind.
On our arrival at the Mulgrave Islands, the officers dispatched on shore were provided with these presents in order to open communications with the natives, and without propitiating them in this mode, it was considered that our object might not have been effected. During our cruise we were at the Marquesas, and visited about twenty islands, including the Sandwich Islands. At most of these islands, to facilitate our intercourse, presents were made by Captain Percival of the articles above enumerated, as well as of articles of clothing. At the Sandwich Islands much more expense was incurred than at any of the other islands; two public entertainments were given to the chiefs and principal natives, and it being necessary to strip the Dolphin in order to her repair, Captain Percival was obliged to take lodgings on shore, and remained there over two months. During this period he was put to considerable expense by the frequent visits of the chiefs. And, on the whole, I am of opinion that a sum of less than five hundred dollars would not indemnify him for the private expenses incurred and presents made as before stated, for which proper vouchers could not be procured.
JOHN A. BATES.
Boston, January 11, 1833.
United States of America, Massachusetts District, ss:
Personally appeared the above named John A. Bates, and made oath that the above affidavit, by him subscribed, is true.
JOHN W. DAVIS, Justice of the Peace and Clerk of Mass. Dist. Court.
U. S. Frigate United States , Chorillos, August 14, 1825.
Having received instructions from the Hon. Secretary of the Navy to send one of the small vessels to the Mulgrave range, or group of islands, in search of the mutineers of the American whale ship Globe, (when the services of one of the vessels under my command can be dispensed with on this coast without injury to our commercial interests,) and as there is not at this time any immediate call for the services of the Dolphin under your command, I have to direct that you lose no time in fitting her for sea, and in receiving on board provisions and stores of every kind that she may require for six months, the crew to consist of not more than seventy, including every person on board.
The crew of the Dolphin at this time consists of more men than she can stow provisions for to last six months; and, it being doubtful whether she can return short of that time, you will cause the crew to be reduced to not exceeding seventy, by transferring all over that number to this ship, with their accounts. You will likewise cause the accounts of the officers and crew of the Dolphin that remain on board to be made out, and all the purser's accounts settled, and a list furnished, showing the name, rank, &c., of the officers and crew that will remain in her. As soon as you have received on board your provisions and stores, as directed, you will proceed with as little delay as practicable, with the Dolphin under your command, to the Mulgrave range, or group of islands, and use all the means in your power to ascertain whether the mutineers of the Globe are still at the islands; and should it appear that they are, you will use such measures as to you may appear best calculated to get them on board your vessel, and to secure them, preferring a mild and friendly course, as regards the natives of the islands, to that of using force, to obtain them. If, however, they will not be given up, and you can get into your possession some of the chiefs of the natives and detain them, there cannot be a doubt that their friends will deliver those men to you, on your giving to them a pledge that the chiefs detained by you shall be given up. In that, as well as in all matters relating to the cruise, much must be left to your discretion and good judgment.
That you may be made acquainted with all the circumstances relating to that unfortunate affair, I have caused copies of all the papers on the subject, that have come to my hands, to be made out for your information, which are herewith enclosed.
You will observe that the men left at the islands had with them two good boats and a quantity of provisions. It is therefore possible that they may have left the island where they first landed, and have gone to some other. In that case, it will be necessary for you to endeavor to ascertain what course they took, and where they probably may be found, and go in search of them, should it appear that your provisions and situation will admit of your doing so.
Should you be so fortunate as to find those men, you will return with them to this station, touching at the Sandwich Islands on your way, provided your provisions will allow you to do so. Should, however, your provisions run short, from the time you are necessarily detained in search of the men, you will return by the route that may be thought best to enable you to make a short passage to this coast.
As there have been lately discovered a large number of islands, reefs, and banks of coral, in the Pacific ocean, many of which may lay in your route, I herewith enclose you a list of such as have come to my knowledge, and I need not recommend your running at all times with great caution, particularly at night, as you are aware of the importance of keeping a good look out, and of the many dangers your vessel will be exposed to, from the many islands and shoals not laid down on the charts, and particularly in the route you will probably take, say between the latitude of 10 degrees south and 5 to 10 degrees north, and the longitude of this place and that of the islands you are about to visit.
Should you, during your absence, discover islands or shoals or dangers of any sort, you are to be very particular in ascertaining their precise situation, and of islands, whether inhabited or not, and whe-
ther they produce wood or any other articles that would offer commercial or any other advantage to our enterprising citizens, should they think proper to visit them.
Should you determine on returning by the way of the Sandwich Islands, you will ascertain the state of those islands as to the government, and their feelings towards the citizens of the United States that visit them, and whether the same privileges are granted to vessels of the United States as to those of other nations, &c. And as the natives owe large sums of money, it would be desirable to ascertain whether the present King or individuals of the islands who owe American citizens have the means and disposition to pay their debts. In short, I wish you to possess yourself of the best information you can on all subjects, the knowledge of which will be beneficial to the government or citizens of the United States. With that view I recommend to your particular attention Mr. Stewart; he has resided there a long time, and I understand he is a man of great respectability and well informed, and I presume no one at the islands can give you more correct information on all subjects than Mr. Stewart.
Should Mr. Stewart or any other person at those islands have collected plants, seeds, or roots of any sort that they wish to send to the United States, you will receive them on board, to be delivered as directed by them; and at all the islands that you may visit during your cruise, you will be very particular in collecting seeds, plants, or vines, as well as specimens of minerals, should you discover any worthy of notice. Indeed, it is desirable to make your cruise useful, independent of the great object for which you are dispatched.
Wishing you a pleasant cruise, I remain, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant Commandant John Percival, commanding United States Schooner Dolphin.
West Barnstable, January 11, 1833.
Dear Sir: My friend Mr. Reed will, ere this, have presented my petition to Congress for relief for expenses incurred by me while in command of the United States schooner Dolphin on her cruise to the Mulgrave and other islands in the Pacific, in pursuit of the mutineers of the whale ship Globe . It was necessary, Mr. Anderson, in order to facilitate my intercourse with the chiefs and natives, to make them presents to induce an amicable understanding; and at the Mulgraves, where the survivors of that ill-fated ship were found, I was twelve days employed in a pacific intercourse to accomplish their surrender without bloodshed: and subsequent information derived from the survivors justified the belief that, if I had not conciliated the natives in the manner I did, they would have been put to death; for, as they told me, there were several councils held by the chiefs after my arrival to decide whether they should put them to death or not, when it was urged by the friends of the survivors that our conduct and liberality towards the natives showed anything rather than hostility, and that, if they were murdered, and no satisfactory account could be given, they would be punished, while, on the other hand, if they were spared, they would plead in their favor, and from our pacific intercourse with those of the natives we met with, and our liberality, they concluded to deliver them.
On their delivery I felt it a duty, as well as good policy, to give them substantial proofs of my approbation of their conduct, to induce them to treat any others who might by misfortune be thrown on their islands with humanity and protection.
At the Sandwich Islands there was, and had been, a distinction made by the chiefs between our whale ships and those of the English, of an expense of nearly one-third more to our ships than to the English. To do this away, it was necessary for me to obtain an influence over the chiefs who administered the government; and this could only be accomplished by a course of liberal entertainments to them, and by which I obtained an ascendency sufficient to get the obnoxious regulation repealed, with a solemn assurance that no advantage should be granted to the vessels of any nation over those of the United States from that period. It should be recollected that, at this period, the natives of the Sandwich Islands were not, if they are now, in that state of civilization which they were described to be, at the subsequent visits of the Vincennes, Captain Finch, by his chaplain, who is a missionary, and that the Dolphin, under my command, was the first vessel-of-war of the United States that had visited these islands since their discovery; and I have frequently heard it asserted by gentlemen who are engaged in commerce, that the visit of the Dolphin had a more salutary effect than any subsequent vessel which has been there. I enclose you the Secretary's reply to a letter of mine, by which you will see that Captain Jones, of the Peacock , received $690, and the last session of Congress gave Captain Finch $5,000. To your justice I submit the direction of my case, and the gentlemen composing the Naval Committee, with a full reliance that the subject will be treated according to its merits, and in conformity with previous precedents. Very respectfully, I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
Hon. John Anderson, Member of Congress.
An allusion is made to special instructions (by the Secretary) to Captain Jones; my instructions also directed me to cultivate good feelings and a friendly intercourse wherever I went.
West Barnstable, Mass., October 28, 1832.
During a cruise in the Pacific, in command of the United States schooner Dolphin, while visiting the islands in pursuit of the mutineers of the whale ship Globe , it was necessary, in order to facilitate my intercourse with the chiefs of the numerous islands at which I stopped, to make presents, particularly at the Mulgrave group, where the principal part were bestowed, and where the survivors of that ill-fated ship were found, to induce the chiefs to render them without bloodshed, and to interest them to treat with humanity any others who, through misfortune, might be thrown on their islands. The articles, consisting of various descriptions, were always given as presents from the President of the United States, and in conformity with an ancient and universal usage, coeval with the discovery of the islands, and
practiced by all navigators. On my return I addressed a letter to the Department, dated December 4th, 1827, requesting that I might be allowed remuneration for the same, but was informed that there was no law to authorize the payment. I have since been informed that Captain Jones, of the Peacock , had been allowed compensation under the head of entertainments to the chiefs. For the truth of this I do not pretend to vouch. The difficulties with which I was surrounded on my return in 1827, and which continued until last spring, left me no leisure to look after the subject.
I now address you, Mr. Woodbury, as the head to which I am directly amenable, and the guardian and depository of my rights as an officer, to suggest the proper course for me to pursue, if there is no law authorizing the payment of the same. I should consider that I was deviating from a proper and decorous course in applying to Congress for relief without first placing the subject before you for your consideration, to which it is most respectfully submitted, by, sir,
Your most obedient servant,
To the Hon. Levi Woodbury, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.
Navy Department, October 30, 1832.
Your letter of the 28th instant has been received. Captain Jones had special instructions to visit islands and cultivate the friendship of the natives, &c., and as the Fourth Auditor has reported that "upon the affidavit of Captain Jones that he had expended $690 in entertaining and making presents to Indians, for which he could not obtain vouchers, it was allowed to him by Mr. Southard in 1828."
Similar claims have been made since by Captain Finch and Captain Sloat: but since 1828 they have been uniformly referred to Congress. It is, therefore, not in the power of the Department, by its present rules, to make the allowance asked.
I am, respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
Master Commandant John Percival, U. S. Navy, West Barnstable, Mass.
Boston, January 18, 1833.
My Dear Sir:
I regret that I did not see you on your passing through this place for Washington, to thank you in person for the favors conferred upon me during my absence in the West Indies. I hope I may have the pleasure of seeing you on your return. I observe that, in the proceedings of Congress, a bill has been reported in the House of Representatives to change the pay, &c., of the officers of the navy. Will you do me the favor to send me a copy, (if it has been printed) and also of a report of the persons having balances against them on the books of the Fourth Auditor, which has been sent to the House? What is your opinion of the probability of this navy bill's passing the House this session?
Captain Percival has petitioned Congress for remuneration for presents, &c., made to the natives of the several islands visited by him in the Pacific ocean, while in command of the United States schooner Dolphin, and has requested me to write you on the subject, and to solicit your influence in its favor, should you deem it proper to report a bill in his behalf. The petition will be referred to the Committee on Naval Affairs, of course. Captain Jones, whilst in command of the sloop-of-war Peacock, visited the Sandwich and Society Islands, and on his return made a claim upon the Navy Department for about $690, which was allowed him by Mr. Secretary Southard, upon his making a deposition of the circumstances. Captain Finch made a similar visit in the Vincennes, and an appropriation was made by Congress two years since for his relief, granting him $5,000, I think, for presents, &c., made during his cruise. The Dolphin , under Captain Percival, was the first vessel of our navy that visited those islands, and many presents were made by him which cannot now be enumerated, for no account was kept of the articles or their value. I have stated in a deposition which accompanies the petition that I purchased articles of jewelry, beads, and other ornaments, handkerchiefs, knives, and combs, and some other articles, which I found charged to Captain Percival in an old memorandum book; and I am knowing to his having purchased calicoes and cotton cloth, all of which were made use of as presents to the natives. On our arrival at the Sandwich Islands an entertainment was given to the chiefs, and another to the young King and chiefs before our departure, to facilitate the arrangements to be made in relation to the claims of American merchants against the government and chiefs; both of which were given at the expense of Captain Percival; in addition to which, during our stay at Woahoo, over three months, he lived on shore, and was constantly receiving the visits of the chiefs and principal natives, which must have considerably increased his expenses. For all these extraordinary expenses I think that the sum of five hundred dollars will not more than remunerate him. As the other gentlemen have been remunerated for similar expenses, and to a greater amount than Captain Percival asks, I see no just grounds for denying it to him, particularly as I consider his visit to the islands of as much importance to the interests of the country as those of any other officer who has visited the islands since 1825, whatever the missionaries or their friends may say to the contrary, notwithstanding.
I made an application about a month since, upon the expiration of my leave of absence, for orders to the Navy yard at Charlestown, should a vacancy occur, as I had understood Mr. Cox was an applicant for sea service, which the Secretary of the Navy informed me had been received and put on file. If it should occur to you, when you meet Mr. Woodbury, will you do me the favor to inquire what would be my chance of receiving orders to that situation should it be vacated? I am not very desirous of going to sea before next summer, and thought that if I could get that situation it would be better than remaining unemployed. If you have any public documents in relation to the navy to spare, I should be gratified to receive them; but please consult your own convenience on the subject, as your constituents may expect your spare documents.
Tours, most truly,
JOHN A. BATES.
Hon. John Anderson.
P. S.—I received from Mr. Watson the letters returned to you from the dead letter office, for which accept my thanks.