He stated that he could obtain it by securing the adoption of a resolution by the House calling for the information.
The Deputy replied that the House of Representatives had rights in the matter which he as an individual member of Congress had not, and if the House called for the information that he had asked for it would be furnished, but that it could not be given to him.
At that time there was some question under consideration by the House which had precipitated a debate involving the practice of some national banks of speculating in Government bonds by reducing their circulation and withdrawing their bonds when the market value of the bonds was high and selling them to get the benefit of the high price, and subsequently re-depositing bonds and increasing their circulation when the market was low.
This congressman wanted the information he had asked for to use in a speech he intended to make in the House, and expected to show that a certain large city bank had been engaged in speculation in Government bonds in the manner stated.
The congressman secured the passage of the resolution by the House calling for the information he had requested, and it was promptly furnished the House, but it did not show that the particular bank which the congressman proposed to attack had increased or decreased its circulation during the period mentioned, and therefore the speech was not made.
For a number of years the salary of the Deputy Comptroller had remained fixed by statute at $3,000 per annum. Shortly after the occurrence related, the salary was increased in the appropriation bill to $3,500. When the bill came before the House for consideration and passage this congressman took no part in the debate on the bill until the item increasing the Deputy Comptroller's salary was reached, although a number of similar increases were provided for in the bill ahead of this item, when he had the item stricken out on a point of order. It was restored to the bill in the Senate but was again stricken out when reported to the House on a point of order raised by this same congressman, and it remained out when the bill became a law.
The reader may draw his own conclusion as to the motive of this statesman in giving this matter his special and persistent attention.
On another occasion a prominent congressman from the West called upon the Deputy Comptroller, with two of his constituents, for the purpose of having him reconsider his action in refusing to approve the title of First National for a bank which these constituents proposed to organize in their home town in the district represented by this congressman. They were advised of the rule of the Comptroller's office governing the approval of the title of First National and the reasons for its adoption, and were informed that this title could not be given them without waiving this rule, which the Deputy stated he could not consistently do. The congressman was most insistent upon securing the title for his constituents, and contested every objection made by the Deputy to granting it, but the Deputy was firm in his position that he could not consistently let them have the title.
The Congressman then declared his intention to appeal from the decision of the Deputy to the Comptroller when the latter returned to Washington, he being temporarily out of the City, and requested his constituents to remain over for a day or two. When the Comptroller returned they called upon him and laid their appeal before him. The Deputy was not present at the interview, but when it was over the congressman came into his room, which adjoined that of the Comptroller, and told him that the Comptroller had promised to review the case during the day and had requested him to call later, when he would let him know his decision. He then said to the Deputy, "Now I have been in Congress and around Washington long enough to know that a man who has been in the service of the Bureau as long as you have, and who occupies the position that you occupy, has a great deal to say in the determination of these questions, and," he said, "you can get me this title if you will." He said further, "I cannot tell you how much it means to me to secure this title for these gentlemen," and "If you will help me to get it for them I shall appreciate it very much and / will not forget you"
The Deputy stated in reply that if the Comptroller in the exercise of his discretion was disposed to let the congressman's constituents have the title of First National that he would interpose no objection, but if he asked him for his opinion or recommendation in the matter he would be obliged to advise against it.
Returning later in the day the congressman and his constituents called upon the Comptroller, and when the interview was ended they came through the Deputy's room in passing out and the Deputy inquired whether the Comptroller had decided their matter. One of them replied, "Yes, but not to our satisfaction."
The congressman, standing in the doorway between the Deputy's room and the corridor, with his arm outstretched at full length and his finger pointing at the Deputy, said, "And I blame you for it," and he and his constituents then departed very much disappointed. The Comptroller had sustained the action of the Deputy in denying the title of First National.
Now for the sequence. At the time of this occurrence the estimates for appropriations for the Currency Bureau for the following fiscal year had been submitted to the Appropriations Committee, of which this congressman was a prominent member.
These estimates contained a recommendation from the Secretary of the Treasury and the Comptroller of the Currency for an increase in the salary of the Deputy Comptroller of $500 per annum. The Deputy Comptroller realized that in denying to this congressman the request he had so persistently made of him that he had jeopardized his chances for securing the increase of salary that had been recommended, but nevertheless he conscientiously discharged his duty without regard to its effect upon himself.
The increase in salary was not allowed that year, nor for the two or three following years, although it had been recommended each succeeding year, and it was not until after the congressman left the Appropriations Committee that the increase was granted.
Now, my dear reader, if you were placed in a similar official and responsible position and a congressman were to call upon you and ask you to do something for him which you could not consistently do, and say to you, "If you will do this for me I will not forget you," and at that very time there was a recommendation pending before a committee of which the congressman was a member for an increase in your salary, what inference would you draw from his remark, "If you will do this for me I will not forget you," and the fact that the increase in salary recommended was not granted until three or four years later, when that congressman was no longer a member of the Appropriations Committee?
I leave that to you for determination. But -
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
The foregoing incidents are only two of many similar occurrences that could be related as showing the temptations thrown in the way of an official of the executive departments in Washington in the discharge of his duties and the injustice that is frequently done him by our lawmakers on Capitol Hill.