“I WENT TO JEFFERSON DAVIS, CHAIRMAN OF THE COMM[ISSION] AND ASKED HIM IF HE WOULD DO ME THE PERSONAL FAVOR TO REPORT THE BILL. HE DID SO ON THE 23RD OF FEB. ON THE 26TH AT MY REQUEST HE MARRIED IT AS AN AMENDMENT UPON THE ARMY APPROPRIATION BILL…”
WILSON, HENRY. (1812-1875). 18th Vice President of the United States. Good Autograph Letter Signed, “Henry Wilson”, as Senator from Massachusetts. Four full pages, quarto. Natick [Massachusetts]. June 3, 1869. Minor fold wear, else fine condition. Wilson writes to “Hon F.W. Bird” in an attempt to clear up the circumstances of how a bill was passed in Congress, years before, and who benefited from it.
“Dear Sir, In reply to your note asking me what I think of the claim of Geo. M. Weston, as agent of the state of Maine, in aiding to secure the passage through Congress of the Mass. Claim in 1859.
In reply I have to say that I know very little about the services of Mr. W in securing the payment of that claim. It appears that Maine, whose agent W. was paid since $12,874.82; and it seems to me that this is a most extraordinary sum to be paid to any man for a few months services. A bill was introduced into the House by Mr. Chaffer of the Springfield district deferred to the Committee in Military affairs, of which Committee Mr. Buffington was a member. It was referred by the Committee to Gen. M. Rice of Mississippi who made an examination of the case reported front [?] of the Committee and was instructed by all of the Committee excepting Mr. Phelps of MO. to report it to the House which he did; but the bill was soon cancelled.
On the 11th of Feb. I introduced the bill that became a law. It was referred to the Committee on Military Affairs of which I was a member. I called it up in the Committee, stated the facts of the case, and made [?] its opinion to Mr. Chestnut of S.G. for examination. He did examine it carefully and reported the facts to the committee after some discussion the committee unanimously instructed me to report the bill to the Senate with directions to call it up for consideration or to … it on the Army appropriations bill when that bill should be considered. I went to Jefferson Davis, Chairman of the Comm. And asked him if he would do me the personal favor to report the bill. He did so on the 23rd of Feb. on the 26th at my request he married it as an amendment upon the Army Appropriation bill; and the amendment was adopted with very little opposition. The House, after some debate commenced on the amendment by a vote of 174 yeas to 23 nays; so the bill passed through Congress with very little opposition.
I saw little of Mr. Weston and know very little of the work he did. Mr. Hanscom our state agent did what he could for which he received $7572.55 I do not know whether either of their agents employed the services of any other persons to aid them. As Congress was nearly unanimously in favor of paying the just claims of Massachusetts. I am of the opinion the labor of agents contributed little to the result. No money could be improperly used and, if it was attempted to be used it would be a criminal attempt that should receive no … from any quarter. Very respectfully, Henry Wilson.”
Just very fine political content by the soon-to-be Vice President.