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Mr. GILMORE, from the Committee of Ways and Means, made the following ·
The Committee of Ways and Means, to whom was referred the petition of J. P. & E. B. Penny, of the city of Mexico, merchants, by Thomas Diron 8. Co. of the city of New York, merchants, their ugenis and factors, report:
That, in the Spring of the year 1829, the Messrs. Pennys caused to be shipped from the port of Tampico, in the Republic of Mexico, one hundred and five bales of jalap root, on board the brig Drom2, and consigned to the said Thomas Dixon & Co. as the agents of the petitioneri, at iewYork, which was appraised in New York, in June, 1829, at $28 per quintal, instead of $24, the actual value, as stated in the invoice; and in consequence of such appraised value exceeding the invoice value more than ten per cent. an additional duty or penalty of fifty per cent. was imposed, which they were compelled to pay. The petitioners complain of the appraisement, and exhibit the original invoice duly certified, and proof of the price of the article at the place from which it was imported corresponding with the invoice.
Your committee are of opinion that relief should be granted to the petitioners, and report a bill accordingly.
exceed, as stated
FEBRUARY 18, 1831.
Mr. CARSON, from the Committee on Naval Affairs, made the following
The Committee on Naval Affairs, to whom was referred the petition of
George K. Knight, make the following report:
The petitioner, previous to the month of May, 1814, was the owner of a schooner called the “ Experiment," engaged in trade in the Chesapeake bay and its tributary waters, under the command of Capt. George McDuell. He alleges that he gave strict orders to his captain not to do any thing which would expose his vessel to capture by the British forces, which then infested the waters of the Chesapeake, nor to engage in any improper trade: that, while said vessel was proceeding on her voyage down the river Potomac, she was stopped by the commander of a small vessel of war of the United States, and taken into the public service as a lookout vessel: that said ves. sel was despatched by the commander of the United States' vessel of war down the river Potomac to look out for British ships of war, which were said to be in that river: that, upon turning a point in the river, she suddenly caine in view of a squadron of British ships: that the captain of said schooner endeavored to make his escape by running into Yeocomico creek, but, in doing so, the vessel grounded, and was next morning captured by the enemy's barges, and burned; and the petitioner claims compensation for the vessel so captured and destroyed. At the time of these transactions the petitioner reside ed in the city of Baltimore, in the State of Maryland, and was engaged in mercantile transactions; but that, owing to this and many other heavy losses in trade, he was compelled to relinquish his business, and removed to the western part of the State of New York, and assumed the occupation of a farmer. That, at the time of the destruction of his vessel, a protest, setting forth all the circumstances of the case, was made by Captain McDuell, her commander, which, together with other depositions and documents in the case, were wholly and utterly destroyed, by the burning of his dwellinghouse on the 10th of February, 1830. The fact of the burning of the petitioner's dwellling is fully substantiated by a large number of his neighbors.
It appears from documents with which the committee have been furnished by the Navy Department, that the United States' schooner " Asp,” under the command of Midshipman Richard Mackall, was despatched from the navy yard in Washington, on the 13th of April, 1814, to Baltimore, with cannon, and raft of mast pieces in tow, intended for the United States' frigate Java, then building in Baltimore: that, after the departure of the “ Asp?
from Washington, the Navy Department was informed that a British squadron was lying off the mouth of the Potomac, and that orders were there. upon forwarded to stop her further progress. On the 29th of April, the commander of the Asp, in a letter dated “ Ludlow's landing,” informed Commodore Tingey that he had obtained certain intelligence that the enemy's squadron was at anchor a small distance below Blackstone's island, in the Potomac, and that, for safety of the raft, &c., he should move further up the river.
It appears from the depositions of Captain McDuell, who now resides in the city of Washington, taken March 29th and April 8th, 1930, that, while the Asp was thus lying in the Potomac, arrested in her voyage, and beleaguered by the enemy, the vessel of the petitioner, pursuing a voyage from Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, to St. Mary's, on the Potomac, was hail. ed by the Asp, and informed that the enemy were in the Potomac below; · upon which the “ Experiment" cast anchor along side the Asp, the commander of which stated, that, as his vessel was not a swift sailer, and being incumbered with a raft in tow, the preservation of which was of much consequence, he was desirous of engaging a fast sailing vessel, such as the Experiment, as a lookout vessel to proceed down the river and reconnoitre the enemy: that he (Captain McDuell) having other people's property on board, and positive orders from his owners not to risk or endanger his vessel, declined the service. Upon which the commander of the Asp informed him that he was authorized to employ a vessel tolook out, if he found it necessary to do so, and thereupon positively order him to proceed down the river to reconnoitre: that he then considered he had no further discretion in the case, as he considered, in fact, his vessel and himself impressed into the public service, by a force which he had not the ability, if the inclination, to oppose: that he did proceed on the service assigned him, and went cautiously down the river as far as Piney Point, keeping as near the shore as possible. On opening the point, in the dusk of the evening, he suddenly discovered the enemy's squadron, and was completely within their power; that, not being able to return, the wind blowing down the river, he ran across the river and endeavored to gain Yeocomico creek, in doing which he grounded; and Urat every exertion to get the vessel off proyed fruitless, she was captured next morning by the enemy's barges, who also faithlessly endeavored to get off, after which she was fired and destroyed. Captain McDuell also states, that no consideration would have induced him to have ventured his Vessel in the service, had he not believed that he was bound to do so by the orders of the officer of the Government, being, as he conceived, legally impressed into the public service, and that he could have reached his place of destination in safety. He further states, that, shortly after the capture and destruction of the Experiment, he entered a protest before the collector of the port of Yeocomico, which he sent to his owners in Baltimore.
It may be proper here to observe that the respectability of the character of Captain McDuell is, amply voạched by many highly honorable gentlemen of the city of Washington,
G. Robinson, of Westmoreland county, Virginia, states that he was on the shore when Captain McDuell landed from his schooner, who then made the same representations with respect to his being impressed into the public service as are set forth in his deposition, which Mr. Robinson states he has examined,
John Murphy, the presiding Justice of Westmoreland county court, states that he recollects the circumstances of the vessel's being on shore, captured, and destroyed; that a company of United States' troops and a company of militia, stationed in the neighborhoor., went to her defence: that he has seen Captain McDuell's statement, and that he has not the least doubt it is perfectly correct.
Captain Allen S. Dozier states that he was in command of a company of militia stationed a little above the mouth of Yeocomico creek; saw the schooner on shore: that Captain McDuell called upon him for assistance to get her off: that part of his company went on board, used all the means in their power, during the night, but without success: that she was captured next morning and destroyed: and that, to the best of his recollection, Capt. McDuell made a formal protest before the collector of Yeocomico, which was, also, signed by his lieutenant and himself, setting forth all the circumstances of the case.
Captain William L. Rogers states that he commanded a company of the United States' troops stationed about two miles above the place where the vessel was destroyed: that, upon discovering she was aground, he went to her relief: that a larged armed barge, under cover of a heavy armed schooner, was approaching: that all was done in her defence with musketry, which time and circunstances permitted: and that, during the conflict, Capt. McDuell behaved with firmness, and manifested a determination to defend his vessel to the last. Captain Rogers also states, that, after the vessel was abandoned by the enemy, he boarded her, with a view to extinguish the fire, but that all endeavors to do so were fruitless; that the vessel appeared to be from eighty to a hundred tons' burthen, in good condition, worth from two to three thousand dollars.
The Hon. John Taliaferro, of the House of Representatives, certifies, in writing, to the high standing and respectability of the characters of Mr. Robinson, Mr. Murphy, Captain Dozier, and Captain Rogers.
From this statement of facts, which are amply sustained in the opinion of the conimittee, the following conclusions present themselves:
That the vessel of the petitioner was captured and destroyed by the enemy: that such capture and destruction would not, probably, have taken place, if the commander of the United States' ship Asp had not interfered with the voyage of the vessel, by taking her and her commander into his service to reconnoitre the enemy, the better to protect himself and the public property under his charge.
The petitioner alleges, and Captain McDuell makes oath to the fact, that his orders were strict and positive to run no risk of capture by the enemy, nor to do any thilig which would be likely to endanger the safety of his vessel; and under these orders, and from the declarations of Captain McDuell, it is fair to infer, that, aster he was informed of the neighborhood of the ene. my, he would have withdrawn up the river, or taken such other precautions as would have assured the safety of the vessel. This, he states, he was prevented from doing by his impressment into the public service. Whether that impressment was legal or not, it is not for the committee now to determine; it is sufficient to state that it was the common practice in the time, for officers of any grade, both in the military and naval arm of the service, to impress private property into the public service, and indemnity has been made in