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make it respectable, so that men of standing and influence will give it their encouragement. Heretofore it bas generally been treated with ridicule and contempt, and dearly has the nation paid for this folly during the present struggle. But for the excellent system and organization of the militia of Massachosetts, the capital of our nation would have fallen into the hands of the rebels within a month after the adjournment of the last regular session of the Legislature of this State, that could not be induced, by the friends of a thorough military organization, at that time, to make an appropriation for so important a measure, or to enact a law to meet any emergency that might occur, and to prepare for the strife that appeared inevitable; but in tbeir liberality they appropriated about $7,000, to be col*lected the next winter, for this pupose; yet within sixty days they were obliged to iucur the expense of an extra session, and then appropriated one million of dollars to fit out our soldiers for the field, the State having already been called on for one regiment, and could fit out that one only by the voluntary loans of the liberal minded citizens throughout the State, to defray the expense. To our old volunteer organizations we are indebted for the officers and most of the men of our first two regiments sent from this State to the war; and to these early organizations the State is indebted also, for the reputation of its soldiers, and for a majority of our best officers in the field. If we would learn a lesson from the terrible struggle in which we are now engaged, prolonged by our folly in not having been better prepared, and at a cost of so much treasure and blood, we will no longer neglect to provide for a military force that can defend us from invasion from without, or rebellion or treason from within.
Base and malicious charges have been made against this department by parties in Detroit, and those charges were circolated throughout the State by the press of this city, which appears to be too ready at all times to publish anything offered them by its own citizens 'derogatory to the character of citizens of other parts of the State, without a question or thought as to
the truth or falsity of such charges. To learn whether the public had been outraged by the practice of fraud and corruption to an "alarming extent," as these charges set forth, and whether "capital punishment” would be required, as recommended, to correct the abuses so positively asserted as being constantly practiced in this department, the Legislature, at its last extra session, wisely appointed a committee of investigation to learn whether the charges so made were true or false. I believe that committee made a thorough examination of all the transactions of this department, from the time it was placed in my hands to the month of March last, since which time the ex. penditures have been very light, as the general government has fitted out the volunteers from this State, our law having authorized but ten regiments. For the manner in which those charges were sustained, and in which the principal author made good his positive assurances, I would respectfully refer you to the report of that committee, which will also show whether a true regard to the interests of the State has been studied by this department or not. But such demagogues are to be found in almost every community, and some cities tolerate them on account of the dollars and cents they represent. Although this investigation was attended with some considerable expense, I believe it will not be regretted, as the clamor about plundering the State immediately ceased, and the public learned by it how to appreciate the meddlesome, malicious au. thors of those charges.
Could this department have been provided with cash to use in its purchases and contracts, instead of our War Bonds at par, as the State Treasurer obliged us to use, called by bid. ders worth then but seventy-five to eighty cents on the dollar, I would have challenged comparison in its expenditures with any other State fitting out the same number of regiments in as thorough a manner as our own. The use of bonds at par, shut out a large number of bidders; as they knew of no way of converting them, they would not bid in competition with the more wealthy contractors. Partics bidding would often feel
that they had been wronged in the awarding of contracts, as they would frequently learn that contracts had been let at higher rates than they had bid for, without reflecting that the letting was for bonds at par, while their own bids were for cash, and consequently could not be considered.
Notwithstanding the disadvantage of operating with bonds, causing an addition of about twenty per cent. on our contracts, the conclusion arrived at by this committee is, that a saving in this branch of the public service of $350,000 has been ef. fected, when compared with similar transactions in other States.
As the transactions of this department have all undergone your rigid scrutiny, and as none of any magnitude have been entered into without consulting you, this statement is now rendered, confidently hoping it will merit your approval.
J. H. FOUNTAIN,