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From his long service on the committee he had experienced the necessity of having some disinterested authority to interpose between the binders and the engravers, and ascertain when the proper number had been furnished, and whether they were furnished in time for the printing of the documents which they were to accompany. Previous to this there had been no officer of the government to receive this work; it went from the engraver to the binder, and complaints were frequently made of the loss of public documents in consequence of the loss or non-reception of the plates. Great complaint had also been made as to the manner of executing the binding, and the necessity was felt of having some one to examine it before the work was received and paid for; and I can say with perfect safety, that this portion of the duty imposed on the office was, during the recess, equal to that of the printing of the documents.
The printing of Congress is now divided between two offices, involving considerable additional duty on the superintendent, and from this cause alone I was not unprepared for the request from him for additional assistance.
In conclusion, taking all these things into consideration, I think that the additional aid which you inform me he asks is not only necessary for the faithful performance of the duty imposed on him, but that, if properly employed, will much more than remunerate the government for their expense, and facilitate the completion and delivery of the public documents. An examination into the details of the office by any one will elucidate this fact better than I can explain it in writing. I am yours, very respectfully,
JOHN T. TOWERS. Hon. H. HAMLIN, United States Senate.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES.
JANUARY 12, 1854.-Ordered to be printed.
SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
(To accompany Bill S. 99.)
January 11, 1854. SIR: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 10th instant, requesting, in behalf of the Committee of Commerce, the opinion of the department on the expediency of erecting a marine hospital at St. Mark's, in the State of Florida.
In reply, I have to express the opinion that such a building is necessary at that point. I enclose copies of the correspondence of the department with the collector, upon this subject, from which it will be perceived that, during the prevalence of the late pestilence in that region the department was unable to furnish the relief to which the seamen, arriving at that port, were entitled, and that great suffering and loss of life happened in consequence. I have also to state that the plan of relief, suggested in my letter, has not been accomplished, in consequence, it is believed, of there not being any person willing to enter into the arrangement proposed, and that there seems no alternative left but for the government to build a hospital. I am, very respectfully,
Secretary of the Treasury. Hon. H. HAMLIN,
Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, United States Senate.
COLLECTOR'S OFFICE, District of St. Mark's, Florida, October 18, 1853. SIR: I have the honor herewith to transmit my account as agent of the marine hospital fund for the quarter ending September 30, 1853.
I am requested by the masters of vessels, merchants, and others, to invite the attention of the department to the great want of more adequate means than are at present provided for sick seamen at this port. Under the present arrangement, the amount expended here from the und can be of little benefit to the sailors, for the want of some suitable
place in which the sick can be accommodated, and where their nursing, care, and comfort, can be properly attended to. We have neither sailor boarding-houses or hospital, and during the present season, say for the last two months, we have suffered severely from yellow fever, during which period a large number of sailors have been, and several are now, sick with the prevailing epidemic, without the possibility of procuring board and nursing for the sufferers at any price. Under these circumstances, I have been compelled to witness their sufferings on board of their vessels, where the sick and sound are crowded together in the forecastle, without the means of procuring quarters for them on shore, and providing suitable nurses to attend them. The consequence is the impossibility of benefitting or alleviating the sufferings of the sick, and jeopardizing the lives of the whole crew.
This town being small, and without adequate means to provide for the destitute portion of her own population, in a season like the present, has, nevertheless, appropriated one hundred dollars for the express purpose of aiding the sick seamen of the port; but, having no hospital or boarding-house in which to lodge and provide for them, little good has resulted from this liberal donation. It is truly horrifying to witness as I have, this season, on shipboard, the extreme suffering of the sick and dying sailor, without the possibility of affording necessary relief. On one of our packets there is now but one of the crew able to sit up, or hand a cup of water to his suffering dying shipmates. The captain, first mate, and several of the crew have died.
We have from one hundred and ten to one hundred and thirty arrivals here during the season, their crews averaging about ten hands each. These vessels are mostly engaged in the coasting trade, and obtain their licenses at other ports, mostly in New York, where they pay their hospital dues. We have also other vessels touching here in the autumnal months for freights of cotton, coming from Navy Bay, the West Indies, New Orleans, and Mobile, and not unfrequently introducing yellow fever, or some contagious disease among us. son we had two arrivals from Aspinwall, all hands sick with Chagres fever, several of whom died here.
We need a building which can be used as a hospital, which would cost not more than $1,500 or $2,000. A competent physician offers to provide and furnish nurses, medicines, and his own personal services, with every necessary provision for the proper maintenance and comfort of the sick, for the sum of $1,200 per annum.
Should an act of Congress be necessary to carry such a measure into effect, a memorial can be forwarded asking the necessary appropriation. In the mean time I have felt it my duty, as agent of the marine hospital, to lay the existing painful facts before the depart
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Collector and Agent of Marine Hospital. Hon. First AUDITOR TREASURY DEPARTMENT, Washington.
November 1, 1853. SIR: I have duly received your letter of the 18th ultimo, and am greatly pained at the recital it contains of the suffering and destitution of the sick seamen arriving at your port, during the late pestilence, and who were entitled to relief at the hands of the government. It is certain the government was bound to afford the means of this relief; but it could only do so in the case in question, through the instrumentality of the people of St. Mark's, and if I understand your letter, the difficulty was not so much the want of money, as the fears of the pestilence, which prevented the receiving of the sick into the houses, or the giving them proper attendance on board their vessels.
It is impossible to remedy the past, but its appalling history, in respect to the sick seamen in your port, should not be lost, as an admonition to provide for the future. This I am willing and desirous to do, so far as my authority extends ; but I nevertheless do not like the proposition you have submitted, and chiefly for the reason that it is too speculative and indefinite. The compensation would be the same for different periods of the year, without regard to the varying proportions of sick, and there would be no security, after paying during the whole of a healthy period, that the contractor might not fail just when there became a pressing need for his services. To this I may add, that no conjecture could be formed in advance of the rate of compensation per capita that he would receive.
If the gentleman of whom you speak will rent a suitable house and provide nurses, and will engage to receive and accommodate sick seamen, entitled to hospital relief, with board and medical attendance, &c., at a certain compensation for each person per week, I shall be willing to enter into such arrangements; and I think he would find such an arrangement preferable in all respects to the other. If he will do so, you will please advise me, in order that a contract for one or more years may be made with him accordingly. If he declines, I know of no way of providing adequately for the occasion but by applying to Congress for the means of building a hospital, and for the government to appoint its physicians, nurses, &c. I am, very respectfully,
Secretary of the Treasury. HUGH ARCHER, Esq., Collector, 8c., St. Mark's, Florida.