100 Years Ago Today 16 January 1912
The Washington Times, dated Tuesday evening, 16 January 1912, reported that a Denver Editor claims that clerks are being coerced, as charges are made against officials of postoffice department, and the Denver Editor comes before the House Committee on Reform in Civil Service.
Urban A. Walters, editor of the Denver harpoon, appeared before the House committee on Reform in the Civil Service, charging the illegal expenditure of more than $1-million in post office department funds. The committee resumed hearings on the Lloyd bill providing that government employees shall not be subject to dismissal because of affiliation with labor unions.
Mr. Walters based his charges against the postmaster General and Second Assistant Postmaster General Stewart on the theory that the department had paid large sums to railroad companies under the law compelling the installation of sanitary and safety devices, but that some of the railroads had failed to observe the law's requirements.
It goes on to state, "Coercion Is Alleged - Many employees, charged Mr. Walters, had been coerced by the department officials into signing misleading reports regarding the condition of their cars. This condition he laid upon the executive orders of both President Taft and former President Roosevelt denying such employees the right of direct appeal to Congress."
Congressman pouty, after hearing Mr. Walters' charges, declared that he believed they should be made the subject of a searching investigation, and suggested that the appointment of a special committee be sought to go into the matter or that the affair be taken up with the Committee on Expenditures in the Post office department.
Victor Berger, the Socialist member, was at the committee meeting, and in a statement to the committee attacked the operation of the executive orders as unconstitutional. John Shirley, president of the Illinois Steel Car Wheel Company, also appeared before the committee and declared that he had charges similar to those of the editor of the Harpoon to make.
The gist of Mr. Walters' charge was put before the committee when he said, "I charge that postmaster General Hitchcock and his assistant, Joseph Stewart, have unlawfully and illegally paid to various railroad companies, since the act of March 12, 1910, went into effect, and also under the act of March 4, 1911, $1,000,000 for services and facilities, specifically required by said acts, which services and facilities have never been performed. I share that the failure to supply such facilities; sanitary and safety, have worked a great hardship on the men working in the railway mail service. The railway mail service employes, also have been intimidated by official orders, posted on order books, and have been ordered to certify to the untruth that these facilities were being supplied.
"The postmaster General and his assistants have compelled their subordinates to certify that services have been received from railroads, when as a matter of fact, they have not been made. Employes have been intimidated by orders issued by the department into certifying, under threat of discharge, that the cars were safe and sound. I have the original copies of such orders issued by the department.
"The postmaster general connote be logically expected to all the attention of Congress or the public to the shortcomings of his own department. Frank H. Hitchcock and Joseph Stewart and the other officials of the department have not been held responsible by congress for the multitudinous sins of their regime. They have unlawfully, illegally, and flagrantly violated the trust placed upon them by Congress."
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