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STATE OF VIRGINIA, borough of Norfolk, sct: .
I, Giles B. Cooke, a justice of the peace in and for the borough of Norfolk, aforesaid, in the State of Virginia, do hereby certify, that Dr.James Cor. nick this day personally appeared before me, in my said borough, and made oath that the answers given to the interrogatories propounded to him, as within written, as well as to the interrogatories propounded to him on the 19th June, 1841, are true and correct.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal, this twentythird day of July, one thousand eight hundred and forty-one.
G. B. COOKE. [SEAL.]
Interrogatories propounded to Doctor George Blacknall, of the United
States navy, by B. Homans and J. H. Butler, commissioners appointed to investigale complaints alleged against the navy agent, Norfolk, and his answers thereto, as well as to interrogatories by George Loyall, Esq., navy agent.
TO INTERROGATORIES BY THE COMMISSIONERS.
Question. Are you conversant with the prices of drugs, medicines, and surgical instruments, in Norfolk?
Answer. Having been in the habit of making purchases for the naval hospital for the last eighteen-months, I know something of the prices of medicines.
Question. Will you be pleased to examine the accounts now submitted to you, and state whether the prices therein charged are fair and reasonable, according to the prices then current in the Norfolk market, or whether they are higher, and how much, than the wholesale prices for similar articles of the best quality ?
Answer. I have examined the bills, and think some of the articles are charged high; yet I would remark, that the prices of drugs for the navy depend so much upon the manner in which they are put up, it is difficult to say whether the charges be too great or not. I would also remark, that the prices of drugs, medicines, &c., are extremely variable, even within a very limited space of time.
INTERROGATORIES BY MR. LOYALL.
Question. Where do you obtain the most of your medicinal supplies?
Answer. My requisitions are sent alternately to S. & W. Watts, of Ports mouth, for one quarter, and for the next quarter to Whitehead & Beale, of Norfolk. If I find any particular article which I desire in other drug stores, I request those gentlemen to procure the article.
Question. How do the prices in the accounts which you have examined compare with the prices in accounts for medicinal supplies for the hospital?
Answer. I think the charges in the accounts I have examined are generally higher. That, however, is to be expected, as the articles were put up for vessels going on very distant cruises, and which made it necessary to put them up with much more care.
Question. Do you consider the course pursued in obtaining medicinal
supplies the proper one, or that any other would be likely to give satisfaction, or answer any valuable end?
Answer. I think the practice of permitting surgeons to make their own purchases decidedly the best. Nor do I think that any other course would answer, unless some competent medical officer were appointed to make the purchases.
Question. In procuring your medical supplies, have you ever received an intimation from me of preference for any one?
Answer. I do not think I have, in making medical or any other purchases..
TO INTERROGATORIES BY THE COMMISSIONERS.
Question. In purchasing articles from the druggists who supply the hospital, or in selecting articles at other stores, do you previously inquire or ascertain the prices?
Answer. I am not very particular to do so.
Question. Do you examine and scrutinize the prices of articles for the hospital, when the accounts are rendered ? Answer. Always.
GEORGE BLACKNALL, Surgeon. NORFOLK, July 1, 1841.
STATE OF VIRGINIA, borough of Norfolk, sct:
I, Charles H. Shield, a justice of the peace in and for the borough of Norfolk aforesaid, in the State of Virginia, do hereby certify, that Doctor George Blacknall this day personally appeared before me, in my said borough, and made oath, in due form of law, that the answers given to the interrogatories propounded to him, as written on this sheet, are true and correct.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal, this twentyninth day of July, one thousand eight hundred and forty-one.
CHARLES H. SHIELD, Alderman. (SE AL.]
Interrogatories propounded to Doctor George Blacknall, United States
navy, examined on behalf of George Loyall, Esq., navy agent, Norfolk, and his answers thereto.
TO INTERROGATORY BY MR. LOYALL.
Question. Have you examined carefully the accounts of Whitehead & Beale, for drugs, medicines, hospital stores, &c., with the accounts of other druggists, from whom you obtained similar supplies ? and, if yea, what is the result of that comparison ?
Answer. I have carefully compared the accounts of Whitehead & Beale with those of S. & W. Waits, the only persons who furnished drugs, medicines, hospital stores, &c., for the hospital during the year 1840 ; and I find that the charges of 'Whitehead & Beale are less than those of S. & W. Watts. The difference is small, nor do I think the charges are higher in either case than they should be.
TO INTERROGATORY BY THE COMMISSIONERS. Are you acquainted with the wholesale prices of drugs and medicines in other markets? I do not think I am.
GEORGE BLACKNALL. NORFOLK, July 20, 1841.
Norfolk, July 29, 1941.--Sworn to before me.
CHARLES H. SHIELD.
Interrogatories propounded by Charles H. Beale, examined on behalf of George Loyall, Esq., navy agent, Norfolk, and his answers thereto.
TO INTERROGATORIES BY MR. LOYALL. Question. Do you belong to the firm of Whitehead & Beale, dealers in Norfolk iu drugs, medicines, hospital stores, surgical instruments, &c. ?
Answer. I do.
Question. Will you be pleased to examine the accounts of the firm for medical supplies, hospital stores, surgical instruments, &c., now submitted to you, together with the depositions taken upon the same, and state such facts and matters, in relation to both, as you may deem just and proper ?
Answer. After a careful examination of our bills for medical supplies, hospital stores, &c., and of the testimony in regard to the same, I give the following staternent as my answer to the interrogatory:
First. We have procured copies of bills of other druggists against the United States naval service, a comparison of whose prices with ours shows that, almost in every case where similar articles are charged, they are at the same or higher rates. A list of these prices is given below, with the proper explanations.
Secondly. No druggist or apothecary who has never supplied the navy, can be competent witnesses as to the prices of those who have been in the habit of so doing, because—Ist. Medicines, and every article required, are put up in a totally different manner from those supplied to country druggists, or even to physicians. 2d. There are a large number of articles, generally, required by the service, which are very seldom used by other practitioners, and therefore are not usually kept in a drug store. These articles have to be kept by us, and very often for so long a period that they become injured, and have to be replaced by similar ones. 3d. Often, when articles have been sent on board, after a moiety has been used, the remainder has been returned to us, and we have resupplied the original quantity without extra charge for that used. 4th. We have ordered, at the request of naval surgeons, particular kinds of instruments, &c., which afterwards have been decliued, (not on account of quality, but in consequence of a new preference,) and bave been thrown on our hands.
Thirdly. The only testimony concerning our bills, by a druggist who has supplied the naval service, is that of Mr. Thomas D. Toy, some of whose answers to the several interrogatories proposed to him I shall examine. His second answer is of this import: that he could have furnished the bill of W. & B. against the Constitution for one-half, and those against the Yorktown and Dale for two-thirds of the amount charged. In his answer the gentleman has been peculiarly unfortunate; and, to say the
least, too hasty in his reply. Had he taken the trouble to examine the whole of the bills alluded to, he would have found reasons to have made a different answer; he would have seen, that not one-half of those amounts was for medicines, chemicals, and all those articles usually kept in an apothecary's or druggist's store ; and that the remainder was for articles of a character concerning which he knows little or nothing, viz: H. Schively's surgical instruments, (which cost from 75 to 100 per cent. higher than those obtained from other makers,) hardware, dry goods, groceries, preserved meats, and furniture; all of which (except the instruments) are at cost prices, and the instruments themselves afford but a moderate profit. A list of these several articles and their value, on our bills against the Constitution, Yorktown, and Dale, is also submitted below ; and their general correctness can be proved by an examination of the bills themselves. Also, the hardware, hospital stores, &c., enumerated above, have been supplied by us, at the request of the surgeons themselves, that they might not be put to the inconvenience and trouble of going round to a dozen different stores every day, when they had their official duties to attend to ; and these articles are always at our risk, until receipted for by the surgeon, and the drayage, freight, &c., always paid by us. His reply to the third question is, that he could have furnished, if called upon, any or all the articles required for the service. To this answer I have only to say, that Mr. Toy has called on us to purchase surgical instruments of H. Schively's make, which he said he never kept, and expressed his surprise when told the cost of the same. This shows completely that this answer was imprudently made, and that he knew nothing of the prices of the instruments furnished by us, although he said he could have supplied the bills alluded to for one-half and twothirds of the amounts charged. His answer to a question “whether the accounts of Santas & Toy have not been presented and paid by the navy agent," is as follows: “That we have occasionally had accounts for prescriptions furnished to the order of the surgeon of this station, which have been paid by the navy agent ;" which undoubtedly conveys the idea that they have had no accounts except for prescriptions. But, either his memory is very deficient, or he must have imagined that nothing was known about the matter. There is a bill of Santas & Toy against the dispensary, (navy yard. Gosport,) bearing date June 30, 1840, for medicines, and not prescriptions, in which the charges for similar articles are just as high as on those of ours, which he has stigmatized as exorbitant and extravagant. There are also bills of his present partner, and of H. Buff & Co., who are supposed to be a branch of the house of Santas & Toy, a comparison of whose prices with ours is on the list above referred to, and submitted below. : Fourthly. We have never charged the naval service for prescriptions, although a great number has been put up by us for surgeons of ships, and of hospital, and of navy yard.
Fifthly. It is strange that, if our prices are so much higher than those of others, the naval surgeons, who have the privilege of procuring their supplies from whom they choose, should generally prefer that we should supply them.
Sixthly. Every medicine and article supplied by us for the navy, and especially for vessels destined for sea, have been put up in the neatest and most careful manner, to prevent the injurious effects of the sea air. For example: medicines, chemicals, &c., are packed in the strongest ground glass, stoppered bottles, (both tincture and salt: mouth,) labelled neatly, and often with gold leaf, (at the particular request of the surgeon,) which label of itself is worth from 19 10. 25 cents apiece, but for which no extra charge is made. Articles, such as arrow root, barley, sago, corn meal, tapioca, &c., are always put in tin canisters of a convenient size; ointments, chloride of lime, &c., in strong eartheu jars, all of which must enhance the prices of the articles, and which it must be apparent have not been considered by those who have given their testimony on the subject. • Seventhly. Mr. N. C. King, in his testimony, says: that after examining a portion only of the bills, he concludes that a great many articles could have been furnished at half of the prices charged, but did not take the trouble to examine the whole of the bills, nor inquire the manner in which they were put up; and it is clear that the considerations mentioned above have had no influence in his statement. He has also furnished a list of prices of medicines sold by him in 1839 and 1840, comprising about sixty articles, not one-half of the number of medicines exclusively, generally furnished by us on a medical requisition. Even some of these prices are higher than we have charged, viz: Turkey rhubarb, nitrate of silver, ung. hydrarg., &c., while a number of articles are put below cost, viz: Strychnine, cost of which was $14 to $15, is put at . • $12 00 Castor oil, $7 50 per dozen
- 6 50 Tart, antim., $150 per pound
• 1 00 Extract dandelion, $2 to $2 75 per pound
. . 1 25 Ung. cantharid., $1 25 per pound
- - 1 00 English calomel is put down at 124 cents advance on a pound, and Dover's powder is put at cost. The reason why Mr. King should sell articles below or at cost prices is difficult to be imagined; and the only conclusion at which we can reasonably arrive is, that either the fairness of his motives must be impugned, or that the articles sold must have been of an inferior quality, as it is well known that nothing is so common, or hard to be detected, as adulterations of drugs, medicines, &c., although the caption of his list of prices expressly declares that the specified articles are warranted to be of the best quality ; moreover, from the fact of his list being for a small portion only of the medicines on our bills, it is but rational to .conclude that our prices for those omitted by him were at lower rates than he was in the habit of supplying them. Not the slightest allusion is made to surgical instruments, &c., which are on our bills, nor in his list of prices has he a single article of the kind.
Eighthly. When the bills for medical supplies for the Yorktown and Dale were presented to Commodore Shubrick for his approval, he requested Dr. Patton, in the one case, and Dr. Cornick in the other, to examine the prices if they were just and reasonable. These gentlemen went around to several druggists, and, after a scrutinous examination, the following was the result: Dr. Cornick found that he could procure strychnine for $15 per ounce, (for an ounce of which we had charged $34,) and two or three other articles for less than our prices, making in the whole $36, while a number of articles on our bill were at lower rates than he found them elsewhere; our strychnine had cost us high, for it was a pure article; but thinking perhaps the prices of the article had declined, and for other reasons, we made no objection, and deducted the sum of $36 from the bill for the Yorktown. When Dr. Patton, in the same manner, examined the prices