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gate the manner in which said Commissioner has conducted his said office, and whether he has been guilty of any offense or offenses that are impeachable, and that said committee have power to send for persons and papers, and to examine witnesses on oath, and that they report to this House with all convenient speed, by resolution or otherwise;
Which was not adopted.
The Speaker announced the appointment of Messrs. Grosvenor, Oscar Adams, Benjamin W. Huston, Jr., Charles B. Millington, and John J. Adam as the special committee to investigate the charges against Charles A. Edmonds, Commissioner of the State Land Office.
Lansing, Wednesday, March 27, 1872. The select committee of the House of Representatives, appointed to consider the petition and complaint as to the conduct of Charles A. Edmonds, Commissioner of the State Land Office, submitted the following report:
The select committee to whom was referred the memorial of I. H. Bartholomew, R. C. Dart, E. H. Davis, H. B. Shank, G. H. Cole, C. Tracy, E. B. Millar, J. B. Hull, J. B. Porter, J. R. Esselstyn, John Robson, J. B. Lemley, H. W. Squiers, E. Bement, B. F. Simons, H. Ingersoll, Frank Wells, T. R. Cushing, O. S. Case, Abner Brown, A. T. Davis, H. H. Larned, C. E. Nash, H. Elliott, H. P. Hitchcock, and J. F. Conn, making complaint and preferring charges against Charles A. Edmonds, Commissioner of the State Land Office, and asking his removal from office for cause, have, in the discharge of this unwelcome duty, examined various witnesses, on oath, touching the several charges preferred against this public officer. During the taking of the testimony we regret that the absence of Charles A.
Edmonds from the city prevented our calling him before us to hear the proofs.
Before entering into the details of this report, we beg leave to call your attention to the previous good reputation and character which the Hon. Charles A. Edmonds has borne in the community. When we remember the patriotism and zeal shown by him in the cause of his country, his gallant and valuable services in the field, his unflinching fidelity in the cause of freedom, we approached this inquiry with the belief that he would appear to be the victim of a conspiracy. While we consider the charge and proofs of drunkenness, disconnected with any other act, as too trivial to call for the candid consideration of your committee; yet, when taken with the facts, as shown in the evidence, that in company with certain of his favorite clerks, he would, in a public manner, engage with them in drinking, carousing, and visiting places of disrepute, to the extent that the attention of the respectable portion of the community was called to him, it seems such an outrage upon the dignity of his official position, as to call for something more than a passing notice. The proof discloses that with some of his clerks, during his official term, he would engage in vile, dissolute, and adulterous conduct, and that in the day-time, and in business hours, and on one occasion, he in company with a confidential clerk, who, too, was a married man, has been known to engage not only in adulterous conduct, but to show such a disregard for some of the common decencies and proprieties of life, as to induce your committee to believe that the proofs would well sustain the charge of not only adultery, but of lascivious behavior.
While there was no positive proof showing his complicity with the authorship of the scandalous anonymous sheet, called Every Wednesday Night, so freely circulated in this House and community, there are sufficient facts and circumstances in proof, and to the knowledge of your committee, to warrant the conclusion that he had knowledge of and was engaged in this disreputable affair, if not the guilty author thereof; and if he be so, he has violated the laws of this State and of the United States, against publishing and circulating obscene, defamatory, and demoralizing matter, and is unworthy the confidence which his official position demands.
Aside from his moral character, involved in the foregoing, we have investigated the business of his office, and the transactions of himself and clerks therein, as fully and thoroughly as the limited time allotted to your committee would seem to allow; and we find that he, with his clerks, or some of them, particularly with his Deputy, William A. Barnard, and his clerks, Clark, Dunham, Robinson, Knight, Bowen, and Griswold, have from time to time, during his official term, been engaged and interested in private speculations connected with the purchase and sale of lands and “scrip," so called, resulting to their pecuniary benefit in large sums of money. To allow those salaried officers to avail themselves of the advantages of the peculiar knowledge incident to their position, to the inconvenience and damage of outside parties, we think is a violation of the spirit and intent of the law in that regard. While these practices are defended by these officials as being justifiable under the law, yet we are of opinion that they should not be allowed ; and, as hereinafter delineated, tend to destroy the confidence of the people in regard to the integrity and good faith of the office, tempting these officers to engage in speculations, which, though they may not thereby deplete the public treasury, yet are, in the opinion of your committee, detrimental to the best interests of the people at large, destructive to the valuable rights of the pioneer settlers, and calculated to injure and oppress a large class of our citizens who have the right of protection in this regard.
We find from the proofs that the Commissioner and his Deputy have from time to time, during his official term, speculated in the purchase and sale of “scrip” in his office, under the particular management and account of his chief clerk, and
in the people's time, to a large amount, realizing therefor a profit to himself and Deputy, since the first of June last, the sum of $8,384.14, as appears by a book kept in the office, being at the rate of about $10,303 per annum.
It is not strange, with such an example in the responsible head of the department, that those in inferior positions in the office should feel authorized to violate the express letter of the statutes, and engage directly or indirectly in the purchase and sale of State lands in the office, in direct violation of the statute 1861, forbidding any officer or clerk employed in the State Land Office to engage directly or indirectly in the purchase of lands from the State, or to be interested therein.
Some of these clerks have been in the habit of selling information (as they call it), within their peculiar official knowledge, to outside friends, and in some instances acting as agents for the purchase and sale of such lands for favorite friends, and in other instances used the name of a friend in making purchases which inured to their own benefit, making this a corer to evade the law. Lots have also been marked and held from market for months, for their particular benefit. Several instances of this kind, in proof, and to the knowledge of your committee, have occasioned serious loss and damage to honest settlers, inuring to the benefit and advantage of the land speculators and salaried officers. Your committee do not hesitate to condemn this practice as a violation of the law, and calculated to destroy the confidence of the people in the integrity and good faith of the Land Office.
In view of the wholesome provisions of the Constitution and statute requirements of this State as to the conduct and character of its officers, for protecting and insuring just and equal rights to every citizen; and considering that the Land Department particularly demands the highest order of integrity in its officials, vested as they are with the valuable information of the office; and in consequence of the evidence collected under the power with which your committee has been invested by this House, and which is hereto subjoined, they are of the opinion that Charles A. Edmonds, the responsible head of the department, has forfeited all the right to fill the honorable trust and position of the Commissioner of the State Land Office, and that he should be impeached for corruption in office, and for crimes and misdemeanors against the laws of this State.
And your committee, in conclusion, unanimously recommend the adoption of the following resolution :
Resolved, That Charles A. Edmonds, Commissioner of the State Land Office, be impeached for misconduct in office, and for crimes and misdemeanors.
I. R. GROSVENOR,
JOHN J. ADAM.
On motion of Mr. Adams,
The report of the committee was laid on the table, and the communication of Mr. Edmonds was ordered printed in the journal.
The following is the communication: To Hon. I. R. Grosvenor, and to the Committee of Investigation
of which you are Chairman :
GENTLEMEN-Availing myself of the offer you generously gave me last evening, to hand in any request I wished to make as to your report, I have to say that the charges against my private character, as well as those against my official conduct as the Commissioner of the State Land Office, brought to the notice of the Legislature through the papers and by public rumor, are untrue. In behalf of the Legislature, your investigation is a proper one, and I not only submit to it, but invite