History of America’s One Percent – Episode #23

hogaf-logo-wip2In this podcast series we dive into the long and shadowy history of America’s ruling elite through the works of authors who were either silenced, suppressed, or forgotten, to discover the origins of the 1% and from where their power and wealth was, and still is, extracted.

Each recording will be approx. 1 hour in length to allow for easy consumption of the material.  The narrator will only interrupt the reading to provide insight, spell names, read informative footnotes, or provide definitions for archaic words.

In this episode – Continued reading of History of Great American Fortunes by Gustavus Myers.  Includes Part III, Chapter IV:  The Onrush of the Vanderbilt Fortune.  The Civil War Disrupts Marine Commerce.  Steamship Lines Try to Dispose of Their Fleets.  The Terrible Condition of These Vessels.  Worthless Ships Pawned Off On the Navy Department For a Profit.  Indiscriminate Plunder of the Soldiers During the War.  Faulty Weapons Maim and Kill the Soldiers They Are Issued To.  Spoiled Rations Sold to the Army.  Military Contractors Kill a Great Number of the Soldiers With Their Supplies.  The Patriotism of the Great Magnates, So-Called.  The Draft Act Amended to Let Great Capitalists Escape the Battlefields.  The Purchasing of “Substitutes” to Take the Rich Man’s Place on the Field of Combat. Vanderbilt the Glorious “Patriot.”  Vanderbilt Selected By Secretary of War Stanton, to Assist Government With Purchasing Worthless Ships.  Vanderbilt Grossly Overpays for the Ships if the Sellers Surrender a 10% Fee.  No Precautions Taken to Safeguard the Lives of Union Soldiers.  Vanderbilt Directly Responsible for Putting Hundreds of Soldiers Lives In Peril.

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[1] In a speech on February 28, 1863, on the urgency of establishing additional government armories and foundries, Representative J. W. Wallace pointed out in the House of Representatives: “The arms, ordnance and munitions of war bought by the Government from private contractors and foreign armories since the commencement of the rebellion have doubtless cost, over and above the positive expense of their manufacture, ten times as much as would establish and put into operation the armory and foundries recommended in the resolution of the committee.  I understand that the Government, from the necessity of procuring a sufficient
quantity of arms, has been paying, on the average, about twenty-two dollars per musket, when they could have been and could be manufactured in our national workshops for one-half that money.” —Appendix to The Congressional Globe, Thirty -seventh Congress, Third Session, 1862-63. Part ii:136. Fuller details are given in subsequent chapters.

[2] In his report for 1862 Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, wrote: “That invoices representing fraudulent valuation of merchandise are daily presented at the Custom Houses is well known. . . .”

[3] Appendix to The Congressional Globe, Thirty-seventh Congress, Third Session, 1862-63. Part ii:118.

[4] This is one of many examples: Philip S. Justice, a gun manufacturer of Philadelphia, obtained a contract in 1861, to supply 4,000 rifles. He charged $20 apiece. The rifles were found to be so absolutely dangerous to the soldiers using them, that the Government declined to pay his demanded price for a part of them. Justice then brought suit. (See Court of Claims Reports, viii:37-54.)  In the court records, these statements are included:
William H. Harris, Second Lieutenant of Ordnance, under orders visited Camp Hamilton, Va., and inspected the arms of the Fifty-Eighth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, stationed there. He reported: “This regiment is armed with rifle muskets, marked on the barrel, ‘P. S. Justice, Philadelphia,’ and vary in calibre from .65 to .70. I find many of them unserviceable and irreparable, from the fact that the principal parts are defective. Many of them are made up of parts of muskets to which the stamp of condemnation has been affixed by an inspecting officer. None of the stocks have ever been approved by an officer, nor do they bear the initials of any inspector. They are made up of soft, unseasoned wood, and are defective in construction. . . . The sights are merely soldered on to the barrel, and come off with the gentlest handling. Imitative screw-heads are cut on their bases. The bayonets are made up of soft iron, and, of course, when once bent remain ‘set,'” etc., etc. (p. 43).
Col. (later General) Thomas D. Doubleday reported of his inspection: “The arms which were manufactured at Philadelphia, Penn., are of the most worthless kind, and have every appearance of having been manufactured from old condemned muskets. Many of them burst; hammers break off; sights fall off when discharged; the barrels are very light, not one-twentieth of an inch thick, and the stocks are made of green wood which have shrunk so as to leave the bands and trimmings loose. The bayonets are of such frail texture that they bend like lead, and many of them break off when going through the bayonet exercise. You could hardly conceive
of such a worthless lot of arms, totally unfit for service, and dangerous to those using them” (p. 44).
Assistant Inspector-General of Ordnance John Buford reported: “Many had burst; many cones were blown out; many locks were defective; many barrels were rough inside from imperfect boring; and many had different diameters of bore in the same barrel. …At target practice so many burst that the men became afraid to fire them” (p. 45).
The Court of Claims, on strict technical grounds, decided in favor of Justice, but the Supreme Court of the United States reversed that decision and dismissed the case. The Supreme Court found true the Government’s contention that “the arms were unserviceable and unsafe for troops to handle.”
Many other such specific examples are given in subsequent chapters of this work.

[5] The Congressional Globe, Thirty-seventh Congress, Third Session, 1862-63. Part i: 610.

[6] The Congressional Globe, etc., 1862-63, Part i: 610.

[7] Ibid. See also Senate Report No. 84, 1863, embracing the full testimony.

[8] Senator Hale asserted that he had heard of the exacting of a brokerage equal to ten per cent. in Boston and elsewhere.

[9] The Congressional Globe. Thirty -seventh Congress, Third Session, 1862-63. Part i: 586.

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