Page images

Frequent changes in the Adjutant-General's department, or the devotion of any portion of his time to other engagements, must prevent that acquaintance with the cases presented, and with the decisions, laws and usages applicable to them, which the extent and nature of the interests involved require.

Similar to the duties last mentioned, are those imposed by the adjudication upon appeals from the election of officers, and from the decisions of brigadier-generals thereon. The extent of these duties may be inferred, from the fact that nearly six thousand elections take place annually, and that in every case, "any person feeling himself aggrieved" may prosecute an appeal to the commander in chief. The innumerable causes of dissatisfaction, growing out of contested elections, find a vent through this avenue; and it is not less important to the individuals concerned, than to the general safety and purity of the elective system, that these appeals should be carefully and faithfully investigated. This branch of the business is of recent origin, and is one of the many inconveniences incident to the extension of the elective franchise to the militia, which it is believed the lapse of time will continue to increase rather than diminish.

Independent of cases connected with the courts and elections, the defective and sometimes obscure provisions of the laws have left a great variety of points of practice to be settled by orders, wherein it is necessary not only to establish rights and powers under the statute, but in cases where the statute makes no provision, and military usage or general expediency must govern.

To exhibit more clearly the various duties which belong to this department, and which the public service requires from it, permit me to submit to your consideration the following extract from a paper presented to the Secretary of War of the United States by the present Adjutant-General of Massachusetts, Wm. H. Sumner, esq.

"The Adjutant-General is the head of the commander in chief's staff; by him all his detailed information is collected; to him appeals are constantly made by the officers for a construetion of the laws and orders, for information respecting the exercise of their powers, and for opinions upon questions of rank, authority and duty. By him all blank forms are prepared and instructions for making them given. By him registers of the officers in commis

sion, and rosters of those on duty are kept. The orders for holding general courts martial, courts of inquiry, and boards of officers, are prepared by him, and their proceedings examined and submitted to the commander in chief for his approval. All commissions are made out, resignations received, (and when accepted) regular discharges of officers from their authority, are issued by him. He has regular files of all returns, petitions, memorials, remonstrances and papers received at his office; and a record of all orders, letters and opinions. He collects information necessary to enable [the commander in chief] to act understandingly on subjects connected with the organization of the militia and its arrangement into corps. He reports the officers for neglect of duty, when their returns are not punctually and accurately made: condenses and makes abstracts of these, and annually submits them to the commander in chief, by whom they are communicated to the Legislature.

"Several of the States have derived the benefit of this arrangement [the establishment of an Adjutant-General's department] for several years, while in others, the perceptible improvement in the condition of their militia from its more recent adoption, confirms its utility. In fact, omitting numerous other details, so important are the duties of these officers, where there departments are properly regulated, it appears impossible that a proper organization of the militia could be maintained without them, much less that its concerns should be managed with order, harmony and correctness."

It is a fact not to be disguised, that within the last few years, numerous causes of complaint have arisen against the militia system. Under the existing National and State organization, the services imposed by it are universally felt to be onerous; and on some classes they fall with unequal severity. Wherever the elective franchise has been permitted, discipline has gradually declined, and the more respectable and efficient officers have too often been allowed or compelled to leave the service. In some of the neighboring States the most violent disorders have arisen, threatening a suspension of all military exercises and defeating the operation of military courts. That these scenes have been less numerous and more moderate in our own State, is owing, in my opinion, to the efficient and faithful services of my immediate predecessors in office.

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where the AdjutantGeneral's department has been long committed to the able superintendence of the officer from whose paper the foregoing extract

is made, these exhibitions are rarely known, and the militia presents an organization and a discipline no where else witnessed. The salary of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts is $1,500 a year; his pay also as Commissary-General, is $1,000 a year. The number of the militia regularly enrolled in that State is less than one-third of the number in this, and the laws relating to them are very nearly the same in both.

Were a provision made in this State, any where nearly proportioned to that in Massachusetts, to give efficiency to the AdjutantGeneral's department, it is confidently believed that a great proportion of the complaints against the present militia system might be removed, and that the present organization might be kept up with vigor and efficiency, until the general government should fundamentally remodel the laws relating to it.

Until, however, the general government acts, there is no possibility that this State can so modify the system as to give relief or satisfaction, and the devotion of much time and labor will be requisite on the part of the Adjutant-General to make the existing evils tolerable, by listening to complaints, explaining duties, and exposing delinquencies.

In comparison with the useless expense of legislating on this difficult and delicate subject under existing circumstances; or, in contrast with the value of the general militia system, which is fast falling into disrepute for the want of adequate protection, the sum required annually to place this department on a permanent and useful basis, is a mere trifle.

For the discharge of all the duties now assigned to the AdjutantGeneral, in which the interests of nearly 200,000 of the most patriotic of our citizens are directly involved, the whole sum now appropriated, above the expenses actually paid out, is $1,200 a year, or $1,000 for the principal and $200 for the clerk.

During the last fall the efficient clerk employed in this office for several years, left it for the purpose of obtaining $400 a year in the State department, which sum he fully earned while in this.

The assistant at present employed is not competent to discharge the duties required, by reason of his inexperience; and the compensation is too small to command a better.

The unavoidable consequence has been a retarding of the ordinary daily business, until a considerable arrearage has occurred, and in order to bring it up, with the present help, some of the necessary and customary services performed by the Adjutant-General must be dispensed with.

Among the many duties which I have found it impossible to discharge with the assistance afforded, is a collection and digest of cases, decided on appeals and by general orders, in this office. The importance of this work and its almost daily necessity, induce me to suggest it as another consideration for the favor of the Legisla


It is proper to state the fact, that the sum of $600 a year is allowed by law to the Attorney-General for the compensation of the clerk in his department, and the sum of $550 to the Surveyor-General, for the same purpose.

It may not be improper to allude to the fact also, that the sum of $1,500 a year is allowed by law to each of two of the subordinate officers in one of the other departments.

I would, therefore, in conclusion, respectfully request of your honorable body to make such further addition to the pay of the Adjutant-General's department, as its present exigencies and the general good of the militia would seem to require.

And your memorialist, as in duty bound, will ever pray.



January 18, 1834.


Of the committee on the judiciary on the petition of sundry inhabitants of the 8th Judicial district, relative to the removal of the Supreme Court Clerk's Office.

Mr. Haight, from the committee on the judiciary, to whom was referred the petition of sundry citizens of the 8th judicial district, praying that a law may be passed removing the supreme court clerk's office from Geneva to the village of Rochester, in the county of Monroe, begs leave to


The petitioners represent, that Rochester is much nearer the geographical centre of the district wherein sheriffs are required to return process to said office than Geneva, the latter place being within about thirty miles of the boundary on the east, and one hundred and fifty miles from the western line. That Erie and Monroe, which contain the large and flourishing towns of Rochester and Buffalo, as the petitioners believe, furnish one-fourth or more of all the business done at the said office.. That the country west of the Genesee river, since the last census, has rapidly increased in population, and still is increasing, and from the character of its soil will sustain as great or greater population than any other portion of the State, except the city and county of New-York. That the counties west of the Genesee river, in 1830, including the counties of Monroe, Livingston, and Allegany, contained a greater population by sixty-five thousand than the residue of the counties originally connected with this office. That the office of the clerk in chancery for the eighth district is at Rochester, and that, considering the frequency and facilities of intercourse between this [Assem. No. 33.]


« PreviousContinue »