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Ex. Doc. No. 51.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
MAIL FROM CHARLESTON, CHAGRES, &c.
THE POSTMASTER GENERAL,
A copy of the contract made with M. C. Mordecai for taking the
United States mail from Charleston to Havana, and an abstract of several other propositions for foreign mail service submitted to the department.
March 13, 1848. Referred to the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads, and ordered to be printed.
Post OFFICE DEPARTMENT, March 3, 1848. Sir: By the act of the 3d of March, 1847, the Postmaster Gen eral was authorized to contract for the transportation of the mail from Charleston to Chagres, touching at St. Augustine and Key West, and also at Havana, and across the isthmus to Panama, and thence to Astoria; to be conveyed in steamships on the Pacific and in the Gulf of Mexico once every two months, or oftener, as the public interests may require, provided that the expenditure for the service did not exceed $100,000.
Notices in the usual form, inviting propositions for the service, were issued, and no bids were made that could be accepted within the restrictions of the law.
A proposition was made by Mr. Mordecai, of Charleston, for taking the mail from Charleston to Havana, monthly, in vessels suited for war purposes, at the rate of $45,000 per annum.
The importance of this service, constituting, as it does, a part of the service contemplated by the act of Congress, induced the undersigned to accept the proposition, upon condition that it should
be ratified by Congress, and appropriations made for the fulfilment of the contract.
A copy of the contract is herewith submitted, marked A.
Several other propositions have been submitted to the department under the provisions of the acts of the 3d of March, 1845, and 3d of March, 1847, for service to foreign countries in steamers suited to war purposes, none of which have been accepted by the department, from a belief that the proviso in the 1st section of the act of June 19th, 1846, making appropriations for the service of the Post Office Department, should be regarded as an intimation of the wish of Congress that further service of that character should not be engaged.
An abstract of the several propositions ac:ompanies this report, marked B, which are respectfully submitted for the further direction of Congress in relation thereto. I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Postmaster General. Hon. R. C. WINTHROP,
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
$45,000 per annuin.
This article of contract, made the fourth day of September, in the year one thousand eight hundred and forty-seven, between the United States and M. C. Mordecai, of Charleston, South Carolina,
WITNESSETH: That whereas said M. C. Mordecai was, on the 21st day of August, 1847, accepted, according to the provisions of the act of Congress entitled “An act to provide for the transportation of the mail between the United States and foreign countries, and for other purposes," as contractor for building a steamship and for carrying the mail to and from Charleston, South Carolina, and Havana, in the island of Cuba, at the annual compensation hereinafter expressed:
Now, therefore, the said M. C. Mordecai, contractor and his sureties, do jointly and severally undertake, covenant, and agree with the United States, and do bind themselves to build a steamship and to carry the mail to and from Charleston and Havana, as follows, to wit: To construct and complete, as soon as one can possibly be built, a steamship fully suitable, in all respects, for the service, not to be less than one hundred and ninety feet keel, thirty-three feet beam, fourteen and a half feet hold, and seven feet spar deck. The materials in and upon said ship to be of the very best quality; and to carry the mails in said ship from Charleston, South Carolina, via Key West, Florida, to Havana, in
Cuba, and from said Havana, via Key West, to Charleston, South Carolina, and perform regular trips and convey the mail, as aforesaid, as often as twice in each month from each end of said route; and said contractor and his sureties do further covenant and agree with the United States, and do bind themselves, that said ship shall be in all respects of the best form and qualities for sailing, for power, and for speed; that it shall be stanch, and built with a view to be converted into a ship-of-war, in case of war, and subject to be taken by the President of the United States on appraisal, as provided in the act of Congress of 31 March, 1815, which steamship shall at any time be subject to inspection by officers appointed by the President, both during and after construction, with a view to report upon its eligibility, in all respects, for war purposes; that it shall combine all the improvements in model, engines, boilers, and finish, and shall be of the best description of sidewheel ships; and that the ship shall be kept up by alterations, repairs, or additions, as the exigency may require, fully equal to the best s'ate of steamship improvement attained, and will carry an agent of the department with the mails; but the mails are to be duly taken from and delivered into the post offices at the ports named by said contractor.
As soon as said ship is completed, mail service is to commence, and pay is to run from commencement of service. And under thé foregoing stipulations, it is further covenanted and agreed by said contractor and his sureties, 1st. To carry said mail within the times fixed in the annexed schedule of departures and arrivals, and so carry until said schedule is altered by the authority of the Postmaster General of the United States, as hereinafter provided, and then to carry according to said altered schedule. 2d. To carry said mail in a safe and secure manner, free from wet or other injury, in a separate apartment of the ship, to be fitted up under the order of the department, if the Postmaster General shall require one for the exclusive accommodation of the mail. 3d. To take the mail, and every part of it, from, and deliver it, and every part of it, into the post offices at Charleston, Key West, and Havana, or to the agent of the Spanish government, as the case may be.
They also undertake, covenant, and agree with the United States, and do bind themselves jointly and severally, as aforesaid, to be answerable for the person to whom the said contractor shall commit the care and transportation of the mail, and accountable to the United States for any damages which may be sustained by the United States through his unfaithfulness or want of care, and that the said contractor will discharge any carrier of said mail whenever required to do so by the Postmaster General; also, that he will not transmit by himself, or his agent, or be concerned in transmitting, commercial intelligence more rapidly than by mail; and that he will not carry, or suffered to be carried, letters or newspapers out the mail; and that he will not, knowingly, convey any person carrying on the business of transporting letters, or other mail matter, without the special consent of the department. And, further, that the said contractor will convey, without additional charge, post office
blanks, mail bags, and agent of the department, on the exhibition of his credentials.
They further undertake, covenant, and agree with the United States, that the said contractor will collect quarterly, if required by the Postmaster General, of the post office of Havana the balances due from it, if any, to the General Post Office of the United States, and faithfully render an account thereof to the Postmaster General in the settlement of quarterly accounts, and will pay over to the General Post Office all balances remaining in his hands.
For which services, when performed, the said M. C. Mordecai, contractor, is to be paid by the said United States at the rate of forty-five thousand dollars a year, quarterly, in the months of May, August, November, and February, on due performance of service.
It is hereby stipulated and agreed by said contractor and his sureties, that the Postmaster General may change the schedule, he allowing a pro rata increase of compensation within the restrictions imposed by law for any additional service that may be thereby required.
And it is hereby also stipulated and agreed by said contractor and his sureties, that in all cases there is to be a forfeiture of the pay of the trip when the trip is not run; also, that fines may be imposed upon the contractor, unless the delinquency be satisfactorily explained to the Postmaster in due time, for failing to take or deliver the mail, or any part of it; for suffering it to be wet, injured, lost, or destroyed; for carrying it in a place or manner that exposes it to depredation, loss, or injury, by being wet or otherwise; for refusing, after demand and tender of proper compensation, not exceeding a due proportion of the pay, to carry a mail by any steamship, which the contractor runs or is concerned in running on the route, beyond the number of trips above specified; or for not arriving at the time set in the schedule, unless not caused by neglect, or want of proper skill, or by misconduct. And for setting up or running an express to transmit letters or commercial intelligence in advance of the mail; or for transporting, knowingly, or after being informed, any one engaged in transmitting letters or mail matter in violation of the laws of the United States, a penalty of fifty dollars may be exacted for each offence, and for each article so carried.
And it is hereby further stipulated and agreed by the said contractor and his sureties, that the Postmaster General may annul the contract for repeated failures; for violating the post office laws; for disobeying the instructions of the department; for refusing to discharge a carrier, or any other person having charge of the mail by their direction, when required by the department; for assigning the contract without the consent of the Postmaster General; for setting up or running an express as aforesaid; or for transporting persons conveying mail matter out of the mail as aforesaid; or whenever the contractor shall become a postmaster, assistant postmaster, or member of Congress. And this contract shall, in all its parts, be subject to the terms and requisitions of an act of Congress, passed on the twenty-first day of April, in the