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Deposition in the Trial of Orville E. Babcock

February 12, 1876

[Questioning began by William A. Cook, counsel for General Babcock.]

Question: How long have you known General Babcock, and how intimately?

Answer. I have known him since 1863. having first met him during the Vicksburg campaign, in that year. Since March, 1864, I have known him intimately.

Question: Please: state the various capacities in which he has been employed, and what positions he has held since 1863.

Answer: From about March, 1864, to 4th of March, 1869, he was an Aide-de-Camp on my military staff. Since that time he has been acting as my Private Secretary; and continued in that position until his indictment. He has also. for several, years past been superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds.

Question: As your Private Secretary; please state what were his general duties.

Answer: They were to carry to Congress all communications from the President, and to have charge of and supervision over all correspondence—particularly that of an official character. In his capacity as Private Secretary, he received my mails, opened my letters, and referred them to the appropriate Departments, submitting to me all such as required any instructions or answer from myself.

Question: —His relations with you were: confidential?

Answer. Very.

Question: —Do you know whether, during the time General Babcock has been your Private Secretary he has had frequent applications from persons throughout the country, to lay their special matters before you, or before the various Departments?

Answer. That was of very frequent Occurrence indeed it happened almost daily.

Question: In what manner, so far as you have observed, with reference to the public interests-, has General Babcock discharged his duties as your Private Secretary?

Answer: I have always regarded him as a most efficient and most faithful officer.

Question: Are you acquainted with the general reputation of General Babcock in the city where he now lives, and in the places where he has lived, among his associates and acquaintances, and in the army and elsewhere, for honesty and integrity?

Answer: I am acquainted with his reputation in the army and in this city.

Question. Please state what that general reputation is and has been.

Answer: If an intimate association of twelve years with a man gives one an opportunity of judging what others think of him, I have certainly had not only an excellent opportunity of knowing his character myself, but of learning the general reputation he sustains—

Question: From these opportunities, what has been his reputation.

Answer: Good.

Question: Were you acquainted with C. W Ford, of St. Louis, in his life time? And what, if any position did he hold at the time of his death?

Answer: I was intimately acquainted with C. W Ford—first in the State of New York, when I was a Lieutenant in the army, and he a young lawyer residing in the same town where I was stationed, and subsequently, from 1854 to 1860, when we were both living in St Louis county. He was from 1854 until his death connected with the United States Express Company in St. Louis; and from 1869—though I am not sure of the date—was collector of internal revenue for the first district of Missouri, which position he held when he died.

Question: State, please, what, if any applications, were made at the time of his decease as to the appointment of his successor.

Answer: It is impossible for me to remember all the. applications that were made for the place. I do recollect, however, that General Babcock brought to me a despatch, addressed to him by John A Joyce, in which the latter practically applied for the position.

Question: What other, if any applications were made as to the appointment of a successor? But first let me inquire if you have the despatch to which you have just made reference?

Answer: I do not know.

Question: Do you know where it is?

Answer: I do not, but presume it could be found. I think it very likely that it is in possession of General Babcock's counsel or of the District Attorney.

Question: Were there any requests or communications with regard to the appointment of Mr. Ford's successor from his sureties?

Answer: When General Babcock exhibited to me the despatch from Mr. Joyce, I said to him that as Mr. Ford had died away from home and very suddenly, I Would, in the, selection; of a successor, be to a great extent guided by the recommendation and wishes of his bondsmen. I thought they were at least entitled to be heard respecting the person to be selected, and upon whom would devolve the settlement of the affairs of the office.

Question: What did you decide to. do with reference to the appointment, and to whom, if to any one, did you decide to leave the nomination of Mr. Ford's successor?

Answer: That information is embraced in the answer just given.

Question: Whom did the bondsmen actually recommend?

Answer: Constantine Maguire.

Question: And on their recommendation exclusively he received the appointment?

Answer: I could not say exclusively, because he was well recommended, and was satisfactory to the bondsmen of Mr. Ford.

Question: Did General Babcock ever, in any way, directly or indirectly, urge, or request, or seek to influence the appointment of Mr. Maguire, or did he ever exchange a word with you upon the subject which indicated that he desired his appointment?

Answer: I do not think he ever did. Nor do I believe that he was aware of the existence of Constantine Maguire prior to his recommendation as the successor of Mr. Ford.

Question: Did you inform General. Babcock that you intended to leave the naming of Mr. Ford's successor to his bondsmen? Did you request him so to notify the parties?

Answer: The question has I think already been answered.

Question: It embraces perhaps this addition: did you request him to notify die parties?

Answer: I do not remember.

Question: Are the telegrams now shown you the ones received by you in relation to the appointment of Mr. Maguire?

Answer: I have no doubt that these are the despatches, or copies of the despatches, I received If they are not, despatches similar in tenor wen- received.

Question: Connected with these telegrams is a letter dated January 4, 1.876, from D. D Pratt, Commissioner. Will you be kind enough to explain how that letter was received by you, and why, and what connexion it has with these: telegrams?

Answer: The communication to which you refer from the Commissioner of Internal Revenue is in answer to a request made in my name to be furnished with the telegrams recommending Mr. Maguire for the office of Collector.

Question: Did General Babcock,-so far as you know, ever: seek in any way to influence your action with reference to any charges made or proposed to be made against Joyce or McDonald, or either of them?

Answer: I do not remember of his ever speaking to me upon the subject. He took no lively interest in the matter; or I should have recollected it.

Question: Did General Babcock, so far as you know; ever seek in any way to influence your action in reference to any investigation of the alleged, whiskey frauds in St. Louis: or elsewhere?

Answer: He did not. I will state at this point that I do not remember but one instance where he talked with me on the subject of these investigations, excepting since his indictment. It was then simply to say to me that he had asked Mr. Douglass why it was his Department treated all their officials as though they were dishonest persons. Who required to be watched by spies, and why he could not make inspections similar to those which prevailed in the army, selecting for the purpose men of character, who could enter the distilleries, examine the books, and make reports which could be relied upon as correct. General Babcock simply told me that he had said this to Mr. Douglass.

Question: If I understand correctly the answer, General Babcock's conception was that in making the investigation it Would be wiser to have it done by men of superior character than by men of inferior and suspicious character.

Answer: Yes Sir.

Question: Do you remember the circumstance. of John McDonald being in the city of Washington on the 7th day of Feby [Dec] 1874?

Answer: I do not remember the particular date. I remember the time in question.

Question: Did you ride with him on or about that date or occasion and was anything whatever said by him to you. with reference to the investigation of alleged frauds in his district?

Answer: I picked him up on the sidewalk as I was taking a drive and invited him to go with me. I have no recollection of any word or words on any matter touching his official position or business.

Question: Did General Babcock at or about that time, say anything to. you with reference to such investigations, and to your knowledge did he in any way undertake to prevent them?

Answer: I have no recollection of his. saying anything about that. Certainly he did not intercede with me to prevent them.

Question: Do you recollect the circumstances attending the promulgation of an order transferring the various supervisors from their own to other districts?

Answer: I do.

Question: State fully with whom the idea upon which that order was based originated and the particular reasons which induced you to direct it to be issued?

Answer: Sometime when Mr. Richardson was Secretary, I think at all events before Secretary Bristow became head of the department Mr. Douglass in talking with me expressed the idea that it would be a good plan occasionally to shift the various Supervisors from one district to another. I expressed myself favorably toward it but it was not done then, nor was it thought of any more by me until it became evident that the Treasury was being defrauded of a portion of the revenue it should receive from the distillation of spirits in the west. Secretary Bristow at that time called on me and made a general statement of his suspicions when I suggested to him this idea. On that suggestion the order making these transfers of supervisors was made. At that time I did not understand that there was any suspicion at all of the officials but that each official had his own way of transacting his business. These distillers haying so much pecuniary interest in deceiving the officials learn their ways and know how to avoid them[.] My idea was that by putting new Supervisors acquainted with their duties over them they would run across and detect their crooked ways. This was the view I had and explains the reason why I suggested the change.

Question: Can you state, whether Mr. Douglass at that time Commissioner of Internal Revenue was aware of the fact, that you suggested or made, the order?

Answer: I do not know that he knew any thing about it.

Question: After the order had been finally issued were any efforts made to induce you to direct its revocation or suspension?

Answer: Yes Sir. Most strenuous efforts.

Question: Were such efforts made by prominent public men?

Answer: They were.

Question: Did you resist the pressure which was made upon you for the revocation or suspension of the order, and if you finally decided to direct the revocation of that order, will you please state why you were induced to do so and by whom?

Answer: I resisted all efforts to have the order revoked until I became convinced that it should he revoked or suspended in the interest of detecting frauds that had already been committed. In the conversation with Supervisor Tutton he said to me that if the object of that order was to detect frauds that had already been committed he thought it would not be accomplished. He remarked that this order was to go into effect on the 15th of February This conversation occurred late in January, and he alleged that it would give the distillers who had been defrauding the Treasury nearly three (3) weeks notice to get their houses in order and to be prepared to receive the new supervisors. That he himself would probably go in a district where frauds had been committed and he would find everything in good order, and he would be compelled so to report That the order would probably result in stopping the frauds at least for a time but would not lead to the detection of those that had already been committed. He said that if the order was revoked it would be regarded as a triumph by those who had been defrauding the Treasury. It would throw them off their guard and we could send special Agents of the Treasury to the suspected distilleries—Send good men, such a one as he mentioned a Mr. Brooks They could go out, and would not be known to the distillers and before they would be aware of it, the latter's frauds would be detected. The proofs would be all complete, the distilleries could be Seized and their owners prosecuted.

I was so convinced that his argument was sound, and that it was in the interest of the detection and punishment of fraud that this order should be suspended that I then told him that I would suspend it immediately, and I did so without any further consultation with anybody. My recollection is that I wrote die directions for the suspension of the order on a card in pencil certainly before leaving my office that afternoon and that order was issued and sent to the Treasury signed by one of my secretaries.

Question: Did General Babcock ever in any way directly or indirectly seek to influence your action in reference to that order.

Answer: I do not remember his ever speaking to me about or exhibiting any interest in the matter.

Question: From anything he ever said or did do you know whether he desired that the order should be revoked or suspended?

Answer: That question I think has been fully answered.

Question: Has General Babcock so far as you know or any one for him undertaken to prevent any investigation of his alleged connection with wha[t] is known as the whiskey ring at St Louis or elsewhere?

Answer: To my knowledge he has not. General Babcock complained very bitterly of the treatment that he was receiving after the speech made by Mr. Henderson made in the Avery trial was delivered.

Question: Since his Endictment has any effort been made to your knowle[dge] to dismiss the indictment found against him or to enter a "nolle prosequi" or in any way to. interfere wither prevent his trial?

Answer: No.

Question: Has General Babcock so far as you know ever used any effort with yourself or anyone else to prevent the finding of indictments against any person suspected of complicity with the whiskey ring at St. Louis or elsewhere.

Answer: He has not.

Question: Since the finding of the St Louis indictments against these persons, has General Babcock so far as you know ever exhibited any desire to interfere with or prevent their trial or exhibited any interest or wish in that direction.

Answer: He has not to my knowledge.

Question: At the time the Court of Inquiry was ordered at General Babcock's request was it not understood by yourself and so far as you know by him that no indictments were to be found against him. If so why did you so understand?

Answer: No indictment had been found against him and I supposed none would be because I understood from the Attorney General that the Grand Jury then in session would adjourn in a day or two. That was the only course then apparently left for his vindication.

Question: Was not that Court called because it was supposed that General Babcock could not in any other way vindicate himself?

Answer: I so understood.

Question: Was it. not called very soon after he was informed that he could not be heard as a witness in the Avery case.

Answer: It was.

Question: Do you know whether he was anxious to appear as a witness in that case?

Answer: I cannot say any further than his dispatch to the District Attorney requesting to be heard.

Question: Do you know whether he dispatched to the District Attorney for the purpose of being heard as a witness, in the case?

Answer: I know it must have been so because I saw the answer he received from the District Attorney.

Question: So far as you know: what was the substances of the answer of the District Attorney, Mr. Dyer, to the telegram of General Babcock desiring to appear as a witness in the Avery case?

Answer: He in substance informed him that there would be no more criminal prosecutions until sometime, I think, in the following month. I do not remember the date accurately.

Question: And I presume his desire could not be complied with?

Answer: It amounted to a statement that his desire could not be complied with.

Question: Have you ever seen anything in the conduct of General Babcock, or has he ever said anything to you which indicated to your mind that he was in any way interested in or connected with the whiskey ring at St Louis or elsewhere?

Answer: Never.

Question: In what manner as regards the public interests, and as evincing his fidelity and integrity has he performed his. du ties as your private secretary?

Answer: Always to my entire and full satisfaction.

Question: Have you in any form observed or learned of anything in connection with General Babcock's conduct which has. tended to diminish your confidence in his fidelity and integrity, and is that confidence in his fidelity and integrity still unimpaired and undiminished.

Answer: I have always had great confidence in his integrity and his efficiency; and as yet my confidence in him is unshaken. I have never learned anything that would shake that confidence. Of course I have heard of this trial that is progressing.


By Mr. Eaton of counsel for the Government

Question: General, of course you do not suppose, do you, that: while General Babcock has been your private Secretary and in intimate and confidential relations with you any one would voluntarily come to you with statements injurious to his reputation?

Answer: I do not know any such thing.

Question: Perhaps you are aware. General, that the Whiskey Ring have persistently tried to fix the origin of that ring in the necessity for funds to carry on political campaigns. Did you ever have any intimation from General Babcock, or any one else in any manner, directly or indirectly, that any funds for political purposes were being raised by any improper methods?

Answer: I never did. I have seen since these trials intimations of that sort in the newspapers, but never before.

Question: Then let me ask you if the prosecuting officers have not been entirely correct in repelling all insinuations dial you ever had tolerated any such means for raising funds?

Answer: I was not aware that they had attempted to repel any insinuations.

Question: Speaking of C. W. Ford, I presume, General. that your confidence in him continued up to the time of his death?

Answer: I never had a suspicion that anything was wrong.

Question: Did you regard his knowledge of men and affairs in St. Louis as trustworthy?

Answer: I had as much confidence in him that way as any person I knew in St. Louis.

Question: When did you cease to reside in St. Louis General?

Answer: In May 1860.

Question: From 1860 down to the time of Mr. Ford's death, Mr. Ford's residence was also in St. Louis?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: Did you have private correspondence with Mr. Ford during the time that he was Collector?

Answer: I did.

Question: Did you preserve, that correspondence?

Answer: No, I never kept a copy of a letter that I sent to him in my life.

Question: Did you preserve letters that you received from him?

Answer: No. sir; I did not preserve those. We corresponded regularly, because I had such confidence in him that I left him to conduct my own affairs there, and I had to be constantly sending him money. I would send checks to him of five hundred dollars, one thousand dollars and twelve hundred dollars at a time, and he would pay out the money and account to me for it. My confidence in him was such that I did that without even saving the letters.

Question: Do you remember a letter of Mr. Ford to yourself dated May 30, 1870, in which he spoke of McDonald as a bad egg, and as saying to you that he was a discredit to the administration?

Answer: Was that before or after McDonald's appointment?

Question: I think it was shortly after. McDonald was appointed very early in that year if I recollect.

Answer: I have no recollection of such a letter. I have an indistinct recollection that when McDonald was first recommended for the: position he [Ford] told me either in a letter or in a conversation that McDonald would not do. My recollection is that finally he united with others in recommending McDonald. I have a general knowledge that about the time McDonald was being pressed for the appointment Ford thought it was not a suitable appointment, but my recollection is that he afterwards acquiesced in it and possibly either joined in the recommendation, which was written and will be found on file in the. Treasury Department, or else he told me in a conversation.

Question: Do you remember whether John A. Joyce was recommended to you as Ford's successor by General Babcock?

Answer: He was not.

Question: Was anything said to you by General Babcock between the time of the death of Ford and the appointment of Constantine Maguire touching Joyce's: fitness for the place?

Answer: General Babcock presented me a dispatch that he had received from Joyce saying that he was an applicant or making application for it. I do not remember the, words of it. The substance of it was that he wanted to be Ford's successor. My reply to him was that 1 should be guided largely in selecting the successor of Mr. Ford by the recommendations of his bondsmen. He having died suddenly, unexpectedly and away from home I thought they were entitled to be at least consulted as to the successor who should settle up his accounts.

Question: Did you advise General Babcock to telegraph to Joyce to get the bondsmen of Ford to recommend Joyce for Collector?

Answer: I made the statement in substance that I have here given in answer to a former question. Whether I told him to so telegraph or not it would be impossible for me to say. That might be regarded as at least authority to so telegraph.

Question: Did you see any telegram of that character from Babcock to Joyce at that time?

Answer: I do not remember to have seen any.

Question: Did General Babcock at that time show you a dispatch from Joyce in these words:

"St. Louis, October 28, 1873, See dispatch to the President. We mean it. Mum.

Answer: I do not think that my memory goes back to that time. Since these prosecutions were commenced I have seen that.

Question: I am asking you in regard to that time.

Answer: I do not call it to memory.

Question: Did you receive a protest against the appointment of Constantine. Maguire signed by James E. Yeatman, Robert Campbell and others?

Answer: I do not remember such a letter. If such a one was received it is no doubt on file in the Treasury Department. Such a protest may have been received.

Question: Your purpose of in leaving the nomination of Mr. Ford's successor to his bondsmen was because: they were liable on his bond for the administration of his office, was it not?

Answer: Yes, sir; further than that some of them were men that I knew very well and had great confidence in.

Question: Speaking of Ford's objection to McDonald were you aware that in the matter of education McDonald when he was appointed was an ignorant man and barely able to. write his name?

Answer: I was aware that he was not an educated man, but he was a man that had seen a great deal of the world and of people. I would not call him ignorant exactly. He was illiterate.

Question: Did you receive, a protest against McDonald's appointment signed by Carl Schurz, G. A. Finkelnburg, R. Te Van Horn and other men in Missouri?

Answer: I do not remember. It is a matter of record if it was received. I do not know that it would have had any particular weight with me if I had received it, his endorsements being good?

Question: Was not that objection based on the ground of his entire unfitness for the place?

Answer: I do not remember. If it was received it is no doubt a matter of record and can be obtained.

Question: Did you ever see the paper now shown you? If so state in whose handwriting it is.

Answer: As to handwriting I do not pretend to be an expert. I have had a great many letters from Mr. Ford. That looks like his signature. I do not remember to have ever seen that before, and I do not think I ever did.

Question: Do you know the other signatures to the paper?

Answer: No, I know all the parties. but I don't know their signatures.

Question: Did you see, at or about the time of its date, the affidavit now shown you made by James Marr, taken from the files of the Treasury Department, a copy of which, marked "Exhibit No 7", is hereunto annexed.

Answer: If I ever did see that paper it has passed entirely from my memory, and I think it would be impossible that such a document as that could be read by me and I do not remember it.

Question: Do you remember at this distance of time on whose recommendation Mr. Joyce was appointed?

Answer: My recollection is that when McDonald was appointed Supervisor he asked the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to give him an assistant from his office—some man that was acquainted with the duties. I think that there, was no acquaintance existing at all between Joyce and McDonald at that time. That is my recollection. I never had heard of Joyce myself and did not know of the existence of such a man until he was appointed on the recommendation, as I understood, of the then Commissioner, who thought him to be the most capable man in his office.

Question: Will you please to state whether General Babcock showed you on or about the time of its date a dispatch to him in these words: —"St Louis, February 3, 1875. GEN. O. E. BABCOCK, Executive Mansion, Washington, D. C. We have official information that the enemy weakens. Push things. SYLPH."

Answer: I do not remember of ever seeing that dispatch until since these prosecutions have commenced.

Question: Did you know that General Babcock was at that time in correspondence with Joyce about the transfer of supervisors?

Answer: I knew that he received frequent letters from Joyce, for I saw a number of them myself; and those that I did see were generally as to what he was doing in the way of writing editorials for the different papers, and enclosing editorials which he would say in his letters he had written, and asking how he liked the tone of them, and so on. I recollect of him saying in one letter that some papers in the State of Missouri, and perhaps in Arkansas—at different points, at all events—were willing to publish as editorials, matter that he would write for them.

Question: Do you remember that General Babcock, prior to May 1875, talked with you about the propriety of sending detectives into the several districts to detect frauds?

Answer: I do not 1 remember of his telling me at one time, of what he had proposed to Mr. Douglass, but die dale of it I do not remember. And that was not a suggestion to me; it was merely telling me what he had suggested to Mr. Douglass; and this is the same that I have before stated.

Question: Did you have any conversation with General Babcock prior to May 1S75 in reference to a letter written by J. J. Brooks to Deputy Commissioner Rogers?

Answer: I do not remember dates; but 1 remember of his showing me a letter that had been handed to him from somebody in Philadelphia to Mr. Rogers; and he said that that appeared to his judgment to be simply blackmailing. And 1 think that was the occasion when he told me what he had said to Mr. Douglass; that, is as I remember now.

Question: Do you remember when that conversation was?

Answer: No; I do not. My recollection is that he had shown that letter to Mr. Douglass before he did to me, and that was the occasion when he told me of this suggestion.

Question: Did General Babcock about the time of its date show you a dispatch in these words: "St. Louis, October 25, 1874. GEN, O. E. BABCOCK, Executive Mansion, Washington, D. C. Have you talked with D? Are things right? How? [signed] J."

Answer: I do not remember anything about it.

Question: Did General Babcock, at or about the time of its date, show you a dispatch in the following words:—"St. Louis, December 3, 1871. GEN. O. E. BABCOCK, Executive Mansion, Washington, D. C. Has Secretary or Commissioner ordered anybody here? [signed] J."

Answer: I do not remember particularly; I know that, as a general rule, when he got dispatches that required an answer he would get from me the answer that he ought to send.

Question: You have no recollection of that?

Answer: I have no particular recollection of the wording of the dispatch.

Question: Did General Babcock at or about the time of its date show you a dispatch from himself to John A. Joyce in the following words: "Washington, D. C. December 5. 1874. COL. JOHN A. JOYCE, Care of John McDonald, St. Louis, Mo. Can not hear that any one has gone or is going, [signed,] O. E. BABCOCK."

Answer: I do not remember to have ever seen that dispatch until it was Shown [sic] here after these developments. I recollect then of General Babcock making an explanation of these dispatches.

Question: Did General Babcock on or about the 13th of December 1874, show you a dispatch from himself to John McDonald in the following words: "Washington, December 13. [sic] 1874 GEN. JOHN MCDONALD, ST. Louis. I suceeded. [sic] They will not go. I will write you. [Signed] SYLPH."

Answer: No, I have no recollection of it at that time.

Question: Did General Babcock on or about April 1875, show you a dispatch in these words: "St. Louis, April 23. 1875. GEN. O. E. BABCOCK, Executive Mansion, Washington, D. C. Tell Mack to see Parker of Colorado; & telegram to Commissioner. Crush out St Louis enemies. [Signed] GRIT."

Answer: I did not remember about these dispatches at all until since the conspiracy trials have commenced. I have heard General Babcock's explanation of most or all of them since that. Many of these dispatches may have been shown to me at the time and explained, but I do not remember it.

Question: Did you know at the time that during the Fall of 1875, subsequent to your visit to St. Louis,: that General Babcock corresponded with John McDonald after the latter was indicted, and sent his letters to McDonald under cover to Maj. E. B. Grimes.

Answer: No; I was not aware of it at the time.

Question: Did you know at the time that General Babcock sent cypher dispatches to Major Luckey at St Louis, over his own and over a fictitious signature, on the 17th or 18th of last November?

Answer: I do not remember as to particular dates; but we have an Executive Mansion cypher so that when myself and Secretaries are separated, dispatches can be sent without being read by the operators. We always have had such a cypher. I have no particular knowledge, but I know in a general way that they were corresponding while Mr. Luckey was there during the A[ve]ry trial, he having gone there as a witness tor the defense [sic] as I understood.

Question: Did you see the dispatches before they were sent?

Answer: I do not think I saw the dispatches.

Question: Have you any objection to stating the meaning in that cypher of two words only—the-Words "Hamlet" and "bandage?"

Answer: I never keep the cypher, & I never write a cypher dispatch. I never travel without having a Secretary with me.

Question: You do not know what those words mean?

Answer: I do not know. When I want to send a dispatch in cipher, I give it to one of my secretaries in the ordinary form and he transmits it.

Question: On or about December 5, 1873, did General Babcock show you a dispatch from Joyce to himself in these words: "Is there any hitch in sending Maguire's name to the Senate? [signed] JOYCE."

Answer: I can not remember particularly. I think, however, that General Babcock did ask me if there; was any reason why Maguire's name should not be sent. I have an indistinct recollection of his asking me the question.

Question: You have said that you resisted the pressure brought to bear upon you by prominent public men in regard to the suspension or revocation of the order transferring Supervisors. If you have no objection, will you please state the names of those prominent men who brought that pressure to bear upon you?

Answer: There were many persons, and I think I could give the names of several Senators and probably other Members of Congress, but probably I should have to refer to papers that are on file. I do not know that it is material. I know that the pressure was continual from the Supervisors and their friends.

Question: Can you from memory name any Senators or Representatives?

Answer: I could name two or three, but I do not believe it is necessary.

Mr. Eaton: I will not press it, then.

Question: Did General Babcock at the time tell you he had endeavored to influence Commissioner Douglass to revoke that order?

Answer: No.

Question: Since you say that General Babcock has not manifested to you any desire to interfere with or prevent the trial of the indictments against himself and others, will you be so good as to state whether any of his friends for him have at any time since those indictments were found endeavored to prevent the trial of the indictments against him or any other indicted parties? If so, please state who have made such efforts.

Answer: They have not with me.

Question: Will you please state why the order for the Court of Inquiry in Gen, Babcock's case was made before the adjournment of the grand jury which found the indictment against him, if you know?

Answer: It was made because he applied for it, and I thought he was clearly entitled to vindicate himself, if he was innocent. He had been denied that opportunity before the grand jury.

Question: Did General Babcock show you a telegram from District Attorney Dyer, saying that the next conspiracy case would be tried on December 15th 1875?

Answer: He did; I do not remember, about the dates particularly.

Question: Now I suppose, Mr. President, that the substance of your testimony is—what we all know to be true—that if there has been any misconduct on the part of General Babcock, it. has not come, to your knowledge?

Answer: Yes, sir; that is true.

Question: You do not know, of course, do you, whether Mr. Douglass suggested to Secretary Bristow the same thing about the transfer of Supervisors which you say he originally suggested to you?

Answer: I do not know anything about it, except from the Secretary himself.

Question: Do you recollect that Supervisor Tutton was ordered from Philadelphia to St. Louis under this order for transfers?

Answer: That is my recollection, that he was ordered to St. Louis.

Question: You say that General Babcock has made no efforts with you to avoid a trial; but you do not know of your own knowledge, of course, whether he has made any efforts with others?

Answer: No; I do not.

Re-Direct Examination.
By Mr. Cook

Question: [Handing witness copy of a telegram.] I wish you would state what you know in relation to that.

Answer: This dispatch seems to be dated "Washington, October 27th; To WM H. BENTON, WM. MCKEE and JOHN M. KRUM. Your request in regard to Collectorship will be complied with. [signed.] U. S. GRANT Those gentlemen are a part of the bondsmen of Ford, and they had recommended Constantine Maguire for Fords place as Collector.

Question: The original of that, I believe, is in your handwriting?

Answer: Yes, I wrote that myself. I saw the original this morning.

Question: What was the character of the correspondence between Mr. Joyce and General Babcock as exhibited to you?

Answer: My answer to that is the same as has been given and objected to.

Question: What was the general character of the explanation of the nature of the dispatches to which your attention has been directed, as given to you by General Babcock?

Answer: The explanations which he gave seemed to me to clear up all grounds of suspicion against him.

Question: What was the general character of those explanations?

Answer: It was generally a statement of their meaning, and what they were in response to; but I could not probably give at this time his explanation of any one of them.

Question: But the explanations, as given at the time, were such as to satisfy you?

Answer: They seemed to me to be entirely satisfactory.


APP Note:  The Deposition took place at the White House, overseen by Supreme Court Chief Justice Morrison Waite. The questioning was conducted by Maj. Lucien Eaton, of St. Louis, on behalf of the government, and William A. Cook, of Washington, on behalf of General Babcock. The deposition text published here is drawn principally from the Papers of Ulysses S. Grant.  We have also consulted a more contemporaneous publication, John McDonald's Secrets of the Great Whiskey Ring. The latter includes the text of some documents mentioned in the deposition but that were not in the official transcript. McDonald, who was himself convicted in the Whiskey Ring trials, points out that the President could not have been compelled to testify, but did so voluntarily--a point emphasized in this essay at the National Archives. An implication is that it would have been difficult to convict the President of perjury.

We have edited the transcript so that each line starts with either "Question:" or "Answer:" rather than the inconsistent usage in the text published in the Grant Papers.  In modern usage, any statement by President Grant would have been preceded by "The President:" rather than the word "Answer." We have followed the practice of the stenographers by simply using "Answer." All sentences or statements here end with some form of punctuation.  All abbreviations for "General" (Gen, Gen., Gen'l. etc.) have been replaced by the word.  The abbreviation "Mr" has been replaced by "Mr." Spelling left as in the earliest versions include: despatch, connexion, Endictment, speach.

Ulysses S. Grant, Deposition in the Trial of Orville E. Babcock Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/355768

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