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As a part of the British fleet soon afterwards ascended the Potomac, and plundered Alexandria of a large quantity of flour and tobacco, threatening Washington at the same time with a second invasion, it was not considered safe to bring the papers of the State Department back for some weeks. Not, indeed, until the British fleet generally had left the waters of the Chesapeake. In the meantime, it was found necessary for me to proceed to Leesburg occasionally, for particular papers, to which the Secretary of State had occasion to refer in the course of his correspondence.25
The record is silent on the subject of the disposition made of the Great Seal at this time, and apparently it was not taken with the archives. Certain it is, however, that it escaped injury, for it must have been affixed to the President's proclamation on the subject of the capture of the city, dated September 1, before the Department's archives had been brought back to Washington. No effort was made to remove the models of the Patent Office; they were too numerous and too bulky to justify the attempt; but the day before the entrance of the British into the city Dr. Thornton removed the records to his farm three miles north of the city; and when the work of destruction by the enemy was in progress he successfully interceded with the British officers to abandon their purpose of burning the models of inventions useful to mankind.26
An oflicial report on the saving of the records was made by Secretary Monroe on November 17:
Report of the Secretary of State, of the loss of books, papers, &r. occasioned by the incursion of the enemy in the month of August 1814; made pursuant to an order of the house. November 17, 1814. Read. and ordered to lie on the table.
THE acting secretary of state, in compliance with the resolution of the house of representatives of the 24th ult. requesting such information as may be in the power of the several departments to afford, in relation to the destruction of official books and papers in their departments, respectively, in consequence of the incursion of the enemy in the month of August, 1814, has the honor to report:
That when it became apparent from the movements of the enemy, after his debarkation at Benedict, that his destination was the seat of government, every exertion was made, and every means employed, for the removal of the books and papers of this office, to a place of safety; and notwithstanding the extreme difficulty in obtaining the means of conveyance, it is believed, that every paper and manuscript book of the office, of any importance, including those of the old government and all in relation to accounts, were placed in a state of security. That it was not found practicable, however, to preserve in like manner, the volumes of laws reserved by congress for future disposition; many of the books belonging to the library of the department, as well as some letters on file of minor importance from individuals on business mostly disposed of, which were unavoidably left, and shared the fate, it is presumed, of the building in which they were deposited. All which is respectfully submitted,
25 Samuel Pleasonton to W. H. Winder, Jr., August 7, 1848. E. D. Ingraham's A Sketch of the Events which preceded the Capture of Washington, Philadelphia, 1849.
28 Thornton Papers, Library of Congress, MSS.
JAMES MONROE. Department of State,
November 14, 1814.
The injuries actually inflicted upon the official records at Washington through the capture of the city by the British have been stretched to cover a multitude of losses from other causes. So far as the State Department is concerned, the vigilance of Monroe and of Pleasonton and his colleagues prevented any destruction of important irreplaceable archives. That they deserve public gratitude for this will be realized if the mind is permitted to imagine the indelible shame which would have followed if they had been less loyal and resourceful and Cochran and Ross had carried away with them, as trophies of their exploit, the rolls of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.
When Graham retired as chief clerk his place was taken on April 21, 1817, by Daniel Brent, and John Quincy Adams entering upon the duties of Secretary of State on September 22 of that year confirmed the assignment because of Brent's previous service in the Department.27
There were still no subdivisions in the Department, except so far as the Patent Office was one. Adams found the correspondence in great confusion because of the want of system, and introduced certain improvements in registering and indexing incoming and outgoing mail.
The business had greatly increased; the force of the Department had been enlarged; the salaries were higher. In 1820 the officers and salaries were:
27 John Quincy Adams' Diary, IV., 9.
John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State....
$6,000 per annum
410 250 300
$21,160 The chief clerk's salary had been increased to $2,000 per annum by the appropriation act of April 20, 1818,28 and the following year (Act of February 20, 1819) the Secretary's compensation was raised to $6,000.29 Up to the year 1853 the chief clerk was the second officer in the Department and was not only the head of the executive force, but acted as Secretary when his chief was absent. Daniel Brent held the office for twenty-six years until August 8, 1833, when he was appointed Consul at Paris. His successors passed in and out of the office in rapid succession until Robert S. Chew was appointed May 8, 1855, remaining in office until his death, August 2, 1873.
In 1853, by Act of March 3, provision was made for an Assistant Secretary of State at $3,000 per annum,30 the act of July 25, 1866, created the office of Second Assistant Secretary at $3,500 per annum, increasing the Assistant Secretary's salary at the same time; the act of June 30, 1875, added the Third Assistant Secretary at the same compensation. These officers still remain at the head of the Department.
28 3 Stat. 445. 29 3 Stat. 484. 30 10 Stat. 212.
The act of August 12, 1818, provided that a clerk whose compensation should be $2,000 per annum, be assigned to the duty of examining claims presented to the Department of State of American citizens against foreign governments, and by act of July 25, 1866, the office of Examiner of Claims with an annual salary of $3,500 was established. 31 It was abolished by the act of July 20, 1868,32 and re-established May 27, 1870,33 and when the Department of Justice was organized June 22, 1870, the office was transferred to its nominal jurisdiction, the nature of the duties, however, remaining undisturbed. By act of March 3, 1891, the title was changed to Solicitor of the Department of State.34 He was the law officer of the Department from the time the office was created, rendering opinions upon questions of law when the Secretary directed him to do so and having supervision of all questions relating to claims.
In the expansion of the Department's business certain clerks were assigned to certain branches of it and from this division of labor came the establishment of the bureaus or divisions; but there were no such bureaus or divisions recognized by title or regular arrangement until Secretary Louis McLane submitted a formal memorandum on the subject of his Department to President Andrew Jackson on August 29, 1833. He had, he said, upon entering upon the duties of his office, caused a report to be made to him upon the condition of the business of the Department with a view to more perfect organization, and had drawn up regulations which he submitted for the President's approval. He invited attention to the
Magnitude of the archives of the Diplomatic Bureau,” and the necessity for larger accommodations, observing that each of the other bureaus was at a similar disadvantage. IIe, accordingly, recommended that the Fifth Auditor's office, which was occupying three rooms contiguous to those appropriated to the Department of
31 14 Stat. 226. 32 15 Stat. 96. 83 16 Stat. 378. 34 26 Stat. 945.
State, be moved to the new building about to be rented to the Government. The President approved the report and ordered that its recommendations be carried out.
The following arrangement of the “gentlemen employed, the distribution of their duties, and rules for their performance,” were directed to be observed:
1: Chief Clerk. His duties were to be “such, in all respects, as pertain to an Under Secretary of State.” He was to exercise an immediate superintendence of the burealis, to see to the distribution of the letters and other communications and report all acts of misconduct or omission to the Secretary.
2. The Diplomatic Burean. It was to attend to all notes and instructions, prepare letters of credence and treaties, receive, register and file all dispatches. The duties were to be divided among three clerks, one to have charge of the missions to England, France, Russia, The Netherlands; another to index the instructions and the dispatches and have especial charge of the missions to all other countries in Europe. The third was to have especial charge of the missions to countries in North and South America. An index of all the business was to be carefully kept, and a synopsis of the state of each mission; beside a register of daily transactions, occurrences and communications relative to the business of the bureau. A general weekly correspondence was to be kept up with each of the missions abroad, containing general information of a foreign and domestic character.
3. Consular Bureau, It was to have charge “ of all business generally appertaining to the Consular concerns of the Department." Indexes, registers, and synopses were to be kept as in the Diplomatic Bureau. Two clerks were to perform all the duties.
4. Ilome Bureau. One clerk was to perform the duties, which were to file and register all domestic correspondence, authenticate certificates under the Department seal and keep the registers of seamen and arrivals of passengers from foreign ports.
5. Bureau of Archives, Laws and Commissions. It was to keep and arrange the archives, make out and record commissions, have charge of the rolls of laws, their publication and distribution, and