The Mint Fire.

Document ID 9806877
Date 01-01-1893
Document Type Family Papers
Archive B. O'Reilly
Citation The Mint Fire.;Copyright Retained by Brendan O'Reilly; CMSIED 9806877
Bill in senate to Settle an old
   Securtity Indebtedness.

Special to the Times-Democrat.
Washington, March 22. - An echo of the
fire at the new Orleans Mint, which
occurred during the Harrison administration,
when Dr. Smyth was superintendent
of that institution, was heard to-day in
the United States Senate.  Reference to
it was made in a bill which was introduced
for the purpose of having the Secretary
of the Treasury accept, in lieu of
full payment to the government, the sum
of $28,897.70, the amount alleged to have
been destroyed and lost at the time of the
fire.  The case then created quite a
sensation.  The fire was alleged to be
of accidental origin, but the finger of
suspicion was pointed at James Dowling,
who at that time held the position of
cashier at the Mint.
  Experts from Washington were sent to
New Orleans, and an investigation
made by government inspectors, one of
whom was a woman, revealed the fact,
according to their reports, that the ashes
of the burnt bills recovered by the
government, instead of being bills of large
denominations, as was asserted had been
destroyed, were alleged to be those of one
and two-dollar bills.  Criminal proceedings
were instituted against Dowling by
the Federal government, but after a long
drawn-out trial, he was acquitted of the charges.
  Superintendent Smyth, who was responsible
to the government for the loss,
left the United States after the acquittal
of Dowling and took up a permanent
residence in Ireland, where he still lives.
Suit was brought by the government
against the sureties of Smyth, who were
prominent merchants of New Orleans,
D. C. McCann and Ed. Conery, both of whom
have since died.  Judgment was
rendered in favour of the government.
  Since the rendering of the decision the
representatives of the sureties have sought
to be released from paying the interest
on the money burned, which now amounts
to nearly as much as the principal.  A
gentleman closely associated with the McCann
estate was in Washington last summer
and had several conferences with
the secretary of the Treasury on the
subject.  It is understood that the Treasury
officials were not willing to waive
the interest, since the sureties, as well
as Dr. Smyth, and as the judgment of
the Federal Court of New Orleans proved,
Cashier Dowling himself, were blameless
in the matter, but it was suggested that
such an arrangement could only be effected
by an act of Congress.  The bill introduced
to-day, therefore, is meant to effect
a compromise by the acceptance of $23,897.70
in full payment of the claim of the
government against the representatives of
Smyth's bondsmen.
  The bill was referred to the Committee on