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UNCLE SAM'S CONSCIENCE FUND.
Of what importance the "Conscience Fund" is will be appreciated when it is explained that in less than a century Uncle Sam has received from voluntary contributors more than one-third of a million dollars. Prior to 1811 all "conscience" money received was turned into the general revenues without any account being kept of remittances, but in that year the receipts were so heavy that it was decided to create a special fund for the donations, and this was done. Of course, the "Conscience Fund" is an imaginary institution in that all the money received eventually finds its way to the accumulation of public money from which Uncle Sam pays his bills, but a separate record is kept of the monetary testimonials to the honesty of the American people.
The contributions to the "Conscience Fund” have ranged all the way from two cents to $14,225.15. As a rule the very small contributions come from persons who have in one way or another evaded the payment of postage, while the large sums reIceived are in most instances to reimburse the government for tariff duties which have been evaded. The latter, however, has shown a falling off in recent years. The returning American traveler is now subjected to so many petty and needless annoyances by the customs officials at seaports that the average citizen has his inherent Puritanical ideas of honesty somewhat dulled by his indignation.
Contributors to the Conscience Fund" almost without exception conceal their identity. Some of them take the most extravagant precautions lest they be known. Frequently contributions are made through clergymen. There have been a number of instances in which jailers have performed such service for remorseful criminals and occasionally a relative or friend acts as intermediary, while the largest single contribution ever made to the "Conscience Fund" was forwarded to the secretary of state by a United States consul abroad.
After all, however, the majority of conscience-stricken individuals send the money themselves, but almost always with every possible safeguard against the discovery of the sender. Usually the postmark on the envelope is the only clew to even the whereabouts of the contributor. Many times the sole contents of an envelope directed to the 'Conscience Fund" are a number of pieces of currency, and when a letter
does accompany the remittance it is usually penned in back-hand, printed or typewritten, and unsigned.
Most of the contributions for the "Conscience Fund" are transmitted by mail, but sometimes a remittance is received by express, and on a few occasions money has been taken to the treasury department at Washington by special messengers who would give no information as to its source. When a remittance is made by a penitent himself it almost invariably comes in the form of currency; but in a few instances coin has been sent. A Chicago man who considered that he owed the government $1,665 adopted the novel scheme of cutting in two a bunch of bills, sending onehalf of each piece of currency to the treasury at Washington and the other to the sub-treasury at New York. As the mutilated currency would be valueless until reunited by Uncle Sam, he thus made sure that his remittance reached the proper hands.
The Conscience Fund" contributions reach Uncle Sam through a variety of different channels. Most of them are sent direct to the treasury department, or else addressed simply to "Conscience Fund, Washington, D. C."; but quite a few remittances of this kind are sent to the president at the White House; restitution for evasions of the postal regulations is frequently made to the post-office department; and pension frauds which form a large share of the misdeeds for which conscience-stricken mortals make amends to the government, are ofttimes set right by money deposited with the commissioner of pensions.
The treasurer of the United States endeavors to acknowledge the receipt of every conscience contribution; but in most instances the contributors have taken such care to conceal their identity that no means can be found to apprise them of the safe arrival of their remittance. On the other hand, some of the persons who square accounts with Uncle Sam are extremely anxious to know that the money has reached the right hands, and ask that a receipt be sent to a third party or acknowledgment made in some specified newspaper.
A large proportion of the persons who have sent money to the "Conscience Fund" have been prompted to take such action by conversion to religious belief. A letter received a short time ago from West Virginia read: "I have settled with the Lorde.
UNCLE SAM'S CONSCIENCE FUND.
am due the government too dollars, which find inclosed herewith. You need not send receipt, as the Lorde has already receipted. Yours in the Lorde. Occasionally money is sent with no word of explanation, and without being specifically addressed to the 66 Conscience Fund". In such cases the supposition is that it is intended for the fund, which is the only one of its kind under the government, and probably in the world, and it is duly deposited to the credit of this peculiar institution. Not all the contrite citizens discharge their responsibilities with coin of the realm. For instance, there was the former government employe who sent back a rug he had stolen, but not, it may be added, until he had enjoyed the use of the article for five years and it had become sadly dilapidated.
Not long ago a man wrote to the treasury department and inquired whether if he made a confession in his own name the communication would be regarded as confidential. He was informed that there could be no guaranty of secrecy, since all letters to the department were placed in the public records, and it was suggested that he make his confession through a clergyman. Sometimes there is quite a little correspondence between the department and a person acting on behalf of an individual who wishes to reimburse Uncle Sam through the "Conscience Fund.'
Mingled with the truly pathetic cases
are quite a number of more or less ludicrous atonements. One man wrote: "While I was employed as a letter carrier in a town which I don't mention here I stoled ten dollars from a letter. I got religion since, thank the Lord! and that ten dollars has been bothering me considerable. Nobody ever knew I took it, and there ain't no chance of me ever getting arrested for it, so I send hereby five dollars, which you will please put in the 'Conscience Fund,' for 1 want to do what's rite and propper.' Another man informed the treasurer of the United States that he had experienced many twinges of conscience because of owing the government $65. He had finally decided to ease his conscience by sending the $10 which he enclosed, and he added that if this did not give him complete relief from the twinges he might send another $10 at a later date.
All communications relative to the "Conscience Fund" are turned over to the secretary of the treasury, or rather to his private secretary, and are duly filed, forming a collection of epistles which is probably unrivaled anywhere in the world, unless it be by the accumulation of letters to Santa Claus at the dead-letter office. The remittances of course, ultimately find their way to the office of the treasurer of the United States, who, as has been noted, endeavors to make due acknowledgment of each contribution received.
UNCLE HENRY ON PLATFORMS.
BY S. E. KISER IN CHICAGO RECORD-HERALD.
They're fixin' up the platform for the battle that's on hand,
And there's lots of foolish people think they're splendid things, no doubt,
Why does each side have a platform? For to catch the votes, that's all,
The Republicans'll tell us that their platform's fair and strong,
What's the good of these here platforms that go windin' in and out
Here's a platform I will write you
that, if things were on the square,
THE ROYAL ROAD TO NEW YORK.
RELATING TO THE "ROYAL LIMITED" BETWEEN THE NATION'S
T is an interesting fact that nearly one-tenth of the entire population of the United States lives within a distance of 226 miles, in almost a straight line, in the cities and towns located on the route of the famous Royal Blue Line, between Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York.
Besides the metropolitan quartette of cities named above, are the thriving cities of Wilmington, Del., Chester, Pa., Plainfield, Trenton, Elizabeth, Newark and Jersey City, N. J.; while between them lie the thickly-populated suburban villages.
Even though the proportion of population seems large, yet the western traveler who comes east for the first time really expects to find the thoroughfare solidly built up. Instead, there are long stretches of open country and great expanses of water.
To accommodate the great amount of travel which naturally exists between Washington and New York, a superior train service is essential. To this end the Royal Blue Line, as it is known, was established with through trains every other hour each
way. As the business grew it became necessary to run hourly trains between Washington and Baltimore and between Philadelphia and New York.
Within recent years this splendid service was greatly augmented by trains leaving the terminal stations on the stroke of the clock. For instance, all through trains. from Washington to New York, leave Washington "every other hour on the odd hour," and the through trains from New York to Washington, leave New York "every other hour on the even hour." Between Washington and Baltimore, trains leave both cities "every hour on the hour" throughout the day, and the same service exists between Philadelphia and New York. The value of this arrangement to the traveling public is apparent; it is not necessary to carry a time table.
To this excellent arrangement of schedules, is added, a most superior train service; Pullman cars, either parlor or sleeping are on all trains; the coaches are of the very newest types that come from the shops from year to year; the dining car service is the best in the country. To be able to travel in a palatial train with no extra fare, other than the Pullman charge, a distance of 226 miles in five hours with every luxury, is certainly the climax of modern railroading.
Last September the writer, after transacting business in Washington, was compelled to be in New York at 8 o'clock P. M. of the same day.
The train selected was the "Royal Limited," which left the Baltimore & Ohio station at Washington at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, affording the fastest schedule of five hours and enabling me to keep my appointment. It was one of those beautiful September days and the impressions received were delightful.