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On the 27th day of July, 1894, Congress passed a resolution authorizing and providing for the compilation of all the annual, special, and veto messages, proclamations, and inaugural addresses of the Presidents. No appropriation was made in the resolution for the work, but it directed that the work be performed under the direction of the Joint Committee on Printing. On the 20th of August, 1894, the Joint Committee on Printing unanimously requested me to undertake the work of compilation,
The CHAIRMAN. Who was the chairman of the committee at that time?
Mr. RICHARDSON. At that time Senator Gorman was chairman. Senator Manderson was on the committee in the Senate.
I accepted, and, I may add, with no proper idea or conception of the vast amount of labor and of anxiety it would entail upon me. This was during the Fifty-third Congress, which closed March 4, 1895. Immediately upon its adjournment I went to my home, but returned on April 1 and began the work. From that date until July 1, 1899, a period of four years and three months, I devoted every spare hour of my time to this work. In summer and in winter, when Congress was in session and during recesses, by day and by night, I gave all my time and effort to the task. During this period I remained in Washington at my own expense when, but for this work, during the recesses of Congress I would have been at my home. The work, of necessity, had to be done in Washington City. The first volume was brought out February 22, 1896; the second volume, July 4, 1896; the third volume, November 26, 1896; the fourth volume, April 27, 1897; the fifth volume, July 4, 1897; the sixth volume, November 25, 1897; the seventh volume, Feb. ruary 22, 1898; the eighth volume, July 4,1898; the ninth volume, November 24, 1898; the tenth and last volume, July 4, 1899.
I will not exaggerate if I say that during the four years and three months I devoted on an average four hours a day to the work. On some days I did not touch it because of other more pressing duties. Yet there were many other days in which I was occupied upon it eight or ten hours. In May, 1897, at the extraordinary session, the Senate inserted an amendment to the sundry civil bill, which became a law on the 4th of June, 1897, requiring me to make an index to the entire work. I had realized that without an index the compilation would not be half so valuable, and I had already commenced work on the index before that act was passed.
Senator ELKINS. I suggest, Mr. Richardson, that that part of the act to which you refer be inserted at this point.
Mr. RICHARDSON. Very well.
66 Tbat there be printed of the compilation known as Messages and Papers of the Presidents, by James D. Richardson, a Representative from the State of Tennessee, fifteen thousand copies, of which five thousand copies shall be for the Senate and ten thousand copies for the House of Representatives. The distribution of the same shall be made as heretofore by the superintendent of documents, and to persons designated to receive them by the Members and Delegates of the present Congress. In making the distribution the fraction, or remainder, in each case shall be delivered by the superintendent of documents to the compiler. The Public Printer shall bind the personal copy for Senators and Members and Delegates in full morocco with gilt edges; and this order shall include the volumes already issued, that their sets may be uniform: Provided, That said personal copies not delivered to Senators,
Members, or Delegates of the Fifty-fourth Congress who retired from
completed his law course, and was ready to enter upon the practice
While the work of compiling was in progress I had frequent consul-
This is not true in Messages and Papers, for in its index there will
As I preferred not to accept a direct appropriation from Congress it was suggested that I should accept a duplicate set of the electrotype plates from which the work was published by the Government, with the hope that I could make a contract with some book publisher to place the work on the market, and from which I should receive a royalty on the sales.
The CHAIRMAN. Was that suggestion made by any member of the committee?
Mr. RICHARDSON. I can state from recollection that it was talked over with Senators Hale and Gorman, and with Mr. Cannon and Mr. Sayers. I can not say which one suggested it, but it was suggested in our interviews.
Senator ELKINS. Did you receive with favor the suggestion to take a copy of the plates? Did it strike you as a proper thing?
Mr. RICHARDSON. Yes, sir; I preferred that, because I did not want to ask the Government to pay me anything.
Senator ELKINS. What did you have in mind? Did you bave in mind at that time the profits which would inure to you as the result of the ownership of the plates? Did you have any idea as to how much it would be?
Mr. RICHARDSON. I had no idea of what it would be, but I felt that if I could make such a contract I would prefer to get some compensation in that way, rather than to ask the Government to pay me, or the Congress to make an appropriation.
Senator ELKINS. Did you have in mind at that time, or had you made any calculations, as to what amount of profit you would receivehow many books you could sell? Mr. RICHARDSON. No, sir. Senator ELKINS. You had not at that time?
Mr. RICHARDSON. No, sir; I really had very little hope of making a contract that would pay me any large sum.
The object in view with the gentlemen I have mentioned was twofold; first, that I might obtain some compensation without expense to the Government; and, secondly, to remove the pressure upon the Government for reprinting so expensive a work for gratuitous distribu. tion. The impression was that Congress would be called upon repeatedly to reprint this work if it was given away gratuitously, and it was thought that if an edition could be put upon the market that possibly it would be about the only way to meet the demand.
With this understanding and agreement the duplicate plates were donated to me by Congress.
Senator ELKINS. Was tbat done by resolution or by act?
Mr. RICHARDSON. It was an amendment put onto the sundry civil bill, which became a law on the 4th day of June, 1897, a copy of which has just been inserted in my testimony.
I did not know just what these plates would cost when the matter was first discussed in the House, but upon inquiry I learned from the Public Printer that they could be supplied at a cost of about 15 cents a page, or a total cost to the Government of about $3,100, there being about 7,000 pages.
Senator ELKINS. The stereotype plates ?
There is a mistaken idea among some intelligent gentlemen, and that is that the original plates were given to me by the Government, and that the Government thus deprived itself of its plates. As a fact, it is a duplicate set made from the originals. The Government itself retained the original plates and gave nie a duplicate set, at a cost of about $3,100.
Senator ELKINS. And the expense to the Government was $3,100? Mr. RICHARDSON. Yes, sir.
Senator ELKINS. Can they make duplicate plates just as good as the originals?
Mr. RICHARDSON. Yes, sir; absolutely.
The CHAIRMAN. Were those duplicates in existence, or were they made for you?
Mr. RICHARDSON. They were made for me. The cost of these plates is the only expense the Government has been put to on my individual account, or in my behalf, for this compilation and index, except that when the orders were made by Congress for the two editions each of 15,000 sets of the work for distribution among Senators and Members, there was inserted a proviso giving me the remainders or fractions left over in the division or distribution among Senators and Representatives.
Senator ELKINS. That was provided for in the act? Mr. RICHARDSON. Yes, sir. It has been inserted and will appear. These fractions, but for this provision, would have gone to the superintendent of document or the folding rooms of the two Houses. In this way these remainder sets over and above the regular quota of a member came to me. These sets have been disposed of by me in various ways, many of them to my friends among Senators and Members; some to my son, some to literary gentlemen throughout the country, who had made valuable suggestions to me from time to time as the work progressed, some to newspaper friends; and I have nearly a hundred sets on hand. I will file a list showing where each set and volume went if demanded by this committee. I suppose the committee will not ask me to do so, as it is no part of the inquiry, but I am willing to do so.
The CHAIRMAN. How many were there? Mr. RICHARDSON. About 650, as well as I can remember, speaking from recollection.
The plates mentioned, worth $3,100, and the remainders comprise my entire compensation from Congress, and for which I gave the Gov. ernment, in addition to the $3,600 paid out by me in cash on the iudex, all my personal expenses, my time, labor, and energies for four years and three months. I do not make any complaint whatever of this, for what I did was done freely and voluntarily, and I only mention it now that the history may be preserved. I ask nothing from Congress or from this committee except the preservation of my good name, which has been unjustly and wantonly attacked by a few newspapers.
It has been charged that as a member of the Committee on Printing I suppressed resolutions, introduced into the Fifty-fifth Congress and referred to the Committee on Printing, which provided for printing additional copies of the compilation. This is unqualifiedly untrue. The charge in effect is that the Fifty-fifth Congress did not print additional copies because of my influence, exerted on the committees of printing of the two Houses to prevent it. In this way it is charged in a
few newspapers that the whole number of Messages and Papers published heretofore by Congress is 21,000 sets. The truth is, there have been 36,000 sets printed and distributed by Congress. It is true reso. lutions for printing 15,000 sets were introduced and referred to the Committee on Printing in the Fifty-fifth Congress. These resolutions were discussed by the committee, but were not reported, for ample and . satisfaetory reasons. To print 15,000 sets of this work, it was well understood, would cost the Government something over $100,000. The estimate furnished by the Public Printer was 75 cents a book.
I was in the minority on the Committee on Printing, the other two members, Mr. Perkins, of Iowa, and Mr. Chickering, of New York, belonging to a different party froin myself. Our committee consulted with members of the Committee on Appropriations of the House, and it was decided that while 15,000 sets should be printed, the latter-named committee should provide for their publication.
That committee of the House therefore inserted in the sundry civil appropriation bill, which they reported and which became the law on the 4th day of June, 1897, and which I have just referred to, a provision for the printing of 15,000 additional sets. The chairman of our Committee on Printing was glad to dispose of the question in that way, and thus our committee was relieved from the necessity of taking action on the resolutions which had been referred to it. In other words, the Committee on Appropriations took jurisdiction of it at the extraordinary session. Soon after the Fifty-fifth Congress met and provided for the printing of the 15,000 sets for the last Congress. So there was no suppressing of any resolutions to prevent further publication. The Fifty-third Congress published 6,000 sets, the Fifty-fourth Congress published 15,000 sets, and the Fifty-fifth Congress published 15,000 sets, making in all 36,000.
Now, I ask the committee if they wish to do so, to call Senator Lodge, who was chairman of the Joint Committee on Printing in the last Congress, and who stated to me yesterday or the day before that I had never mentioned to him at all the subject of printing 15,000 sets, and had made no attempt to keep the committee from reporting a resolution to that effect; but, as I say, the Committee on Appropriations having provided for 15,000, then it was not thought necessary to take any action by either committee on printing.
It is charged that I had no right to copyright the compilation. This is purely a legal question. It involves no question of honor or morals. I did obtain a copyright. I did not do so until after careful examination and full advice. I believed I could copyright, and did so.
Senator ELKINS. Do you mean on those issued by Congress? Mr. RICHARDSON. No, sir; I do not claim there is a copyright on those. I had to put the notice in all the books, but I do not claim any copyright on those issued by Congress.
Senator ELKINS. Is this volume [exhibiting) issued by the Govern. ment?
Mr. RICHARDSON. No, sir,
I believed I could copyright it, and did so. If the copyright is void, the Government is not injured thereby, for I paid the Government $10 for copyright fees, besides the stamp fees. The Government paid out nothing therefor, and I can be the only loser in the case. But I am advised and believe the copyright is good and valid. While it is conceded by me one can not copyright a Government publication or docu