Material from National Police Gazette (1848-1849) on Patent Office Jewel Robbery
National Police Gazette, Saturday, November 18, 1848
ROBBERY OF THE STATE JEWELS -- THE THIEVES! -- A robbery was perpetuated on the Patent Office in the city of Washington, on the night of Wednesday, the 8th inst., which is deserving of the close attention of every citizen for many reasons above and beyond the mere nominal value of the loss. The articles were contained in a large double glass case, which stood nearly opposite the main entrance of the great hall on the second story, and consisted of a splendid gold snuff box, set with diamonds, presented by the Sultan and valued at six thousand dollars; a gold scabbard belonging to a sword presented to Commodore Biddle by some other potentate, and valued at three thousand five hundred dollars; a pint bottle of the attar of roses of three times the value of its weight in gold, presented by an Eastern Prince; a necklace of the most resplendent pearls, of similar donation; two extra large pearls which reposed in the gold box; a sword and scabbard of gold, presented to Commodore Elliot; another sword with a diamond hilt; and several gold medals and Roman coins, making an aggregate valuation of fifteen thousand dollars.
The manner and method of the robbery appears to have been ingenious and daring in the extreme, and gives evidence of having been the plan of experienced felonious minds. The time selected, shows forethought and rare judgment, for though the pure moonlight night would under ordinary circumstances, have been a most mal-apropos selection, the raging storm of the Presidential canvass obscured all nicer points of observation.
While, therefore, the political watchmen were engrossed in calculations on the chances of Cass and Butler, the robbers entered the front door with a nipper, which grasped the key inserted on the inside, and having locked the door behind them, leisurely proceeded up stairs. A skeleton key next opened the door of the great hall on the second landing, when having fastened it behind them with a piece of cord, so that, if disturbed, they would have time to make egress by the window with a knotted rope, they set about their work. To avoid making any noise by the breaking of the case which contained the jewels, they pasted the glass well over with a heavy paper, and then striking it with an iron instrument shivered it gently with a muffled sound none of the pieces dropping to the floor. Removing this carefully, they used the same precautions with the inner case taking out from each, the sheets of cohesive fragments, and laying them beside them on a chair. They then commenced rifling of the repository, but probably alarmed at the sharp strokes of concealed bells attached to the gold box, the scabbard and the string of pearls, which had been stolen once before, they contented themselves with such booty as lay within the sweep of their arms, and hurriedly decamped by the knotted rope which hung from a side window down by the corner of the main porch. They job so admirably conceived was completed; the robbers go off safely with their plunder, and the traces of their operations were not discovered till the following morning. Then however, the hubbub commenced, and ever since the police of every town which has received the news, have been cudgeling their brains to guess out the perpetuators.
For our own part we do not feel much puzzled. We are confident that the robbery was not committed for the mere sake of pecuniary gain and we believe we can indicate the perpetuators, and signify their motives. To be plain then, and as brief as plainness always ought to be, we believe from the bottom of our souls, and below that it necessary, that Tom Hand alias Shuster, and Jim Webb, the two most renowned burglars of the age, were the main perpetuators of the skillful depredation, and we believe moreover that the object of the plunder was to gain advantage ground that would enable them and their agents to enter into a treaty in an imposing manner, for the release either of Ned McGowan from his peril in Philadelphia, or for the pardon of Charles Webb from the New York State Prison. If this hypothesis be correct, and we are staking a great reputation on it, Jim Young, the ex-High Constable of Philadelphia, is the arch director of the whole, and his recent visit to this city, to consult at midnight with Tom Hand and the burglar Webb stands recognized at last in its true bearings. We are writing cautiously and thoughtfully, and not in the hot temper of some sudden flirt of the imagination. Let the reader, therefore, listen to us in the same attentive spirit. The Patent Office was robbed of these same jewels, or the most valuable of them, once before, and on that occasion the depredation was committed at the direction of an entangled felon, by Tom Hand, to accomplish his release. The criminal to whom we allude was the renowned Tom Walker (the former companion of the Webbs,) now in a southern penitentiary on a ten years sentence for robbing the mail. This man stood interlocked with some dozen or more of daring and heavy burglaries in Baltimore and New York, and having no hope of compromise by ordinary means, he summoned an outside friend or two to his assistance and directed the Patent Office to be robbed. It was done. A reward of $1,000 was offered for the recovery of the property by the government.
"Let me slip through my present dangers,: said Tom Walker to certain confidential officers, "and I'll turn up this government swag."
The experienced officers took the hint, and having made all the necessary arrangements with the local District Attornies, cunning advised the agents of the government to raise the reward to fifteen hundred dollars. The five hundred dollars were added, when lo! as if by magic the trunk containing the missing jewel was found reposing all ready to the hand of "ye vigilant police," upon the dock of brig Mary Bright, and Tom Walker, maugre all his accumulated crimes, was hocus pocussed into the open air. No enquiry was made after the thieves, and the government, with a dirty fondness for its worthless baubles, paid the price for their recovery, without making any efforts to vindicate its outraged laws, and the thieves went by with the wind, no man to question them.
It remains to be seen if this latter transaction is to end in the same way. For our part we hope it may not. We are opposed to compromise in toto. Rather than the thieves should buy a single day from a ten years sentence, or obtain a shade of favor for an associate, by restitution, we would see the jewels thrown into the sea, or consumed before our eyes, and we believe our ownership of them is as great as that of the President himself. They are worthless in every sense; indeed mere baubles of barbarian caprice, and of a value purely visionary. As trifling as they are, however, they will not be hurt, and in good time will all come back again. The attar of roses will never be uncorked, the thieves are not fools enough for that; the jewelled snuff box will remain undespoiled, and the scabbard of the diamond hilted sword will never suffer under the crucible, or even the scratch of an irreverent pin. This is a matter, however, that should give a great government very small concern. Its true enquiry is after the despoilers, and its legitimate aim, the punishment of those who have so audaciously defied its laws.
We shall watch this business with the deep interest of a citizen who feels the honor of his government a portion of his private care, and we shall hold it to be a duty to denounce as infamous, the conduct of any public functionary who, to recover a few worthless gewgaws, will put himself in correspondence with the thieves or their public agents, and make intercession with the Governor of a State for the release of any felon as the condition of their return. As one of the sovereigns, we do not care two figs about their coming back, while we care very much about laying by the heel of the rascals who have contrived this outrage upon our laws, and of defeating their desperate aims. What say you reader? and you? and you? and you?
National Police Gazette, Saturday, November 18, 1848
WHO STOLE THE GOVERNMENT JEWELS? -- Under this heading the Herald of yesterday published our hypothesis that the Government Jewels had been stolen for the purpose of forcing a compromise in favor of Charley Webb, now in the State prison. The calculation, whether it be worth anything or not, was ours, and reached the Herald by having been dropped in the hearing of one of its reporters. We are willing to see the Herald far in advance, as it unquestionably is, of all the rest of the Press in the ordinary departments of intelligence, but in criminal intelligence we shall insist upon claiming our own thunder wherever we see or hear it. The Herald can afford to say a word in this business.
National Police Gazette, Saturday, December 2, 1848
THE STOLEN GOVERNMENT JEWELS -- No word, no trace, no smell, has yet been obtained by the Government Jewels stolen from the Patent Office at Washington, on the night of the 8th ult. Tom Hand, who was one of the thieves, keeps himself very shy; Jim Webb, another, is not to be found; and two others who are supposed also to have been in the depredation, have recently made themselves quite private and reserved. These are Old Tom Ponto and George Madden, the great English screwmen. Some of the best calculators think these two latter men were implicated in the taking, and we think it very likely. If George Madden had a hand in it, his aim may be easily guessed, as there is a distinguished friend of his in the District of Columbia prison. We have frustrated all their objects, however, by exposing them in season, and by and by the jewels will come back -- attar of rose not even opened -- when every body least expects it. In the meantime, we shall keep a close watch on the thieves, and institute among our agents throughout the country, an active smelling after the perfume of roses. Any house which, or any man who, smells too strongly of it, are liable to suspicion.
National Police Gazette, Saturday, December 9, 1848
THE STOLEN JEWELS -- Not a word has yet been heard of the stolen Government jewels. They will come back by and by to compromise some incarcerated rascal out of prison. In the meantime let our police agents smell about lively and see if they can catch a whiff of the attar of roses. Whoever smells too strongly of that perfume at present, aye, and for some time to come, is liable to suspicion.
National Police Gazette, Saturday, January 6, 1849
THE STOLEN GOVERNMENT JEWELS -- No trace yet of the stolen government jewels. Tom Hand keeps his mouth as close as a French snuffbox, and Jim Young does not wink either to the right or left on the subject. Mayor Swift could probably influence the return of the valuables if he were to press the High Constable on the subject, but his honor seems to have fallen into an apathy on all public business of late, and probably has never given the subject a single thought. We must be patient, however, and wait till we get a snuff of the attar of roses.
National Police Gazette, Saturday, January 13, 1849
THE DESERTION LIST -- The War Department have seen fit to remove the desertion list from our columns, to give it, as we understand, to a contemporary which has, on the respective days of issue, but one-third our extent of circulation. The War Department is by this operation, not making the best bargain for itself, though it is helping us to a space which we can turn to the account of some six or seven hundred dollars more a year, by promiscuous advertising. We originated the desertion list by our views expressed to the Department of its utility, and we have had the satisfaction during its continuance, to have saved "our beloved country" some hundreds of thousands of dollars through its agency. Our paper is peculiarly calculated to be the vehicle of its distribution, as it finds it way to every nook and corner of the Union, and it goes principally into the hands of police officers, constables, and magistrates, whose interest it is to look after suspicious characters and to earn reward. The motive of the change could not, under all circumstances, have been politics, but must have been sheer favoritism. Whatever it was, however, we will wager from one to five hundred dollars, that desertions increase, and arrests of deserters decrease, twenty five per cent, each way, during the next twelve months.
National Police Gazette, Saturday, March 10, 1849
THE PATENT OFFICE JEWELS -- THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE NATIONAL POLICE GAZETTE -- Most of our readers have no doubt been surprised at the recent removal from our columns of the official list of deserters, which we have published for the last three years, by order of the War Department; and all of our enemies have rejoiced in the fact, as an evidence that the Government had withdrawn its patronage and countenance from our paper. It will be seen, however, by a glance of the eye to the fourth page of this day's number that we have got it back; and as its re-appearance at this time may seem a singular circumstance, we will take a little pains to explain it. As it is a story of some import we will commence it regularly, that there may be no confusion in the details, as we proceed.
Our readers know that James Young, the ex-High Constable of Philadelphia, and ourself have for a long time not been on very good terms and they knew, moreover, that the leading criminal authorities of Philadelphia have taken up Young's quarrel. Our differences are not personal, for we may say we do not know him, but they have grown out of his implication with the robbery of Livingston and Wells Express, in 1846; with the robbery of the President of the Chester County Bank, in 1847, for which he now remains under suspicion; and were confirmed into hatred on his part by our accusation that he was a party to the robbery of the State jewels from the Patent Office, in November 1848. We were led to this latter accusation in this wise.
On the 6th of October last, a few days after Young had failed in his daring and felonious attempt to swindle the renowned Charley Webb, the forger, under the alias of Jonathan Hunt, from the authorities of this State at Albany, we received telegraphic information, by the politeness of the Recorder of Philadelphia who was then in this city, that James of Jim Young, as he is more familiarly called, was on his road to this city in the cars. A watch was consequently set at the foot of Cortlandt street, and when he arrived, he was seen to meet two men who were in waiting for him. Near a gas lamp these two person espied a well dressed man, drunk upon a stoop. By way of professional divertisement they pounced upon him, and one held him in a convenient position while the other rifled his pockets. The man who did this latter branch of the business then took the proceeds of his efforts to the light, while the other helped him examine the haul by looking over his shoulder. Finally, they both indulged in a low laugh, pocketed the plunder and sauntered on, the officer on the watch, not daring to interfere or to obtain the name of the plundered man, for fear of violating his imperative directions, to lose no sight of Young. In a few minutes Young came out of the hotel, joined his pals, and the trio went up town together. Whether the latter related their exploit to their ex-official friend, we cannot tell, but they remained in each other's company till after midnight.
It was evident to us and to all who supervised these movements, that there was heavy mischief breeding, for these two companions of the ex-High Constable were no smaller persons than Tom Hand, the burglar, and the celebrated Jim Webb, the brother to the forger before named. What the intended villainy might be, however, we none of us could guess, but the general conjecture was, that the object was to effect an arrangement for the restitution of the proceeds of the Chester County Bank.
Time ran around until the night of the 8th November, when, amid the excitements of the Presidential election, the Patent Office was burglariously entered, and the cases plundered of the jewels of the State. As soon as we heard of this depredation, we knew the real object of the meeting at the foot of Cortlandt street, and proclaimed at once, that the jewels had been stolen by Hand and Webb, under the direction of James Young, and that the object was not pecuniary profit, but to obtain a valuable prize, for the return of which they might obtain some powerful influence at the seat of Government to induce the release of Charles Webb from Sing Sing by the Governor of the State of New York. We had a right to this conclusion for two great reason. Tom Hand had robbed the Patent Office once before, to accomplish the release of Old Tom Walker, and Young had already tried to swindle Charles Webb out of durance, by extraordinary means in Albany. Shortly after this, we learned that Tom Hand and Jim Webb had arrived in Baltimore, in the Washington train on the morning after the robbery, that Jim Young met them at the cars, and that subsequently, on the same day, he denied to the gentlemen who had observed the meeting, that he knew the whereabouts of either Hand or Webb.
For some time nothing more appeared on the surface of the mater, but nevertheless, we kept reiterating the charge of the jewel robbery against the three rogues from week to week, to the great annoyance of each, and the unbounded indignation of all the police authorities in Philadelphia (Wm. B. Reed among them,) at our malevolent and libelous spirit. Many plans were set on foot to ruin us, but not being able to find a person for a long while who had the hardihood to put himself forward to harass our agents with the libel law, their schemes took another direction. We shall soon see what that direction was.
Our announcement of the object for which the jewels had been stolen, and the indication of the true thieves, had frustrated all the purposes of the robbery. The jewels were a drug upon the rascals hands, and useless for all purposes, except revenge. At any rate, so thought the thieves.
On the 26th of December a letter of peculiar appearance was received at the White House, at Washington, dated in New York, and directed to James K. Polk, the President of the United States. It was in a disguised hand and without a signature, but it purported to be written by the thieves who robbed the Patent Office. It purposed, after a deal of vile abuse of ourself, our former partner, and our chief reporter, to return the jewels, on condition that the advertising of the Government desertion list should be taken from the National Police Gazette and transferred to some "responsible" paper. (It is a significant fact which we will just mention here, that this precious letter made the same scurrilous comparison between the National Police Gazette and a paper of another character, which is now sought to be presented by the oppressors of our agents, and the terms of the letter were exactly those which have been subsequently used by little Paul, the out-door agent of Jim Young, to procure monies to persecute them - but of this by-and-by.
The President, after reading the letter, transferred it to the Commissioner of Patents, and from him, it was referred to us, with the privilege that we might conduct the matter as we pleased. We at once obtained permission from the War Department to suspend the list, and agreed that it should be transferred temporarily to the True Sun.
As soon as this change took place, and our article of pretended complaint at the injustice of the War Department was published, we received a private letter from our famous correspondent "Vidocq" of Philadelphia, which contained these words: "I heard Young some days ago tell several gentlemen that the only thing which kept up your paper, was the advertising of the War Department, and that that would soon be taken away from you! I thought nothing of this threat until I saw your last number and then I wondered indeed! -- What does it mean?" The evidence against young might now be considered complete. That against Hand and Webb was equally so, for the true robbers, if Hand and Webb were not the persons, would, instead of showing the hatred which they did in their letter to the President, have felt grateful to us for the misdirection we had given to suspicion.
Simultaneously with the inquiry of "Vidocq," (15th January) came a lead pencil memorandum to the captain of the Sixth Ward police, stating that "Young Shouler, the son of Old Shouler, who had died in the State Prison, had the President's jewels." This looked like an overture of return -- the Shouler family were the old associates of the Webbs, and Jim Webb was said to have been seen in this city. It seemed, therefore, as if the jewels were here, and were coming back under the direction of Webb.
But notwithstanding all our efforts, we could not find the whereabouts of the Shouler family. On the 24th of January there came a letter in the same hand, complaining that as yet, "nothing had been done to get the jewels from the Shoulers." Still, however, we were left at fault, and nothing more turning up for several days, we attributed the miscarriage of the whole affair to the unlucky exhibition of the first of those letters to the captain to certain persons at the Chief's office, who, not knowing their connection, did not duly estimate, of course, the value of the caution. No further letter came until the 14th February, when a missive dated in this city, and signed "H.S.B." of Boston, was directed to the editor of the National Police Gazette, to know the real reason of the removal of the desertion list. This overture, in the face of our publicly stated reason, implicated the writer with the previous correspondence. Finally, there came another letter to the President, in the same disguised hand as the first, under the date of February 2. This stated, that the writer had not been able to tell to what paper the desertion list had been transferred, and feared it was a ruse. If, however, "a few lines would be put in the New York Herald stating what paper had it, the jewels would still be sent back." This letter was likewise transferred to us. As soon as we saw it, we knew that the thieves did not intend to keep their word. We advised against any further concession to their insolent whims, and proposed measures of immediate arrest. We next compared all the letters to which we have alluded, with an original one of Hand's, which was obtained through the politeness of the editors of the Baltimore Sun, and in connection with the Postmaster of this city, who assisted us in our scrutiny, soon became satisfied that all of them, with the exception perhaps of that signed "F.S.B.," were in the handwriting of the first burglar of the Patent Office.
Here was a case in which the evidence on all sides was complete, and which would have justified the arrest of the three implicated parties, in any city in the civilized world, except in Philadelphia. But we dared not attempt to take them where we knew they would be immediately released, and protected by the whole corrupt authority of this county. The best that we could do, therefore, was to send all the papers back to Washington, in the charge of a trusty officer, with the direction, that if he found either Hand or Webb in Washington, during the inauguration, as was likely, to arrest them on the spot.
Having now acquitted ourself of our share of the business in this way, we have resumed the desertion list and now deliver the whole matter to the charge of the Public of the United States, to whom we, in common with the President, are responsible.
The community may now see the whole machinery and motive of this Philadelphia crusade against the National Police Gazette; and may account for the present eagerness of the conspirators, as shown in our leading article, by their desire to follow up what they considered their first advantage (the deprival of our Government support,) with a finally destructive blow against our agents. They have impugned our motives; they have vilified our character; they have taken the cue of the thieves in their letter to the President by endeavoring to involve the reputation of our paper with that of a purely scurrilous sheet, and have even obtained a man in the shape of a Judge upon the bench, to pledge himself in advance, to "make an example of us" as a libelous sheet, before we had ever been charged with libel before him, and before he had or has been called upon to investigate a single one of our articles.
The extent to which this article has grown, forbids us to comment further on this infamous combination at this time; but we leave the matter with the good sense of the Public, and we consign the interests of our honest agents, now persecuted by the myrmidons of power in Philadelphia, to the fraternal care and protection of their fellow citizens.
Their case should be a matter of public concern, for it involves not only a question of public morals, but the paramount concern of Public Liberty.
Let the citizens of Philadelphia, therefore, be at the Quarter Sessions this morning, and likewise on Monday next, to observe the conduct of Judge Parsons, in the case of The National Police Gazette.
We shall next week publish the letter of the thieves to the President, and all the correspondence in the jewel case.
National Police Gazette, Saturday, March 24, 1849
(copy from March 17, 1849 is missing.)
ARREST OF JACOB SHUSTER, alias TOM HAND -- Under our directions, and through authority obtained by us from the Department in Washington, Tom Hand, the co-robber with Jim Webb, of the U.S. Patent Office, was arrested in Philadelphia, on Wednesday, by Justice McGrath, of this city, on Tuesday evening with the necessary papers to accomplish this important object, and it appears that he has lost no time in the performance of his task. Thus we have brought this matter of the Government Jewels to a satisfactory point, and the thieves and their coadjutors in Philadelphia who secretly labored for a time to use the possession of the jewels to tempt the Government to withdraw its patronage from our paper, may now curse their blunted malice, and stand as examples of frustrated villainy to the rest of our congenial enemies in that city. We received our intelligence of the arrest of Hand by telegraph, and therefore can furnish no particulars, but we have no doubt that we have been indebted to the Recorder of Philadelphia for assistance in the matter. Hand will be taken to Washington.
National Police Gazette, Saturday, March 24, 1849
RESPONSE OF THE PRESS ...
ROBBERY OF THE GOVERNMENT JEWELS -- The National Police Gazette of this week contains some remarkable revelations respecting the robbery of the Patent Office in November 1848. The Gazette has from the first charged that the robbery was committed by two well-known thieves, Hand and Webb, under the direction of Mr. James Young, formerly constable of Philadelphia, but now under suspension on account of some connection with the Chester County Bank robbery; and that the object of these men was not so much plunder as to be in a position successfully to negotiate for the release from prison of a brother of Webb's, who had been convicted of forgery. The facts now given are in substance as follows:
On the 6th of October the editor of the Gazette received information that Young had started on a visit to this city. Watch was set upon his movements, and when he landed at the foot of Courtlandt st., he was seen to joint two men who were apparently waiting for him. These men proved to be Hand and Webb. They went together into Greenwich street, where Young entered a house for a few minutes, then rejoined them, and the three went up town together, Hand and Webb having plied their trade upon a drunken man during Young's temporary absence.
On the night of the 8th of November the robbery at Washington was effected. Hand had once before robbed the Patent Office, and putting the facts within his knowledge together, the editor of the Gazette directly charged the second robbery upon the parties named above. Nothing further occurred, however, to throw light upon the matter....
[This is all recapitulation of the earlier Police Gazette story.]
National Police Gazette, Saturday, March 31, 1849
THE PATENT OFFICE ROBBERY -- Another step has been made by us in our advance to the development of mystery of the robbery of the Government jewels, and the conviction of the thieves. Tom Hand who has defied us from the jump, and who has threatened that the Government should never get the jewels back unless the National advertising were taken from our paper,has been sent from Philadelphia, his stronghold, to Washington to be tried, on evidence furnished from our office. The next step will be to dispose of Webb, his accomplice, in the same manner. Hand made a tremendous effort to resist the movement which we directed against him in the U.S. District Court of Philadelphia. All the vile purlieus of the city were raked of its thieves and vagabonds to throng the court, while corrupt and bitter officials filled the inner bar, to behold this second contest of the National Police Gazette with the thieves and the stool-pigeon police. The proof astounded them and the decision struck them dumb, and as they poured out of the court, enraged and agitated with their discomfiture, they insulted the officer whom we had charged with the business, and told him with threatening shakes of the head, that Wilkes would not always have it his own way.
We can tell them, moreover, that with such thieves as they are, we always will. They went about rejoicing that they had got the "Desertion List" away from us, and in the midst of all the hosanna all combined to inspire Parsons to level us completely with one rising blow; but we have consigned them to infamy and contempt in return, and are putting them in prison as fast as we can lay our hands upon them. They cannot fathom the secret of this success. We can tell them in a word. Honest purpose is the secret. Villainy and corruption cannot stand against it, and when it is backed by a vigorous power, it usually destroys its object. So they will all find out, before the battle is over.
National Police Gazette, Saturday, April 7, 1849
RECALL OF MR. ELLSWORTH -- THE NATION DISGRACED -- It appears that Mr. H.W. Ellsworth, Charge d'Affaires of the United States at Stockholm, has been recalled by the President, upon the clearest evidence of his having used the official seal, and thus disgraced it, in carrying out smuggling operations. This is the only case in our history in which a representative of this country has dishonored himself and the nation to which he belongs by an act so mean; and as an example to other functionaries, clothed with the same authority, as well as to vindicate our national honor in the sight of foreign countries, signal punishment ought to be inflicted on the offender. It is not enough that he should be recalled and stripped of his office. Having outraged the laws of the government to which he was accredited, by taking advantage of his official position under the government of the United States, it is due to both governments, it is, above all, due to ours, that Mr. Ellsworth ought to be handed over to justice at its legal tribunals, if indeed, there is any provision that takes cognizance of so disgraceful an offense. If there is not, a law ought to be immediately enacted, awarding an appropriate penalty to such transgressions; and meantime in this case, The People would be justified in taking the law into their own hands, and in executing it summarily in the streets. What respect would foreign nations hereafter pay our flag, if we permitted our own public servant with impunity to sully it before the world?
National Police Gazette, Saturday, April 7, 1849
THE PATENT OFFICE ROBBERY -- A STUPID RUSE --The following letter written in a disguised hand was received one day last week by the Mayor of Washington, through the Post Office:
Washington, March 26, 1849
W. Seaton, Sir -- For the last time an offer will be made to you for the release of Webb from prison. Your life will depend upon your success in the matter. The moment he is released, the Jewels of the Patent office, and also the entire stock of Jewelry that was taken from the store of Eckle, on the 19th of January, and the money and gold watch that were taken from the body of the man that was murdered between Georgetown and Alexandria, on the 9th of March, will be forwarded to you per Adams and Co's Express. This is the last offer that will ever be made to you. Your acceptance will be your life. I have been in Washington and found out your every move, and if you fail in having Webb liberated, you must die.
When you get this, I will be in Philadelphia. Liberate Webb and send him to Philadelphia, and the jewels,goods and money shall be forthcoming.
[Addressed on the outside: "W. Seaton, Mayor of Washington, D.C.}
This letter was perhaps written by Geo. Howell the pickpocket, at the dictation of Jim Young, the ex-High Constable of Philadelphia, and the object might have been to render the case of Webb so desperate that the jewels will remain for the conversion of those, who at present retain them, after the brace of rogues shall be convicted. This, if the above hypothesis is correct, is hardly fair treatment from Young to Webb, in view of the immense amounts which the latter and his brother have stolen for common division during the last ten years. It may be, however, that Young is not implicated in the epistle, and in truth, it seems too stupid for a man of his acknowledged shrewdness. It is, therefore, not entirely impossible, that the shallow note was framed in this city, and is a portion of the scheme, to induce the Government to make its discriminations, if any should be made, in favor of Tom Hand, who has long been a pet of certain high police functionaries in this city. We shall see by and bye.
National Police Gazette, Saturday, April 7, 1849
THE PATENT OFFICE ROBBERY -- Under our advice, the U.S. District Attorney for this District, dispatched Jim Webb, the burglar, and co-robber with Tom Hand in the plunder of the U.S. Patent Office, of the Government Jewels, to Washington, on Saturday morning last. We have ascertained that he has safely arrived at his destination, and share the same prison with his accomplice. Their cases will go before the Grand Jury of District of Columbia, which is now in session, at once.
National Police Gazette, Saturday, April 14, 1849
RECOVERY OF THE JEWELS
THE THIEVES IN CUSTODY AND THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE NATIONAL POLICE GAZETTE DESTROYED -- At length, after a prolonged and perilous strife of months, we are enabled to fulfill all our predictions and our pledges as to the Patent Office robbery, and to breath in safety the pure atmosphere of a just success. The stolen jewels are placed by us in the hands of the authorities at Washington; the thieves who stole them, with the exception of Jim Young, are delivered, bound hand and foot, into the same custody, and the conspiracies which have been fomented, and prosecutions set on foot to paralyze our pursuit, have resulted in the destruction of the conspirators themselves. Pending their conviction we have but one remaining duty to perform, and that is to report to the Public who have stood firmly by us to the end, the secret history of a matter which is so peculiar in itself, and which has proven so important to them all.
This course is not a usual one with those who transact police affairs, but as we have always maintained that the People have a right to know everything relating to a business transacted in their name, we shall not hamper the frankness of the doctrine, even though a full adherence to in this case will drive us to an extent of narrative, that may seem tedious and encroaching. We shall, therefore, at the risk of trespassing upon the patience of a portion of our readers, begin at the beginning and follow the romance throughout all its details and its incidents to the present stage.
The Patent Office was robbed on the night of the 8th November last. The robbers entered the front door with a nipper which gasped the key inserted on the inside, and having locked the door behind them, proceeded up stairs. A skeleton key next opened the door of the great hall on the second landing, when having fastened it behind them with a piece of cord, so that, if disturbed, they would have time to make egress by a front window to which, in advance of further action they prudently affixed a knotted rope, they set about their work. To avoid making any noise by the breaking of the brittle case which contained the jewels, they pasted the glass well over with a heavy paper, and then striking it with an iron instrument, shivered it gently with a muffled sound, none of the pieces dropping to the floor. Removing this carefully, they used the same precautions with the inner case, taking out from each, the sheets of cohesive fragments, and laying them beside them on a chair. They then commenced the rifling of the repository, but probably alarmed at the sharp strokes of concealed bells attached to the diamond box, the golden scabbard and the string of pearls, which had been stolen once before, they contented themselves with such booty as lay within the sweep of their arms, and hurriedly decamped by the knotted rope which hung down by the corner of the main porch. In another hour they had buried their plunder in the earth about two miles from the city near the railroad track. The job so admirably conceived, was completed; the robbers got off safely, and the traces of their direct operations were not discovered till the following morning.
The moment we heard of this affair we decided and proclaimed that the celebrated burglars, Jacob Shuster alias Tom Hand, and Jim Webb, were the thieves, and gave the opinion, moreover, that the exploit had been undertaken at the special direction of Jim Young, the ex-High Constable of Philadelphia, whose object in seeking possession of the jewels, was not pecuniary profit, but a means of compromise, by which the pardon of a great criminal, the brother of Jim Webb, might be effected from the Governor of New York. This procedure had been adopted once before by Hand, to purchase the elusion of the renowned Tom Walker from a half dozen burglaries which interlocked him in the cities of New York and Baltimore, and it was but natural to suppose that Hand was just the man to do it again, and that Charley Webb, alias Jonathan Hunt, was just the man to do it for. It was still more natural that Jim Webb, who had been resident under Hand's roof for some time in Philadelphia, should be the assistant in a brother's cause, while the direct felonious attempt of Young some weeks before to effect the elder Webb's escape from the authorities at Albany, plainly marked him as their counselor and co-adjutor. On these points, strengthened by the coordinate fact that early in October there had been a special midnight meeting of Young, Hand and Webb, in this city, the object of which could not have been less than a joint adventure of great moment, we named the trio as the robbers and specified the aim of the remarkable depredation.
This was a perilous responsibility for us to take on the mere vague conviction of our private mind, and many of our friends shook their heads doubtfully, as much as if to say, "see into what great errors the impetuosity of youth will sometimes betray even the most careful mind. The National Police Gazette should not have staked its name and credit on an opinion so difficult to prove, or have pledged itself by predicting the jewels would come back, when such a result could only be achieved by outwitting the most adroit and subtle minds that ever were engaged in crime."
But we estimated the capacity of the Press as an engine of police, more correctly than they. We were the first to apply its power specially to police purposes, and we knew better than any person else, its qualities and its influences. The thieves who imagined that they were unsuspected were exasperated into madness, and being frustrated by the mere mention of the object of the slightest hope of its accomplishment, they had nothing left them but revenge.
Tom Hand and Young at once took counsel with each other, and it was agreed between them that a combination should be set on foot in Philadelphia to break down the National Police Gazette by prosecutions against its agents, and that a congenial series of prosecutions should also be started in New York. The Philadelphia crusade was to be conducted under the direction of Young himself, who was to pick up the first available vagabond who had been exposed in our columns for the purpose, while Hand was to come to New York and engage Henry B. and Philander T. Jones, two persons well known in crime, whom we had also implicated in the business, to commence a series of vexatious suits against us personally here.
Young was not long at fault for a tool in Philadelphia. He found a recusant Universalist and mesmeric mountebank, writing under our re-publication of some formal proceedings which had been had against him in a matter of adultery, and stimulating his bluster into spurious courage, set him to work with cumulative suits against our agents, and backed him up with certain stool-pigeon Alderman, who had long been congenial with his operations, and who lent themselves to the conspiracy by worrying our folks with bail.
Almost at the same time, the Joneses got to work with their civil and criminal proceedings, the object of the first of which were to mulct us in the sum of fifteen or twenty thousand dollars, and the second to consign us to the penitentiary as a trifling penalty of the defamation of their valuable characters.
While things were in this condition, and every tainted rascal in the two vast communities of Philadelphia and New York was denouncing us as a person of vicious and malevolent disposition, we discovered a little point that was like the first glimmer of the light the traveler sees in the subterranean cave, and in an instant we knew that the entire fabric of this double conspiracy would fall. This point was, that on the morning of the robbery of the Patent Office, Tom Hand and Jim Webb had been seen to arrive in Baltimore in the morning train from Washington, and Jim Young had also been seen to meet them at the cars. Here was the arch conjunction again. Jim Young who had originally sent them to do the job now appeared upon the stage again, to learn how they had progressed, and where they had stored their plunder. We further learned that Young on being interrogated at a subsequent hour of this same day as to the whereabouts of Hand and Webb, pretended to be entirely ignorant upon the subject. Here was a complete substantiation of all our previous convictions, and encouraged by the evidence, we continued our weekly iterations on the subject with freshened vigor. Our press proved itself an excellent policeman, and writing under its probings, Young and Hand became at length so maddened with exasperation that they actually hit upon the expedient of sending a communication to the President of the United States, promising to restore the jewels, on condition that the advertisement of the list of Deserters furnished by the War Office, should be taken from us and removed to the columns of some "respectable" paper. This letter, which was dated December 15th, was handed by the President to Mr. Burke, the Commissioner of Patents, who after some deliberation sent it to us through the hands of Mr. Morris, the postmaster of this city.
While Mr. Morris was reading this letter officer A.M.C. Smith dropped into his office, and Mr. Morris, looking up from the sheet, asked him who were the two worst enemies of the National Police Gazette among the thieves, and who would go to the greatest lengths to injure it and its proprietor. Tom Hand and Jim Young would go to all lengths to injure Mr. Wilkes, said Smith, because he has followed them so close, and has accused them of having stolen the Government jewels. -- "You have hit it," said Mr. Morris -- "There, sir, read that letter, and then if you please, ask Mr. Wilkes to come and see me." From this time, the business was placed at our direction, and on our own motion we withdrew the Desertion List from our columns, in favor of the True Sun, and then wrote a small article of spurious complain at the War Office, for having deprived us, notwithstanding our vast circulation, of a list which we had originated ourself.
No sooner was this done, than we received a letter from a friend in Philadelphia, asking us the meaning of the removal, and expressing the greater interest in the matter because he had heard Young say some days previous, that the desertion list was all that kept the Police Gazette afloat, and it would very shortly be deprived of that.
This fixed Young clearly in the guilty knowledge of the letters, but still it was not enough to warrant us to proceed against him. We were, therefore, obliged to lie on our oars to observe the effect which the removal of the list would have on the robbers, and see whether they would keep their word. But weeks elapsed without any further movement than the urging of the suits in Philadelphia and New York, and the thieves in the ecstasy of having elicited the feelings of a judge against us, seemed to have forgotten their pledges, or despised the minor advantages of the removal of the list, in the greater prospect of our utter annihilation. It seems, however, that they considered it just worth the while to send a further letter to the President, informing him saucily, that "they had noticed the removal of the list from the Gazette, but fearing it was a ruse intended to deceive them, they would like to see a line in the Herald, informing them whence it had been transferred.
When this letter was submitted to us, we objected to an acquiescence with its terms, and expressed too much concern for the dignity of the President, to suffer any further truckling, in his name, to the demands of such miscreants as they. At the request of the Postmaster, who warmly agreed in this view, we, however, held back the list for a few days longer, but when the threat was fulminated from the bench of Quarter Sessions of Philadelphia to crush our agents, we resumed the desertion list at a day's notice, and explained to the People of Philadelphia the motive of the prosecution which had been conducted under another show. The result was, the People stood by us in the shape of an honest jury, and despite the charge of the judge, gave us a triumph which is not to be impaired by the corrupt combination of any packed panel in time hereafter.
This struck the conspirators aback, and so alarmed the robbers of the Patent Office, that they began to regret that they had not kept faith with the terms of their letters to the President, and have rid themselves of what they now perceived was to become a very perilous possession. They moreover trembled when they learned from our article, that Justice McGrath had been to Washington on our behalf, with full authority to arrest both, or either of them, should they be found at the inauguration.
Mr. McGrath returned without being able to see either Webb or Hand, but on Saturday night, 10th March, one of our reporters who was returning from Philadelphia, detected Jim Webb on board the Jersey ferry boat, and immediately gave us notice. He should not have left his trail, but inasmuch as the oversight was already committed, the best that could be done was to watch the localities which he would be likely to visit.
This portion of the business was undertaken by Messrs. McGrath and Smith, and on the subsequent evening by Messrs Smith and Magnus, and it was our joint conclusion, that if we failed to get any trace of the Jewels by this means, not to arrest Webb, until we had first made sure of Hand. The reason for this was obvious. Hand was supposed by us to be the possessor of the plunder, and we justly feared that the alarm which Webb's arrest would cause him, would induce him to destroy the Jewels and escape. Moreover, we had no evidence whatever against Webb, while against Hand, the letters to the President which we had recently compared with some of his correspondence, were conclusive testimony. We, therefore, did right in not arresting Webb, and indeed so solicitous were we upon the point, that we sent the Chief of Police the news of Webb's arrival in the city, in order that he knowing our object, would refrain from directing Webb's arrest, if any of his men should stumble on him, without first consulting us. The calculation was an acute and not a stupid one, as it has been called, and it only failed because the Chief was not so nice upon such points of courtesy as we had given him credit for. Bowyer, he of the slung shot, was made the depository of the information, and out of mere mischief, grabbed Webb at a venture.
"What do you arrest me for?" said Webb.
"Not for the Government Jewels," said Bowyer with a sneer, as if he considered that idea as a mere bagatelle got up by the Police Gazette.
Webb was thereupon locked up on an old and obsolete indictment, and we concluded that the Jewels were lost to us forever. There was but one way to correct this blunder, and that was by announcing that the instant that Hand should thrust himself beyond the protection of his stool-pigeon friends among the authorities of Philadelphia, he should be arrested too. The ruse was successful. Hand was so terrified at the threat, that he squatted on his roost and never budged towards this city to disturb the Jewels. We then wrote to the Recorder of Philadelphia, requesting him to send to Hand's house, at No. 9 Wallace street, Philadelphia, and have him arrested, or to despatch us word if he was there. On Tuesday morning, March 20th, we received a despatch from Mr. Lee, that Hand was at home, and to come on and take him. Upon this, Justice McGrath was once more deputed with the business where he had left it off, and started in the afternoon, to be followed in the morning by officer Smith, with the letters to the President and other proofs that were in our possession against the Philadelphia rogue. On Wednesday evening, Hand was arrested on a warrant issued by Recorder Lee, and served by officer Kline, of his office, and lodged in jail in default of $10,000 bail. In a few days afterwards, he was transferred to Washington to stand his trial.
In the meantime Webb had remained locked up under the thumb of the Chief of Police for several days, when finding that nothing could be extracted from him, and no evidence obtained against him, he was transferred to the Tombs to give those whom he had been snapped up to defeat, the second chance to wrestle with his astute qualities of mind. Our position was a difficult one. We had no evidence on which to hold him, and Judge Betts, of the U.S. District Court, refused to grant an order for his removal to Washington on the mere ground of his having been seen to leave the Washington train in Baltimore, on the morning of the robbery. He was, therefore, entitled to his liberty, and could have secured it in a single hour on habeas corpus had he been as well informed as we. It was not our purpose, however, to acquaint him with this fact, but rather to increase his natural fears and inspire him with a belief that we knew all of the guilty points that he held within his own breast. This first object was skillfully performed by Smith, whereupon being informed that the editor of this paper was the person in possession of all the facts against him, and moreover empowered by the Government to act in the premises, he evinced a desire to have us pay a visit to his cell. But we were determined not to go until he sent to us a special request, and one too, that would enable us when we entered his door, to say, "Well Mr. Webb, what do you want to see us for?" Webb struggled for the same advantage against us, but at length he yielded and the message came.
At first he commenced with a torrent of reproaches for the virulence of our course towards him for the past three years. We waited until he had spun his passion out, and then quietly replied that for the last twenty years the Revised Statutes had been much more his enemy than we. He, thereupon, became moderate, when, finding him in proper mind, we told him that we did not wish him to misunderstand our motives. We had no hope or wish that he would betray his comrade. On the contrary, so utterly repugnant was the idea of such treachery to our mind, that we would neither advise nor accept it in any case, much less in this case where no additional evidence against his accomplice was required. He knew, however, that the Government had a desire to recover the stolen Jewels, and if he would go quietly to Washington and have a talk with the authorities there, we had no doubt that whatever discriminations of favor they might feel disposed to make in the matter, would be made for him. What these discriminations would be we could not say, but we advised him to try to the generosity of the Government, at any rate. Upon this language Webb seemed inspired with confidence in us at once, and though he replied he really knew nothing against Hand, and did not know where the Jewels were, he would, to oblige us personally, consent to go to Washington with Mr. Smith. In this manner was Webb got to the same prison with Hand, without process, and by his own consent, and when the U.S. District Attorney and ourself feared that we should be obliged to open his prison doors. This result was exceedingly mortifying to the defeated stupidity at the Chief's office, and with the intention of frustrating our hopes of success, Mouse Baker, or Louse Baker, as he is sometimes called, the police reporter of the Herald, was induced to write an article intimating that Webb had gone to Washington to be a witness against Hand, and that he was to be let off and receive a part of the reward, on condition of the restoration of the Jewels. This article was doubtless intended to inspire Hand to give directions for the sudden removal or destruction of the Jewels, if only to defeat one whom he supposed was to be a traitor. But fortunately, under our request, Hand was kept so close in Washington, that it was of no effect.
Webb went to Washington on Saturday morning, the 31st of March, and was put in the same prison with Hand. It fortunately happened that they had a quarrel, and Webb, though he refrained from saying a word as to the guilt of his accomplice, resolved that he would have the jewels back if possible. It was then ascertained that the jewels were in the possession of the two brothers Jones, who had been pressing us with perjuries and prosecutions for the previous three months. -- Smith returned to New York with Webb in custody on the night of the 4th instant, and in conjunction with Justice McGrath we decided to arrest the Joneses and search their house, at 11 Pike street, on the following morning. We were all up, therefore, at 6 A.M., at the next rise of the sun, but inasmuch as we judged it imprudent to show ourself to the two rascals, Captain Magnes, of the Sixth Ward police, took our place. At 7 o'clock Henry B. Jones, the elder brother, was arrested at his house, and in half an hour afterwards Philander was taken from the boot shop, in Ann street, and conveyed to a separate place in the same prison which contained his brother.
The elder Jones though he had strenuously and indignantly denied the imputation of the officers at the outset, soon promised them if they would walk back with him to his house he would deliver up the property; but on arriving there and finding he could not accomplish his intention to drop a syllable in private to his wife, he turned on his heel, and with a smile, remarked, "Oh, I was only hoaxing you, I only wanted to get my breakfast." Well then it is our turn to hoax you a little, said Justice McGrath, whereupon he took him by the collar and gave him in charge to Smith, who led him back to prison. -- The house was then searched hastily, but the officers soon desisted with a cursory examination, with the resolution to return in a few minutes and dig up the cellar and the garden.
Both brothers being now in prison, the preparation of the statements necessary to obtain the writs to send them on to Washington was commenced. While thus engaged, the elder Jones sent word by Captain Magnes that if Justice McGrath would only take him out again, he would this time surely deliver up the things. -- The proposal was referred to us and we rejected it. We rejected it on the score that having deceived us once before, the rascal was not entitled to credit now,and we would best consult the interests of the case by sending them both to Washington, that afternoon, without any more parade. Upon this Mr. Sidney H. Stewart, the clerk of the lower police, who was engaged in drawing the affidavits of Messrs. McGrath and Smith, suggested that he would like to try his powers of persuasion upon the elder Jones. There being no objection to this, he shortly afterward (about one o'clock) went in to see him, and soon returned with the word that he really believed that Jones was sincere this time in his intention to restore the property, and he believed, moreover, that if he, Stewart, was allowed to go out with him, the thing would be accomplished. Stewart's enthusiasm was thereupon acceded to, and in a few minutes he set out with Jones to Pike street, an officer following in the distance. Jones kept his word. From the cellar he dug up the gross bars of gold which were the only remnants of the relics of a nation; from the same locality he likewise obtained the pearls and diamonds, and from the room where slept the immaculate Philander, he obtained the jar of attar of roses. These precious articles were brought back to the Tombs by Mr. Stewart, with the prisoner, and on being counted turned out 126 diamonds; 146 pearls, and three pounds averdupois of gold. The entire lot was then formally delivered to us in person by the U.S. District Attorney, as the party most deserving of their custody, whereupon we stamped them with our private seal, and on the following morning sent them to Washington by Mr. M.C. Stanley, the same reporter of our establishment who took the information of Webb's arrival in the city to the Chief of Police. Accompanying the jewels, went Mr. Smith with the two prisoners, the high minded and unimpeachable Joneses, in whose behalf the opinions of many, even of our friends, had been halting for months. It happened, in the confusion of the embarkation from the Tombs that Webb was overlooked and left behind, but we were made acquainted with the circumstance by his own voluntary resubmission of himself to our custody during the day, and we dispatched him back to Washington in the custody of Mr. Sidney H. Stewart, on the following (Saturday) morning. Fortunately we sent with the jewels the fragments of a National Police Gazette in which they had been buried in the earth; and which, from its rotted condition and its early date (Nov 22d) utterly refuted an infamous innuendo of Jeremiah Lothrop, Police Magistrate of the Tombs, that they probably had been placed there for effect. If it could be considered libelous to call such a man as this a rascal there is justification enough in the possibility, to have the law repealed.
Jones, however, has abandoned his friend Lothrop on this point. He has confessed to Mr. Burke, since his arrival in Washington, that he has had the jewels for a great length of time; that he lent Tom Hand $500 on them at one time, $500 on them at another; and that Hand, since his arrest, sent his wife to this city and obtained from him $150 more. When asked by Mr. Burke how he could have the audacity, or the heart to prosecute us as he did when he knew that we had been actuated by the best of motives, he replied that Hand had threatened him with death and ruin if he resisted, and had told him, moreover, if he relinquished one point of the suits against us, he would have him convicted of stealing the jewels; that "Jim Young could easily fix that for him," and other threats of that sort.
We will here remark that we have further been placed in possession of the particulars of interviews which took place between the Joneses, Hand and Webbs at the house of Caroline L. Sweet, the prostitute of Hand, in Division st., in this city. In one of these, Philander expressed an unwillingness to proceed further in the prosecutions against us; whereupon Hand interfered and told him "he must not give in a peg; he must not be afraid, as he was sure to get the best of it, and as far as money went, why, he should never want for that, as long as he had a dollar in the world." On another occasion, he gave Philander a ten dollar note, adding that it would be necessary only to persevere a little longer "to lay the common enemy out." The extreme force of this expression may be fully understood when, we add that we have information also, that Hand under the diabolical direction of his felonious co-adjutors in Philadelphia, actually endeavored to engage a desperate miscreant to come to New York and take us off bodily, by assassination. No very easy job, but not too wicked for this satanic party to conceive.
Such have been the influences and combinations which with our single mind and resolution we have been obliged to struggle for the last twelve months. The result is thus far, that sustained by an honest public in both cities, and generally by the Press, we live and thrive, and that the thieves who have striven so frantically for our ruin, are themselves overthrown. Jim Young, our arch enemy, whom we grappled with in the pride of his tremendous power two years ago, is broken and disgraced; and our pledges with his myrmidons, have been unflinchingly kept from first to last. From the basis of a mere moral conviction, we have in this Patent Office case, followed and undone two of the subtlest minds that ever were engaged in crime, and the result in relation to it is that all the jewels, all the thieves, and all the witnesses against them are in the fist of the Government, whom they have insulted and outraged. No sordid compromises have been made that can interfere with justice, and every gentleman whom we have named as sharing in our labors, enjoys the private satisfaction of having done the very best that the nature of the case afforded. Great responsibilities have been taken in the mode of the arrests, for most of the time we have been proceeding only on impressions, but guided by a sense of right, we have carried our determinations through, and have proven that the Press which has adapted its salutary force to every other concern of life and government, can, if faithfully conducted, be preeminently efficacious in the pursuit and punishment of crime.
For ourselves, personally, we have nothing to request; the authorities, through a mistaken sense, perhaps, of the motives and direction of a novel power, have generally been against us, but we now ask them, and we address ourself particularly to the judicial authorities of Philadelphia, to relinquish their pursuit of our upright and innocent agents in their city, and to discharge the technical assumptions which seem to stand against them, in a manner due to all cases, where no moral injury has been mediated, and no moral hurt sustained. This course has been adopted by the District Attorney of this city, who is our personal enemy, in relation to the indictment preferred by Jones in which we were a principal, and may be followed with an easier grace by the authorities in Philadelphia, in relation to those who even had we been guilty, are by every sound rule of natural ethics as innocent as the souls in Heaven. We ask the People of Philadelphia in whose behalf these agents and ourselves have suffered all our persecutions to clear the docket for us in these cases, and to give us a testimonial rather than a consent to our oppression.
National Police Gazette, Saturday, April 14, 1849
THE GOVERNMENT JEWELS RECOVERED -- The arrest of the notorious Webb, and the equally skilful and adroit burglar and pickpocket Tom Hand at the suggestion of the shrewd and penetrating editor of the Police Gazette (George Wilkes, Esq.) has been attended with just such results as he predicted, and not only has been the means of restoring to the government the jewels which were some time ago stolen from the patent office at Washington, but will fortunately -- by the implication of other parties in the robbery -- relieve Mr. Wilkes from the threatened consequence of at least half a dozen libel suits commenced against him by Messrs. Lewis and Curtis, of this city, on behalf of Philander T. Jones, one of the individuals accused of this daring and extensive larceny. Officer A.M.C. Smith ascertained from Webb, whom he conveyed to Washington on Wednesday, that Henry B. Jones, formerly a resident of Troy, the proprietor of a large boot and shoe store in Ann street, and Philander T., his brother who has been employed in a confidential capacity at the Astor House and various other respectable hotels, were in some way connected with the stealing of the jewels. He immediately returned to New York, and after consulting with Justice McGrath and Capt. Magnus of the Sixth Ward upon the subject, it was resolved to arrest the above named individuals as being concerned in the matter. The officers accordingly went to the residence of Henry B. Jones at 11 Pike street, and took him into custody. After charging him directly with the offense, Henry said he would give them up if they would go with him to his house. On arriving there he was particularly anxious to speak privately to his wife, with a view, as he said, of communicating to her the position in which he stood in the matter. But the officers were not to be deceived in this way, and refused the private interview. Whereupon Jones told them at once that he had only been hoaxing them, and that he had merely brought them there to obtain for himself an opportunity to speak to his wife and he knew nothing about their jewels. The officers told him that there was no hoax about them, and they would show him a joke which perhaps would not be quite so agreeable, and re-conducted him to prison.
After being a short time in durance vile, he concluded to own up to Mr. Stewart, the Clerk, and give up the property, and consented to show him where it was concealed. On arriving at the house, one hundred and twenty one diamonds of various sizes and one hundred and forty three pearls, together with three pounds of gold in bars, were found buried in the cellar. One large bottle of Attar of Rose, containing nearly a quart, was also found. The original bottle had been substituted by the one found. The scabbard of the sword which had been presented to Commodore Biddle by the Emperor of Russia and a gold snuff box presented by the Emperor of Morocco, had been melted down into bars. The settings of the diamonds and pearls had been removed and deposited in a tin box.
Mr. Horace Johnson, the gentlemanly and popular managing clerk of Mr. Wilkes' establishment, called upon us this morning to furnish us with the particulars of this affair, and we are glad to congratulate with him upon the escape of his Principal from a series of prosecutions, which we sometime ago took occasion to denounce as being unnecessarily and vexatiously cumulative. Although the Police Gazette has, like all other publications which take a bold and fearless stand against the perpetuators of crime, its enemies and defamers, it has been instrumental in rendering great service to the community, among which the recovery of the National jewels is by no means the most important. To its efforts, almost exclusively, may be attributed the restoration of the money some time ago stolen from Wells and Livingston's Express, and the finding of the large amount of bank notes that were feloniously taken from the possession of the President of the Chester County Bank. Although doing so much good in both these instances, Mr. Wilkes neither asked for, nor received, any compensation, being content with the celebrity they gave to his print, and the gratification he derived in discharging with strict fidelity an onerous public duty. -- Brooklyn Daily Advertiser, April 6.
The two Jones's are to be taken to Washington today. They were formerly map peddlers, and lodged at the Pearl Street House. Articles were missed, the Jones's were suspected, and they removed. This was three years ago, and shortly afterwards Henry opened a boot and shoe store in Ann street. His brother became bar-keeper at different hotels. Among others at the Astor House, in New York, and at the Exchange Hotel, Baltimore. At each place there were robberies during his stay, and the Police Gazette branded him as having had some collusion with the thieves. Philander Jones prosecuted Mr. Wilkes, the proprietor of the Police Gazette, for four libels, and Mr. W. is now under $20,000 bonds to answer for these libels -- $5,000 each. We presume the present expose will cause a suspension of the libel suits. The jewels were found wrapped in an old copy of the Police Gazette. -- New York Sun, April 6.
In the course of the morning, Mr. Stewart, the Clerk of the Police, went into the cell of H.B. Jones, and after a consultation, he went with him to his residence, where the Jewels were found buried in the basement. The box of attar of roses was found in the attic. Jones and the property was brought back to the Tombs, where he was committed for further disposal. The second was found wrapped up in a Police Gazette of November last.
.... Morning Star
National Police Gazette, Saturday, April 21, 1849
TRIAL OF JACOB SHUSTER alias TOM HAND
[Reported for the National Police Gazette]
Washington, April 12, 1849
Criminal Court: Hon. Thomas H. Crawford presiding. Mr. Key appeared for the United States, and Messrs. Radcliffe and Carlisle, for the traverser.
Jacob Shuster, alias Tom Hand, was brought into Court about quarter past eleven this morning. Hand is between thirty-five and forty years of age, about middle height, with long dark hair somewhat besprinkled with gray, dark whiskers and goatee, wears gold spectacles.
After a few preliminaries, Shuster was desired to rise. The indictment was then read, charging him with having stolen on the night of the 8th of November last, from an apartment in the patent Office in this city, a gold snuff box set with diamonds, value about $6000; a bottle of attar of roses; a large necklace; gold sword scabbard; one very large gold medal; a smaller medal, and two large pearls. The usual form which follows was then complied with. Clerk -- Guilty or not guilty. Shuster -- not guilty. Shuster then took his place beside his counsel, Messrs. Ratcliffe and Carlisle. The jury then having been asked whether they had formed any opinion on Hand's guilt or innocence, and having answered in the negative, were then sworn. The following are their names: Joseph H. Daniel, Alfred H. Boucher, Charles H. Lane, William Lord, James Murray, William Worth, Joseph W. Beck, George Crandall, James Lusby, George Savage, Thomas F. Harknoss, and Samuel Stott.
The District Attorney, Mr. Key, opened the case. He said that he should prove that Hand had admitted the robbery; that he was the writer of two letters to the President on the subject of restoring the valuables stolen, on condition that the government would take the advertising of the deserters' list from the National Police Gazette.
Mr. Ratcliffe then addressed the jury, urging their attention to the case and doing full justice to the evidence to be adduced. He said that Hand was the victim of a foul conspiracy. That the fact of his being then and there charged, was the consequence of a quarrel between him and distinguished gentleman in New York, known by the name of Wilkes, the editor of a scurrilous paper, which has some connection with the government in its printing. These two persons fell out, in consequence of letters written by some person, to the President, soon after the offense was committed. This man is charged by the editor with being the author of the letters, although the letters are anonymous. He thought that he discovered some resemblance between the handwriting of these letters and the handwriting of Shuster. A letter was written to the President, by some person, proposing to give up the jewels if the printing of advertisements were taken away from Wilkes. Then this property would be given up, and disclosures made, by which the government would get the property.
A second letter was written, that assurances must be given before the property could be restored. This anonymous letter is written in a disguised hand, but yet the United States intend to produce witnesses to show that the writing is that of the unfortunate man. What are the motives which prompt the prosecution? The government offered a reward of $1,500 for the property and the thief. Fix your eye on this, and see the motives to bring this man to punishment. I want to say that this is sufficient to destroy evidence. It may be powerful in conviction in connection with other circumstances, to show why the evidence should not be credited. Unless some person be convicted, the reward cannot be received. The jewels being in possession of the government, some person, I repeat, must be convicted, in order to receive the reward; and, therefore, I ask you to ascertain who is the real thief. The true thief would no doubt be heard and seen in this Court today. The witnesses against Hand were very exceptionable. They had been convicted of crimes. Where were the valuables found? In New York. Where was Hand's home? Philadelphia. The Joneses were the masters of their own actions, and they undoubtedly had most to do with it.
Mr. Key here objected to Mr. Ratcliffe's remarks, and the Court coincided with the District Attorney, in thinking that the prisoner's counsel should keep to a bare statement of the facts of the case.
Mr. Ratcliffe rejoined, but made only the additional remark of importance, that upon the testimony of one Stewart, the prosecution would seek to prove a confession on the part of Hand.
Mr. Varden, an officer of the Patent Office building, and conservator of the property in the hall of the institute was then sworn. -- Locked the apartment in which the valuables were kept on the afternoon of the 8th November last; missed the jewels on the following morning; found the glass of the case that had contained the property broken; could identify the two large pearls, with great certainty, and thought the small ones in Court the same as were on the necklace in the case; found some of the diamonds from the snuff-box, and some of the pearls from the necklace scattered about on the bottom of the case; the snuff-box was fastened in a peculiar way, and was forced open; the string of the necklace was cut; believed the diamonds restored to belong to the snuff-box; they had some of the blue enamel setting about them; the bottle stolen contained about one pint of the attar of roses. The snuff-box containing a number of diamonds, was generally valued at $6,000; a bottle of attar of roses, containing about a pint, worth $3,000; the gold scabbards studded with diamonds, were worth $3,000; a large number of pearls were taken, worth $100; and some medals, worth $50. (The attar of rose was here passed round to be examined by the olfactories of the Court, Bar, jury, and a favored few; it smelt rather weakly, not much stronger than common rosewater.)
Mr. Charles Stott, one of the jurors, a druggist, sworn -- He knew the article, otto of roses; had bought and sold it a hundred times; the contents of the bottle in his hand was attar of roses.
Mr. Varden, resumed -- Received the valuables on the 10th instant from the hands of Mr. Burke, commissioner of patents; could identify the large pearls; had never been in the lapidary or jewelry line, but had been for thirty years connected with museums, and had seen pearls, but these two were the largest he had ever seen; he identified the pearls from their size, and not because there were any peculiar marks upon them; the pearls were presented to the U.S. by the Imaum of Muscat, in Mr. Van Buren's term, and the snuff box was a present from the emperor Alexander of Russia.
Mr. Burke, Commissioner of Patents, sworn -- Had the Patent Office under his control and direction -- Found the articles in question in the Hall of the office when he first became Commissioner, and took charge of them as the property of the United States. The reward was offered under advisement of the Secretary of State. The reward was to recover the property, and procure a conviction of the thief. In reply to a question from Mr. Ratcliffe, which was excepted to by the District Attorney but sustained by Mr. Carlisle, and at length by the Court, Mr. Burke said that he had authorized one Jem Webb to propose to Hand that if he would give up the property, and consent to a conviction, that he (Mr. B.) would endeavor to mitigate the penalty from three to two years imprisonment. This proposal was made last week.
Here the court took a recess to send for Webb.
On resuming the case, Mr. Blayney, High Constable of Philadelphia, was sworn -- Two letters were shown to him, one of which he felt certain was in the prisoner's handwriting, the other he was less certain about, but perceived a general similitude.
Mr. Carlisle addressed the court. -- He denied the specific connection of these letters with the commission of the larceny. The writer might have been an accessory before or after the fact, but they went nothing toward proving the larceny of the indictment -- and as for the similitude to prisoner's handwriting there was little or nothing in that. He once had a friend who could imitate anybody's hand to a wonderful degree, and was it not very possible not to say likely that the similitude there was in these letters to prisoner's handwriting was to be laid at other doors than Hand's. The whole was but a mere opinion of Mr. Blaney's, and ought not to be received merely as such. The gist of every question about handwriting laid in some fixed character possessed by it, and which would be apparent under every attempted disguise. The witness had not given any evidence of his adequacy to judge on this point, and until this was done he must object to his testimony going as evidence.
The District Attorney insisted on the pertinency and sufficiency of the letter, if verified, to connect Hand with the larceny. Now the question was, were the letters Hand's or not; the testimony of Mr. Blayney went to show they were. In the great Van Ness case of the year before last, the court allowed the idea that a letter could be verified even if disguised, and there could be no doubt that though more or less disguised these two letters were in the handwriting of the traverser.
Mr. Carlisle replied, substantially in reaffirming his former arguments.
Mr. Blayney's examination renewed -- Has seen Hand write, and exhibit handwriting as his, similar to the letters. These he had seen several times. Some of these were advertisements; and one letter was written at his (Mr. B's) instance. Had he been shewn the letter of date, December 15th, 1848, even if no robbery had occurred, should at once have affirmed it to be Hand's. Of this letter he had no doubt whatever -- of the other he was a little and only a little less certain. Had received orders from Hand on several occasions within the last nine or ten years. Had conveyed a letter of Hand's, which he saw him write to his wife, in his usual undisguised writing, and it was of the same general character as the letters now in court. Had seen much handwriting, and believed himself well qualified to judge in this matter.
After some debate on the subject of reading or ruling out the letters, it was agreed on by all hands that they should be read. Here follow the letters.
New York, Dec. 15, 1848
Sir -- i take this time to write a few lines to you to say that i have a proposition to make to you or the government at large. Some few weeks ago the government jewels were taken as i suppose you know and when they were taken i intended to return them for as much money as i could have got for them; but as i find it impossible to get any one to negotiate the matter safely i have come to another and final conclusion -- i will now state what i have to say in the matter it is this there is a paper in this city called the national police Gazette edited by a fellow called Garge Wilks, and formerly a fellow named Camp was with him. these men are men of the most desperate characters, men who are guilty of every mean act you can think of, this fellow Camp has swindled every man that has ever come in his way he is a pettifogging lawyer of the lowest kind. He dares not pass through Delaware upon any other day but on Sunday in fact it is well known here that he is a base villain as is known in New York, as for Wilks he is a thief and everything els you can think of; he has always been connected with some scurrilous newspaper or other; before he commenced his present dirty sheet he published a paper called the Whip he was then convicted of a libel and sent to prison and his whole career has been one of infamy and crime they also have a vagabond employed as their reporter named Marcus Cicero Stanley, a fellow that is well known to be a thief a fellow that has robbed his friends and benefactors he is a fellow who robbed a man south a few years ago, and put it upon an honest man, which was the cause of a duel. no doubt you have heard of the matter in conclusion i will say they three are three as black hearted villains as ever congregated together. i do not ask you to take my word alone for what i say but ask you to write to any of our public men; write to mattsel chief of Police, or John McKeon, attorney general i say write to them and if they say they are worthy honest men i have no more to say but if they are the reptiles i say they are why should our government add to their support. You might as well pension me to keep me honest. this city is full of those hell-hounds who live upon black mail levied upon the unfortunate. there is Ned Buntlings own a dirty demoralizing paper. there is another called the Scorpion those fellows live upon the tears and the heart breakings of the unfortunate. i will only ask you to read their papers and you will soon see what i say to be true. Now, as regards Ned Buntlings own and the Scorpion you can do nothing. But you patronize the police Gazette by giving them the government printing of the deserters, which is 1000 dollars, enough with what black mail they levie to keep them together like a nest of vipers to bite and sting now sir i the writer of this has got the government jewels the diamond box the string of pearls the two large pearls the sword scabbard, the otter of rose the gold and copper medles the box is a little broken also the string of pearls also the sword case is broken in half but as they are you shall have them upon the condition take the printing i speak of from them and give it to some respectable printer. for i again say you are patronizing a sit of villains and i now do declare before him that knoweth the hearts off all that as soon as i see the printing i speak off taken from the National Police Gazette and given to any respectable paper not including Ned Buntlings own or the Scorpion in the respectable number i will send you such directions as will restore to you the government geuels those are my conditions if they are not complied with i sware by my maker you will never get them; you may make what use of this letter you please, as it is a metter with me alone no one knows that it is written but myself. if you choose quietly to take the printing from them you can, or if you choose to tell them they are a set of villains and unworthy of you you may also do it, but until it is done the earth will cover the jewels the sooner it be done the sooner you will see that a thief can do what he writes to you he will do i have no more to say except trust me and i will not deceive you.
New York, Feb 2, 1849
Sir. i sent you a few lines some time ago in regard to the jewels. i see by what that papers says that you have taken the printing from them, and that you have given it to a cotemporary. now, for my life i can't find out who has it, and i am fearful that there is some trick about this matter, and until i am satisfied that all is right, i shall never return them and as soon as i see that you have taken it from them in good faith, then will i in good faith perform what i have promised you, if you could put some article of some kind in the Herald of this place,that i might see who had it, it might be satisfactory. i must be satisfied there is no trick before i will perform my promise.
Mr. Blayney recalled -- and testified to have seen a letter of Hand's to Geo. K. Childs, or Levin P. Lescure -- repeated portions of his former testimony.
Joseph R. Atkinson, sworn -- Was about to testify, that in September 1847, Hand remarked to him in Baltimore, that the Patent office in Washington, had been robbed once, and could be again, and that he would do it, when the prisoner's counsel demurred, and the Court sustained them in rejecting this testimony, as the time was too distant from the period of the crime. Atkinson said that on the 1st of December last, Hand and he held a conversation, at the Rochester House, 31 Courtlandt street, New York, about the persecution of the National Police Gazette had visited on Mr. Young. Hand observed that the paper would not be in being but a few weeks longer, for they had things fixed so as to take away its mainstay, by depriving it of the government patronage of $1000 a year; had seen Hand write frequently; the letter of February 22nd was in Hand's general style; he had many communications from him; as for the December letter I think it something like his writing, but it is disguised; had known prisoner's person since 1843; had visited his house; Atkinson resides in New York; had not visited Hand's residence for more than a year; used to call there whenever he went to Philadelphia.
At this stage the Court adjourned till tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock.
Washington, April 13, 1849
Examination resumed -- Mr. Varden -- There was a window from the apartment that let out on a porch, from which the ground could be reached.
Capt. Goodard, examined -- Handed in a paper, being the proposal of the commissioner, to Hand.
The District Attorney read the paper which was in these words.
THE GOVERNMENT PROPOSITION
I hereby authorize James Webb to assure Tom Hand, alias Jacob Shuster, now in custody on the charge of robbing the Patent office, in November last, on behalf of the government of the United States, that, if he, the said Tom Hand, will put the government to no further expense in the prosecution of said charges and will plead guilty to the indictment, charging the crime upon him, and will restore, or cause to be restored, the articles taken, in the form in which they were taken, or now are, (if any of them have been broken up and melted) he, the said Hand shall not be sentenced to prison for a time exceeding two years for said robbery.
Washington, April 3, 1849
Saw Shuster and gave the proposal to him; Shuster wanted to know first whether the commissioner had power to comply with the conditions proposed; would like to know for certain about it; had been badly treated since in prison, and would like to know all about it first; doubted if the Judge would be influenced by the commissioner in mitigating the sentence; did not like to say much about it whilst that man Webb was standing by, Webb being present; wished to consult his counsel before giving a final answer; the counsel did accordingly consult with him.
Mr. Varden, resumed -- Was shown a bottle containing pearls; brought the ribbon on which the pearls were strung, it was left in the case at the robbery; one of the pearls restored held a piece of ribbon precisely corresponding with the ribbon left, and was satisfied was originally a part of it.
Mr. Thos. Kanouse, sworn -- Knew the prisoner of the bar; was acquainted with his handwriting; had seen him write at least one hundred letters; had seen him write similarly to the two letters; these letters differed a little from his ordinary handwriting; the difference was considerable; he ordinarily wrote with a steel pen, but these were written with a quill; had seen him disguise his hand by using a quill; had known Hand since the Fall of '40; intimacy had continued up to the date of the present transaction.
To a question from defendant's counsel, witness said he had been told that prisoner had written a letter to the Baltimore Sun, implicating witness and Stewart in passing counterfeit money; was hostile to defendant on account of this, but the hostile impression had now worn off; witness is a resident of Patterson, New Jersey; had boarded off and on for several years at prisoner's house; the last time had been at prisoner's house was in October 1847; had been to Philadelphia since then three or four times.
Samuel Lewis, sworn -- Was shown the lumps of gold; it was genuine gold.
Henry B. Jones, sworn -- Resides in New York, at No. 11 Pike street; last part of November last the prisoner came to me and asked if I had money; said some, and why? a friend of his wanted some, and could give the vest security for its use a short time; I asked how much he wanted; he said $500; asked who the friend was; he declined replying; he was a merchant, and was known to witness; asked what security he could give; he said ingots of gold; asked why he did not take it to the bank and get it coined; Hand replied there were particular reasons why he did not wish to part with it; he said his friend was settling up an estate; he could not take it to the bank, nor would not; I said I would think of it; at a subsequent interview Ii told him I thought I would let him have it; he then said he must have $600 instead of $500; a time and place were appointed when and where I was to meet the friend; accordingly I went and met him; his name was Samuel T. Powell; Powell said I suppose Jake has made an arrangement with you about this negotiation; Powell shewed me two papers containing what, from its weight, I was satisfied must be gold; told Powell I had not the money then, it was Saturday night; on the following Monday at 11 o'clock A.M. I met Powell again; I paid him the $600, and he gave me the gold, and then handed me another package; told me to keep that till Jake called for it; I did keep it, putting the gold and the place in my wardrobe on the top shelf; when I saw prisoner again I told him I wanted the money, but he kept putting me off from time to time; Shuster's excuse for the delay was that Sam was buying land; he put me off so long that I opened one of the other packages, and opened a little box which disclosed what I supposed to be diamonds and pearls; the pearls were in a tin box; some of the diamonds had blue things on them; there was also a bottle containing attar of roses; it was covered with a paper; the next time I saw Hand I told him what I had done; he asked what the hell I had opened it for; I told him I suspected they were some of the government jewels; he laughed, and asked me why? I told him I had some of the diamonds examined, and wanted him to remove them from my charge, as otherwise I should send them to Washington, or do something with them; he said it was too late now, that I had got into a scrape; that I must keep my mouth shut, or I would get ten years of the State Prison; if I kept dark, no harm would come; he said the bottle of attar of roses was destroyed, and could not be identified; had melted the gold scabbard up; he told me then I must raise him $400 more; I said I would not do it; I would sink the things in the river or destroy them; he told me not to act like a fool, that I had the things and could not get out of the scrape; finally I let him have the $400 he asked; next day I received a note which I destroyed; it threatened me in case of my disclosure as to the possession of the jewels; the note was not signed, and I do not know prisoner's writing well enough to say whether it was his writing or not; does not recollect any conversation after letting him have the $400; the $600 I lent I got from my cousin Francis Jones; the $400 I took from my business; Hand promised double what I could get for the use of my money in any other way; I put the jewels under ground in my cellar; the attar in the attic; it was at Shuster's request; I let him have the money in the latter part of February, as I think; when I told him I suspected the property was from the Patent office, he acknowledged it was; that he had melted the scabbard, and had taken means to prevent the attar of roses from being identified; was in Philadelphia on thanksgiving day last; had no money transactions with prisoner then; did not see him then; at the time of taking the security I felt bad, fearing it was government gold; this was about the 25th of November; had heard of the robbery of the jewels before I accepted the gold as security; I met Powell at the corner of Pike street and East Broadway, on the day appointed for the negotiations; had known Powell for 8 or 9 years; did not know what the bottle contained; should have buried the bottle but the ground was too hard; Mr. Webb was the first who called on me about these valuables; it was the day I was arrested; justice McGrath and Mr. Smith accompanied Webb; don't recollect what Webb said, I was so frightened; did not give up the things for some time; I kept them because I was afraid about the threats made against me; I gave them up to Mr. Sidney Stewart; seemed to think that somebody had said that if he would give up the jewels he (witness) would not be punished; thought there was something wrong about the property, because Powell refused to meet me at my store; did not think so much about it until after I had parted with my money; Webb remained only a few minutes or two at his visit to my house, the officers were outside the door; thought of going to somebody to get the reward, but wanted to get my money back, this was the reason of my silence; was brought to Washington by Mr. Smith, and have been in his custody; have been staying at Browne's hotel; am not now in custody; got here in the morning; Mr. Smith has gone home to New York; had an interview at the office of the District Attorney with that gentleman and Mr. Burke; has had no inter with Webb in Washington; should place no confidence in Webb's word.
Mr. Sidney H. Stewart, sworn -- Went to Jones's house to obtain the property; found the jewels in the cellar, the attar of roses in the attic; the things were placed in charge of officer Smith, with directions to put them in Mr. Burke's hands; had to use a variety of means and appliances to get the jewels from Jones; I induced him to infer that I would use my influence to get him as a witness against the guiltier parties, Shuster, Powell, and Webb; my interview with Webb was official; Webb helped me to nothing I did not know before; I saw him the day previous to going to Jones's; Powell is a brother-in-law of Hand's I believe.
Henry B. Jones, resumed -- His brother had brought a suit against the editor of the Police Gazette, but the suit had no connection with this case; did not recollect the conversation between Mr. Stewart and himself; know Mr. Wilkes of the Police Gazette by sight; don't recollect any conversation in Mr. Key's office about any suit against Mr. Wilkes; think if there had been such a conversation should remember it.
Francis Jones, sworn, but not examined -- It was the district attorney's purpose to show, by Francis Jones, that Henry B. Jones borrowed the $600 from Francis Jones,but the Court ruled it out as unimportant. The District Attorney here closed his case.
Mr. Varden, resumed -- Did not know how the robbers got in, but it was evident how they got out, it was through the window; there were two watchmen below, one watched, and the other slept, so that only one was on duty at once; the news about opening the nippers came from Philadelphia; there was a rope hanging out of the window of the robbed apartments on the morning after the robbery; saw a file and a door knob put at the door so as to prevent anybody from entering; the window of the apartment was fastened within; the door of the room was locked at four o'clock P.M. and the key given to the messenger who sweeps out the hall; the key is usually kept in the watchman's room; there is a garret to the establishment, the door of which opens into my workshop; at the time of discovering the robbery found a false key in the attic door, found a twelve inch file, an auger and hammer taken from my tool box, in the robbed apartment; the key of my shop is placed where only three persons know of; usually commence my duties at eight A.M. and leave off at four P.M.; I always keep the workshop door locked in my absence, however temporary; left about an hour for dinner.
Mr. Blayney, examined -- Had resigned his high constableship; Hand was a witness in my favor in a trial in which Mr. David Paul Brown, now in Court, was my counsel; had a certificate of his good conduct from all the Judges at my resignation.
Mr. Ratcliffe, sworn -- Went to the prisoner when the proposition was made to him to see what could be made out of it for the prisoner's case; he stated the proposition to the prisoner.
The Court adjourned.
Washington, April 14th, 1849
George Potts, examined -- Knows prisoner and has known him 6 or 7 years; have seen him write a number of times, say fifty or sixty, was in business in Baltimore with one Force as partner, and exchanged him for Anthony Shuster, a brother of the accessed; had seen letters of the accused to his brother, often during the partnership; was shown the two letters; thought neither of the letters like the writing of the accused; could detect no resemblance between Hand's writing at first sight; resides now in Baltimore; saw Hand write in Baltimore at my store, and in Philadelphia in his own house; is a coachmaker by business; follows that and nothing else.
Court -- Nothing else?
Witness -- No sir.
Mr. M. Thompson -- Had not attempted to imitate Shuster's hand in the writing shown yesterday to the court.
The counsel for the defendant here closed his examination of witnesses.
The District Attorney addressed the Jury: -- This was no common case; the property was the Government's, and the jury must avoid the two opposite errors of preconceived suspicion against a prisoner, and of leaving the evidence before the court in pursuit of mere feelings of misplaced leniency; that the things were taken all will acknowledge; who did it? that is the question; was it the prisoner at the bar? can any doubt of his guilt exist after the evidence that has been given; the counsel for the defense had failed to prove his promised alibi; the attempt was abandoned; no testimony had been adduced to shake the position that the accused was guilty; neither had a conspiracy been proved as threatened by the counsel; it was a loose charge and had been abandoned; not one of the witnesses had been impugned during the trial; Blaney could have no personal interest in the result of the case; none of the reward would fall to him; the prisoner had been on a former occasion a witness for Blaney, surely then Blaney could have no prejudice against him; Atkinson, too, had he been shown to be a partner of this alleged combination; had Goddard? no, neither; all the witnesses stood disinterested and untainted; and the letters, what did they prove? clearly the prisoner's guilt; that he was the author of them; Blaney had seen prisoner write in a disguised hand many times, and would have known the December letter to be prisoner's, had the robbery never come to his knowledge; Potts had only seen the natural hand, not the disguised; besides he was an acquaintance and was open to suspicion on that account; Kanouse too, instantly recognizes the hand; Potts was entirely too swift and ready to pronounce against the authorship of the letters by the accused, to allow him the smallest credulity; not a particle of confidence could be placed in him; that the letters were the prisoner's was indisputable; the phrase in one of them "asking the Government to keep him honest," proved that he had already condemned himself as being dishonest' so the writer confined to himself the whole knowledge of the robbery; he also acknowledged himself "a thief" who would perform his promise nevertheless; if the authorship of the letters could be fixed by the jury on the accused, it carried with it the fact that he was the thief.
If the Jones's testimony be received, the accused must be pronounced guilty beyond doubt; Jones's position was peculiar, it is true; the counsel of the defendant might laugh, but the position of the witness was peculiar, but it was so because he had unwittingly or weakly received the stolen property as security; this was what injuriously affected him and this was all, but this he had corrected and excused by his honest acknowledgement of his error, in the presence of the court and the world; beyond this Jones could not be impeached; the evidence of Capt. Goddard was conclusive; the prisoner's language was confessory, and it was impossible to deny it; the accused wanted to know of Capt. Goddard the authority under which the offer of the Government was made, he said he did not know whether he could rely upon Commissioner Burke's promise, and must consult his counsel; was not this conclusive, yes from his own mouth, the counsel for the defendant had promised to prove an alibi; the city of Philadelphia was populous; a hundred opportunities would have been afforded if Hand hand had been at home on the 8th November, but not one had the counsel attempted. Mr. Key here closed his remarks.
Mr. Ratcliffe, for the defense -- The District Attorney exhibited very extraordinary zeal and effort on this occasion; he had attempted to deduce an argument for the guilt of the accused from the silence of the other party on the subject of his innocence; as for the alibi, the attempt to prove it was made, but the witness had not arrived unfortunately; the attack on Potts was most gratuitous, and if Potts was perjured as suggested by the District Attorney, why had he not gone a step further and sworn to the alibi. Potts had testified that no resemblance existed between the hand-writing of the prisoner and that of the two letters; what interest had Potts in testifying for Hand; none had been shown, none was pretended; the witnesses for the prosecution were of two classes, one fair, the other the reverse. Mr. Varden was irreproachable, his testimony true, so of Col. Burke, he was a high officer of the Government, and had done his full and entire duty; Messrs. Sidney Stewart, Lewis and Stott were all entirely reliable, but there was second class and first. As to Mr. Blaney, he was notorious throughout the country. (Here the court ruled that nothing now growing out of the case could be allowed in reference to a witnesses character) Blaney, Atkinson, Kanouse and Henry Jones were a band of conspirators, as he would show; Blaney had once employed Shuster to write a disguised letter for him, Blaney, to either Childs or Lescure, why should Blaney go to such a quarter as Hand, admittedly no saint, to write a disguised letter, if he Blaney, were so immaculate as described by the prosecution? The two letters differed, they were the production of two hands; handwriting was a difficult thing to rely on in these cases, and could Blaney's evidence be received who saw the handwriting of the prisoner not later than six or seven years ago; there Blaney had testified as to the December letter being certainly Hand's, but was less sure as to the February letter; Atkinson's testimony was exactly the reverse, he said the February letter was Hand's without doubt, but the December letter was not so certain; here was a total disagreement.
Were the witnesses to be trusted? who could say so? were they not very suspicious? why make a proposition to the accused if the evidence against him were so clear? the reward was to be distributed among a set of men who were anything but correct, where was Webb? if Hand were a party, as he might be, still was it not clear that he was more sinned against than sinning; but the District Attorney had entrapped himself; as to the piece of writing made in court and shown Mr. Blaney he had been completely at fault; he had supposed that to be Shuster's handwriting which was in court written by another person.
Then as to Kanouse, of the party of Kanouse, Coles and Stewart, could anybody believe that he had no hostility toward a man he had supposed to be the author of a publication in the Baltimore Sun, warning the public against the party as a band of counterfeiters; could Mr. Henry B. Jones be deemed so free from suspicion in this matter as to be fit to give evidence convicting the accessed; in fact, the spirit of falsehood pervaded the whole statement of Jones; did not Jones know Powell and Hand to be of doubtful character, and where then was his immaculately in receiving the property, taking his own account of it; does any body believe that Jones paid six hundred dollars for what he never examined for days or weeks after! and if he did not open the package was not that proof that he perfectly well knew where the things came from, but where were Mr. Jones pretended sorrow and penitence? Why had he not carried out his purpose of handing the property over to the Government, and thus have secured the reward, have cleared his conscience, and convicted the guilty.
When Mr. Jones was so very oblivious on his examination, he pretended to forget the motives held out by Mr. Stewart; he pretended he did not know about the robbery at the time of lending the money. Mr. Sidney Stewart induced Jones' confession by promising him to be a witness against men guiltier than he. This was what turned the balance in Jones' mind, and yet he said on the stand, that he did not remember what Mr. Stewart said to him. The counsel quoted an authority to show that false in one, false in all, was a legal maxim, going to destroy the whole credit of the witness Jones. Jones, by his own admission, was guilty, and was indictable. He had the stolen goods in his possession, he concealed them, he prevaricated, he hesitated to give them up until Mr. Stewart held out an inducement strong enough to operate on his hopes and fears, and was there no guilt in all this? Mr. Key says that the writer of the letters was the actual thief. How came the Government to find out that Jones had the jewels? Shuster never told the Government; Jones never did, then who did? The true thief informed the Government. There was a clear contract between the Government and the thief. How many stole the property? Who knows the particulars of the thief? The writer of the letters did. The accused might or might not be connected with the robbery, but that he committed specifically the larceny, there has not been a particle of proof offered by the prosecution. The Government had not acted fairly in this matter. Let it bring forward the man, Webb, bring him forward, and not send him off into absence and impunity.
Mr. Carlisle followed for the defense -- Felt too unwell to be lengthy at this time; would be brief. It was a plain, straight-forward style of case. The odorous fragrance of the imaum's attar of roses was, for a Court House, unusually delightful to be sure, yet there was about the case a very fishy smell after all. The indictment was a clear, distinct thing, and must be carried out, Oregon fashion, all or none. The District Attorney had deemed it sufficient on this occasion to have a sort of common sense grasp at the prisoner's guilt, but common sense has been one of the most abused things in the world. The jury must convict only upon distinct and specifically established facts; not upon loose suspicion of bad character or general immorality, but upon the specific facts proved upon the indictment. The prosecution have failed most materially in producing the requisite evidence. The man who could tell all about this matter had been permitted to escape, and by contract with the government too. He was the true larcener, and the truth would some day come out. The defense had tried in good faith, to procure evidence for the alibi, but still there was no need of trying to get an alibi until it was proved that he had been here. The thief must have been in Washington on the 8th November. He was concealed in the attic, and had it been Shuster, a man of marked appearance, somebody about the Patent office must have seen him. Where was the proof that the prisoner had ever been in Washington before brought here now on this charge? None existed, and until it could be shown that the man Shuster was in Washington, the defense surely were not bound to prove an alibi.
If the District Attorney felt so fastidious about bringing Mr. Webb into court on account of his notoriety, surely why not be fastidious about Mr. Jones and certain others he might mention.
Where was the property found? In Jones's possession. And where was the proof that the article produced in court were the things in Jones's cellar. The United States must prove the identity of the things found in the cellar with the things stolen, but where was the link to do this? No where. Mr. Stewart distinctly declined to connect the two, and nobody else is offered for the purpose. The National Police Gazette was here quoted to the effect that the jewels were put in Mr. Wilkes's hand, and by him into the hands of Marcus Cicero Stanley, of whom Mr. Carlisle spoke not very complimentarily. The defense does not admit that the things in the court are the things of which Jones testifies. The government said we must have the jewels and a victim. Somebody must be offered up before the reward is comestible. Now the reward will not go to the District Attorney, for that would be illegal. Nor the Jury; -- who then? Why the witnesses, and just that very portion of them, that the District Attorney sets in his rear rank. Mr. Blaney did say that he had no feeling, but he did not say that he had no interest. Now Mr. Blaney had once called upon Shuster to be a witness for him in a criminal prosecution, about which time Mr. Blaney resigned. Ought not this to entitle Mr. Blaney to take a step back into the District Attorney's rear rank? Undoubtedly.
The indictment charged the stealing of a gold snuff-box and a pearl necklace; but no snuff-box or pearl necklace had been brought here. Then the allegation that the jewels, attar, etc., were the property of the United States was unprovable. They had been deposited by individuals in the hands of the Government, but there had been no act of Congress authorizing their reception, as had been done in the case of the two steed horses presented by the emperor of Morocco. The general impression at the time of the robber, was that somebody about the Patent Office was the party. However as to that he would not enlarge.
When Webb called on Jones and had the interview at Jones's house, was not the plan of proceeding arranged and Shuster determined for the victim? Jones confessed his error on receiving the goods before the court, and Mr. Key spoke of his weakness. Did not that make it likelier for Jones to be the tool of Webb, rather than the tool of Shuster? Remove Jones's testimony and the letters and there is no case at all -- as to the letters, the greatest caution should be observed, for it was easy to charge anything upon a man who should be accused of using a disguised hand. There would be no safety for any man under such circumstances.
Where is the proof that the letters are Shuster's? Blaney and Atkinson diametrically differed as to the two letters. Blaney had not seen prisoner's writing for seven years, and yet he undertook to determine on the subject of these letters. He could not do it, and few men could. The proposition of the letters was too monstrously absurd not to be seen through with facility. It was incredible that any thief would give up fifteen or twenty thousand dollars worth of property just to gratify a bit of paltry revenge against the editor of the National Police Gazette -- and Mr. Wilkes himself, in his own columns, took the same vein. The conclusion was that the letters were due to another quarter than Hand's. Where too was Shuster's motive for revenge against the Police Gazette! It no where appeared.
The District Attorney attacked most unjustifiably the testimony of a respectable mechanic, Mr. Potts. He was accessed of over-readiness, but his perfect acquaintance with the prisoner's writing fully justified him. He was very different from Mr. Blaney, who affectedly pretended a vast deal of deliberation in the reading the letters in court, whereas Blaney had his mind already made up, he having read the letters long before.
Much stress has been laid on Capt. Goodard's testimony by the District Attorney. But it did not prove Shuster's being the thief though it might or might not look to a different kind of guilt in the matter. He was hunted, surrounded, run down by the gang of wolves, who he perceived were determined to destroy him at all events, guilty or guiltless. He sent for his counsel to consult him to this set of circumstances, and surely this would be no sufficient proof of his guilt.
The District Attorney closed the argument reiterating and re-enforcing his former remarks. The case was then given to the jury who retired at half past seven o'clock P.M.; the court was adjourned to ten P.M.
The Jury after being out forty-eight hours, came into Court on Monday morning, and declared they could not agree. They were thereupon discharged. They stood seven for acquittal and five for conviction.
National Police Gazette, Saturday, April 21, 1849
THE TRIAL OF TOM HAND
The Robber of the Patent Office
The legal authorities at Washington have not been quite so successful in the performance of their duties as we were. After an effort of five months, in which we performed unremitting labor, and underwent all sorts of personal peril, we recovered from the possession of Shuster, alias Tom Hand, the Government Jewels, which he and his accomplice Webb stole from the Patent Office and placed these two distinguished operators and the sub-agents of the former villain, in the public hands for proper disposition. There our business ended, and there the Government took it up, and thus far it seems they have managed it but poorly. With abundant evidence; evidence sufficient to convict twenty such as Hand, they have suffered him to elude the ordeal and to bargain with the future through the disagreement of a jury. This is very bad, but worse was expected by those who observed from this distance the scandalous indecorums of the trial and the equally scandalous consideration with which the Government treated the guilty witnesses whom a hard necessity forced into the case. Not a man in Washington doubted that Hand was a wretch, or that he stole the Jewels, but the impropriety of shackling him with fetters while his detestable compeers were bowsing in beaded wine, and rolling luxuriously in lavender sheets, was too gross for the public sense, and the jury naturally revolted at it and refused the unjust distinction expected at their hands. They knew that Webb was the companion of the prisoner's crime, and public decency required that he should be locked up at least. They knew that the Joneses were the guilty receivers, and perhaps the brutal defacers of the national property, and it seemed like an oppression of their accomplice, to those who did not know his atrocious character, to allow them to laugh in his face, while he was on the rack. We therefore do not wonder at the temporary result.
Indeed, the only surprise that has touched our mind at all, is, that under the impulse of great disgust, the reaction was not strong enough to have induced the jury, in a peevish moment, to have acquitted the villain before them altogether. The community if not wise at all times, are at all times just in sentiment, and they could easily feel, without the exercise of a single reasoning faculty, that it was wrong to stab Shadrack under the fifth rib, while they took Meshack to their bosoms, or to make Meshack walk over hot bars, while they fed Abednego on pate de foi gras.
There is one thing connected with this matter, however, which is really a little singular, and that is to find people in this city, who were not sickened by the bar-room vulgarity of the counsel in the case, or offended by direct personal observation of the accomplices of Hand swinging up and down Pennsylvania avenue, pretending to entertain sympathy for Hand's condition, and to regard him as the "cat's paw" of the greater rascal Webb. There is no doubt of Webb's infamous character, none of his satanic talents; not any of his criminal partnership with Hand in going feloniously into the Patent Office on the night of the 8th November and taking the Government Jewels with his fingers. But nevertheless, there is no jot of legal evidence at command against him; not so much as there is against Jim Young; nothing, in short, in the wide world, from its first limit to the further edge of space, which can be produced to practically convict him of the robbery. We have said that he was Hand's accomplice, and the Public have believed it; and we said so for them to believe, because we knew he lived with Hand before and at the time of the commission of the robbery, and because we felt certain, also, that the robbery was committed to purchase, by compromise, the pardon of his brother from the State Prison. When we pronounced this to be the object, and by thus unmasking it, destroyed it, Webb, like a wise man, held his hands; but "poor Tom Hand," raging like a tiger at his defeat, first proposed to a certain miscreant to come to New York and take us off by assassination, and next determined to use what we had made otherwise useless, to obtain revenge upon us for blasting it within his hands. He was a fool, and felt like a fool within his own toils.
Under any circumstances, and though everything could be proved against Webb, Webb is less to blame than he. Tom Hand was the villain who robbed the public jewels on a previous occasion. What is worse, he on this occasion insulted the head of a great government with his infamous letters, and finally,with the deliberate vileness of a beast, he melted the shining heirlooms of a nation into one gross heap, to gratify his wanton malice, or to suit his minor purposes of profit.
"Poor Tom Hand!" Well may tenderhearted editors go weeping through their columns at his fate, and sympathizing counsel spoil their mouths with scurrilous epithets at those who have performed their proper duty in seeking to bring him to justice. He is a worthy character and has been much abused. Though convicted in Washington in 1833, for stealing $15,000 from old Mr. Reeside, the mail contractor, he was let off by the entreaties of that wife who still sits weeping at his side, and is, therefore, yet well deserving of our pity. Through sentenced for burglary in Philadelphia in 1835, and sentenced again in the same place for a new offense in 1837, he is yet entitled to our tender sorrow. Though guilty of a heavy forgery in this city in 1841, under the name of Fowler, he is still within the pale of generous pathos. Though detected in a "nipper" robbery at the Niagara Falls in 1846, from which he was extracted by his friend Jim Young, and in five hundred other robberies of which we have no trace, he must not be struck from the books of our forgiving thoughts, but, by all the rules of charity, set down as the unsophisticated victim of the corrupt and corrupting Jim Webb, in the latter "unfortunate affair."
Poor fellow! Unhappy cat's paw of a tiger with a dark lantern who rejoices in the name of Webb, and who remorselessly holds up the light, while he with a reluctant and complaining conscience, shivers the glass cases to give him access to his prey. Wicked, wicked Webb! Unhappy and misled Tom Hand. Ho, all ye who have human bosoms and a reserve of tears, let Shuster have them now!
Such are the apostrophes which have been made for Hand; but we know how to estimate the motives which produce this spurious sympathy. Lawyers who have not a very delicate sense of public honor, do not scruple to volunteer a step or two beyond the edge of decency, even in the service of the thief they loathe; rivals in business will sometimes malign those who are successful over them, and editors may be to a certain extent excused for confusing the aspect of a transaction, in which they have been misled. As for the Chief of Police, to whom Shuster so familiarly refers, it could not be expected that he should feel otherwise than friendly to Tom Hand. He has been the regular visitor to his little back office for months; he has in short been his stool pigeon, and it was, therefore, natural that he should have expressed to the United States Attorney for this district, his desire, that if a state evidence were to be taken by the Government, that Hand should be the man. We may see how the cat jumps by its shadow. We, therefore, have a discreet public to decide, whether Tom Hand, the confidential visitor of the Chief of Police, did not have some very strong private reliance, when he referred the President to Mr. Matsell in relation to ourself, that the reference would be answered to his wishes. There is the more reason for this inference, in the fact, that the Chief has always spoken, openly, of our personal merits in the most extravagant terms of praise.
So much for so much. Hand must be tried again, and the trial must be conducted with less vulgarity of speech and more general decorum than before. Beyond the manner of the prosecution, the authorities, perhaps, have not committed any grievous error. It is evident from the result, that Webb has said nothing against Hand, or Hand would have been convicted by the jury from their seats; and it is likewise plain that Shuster holds Webb as his friend, for no trace has been furnished to the Government, by which that gentleman can be substantially involved. Both are in a tale, and it is likewise plain to all discerning eyes that had we not personally sent Webb back to Washington after he had been left at large by inadvertence in this city, Hand would have produced his alibi, and Webb would have laid on the outskirts of the city, to have helped the work.
They are friends under contrasted masks, and the Joneses are the only barefaced traitors in the party. We did not make them so. The scandalous spectacle of a States' evidence, though accepted by the theory of the law, has always been our abhorrence, and the subject of our public condemnation as a means of proof. When such characters are accepted, however, they should be brought into court as becomes such villains; not wiping their lips from a sumptuous repast, but in humiliation and in chains. Had this course been pursued, there would have been none of the spurious sympathy for "poor Tom Hand," that has been the joke of the thieves, and the mortification of the law for the last five days.
We have now but to say that if public curiosity in Washington to see Jim Webb still runs so high that the next jury may refuse to agree to a conviction of Shuster, out of mere spite to the prosecution for not bringing Webb into court, as did the last, why we advise that he be exhibited at the Capitol for three full days before the ordeal, that the public stomach may be satisfied. Then the trial may go safely on, for there is enough evidence, as will be seen by our chastened report in another column, to convict twenty such as he, without a moment's hesitation. As for the rest, when it comes their turn, we shall criticize their disposal as it may deserve, but for the present, let us see that in making complaints at the theory of the authorities, we are not guilty of the grosser act ourselves, of allowing the most remorseless villain who ever helped to accumulate the misfortunes of a nation, to escape from the justice which he so long has braved, and which he now so much deserves.
National Police Gazette, Saturday, May 5, 1849
THE CONVICTION OF TOM HAND
Once more we have won our point. Despite the desperate efforts made in Baltimore and Philadelphia; despite local treachery and secret influences brought to bear in this city; despite Bennett and the Herald thundering against it in the back ground, Tom Hand is convicted.
The Philadelphia police is deprived of its main stay. Terry Hughes and the other shameless villains who went to Washington to defeat the prosecution, have sworn themselves black in the face for nothing. Matsell has lost his stool-pigeon, and Bennett has not received compensation enough for the use of the Herald in a thief's behalf, to satisfy even the temperate stomach of a Scotchman, in a sale of conscience.
Good so. We expected the result. A man who is right and who has the ability to fight in his own battle, can laugh at the combination of a thousand people who are in the wrong. They may plot; they may bluster; they may lie; they may mislead; if he but rest upon himself and quietly watch their movements, there will turn up chances in the game when he may throw them into confusion. But it is the fault of their own perversity, rather than the merit of his skill, and the greater the number of the confederates, the more signal will be their distress. Truth is, therefore, the best policy in all things. Honesty is the highest refinement of worldly wisdom. Those who leave its path, lose the view ahead by the necessity of watching their feet; those who adhere to it, go smoothly to their aim, by the mere force of their intentions. Let those, therefore, who have worked against us in this business, take this latter maxim to their thoughts, and if they can curb their depravity to the possibility of its adoption, they may regard us hereafter in the light of a benefactor, who has given them a fortune. As for Bennett, he is out of the books of hope. We are not idle talkers; and, therefore, rather commend the remote chance of reformation to Matsell and Louse Baker.
There never was, perhaps, such a wanton, unprincipled, and mischievous attempt made to defeat the course of justice as in this same case of the recovery of the Government Jewels and the trial of Tom Hand; and by no means the least flagrant feature of the case, is the unstinted abuse which the editor of the Herald has heaped upon all who have done their proper duty in the premises.
The history of the matter is a very simple one. We observed the robbery of the Patent Office at the time of its commissioner with a critical eye, and comparing the manner of the work as a connoisseur of prints would detect a Gavarni picture, we said that depredation was performed by the experienced burglars, Tom Hand and Jim Webb. On the basis of this idea we followed these rascals for five months, and by provoking them into a number of measures of revenge, succeeded in getting a hitch upon them and in putting not only the two principals, but two of their under-strappers in prison on the general charge. Of these four, the one against whom the testimony should be the strongest, it was of course the duty of the Government to prosecute the first; but as that person happened to be Tom Hand, and as Tom Hand was a valuable coadjutor of the Philadelphia and Baltimore police, and a stool-pigeon of Matsell, who commanded Bowyer, who commanded Baker, who commanded Bennett, who commanded the Herald, the Government was at once unsparingly abused in that scrupulous organ for attempting to convict Tom Hand, instead of Jim Webb, and every person concerned in the restoration of the Jewels and the bringing of the thieves to justice, impugned with attempting to compound a felony -- No lie was too gross to be stated to work up a prejudice against the prosecution; no innuendo too mean to conceal purposes which were meaner still. Indeed, so deeply did these people get into the unworthy business that without seeming to know what they were about, they actually suggested the composition of a felony themselves, and proposed that Tom Hand should be let up, and made a State's evidence against Jim Webb.
Independent of natural justice and the decencies of the case, however, there were many reasons why this vicious advice was undeserving of regard. Tom Hand was the only principal against whom there was any jot of evidence, and besides, if the cases of himself and Webb had been exactly balanced in the way of testimony, all discriminations of favor were due the latter. Tom Hand had robbed the Government Jewels once before; he had not the excuse in this second case of entering into the crime for the release of a brother as had Webb, and moreover, he had defaced the heirlooms of the nation, and had insulted the head of a Great Government with felonious propositions. Added to this amount of odds against his claims to clemency, there was a circumstance that weighed very strong with us, so far as our private mind was concerned, and that circumstance was his repeated endeavors to induce a certain criminal to come to this city for our assassination, and the consequent chance of his attempting the work himself if he should get free. The motive which operated on the Government, however, was that he was the only person against whom the testimony was practicable in that district. He was, therefore, put upon his trial, and in the whole business we see no error that the Government committed, except the oversight which we alluded to once before, of not keeping Webb and the Joneses locked up during the pendency of the proceedings, for the better aspect of the case. We, however, corrected that error in Washington on Wednesday week, after having previously laid the Joneses by the heels by proper prosecutions in this city. Thus having started five months ago on the basis of a mere opinion, we have produced the restoration of the Government Jewels, and secured the conviction of three out of four of the thieves, for neither of the Joneses can escape. Is not this something? Will the veteran genius of the corner of Fulton and Nassau, tell us of a case on record where the results have been more complete.
But what is to become of Jim Webb? Is he not to be tried? will, perhaps, be the inquiries of those who hang for the last advantage. Our answer is, no gentlemen, he is not to be tried, because there is no legal evidence against him. The Government has never had any testimony to put him in the dock, and has not any now, notwithstanding the flourish about the evidence collected by that efficient individual Mr. Sidney H. Stewart, first clerk of the police at the Tombs, in Centre street of the city of New York.
When Webb was in this city on his first arrest, there was no shadow of evidence against him, and no one but a stupid person like Bowyer would have attempted to arrest him. As it was, Judge Betts could find no charge to hold him on, and refused to send him on to Washington on the case. He was free to leave the prison. It was at that time, that we convinced him it was for his interest to go to Washington in apparent custody; and, of his own free will, he went. He could not have been sent there, or one step upon his road, against it. As for ourself, we did not seek his confidence; we asked him for no secrets, we did not wish our ear burdened with a syllable that might have transformed us into a witness; in other words, an eavesdropper. We told him to go to Washington and trust to the generosity of the Government. If he could be of service to them in the restoration of the national property, doubtless such discriminations of favor as could with propriety be made, would be made for him. He went to Washington, not to testify against his comrades, but to share his prison and persuade him to a proper course. But his comrade defied all the powers of the Government, and with the most blasphemous terms, swore that they should not have the Jewels back, until they came flatly to his original proposition, and took the desertion list from that d---d paper that had got him into all this scrape. It was then that the prosecution, which would have taken a year from the sentence of the wretch, in case of his compliance, refused all further effort with his reason, and commenced the proceedings, which he had so provoked. As for Webb, he merely stood aside while the progress of the case went on, and we believe no one will deny that had he felt disposed to convict the accomplice of his crime, he could have done so at any portion of the trial, without danger of disagreement in the first case, or a hung jury in the second.
But he felt easy. There was nothing against him except what he had confided to the pledges of honorable ears, and no rule of law or decency, in this country, or in any on the earth, could turn his own lips against him in such a case. Of this character is the boasted proof, which the double refined, super-efficient, first clerk of the police at the Tombs, Mr. Sidney H. Stewart, has made such a parade of furnishing the Government, and which, when examined in its proper aspect, proves to be only what from courtesy to his position, the Government had allowed him to overhear of their own business. There, therefore, is not, nor ever was, any legal testimony against Webb. He wrote no letters to the President as did Hand; no man saw him in Washington at the time for the robbery; and the witness who observed him and Shuster get out of the Washington train in Baltimore on the morning after the depredation, was, unfortunately, bought up by Jim Young.
Why then did you re-arrest and re-commit Webb during the pendency of Shuster's second trial? may be reiterated to us. Our answer to that question is, that we found ourself engaged in a game of chess with daring and unscrupulous players. The case had been discolored by Baker and Bennett, of the Herald; a factitious and unjust prejudice had been gotten up against the authorities at Washington; and the poor imbecile and stupid jurors which had been picked up for the case, had become entirely befogged with the Herald's imposture, via Baker and Matsell, that Shuster was the mere cat's paw of Webb and others in the business, and that while the real rogues were to run at large, he alone, poor fellow, was to suffer for the offense of all. This seemed a very cruel proceeding to the few stupid heads that were deceived by it, and the first jury paused and disagreed. Encouraged by the result, the outcry of "Where's Jim Webb?" was continually kept up to the hour of empanelling the second, and we, without a spy glass, saw that the same game was to be played over again with the second jury, so we went to Washington to checkmate the unworthy move. We found some very strange manoeuvres going on, but we let them ripen to a certain point, and when the counsel for the defense had all his speech prepared, with every paragraph roundly strikingly off with the sonorous interrogation of "Where's Jim Webb" we took Jim Webb by the collar and thrust him into prison. The defense was taken aback. There was no time to reconstruct a new speech. The smart catchword that was to do such wonders had wrecked on an unlooked for shoal, and the blow shook all the timbers of the case. -- Those of the jury who had been put on the panel to stick by the prisoner whether or no and till the crack of doom, became fearful, in the last hour, that their position was without the pretense which had sustained the malcontents of the first jury. they were shaken from their resolutions, they consented to a verdict of guilty against Tom Hand, and those who had been playing against us so desperately, were desperately beaten. It was a hard fight from first to last, and to ourself, it has been attended only with personal danger, accumulated prosecutions, heavy expense in time and money, and the contemptible insinuations of a mean and paltry minded man against our conduct of the case. We have the gratification, however,of having won our point, despite the opposition, and it is a further gratification that we are enabled to show that the authorities and every private person legitimately engaged in producing the desired result have done the best for justice that the nature of the case permitted. That result is, in fine, the recovery of all the jewels stolen from the Government, the conviction of the first robber put on trial, and the certain conviction of two more of the parties concerned. Those who wish to grumble at this conclusion had better do it in the shape of argument, than in misty diatribes which show nothing but ignorance and malice.
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