James W. Hamilton sworn and examined.
By the Chairman
Question. Where do you reside, Mr. Hamilton?--Answer. I reside at Wellington, Kans.
Q. Please give us your full name.--A. James W. Hamilton.
Q. How long have you resided in Wellington, Kans?--A. I have resided in that county since 1870.
Q. What has been your business?--A. I have dealt in cattle and farming.
Q. Have you any interest in any of these leases?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. In what leases have you had an interest?--A. well, sir, I have had an interest in the Cherokee Strip lease.
Q. You are one of the lessees?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. Under what name is your lease taken?--A. Well, sir, I am one of the directors of the original association.
Q. You are one of the directors of the origianl association?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. Were you at the time it was formed?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. And have you been ever since , continously?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you have anything to do with obtaining the lease?--A. No, sir; I did not.
Q. When did you first know anything about the lease of this land?--A. I first heard it from the report of the committee which was sent down to negotiate the lease.
Q. What were the names of the members of the committee?--A. Messrs. Eldred and Drumm.
Q. How long before the lease was obtained was the association formed?--A. My recollection is that the association was formed about a year before that time.
Q. Was it formed for the purpose of obtaining the lease of the Cherokee Strip?--A. That was one of the purposes of its organization.
Q. Had any of you had any negotitations with the Indians that led you to belieeve that you could obtain the lease?--A. Well, sir, only general conversations with the tax agents who had been collecting the taxes for the Cherokee Nation.
Q. Did this association embrace all who ocuppied the land under the per capita tax.--A. Yes, sir; it embraced all who paid the tax, and there were also some who refused to pay the tax and afterwards became members of the association; but I could not call any particular one to mind.
Q. Is the shares of the different parties in this association represented by shares of stock, or how?--A. Well, sir, my best answer would be to refer yopu to our constitution.
Q. Have you a copy of your constitution here?--A. I did have it yesterday.
Q. What is your interest represented by?--A. Well, sir, it is a firm having the title of Woods & Hamilton.
Q. What portion of the land have you?--A. Well, sir, we have a certain portion of this lease set apart for us.
Q. Of whom does your firm consist?--A. Woods and Hamilton.
By Mr. Harrison:
Q. Is there any one else?--A. No, sir.
Q. Where does the other partner reside.--A. Both of us live at Wellington, Kans.
Q. Have you any knowledge of the expense of the committee that went to negotiate the lease.--A. I have very little knowledge of it, sir.
Q. What is that little knowledge?--A. I heard the report of expenses.
Q. Do you knowi ts agregate?--A. I do not know , sir.
Q. Was it a report of the directors?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. You say you were present when the report was made?--A. Yes, sir; it was in items. It was not engrossed then.
Q. Was there any discussion over the items?--A. No, sir.
Q. Did you hear of anything being paid to anyone?--A. No, sir; I did not hear a word except the newspaper reports.
You had no knowledge beyond the newspaper reports?--A. no, sir.
Q. What were the news paper reports?--A. That money was used to bribe members of the council; but it was generally charged that money was used to obtain the lease.
By Mr. Gorman:
Q. Have you any knowledge of anything whatever having been given or paid to any individual, beyond the expenses of the committee?--A. I had not, sir; I have none.
Q. What knowledge have you, if you have no personal knowledge?--A. Only, as I have said, what I heard and what I read in the news papers.
Q. Have you any knowledge beyond these newspaper statements?--A. No, sir; I have none.
Q. Has it been a matter of discussion at all in your board of directrs?--A. I think not. Probably when we met as individuals we might have talked about these reports, but the subject was never brought before the board of directors.
Q. You say you might have discussed the matter among yourselves as you met?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you heard from any member of the association anything about money or valuable thing being used to influence anybody?--A. I do not think so; I do not think any investigation has been made.
Q. No inquiry has been made by the board?--A. No, sir.
By Mr. Harrison:
Q. Has any inquiry been made of the parties who went to negotiate the lease?--A. Not to my knowledge; that is, as far as I a, personally concerned, I know nothing about any such inquiry; I do not know that any inquiry has been made of them.
Q. Has there been a studied silence in that respect?--A. I do not know of anything of the kind.
Q.Can you tell us why your board of directors did not interest themselves enough to inquire of this committee whether they had done this evil or not?--A. I can only give you my own view, sir. There is no foundation whatever for the rumor.
Q. Could you have told that as well before the inquiry as after making the inquiry?--A. It did not interest me enough to make the inquiry.
Q. Did you not think it a matter worth any inquiry, whether your committee had acted honorably in this matter or not--of course I do not mean to intimate that I have an opinion that they did not act honorably?--A. I suppose you ask my opinion?
Mr. Harrison Yes, sir.
A. That is all I can give.
Q. Did it impress any member of the board sufficiently to make an inquiry?--A. Well, sir, I am free to say that it did not impress me to that extent; I have knwn these two gentlemen for a long time.
Q. What newspapers did you see this in?--A. The Kansas City Times.
Q. What other papers?--A. I do not know of any other paper now.
Q. It did not impress any member sufficiently to raise a question?--A. I cannot say that it did. It might have created a noise at the time.
Q. Can you tell us the amount of the expenses of negotiating that lease?--A. No, sir; I cannot.
Q. Can you approximate-you say you were present when the report was made?--A. Yes, sir.
What were these expenses?--A. Well , sir they were for legal expenses or things of that kind.
Q. I did not ask the items, but the agregate. Was it $10,000, $20,000 or $50,000?--A. My recollection is that it was from $5,000 to $8,000. I am not sure, gentlemen, but Mr. Eldred is here and will answer the question. It was somewhere from $5,000 to $8,000.
Q. That was the expense of negotiating the lease?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. You think the items were given?--A. Yes, sir; and they embraced the travel expenses of the gentlemen who went down there and other matters.
Q. Anything else?--A. I could not give all the items.
Q. Was there nything else?--A. I think not.
Q. There was nothing put in the way of entertainments given, feasts, or anything of that kind?--A. I think not, sir.
Q. Do you know how lng the were there?--A. About four months.
Q. Did they have an attorney with them?--A. E. E. Wilson and John L. Lyon, I understand, were their attorneys.
By the Chairman:
Q. Where were these gentlemen from?--A. Lyon was from Ft. Gibson and Wilson from Kansas City/
By Mr. Ingalls:
Q. Did you say Kansas City?--A. Yes, sir.
By Mr. Harrison:
Q. How many cattle were on your 82,000 or 83,000 acres?--A. Well, sir, we have given 17 acres to the animal.
Q. Is that as many cattle as you keep on it?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. You pasture the cattle at the rate of 17 acres per animal. Now do you know the agregate number of acres in this lease?--A No, sir; I do not.
Q. It is about 6,000,000 acres?--A. By the terms of the lease we were pledged to leave 108,000 acres for the roads; but we had to leave out land on the Salt Fork-I mean Red Fork.
Q. Did you have 6,000,000 acres besides these trails or roads?--A. No, sir; we have 6,000,000 acres including the trails.
Q. You pay into thhis association 2½ cents as sublessees, do you not? That makes a pretty large fund, does it not?--A. I do not know what the balance is.
Q. Now, if you have 6,000,000 acres, and lease it at 2½ cents per acre, it gives you a very large surplus, does it not?--A. Well, I do not suppose we collect it off all the land.
Q. Well, you have half cent on 5,000,0A.00 acres?-- Yes, sir.
Q. That is $25,000, is it not?--A. I am not prepared to say what the balance is.
Q. At 2½ cents an acre it is $100,000, and a half cent would be one-quarter of that. It is $25,000. What have you been doing with that $25,000, or approximating that amount?
Mr. Ingalls. Suppose they have $20,000 or $50,000 on operations. What have we to do with that? We are directed to inquire into the validity of this lease, the methods of obtaining it, and the legality of the lease. I submit that an inquiry into the private affairs of these gentlemen is hardly within our purview.
Mr. Harrison. There have been charges of corruption, and if we must stop where the senator from Kansas suggests and shut off all inquiry, I don't see how we are to get at the facts in the case.
Mr. Ingalls. These gentlemen went into the operation for profit and not merely pleasure, and they expected to get something over and above what they paid out. Of course if it is assumed that they are using the profits for purposes of corrupting somebody, that is another aspect of the case; and if it is simply an inquiry as to what they did with this money, I submit that it is not within our inquiry.
Mr. Harrison. The profits were realized on their individual leases. The asociation was simply the trustee that took the profit and then divided it out. The individuals make their profits on the separate leases. We have not asked Mr. Hamilton what he made on his sublease, but here was an association with certain funds and expenditures. Now if there was anything-I am not assuming there was, but there were imputations of corruption-but if there was anything wrong it must have been through that association and not through the individuals. Therefore we want to know why they are getting so much more from the subleases than they pay the Cherokee Nation.
Mr. Ingalls. The imputations of corruption were in connection with the original negotiation. This association was formed for profit, and I submit that if in pursuit of their business they have managed to make money that is what they united themselves for. But it is not within the inquiry of this committee unless an allegation of corruption was made, and I think it is hardly a legtimate inquiry.
The Chairman. we are not inwuiring into their honest profits. The question is whether they used the money for corrupt purposes, and of course, we must put our questions in all manner of forms.One purpose is to ascertain if any corrupt use has been made of their money. I suppose also that it is proper for us to get as much information as we can about the actuial value of the rentals, with a view to determine whether its management is, on the whole, a wise one, but I do not think that any member wof the committee would want to criticize the use of the profits of the concer outside this limit.
Mr. Ingalls. Confining the inquiry to asking whether they had used this money for corrupt purposes, I will have no objection, but I submit that the question Mr. Harrison asked was a little broad. There is no allegation that the have not a right to make $25,000 on their lease if they can. It is perfectl;y legitimate and nobodies concern what they do with their profits, any more that what the members of this committee do with their salaries.
Mr. Harrison.If we are to stop where the Senator from Kansas suggests, as I said before, the scope of the inquiry would be, then, confined to asking the witness whether he used the money for any corrupt purpose, then to stop with his answer. I cheerfully submit that I have no knowledge with respect to what charges were made; but I submit that if money was made legitimately and used legitimatly, this gentleman would be interested in clearing up the matter, and not have it smothered in committee. Mr. Hamilton, of course, has his cattle and makes his profit; but here is a trust fund in which these men are getting $25,000 or, maybe $50,000 a year. The association negotiated the lease with the Cherokees. Now, if we are to stop there and not pursue it further, in my judgement we had better stop the investigation.
The Chairman. How are we ging to ascertain, without asking these men, whether they had made improper use of this money?
Mr. Ingalls. If the committee think it is advisable to go into cursory inquiry, very well.
Mr. Gorman. It seems to me the committee should determine not only this question, but the general scope of the inquiry.
Mr. Ingalls.Let the room be cleared.
The room was cleared. When the doors reopened Mr. E.C. Boudinot was called to the stand.