Report of the Select Committee

Daily Nashville Patriot – 20 June 1858 – Advertisement from W. Spence quoting various depositions of people involved, in his own defense with many references to T. F. Mosby.


In our late investigation of the office of Comptroller and Secretary of State as a Joint Select Committee appointed by the Legislature, we had no motive to do injustice to the incumbents or to any others but felt bound by the highest considerations of duty to ascertain as nearly as possible the true state of facts, and faithfully to report it to the public, regardless of consequences to ourselves.  We soon saw that the labor would be difficult and disagreeable. We foresaw that there would be persons deeply interested in diverting public attention from the  disclosures to be made. It was not, therefore, with much surprise that we saw the recent publications over the signatures, respectively of Messers. Crozier, Luttrell, Spence and the earlier one of Dr. F. N. W. Burton; commencing even before our report was published.  But we were hardly prepared to anticipate the bitterness of attack which characterized the two cards of Mr. Crpzier. He takes issue with our conclusion the the books of the Comptroller’s office were “not properly kept” and says the Committee were “totally unacquainted with the business and unfit for the investigation of the duties assigned to them, and therefore wholly incapable of judging how books should be kept.” He says we are totally wrong as to the overplus of $48,383.08 interest paid on State bonds above the amount due by the State, and taunts us with the proposition to leave the questions at issue to be decided by certain named gentlemen. We submit if it would not have been better for Mr Crozier to wait till the Committee’s report, with the testimony taken, is laid before the public before attempting in such hot haste to divert public opinion?  The report is now in the hands of the printer, and will soon be published, under the authority of the Governor. In the meantime we will content ourselves by saying in reply to Mr. Crozier’s cards, that we have ample proof that his books were not properly kept – that his reports to the Legislature for the six years he was in office, invariably contained material errors – that he did not correctly report the amount of State bonds outstanding – that he did not correctly represent the amount of interest due on the bonds – the he failed to comply with the plain requisitions of the law to keep in the books of his office an accurate registration of all the notes issued for circulation to the free banks – that he omitted to keep a record of the dates and amounts of bonds deposited by the free banks – that he failed to report the proper date of the maturity of bods in many instances, and they in other particulars his negligence to ado what was clearly is duty to do was such as to give the Committee the greatest difficulty in arriving at the true state of facts.  We were not disposed to make exposures a shade more pointed than was sufficient to acquit ourselves of a faithful discharge of duty. But truth to day it was difficult to ascertain from the Comptroller’s books whether warrants which had been issued were paid or not. In his three several reports to the Legislature Mr. Crozier seems to have thought that State bonds which had been issued to the Lagrange and Memphis Railroad, amounting to 10,250 dollars had been cancelled, when in fact the bonds are still outstanding and … will, however, show the amount of interest due on our State debt from January 1, 1850. To July 1, 1858, and the amount actually paid, and this will show any amounts improperly paid.

The Committee have had but two sources from which to derive the amount of Interest paid o our State debt – one of which is the books of the Comptroller and the other is the coupons paid off and cancelled by the Comptroller; but the interest thus paid off is a part of the interest that appears on the books in his office. The interest on a portion of our bonds is payable in New York and Philadelphia and the remainder is payable at the Treasury, on the warrant of the Comptroller. Whether the coupons are paid here or elsewhere, the warrants merely show the so much interest has been paid on a certain character of bonds. The interest payable in New York and Philadelphia is paid by the Bank of Tennessee, as agent of the Treasurer, by act passed February 9, 1850. By the same act, the Bank of Tennessee is required to declare dividends on the 1st of January and July of each year, but this law seems never to have been observed. For instance, no dividends at all were declared for the year 1856, and we find that the Bank has, in one case held up her interest account for eighteen months, without presenting  it to the Comptroller for settlement. This has presented some difficulty in ascertaining the particular interest for any one year. For ins dance, though the Bank declared a dividend in February and September 1857, yet they did not present their account of interest paid in New York and Philadelphia from January, 1857 to June 8, 1958, inclusive, until about the 15th of June 1858, though the checks of the Treasurer have always been paid. Whether the dividends were declared or not, or whether there was money or not in the Bank to the credit of the Treasury. 

These tables show all the transactions of the Bank of Tennessee, in paying off the interest of bonds loaned to the Railroad Companies. The Committee find that the accounts of the Bank of Tennessee with theRailroad Companies and the State have been kept with great care and accuracy, and are correct in every particular, and she has made a most satisfactory exhibit of these transactions with the Railroads and also with the State Treasury and the Comptroller.

If the account of Interest were presented every six months, the amount of interest for any particular year could be much more easily obtained, than when the account is withheld for a long period. The Committee have had no difficulty at all in ascertaining the amount of interest paid on coupon bonds in New York and Philadelphia by the Bank of Tennessee, as regular books have been kept with the numbers of the bonds placed on the books, and when a coupon was presented and paid it was invariably cancelled and pasted on the book opposite the number, the coupon always bearing the same number as the bond. The committee, however have not been able to arrive at the coupon interest paid for the last six years, from the fact that there have been no regular gooks kept by him in which the coupons were pasted in any order or regularity. The coupons have been pasted on without reference to the number they bear, or the character of them, or the date they fall due; and the books do not show any particular year or month when the coupons were paid off, ad of course very little can be discovered from them. The Committee would recommend that the Comptroller shall procure books and cancel and past on the coupons similar to the now held by the Bank of Tennessee, and then there will be no difficulty in arriving at the amount of interest paid by him on coupons.

Under the 4th section of an act passed March 22d, 1858, directing the Committee “to inquire into the condition of the accounts of the Secretary of State as superintendent of Internal Improvements,” the Committee submit the following account of F. N. W. Burton, Secretary of State with the State of Tennessee, exhibiting the amount of moneys received by him as said Superintendent, and the amount paid over to the Treasurer of the State, and showing the amount of his defalcation:

Following is a large table listing bonds of various roads their dates and amounts.

An Act passed January 26th, 1846, makes it the duty of the Governor to require of the Secretary of State, before he enters upon the discharge of his duties as Commissioner of Internal Improvement, to execute a bod with good and sufficient security, I there sum of $20,000, conditioned, to account for and pay over all moneys, as provided for in said act. The Committee would start, the they have carefully examined the registry of bonds in the office of Secretary, of state, and the papers and books of the Circuit Court of Davidson co. where the Secretary’s bond is required by law to be deposited, and have not been able to find the bond of Br. Burton, as Commissioner of roads, and are satisfied that the Governor failed to take the same.

In regard to Tho. F. Mosby, the Committee would state that Mr. Mosby confessed to them as before incidentally stated, that he had taken and appropriated to his own use five bonds belonging to the Bank of Tazewell of $1,000 each, four of which were Nashville and  Chattanooga bonds and one City of Memphis bond – also from the Bank of Trenton two City of Memphis bonds. The Committee would further state, that Mr. Mosby sold two coupons to T. McClain Esq. of Nashville, and he appears to have received, January 22d, 1853. From theMerchants’ Bank of New York payment for fifteen coupons. Genl. B. F. Cheatham, in his deposition, states, that “sometime during the winter of 1857-8, while in conversation with Tho. F. Mosby, on Cherry Street, near his room, Mosby took from his vest pocket a small package that I took to be coupons, and remarked, “there was twenty five hundred dollars.” He further states, that “I once afterwards saw him with a small quantity in bulk – he did to state the amount, but from my knowledge of coupons, I at once supposed they were coupons in his hands officially for collection.

The committee would state, that for several years, while Mr. Mosby was Clerk in the Comptroller’s office, the coupons paid upon the warrant of the Comptroller were very carelessly kept in a fig box in that office, without being cancelled, and that it would have been an easy matter for these coupons to be abstracted from the office, and again presented for payment, and the Comptroller be unaware of the fraud.  Holders of coupons often delay their presentation for payment for one or two years, consequently the interest varies so much yearly, that the Committee are unable to determine at what time, and to what extent, coupons have been taken; but they are satisfied, that coupons have been purloined by some one, presented again to the Comptroller, and again paid by him, from the fact, that the annual interest due and paid in  1853, and the aggregate due and paid in the years 1851, 1852, 1853, and 1854, nearly balances, they are induced to believe, that the calculations of interest incorporated inn their report extend from January to January, and inn this particular differ from the Comptroller’s report, which terminates in October. 

J D Goodpasture, A F Goff, Taz W Newman, Michael Vaught, Jas J. Turner. Nashville Aug 11, 1858


Nashville Union – 23 Sept. 1858 – from Arthur R. Crozier

In reference to my interview with Mr. Mosby the committee say, I advised him “It would be best for him to leave.”  I was before the committee as a witness and made the following affidavit.

“After I learned that Mr. Mosby had acknowledged that he had taken bonds belonging to the banks, I received a note from him, saying he wished me to call at his office.  I did so and when I called at his room he remarked to me that he wished me to advise him what course he had better take.  I asked what banks.  He replied that he had taken – seven part from the Bank of Trenton and the others I think from the Bank of Claiborne. I asked him how much he could pay – he replied that he could settle for four bonds.  I then advised him to hand to the committee the bonds, and before he went before the committee to write a full statement of everything he had done wrong, or knew of other wrongs since he had been connected with the office – to have that statement read before the committee, and then say to them that he was ready to answer any questions the might see proper to ask – told him that if he would do this he could go to some country and reinstate himself, if he honestly applied what he could make to the payments of the balance – that I thought all this matter would come to light, and if he stated the whole truth and the community were satisfied he had done so, he would find on his return to this place that the citizens would be glad to see him. I have no recollection of telling him positively that he ought to leave but from the tenor of my remarks to him, the inference was very clear that in my opinion he had no chance to regain his character here, and it would be best for him to leave, when he could have an opportunity of making the money to pay the balance.”

If the committee had in their card published the foregoing affidavit, I could not have objected to any arrangement they might make to show the my advice was improper. But I submit to the public if they were justified in making the statement as it appears in their late card. Before I gave Mr. Mosby my opinion, I had consulted with his uncle, Mr. Gaines, teller in the Bank of Tennessee, and others…

** The Wikipedia article on Knoxville says that in 1857 A. R. Crozier was forced out as a director of the failed bank of East Tennessee and fled Knoxville. **


17 May 1859 – The Republican Banner and Nashville Whig

  When I was elected to the office of Comptroller it was my misfortune, not my fault, to continue Mr. Mosby as Clerk.  I had no personal acquaintance with him until I went to Nashville to enter upon the duties of the office. He had been in the offices about two years, was highly recommended to me by all the State Officers at the Capitol, by many good citizens of Nashville, had been endorsed and warmly supported by a large number of the members as Clerk of the House of Representatives, and so far as I could learn, the confidence of all who knew him – I did just as any other man would have done under the same circumstances, retained him on account of his general knowledge of the business in the office. I was compelled from the heavy duties to perform in the Office to trust a good deal of business to him, which he in some instances neglected to attend to properly. When the failure of the Exchange Bank was first made known to the public, Mr. Morton, Cashier of the Bank of Tennessee, seemed very much concerned for his conduct, and on order to relieve himself made statements before the Committee that were disproved by Gov. Campbell, Mr. Minor, C. W. Jackson, Esq., Col. Motly and  others. – By what sort of legerdemain he afterwards became the pet of the Committee may yet be discovered when an impartial tribunal shall have the whole matter under investigation…

… There is also a mystery in the fact when they had proof from the Casher of the Merchant’s Bank on New York that the Bank had paid Mr. Mosby for fifteen coupons that we hear nothing more on this subject. These facts indicate strongly that the committee were under some strange influence or for what time or something else. I know not what, chose to let these transactions slip. These matters will all, I presume, be brought up before the impartial court of the country, and, I assure the public, that no one desires to see them fully and impartially investigated more sincerely than myself.