Salem Register

Monday morning, June 11, 1849

Here shall the Pages the PEOPLE’S RIGHTS maintain,
Unawed by INFLUENCE and unbribed by GAIN.
Here Patriot TRUTH her glorious precepts draw,
Pledged to RELIGION, LIBERTY, and LAW.

THE SALEM CUSTOM HOUSE

The lightning has struck at last, and in so unexpected a quarter as to create great consternation among the ins, who felt themselves so safe. The electric telegraph announced on Friday, that Capt. ALLEN PUTNAM had been appointed Surveyor of the port of Salem, in place of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Esq., the present incumbent. Capt. Putnam is a highly respectable shipmaster, every way qualified for the office, and will discharge its duties with great honor to himself, and advantage to the public interests. He will undoubtedly prove a very efficient and popular officer.

We are not informed when the new commission is to take effect, and are ignorant of the circumstances connected with this change. The Salem Custom House needs a reform badly enough, every body knows, who is acquainted with its history and conduct. For twenty years, at least, it has been a complete house of refuge for locofoco politicians, of the most offensive cast.—The active electioneerers of the party have gone there to roost, with as much impudent assurance as though they had a life-lease of the premises, and supposed they could bleed Uncle Sam till they were surfeited. Here were the headquarters of the political managers, who contrived to keep the party "conveniently small," and well enough in check to enable them to apportion the offices to suit themselves; and here they concocted their party schemes with a single eye to their own interests. They seemed to consider themselves fixtures in the Custom House, incapable of removal without a total demolition of the building, and dead ruin to Uncle Sam. We rather think they are beginning to rub their eyes, with an incipient suspicion that they have made a sad mistake. They are really in a fair way to be suitably impressed with the conviction that some things can be done as well as others.

Mr. Hawthorne is not, that we are aware of, particularly obnoxious on the score of any of the above charges. Certainly he is not to be classed with the crew who have ruled in the Custom House so long and with whom he has been forced to hold companionship, so uncongenial, probably, with his refined tastes and brilliant literary turn of mind. He may congratulate himself, when he is freed from these disturbing influences, that he can turn his undivided attention to the cultivation of his fine talents, by which he can confer a higher and more lasting benefit on the public, than by his services as Surveyor. Personally we have none but the kindest feelings towards Mr. Hawthorne, and the warmest wishes for his prosperity, and we should be sorry to rank him with his temporary associates, the clique of plotters who have made themselves so offensive as public officers. But he is too old a soldier—and too much impregnated with the doctrines of the Democratic Review, which he has contributed so powerfully, by the exercise of his talents, to sustain—to whine at the fortunes of war. Undoubtedly he holds religiously to the doctrine of the great idol of his party, Gen. Jackson, who, in his first Annual Message, said:--

"In a country where offices are created solely for the benefit of the people, no one man has any more intrinsic right to official station than another. Offices were not established to give support to particular men, at the public expense. No individual wrong is therefore done by removal, since neither appointment to nor continuance in office is matter of right. The incumbent became an officer with a view to public benefits; and when these require his removal, they are not to be sacrificed to private interests. It is the people, and they alone who have a right to complain, when a bad officer is substituted for a good one. He who is removed has the same means of obtaining a living, that are enjoyed by the millions who never held office. The proposed limitation would destroy the idea of property, now so generally connected with official station; and although individual distress may be sometimes produced, it would, by promoting that rotation which constitutes a leading principle in the republican creed, give healthful action to the system."

There is a moral to be deduced from this change which comes home to the bosoms, and, what will touch them most, the pockets, of sundry individuals who have been long browsing on the public clover, but were seized with a very sudden palpitation of the heart, on Friday last. It is simply this: "If the Surveyor isn’t safe, WHEN AM I TO GO?" Wait patiently, gentlemen, and the answer will come.