Mosby Uncovers Radical Nepotism and Pocket-Lining
Mosby was not liked in the postwar South due to his warm relationship with Grant and the Radicals, but he was an honest man. He quickly found himself nearly alone among outright thieves; and witnessed a US Government without the conservative restraint formerly imposed by the now-conquered conservative South. Grant helped him obtain a US consul post to China.
A former Northern soldier and mercenary who attacked him in print for uncovering nefarious Radical dealings drew this from Mosby: “I am informed he is a Swiss, and I have no doubt that with the characteristic aptitude of his race, he went to the highest bidder and fought, if he did any fighting,…for provender and pay.”
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Mosby Uncovers Radical Nepotism and Pocket-Lining:
“On settling down to examine the previous consul’s books after taking office, Mosby had noted some peculiarities. Pulling out pencil and paper, his suspicions deepened. His predecessor, David H. Bailey, evidently with the connivance of vice-consul Loring, had over the past eight years been bilking the [United States] government of thousands of dollars.
Given the shabby reputation of US government agents in China, Mosby became all but convinced that Bailey and Loring too were part of the “ring,” a known network of embezzlement and shady speculation apparently headed by US Minister to China George F. Seward, nephew of Lincoln’s distinguished Secretary of State. What made matters sticky, however, was that Mosby’s own boss was a Seward: Assistant Secretary of State Frederick W. Seward, son to the renowned Secretary and cousin to George. In addition, F.W. Seward was the cherished protégé of the reigning Secretary, William M. Evarts.
Bailey had, said Mosby, been made at least $30,000 richer over the past eight years [by] deceit; in other words, he about doubled his salary. [It was also noted that George] Seward and his vice consul, Oliver B. Bradford, seemed to live far beyond their means. [It was] soon found out why: they were at the head of a “land ring,” a scheme of speculation in land and capital-intensive projects within China. Moreover, they were also immersed in various shady practices involving the funds of the United States, as the consular books clearly demonstrated.
[Mosby noted an example that] In order to ship opium to the United States from Macao – a perfectly legal practice…one needed a consular certificate. Since no US consul resided in Macao, it was customary to ship opium through the port of Victoria for certification by the American consul there. There was, of course, a fee expected for this service, Bailey having settled on the modest sum of $10,000 per year. Mosby had already….been offered this fee by the Macao shipper, who assumed that the same system obtained. The shipper was dumbstruck when the new consul [Mosby] informed him he could have a certificate for $2.50.”
(Rebel: The Life and Times of John Singleton Mosby, Kevin H. Seipel, St. Martin’s Press, 1983, excerpts, pp. 207-223)