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On inquiring at the Department of Commerce I was informed that it had charge of all vessels engaged in internal traffic as well as in foreign trade, and operated lines of steamers running to all ports of the globe, carrying freight at a rate between home and foreign ports that defied competition, but they did not carry freight between foreign countries. The men for the Mercantile Marine were furnished by the Army and had the same pay. They were required to load and unload cargo in every port where they took on or discharged freight, and shippers did not have to pay wharfage charges or pilot fees, for everyone took his ship into port and out without a pilot. The department also had charge of all Government warehouses, wharves and docks and appointed all consuls to foreign countries and received their reports, which were published in the National Gazette.

The business of the Department was run on the principle of the greatest good to the whole people, so that whenever the profits any year exceeded the expenses and the sinking fund, freight rates were reduced.