January 7. The case of R. [L.] Law tried by court martial, which has been in my hands for a month nearly, was disposed of to-day. The court found him guilty on both charges and sentenced him to be dismissed from the Navy, but recommended him to clemency. Proposed to the President three years’ suspension, the first six months without pay. This to be the general order, but if, at the expiration of six or eight months, it was thought best to remit the remainder of the punishment, it could be done.
“Look over the subject carefully,” said the President, “and make the case as light as possible on his father’s account, who is an old friend of mine, and I shall be glad to remit all that you can recommend.”
Commodore Wilkes is behaving badly in many respects. I can do no less than order a court of inquiry in regard to the publication of his letter in violation of orders. He, after having been guilty of the act, evades, or tries to evade, the responsibility, and would see innocent persons rest under the imputation of having committed his offense. In regard to his age, his course is also equivocal and insulting to the Department. By suppressing it he was for a time in commission as Commodore. But notwithstanding suppression and equivocation his age is pretty well authenticated from the files of the Department. A second circular was sent him, suggesting that he might not have received the first. He returned no definite answer but presumed the Department had his correct age from his father, and said he had not received the first circular. The third time he was written to, and he then answered, saying he was born in April, and that he is sixty-two. The records of the Department show that he is not only sixty-two but sixty-five.