January 29, Friday. But little done at the Cabinet. Seward says the London Times says the Navy Department is now the most abused of any Department, but it knows not why, for no Department could have been better managed.
John P. Hale called to tell me the Department was charged with mismanagement in the purchase of the Cherokee. I asked what the charges were. He said it was stated that at the first examination she was reported not a suitable vessel for naval purposes and we therefore did not purchase her; that she was sold, and then again examined but with the same result, but that [R.] B. Forbes again persuaded us to have her reexamined by persons from New York, and she was put off on the Navy at a large advance. But Forbes was dissatisfied and said the Navy Department expected to pay a great price to remunerate him for services which he had rendered in a friendly way.
I told him that there was some truth in the fact that the vessel was first reported against and subsequently we had a different report, but the whole story of paying off Mr. Forbes was novel, — a pure fiction. He said he knew nothing of the facts, only what he heard and read; that the subject had got in the newspapers and was being discussed. It was causing a good deal of excitement, he said, in Boston. He professed to have mentioned the subject to me in a friendly way. I thanked him and told him I would look into the case.