From the 30 March 1898 issue of The New York Times.


Private Bill Day in the House—Claim of Heirs of Robert E. Lee’s Widow Rejected.

WASHINGTON, March 29.—The House to-day quietly proceeded with the order of the day—the consideration of private bills. Although several Cuban resolutions were introduced no opportunity was afforded under the rules of debating the Cuban topic.

Mr. Ray (Rep., N.Y.), moved to decrease the amount carried by a bill to pension the widow of Gen. John D. Stevenson from &36;50 to &36;30 per month. The former was the amount agreed upon by the Committee of the Whole at the session last Friday night.

Mr. Pearce (Rep., Mo.), in opposing the amendment urged consistency on the part of the House. In twenty-two years, he said, only one bill to pension the widow of a General had carried less than &50.

Mr. Ray’s amendment was adopted, and the bill was passed.

The bill to pay certain claims for stores and supplies reported by the Court of Claims under the provisions of the Bowman act, which was under consideration last week, was then taken up. The bill carries about $1,200,000. There were about 850 separate claims in the billl. The one which excited the most interest to-day and upon which a warm contest was made was a claim of the heirs of the widow of Gen. Robert E. Lee, for $217,236. Mr. Evans (Rep., Ky.), moved to strike out the item. The claim, he said, was for 108,000 cords of timber taken from an estate in Fairfax County, Va., in which Mrs. Fitzhugh, the widow of W. H. Fitzhugh, had a life estate. Although Mrs. Fitzhugh was loyal, nobody claimed loyalty for Mrs. Lee, and as a legal proposition it was absurd to claim that the residuary legatee, who was disloyal, should have an interest under the Bowman act.

Mr. Swanson, (Dem., Va.), who championed the payment of the claim, said that Mrs. Lee was the heir of Mrs. Fitzhugh and he thought in this enlightened age it was outrageous to set up the contention that the blood of Robert E. Lee could not inherit property given by a loyal citizen of the United States.

The claim was stricken out by a vote of 92 to 81. When the bill was reported to the House Mr. Swanson demanded a roll calll on the Lee claim. The vote in committee was confirmed—132 to 91. Without taking a vote on the bill the House took a recess until 8 o’clock. The evening session was devoted to pension legislation.

Among the bills passed was one to pension at $50 a month the widow of Capt. Cushing, the commander of the torpedo boat which sank the Confederate ram Albemarle.