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express or implied, with the government, which may be referred to the court by either house of Congress. A solicitor, and two assistant-solicitors, to represent the government before the court, are appointed by the President by and with the consent of the Senate. The court keeps a record of its proceedings, and reports to Congress at the commencement of each session, and monthly during the session. There is a clerk, an assistant-clerk, and messenger attached to and appointed by the court. Sessions are held during the time of session of Congress, and during the remainder of the year, when there is any business on the docket. Court days are from Monday until Thursday, and Friday, on pressing occasions. Saturday is occupied by the judges as a day of conference.
THERE are certain important establishments and institutions at the seat of government, which, for the sake of preserving a reasonable unity of our theme, we have preferred to classify under the designation given to this chapter. Some of them, indeed, are nominally branches of the executive departments, while others are either related to the government by their subjection to its oversight, or by their identity with national interests.
During the administration of President Jefferson, the Navy Yard situated in the District of Columbia was established by an act of Congress, approved March 27th, 1804. It is enclosed on the landward sides by a brick wall, the fourth side fronting the Anacostia river. Entering the yard through a handsome gateway, designed by Benjamin Latrobe, the visitor is greeted with the sight of trophies of naval warfare. These consist of cannon captured by our gallant seamen, not the least interesting amongst them being the two whose history is recorded in the inscription borne by one of them: “On the 3d day of August, 1804, Captain Stephen Decatur, in command of an American gun-boat off Tripoli, boarded and captured in succession two Tripolitan gun-boats, armed with this and the adjacent gun.” The Navy Yard covers about thirty-seven acres of land; and, besides the workshops, contains the officers' quarters. The main building is 432 feet in length on the east and west fronts, and 265 feet in length on the north and south fronts; it contains the boiler-shop, machine-shop, pattern-shop, smithery, and erecting-shop. Another large building is situated eastward of the main building ; it contains the forge-shop,in which may be seen in operation a steam-hammer weighing five tons,—the anchor and faggoting shops. The business of the latter is to convert the scrap.iron collected from various Navy Yards into blooms, from which the heaviest anchors are forged. Northward of the firstmentioned building is the iron-foundry, 265 feet long and 65 feet wide, in which all the castings are made for the machinery of government ships, and the shot and shells for the Ordnance Department are cast. The new Ordnance building, which is about the same size, is seen to the westward. The Dahlgren guns, howitzers, carriages, Minie balls, and various forms of cartridges, are here manufactured, under careful supervision. Besides these, there are various other buildings for offices, carpenters, blockmakers, pyrotechnists, riggers, copper-rolling mill, navy stores, brass-foundry, camboose-shop, and tankshop. In the southeast corner of the yard is the shiphouse and marine railway.
The office of this important enterprise is situated on New Jersey avenue. Although the service of surveying the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts of the United States is legally under the control of the Treasury Department, its duties are discharged by officers of the army and navy, with the assistance of scientific civilians. The work of survey is divided into nine sections, each of which commences by measuring a base-line five or ten miles in length; this is performed by using a compensating baseapparatus, and requires the greatest care and exactness. After this a series of stations is established, and by computing the triangulation of these from the principal base, a centre is obtained for all subsequent measurements. The topography being completed, the hydrographer commences to take soundings. When the field-work is finished, the results thus obtained are forwarded to the office in Washington, where the drawings are reduced, engraved, electrotyped and printed.
NATIONAL OBSERVATORY. The National Observatory is situated southwest of the Executive Mansion, upon an elevated site, commanding a beautiful view of the noble Potomac river, and in full sight of the two cities of Washington and Georgetown. It was originally designed and used for a hydrographical office. The preparation of wind and current charts, the regulation of chronometers, and the other branches of hydrographical research still occupy the principal care of the Observatory, in which astronomical investigation is made a secondary consideration. In the west wing of the building is placed the transit instrument, under a slit twenty inches wide, extending across the roof, and down the wall of the apartment on each side to within four or five feet of the floor.
The transit instrument is a seven-foot achromatic with a clear aperture of 5.3 inches, and was made by Ertel & Son, of Munich; the mounting consists of two granite piers, seven feet high, each formed of a solid block of that stone, let down below the floor and imbedded in a stone foundation eight feet deep, and completely isolated from the building. Midway between the piers, and running north and south, is the artificial horizon, composed of a slab of granite ten feet long, nineteen inches deep, and thirteen inches broad; it rests on the foundation, and is isolated from the floor, with the level of which the top of it is even, with a space all around it of half an inch; in the middle of this slab, and in the nadir of the telescope, there is a mortise, nine inches square and ten inches deep, in which the artificial horizon is placed to protect it from the wind during the adjustment for collimation, or the determination of the error of collimation of level, and the adjustment for stellar focus, verticality of wires, and the other uses of the collimating eye-piece. Besides this delicate instrument, and connected with its uses, there is an astronomical clock to denote sidereal time, the electric chronograph, invented by Professor John Locke. In the south wing of the building is the prime vertical transit,