Items of Interest

The passing of the bill by Congress establishing a Department of Commerce in the Government of the United States increases the number of departments to nine. At the head of each department is a secretary, who is also a member of the President's Cabinet, all of whose members are appointed by the President. At the formation of the Government of the United States in 1789 there were but five departments,—State, Treasury, War, Justice, and Postoffice. The Navy Department was added in 1798, the Interior Department in 1849, the Department of Agriculture in 1889. Many of the functions of these later departments have been in existence from the beginning, but they were performed by existing departments until their increasing importance demanded their separation into a special department. At first the War Department had the care of the small navy; the treasury included some functions of the present Department of the Interior, and this at first included some of the duties attached to the Department of Agriculture. The bureaus of the newly formed Department of Commerce are taken chiefly from the Treasury Department.

Attorney General Knox has sent to the clerk of the United States Circuit Court for the eighth circuit the formal certificate, under the act of February 26, 1903, to secure precedence and an early argument for the case of United States vs. the Northern Securities Company. This act provides that the Attorney General may file a "certificate that, in his opinion, the case is of general public importance," and it further provides that, upon such filing, the "case shall be given precedence over others and in every way expedited, and be assigned for hearing at the earliest practicable day, before not less than three of the circuit judges of said circuit." It is expected that the argument will be had some time in March.

Wayne MacVeagh, former Attorney General and former ambassador to Italy, has been suggested by the United States to the non-blockading Powers having claims against Venezuela as their representative before The Hague Tribunal in its consideration of the questions involved in the contention of England, Germany, and Italy that they are entitled to preferential treatment in the pecuniary settlement of the Venezuelan troubles. It is proposed that Mr. MacVeagh shall be the sole representative of all the peace nations, which are the United States, France, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, and Mexico.

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Some Distinctions
March 7, 1903

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