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Jrse 2, 1834.] Resignation of the Speaker——Election of a Speaker. [H. of R.
of a private and a public nature, I hope I may be pardoned in availing myself of this fit occasion of taking my leave of it and of you in person; of offering you my cordial and best wishes for your individual prosperity and happiness, and expressing publicly, and for the last time, my grateful acknowledgments for the kindness and con...: by which I have been so long distinguished and honored. Few, probably, that have ever filled this chair, have enjoyed more of this kindness and favor than myself; none have received, or will cherish it with feelings of warmer and more devoted gratitude. My obligations, gentlemen, are, indeed, deep to this House, and go where I may, or in whatever situation I may be placed, I shall continue, to the last hour of my life, to preserve and cherish those sentiments of profound respect and affectionate gratitude which your long-continued and unchanging kindness have so deeply impressed upon my heart, and which never can be impaired. The duty of presiding over a great deliberative assembly like this is no easy task. The high and distinguished character of such a trust, and its arduous and important functions, cannot fail to inspire any incumbent with a just distrust of his own abilities and qualifications, whatever they may be. My administration of its duties for seven years, has not only taught me to know and feel this, but likewise to know how difficult, nay, impossible, it is for any man to free himself from error or censure in this chair, or give unqualified satisfaction. In times of profound tranquillity and repose, with united and harmonious councils, this has rarely, if ever, been done; amid the strife and storms of political and party excitements, it would be vain and hopeless to expect it. My period of service has, moreover, gentlemen, as many of you know, been distinguished by events especially calculated to render this station one of more than ordinary delicacy and embarrassment, as well as of increased responsibility and labor. How assiduously I have struggled to discharge the duties of this chair, in a manner worthy of it, and of myself; with what sincere zeal I have devoted my time and my talents, and even my health, to your service, I leave for others to decide; but this I hope I may be pardoned for saying, in justice and fairness to myself, and under a deep conviction of its truth, that I have endeavored to discharge my duty, not only with temper, justice, and moderation, but with a just regard for your individual rights and feelings, the character and dignity of this House, and my own honor. This was all that I promised when I came to this chair, and this I have endeavored to do; with what success I leave to you and to my country to determine. I am very sensible, gentlemen, that, in such a long course of public service, and in an independent discharge of the arduous and multifarious duties of this chair, regardless of whom it might please or displease, my conduct may sometimes have been thought too harsh and rigorous; and I may often, unintentionally, have woundthe feelings of individual members upon this floor, and incurred their censure and displeasure. Under such circumstances, and while man continues what he is, we know that personal resentments are too apt to be indulged and to remain, and often perhaps difficult to be extinguished, even in the noblest minds; but revenge will not harbor there--higher principles than resentment, and better principles than revenge, will animate men whose thoughts and hearts are liberal and enlarged, especially where there is high intellectual ability and moral integrity. If, then, under the influence of momentary excitement and passion, if in the eagerness of controversy or the commotion of debate, any thing unkind or harsh should have been said or done, either on my part or on yours, let us, I pray you, forgive and forget it, and let us separate in the spirit of peace and good will. Let not this moment of our final separation be poisoned or
embittered by feelings of personal resentment or political hostility. Let the spirit of peace and charity shed its holy calm around us, refreshing alike to the affections and the intellect, and let us blot from our minds and hearts every feeling of personal or party resentment, and separate like brethren of one household, and as the representatives of a free and virtuous people. I have myself no injuries to complain of, and no memory for them if I had; I came here to gratify no private friendships, to indulge in no personal hostility; and all that I have now to ask of you is to do justice to the motives which have governed me, and, when I am gone, to protect my character as the presiding officer of this House, which may now be regarded, in some measure, as the property of my country, from all unjust and unworthy imputations. To those who have known me longest and have known me best, to the liberal and just of all parties, and on all sides of this House, this appeal, I flatter myself, will not be made in vain. One word more, and I have done. Although I am about to leave you, gentlemen, I shall never cease to regard this House, and every thing connected with it, with feelings of the deepest solicitude and affection. I need not remind you of the character and station which this House holds in the eyes of the American people. They justly regard it as the sanctuary of liberty, and law, and order; and justly repose on it with unlimited confidence and affection. In its deliberations and proceedings, is essentially involved the security of our free institutions. How much, gentlemen, will depend upon the manner in which its high duties shall be performed. Nor is it needful, I am sure, that I should admonish you that you are the representatives of our whole country, and not of a part; that our confederation can only exist, and prosper under the influence of a wise, equal, and just system of legislation; by the ties of common interest and brotherly affection; by a spirit of mutual forbearance and moderation; and by cherishing a hallowed devotion to that liberty and Union secured to us by the blood of our common fathers. These are the foundations upon which alone our safety and security can rest. Although our country of late, gentlemen, has been deeply and painfully excited, and our councils too greatly divided, may we not hope that the causes of excitement are daily passing off and subsiding, and that peace and tranquillity.will again be restored to us? At such a time, and under such circumstances, is it not the duty of every wise, and liberal, and good man, in public or private life, without distinction of party, to unite for the purpose of healing these divisions, and giving peace and repose to the public mind? And should not those, especially, who wield the public councils pour oil upon this stormy sea, and still its troubled waters? I invoke you, gentlemen, to peace and harmony: to union and action for the common good. The people expect it; the prosperity and happiness of your country demand it. , God grant that you may prove yourselves worthy of the high trust, and equal to the crisis; and that your labors may ultimately prove successful in giving peace and repose to our beloved country. This is the last time that I shall ever address you from this chair; we separate this day, many, very many, of us, to meet no more. I pray to God to protect and bless you and our country; and I tender to you this my last and af. fectionate farewell. After Mr. STEVENsox had concluded, and retired from the chair— Mr. MERCER rose, and moved that the House do now proceed to THE ELECTION OF A SPEAKER. The motion was seconded by Mr. WILLIAMs, and the question being put by the Clerk of the House, the mo
tion was agreed to.
Just 2, 1834.]
For John Bell, - - - 114 James K. Polk, - - - 78 Richard H. Wilde, - - 11 Jesse Speight, - - 1 Joel B. Sutherland, - - 2 Blanks, - - - 6
Whereupon, the honorable John Bell, of Tennessee, having received the votes of a majority of the House, was declared duly elected Speaker. Messrs. J. Q. AnAMs and R. M. Johnson conducted the Speaker elect to the chair, when he delivered the following address.
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives: With the greatest sincerity I declare to you, that although I am duly and gratefully impressed by this mark of the partiality and confidence of the House, and by no means insensible to the distinction intended to be conferred on me, it is not without some distrust of the wisdom of my course in accepting this station, which your choice has assigned me. Without the slightest experience in the chair, it may be justly apprehended that your selection of a presiding officer has been too much influenced by personal kindness and friendship. And I shall be quite happy if the public interest shall suffer no detriment through a defective administration of the duties of the chair. In ordinary times, and under ordinary cir. cumstances, I could flatter myself that, by diligent application, I might be able, in a short time, to supply the want of experience, and to justify, in some degree, the confidence indicated by the House. That more than usual embarrassments must be encountered at this moment, by any incumbent of the chair, will be admitted by all. The impatience, not to say irritation—the natural result of a protracted session the excitement growing out of those sharp conflicts of opinion upon questions of public policy—conflicts exasperated and embittered at the present moment in an extraordinary degree—all present themselves to increase the difficulties and call forth the exertions of a new and unpractised incumbent of the chair. And I feel, gentlemen, that whatever exertions may be made on my part must be vain, without your forbearance—may, that they must fail altogether, without your cordial support and co-operation. When I reflect how great are the interests connected with this House, its character and action—interests not of a day nor of a party, but of all time, of posterity, and of all the parties which are or ever will be arrayed against each other—and when I further reflect how much the character and action of this House depends upon a skilful, firm, and impartial administration of the duties of the chair, I confess I feel the deepest solicitude. It is not so generally understood, I regret to believe, as it should be, in how great a degree the measures of a legislative assembly are modified and influenced by the Inanner of its deliberations. All will concede that if it shall ever happen that this body shall fall into disrepute, and fail to command the respect and confidence of the people, our institutions will be in the greatest peril. Not only the character of the House, the wisdom and efficiency of its action, but the existence of our admirable frame of polity itself, may be said to depend, in some degree, upon the order and dignity of the deliberations of this House. While, then, I entreat the indulgence of the House to my own defects, I earnestly invoke the assistance of every member of it in endeavoring to maintain and preserve, so far as depends upon the proceedings of this body, those great and primary interests of constitutional Government and freedom, in support of which, I am sure, whatever difference of opinion there may be upon points of construction, policy, or administration, there is not a heart here, nor an American heart anywhere, that does not beat high. And then the House adjourned.
TUEs DAY, JUNE 3.
Mr. J. Q. ADAMS rose and said that, as the previous day had been occupied with the election of a Speaker, instead of that business for which the day was specially assigned, viz: the presentation of memorials and petitions, he would remark that it was always and justly held as highly important to keep up the connexion between the representative and his constituents. It was known that many members had memorials to present, the postponement of which, now that the session was approaching its termination, must necessarily draw after it an inconve. nience so serious as to be felt by almost every member in the House. . He hoped, therefore, that this day would be assigned for their reception. Mr. WILLIAMS said he must object to the suggestion of the gentleman from Massachusetts, in order that the House might proceed with the important business left unfinished—the Kentucky contested election. Mr. DENNY moved a suspension of the rule for the purpose of receiving such petitions and memorials only as should not occasion debate. The House refused to suspend the rule for that purpose, and proceeded to the consideration of the subject of the KENTUCKY ELECTION. The question pending thereon being the amendment proposed by Mr. BANKs, viz: “That the votes of Eli Williams and W. Dawson, of Anderson county, and those of William Connor, Charles Welsh, Thomas Harris, Montgomery Vandlandingham, Joseph Murrain, Levi Nunnery, Richard Curd, Anderson Hulet, Hickman Evans, Henry Wood, and Richard White, of Jessamine county, be counted for Robert P. Letcher.” Mr BANKS modified it by striking out the names of Thomas Harris, Levi Nunnery, and Richard Curd; after which he advocated the amendment at length. Mr. JONES supported the views of the majority of the committee in rejecting all these votes. The debate was continued by Mr. MAwshAll, Mr. Por E, and Mr. HARD IN, when Mr. HANXEGAN offered, as an amendment, a resolution to strike two names, viz: Benjamin Higby and Carey A. Wylie, from the poll of Mr. Letcher, and attach them to that of Mr. Moore. After some remarks, he consented for the present to withdraw it. Mr. VANDERPOEL argued in defence of that part of the committee’s report which struck off certain voters in Jessamine county from Mr. Letcher's poll. Mr. CLAYTON, Mr. CHILTON ALLAN, and Mr. BURGES replied, reprobating the principle on which the votes had been stricken out. Mr. S. McDOWELL MOORE requested a division of the question, so as to have the question first taken on the names of Eli Williams and Wade Dawson, and then on the residue of the names in Mr. BAN ks's amendment. Mr. HAMER spoke in defence of the committee's report, and in reply to the grounds which had been taken on the other side. Mr. CHILTON next addressed the House in opposition, explaining the practice in Kentucky on the subject of votes given in elections, and the grounds on which they could be confirmed or set aside. Mr. PEYTON took the side of the committee, insisting that the poll-book might be set aside by circumstantial evidence and strong presumption. Mr. GAMBLE rose to inquire of the friends of Mr. Letcher, whether sufficient time had elapsed for him to collect positive testimony to rebut the negative testimony on which these voters' names had been stricken out? Mr. WILLIAMS/insisted that the votes were not to be set aside unless the testimony of the judges of election as
well as the sheriff was produced; which had not been done. Mr. MANN replied—insisting that the testimony of the sheriff was sufficient: he dwelt upon the great difficulty of forming any correct judgment on so great and confused a mass of testimony. Mr. C. ALLAN replied to the inquiry of Mr. GAMBLE, as to the time enjoyed by Mr. Letcher to collect proof respecting his voters. Mr. BEATY stated the manner in which the names of voters were often inserted on the tax books in Kentucky. Mr. HUBBARD remarked that it had been his intention to have submitted, at length, his views upon the main resolution, but, for the last six weeks, such had been his situation, that it had not been in his power to have participated in the debate; and he would assure the House that he had not risen at this hour of the day, and at this stage of the proceeding, to go into any general discussion of the subject. He merely wished, in as brief a manner as practicable, to present a few considerations upon the immediate question before the House. It is now proposed to amend the main resolution reported by the committee, by adding to the list in favor of Mr. Letcher, the votes which appear to have been given for him in Anderson county, by two persons who were entered upon the poll. book, one by the name of Williams, the other by the name of Dawson, which votes had been rejected by the committee on the ground that they were given by persons who had no legal residence in that county on the first Monday of August last, the time when the election took place. And, sir, disguise it as you may, the real and the only question is, touching this point, does the evidence adduced satisfy our minds that no persons bearing those names could have had at the time of the election a legal residence in the county where they voted? Were there any such persons then residing within the limits of that county? If not, most clearly the committee did right in rejecting the votes which were given by them. There is no member of this House who will not readily agree to this proposition. It is too plain to require argument; and, if such a fraud has been practised upon the right of suffrage, it became the bounden duty of the Committee of Elections to detect it, and to prevent its injurious operation in the case before the House. They have attempted to do this, and they have done it in a way and manner that leaves not a particle of doubt upon his mind, that their finding, in this particular, ought to be confirmed by the House. He had examined, with some attention, the reports of the majority and of the minority of the committee, and he had endeavored, from the arguments of the parties litigant, and from all the lights which had been shed upon the case, to form for himself an opinion. He had so done; and he felt no embarrassment whatever upon the immediate question now under consideration. What is the evidence? It is admitted that the names of Williams and of Dawson are to be found on the poll-book, and that these votes stand entered as having been given for Mr. Letcher; but is this fact conclusive? Is it not competent to contradict it by parol evidence? Is a poll-book a record of such a description that you cannot controvert it—that you cannot impeach it—that you cannot destroy its force by other testimony Sir, those who contend for such a doctrine would find it difficult to sustain themselves. The law is not so. He would most freely admit that the record, (as it is called,) the poll-book, the mere entry of the names of the voters, is evidence, and evidence which, if uncontradicted, must satisfy the mind of every person, that such proceedings did take place, in the way, and in the manner, and by the person*, as the record purports to show; but it is not absolute, it is not conclusive evidence of the facts. It was evidence of a prima facie character; and not, as the gentleman from Pennsylvania was understood to say, be
yond the power of being explained and controverted. It is evidence; but it is evidence which may be impeached, which may be wholly destroyed by other testimony; and, sir, it has been so treated, it has been so admitted by most of the gentlemen who have taken part in this discussion. It should be so considered. Well, then, what is the amount of evidence of personal identity resulting from this poll-book? It is nothing more and nothing less than that two persons, calling themselves by such names, appeared at the place of election and claimed the right of voting. The right was granted; they did vote, and they did vote for Mr. Letcher. And here he would remark that, notwithstanding the positive requirements of the statute of Kentucky, notwithstanding it was the duty of the judges, in case the individual applying for liberty to vote should not be personally known, to administer to such applicant a particular oath, wherein the individual declares his qualifications as a voter, and his right to vote. Notwithstanding such is the language of the law, he had understood that, in practice, the oath was seldom administered, except in cases where the right of the person offering to vote was challenged. In the two cases before us, the individuals, beyond all doubt, voted as a mere matter of course. There is no evidence that these voters were challenged, or that they were sworn on the occasion. And he asked, with confidence, whether they could have been personally known to the judges of the election? He had come to an entirely different conclusion, from the evidence adducedWith such a record, made as it was, and preserved as it had been, he could not doubt that two persons did actually appear, and did assume the names of Williams and Dawson, and did claim the right to vote, and did enjoy that right. But the inquiry now is, were there in truth any such persons who were then legal residents, in the county of Anderson? or were the judges imposed upon 2 or, in other words, was there a fraud committed? If so, and that can be made to appear, it vitiates the whole proceeding, it destroys the whole effect of the record; and he could not doubt that all this was very competent and proper to show. And the question now is, whether the evidence which had been offered was sufficient to rebut the evidence resulting from the fact that these names appear upon the record? The latter is presumptive evidence; but it may, nevertheless, be impeached by testimony of a like character. Well, then, he would ask, what evidence has been adduced by Mr. Moore, tending to impeach the evidence resulting from the record? For he could not for a moment believe, that if Major Moore had have brought forward the affidavit of every inhabitant in the county, and it should appear that no knowledge was had of any such persons as Williams and Dawson, the record would be set aside at once as wholly unworthy of confidence. The House, then, is bound to weigh all the evidence, and to see whether the weight of testimony is not now decidedly against the record. Mr. Moore had taken the deposition of the sheriff and of certain constables— men whose business led them through the county-men who would be likely to know the legal inhabitants of their county—and they had testified unqualifiedly that persons of those names were not known to them--that they did not believe that any such persons resided within the limits of the county. But it has been asked, why has not the testimony of the judges of the election been taken 2 that they had the means of knowing better than the deponents. To this remark he could not yield his assent. He, for one, did not believe that these judges could know the resident citizens of their county as well and as generally as sheriffs or as constables. They were men who, from the nature of their office--from their usual avocations, did not mix with the members of the community to the extent that sheriffs and officers of that character necessarily must. Judges were found in their studies, and confined to the discharge of such official duties as must necessarily limit their personal acquaintance with, and knowledge of, their fellow-citizens—while sheriffs and constables, from the very nature of their employments, extended their acquaintance into every village and neighborhood. He differed, therefore, from the gentleman from North Carolina, that Major Moore should have obtained the testimony of the judges of the election, rather than the testimony of the the sheriff and of the constables. He was of the opinion that the evidence procured was entitled to more consideration than the evidence of the judges alone would have been. But the testimony of the witnesses is not all the evidence which has been offered going to show that there were no such persons residing in the county, in August last, as Williams and Dawson: The books of the commissioners have been examined, and of those whose duty it is, in each spring, to make a perfect list of all the inhabitants in the county, with reference to personal taxation—and upon such books, and upon such lists, the names of Williams and Dawson cannot be found. Here, then, is not only the positive declaration of living witnesses, who have the means of knowledge, but here are the books of the county commissioner, the lists of the tax-makers--all going to show that no such persons as Williams and Dawson were residing in the county on the day of election. And he would ask, is not all this sufficient to do away the force of the evidence resulting from the mere fact that the names of two such persons were found on the poll-book? He contended it was, and that the committee did entirely right in rejecting these votes. The presumption arising from all this testimony is, that no such persons were there, that a wrong has been done, and the burden of proof is changed. It is now the duty, and certainly is in the power of Mr. Letcher, according to the suggestions of the gentleman from Kentucky, [Mr. Chiltos, j to put this matter beyond all doubt. That gentleman has said that the lists of the constables of the county, (being ten or twelve in number,) that the militia rolls, would put this matter at rest—that they would be conclusive on this subject—and he has been pleased to add, that Major Moore should have looked to those quarters for satisfactory evidence on this point. He differed in this particular from that gentleman. Mr. Moore had done all that was incumbent on him to do, and it devolved on the other side to give us further light; and it was not an arduous or a difficult duty to perform; for it would seem, from the remarks of the gentleman from Kentucky, that if these men were honest voters, were actual residents at the time, it can be shown, it can be made to appear. He would then ask, why has not Mr. Letcher gone to the constables, and to the militia officers, and have put this matter at rest? Why has he not done it? It was clearly in his power, if the authority of the gentleman from Kentucky can be relied upon. The answer is at hand; the evidence which would come from those quarters would go only to confirm the testimony already taken. It is fair to presume this; and if the judges of the election would be able to give any different color to this transaction, their testimony would have been produced--it was within the reach of Mr. Letcher. And, after all that Mr. Moore had shown in evidence, it was not to be required that he should go further—the burden was changed. The duty had devolved on Mr. Letcher. Inasmuch, then, as no attempt has been made by Mr. Letcher to satisfy the mind on this point, to make this matter clear, is it not fair to presume that no evidence does exist, or can be obtained, which will go to change the evidence offered by Mr. Moore, and now in the case? When the inquiry was made by the honorable gentleman from Georgia, [Mr. GAM blo," whether time had been allowed to Mr. Letcher, he thought the answer was not so full as it should have been.
Jux E 4, 1834. ) Kentucky Election. - sh, or R.
He presumed there was no disposition to mislead; but he man from Georgia, that the testimony by Mr. Moore was taken about the 20th of November last—six weeks before the 1st of January--beyond which point of time he believed no testimony was allowed to be taken; and that the testimony was taken in the presence of Mr. Letcher's agent, who cross-examined the witnesses; and Mr. Letcher must have known that the residence of those two persons would be questioned, and their right to vote denied. It was no secret; no individual member of the community, who took up a newspaper after the election in Kentucky in August last, and after it was understood that the election in this congressional district would not be again submitted to the people, could have doubted for a moment that the election would be contested, and strongly and perseveringly contested. Mr. Letcher, then, was not taken by surprise. All was open, and all was fair. Here was evidence taken (if properly regarded) which could not fail to destroy the force of the record—unexplained, it was conclusive. And this evidence was taken in the presence of Mr. Letcher's agent, at a time fully sufficient to enable him to explain it, and do it away by other evidence, if such evidence could be found. And as there has been no attempt whatever to impeach the testimony of Mr. Moore's witnesses, it did follow, to his mind, that the report of the committee, on this point, ought to be confirmed by the House. Mr. WAYNE argued in favor of admitting the names in question, on the principle that a poll-book might not be purged on presumption, unless the presumption rose by operation of law, and threw the burden of proof on the candidate claiming the benefit of the votes recorded; and was followed by Mr. J. Q. ADAMS, who argued from the law of Kentucky to show that the voter, if unknown to the judges and sheriff, must be sworn: and unless it was proved that these persons had not been sworn, they were to be admitted on the ground of the record. Mr. BRIGGS took the same side; insisting that the names would never have been suffered to be recorded at a poll so closely watched, unless the law had been complied with. Mr. HUBBARD replied to Mr. WAYNE and Mr. Adams. Mr. ADAMS replied, explained, and again insisted on his former argument. Mr. LANE moved an adjournment; which prevailing, The House adjourned.
Mr. E. EVERETT, from the Joint Committee on the Library, reported the following joint resolution:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of .7merica in Congress assembled, That the copies of the selection of the Diplomatic Correspon. dence of the United States, between the peace of 1783 and the 4th of March, 1789, published in virtue of an act of 5th of May, 1832, in continuation of the Diplomatic Correspondence of the Revolution, be distributed and disposed of, under the direction of the Joint Library Committee, in the manner following, viz:
To cach person who received a copy of the Diplomatic Correspondence of the Revolution, and who shall apply to the Clerk of the House of Representatives for the con tinuation of the same, one copy.
To the Library of each institution to which a copy of the same was sent, one copy.
To Jared Sparks, editor of the Diplomatic Correspondence of the Revolution, one copy.
To Edward Livingston, under whose direction, as Secretary of State, the selection aforesaid was made, one copy.
Sec. 2. Be it further resolved, That twenty-five copies