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WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
Johnson was a sad supplement in himself. He offered much, and lost all, to the South, and he made a rigid reconstruction so necessary that even the men who complain of it most no longer deny that it was justified.
I heard an anecdote of Mr. Seward's patient temperament a few days ago that deserves mention. In June of 1856, after Preston S. Brooks committed his brutal assault on Charles Sumner, Mrs. Seward was exceedingly anxious for the safety of her husband, and advised him to protect himself. “Well, my dear," was the answer,“ what shall I do? I am a man of peace; I never reply to personal attacks; how am I to defend myself? Shall I go to the Senate with a musket or rifle on my shoulder? If I use pistols, I am sure you will not ask me to shoot anybody without notice. You say no. Well, then, it will be my duty, if I carry revolvers, to lay them on my Senatorial desk, so that all men may see that I am ready to kill anybody at a moment's notice. I think this is
I think this is my best weapon,' he said, as he closed the interview, and picked up the whip he carried as a sort of metaphorical help to the old horse that carried him to the Capitol.
He goes hence to the mysterious world, while Thurlow Weed, his devoted chief, is dying, and while the house of Horace Greeley, his early advocate, is stricken with unspeakable woe. So the “human ocean
Like the eternal sea itself, its current is perpetual, though millions live on its bosom and perish in its depths.
[November 3, 1872.]
I MET, a few days ago, one of the members of the House of Representatives of the Thirty-fourth Congress, and together we talked over the exciting session during which, as Clerk of the old House, I officiated as presiding officer when the new body was preparing to organize. It was a long and angry struggle, and from December 2, 1855, to February 2, 1856, I played Speaker to the best of my ability, receiving, when the contest closed, the unanimous thanks of the House, and double the Speaker's pay. My friend Horace Greeley was the chief correspondent of the New York Tribune, and at first severely criticised me because he thought I was a prejudiced partisan ; but, as the fight progressed, he discarded his suspicions and stood by me to the end, going so far, in 1857, as to ask President Buchanan, in an editorial article, to put me in his Cabinet -a compliment, by the way, which I had the honor to reciprocate four years after, in 1860, when Mr. Lincoln wrote me a letter of thanks for my opposition to the Buchanan Administration, in reply to which I suggested Horace Greeley for his Postmaster-General. Mr. Lincoln had already selected Mr. Seward for the State Department. In his answer to my recommendation he paid Mr. Greeley as high a compliment as one great man could pay to another. Many of those who figured in that trying period in Congress have gone to their rest, while the survivors have met strange vicissitudes. Sixteen years have wrought curious results. Howell Cobb, of Georgia; Anson Burlingame, of Massachusetts; Henry Winter Davis, of Maryland; Henry M. Fuller, of Pennsylvania, are in their graves. They were men of mark, far above the common level, and were early called. Governor Cobb was worn out by the rebellion, in which he took an active part; Burlingame died in the midst of an extraordinary diplomatic career; Davis, the most incisive and brilliant orator of his time, passed off in the zenith of his fame; and Fuller left a mourning family and a host of devoted friends at a time when the future seemed bright before him. Of the living, the most distinguished are John Hickman, of Pennsylvania; Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia; N. P. Banks, of Massachusetts; James L. Orr, of South Caro
ELECTION OF SPEAKER.
lina; E. B. Washburne, of Illinois (now American Minister to France); Schuyler Colfax, of Indiana (Vice-President); John Sherman, now Senator in Congress from Ohio; and Francis E. Spinner, of New York, present United States Treasurer. The whole time from December to February was consumed in ineffectual ballotings to elect a Speaker, and in discursive debate, involving the issues of the day and every conceivable subject. Parties were closely balanced, the Know-Nothings or Americans holding the balance of power; but, as they were not united, no decision could be reached until Congress and the country were fairly worn out by the weary conflict. Finally Hon. Samuel A. Smith, a Democrat, from Tennessee, on Saturday, the ad of February, offered the following resolution, which was adopted by a vote of 113 to 104:
“Resolved, That this House will proceed immediately to the election of a Speaker, viva voce. If, after the roll shall have
a , . been called three times, no member shall have received a majority of all the votes cast, the roll shall again be called, and the member who shall then receive the largest vote, provided it be a majority of a quorum, shall be declared duly elected Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Thirty-fourth Congress.”
This brought the protracted struggle to a close. Several efforts were made to repeal it. Hon. Percy Walker, of Alabama, one of the Know-Nothing leaders, saw that Mr. Smith's resolution looked to the election of a Republican Speaker, and made every effort to rescind it. As we were not acting under any rules, and a good deal of the work before the House had to depend on the common-sense of the Chair, I decided that his motion to rescind the resolution was in order, rather to let him see that I was impartial than to show my tenacity in adherence to Parliamentary law. An appeal was taken, and, as I expected, my decision was overruled. Then came the vote on the resolution itself, and on the 133d ballot, after a two months' fight, N. P.
Banks was chosen Speaker on a plurality. The practice in former years had been for the House to adopt a resolution declaring the Speaker who had received a majority of the votes to be elected; but I saw that such action would reopen the question, and would force the House to another vote, perhaps into a revolution, and, by consulting the tellers, who represented both parties, we determined to declare Banks elected, with
reference to the House. A scene of the wildest confusion ensued. I was denounced in unsparing terms, and Mr. A. K. Marshall, of Kentucky, took the ground that I had transcended precedent. I quote the following from the official proceedings in The Globe :
MR. MARSHALL, of Kentucky. "I ask now, in connection with the remarks which I have made, whether the gentleman who now acts as Clerk of this House (Mr. Forney), and who has presided with so much fairness and so much dignity, and without having assumed the exercise of any right which was not clearly and legitimately his, who has refused on questions of order to give any decision-I ask that gentleman if he will now, on this great and vital question, dare-ah! that is the word—whether he will dare, in the absence of all official power, to induct into that chair a man who has not received a majority of the votes of this body? If he does, I will, for one, have to change much of the high opinion which I have and still hold for that honorable gentleman."
The Clerk (MR. FORNEY). "The gentleman from Ohio will permit the Clerk to make a few words of explanation. The House adopted a resolution to-day providing in terms that at a certain stage a plurality vote should govern. The Clerk will say to the gentleman from Kentucky that if he has any feeling in this canvass it is not certainly in favor of the gentleman from Massachusetts. The course was pursued according to the terms of the resolution, which it was thought was the proper
The Clerk was actuated by no motives but those of a de
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sire to continue to be impartial. He consulted with the officers of the House, who are older and better acquainted with the duties of this station than himself. He also consulted with the gentlemen who are tellers, and who represent the two great parties respectively. The consultation resulted in this conclusion. If there is error in the matter he throws himself on the indulgence of the House, trusting that the gentlemen who have sustained him thus far will carry him through the question which is now about to be settled.”
MR. CAMPBELL, of Ohio. “Mr. Clerk, from the beginning I have held that a Speaker ought to be elected by a majority vote, and I now submit it to the honor of those gentlemen who voted for the plurality rule, whether it does not become them now to carry out that rule and end the struggle that has been disgraceful to us and the country. I have heard a great deal about the danger of a dissolution of the Union. What! Has it come to this, that the election of any man can dissolve this glorious Union ? [Applause.] I do not care what may be the sentiments of the gentleman who is to preside over our deliberations; I shall be found one of the foremost in assailing him if he dares to do any thing that would separate the Union of these States.
“It would seem that the gentleman from Kentucky has taken the Union under his particular charge. Sir, I think that there are those of us in the free States who will be found to the last for the union of these States. I am an American. I am for the Constitution of my country as the highest law which is to control our political action, and for the union of these States under any circumstances that may surround us. If I thought that my heart was capable of cherishing a sentiment that would
a tend to a disruption of this Union, I would, if I could, tear it out and cast it to the dogs.”
Mr. CLINGMAN. “I have the floor now to say a few words. I was endeavoring to get it when the gentleman from Ohio rose,