« PreviousContinue »
and as soon as the point of order was raised. I anticipated something of this early in the session; and when I spoke of going for the plurality rule, the question was frequently put to me by gentlemen upon the other side, whether, if that rule was adopted, I would then vote for such a resolution as was adopted in 1849. I replied that I regarded no such resolution as necessary, because the previous resolution was sufficient-that it was the act of a majority of the House. That was the opinion I then entertained, and hold the same opinion now. The resolution declares that the person who receives the highest number of votes shall be Speaker. The tellers merely announce who has that vote, and I entertain the opinion that the gentleman from Massachusetts can take his seat under the resolution; that was and is now my opinion. But I saw that if the plurality rule were resorted to, whether or not you could pass a resolution declaring the gentleman who received the highest number of votes for Speaker would depend upon its phraseology. I say now to the gentleman from Ohio, and to others, that if a resolution shall be offered declaring that the gentleman from Massachusetts has been elected Speaker by virtue of that plurality resolution, if they think it necessary, I will vote for it.”
MR. COBB, of Georgia. “Allusion has been made to what occurred here at the time that I was elected Speaker of this House; and as I differ with some of my friends with reference to their construction of what was done then, and what is necessary to be done now, and as I may be called upon to vote upon some resolution connected with this matter, I desire to place myself right before the House, and to give the reasons for the vote which I shall give. In 1849, when it was determined to adopt the plurality rule, it was assailed as violative of the Constitution. In order to avoid any difficulty upon that subject it was, by general consent among those who were in favor of it, agreed that a resolution should be offered affirming the election, and that was done. At the time, occupying the position that I
N. P. BANKS ELECTED.
did, I was asked the question, “Whether, in my opinion, it was necessary that this should be done?' I
gave the same opinion then that I entertain now, and that I have repeatedly given when asked the question during this canvass; and I feel it due to candor now to state it. I hold that it is necessary for a majority of this House to elect a Speaker; but I hold, at the same time, that a majority of this House adopting the plurality rule, where a plurality vote is cast for any member, he is elected by virtue of the resolution originally adopted by a majority of the House. [Applause.]
“When, sir, it was thought there was a probability that the gentleman for whom I voted would be elected, I gave that opinion then. I also gave it those on the other side of the House who thought proper to ask my opinion upon the subject. I entertain no doubt in reference to it. Therefore I can not agree with either of my friends from Kentucky that it is incumbent upon those who voted for the plurality rule to perfect the election of Mr. Banks by a resolution. I think Mr. Banks has already been elected. My friends upon this floor know that I have appealed to them from the commencement of this struggle.”
MR. WHEELER. “I offer the following resolution :
“Resolved, That the Hon. Wm. Aiken, of South Carolina; the Hon. Henry M. Fuller, of Pennsylvania; and the Hon. Lewis D. Campbell, of Ohio, be appointed a committee to wait upon the Hon. Nathaniel P. Banks, Jr., of Massachusetts, the Speaker elect, and conduct him to the chair.'”
MR. GIDDINGS. “I hope that resolution will not be adopted. It is an innovation on the whole past practice of the House. The Clerk always appoints a committee to conduct the Speaker to the chair."
MR. WHEELER. “I withdraw the resolution."
“The Clerk then requested Messrs. Fuller, of Pennsylvania, Aiken, of South Carolina, and Campbell, of Ohio, to conduct the Speaker elect to the chair.
“The gentlemen designated proceeded to discharge this duty, and Mr. Banks was thereupon conducted to the chair, and took his seat.
“ After a moment's pause the Speaker rose and addressed the House as follows :
“GENTLEMEN OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Before I proceed to complete my acceptance of the office to which I am elected, I avail myself of your indulgence to express my acknowledgments for the honor conferred upon me. It would afford me far greater pleasure in taking the chair of the House were I supported even by the self-assurance that I could bring to the discharge of its duties, always arduous and delicate, and now environed with unusual difficulties, any capacity commensurate with their responsibility and dignity. I can only say that, in so far as I am able, I shall discharge my duty with fidelity to the Constitution, and with impartiality as it regards the rights of members. I have no personal objects to accomplish. I am animated by the single desire that I may in some degree aid in maintaining the well-established principles of our Government in their original and American signification; in developing the material interests of that portion of the continent we occupy, so far as we may do within the limited and legitimate powers conferred upon us; in enlarging and swelling the capacity of our Government for beneficent influences at home and abroad; and, above all, in preserving intact and in perpetuity the priceless privileges transmitted to us. I am, of course, aware that I can not hope of my own strength to be equal to the perfect execution of the duties I now assume. I am, therefore, as every man must be who stands in such presence, a suppliant for your co-operation and indulgence; and, accepting your honors with this declaration, I again offer you my thanks."
MR. STANTON (Dem.). “I have a resolution that I desire to offer, which I know will meet with the unanimous approbation of the House, and it would spoil by delay. It is as follows:
THANKS VOTED TO JOHN W. FORNEY.
“Resolved, that the thanks of this House are eminently due and are hereby tendered to John W. Forney, Esq., for the distinguished ability, fidelity, and impartiality with which he has presided over the deliberations of the House of Representatives during the arduous and protracted contest for Speaker which has just closed.'
MR. CAMPBELL, of Ohio (Whig). “I sought the floor to offer a similar resolution, and I hope that it will be unanimously adopted.”
“The question was taken, and the resolution was unanimously adopted.
MR. WHEELER (Rep.). "I offer the following resolution, and upon it demand the previous question:
“Resolved, That there be paid out of the contingent fund of the House to John W. Forney, late Clerk, in addition to the salary allowed him by law, eight dollars per diem for the additional services performed by him from the 3d day of December, 1855, to the 4th day of February, 1856.'”
“The previous question was then seconded, and the main question was ordered to be now put.
MR. Jones, of Tennessee (Dem.). “I object to that resolution, and I think it is not in order to introduce it."
THE SPEAKER. “The Chair understands the House to have ordered the main question to be put."
“The question was then taken on the resolution, and it was agreed to."
I will be pardoned for quoting the personal resolutions which closed this extraordinary struggle, because they develop the characteristics of the leaders of opposing parties, and also because they show how even ordinary integrity and decision are certain of ultimate compensation. General Banks has just been defeated for Congress in Massachusetts, after a long career, but I can not forget the manner in which he pronounced his inaugural address as Speaker of the House sixteen years ago.
His deportment during the succeeding session, his impartiality, his courtesy, and his uniform integrity, proved him to be an unrivaled statesman, and I am not without hope that we shall hear of him honorably in the future. Quitman, Barksdale, Rust, Keitt, Eustis, and other Southern fire-eaters have gone to their last account. They were men of varied and distinguished abilities, and yet not one of them, if he could speak from his grave, but would
that Nathaniel P. Banks was a just and honest presiding officer.
[November 10, 1872.]
WASHINGTON City has been a vast newspaper sepulchre. It has witnessed the rise and fall of more dailies and weeklies than any other city of equal size and pretensions in the world; and if they could be catalogued and accompanied by a sketch of the hopes that tempted and the disappointments that killed them, a very interesting morceau would be added to the curiosities of literature. The closing of the Democratic organ at the national capital, The Patriot, last Monday, revives the recollection of the long procession that have passed away. The Patriot was conducted with signal ability, counting in its corps some of the best talent of the country, including W. B. Reed, James E. Harvey, Henry Adams, and the finest Democratic minds in Congress. Undoubtedly President Grant's re-election hastened its overthrow, but in the long run, at least in these later days, a national Administration can not of itself sustain a Washington newspaper. It must have a specialty of its own, and be noted for fine writing and unusual spirit to keep it afloat. Dr. Bayley's weekly, The Era, flourished, and for a while most profitably, chiefly on account of that marvelous romance, “Uncle