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Dec. 18, 1835.]

port, united in the vote which he had moved to reconsider: This strange combination could not have been created without a mistake somewhere. Gentlemen must have supposed that by the adoption of the motion to consider this memorial, the difficulty which has arisen by reason of the decision of the Chair would alone be removed; and that, instead of postponing until to-morrow all action on this subject, we would now proceed to dispose of it, either by a vote to reject or to lay it on the table. I am not disposed, Mr. Speaker, to afford unnecessa. rily an opportunity to discuss here the relative rights of master and slave. As one of the representatives of a slaveholding State, I would never provoke an examina: tion here calculated to create false hopes in the minds of an ignorant and stupid population. We have been told, I know not how truly, that great and general excitement has already been produced in some of the southern states, by the circulation of a few fanatical pamphlets. If this be true, is it not madness, worse than madness, to struggle to elicit evidence that there is in that House any one man willing to re-echo the sentiment which these incendiary publications contain? I have been opposed, sir, to all discussion on this subject, and accordingly have voted repeatedly in the two preceding Congresses to lay on the table every proposition calculated to elicit useless and angry debate. And I have been, and am, grateful to the representatives from the North and West, where slavery does not exist, for their cordial and earnest effort to extinguish every firebrand which has been thrown in here, either in the form of speeches or petitions, tending to destroy the broad foundation on which our Union rests. But is it not obvious that our exertions have not been crowned with complete success?. In the last two Congresses, the petitions of the abolitionists were laid on the table, as an evidence of our reprobation of their objects; notwithstanding, at the present session we have already received those petitions, and shall probably have to dispose of several more. These fanatical crusaders against evils abroad, who have, no doubt, vices enough at their own doors to exhaust, in their correction, that overflowing Christian charity of which they boast so much and manifest so little, nothing daunted, continue to pour their poisons into that national chalice, from which the whole people of the United States have so long quaffed the sweet waters of concord and Union. Now, what is to be done? For one, I am prepared to meet directly every question connected with these memorials. I am willing to follow the precedent set by Congress on another question. The opponents of a Sunday mail petitioned Congress; their memorials were rejected, because their object was unreasonable; they persisted, and their numbers increased; the House of Representatives finally referred all those petitions to a select committee; from which emanated one of the most masterly state papers which has ever been published in the country. It was addressed to the understanding, not to the passions, of the American people; and there was a response from all quarters to its cogent, persuasive, and conclusive reasoning. Its arguments were unanswered and are unanswerable; and the petitioners were silenced. The oil was spread over the troubled waters, and the turbulent waves became still. Gentlemen say we must prevent any discussion on the subject of these memorials, because they must inevitably disturb the harmony of our Union. There was a time when the force of this reason could be fully felt by all. But has not that time gone by? Without our agency, indeed in defiance of all precautions on the part of Congress, the power and purpose of the General Government to interfere with the question of slavery has been, and will be, discussed in every newspaper, in every pe. riodical publication, from Maine to Missouri. It is a gross error to suppose that this House can, by a mere

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sic volo, give law to the people of the United States. The members of this House are not in positions stable enough for that. To attempt it would be as vain as the effort of Xerxes to chain with links of iron the surging sea. Our march is not to be always on the mountain wave of popular opinion. We are here to-day—we are gone to-morrow; and must return to our respective places in that great deep, that vast hall of legislation, the confines of which are coextensive with the boundaries of the Union, and there assist those who are now our constituents, to fashion and form that public opinion, which must ever direct and control the whole operations of this Government. “Like bubbles on the sea of matter borne, We rise, we break, and to the sea return.” Assuming these positions to be true, how ought the members of this House to act on the present occasion? To decide that question satisfactorily for myself, has been, until to-day, a difficult task. Twice, during the present session, I have voted to lay on the table petitions from the abolitionists. This was done under the impression that such a proceeding would be entirely satisfactory to the whole southern delegation. The large majority of northern and western votes by which it was done, too, was hailed by me as evidence conclusive that there is no disposition in these sections of the Union to do any act calculated to disturb the harmony of our Union. to-day we are told that the vote to lay on the table is an equivocal act. That it has been resorted to to afford an opportunity to pretending enemies of abolition to conceal their future purposes. Sir, is it right and proper, under these circumstances, to persevere in the course which has been heretofore pursued? If gentlemen on this floor can be so far misled as to suppose there is a lurking intention in the mind of any member to turn loose an ignorant and helpless population to pillage and plunder, in what condition will you leave many of the constituents of gentlemen who are remote from the scene of action? Will they not be in a proper condition to become the instruments of the designing? May not rash and misguided men, in one extreme of the Union, engender those suspicions and distrusts which will be necessarily destructive of all the ends for which this Government was established? And may not the headstrong fanatics of the North be furnished with the means of increasing their paltry numbers by inculcating the belief that their nefarious purposes are but postponed? In my humble opinion, if we refuse to act decidedly, to meet all questions connected with this unpleasant subject directly, we shall furnish the enemies of our peace and Union with a most dangerous weapon. We shall supply the means to faction and fanaticism to agitate the whole country. And the day may come when these few and furious destroyers of this country's happiness and glory will have produced real, not as it is now, imaginary, in the North—not as it is now, a very limited, but an extensive excitement--which will sweep in waves to the very walls of that constitutional temple in which ont fathers fondly hoped they had garnered up so many bright hopes and so many blessings for this magnificent confederacy. Mr. speaker, I am prepared now to meet the respon. sibilities which circumstances have imposed upon us. I am prepared to vote for the reception of the petition, and of all other memorials of similar character; and am ready to vote against laying them on the table; to declare distinctly that the prayers of the se petitioners are unreasonable, and ought not to be granted. Mr. ROBERTSON asked for the yeas and nays; but they were not ordered. Mr. HOPKINS said that they were very much embarrassed, and it occurred to him that there was but one conceivable mode by which they could be relieved from

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that embarrassment. He understood that, by the rule of the House, upon the presentation of petitions, unless

the question is required to be put by a member of the

House, or by the Speaker, that the same is received as a matter of course; in other words, received by a vote of the House, sub silentio. If this be the fact, then, this petition had been received. It seemed to him that the best mode would be to throw the petition back again to the point where it was left by the gentleman who presented it; and, in order to do that, he would propose to move a reconsideration of the vote of the House by which the petition was received. He would go farther back than the gentleman from Maryland, [Mr. Thomas,) and move a reconsideration of the vote of the House whereby the petition had been received. Mr. MASON, of Virginia, said his colleague would be satisfied, upon a moment's reflection, that no benefit could result from such a motion. It was the constitutional right of the people of this country to petition to that House, and no vote was ever taken on receiving a petition. When an honorable representative rose and presented a petition, it was received; and the first question which any member had a right to demand, was, that it be considered. If the House determine not to consider it, they are to determine at once; and that he understood to be the point in their proceedings at which it was the object of the gentleman from Maryland to arrive; and Mr. M. hoped the gentleman's motion would be adopted. He had hoped that, after the proceedings which had already taken place in that House, there would have been a general acquiescence in the only, if not the express sense of the House, by an overwhelming majority, not to entertain such petitions as that under consideration. The only mode in which there could be a more direct sense of the House on the subject was by adopting the motion of the gentleman from Maryland; and then, if it be the pleasure of the majority of the House not to consider the petition, and so to determine at once, there the matter would end; and he hoped the motion would be adopted, and then that the House would determine not to consider the petition. Mr. BEARDSLEY was satisfied that most of the difficulty arose from misconception. The honorable member from South Carolina desired to have a direct vote of the House upon the motion to reject, or not to receive, the petition under consideration. Other gentlemen, who agreed with the gentleman from Virginia, who last adgressed the Chair, said they would not vote in the af. firmative on such a question, because it was in violation of the rights of the people of this country to petition upon all subjects; and the House of Representatives was bound to receive their petitions. When received, it was true the House might decline acting on them, or might dispose of them in a variety of ways. . For himself, (Mr. B. said,) the House having received this petition, he was ready to give a direct vote upon it, a vote that should mark the opinion of the House upon the character of such petitions, by saying affirmatively that they would not consider it. If that would meet the views of honor. able gentlemen, he was willing to modify his motion to lay on the table, and to move that the House would not consider the petition, or would reject its prayer; although laying it on the table he thought equivalent to either of the modifications indicated. All Mr. B. desired was to preserve the right of their constituents to petition; a sacred and invaluable right guarantied to them under the constitution, and the "ex. ercise of which the House was bound to treat with re. spect. If the petition were in insulting terms, the might send it back; but if their constituents sent them one that, was respectful in its language, but of whos. prayer they entirely disapproved, let them lay it on the table, or reject its prayer.' If any gentleman Supposed

that a vote of the House not to consider this petition, and all other petitions of the same character, would raore distinctly mark the reprobation of the House, then Mr. B. would with great pleasure modify his motion. Why, then, should they reconsider, as proposed by the motion of the gentleman from Maryland? For what purpose? Was it to entertain the question of rejecting the petition? He understood that to be the object of the mover; and, if so, he hoped the House would not reconsider, but that they would preserve to their constituents the right of petitioning, and, by a vote to lay on the table, preclude all further debate upon this exciting and mischievous topic. Mr. BOULDIN said he was willing to meet this question in any way. He had been so the last session and the session before, and declared his willingness then, in deference and respect to his southern brethren, who he knew agreed with him in interest and feeling; and, at their suggestion, he agreed with them in voting to give the matter the go-by. He then thought, and still thought, that the people of the South ought to know and to see and to hear, all that we know and see and hear upon this subject. He was anxious, however, if they were to come to any expression of opinion and feeling on this matter, so momentous to the South, that they should not be brought to that vote entangled by the rules of that House. He wished, when the opinion of the South upon this subject should be expressed, and their feelings made known, it would be done in a way that would leave no doubt what that opinion and those feelings were. And he was persuaded that, when their opinions and feelings came unshackled by forms or rules, or any thing but the mere question itself, the South would satisfy the North, East, and West—would satisfy the whole world—nay, would convince even fanatics themselves, that they must let us alone upon this point; and convince them, and all the agitators and movers of these petitions, that they had as well let us alone, and employ themselves in removing from their own eye the beam which is in it, rather than disturb themselves so much about the mote that is in their brother's eye. Let us not (said Mr. B.) come to a vote that will leave the world in doubt whether we voted on the rule or the thing—let this petition pass, and no doubt they will be coming again to-morrow—ay, in a half hourwith one that will enable us to meet it face to face, and toe to toe, and leave neither them nor the world, in doubt what we mean. Mr. B. concluded by saying that he rose to ask what would be the effect of his vote--ay or no—on the question itself. He would give the best vote he could, but did not know himself how that vote would be understood. He would content himself with the belief that the question would come up in a form which would leave no doubt either with himself or any one. Mr. PEYTON was in favor of the motion to reconsider. He would not have troubled the House with any remarks again, but for the position assumed by the gentleman from New York. That gentleman contended that the right of petition was a sacred right, guarantied to every American citizen under the constitution; and that the House had no right to deprive them of the exercise of that right. Mr. P. said they had the right to petition, and to think and to say what they pleased; and, further, they had the right to send any matter they choose throughout all the country, without regard to consequences, and that House had no power to resist it. But, then, he claimed that, when it came to that House, the representatives had the right to treat it and dispose of it in such manner as they thought best. Was the sacred right of petition any dearer than many other sacred rights—the right to property, to liberty, and to life? And had not the attention of the House

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been called, by the message of the President of the United States, to this very question of this sacred right of thinking, and writing, and sending through the mail, such documents as were then before them? Should they connect the efforts of a few fanatics to disturb the harmony and peace of the country with those sacred and inalienable rights to which the gentleman alluded? Should they connect the attempt, whether it came by petition to Congress or by a document transmitted in any other mode, to throw a firebrand into the South, with the sacred rights of liberty and property? The SPEAKER reminded the gentleman that the merits of the question could not be gone into under the motion before the House. Mr. PEYTON only meant to reply to what he considered to be the constitutional right contended for by the gentleman from New York—the right of the citizen, every where, to send such papers and petitions there. He was endeavoring to meet this, by saying that the slave question was not one to which the right of petitioning applied; but that if it did, and petitions were sent to that House, and papers of the same character were distributed over the country, it would have the effect of touching a chord that would arouse all America. Mr. RIPLEY said that this was a grave and important question. There was no subject of deeper interest in the quarter of the country from whence he came. He had been sent here to oppose every effort of a certain class of citizens, in reference to slavery within this Dis. trict, or elsewhere. In disposing of the question before the House, care should be taken rather to allay the public feeling than to add to the existing excitement. The right of petition was a solemn one, and had been guarantied from the time of magna charta to the present moment. Our citizens have a right to petition for a change of their constitution, and, indeed, for a change in the form of Government. Every decorous memorial should be received; but, when received, it is in the power of the House to dispose of it as it may deem proper. The motion to reject this petition was an incipient question, and, in his opinion, should take precedence. He again adverted to the great excitement in the South on this subject, and the importance of allaying that excitement by a decisive course here. If the gentlemen from the North were sincere in their friendship for their brethren in the South, and were desirous of breaking down the double wall of partition between those two sections of the country, they could give an earnest on the present occasion, by voting promptly to reject this petition; and when it shall go forth that we have rejected it by a vast majority, it will have an effect even upon the fanatics themselves, who do not understand the position and feeling of the South on this subject, while it will, at the same time, allay the existing excitement in that portion of the country. Mr. WISE was for sustaining the motion to reconsider; and, for one, could testify that he had voted under a misapprehension. In voting for the motion to consider the petition, he thought he was voting to have a direct decision of the House on the motion of the gentleman from South Carolina. He was intending to bring the House also to a direct decision of the question, and had no idea, after the House had decided it would consider the petition, that the consideration itself would be evaded. Mr. W. had misapprehended in another particular. He had not understood the motion of the gentleman from South Carolina to be to consider the petition today, but to consider his motion to reject the petition, which was what Mr. W. wished to consider. So help him God, he never wished to consider the petition of an incendiary, but he would consider the motion to reject

the petition, and he warned the gentleman from South Carolina that these were the means of evading his motion. Mr. W. then referred to the preceedings of the Senate two years ago, on a motion to reject a petition to that body, containing matter disrespectful to the honorable William Wilkins, then a Senator from the State of Pennsylvania, to show that such a course was within the rules of order; and asked whether the gentleman from New York considered the present a respectful petition, where gentlemen on that floor were characterized as land pirates? He had hoped that, after the proceedings at a celebrated meeting at Utica last summer, where the gentleman himself took a very prominent part, he should have had that gentleman’s vote on the question of rejecting this petition—a petition that was both insulting in language and incendiary in its character. Mr. W. hoped the motion would prevail, although he did not consider it in itself decisive. They could never get a direct vote on that question. Many would vote not to reject it, on account of the sacred right of petition, but he hoped the House would not evade the question. He hoped gentlemen who professed to be friendly to the South would come out and avow their principles and their opinions. If the House desired to evade the question, let the South know it. If it was the opinion that Congress had the right to interfere in this question, let the South know it at once, and it would know what to do. Their predecessors had told them what to do. They had no longer any business there. Their business was at home, to report to their people. He would go home, never to return there again, if that House were to say, directly or indirectly, that Congress had that power. That was the question he wished to bring before the House, whether the House had the constitutional power to legislate upon the subject of slavery in the District of Columbia at all. He denied the right. It was important to have a direct decision on this question, and there was no way of getting it, but by sustaining the motion then under consideration. Gentlemen must show they are either for or against us, and if they would not show it upon the direct questions, and upon the main questions, they should show it upon the incidental questions; and he, for one, would be willing to consider this as the test question. Those who are for laying the motion on the table, he viewed as evading the question, and so would the South view them. Those who were for a direct vote on the motion of the gentleman from South Carolina, would be viewed as the friends of the South, and not the South alone, but of the whole nation. He would repeat, the petition was not respectful to the House, and therefore it ought to be rejected. He could never consent to refer or consider a petition that called the members of the South land pirates. Mr. HAMER inquired of the Chair, whether, if the present motion prevailed, it would be competent then for the gentleman from South Carolina, or any other gentleman, to move to reject the petition? The SPEAKER said he was under the impression that that would be a competent motion. Mr. HAMMOND said it had been far from his intention, when he made the motion he did, to throw a firebrand into that House. On the contrary, he had hoped by it to exclude one from the House. He thought the motion a very simple and direct one; and, ignorant as he was of the rules of the House, he had no idea that the House had it not in its power to protect its own dignity, and the feelings of its members, by rejecting instanter any thing calculated to affect either the one or the other. If the House had no such rule, the rule of common sense ought to govern it. - when the proposition was made to consider this petition, it was made by himself, with a view of then movin its rejection. Under the decision of the Speaker, that

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motion was decided not to be in order. The subsequent vote was a trap into which they fell, and he thanked the gentleman from Maryland for having made a motion by which they could extricate themselves. Should the House determine to reconsider that motion, he (Mr. H.) would then move the rejection of the petition; for he was resolved that the House should vote directly on the question. Let no member there lay the flattering unction to his soul that he could escape the question, for it should be decided. He did not make the motion with any reference to party politics. God forbid that he should make a motion of such a purport, to affect a miserable scramble for offices in this country. No! His object was a more sacred one. It was to protect the rights of his constituents and his own; and if they could not maintain them by the action of that House, they would maintain them by their own action. They did not call upon the House to protect them; they did not ask that House or the Government to protect them; they stood erect, self-confident, united, strong, and they asked no protection, but scorned assistance, and defied opposition. Mr. H. said his motion involved no constitutional right of any citizen of the country. But if they had the right to petition, had not the House the right to reject? Was there any constitutional privilege that demanded of the House that it should imperatively receive and consider the petition of any citizen? He thought not; and even if there were, the constitutional privilege would operate both ways; and when they chose to petition, the House could choose to reject. To the recommendation of the gentleman from Maryland, to refer this petition to a select committee, in order that they might make a report, Mr. H. was utterly opposed. He would not treat that petition with so much respect, nor was he disposed to fire, that he might exhibit his skill. He had no idea of scattering firebrands through the country, that he might distinguish himself in putting them out. He did not wish to discuss the question, and he begged the House to under. stand that, in the few remarks he had made, he did not design discussing it. Whenever it was discussed, they would go much deeper in the matter than this. Whenever it should be, if ever, taken up in that House for discussion, it might expect to find parties and principles anatomized and held up to the view of the world that were now treated with lenity. He hoped, however, now, that the House would take a direct, unentangled, and simple vote upon the question. Mr. BEARDSLEY desired to correct a misapprehension of the gentleman from Tennessee, [Mr. Peyton.] That honorable gentleman seemed to understand Mr. B. to say, that the citizens of this country had not only the right to petition that House, and to send papers of this character there, but that they had also the right to transmit such papers to every part of the Union, in every possible way. Mr. PEYTON did not understand the gentleman so, nor did he intend to be so understood himself. Mr. BEARDSLEY said he understood the gentleman very distinctly to say, that he (Mr. B.) had asserted that the citizens of this country had not only the right to send their petitions here, but also to send their papers elsewhere. The honorable gentleman, however, 'dis. claimed it, and Mr. B. was satisfied. A word or two upon another subject. If the motion of the gentleman from Maryland should prevail, the Chair has decided that this matter, instead of being disposed of to-day, went over to another day; and the House could not but see that after wasting this day—for it was wasting, or worse than wasting—they would to-morrow be in the same situation as at first. For what purpose would the House reconsider its vote, and spend another day, or perhaps a week, in this discussion? He hoped

that the House would follow the example, the salutary example, set by preceding Congresses, by putting all papers of this description on the table without debate. That motion was pending, and followed the one made by the gentleman to reconsider. If that should be rejected, the motion would come up for laying the petition on the table, and nailing it there, whence it would not be taken during the session. If other petitions of the same character came, let them share the same fate. Another remark or two. It was, it must have been, obvious to all, that there were those who desired to continue the discussion of this question. He could not and he would not say they did it from any improper motive; but it could not have escaped the attention of the House, that gentlemen desired to speak, and talk, and discuss this question of slavery, harassing as it was to the country. Those who voted to lay a similar paper on the table the other day, those who would vote to lay the one under consideration on the table to-day, were those who desired to avoid discussion. For what purpose was the continuation of the discussion now desired? Every one knew that petitions of this kind had been presented for the last four years, but no discussion had taken place upon them. He hoped, most sincerely, that that House would not invite or sanction this discussion. He would tell gentlemen there were fanatics and incendiaries at the South, as well as at the North, who hoped to profit by the agitation of this subject. Those who voted to put the petition on the table were for preserving peace and quiet there, and for preserving peace, quiet, and order, in every part of the Union. Let us, then, (said Mr. B.,) nail it to the counter, and thus silence debate; He hoped the motion of the gentleman from Maryland would not prevail; but that the motion pending upon that, to lay it on the table, would prevail, and then they would see no firebrands in that House. Mr. VANDERPOEL said he was surprised at the range which the debate had taken upon the question now before the House. He believed it was incompatible with the interests and true objects of those who were opposed to the mischievous doings of the modern abolitionists. Mr. v. said that he was the last man on that floor to dodge or evade any direct point or vote, that should indicate his opinion upon the principle involved in the petition now' upon the Speaker's table. He would, as prefatory to the few remarks he intended to submit, take occasion to say that he had last year, as a member of the District Committee, to which similar pe. titions were then referred, opposed, and he would always, and forever, while he had a seat here, oppose any measure that might directly or indirectly favor, or for: ward, or countenance, the views and objects expressed by such petitions. He was opposed, openly and unconditionally opposed, to the interference of Congress with slavery in the District of Columbia, and to the mischiev. ous and incendiary doings of abolitionists and abolition societies, in relation to slavery in the slaveholding States. He (Mr. V.) had never had any doubts, or qualms, or scruples, as to what was his duty upon this momentous subject, as an American citizen, and as one of the Representatives of one of these confederated States. But while he made this unequivocal avowal of his sentiments, he would not refrain from remarking that, if he had en: tertained any such doubts or scruples, he had heard speeches to-day from certain quarters very ill calculated to remove those doubts or scruples. Why had this debate taken such an immeasurable range? Was it consistent with one of the cardinal doctrines of the friends of the South, that the subject was one so delicate in its nature, that the less that was said about it the better? It really appeared to him that we were aiding the efforts of the abolitionists, by shooting off, upon a mere prelim

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inary question, into dissertations upon the evils and abominations wrought by northern abolitionists. What was the question before the House? It was upon the motion of the honorable gentleman from Maryland [Mr. Thomas] to reconsider the vote taken this morning, to the end that that honorable gentleman might move (as he had promissed to do) the question, whether the House would consider the petition. He would vote first to reconsider, and then he would, if the question were propounded, vote against considering the petition, and for reasons which he would very briefly state. Mr. V. conceived that this course would save the rights of all parties. It would save the sacred right of petition, and secure the object of all those who felt duly solicitous for the rights and interests of the slaveholding States. For (said Mr. V.) the motion or question whether we will consider the petition presupposes the reception of it. That motion proceeds upon the assumption that the petition is already here before us, as it now surely is in point of fact; and a negative vote to the proposition, whether we will consider the petition, would certainly be as emphatic a mode of expressing our disapprobation, nay, our reprobation, of the object of the petitioners, as could well be conceived. It would be a strong and marked refusal to let the petition go through the ordinary routine of legislation, and would be telling the petitioners, the nation, and the world, that the notions of the petitioners were so heretical, and their doings were so mischievous and incendiary, that co-instanti that such petitions were read, we would consign them to a grave from which there should be no resurrection, Was it not clearly so, viewing this subject through the medium of common sense, and testing it by the rules of parliamentary logic? Yes, sir. The refusal to consider the petition would be telling such petitioners, in language that could not and would not be misunderstood, to cease their abortive and incendiary efforts to disturb the rights of property recognised and guarantied by those men of olden times, who were so much wiser and better than the reformers and fanatics of modern days. Why, then, were we disputing about forms? Why not march directly to the point upon which all the true enemies of abolitionists would agree? Refuse to consider the petition, and you do what should be done, and that in the most prompt manner. Mr. V. said he could not but repeat his surprise, that any gentleman could conceive that the interest of the South could be advanced by the protraction of this debate. He had flattered himself that the vote that was given a few days ago, upon the memorial presented by the honorable gentleman from Maine, [Mr. FAIRFIELD,J had given this exciting subject its quietus for the session. He imputed no sinister motives to any gentleman, and he trusted that he cherished none himself. He believed that gentlemen here meant what they not only avowed that they did mean, but what they solemnly pledged by their votes that they meant. He had supposed that common charity, not to mention parliamentary courtesy, required this species of faith, from every gentleman upon this floor. He, therefore, had believed that when gentlemen had refused on Monday the courtesy of even printing the petition presented by the gentleman from Maine, in addition to their vote to lay it on the table, it should serve as a most ample guarantee, that all who voted against printing were decidedly opposed to the prayer of the petitioners. And was this not so, sir, according to all the known and legitimate deductions from parliamentary proceedings? Had gentlemen, before today, ever imagined or proposed a more summary and unequivocal mode of rejecting the prayer of a petition than was indicated by a refusal to print it, and an almost unanimous vote to lay it on the table? It would be probably recollected what course he (Mr. V.) had ta.

ken in regard to the petition of the honorable gentleman from Maine. The mover of the petition himself moved to lay it on the table, and many gentlemen no doubt voted to lay it on the table, because of this circumstance. An honorable colleague of his own [Mr. GRANGER) had preceded his vote with the inquiry, whether the gentleman who introduced the petition moved to lay it onthe table; and, upon receiving an affirmative response from the Chair, he replied, “Then I vote in the affirmative!” Mr. V., for the purpose of more effectually ascertaining the sense of the House, and to arrest an unprofitable debate upon this exciting subject, then moved also to lay the motion to print the petition on the table; and the triumphant affirmative vote upon that question should have satisfied, and was sufficient to satisfy the nation, that such petitions would never receive the least countenance from this House. Strong as that vote was, it was evidently not near so strong as a vote would be upon a direct proposition to reject the prayer of the petition. Many gentlemen, doubtless, voted in favor of printing from considerations of courtesy to the petitioners, who would vote against the object of the petition. After all that had taken place on Monday, he had supposed that the sense of this House against the exciting and diabolical schemes of the abolitionists had been expressed to the nation and to the world, in a manner so clear and so emphatic, that “the wayfaring man, though a fool,” could not err as to what were the sentiments of a vast majority of this House; but from the proceedings of to-day, it would seem that some gentlemen supposed he was mistaken. Mr. HARPER, of Pennsylvania, wished briefly to state the grounds of his two former votes on this subject, and those upon which he should then vote. He voted against the motion to lay the petition from Maine, and the motion to print it, on the table, not because he entertained a sentiment in common with the abolitionists, but because he thought the sense of the House ought to be fairly, decisively, clearly, and unequivocally, expressed on this subject, so as to prevent its being troubled with it hereafter. Therefore was it that he voted against laying both questions on the table. He was convinced that the mere rejecting the petitions would not be satisfactory, and would not be giving such reasons as would be convincing to the minds of those people who sent them there. If the House were to give these memorials to a committee, and let them bring in such a report as should clearly express the sentiments of the country, these petitions would cease. He hoped, therefore, the House would meet the question on cool, dispassionate, and temperate grounds, and that they would permit it to take the couse he had recommended. Mr. H. said he should vote against the motion to reconsider, because he wanted the question fully considered in the way he had indicated. He wanted to get a report from a committee that would be adopted by the House, and thereby save further agitation on the subject. Mr. MASON, of Virginia, said that, in considering every question affecting the public interest, the calmest deliberation became the representatives of a free people. In all the wide range of the legislative duties of Congress, all must concur there was none which required more essentially a dispassionate and deliberate disposition than this; without it, the beneficial moral influences of their decision must be lost to the country. He was aware of the extreme delicacy of the subject–of the deeply seated sensibility which it excited, and which it was impossible to allay–of the extreme difficulty of approaching it without excited feeling; but no practical good could result from strong denunciation or impassioned invective. i se did not rise to discuss the subject referred to in the petition. A respectable portion of his constituents had instructed him not to engage in such a

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