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thought it necessary to send them there; and that, as it usual; that spirit was abroad in the land, and it was left seemed to him, could best be done now by a vote of re- for the representatives of the people to meet it. jection. What the decisions of the House might be, he Mr. REED called the gentleman to order, as his reknew not; but if there was such a rule in existence, that marks were not pertinent to the question before the the House had no power to reject a petition presented House. to it, whether respectful or not, it was time the rule Mr. PEYTON said he was assigning reasons for susshould be altered, for he was well assured that they taining the motion for the decision of the House at tha: would be harassed throughout the session. He should time, pursuant to the demand made by the honorable be sorry if the House was tied down by any rule to remember from South Carolina. He hoped they should ceive any and every petition, whether respectful or not, be permitted to meet this question at its beginning in Suppose a petition were presented to the House, and it some shape or other. Now, it struck him with great was found to contain matter disrespectful to a single force, that when a petition was presented containing matmember of the House, would not a motion to reject it ter improper for legislation, that the House ought to rebe in order? He would respectfully ask whether he ject it; and before it was received, it could not be laid understood the decision of the Chair correctly, that a on the table for one day. Consequently the question of motion to reject could not be entertained on the present its reception or rejection must, as a matter of necessity, ation of a petition,
be first decided, and that brought prompt action upon The SPEAKER replied that he had not so stated. the whole question. He would repeat that he wished a When the gentleman from South Carolina first submit more decisive vote, and one that would ascertain the ted his motion, the Chair stated that he was not aware wishes, the views, and the feelings of gentlemen upon of any such motion having been made in that House duo fit; and if they met it, he would say, with the gentleman ring the period the individual occupying the Chair had from Georgia, that it would be decisive. Another reabeen a member; that it was new to him at the moment. son why it should be acted upon in the present stage, The Chair, however, did not feel authorized to say the before the consideration of it, was, that it asked Conmotion should not be entertained; but if it was, he then gress to do what every man in the country knew it bad decided that the motion to lay on the table would have no power to do. Suppose a petition were sent there, precedence; or that if the motion to reject was received praying the House to break down our republican form by itself, it was not debatable, because, under the rule of government, and erect a monarchy upon its ruins, of the House, it must lie over one day, unless the House would any one say the House had the power to act upon should direct otherwise.
such a petition? And had the House more power in the Mr. GLASCOCK bad misapprehended the Chair, present case? Was not the first question to be decided and would conclude by calling upon the House, that, as | before the petition could be laid on the table? He they had given one decided vote on the question before, thought, therefore, the motion of the gentleman from they should not repeat it in the same way, but change South Carolina the proper one, and that it must neces. their course, and reject the petition altogether.
sarily bave precedence of all others; and he desired to Mr. HAMMOND would read to the House the rule consider it, and to consider it at once. It would then under which he thought it was entirely competent for | be seen whether gentlemen would encourage their conhim to make the motion—it was this: “When any mo stituents every where to send there such floods of these tion or proposition is made, the question, Will the House petitions as would cover the tables of that hall like the now consider it? shall not be put, unless it is demanded | locusts of Egypt, for such would be the result in twelve by some member, or is deemed necessary by the Speak- |months. Those gentlemen who had not made up their er.” Now, the motion he made was a demand by him minds to meet this question, in any and every shape in upon the Speaker to put the question, whether the pe. which it would be presented, must take the responsibili. tition should be considered or not; and it was a motion ty. He wanted no evasive votes. He wanted no propany member of the House had a right to put, according ositions to lay on the table. He met the question fully to the rules. His reason for making the motion was not at once, by saying that House had no power whatever that he wished to enter into a discussion of this subject, to interfere with the question. For these reasons, he though he did not fear it, and would never shrink from should vote for sustaining the motion of the gentleman it, but because he did not wish to disturb that House, from South Carolina. nor harass the country, by allowing such petitions to
Mr. SLADE raised a question of order as to debating come there. Still he could not sit there, and allow pe. the question of order under consideration. The petition tition after petition to pour in, until they became callous itself, said Mr. S., could not be debated upon the day to the subject. He could not sit there, and see the of its presentation; and this principle, he understood, rights of the South assailed, day after day, by ignorant
carried along with it a principle which would prohibit fanatics, without calling upon that House to put the
any discussion on the motion to reject, or the appeal stamp of reprobation upon such conduct.
from the decision of the Chair, then before the House; The SPEAKER reminded the gentleman that the and the motion to lay on the table could not be debata. merits of the whole question were not open on a mere
ble. Under these circumstances, he thought no motion question of order.
connected with this petition could be debated that day, Mr. HAMMOND would confine himself by saying that and he therefore submitted whether it did not follow if the House should decide that the motion to lay on the that the appeal from the decision of the Chair, on this table has preference, he would then move that the peti- subject, could not be debated. tion be laid on the table till to-morrow, in order to call The SPEAKER said an appeal from his decision, as a it up and move to reject it.
question of appeal, was certainly debatable, although the Mr. PEYTON had hoped, and yet hoped, that gen- motions out of which that appeal rose were not. tlemen would not give up the motion. The gentleman Mr. GARLAND, of Virginia, could assure the House from Georgia (Mr. GLASCOCK] was mistaken. There that he was not disposed to avoid this question in any had been no decisive vote yet given upon this question. form or shape; and he hoped, while he had the honor There had been an evasive vote given upon it. Had not of a seat there, he should be prepared to meet it whenMr. P. sat by and seen gentlemen who voted differently ever it might come, and wherever it might come from. at the last session of Congress, now voting in favor of He had subrnitted his motion because he thought the laying the petition on the table? But these firebrands motion of the gentleman from South Carolina could not were cast upon the House now at an earlier day than I then be put; but if the House decided it could, Mr. G.
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would withdraw his motion to lay the petition on the Mr. HAMMOND asked for the yeas and nays; which table. The motion to reject came up with the motion were ordered. to refer the petition to a select committee; the former, Mr. WISE rose to a point of order. It seemed to as he understood, not being entertained, or not in order, him, according to the usual action of the House, that the it was then that Mr. G. moved to lay the petition on the motion of the gentleman from New York (Mr. BEARDStable.
LEY) must be out of order. A motion was made originMr. BEARDSLEY asked whether the appeal from ally to reject the petition; whereupon a motion was then the decision of the Chair went only to the rejection of made to lay the petition on the table; but being withthe petition, or also to the question of laying it on the drawn, the question then came upon the motion of the table.
gentleman from South Carolina, instanter. The motion, The SPEAKER said the gentleman from North Caro- therefore, to lay that motion on the table was out of Jina (Mr. WILLIAMS) had taken an appeal from both. order, because the House bad decided it would immedi.
Mr. WILLIAMS understood the Chair to decide that ately consider the motion to reject. the motion of the gentleman from South Carolina, The SPEAKER said that the House had decided they whether the petition should be considered, or whether would consider the petition now; but, pending the conit should be received, was not in order. Now, Mr. W. sideration, the House may decide to lay on the table; contended, with all due respect, that when a petition is and therefore the motion was in order. presented, if any member choose to demand it, he could Mr. WISE would ask the Chair if there was any penrequire the preliminary question to be put, Shall the dency of consideration in a motion to consider. petition be received? I understood the Chair to decide The SPEAKER said, pending the consideration of a that the question could not be put.
question, it was competent for any member to move to The SPEAKER replied that the Chair had distinctly lay the matter on the table. stated that, upon a moment's reflection, he admitted Mr. WISE. The motion then before the House was the motion for consideration of the motion of the gentle effectually to undo the decision of the House already man from South Carolina
made. Mr. WILLIAMS. Then there is no question of ap Mr. VINTON begged to inquire of the Chair, as it peal.
would govern his vote, if the motion to lay on the table Mr. BEARDSLEY said, as there was no question of the motion to reject prevailed, whether the petition appeal pending, but two motions, one to reject and the would also go on the table; or what would be the pendother to lay the petition on the table, both of which ing question. would lie over till to-morrow, he would move that the The CHAIR understood that, by an affirmative vote on House proceed at once to decide the last motion, which the motion to lay the motion to reject on the table, the took precedence.
petition also would go on the table with it. The question was then put, whether the House would Mr. BEARDSLEY said, as gentlemen seemed to feel consider the petition now; and it was agreed to.
some embarrassment in voting upon this proposition, Mr. GARLAND said, as the motion of the gentleman though he himself did not, he would withdraw his last from South Carolina to reject was then in order, he motion, and renew the other to lay the petition on the would withdraw his motion to lay the petition on the table. table.
Mr. WISE asked for the yeas and nays; which were Mr. BEARDSLEY renewed it.
ordered. Mr. HAMMOND rose to request the gentleman from Mr. JANES asked for the reading of the petition; and New York (Mr. BEARDSLEY] to withdraw his motion. it was read from the Clerk's table. He expressed his surprise that, but a moment ago, when Mr. THOMAS said he was surprised to discover that the motion to lay on the table, made by the gentleman there are gentlemen who are not content with the evifrom Virginia, [Mr. GARLAND,) was before the House, dence which has already been given that a very large he [Mr. BEARDSLEY) had expressed his desire to have a majority of this House are opposed to any interference direct, "unentangled" vote on the proposition to reject. whatever, not only with the rights of slaveholders in the Yet now, when the gentleman from Virginia withdraws southern States, but with the existence of slavery within his motion, he instantly renews it.
the District of Columbia. We have already laid on the MP. PATTON asked if the Chair considered the peti- table, by a vote of nearly three to one, two memorials tion to have been received
similar to the one now under consideration. But genThe SPEAKER replied in the affirmative.
tlemen say those votes are equivocal; they wish to have Mr. PATTON understood that if the motion to con- direct proof that the rights of slaveholders are not in sider prevailed, it was distinctly declared that the motion danger from any interference on the part of Congress. to receive or not receive the petition would be in order. Mr. T. said that he did not concur in this opinion. The That was a competent motion, which any member of the vote to lay on the table had been given to signify a de. House had a right to make. Now, it was understood as cided opposition to the prayer of the petitioners; neverhaving been received; the proposition not to receive is theless, he would make a motion which would, he thereby cut off. That seemed to be the effect. If that thought, place this subject before the House in a posibe the effect-and if it be the effect the House did not tion to afford an opportunity to remove all misapprehenintend to produce-he trusted the House would put itself sion which really existed, and deprive every man every in stalu quo; and that they should have an opportunity where of all pretext for maintaining that southern propof putting a direct vote upon it. If that was the stateerty and southern rights are in danger. of the question, Mr. P. would feel bimself compelled to Mr. T. then moved to reconsider the vote just given move a reconsideration of the vote thus taken.
by the House in favor of considering this petition, and Mr. BEARDSLEY said the right to petition was a said, if this motion is adopted, we shall then have this sacred right, guarantied to the citizens of the United petition before us in the position in which it was placed States by the constitution, and was one, therefore, the when first presented to the House. In the vote given in House was bound to respect. To obviate the objections favor of considering this memorial, many members had urged by the gentleman, he would withdraw his motion been undoubtedly taken by surprise. Some members to lay the petition on the table, and move to lay the res- who are in favor of rejecting this and other similar meolution of the gentleman from South Carolina, to reject morials, and others who are in favor of receiving and the petition, on the table.
I then laying on the table this and all petitions of like im.
port, united in the vote which he had moved to reconsider. sic volo, give law to the people of the United States. This strange combination could not have been created The members of this House are not in positions stable without a mistake somewhere. Gentlemen must have enough for that. To attempt it would be as vain as the supposed that by the adoption of the motion to consider effort of Xerxes to chain with links of iron the surging this memorial, the difficulty which has arisen by reason sea. Our march is not to be always on the mountain of the decision of the Chair would alone be removede / wave of popular opinion. We are here to-day--we are and that, instead of postponing until to-morrow all action gone to-morrow; and must return to our respective plaon this subject, we would now proceed to dispose of it, ces in that great deep, that vast hall of legislation, the either by a vote to reject or to lay it on the table. confines of which are coextensive with the boundaries
I am not disposed, Mr. Speaker, to afford unnecessa of the Union, and there assist those who are now our rily an opportunity to discuss here the relative rights of constituents, to fashion and form that public opinion, master and slave. As one of the representatives of a which must ever direct and control the whole operations
holding State. I would never provoke an examina- 1 of this Government. tion here calculated to create false hopes in the minds of
"Like bubbles on the sea of matter borne, an ignorant and stupid population. We have been told,
We rise, we break, and to the sea return." I kn how truly, that great and general excitement Assuming these positions to be true, how ought the has already been produced in some of the southern members of this House to act on the present occasion? States, by the circulation of a few fanatical pamphlets. To decide that question satisfactorily for myself, has If this be true, is it not madness, worse than madness, been, until to-day, a difficult task. Twice, during the to struggle to elicit evidence that there is in that House present session, I have voted to lay on the table petiany one man willing to re-echo the sentiment which these
tions from the abolitionists. This was done under the ima incendiary publications contain? I have been opposed, pression that such a proceeding would be entirely satissir, to all discussion on this subject, and accordingly have factory to the whole southern delegation. The large voted repeatedly in the two preceding Congresses to lay | majority of northern and western votes by which it was on the table every proposition calculated to elicit useless
done, too, was hailed by me as evidence conclusive that and angry debate.' And I have been, and am, grateful
there is no disposition in these sections of the Union to do to the representatives from the North and West, where any act calculated to disturb the harmony of our Union. slavery does not exist, for their cordial and earnest effort To-day we are told that the vote to lay on the table is an to extinguish every firebrand which has been thrown in equivocal act. That it has been resorted to to afford an here, either in the form of speeches or petitions, tending opportunity to pretending enemies of abolition to conto destroy the broad foundation on which our Union ceal their future purposes. Sir, is it right and proper, rests. But is it not obvious that our exertions have not under these circumstances, to persevere in the course been crowned with complete success? In the last two which has been heretofore pursued? If gentlemen on Congresses, the petitions of the abolitionists were laid on this floor can be so far misled as to suppose there is a the table, as an evidence of our reprobation of their ob- lurking intention in the mind of any member to turn jects; notwithstanding, at the present session we have | loose an ignorant and helpless population to pillage and already received those petitions, and shall probably have plunder, in what condition will you leave many of the to dispose of several more. These fanatical crusaders constituents of gentlemen who are remote from the against evils abroad, who have, no doubt, vices enough scene of action? Will they not be in a proper condition at their own doors to exhaust, in their correction, that to become the instruments of the designing? May not overflowing Christian charity of which they boast so rash and misguided men, in one extreme of the Union, much and manifest so little, nothing daunted, continue engender those suspicions and distrusts which will be to pour their poisons into that national chalice, from necessarily destructive of all the ends for which this which the whole people of the United States have so Government was established? And may not the headlong quaffed the sweet waters of concord and Union. strong fanatics of the North be furnished with the means Now, what is to be done? For one, I am prepared to of increasing their paltry numbers by inculcating the meet directly every question connected with these me belief that their nefarious purposes are but postponed? morials. I am willing to follow the precedent set by In my humble opinion, if we refuse to act decidedly, to Congress on another question. The opponents of a meet all questions connected with this unpleasant subSunday mail petitioned Congress; their memorials were ject directly, we shall furnish the enemies of our peace rejected, because their object was unreasonable; they and Union with a most dangerous weapon. We shall persisted, and their numbers increased; the House of supply the means to faction and fanaticism to agitate the Representatives finally referred all those petitions to a whole country. And the day may come when these few select committee; from which emanated one of the most and furions destroyers of this country's happiness and masterly state papers which has ever been published in glory will have produced real, not as it is now, imaginathe country. It was addressed to the understanding, ry, in the North-not as it is now, a very limited, but an not to the passions, of the American people; and there extensive excitement--which will sweep in waves to the was a response from all quarters to its cogent, persuasive, very walls of that constitutional temple in which onr and conclusive reasoning. Its arguments were unan fathers fondly hoped they had garnered up so many swered and are unanswerable; and the petitioners were bright hopes and so many blessings for this magnificent silenced. The oil was spread over the troubled waters, confederacy. and the turbulent waves became still.
Mr. Speaker, I am prepared now to meet the responGentlemen say we must prevent any discussion on the 1 sibilities which circumstances have imposed non ns. subject of these memorials, because they must inevitably am prepared to vote for the reception of the petition, disturb the harmony of our Union. There was a time and of all other memorials of similar character; and am when the force of this reason could be fully felt by all. ready to vote against laying them on the table; to deBut has not that time gone by? Without our agency, claré distinctly that the prayers of these petitioners are indeed in defiance of all precautions on the part of Con- unreasonable, and ought not to be granted. gress, the power and purpose of the General Govern- Mr. ROBERTSON asked for the yeas and nays; but ment to interfere with the question of slavery has been, they were not ordered. and will be, discussed in every newspaper, in every pe- Mr. HOPKINS said that they were very much em. riodical publication, from Maine to Missouri. It is a barrassed, and it occurred to him that there was but one gross error to suppose that this House can, by a mere conceivable mode by which they could be relieved from
that embarrassment. He understood that, by the rule of that a vote of the House not to consider this petition, the House, upon the presentation of petitions, unless and all other petitions of the same character, would the question is required to be put by a member of the more distinctly mark the reprobation of the House, House, or by the Speaker, that the same is received as then Mr. B. would with great pleasure modify his moa matter of course; in other words, received by a vote tion. Why, then, should they reconsider, as proposed of the House, sub silentio. If this be the fact, then, by the motion of the gentleman from Maryland?' For this petition had been received. It seemed to him that what purpose? Was it to entertain the question of rethe best mode would be to throw the petition back jecting the petition? He understood that to be the again to the point where it was left by the gentleman
object of the mover; and, if so, he hoped the House who presented it; and, in order tu do that, he would would not reconsider, but that they would preserve to propose to move a reconsideration of the vote of the their constituents the right of petitioning, and, by a vote House by which the petition was received. He would to lay on the table, preclude all further debate upon go farther back than the gentleman from Maryland, this exciting and mischievous topic. (Mr. THOMAS, ] and move a reconsideration of the vote Mr. BOULDIN said he was willing to meet this ques. of the House whereby the petition had been received. tion in any way. He had been so the last session and
Mr. MASON, of Virginia, said his colleague would the session before, and declared his willingness then, be satisfied, upon a moment's reflection, that no benefit in deference and respect to his southern brethren, who could result from such a motion. It was the constitu- he knew agreed with him in interest and feeling; and, tional right of the people of this country to petition to at their suggestion, he agreed with them in voting to that House, and no yote was ever taken on receiving al give the matter the go-by. He then thought, and still petition. When an honorable representative rose and thought, that the people of the South ought to know presented a petition, it was received; and the first ques. and to see and to hear, all that we know and see and tion which any member had a right to demand, was, hear upon this subiect. He was anxious, however. that it be considered. If the House determine not to 1 if they were to come to any expression of opinion consider it, they are to determine at once; and that he and feeling on this matter, so momentous to the South, understood to be the point in their proceedings at which that they should not be brought to that vote entangled it was the object of the gentleman from Maryland to ar-by the rules of that House. He wished, when the opinrive; and Mr. M. hoped the gentleman's motion would ion of the South upon this subject should be expressed, be adopted. He had hoped that, after the proceedings and their feelings made known, it would be done in a which had already taken place in that House, there way that would leave no doubt what that opinion and would have been a general acquiescence in the only, if those feelings were. And he was persuaded that, when not the express sense of the House, by an overwhelm- their opinions and feelings came unshackled by forms or ing majority, not to entertain such petitions as that un- \ rules, or any thing but the mere question itself, the der consideration. The only mode in which there could south would satisfy the North, East, and West-would be a more direct sense of the House on the subject satisfy the whole world—nay, would convince even fawas by adopting the motion of the gentleman from natics themselves, that they must let us alone upon this Maryland; and then, if it be the pleasure of the majority point; and convince them, and all the agitators and moof the House not to consider the petition, and so to de- vers of these petitions, that they had as well let us termine at once, there the matter would end; and he alone, and employ themselves in removing from their own hoped the motion would be adopted, and then that the eye the beam which is in it, rather than disturb themHouse would determine not to consider the petition.
selves so much about the mote that is in their brother's Mr. BEARDSLEY was satisfied that most of the dif- leve. Let us not (said Mr. B.) come to a vote that will ficulty arose from misconception. The honorable mem- leave the world in doubt whether we voted on the rule ber from South Carolina desired to have a direct vote of or the thing-let this petition pass, and no doubt they the House upon the motion to reject, or not to receive, will be coming again to-morrow--ay, in a half hourthe petition under consideration. Other gentlemen, who with one that will enable us to meet it face to face, and agreed with the gentleman from Virginia, who last ad-toe to toe, and leave neither them nor the world in dressed the Chair, said they would not vote in the af. I doubt what we mean. Mr. B. concluded by saying that firmative on such a question, because it was in violation he rose to ask what would be the effect of his vote--ay of the rights of the people of this country to petition or no--on the question itself. He would give the best upon all subjects; and the House of Representatives was vote he could, but did not know himself how that vote bound to receive their petitions. When received, it was would be understood. He would content himself with true the House might decline acting on them, or might the belief that the question would come up in a form dispose of them in a variety of ways. For himself, (Mr. which would leave no doubt either with himself or any B. said,) the House having received this petition, he was one. ready to give a direct vote upon it, a vote that should Mr. PEYTON was in favor of the motion to reconmark the opinion of the House upon the character of sider. He would not have troubled the House with such petitions, by saying affirmatively that they would any remarks again, but for the position assumed by the not consider it. If that would meet the views of honor-gentleman from New York. That gentleman contendable gentlemen, he was willing to modify his motion to ed that the right of petition was a sacred right, guaranlay on the table, and to move that the House would not tied to every American citizen under the constitution; consider the petition, or would reject its prayer; although and that the House had no right to deprive them of the laying it on the table he thought equivalent to either of exercise of that right. Mr. P. said they had the right the modifications indicated.
to petition, and to think and to say what they pleased; All Mr. B. desired was to preserve the right of their and, further, they had the right to send any matter constituents to petition; a sacred and invaluable right, they choose tbroughout all the country, without regard guarantied to them under the constitution, and the ex-) to consequences, and that House had no power to reercise of which the House was bound to treat with resist it. But, then, he claimed that, when it came to spect. If the petition were in insulting terms, they that House, the representatives had the right to treat it might send it back; but if their constituents sent them and dispose of it in such manner as they thought best. one that was respectful in its language, but of whose Was the sacred right of petition any dearer than many prayer they entirely disapproved, let them lay it on the other sacred rights-the right to property, to liberty, table, or reject its prayer. If any gentleman supposed and to life? And had not the attention of the House
been called, by the message of the President of the the petition, and he warned the gentleman from South United States, to this very question of this sacred right Carolina that these were the means of evading his moof thinking, and writing, and sending through the mail, tion. Mr. W. then referred to the preceedings of the such documents as were then before them? Should Senate two years ago, on a motion to reject a petition to they connect the efforts of a few fanatics to disturb the that body, containing matter disrespectful to the honorharmony and peace of the country with those sacred able William Wilkins, then a Senator from the State and inalienable rights to which the gentleman alluded! of Pennsylvania, to show that such a course was within Should they connect the attempt, whether it came by the rules of order; and asked whether the gentleman petition to Congress or by a document transmitted in from New York considered the present a respectful any other mode, to throw a firebrand into the South, petition, where gentlemen on that floor were characterwith the sacred rights of liberty and property?
ized as land pirates! He had hoped that, after the proThe SPEAKER reminded the gentleman that the ceedings at a celebrated meeting at Utica last summer, merits of the question could not be gone into under the where the gentleman himself took a very prominent part, motion before the House.
he should have had that gentleman's vote on the quesMr. PEYTON only meant to reply to what he con tion of rejecting this petition-a petition that was both sidered to be the constitutional right contended for by insulting in language and incendiary in its character. the gentleman from New York-the right of the citizen, Mr. W. hoped the motion would prevail, although he every where, to send such papers and petitions there. did not consider it in itself decisive. They could never He was endeavoring to meet this, by saying that the I get a direct vote on that question. Many would vote slave question was not one to which the right of peti not to reject it, on account of the sacred right of petitioning applied; but that if it did, and petitions were tion, but he hoped the House would not evade the quessent to that House, and papers of the same character tion. He hoped gentlemen who professed to be friendly
buted over the country, it would have the to the South would come out and avow their principles effect of touching a chord that would arouse all and their opinions. If the House desired to evade the America.
question, let the South know it. If it was the opinion Mr. RIPLEY said that this was a grave and important that Congress had the right to interfere in this question, question. There was no subject of deeper interest in let the South know it at once, and it would know wbat the quarter of the country from whence he came. He to do. Their predecessors had told them what to do. had been sent here to oppose every effort of a certain They had no longer any business there. Their business class of citizens, in reference to slavery within this Dis. was at home, to report to their people. He would go trict, or elsewhere. In disposing of the question be- home, never to return there again, if that House were fore the House, care should be taken rather to allay the to say, directly or indirectly, that Congress had that public feeling than to add to the existing excitement. power. That was the question he wished to bring beThe right of petition was a solemn one, and had been fore the House, whether the House had the constituie guarantied from the time of magna charta to the pres |tional power to legislate upon the subject of slavery in ent moment. Our citizens have a right to petition for the District of Columbia at all. He denied the right. a change of their constitution, and, indeed, for a change It was important to have a direct decision on this in the form of Government. Every decorous memorial question, and there was no way of getting it, but by susshould be received; but, when received, it is in the taining the motion then under consideration. Gentlepower of the House to dispose of it as it may deem men must show they are either for or against us, and if proper. The motion to reject this petition was an in they would not show it upon the direct questions, and cipient question, and, in his opinion, should take pre- upon the main questions, they should show it upon the cedence. He again adverted to the great excitement in incidental questions; and he, for one, would be willing the South on this subject, and the importance of allay. to consider this as the test question. Those who are ing that excitement by a decisive course here. If the for laying the motion on the table, he viewed as evading gentlemen from the North were sincere in their friends the question, and so would the South view them. Those ship for their brethren in the South, and were desirous who were for a direct vote on the motion of the gentleof breaking down the double wall of partition between man from South Carolina, would be viewed as the friends those two sections of the country, they could give an of the South, and not the South alone, but of the whole earnest on the present occasion, by voting promptly to nation. He would repeat, the petition was not respectreject this petition; and when it shall go forth that we ful to the House, and therefore it ought to be rejected. have rejected it by a vast majority, it will have an effect He could never consent to refer or consider a petition even upon the fanatics themselves, who do not under that called the members of the South land pirates. stand the position and feeling of the South on this sub. Mr. HAMER inquired of the Chair, whether, if the ject, while it will, at the same time, allay the existing present motion prevailed, it would be competent then excitement in that portion of the country.
for the gentleman from South Carolina, or any other Mr. WISE was for sustaining the motion to recon- ' gentleman, to move to reject the petition? sider; and, for one, could testify that he had voted The SPEAKER said he was under the impression under a misapprehension. In voting for the motion to that that would be a competent motion. consider the petition, be thought he was voting to have Mr. HAMMOND said it had been far from his intena direct decision of the House on the motion of the genetion, when he made the motion he did, to throw a firetleman from South Carolina. He was intending to | brand into that House. On the contrary, he had hoped bring the House also to a direct decision of the question, by it to exclude one from the House. He thought the and had no idea, after the House had decided it would motion a very simple and direct one; and, ignorant as he consider the petition, that the consideration itself would was of the rules of the House, he had no idea that the be evaded.
House had it not in its power to protect its own dignity, Mr. W. had misapprehended in another particular. | and the feelings of its members, by rejecting instanter He had not understood the motion of the gentleman any thing calculated to affect either the one or the other. from South Carolina to be to consider the petition to. If the House had no such rule, the rule of common sense day, but to consider his motion to reject the petition, ought to govern it. which was what Mr. W. wished to consider. So help! When the proposition was made to consider this peti. him God, he never wished to consider the petition of an tion, it was made by himself, with a view of then moving incendiary, but he would consider the motion to reject 1 its rejection. Under the decision of the Speaker, that