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H. OF R.]

Mississippi Election.

(Oct. 2, 1837.

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any constitutional right to appoint the time, place, and would have no sort of control over its exercise. The dis-
manner of elections, but only to issue a writ to fill up a tinction is between sharing in a power, and disposing of
vacancy, where time, place, and manner were already fixed the means necessary to its effectual operation.
by law, as he should presently have occasion to explain allel appeared to him to be exact.
more fully. It was, then, in reference to the necessity of As to the precedents cited from the Senate, he contended
some legislation upon the subject, which every body would that they did not apply. First, because there is a remark-
admit was (as a general rule) indispensable, that so much able difference in the words of the coustilution in regard to
importance had been attached to this clause in the consti- the filling up of vacancies in the two bodies. Secondly, be-
tution, and such sweeping lerms used in regard to it, in cause the mischiefs arising from a vacancy were far greater
the discussions of the day.

in a fluctuating body than a permanent one, as he had alBut it was further to be remarked that the powers thus ready had occasion to observe; and, lastly and principally, reserved to Congress went much beyond that claimed for because there was a still more important distinction between the State Executive, which was only that of preventing the two cases—a distinction, indeed, so important that, vacancies occasioned by imperfect or perverse legislation of even if the words were precisely the same in the two clauses, the States. It controlled absolutely the whole subject of different rules of interpretation might fairly be applied to congressional elections, with the single exception of the them. When a vacancy occurs in the Senate, the Execplace of electing Senatorz. That body mig!:t, as he had utive of the State is authorized to make a temporary apalready said, pass uniform laws requiring all elections to pointment, until the next meeting of the Legislature-to be by ballot or viva voce-all to be by general ticket or by inake an appointment, he repeated, not to summon the district-all to be at the same season of the year, &c. it Legislature to exercise their right of choice. This was a might not only restrain and rectify an unconstitutional ex- privilego vested in the Executive, in derogation of the comercise of the power of the States in this particular-it might mon law of the subject-of the otherwise unalterable right not only supply deficiencies or retrench excesses in it-but of the Legislatures of the States in this particular. It was, Inight supersede and annul the (otherwise) constitutional therefore, according to well-established principles, to be exercise of it. It was, therefore, quite natural that it rigidly construed. On the contrary, where a vacancy ocshould have been the object of jealous and vehement dis- curred in the House, all that the State Executive was aucussion in a country of such various character and condi- | thorized to do was to issue his writ to call together the peotion, and that, in that discussion, the great prominent ob- ple to fill it up. This was a provision in furtherance of jects of the respective provisions should have absorbed the the common rights of the constituency, making no change attention of minds engaged in the discussion. Besides, the whatever in the relation between them and their representStates demanded the right to regulate time, place, and ative, but simply preventing their heing without one. manner : did they claim that of creating an interregnum in Even, therefore, were the words the same, different conthe Government? Among the most extravagant champi-structions might be put upon them, agreeably to wellons of their independence, was one to be found who con- settled principles of legal interpretation. But how much sidered that as a high privilege, an incommunicable attri- stronger was the case when they came to collate the two bute of sovereignty? It was, therefore, easy to explain clauses, and to find that the one which, on general princithe fact thus relied on by gentlemen, consistently with the ples, ought to be rigidly construed, was conceived in the view which he had presented; and he again reminded the most precise terms, leaving no doubt whatever of the exHouse of the cardinal principle of interpretation which tent of the power thus conveyed, while the other was just required them to lean in favor of admitting every part of the as general and comprehensive as it ought to be, if intendpeople to its share in the legislative power of the country. ed to protect the people completely against all possible

But conceding that, had there been no election law in chance of an interregnum in the Government.
Mississippi, there would have been a failure of representa- He then proceeded to notice two objections which had
tion, how did that affect the case of an election held under been very much insisted on in the debate.
a law, as he bad already observed, in exact conformity with It was said that, if this view of the constitution were just,
it? Had that statute, which actually provides for elections every election held after the 4th of March ought to be
to fill up vacancies, gone on to authorize the Executive to held under a writ of the Executive, or it was utterly void ;
issue his writ in the event of an extraordinary session, it and then cases were put of elections required to be held at
would not have been disputed but that the election had a certain time by a State law, which should be ordered at
been legal. It has done every thing but that, and yet the another by such special writ.
vinission of such an authority can be supposed to vitiate it. His answer was, in the first place, that all these difficul-
But, in fact, that authorization, had it been expressly given, ties arose, as he had already observed, not out of his read-
would have been, according to his previous reasoning, ing of the constitution, but out of that adopted by gentle-
merely superfluous-expressio coram quæ tacite insunt- men, and served very strikingly to expose its unsoundness.
for the Executive derives his power to issue a writ in such | If the States so arranged their election laws as to preclude
a case from the constitution of the United States, and that all possibility of an interregnum, no such conflicts could
power could neither be increased nor diminished by any act ever arise. But he was willing to go further ; be denied
of the State. Admitting, then, for the sake of the argument, that elections held under a law admitting of a vacancy,
that it could not have been exercised in the absence of all should an extraordinary session be called, were necessarily
State legislation on the subject, * yet here the State legis. | void, if no such call were made. To be sure, in the strict
lation being complete, his power wanted nothing to give it technical way of considering these things, in matters of mere
full effect. He issued his writ, and it was executed under meum and tuum, it might be true that such a law would
the statute. So the President and Senato may make a be pronounced utterly null and void by a court of justice-
treaty without consulting the House of Representatives, though there was a decision of a respectable judge* declaring
but should an appropriation be necessary to its fulfilinent, a law good to one intent though void as to another. But
the House has the constitutional power of withholding it. this whole subject of elections was, as he had shown, a
Yet the treaty-making power was a substantive, and, ex- strictly practical one, over which the House exercised its
cept in the case mentioned, an independent one; and, had exclusive jurisdiction, with an enlightened equity and in
the supply been voted in advance, it is plain that the House the spirit of indulgence and accommodation. Were that
* In Hodge's case, the Governor of Pennsylvania fixed the time of

House a school of sophisters or a chamber of special plead-
the election, and the House ruled that it was competent for him to do
So, the statute containing no provision on the subject.

* Washington, J.

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Oct. 2, 1837.)

Mississippi Election.

(H. of R.

ers, these objections of a mere metaphysical exactness might tional limitation should be rejected, and not the constituhave some weight with it; but he could see no substantial | tional act. He compared it to a gift of land to a man and difficulty whatever in acquiescing in election laws of the his heirs, with a proviso that it should not be suliject to his States, however imperfect, so long as no practical incon- debts or disposal ; a proviso simply void. venience arose out of them. The abuse was become invet- He had put the case as strongly as possible for the operate, and raleant quantum valere possunt. An extraordi- posite side. He supposed the people themselves, through nary session was a thing of very rare occurrence; and he iheir Legislature, to have attempted to impose this unconiwas willing to tolerate this irregularity in the legislation of stitutional limitation upon the tenure of members of Consome of the States, provided, in case of such a session, gress—and we there had shown that it was of no effect their executive authorities were enabled to issue a writ to whatever. He concluded by showing that the objection prevent a vacancy in the House, and an interregnum in the applied a multo fortiori to a proclamation or writ the Government. Indeed, this seems to him strongly to re- Executive of the State. In that case, the people must be commend the construction contended for; it reconciled the presumed to have acted on their own knowledge of the right of the States with those of the nation, and sacrificed constitution, (which, also, they are presumed, as every to the convenience of the former every thing but their ob- body is presumed, to know,) and not on the mistaken ligations to the latter--whereas a uniform law passed by views, or arbitrary behests of the Governor. Congress to regulate elections would, as he had shown, be This point, he repeated, appeared to him perfectly clear. liable to many objections.

He had no doubt whatever, that if the vacancy were Lastly, he opposed to the authority of so many laws pass. | properly filled under a writ from the Executive, it was ed ly the new States, and the opinion of their constitu- filled both hy the letter and the spirit of the constitution, tionality that had latoly prevailed, the still weightier au- for the whole term, which no State has any color of right thority of contemporaneous construction. All the States either to divide or to prolong. He might be the more which formed the constitution, he believed, without a sin. confident in this opinion, because it had been repeatedly esgle exception, originally ordered their elections to be held tablished by the highest tribunal in South Carolina, in before the 4th of March. The great majority of them still analogous cases, In those cases, officers whose term of did so; a very few of them had subsequently altered their service was defined in the constitution of the States, but laws, doubtless because, extraordinary sessions being very | who have been commissioned for a different term, had unirarely called, they had lost sight of the principles involved formly been remitted to their constitutional tenure. in the question, and the weighty inconveniences to which On the whole, Mr. L. concluded that the sitting members he had alluded. This discussion would awaken attention were duly elected for the whole 25th Congress; and, after to them, and he was mistaken if the decision of the House adding a few words, touching the part which Mr. Claiborne in favor of the sitting members would not be universally ac- had taken in the North Carolina election as entitling his quiesced in as the most safe and reasonable practical con- case to the candid examination of the House, without disstruction of two apparently conflicting clauses of the consti- tinction of parties, resumed his seat. tution.

Mr. UNDERWOOD said that, in reference to this parAs to the second part, viz: how far the limitation at- ticular election, he could suggest a plausible reason why tempted to be imposed upon the tenure of the sitting mem- the present members should retain their seats--a reason bers, by the restriction of it to the extra session, in the which had not as yet been urged, and to which he conproclamation of the Governor of Mississippi, was of any le-fessed he should be puzzled to tind an objection. It was gal effect, he thought it resulted inevitably from his pre- this: the House of Representatives was composed of memvious reasonings that it was of none whatever.

bere chosen every second year; and the constitution said The authority of the State Executive was defined by the that the States should regulate the manner and time of constitution from which it was derived. It was to issue a choosing them, unless Congress should interfere. The writ to fill a vacancy, without any limitation or condition ; State of Mississippi had acted in accordance with this pronot, as in the case of the Senaté, to fill a vacancy which vision, and had elected her Representatives to serve for the should be until a fixed period. Why this express differ- ensuing two years. The time of their election had not yet ence, in positive provision, if there was to be none in expired, and if they had been permitted to retain their seats practice ?

to this period, in that view of the case he would confess Had the Legislature itself of Mississippi ordained that the that if the objection were orged, he should be puzzled to election of members of Congress in that State should take set it aside. Under the letter of the constitution there was place generally in November, &c., but should the Presi- nothing to prohibit it. dent convene the two Houses at any earlier period after the Mr. MASON, of Ohio, thought that, if the Governor 4th of March, limiting the term of service there--that in of the State of Mississippi, with all his legal knowledge, that case writs should issue for the extra session alone, and both of the State law and that of the constitution, was of another set of members be chosen afterwards for the re- opinion that the terms of election would expire with the mainder of the term ; every body would agree that such a present session, (and that was his opinion, he having inlaw was unconstitutional ; that the last words either vitiated serted a clause in the writ to that effect,) then it would be it entirely, or must themselves be rejected as repugnant a fair inference to suppose that the people of the State of and void.

Mississippi had a similar impression. No one, at all versed in such matters, could hesitate Mr. GHOLSON hoped the gentleman would allow him which branch of the alternative to choose.

to state that, at the time of his and his colleague's elecIt was a conflict between the general interest and a par- tion, there was not the slightest doubt among the people ticular interest, where they could not possibly be reconciled; of Mississippi but that, whoever were elected, were elected and the latter must, of course, give way to the former for the whole term of the twenty-fifth Congress, The people of Mississippi could, in such a case, have ex- Mr. MASON disclaimed any disrespect to the gentlepressed their wish to be represented, if possible, on certain men from that State, but had merely stated what, in his terms; but, at all events, to be represented. The House opinion, was a fair inference, without knowing any thing would have to choose between rejecting their members al about facts. He then went on to give his reasons why he together, or admitting them on the conditions prescribed by could not vote for the resolution reported by the committhe constitution. He thought there could be no doubt After which, which it should do, and that every analogy of law, every On motion of Mr. HAYNES, presumption of common sense, required that the constitu- The House adjourned.


H. OF R.]

Mississippi Election.

(Oct. 3, 1837.

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sion of the first Congress commenced, thus fixing the startMISSISSIPPI ELECTION.

ing point for calculating the commencement of every suc.

cessive term of service in this House. After the presentation of memorials, the House resumed In ascertaining the intention of the parties to contract, the consideration of the report of the Committee of Elec- ether public or private, we might derive instruction tions, in the case of Messrs. GHOLSON and CLAIBORNE, from a reference to their practice under it. There were of Mississippi.

thirteen States concerned in forming the federal constituMr. HAYNES said that, until particular circumstances tion, seven of which, together with two others since formhad called his attention to the subject of discussion yester- ed of portions of them, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, day, he had not intended to participate in it.

New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, South In proceeding to examine the claim of the sitting mem- Carolina, and Georgia, now keep up a perpetual succesbers from the State of Mississippi to seats in this House, sion in this House, sending here one hundred and eighteen two points were presented for consideration. The first out of the one hundred and seventy members who repreand most important is, did such a vacancy exist in the sent the old thirteen States. The intention to preserve representation as to authorize the Governor to issue his the perpetual succession already adverted to, is as plainly writ of election for filling it? And the second is, admit- indicated in the power conferred upon the Governor of a ting such vacancy to have existed, how far is the valid State to fill vacancies, and that reserved to Congress to ity of the election affected by its being limited to the pres- legislate in default of State legislation, as it well could ent extra session of Congress by the proclamation of the have been, so far from there being such repugnance beGovernor ?

tween them as gentlemen have contended for. In considering the first question--the question of vacan- The language of the constitution is, “ the times, places, cy--and in the various definitions which honorable gen- and manner of holding elections of Senators and Repretlemen had given of that term, he thought they had con- sentatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legisfined themselves to too nice and rigid a technicality. In lature thereof; but the Congress may at any time, by law, the clause of the constitution which confers upon the Gov. make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of ernor of a State the right, and which imposes on him the choosing Senators.” For what purpose could the power duty, to order an election to fill a vacancy in this House, be reserved to Congress over time and manner of choosing no term of limitation is used restricting that right and that Senators, and time, manner, and place or choosing Repre.. duty to any particular set of circumstances whatsoever.sentatives, and the power to fill vacancies conferred on the The words of the constitution are : “ When vacancies Governors of the States, unless it was for the purpose of happen in the representation of a State, the Executive au- keeping those offices constantly filled ? It would seem to thority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill auch va- be impossible to forego the conclusion that this was the cancies." Could language be more broad than that em- purpose of the convention, and no other. In considering ployed by the federal convention in empowering the Gov. | this point, gentlemen seemed to him to have erred in taernor of a State to fill vacancies in this House? It cer- king it for granted that Congress and the States bad done tainly could not But, in arriving at a conclusion upon everything required of them by the constitution, when the subject of vacancy or no vacancy, it appeared to him there ad, according to his view of the subject, been a that gentlemen had carried to the consideration of the glaring omission by both, in all cases in which the election causes which might produce such vacancy, the same nar. of Representatives in Congress has been postponed berow and erroneous notions which had governed their in- yond the day on which the constitutional term commences terpretation of the term vacancy itself. They had con- biennially, counting from the 4th day of March, 1789. fined those causes exclusively to the act of the individual | He therefore came to the conclusion, which he did not incumbent, or the providence of God acting upon him, believe a proper examination of the subject could resist, when it should have been equally applied to those whose that a perpetual office having been created, perpetual sucduty it should be to sec that no vacancy should be suffered cession must follow as an inevitable consequence; and to exist without having it immediately filled.

whenever such perpetual succession is broken, either by To enable us to arrive at a just conclusion of what was the act of the incumbent or the constituent body entitled meant by the federal convention in conferring upon the to fill it, a vacancy existed in the contemplation of the Governor of a State the power of causing vacancies in this constitution, which it is the fight, and not only the right, House to be filled, it is necessary to inquire into the mo- but the duty, of the Governor to cause to be filled, by istive of that body in organizing the Congress of the Uni-suing his writ of election. ted States. And what was that motive ? In announcing But to show the mischievous

consequences of the opthat motive, he would place himself upon ground which posite doctrine, it would be sufficient to state that there he was very sure no gentleman would controvert: that, in was an actual House of Representatives in existence, on creating the House of Representatives, as well as the Sen- the 4th of March last, by the previous election of more ate, it was the purpose of the convention, in each case, to than one hundred and forty members, making a constitucreate a perpetual office. That this was the office, is the tional quorum for the transaction of business. Suppose necessary consequence of their high purpose to create a some great national contingency had then made it the duty perpetual Government. They gave to the Senators the of the President to convene Congress at the earliest practerms of six, and to the Representatives the term of two ticable period. There was a constitutional quorum for years. But as a consequence, too obvious and inevitable the transaction of business in existence; and no one can to be contested, of creating a perpetual office to carry on deny the constitutional power of the Executive, under the a perpetual Government, the succession must also be per- contingency supposed, to call them together. But alpetual. In proof of such intention, various considerations, though a quorum might have been so convened, and might of a character too irresistible to be denied, may be present constitutionally have proceeded to transact the public busied to the consideration of the House. In setting the new ness, a majority of the States would have remained unrepsystem in motion, its operation commenced on the 4th of resented for months, unless their respective Governors had March, 1789; thus fixing the time from which the consti-issued writs of election, according to the plain intent and tutional term of the members of the Senate and House of meaning of the clause of the constitution requiring them Representatives should be computed. All the elections to to issue writs of election for filling vacancies in this body. Congress were completed in anticipation of it; and, on But there is another view of the subject which bears upthat day, if he was not greatly mistaken, was the first ses- on this question. It has been contended that, as the

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States are only required to elect Representatives once in be waste of words to discuss it. There was a vacancy, two years, the time of election is, svith them, wholly a and a vacancy running to the close of the Congressional matter of discretion. But this is certainly an erroneous term. The Guvernor was not only authorized, but review of the subject, as that discretion was plainly intend- quired, to issue his writ of election to fill it. He did issue ed to be limited by the necessity of the case ; the necessity that writ, and because of the attempt to limit the term to of keeping a perpetual succession unbroken and entire. the present session, will any one seriously urge that the By the constitution, no day was fixed for commencing the whole proceeding is vitiated by it? operations of the new Government. That was settled by For whose benefit was that election ordered to take an ordinance of the Congress which ceased to exist the place ? For the people of Mississippi. By whom was it moment the federal constitution went into operation ; and conducted ? By the people who were interested in it. the 4th day of March, 1789, was the day appointed by And, so far as we are informed, the whole canvass was conthem. As the constitution fixed the representative term ducted with a persect understanding, that the election at two years, and as that term was to date its commence- would cover the remainder of the term of the twenty-filih ment at the 4th of March, the elections in the several Congress. Ard, more, the canvass was animated, the States were intended to conform to it. If this principle election was full, and decided by a large majority. Who should not govern, and a majority of the States postpone, then will have the hardihood to say, because the Governor, as they now postpone, their elections beyond the day on in performing his constitutional duty of ordering an elecwhich the term commences, their Representatives are not tion to fill a vacancy, attempted to limit and control the elected for the term prescribed by the constitution ; and duration of that vacancy, that the full and free expression hence we arrive at the result, that in all such cases there of the public will of the State of Mississippi shall pass is a vacancy, and such a vacancy as is contemplated by unregarded in this House? For his own part, in every the constitution in the clause empowering and requiring question involving the rights of the people, he should their Governors to fill vacancies. If, then, by the negli always be found in support of those righis to the best of gence of those States and of Congress, the perpetuity of his ability. the succession has been broken, how can that deprive a Mr. SLADE contended that neither the resolution nor the Governor of his constitutional right, or excuse him from amendment took the true ground. He did not believe that his high constitutional obligation to see that the vacancy the members elected were entitled to hold their seats during shall be filled? There is certainly no conflict between the the entire continuance of the 25th Congress, and he did rights of the States or of Congress on the one hand, and believe they were entitled to seats at the extra session; and the Governor on the other, under this view of the subject. if any gentleman would bring forward a proposition to this It was made the duty of the Legislatures of the States, and effect, he would vote for it. He was not in favor of the in default of them of Congress, to keep up a perpetual suc- amendment, but if he was compelled to decide between it cession in the representative body; and in the failure of and the original resolution, he would be compelled to vote either to do so, the right and the duty of the Governor of for it. From the most careful examination which he could a State require of him to supply the omission. Nor is give the subject, he had come to the conclusion that such this view derogatory to the rights of the people, but in a vacancy had happened as was contemplated by the consupport and affirmance of them. In the case already sup- stitution. He contended that the Governor had the power posed, or a convention of Congress at the commencement to fill up this vacancy, by issuing his writ of election to of the constitutional term, according to the doctrine ad-fill the vacancy until the time of the regular election under vanced by those who oppose the regularity of the Missis- the constitution of the State, and went into a lengthy arsippi election on the ground that there was no vacancy, a gument in support of this view of the case. majority of the States, under their present election laws, Mr. TILLINGHAST thought it perfectly manifest that might remain unrepresented for months, and their constit- the people of Mississippi intended to have Representatives uency unheard in this body. But, according to the view in Congress at the present extra session, and he was glad presented by him, every State in the Union would be that by the rules of the House the gentlemen were permitrepresented with no more delay than might be necessary ted to take seats at the present session of Congress, befor their Governor to convene the electors by his proclama- cause he was always willing to take into account the will tion. The conclusion of his argument was, that as the of the constituency. It was assumed, however, that the representative office is perpetual, and as that carries with people believed, at the time of the election, that they were it perpetual succession, if the State Legislature shall so electing Representatives for the twenty-fifth Congress ; but leave it that on the 4th of March, corresponding with the this he took to be an improper assumption ; because the biennial commencement of the representative term in this people were only authorized by the Governor to vote for House, any State shall be unrepresented, a vacancy has members to the extra session of Congress, and therefore it happened, on which arises the power and the obligation was but fair to presume that the people were not generally of the Governor to cause it to be filled. He said he was of opinion that they were electing members for the whole aware that this might be considered a novel doctrine ; but of the twenty-fifth Congress. They were led to believe, it was the legitimate consequence of his original proposi- by the proclamation of the Governor, that the term of those tion, the perpetuity of the representative office, and its they were voting for would expire at the time when the necessary result of a perpetual succession; and he had al- existing law of the State provides that the election for ready shown that the people were deeply interested in the members of Congress should take place. He contended establishment of the doctrine. If, then, his premises and that it was not in the power of the Governor to authorize conclusion were legitimate, there was a vacancy in the an election for the whole of the 25th Congress ; because, representation of the State of Mississippi, requiring of the if the Governor was clothed with this power, he could set Governor to issue his writ of election for filling it; that aside the laws of the State entirely. He contended that such writ had been issued; the people had assembled at the real difficulty in relation to the Mississippi election was the places, and held the election in the manner required, defective legislation; because the Legislature had not proand, as a consequence, the honorable gentlemen claiming vided for the exigency which might arise in case of a call seats in this House as Representatives from that State, are of an extra session of Congress immediately after the fourth as clearly entitled to them as any members belonging to it. of March. It appeared to him that the proper course would In regard to the second point in the case, the limitation have been for the Governor to call the Legislature to proattempted to be imposed by the Governor upon the term vide the means of filling up the vacancy which had occurfor which members were to be elected, it seenied to him to 'red, and cited the late election in Rhode Island as an illus

H. oF R.]

Mississippi Election.

(Oct. 3, 1837.

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tration of his idea. There the Legislature provided for the tician with that gentleman, is directly in his path; and I case of an earlier election of Representatives to Congress, am not at all surprised that his respect for the character and no one dreamed that this difficulty would be remedied and attainments of the late William Wirt was too strong by the Governor issuing his writ of election to supply the to permit him to run counter to the recorded opinion of that vacancy.

distinguished man. I shall have occasion hereafter to refer Mr. HOWARD addressed the Chair as follows:

particularly to that opinion, and only allude to it now to I am not disposed, sir, (said Mr. H.,) to repeat argu- show its power in driving from a concurrence with the rements which have been already urged with great effect by port of the ininority all those who attach any value to his those who have preceded me in this debate.. The points construction of the constitution, even although they take involved in the case have been fully stated, and, indeed, refuge in a theory so unsubstantial that no one will call the speech of the honorable gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. upon the House for a vote upon it. It is not worth while PENNYBACKER,] a member of the Committee of Elections, to consume time by attacking a hypothesis in which its own left but little original matter to be urged by those who might friends do not appear to have the slightest confidence; but be inclined to follow him upon the same side of the ques. | I must be permitted to remark, that the doctrines which tion. The fairness with which he stated the case, and the would break up the constitutional term of service of the logical comments which he made as he passed its different members of this House into any number of long or short branches under review, almost exhausted iho argument, periods, according to the humor or policy of every State, and only a little gleaning can be found, here and there, seems to be as new as it is visionary. For wise purposes, lying upon the field which he traversed. He has reversed which it is easy to see, the framers of the constitution dithe example of the benevolent Jew in scripture, and in- rected that we should perform the duties appertaining to stead of purposely leaving an occasional handful to be our stations here for two years, and we have taken upon picked up by the humble and industrious gleaner, as a re- ourselves the high responsibility of executing these imward for patient toil, he has scarcely left enough to make, portant trusts in the face of the nation, anxiously watchwhen collected, a single sheaf. Unwilling to seize upon ing every step that we take. The obligation rests upon the produce of another man's Jabor, by appropriating to every State in the Union to be represented here, and it canmy own use an entire shock, as is too often done in this not fulfil it by instalments, by portioning out the debt House, I should have remained a silent spectator of the scene, which it owes to its sister States, and discharging a little if it were not that I have been induced to explore for my- at a time. The wholo House has a right--the whole naself a corner which has hitherto escaped observation, the tion has a right-to the benefit which the experience of result of which inquiry I will bring particularly to your even some months may confer upon the members of this notice, after some general observations upon the subject. body. The measures which may be proposed and discus

The facts in the case are few and admitted. The Le- sed, must be decided upon by the same individuals who gislature of Mississippi omitted to provide by law for hold- have assisted in proposing and discussing them. We come ing an election for members of Congress, in case a special in together and must go out together. We resemble, in session of that body might be convened by the President this respect, the changes of horses in a stage coach ; and before November, and the Governor ordered an election to the idea that a part of us can serve but for a portion of our be held, directing that the persons chosen should retain legislative journey, then to be superseded by fresh comers, their seats until the recurrence of the regular election, in is as unfounded as it would be ridiculous to stop a coach at November, and two members are now in their seats in this every mile to change a single horse in the team. But, as body under that proceeding. Are they members of the en- I have already remarked, whilst members upon this floor tire twenty-fifth Congress, or for a part of it, or is the are using this theory in debate, no one has sufficient reliwhole election void? These are the questions which we ance upon its correctness to call for a vote of the House upon must consider, and reply to one or other of them in the it. I will therefore dismiss it from further consideration. affirmative. There is no other choice. We must select out of the three positions any one that we prefer, upon of the two propositions before us sustained their respective which our judgment can rest with the greatest degree of opinions, there was one reflection which pressed itself upon satisfaction. But, although we are presented with three me. It was this. Both sides agreo, as they ought to do, opinions, (not concurring in the propriety of the phrase, in attaching primary imporlance to the wishes of the peothree alternatives, I will not use it,) yet it is remarkable ple of Mississippi, and profess themselves desirous to carry that, when we come to vote, we must discard one, and ihat will into effect, if they can only find out what it is. choose between the remaining two. A majority of the One expression of their wish is admitted on all hands. All Committee of Elections have reported a resolution declar- agree that the people of that State intended to be represent. ing that the election is valid, and that the members chosen ed here at this extra session, and made every effort in their under it must hold their seats for the entire term of the power to be so. Those who advocate the report of the milwenty-fifth Congress; and a minority have reported a res. nority, and are willing to declare the election totally void, olution declaring the election to have been totally void. of course intend to shut the doors of this hall upon the sitNo one has proposed to amend either one, so as to obtain ting members from the moment that the resolution passes. a vote upon the proposition that the sitting members are If we adopt it to-day, they cannot come among us to morentitled to their seats until November, and no longer ; and row, and Mississippi would have no Representatives here. until some one shall offer such an amendment, there is no So far, then, as the people of that State have expressed a basis upon which those who hold such an opinion can ex- clear desire, about which there is not, and cannot be, any press it by their vote, and the House, therefore, must select, controversy, to have a share in the important decisions of according to its best judgment, one of the only two prop- this extra session, just so far must we allow that expression ositions before it. The gentleman from Vermont, (Mr. to have controlling influence in the vote which we may SLADE,] who has just addressed the Chair, showed a de- give, provided that vote be regulated solely by a regard to sire to rest his vote upon this theory, but abstained from their wishes. What then is the attitude of the two parts drawing it forth from the shadowy obscurity in which it of the House? Let us see how they stand as to the obnow lies, by presenting it in the form of a distinct propo- servance of the will of the people of Mississippi. Two sition. It is not difficult to account for his reluctance to gentlemen present themselves here on the first day of the adopt the report of the minority. The high authority of session, having filed their credentials with the cierk, and one of the most distinguished jurists that our country has offer to be sworn in, as usual. No opposing claimant apever produced, and who was known to be a favorile poli- ' pears. No petition is presented from a single man in,

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