Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub
[merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

CHAPTER XII.

proclamation, the Senate adjourned to the follow

ing Thursday. THE TRANSIT OF A YEAR.

This special session of the Senate was called by

the President, principally, if not wholly, to have Let us now revert to the events following the that body act upon his nominations of men to inauguration of 1873, to which I have referred in office. The session being purely for the transacan earlier chapter. Returning to our Chamber, tion of executive business, no legislation was perthe Vice-President resumed the chair at 12:47 missible. There was no House of Representatives, o'clock, the ceremonies on the portico having oc- and would be none until the following December, cupied not half an hour. After the passage of the unless an extraordinary occasion should in the usual resolutions, fixing the hour of daily meeting meantime arise requiring the exercise of its power. and providing for the notification of the President After appointing its committees for the session, that the Senate had convened in obedience to his and attending to the business submitted by the

* Copyright, 1884, by Edmund Alton. All rights reserved.

President, on the twenty-sixth day of March, with us to become acquainted with the new senators, the usual formalities, the Senate adjourned, to meet and then we separated. During that long vacaagain, however, on the first Monday in December, tion of eight months, we pages, like the senators, unless called together again by the President before scattered ourselves over the entire country, one that time.

going to California and another to Maine. We During the course of its proceedings, it ap- indulged in the ordinary juvenile delights; but, . pointed Senator Carpenter to be President of the although we had a grand time, we were only too Senate pro tempore,* to act as presiding officer dur- happy when the first of December came around ing the absence of the Vice-President, who was not and both Houses again convened. able to attend every day. This position of President pro tempore is a very important one. If the Presi- There was nothing unusual about the proceeddent of the United States die or otherwise become ings of the Senate on the opening day. So I went incapable of performing the duties of that office, over to the House of Representatives. This was they devolve upon the Vice-President, and the Pres- the beginning of the first regular session of the ident of the Senate pro tempore becomes the acting Forty-third Congress, and at twelve o'clock the Vice-President of the United States; and, in the clerk of the last House (there being no Speaker) event of the death of both the President and Vice- called the members to order. After a call of the President, the President of the Senate pro tem- roll, the clerk said : pore acts as President of the United States until “Two hundred and eighty-one members having the election of another President as provided by answered to their names, being more than a quolaw. In Great Britain and many other nations rum, the clerk is now ready to receive a motion to of the world the succession to the throne depends proceed to the election of Speaker." upon blood relationship. Those nations are there- Several members arose and suggested the names fore not likely ever to be without persons to act as of various persons; but every one knew beforerulers. Our line of succession, however, is very hand who would be elected. The Republicans short - after the President of the Senate pro tem- were in the majority, and prior to the meeting of pore comes the Speaker of the House, and beyond the House, they had come together and held a that no provision has been made by Congress caucus. A caucus is a secret session of Congressunder the authority conferred upon it by the Con- men all of the same party, in which they talk over stitution. But at the time of which I write, there the policy of legislation and other matters, and was no House, and consequently no Speaker; so agree to act together. The Republicans of the if the President and Vice-President as well as the House, as well as those of the Senate, have frePresident of the Senate pro tempore had died, after quent caucuses; so also do the Democrats. In this the adjournment of that special session, the Gov- particular caucus, the Republican members of the ernment would have had no head.

House had agreed to nominate and vote for James Such a state of affairs would have been, to say G. Blaine as Speaker. He had been the Speaker the least, very inconvenient. And we were not long of the preceding House. Tellers were appointed, ago on the brink of just such a condition of things. and, as the majority of the House voted for Mr. When President Garfield died there was no Speaker Blaine, he was declared by the clerk duly elected of the House, and the Senate had carelessly ad- Speaker of the House of Representatives of the journed without choosing a President pro tempore. Forty-third Congress. He was conducted to the Providentially, Vice-President Arthur was alive, and chair by two of the members, and made a brief he assumed the office of President. Had anything address; whereupon, Mr. Dawes, at the request happened to him, there might have been confu- of the Clerk, administered the oath to the Speaker. sion. So alarmed were many people about it Then the Speaker swore in the members in that, when Congress met, it was asked to pass a attendance, and after the election of a clerk, serlaw creating a longer line of succession, in order to geant-at-arms, door-keeper, postmaster, and chapguard against such an emergency again occurring. lain, the organization of the House was complete. You would naturally suppose, from the anxiety The appointment of committees being the privithat prevailed, that Congress made such a law at lege of the Speaker, it required several days for once. But it did not; and, although several years him to make up the list; but, with this exception, have elapsed, no such law has yet been enacted. the House was ready to begin making laws. If you have influence with any members of Con- The House having notified the Senate of its orgress, it might be well to call their attention to ganization, there remained but one other interestthis subject, and urge upon them the importance ing feature of the proceedings. Every member of taking action in the matter.

naturally wished the best seat in the hall that he The Senate remained in session long enough for could obtain ; and as all of them could not be

* “For the time being."

satisfied, the question was determined by a game remember his calling me to him and making some of chance. The clerk placed in a box as many pleasant remarks as he whittled the end of his slips of paper as there were representatives, each pen-holder. That pen I have to-day, the last he bearing the name of a representative, and he then ever used in the Senate, and probably in the world. drew these slips from the box one at a time. (The I went to the House of Representatives to get member oldest in continuous service, and also Mr. away from the gloom, but found the shadow wherAlexander H. Stephens, who, on account of his ever I went. I remained in the Hall of Repreage and infirmity, was “ entitled to consideration sentatives until three o'clock, and was just on the on the part of the House,” were permitted to point of leaving, when the Speaker arose and in a choose seats before the drawing commenced.) trembling voice remarked : Then all the other members retired beyond the “The Chair lays before the House the following outer row, and each representative, as the slip telegram this moment received.” And then, amid bearing his name was drawn and called, came for- painful silence and suspense, the Clerk read: ward and selected a seat. It was quite an amusing performance; the law-makers enjoyed the fun

“Senator Sumner died at ten minutes before three o'clock.” fully as much as did the spectators in the gallery;

The effect of the announcement was startling. and the countenances of the fortunate members beamed with the smiles of childish joy.

The vast audience seemed dazed and actually at a In the Senate, this matter of seats is settled in a

ed in a loss for breath, and the House at once adjourned. different way. At the beginning of every Congress,

It is needless to describe the sensation produced the newly elected senators choose from among the through

e throughout the city. The news of that death invacant seats in the order in which each senator

stantly spread like a pall over the country, and notifies Captain Bassett, on the principle of “ first

caused profound national grief. come, first served ;” and if they do not get satis

The next day the Senate adjourned after passfactory seats, they “speak” for other seats, in the

ing resolutions in regard to the funeral arrangeevent of such seats becoming vacant during their

ing their ments, and the House did likewise. On Friday, term of office. Captain Bassett keeps a record of the thirteenth, the Senate assembled at the usual all these requests in a book, and often the same

hour. The desk and chair of the deceased senator seat will be spoken for by three or four senators.

were covered with crape, and the walls of the room I remember one senator, who had a seat very

were heavily draped in mourning. The senators desirable on account of its location, who became

came in noiselessly. The air was oppressive, and the suddenly ill — so ill that he was not expected

Senate floor and galleries were strangely silent when to live. Several of the other senators applied for

the Diplomatic Corps arrived, dressed in black, his seat; and, when the senator heard of it, he

and took the seats prepared for them. Then endeclared he would not die. And he did not; he re

tered the House of Representatives in a body, the even lived to see the seats of these senators who

senators standing as the members were being had spoken for his become vacant.

seated; following the representatives came the Within a few days both Houses were in running

Supreme Court of the United States, and the order, and things went on quietly for several months.

President and his Cabinet.

Immediately afterward the Committee of ArBut on the eleventh of March, 1874, the monotony was broken. My attention on that day was at

rangements was announced. Then came a solemn tracted to this unusual language used by the Chap

procession: the casket containing the remains of lain of the Senate in his opening prayer:

the dead statesman borne by six officers, and

escorted by the Committee of Arrangements of “We miss some of our number, who are withdrawn from these the House and Senate, the pall-bearers and mournseats and are lying prostrate with sickness and disease; and espe

he ers. As the cortege entered, the Chaplain of the cially one who but yesterday came into this Chamber with all the presence of his manly form, but now, when we meet again this Senate, who preceded it, slowly repeated the words : morning, lies close to the edge of the dark river."

“I ain the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, When the Journal had been read, Senator Sher- though he were dead, yet shall he live," man moved to adjourn, and the motion was agreed to without a voice being heard, after a session of All the people rose reverently to their feet and only nine minutes. Every one whom I met in the stood, with bowed heads, while the procession Senaté, and throughout the building, was silent moved slowly to the catafalque in front of the Secand sad. I soon ascertained the cause. Senator retary's desk. Sumner was dying! It was hard to realize the After an impressive pause, the religious services sad fact. Only the preceding day he had been in were begun by the Chaplain of the House and the the Senate, apparently in the best of spirits; and I Chaplain of the Senate. After they were con

cluded, the Vice-President pro tempore (Senator to criticise political factions or their principles. Carpenter) said:

Parties, like the men composing them, are neces“The services appointed to be performed by the Committee of

sarily fallible; they have their virtues — they have

sauny ambao Arrangements having terminated, the Senate of the United States also imperfections. Good, upright citizens enterintrusts the mortal remains of Charles Sumner to its Sergeant- tain opposite political views; and the man of honat-Arms and a Committee appointed by it, charged with the melancholy duty of conveying them to his home, there to be com

est convictions, with the courage to express them, mitted earth to earth, in the soil of the Commonwealth of Massa- — although we may think them erroneous,- is alchusetts. Peace to his ashes!"

ways entitled to our respect. The procession again formed, and as it left the But a politician is one thing -- a statesman is Chamber the spectators rose, glancing after it with another. The former will favor any party in oreves almost obscured by tears. At three o'clock der to gain personal advantage; the latter will the funeral train. all draped in black. left the rail- oppose all parties in the maintenance of what he road station, while the church-bells of the city

conceives to be right. And it was because Charles tolled mournfully.

Sumner was a statesman, that honorable men The ceremonies reminded me of those I had of all shades of opinion joined in honoring his witnessed at the Capitol just a year before. Yet memory by testifying to the purity of his motives what a contrast! Then the city was in holiday and the exalted dignity of his life. The sincerity attire, and the nation rejoiced at the beginning of of his convictions none could question; and those a new Administration. On this occasion the city familiar with the perils and the opposition he had was shrouded in the emblems of grief. And, as Sen- encountered in their utterance best understood the ator Anthony feelingly said, “the sad intelligence

moral grandeur of his character. of the death of this great senator had extended

I can not enter into a detailed account of his senbeyond the shores of our own country, arousing pro- atorial

atorial life. It is sure to be found in any complete found regret and sympathy wherever humanity history of hi

history of his country. I will only say that his first weeps for a friend. " wherever liberty deplores an great speech in the Senate, delivered in August, advocate.'

1852, contained this noble declaration, which was

true of his entire public life: Upon the death of a senator or representative, “I HAVE NEVER BEEN A POLITICIAN. THE it is customary for both Houses to set aside a day SLAVE OF PRINCIPLES, I CALL NO PARTY MASTER." for memorial services. * In accordance with this He lived to see the triumph of the principles usage, the Senate, on the 27th of April, resolved, which he was then advocating in the face of most “That, as an additional mark of respect to the bitter opposition; and the tribute paid to his memmemory of Charles Sumner, long a senator from ory by his friend and associate, Senator Anthony, Massachusetts, business be now suspended, that was as just as it was eloquent. “His eulogy is his the friends and associates of the deceased may pay life; his epitaph is the general grief; his monufitting tribute to his public and private virtues.” ment, builded by his own hands, is the eternal The House, on the same day, “in sympathy with statutes of freedom." the action of the Senate,” adopted a similar reso A friend of humanity, his policy was peace, lution.

and the settlement of disputes between nations by I need not dwell upon what was said. Partisan arbitration instead of by war was one of his fondanimosities were forgotten, and men of opposite est dreams. Possessed of such benignant sentipolitical faiths vied with one another in eulogizing ments, on December 2, 1872, he introduced a the life and character of the dead senator. The bill which he requested to have 6 read in full demonstration in Congress was but one of many for information." I shall give it here; for to held throughout the country. At last, every one carry it to the desk was one of my first acts as a was able to look calmly and dispassionately upon page. It was as follows: the deeds of the great senator, and estimate them at their worth. But it had not been so during his

“A Bill to regulate the Army Register and the Regimental Colors

of the United States. career. His independence and fearlessness of “Whereas, the national amity and good-will among fellowthought and action had aroused the fury of all citizens can be assured only through oblivion of past differences,

and it is contrary to the usage of civilized nations to perpetuate the parties; and partisan hate is almost implacable.

memory of civil war: THEREFORE, When Charles Sumner entered upon his duties as Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the a senator, he was treated by his adversaries in the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the names

attles with fellow-citizens shall not be continued in the Army Senate in a manner which violated all the courte- Register.

Register or placed on the regimental colors of the United States." sies of that body. He died – respected by all, one of the foremost statesmen of the age.

The bill was ordered to be printed, and that It is not the design nor province of these papers was the end of its pilgrimage in Congress. It

* Upon the termination of the exercises, it is also usual, as a further mark of respect, to adjourn for the day.

never became a law. But it was discussed else- his seat on the opening day, this time to introduce where! The Legislature of Massachusetts heard his famous Civil Rights Bill — the first bill of the sesof it with deepest indignation. The act of Sen- sion. But, as the days slipped by, his face was less ator Sumner was stigmatized as "an attempt frequently seen in the Senate. December, January, to degrade the loyal soldiery of the Union and February passed — his visits were few and brief. their grand achievements"; and a resolution of On the roth of March, however, he was in attendcensure was introduced and passed by the legisla- ance. I remember it well. I had not seen him ture of the State which had made him its senator. for quite a while, and he called me to his desk. I The men who voted for it could not have known thought he looked more cheerful than usual, and their senator well. His whole life was a contradic- I asked after his health. As he whittled a pen, tion of the charge.

he smilingly chatted with me, and stated that he The resolution of censure was an injustice, which had come to the Senate to hear pleasant news. He would have provoked some men to wrath. But had scarcely made the remark, when Senator with Mr. Sumner it occasioned not anger but Boutwell, his colleague, arose and sent up to the grief. He had served his State for more than clerk's desk to be read a resolution of the Massatwenty years; and it had stood proudly by him chusetts Legislature. As the clerk proceeded, all in all his efforts. That it should now, after his eyes turned upon Senator Sumner who was eagerly long and faithful career, misinterpret his motives, listening. It was a resolution rescinding the vote and seem to brand him with reproach, was perhaps of censure! Within a few moments after the the saddest blow he had ever sustained. The effect reading, the senator left the Chamber, and, as I upon him was visible not only to friends but to parted from him at the door, he shook hands strangers. His manner betrayed how it bore upon kindly, and said: “Good-bye !” his mind. Yet that session wore away and Decem- Those were his last words to me. The next day ber appeared, and the senator was again found at he was dead !

(To be continued.)

LITTLE PENELOPE'S SEWING.

BY ANNA M. PRATT.

SC.

She sat on the floor and tipped over the basket
Till she found some pieces, blue, yellow, and red;

She cut with her scissors some criss-cross patches.
ITTLE Penelope took up her “I'll make my dolly a quilt,” she said.

needle, And tied a knot at the end She put in her needle, this way and that way: of her thread ;

She pushed and she pulled till her fingers bled; And when she had found her thimble And when she had twisted, and puckered and finger,

knotted,– “Now I must learn to sew,” she said. “My doll has a crazy quilt !” she said.

« AnteriorContinuar »