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Jax. 26, 1835.]
Viva vuce Elections.
[H. OF R.
tion of the Senate and House of Representatives, ap- uents, and at the same time enabling my honorable proved and signed by the President, sball be conduct- friends to act out their principles, and aid me in reclaimed in manner and form as directed by said resolution.” ing, for each Congress, the exercise of its inherent and
Mr. PEYTON, of Tennessee rose and addressed the constitutional rights. I have adopted the only mode by House as follows:
which this can be effected, and at the same time secure Mr. Speaker: I am partial to viva voce voting, and es. a viva voce vote. I have no petty purpose to subserve. pecially to viva voce acting. This partiality, and my great We were for it at the last session upon principle, and ansiety to avoid encroaching upon the constitutional cannot be against it at this. Our party is overwhelming powers of the next Congress, induced me to vote in favor in strength; it is committed on this question. We have of laying the resolution offered by the honorable gentle said that the constitution has been violated by an expiman from Illinois on the table, that I might offer what I ring session of Congress; electing a printer for a new am compelled to submit as an amendment, without any Congress; and let us not bring upon ourselves the reencumbrance whatever. What I am about to propose proach of inconsistency, but nobly step forward to the will secure a viva voce vote in all elections, and assert the rescue of the constitution. Able, unanswerable arguright of each Congress to elect its printer. I have never ments have been made on this question in the other end seen the time or place when I was the least embarrassed of the Capitol, by a great statesman and true democrat, in declaring for whom I intended to vote, and I hope I wbich, I am sure, will have due weight with all, and never shall be so craven in spirit, so lost to that indepen- with none more than my friends from New York. dence which is native in the bosoms of my constituents, I allude, sir, to the powerful argument made by the as to crouch, and hide-do one thing and say another. honorable Thomas H. Benton, in the Senate, on the And, sir, I must be permitted to defend the citizens of 1911, and published in the Globe of the 220 February, my native State from those imputations which have been 1833, on the motion to go into the election of public cast upon all who vote by ballot in their elections. Ten printer. He had, on the 13th of the same month, intronessee has voted in that manner in the election of all her duced a resolution, the substance of which I have emofficers for nearly forty years; and she has not lost her braced in my amendment. It was a joint resolution of liberty, her gallantry, or independence. And if gentle. both Houses; so is mine. It changed the time of elecmen think so, they are much mistaken. No, sir, such tion of printer from the end of the expiring Congress things depend upon the tone of sentiment amongst men, to the first week of the new Congress, so does mine. more than the mere mode of expressing that sentiment. Here Mr. Benton's resolution stopped; mine goes further, The man who would represent the character and feelings and declares that the election of printer, and all other of her people must be frank, candid, and independent-elections, shall be viva voce. And this is the only matemust be a plain case—no biding, nu dodging. If you rial difference between them. I consess that I should ever see a gentleman at this—who cannot be found have been somewhat at a loss as to the powers of this you may feel, but cannot see him—who leaves no sign-House in repealing, or in any measure changing, a joint cannot tell which end of the road he has gone-if you resolution of both Houses, which has received the sanccatch him out in a snow, get on his track, and are con- tion of the President, but for the light which that able fident you have him; but when you come to find out and indefatigable Senator has shed upon this subject. I he has turned the heels of his shoes before, and you are had looked upon the resolution of 1819 as unconstituon the back track;—such a man is no Tennesseean. tional and void; so did he: and he appears to have been
But while I vindicate the character of Tennessee from prepared to sustain that proposition, wherever it should those aspersions which have been thrown upon her on be presented. But when the question arose, whether account of the mode of electing public officers, ingralied the Senate could recognise its validity as a joint resoluupon that constitution which Andrew Jackson aided in tion, and, at the same time, change any one of its feaforming, and retained by her recent convention after tures by a single resolution, he promptly decided that it thirty-eight years' experience, I am willing that all elec- could not. This, sir, was, with me, an unanswerable lions by Congress shall be viva voce. I like to hear genobjection to voting for the resolution of the gentleman tlemen speak out boldly on this floor, as well as else- from Illinois. where; for of all things, I have the least taste for hypoc- It is a single resolution, which will change the mode risy or double dealing.
of electing a printer from a vote by ballot to viva voce, But, sir, I am equally anxious to secure another object, under a joint resolution, and change it in nothing elsewhich must be dear to my honorable colleagues who thus recognising its validity in every word and syllable, agree in political sentiment with me, and my friends from except as to the mode of making the election. It canAlabama, New York, and elsewhere, and that is the right not be done. We have a precedent, directly in point. of each Congress to elect its own printer. I know we I quote from Mr. Benton's speech before alluded to. all agreed in our constitutional views on this subject last Mr. Benton said: winter. It was a question which produced much excite- “His present object was to prevent an election at this ment in my district, and in the State generally. I gave session; and for this he had a good precedent, originamy views, as I am now about to express them, and pledg- ting in the Senate itself, precisely in point, in every pared myself to my constituents, if no one else did, to offer ticular. He referred to the election of a public printer a resolution embracing substantially what I now offer on towards the close of Mr. Adams's administration, when the subject of printer, and to move to go into the elec- Mr. Green was elected over Gales & Seaton. Tlie election at the commencement of the last session. I did not tion came on; several ballotings took place; Mr. Green do so, and this requires an explanation to my constituents. I had a plurality of votes, not a majority of the whole. My apology is to be found in the fact that, after I had my The joint resolution under which ihe Senate balloted resolutions prepared, and was on the eve of presenting (the resolution of 1819) expressly declared that a pluthem, I was requested to permit an older and much abler rality should be sufficient; but the majority, on the eve member of this body, my friend from Alabama, (Mr. Mc. of proceeding to the ballot, had passed a single resoluKinley,) who addressed the House on Saturday, to of. tion, to control the joint resolution, declaring that a mafer the resolutions. To this I assented with great pleas-jority of the whole should be necessary to a choice. ure, but he was thwarted by the introduction of Mr. The supporters of Sr. Green claimed the election; but McDuffie's resolution on the deposite question, which the majority adhered to their single resolution, against was debated the greater part of the session. I am proud the terms of the joint resolution, and refused to permit of an opportunity of redeeming my pledge to my constit. I the election of Mr. Green to be declared. He (Mr. B.)
H. OF R.)
Viva voce Election.
(Jan. 26, 1895. llas
then moved that the ballotings should be discontinued. questions, involving the liberty, bappiness, and consti They were discontinued accordingly. No election of tutional safety of the country. All of which, it is printer was declared. The session terminated without thought, may be corrected by a combination of the two any further proceedings on the subject. At the com- operations of the sergeant on drill, to learn him what is mencement of the next session a resolution was brought right with the nippers, to pinch the word from him at in, declaring that Mr. Green had been duly elected at the right time afterwards. This is so perfect a system the preceding session. He (Mr. B.) voted for the reso- of independence, that all men must be delighted at the lution."
dawn of that bold and glorious republican sun which is It passed. Can there be a stronger, clearer case in about to shed a flood of light upon our hitherto dark point? Here the Senate went into the election under and benighted hall of legislation. the joint resolution of 1819, but passed a single resolu- But, sir, to the main question—that of postponing the tion, altering it so far only as the number of votes ne- election of printer until the next session of Congress
. cessary to constitute an election was concerned. That I beg leave again to refer the House to the able and lusingle resolution was declared to be a nullity by the cid argument of Mr. Benton on this subject. He said Senate at its next session, on the ground that a joint res. “his object was to vindicate the right of the new Conolution could not be altered or changed by a single res. gress to choose its own officers. That right belonged olution. And the Senate and House of Representatives, to it.
It belonged to it, both inherently and by the in 1829, did, by a joint resolution of both Houses, maké constitution. It would have required a constitutional the alteration which bad been attempted to be made the provision to take it away, not to secure it; yet, in two preceding session by the Senate alone, and declared places, the constitution of the United States guaranties that a majority of the whole number of votes given this right: once, in speaking of the House of Representa: should be necessary to a choice in the election of Print- tives, which is to elect its own Speaker and other offier, but leaving the resolution of 1819 unchanged in cers; and again, where the Senate is secured in the every other particular. Now, sir, have not the Senate right of electing its President pro tem, and other ofiand House of Representatives each acted on this ques- Mr. B. then alluded to the early practice of Contion, of altering the resolution of 1829 by a single reso- gress, which had been conformable to the constitution, Jution, and decided that it cannot be done? I think so, and proceeded to state that, in 1819, a joint resolution most clearly. I would have no hesitation in saying that of the two Houses was adopted, creating the office of the whole resolution could be set aside by any new
con public printer, and providing for the election of that gress which might choose to elect its own printer, but officer. He said, for the first thirty years of the action I deny that an expiring Congress, which bas made all of this Government, there was no public printer; while its elections, can by a single resolution alter a joint resolution in part, the validity of wbich resolution is recog
Congress sat at places where it could supply itself, each nised as constitutional. I ask gentlemen to deal can.
new Congress was its own purveyor. When it came to
a place where supplies could not be obtained, except didly; and say whether their object is not to go into the upon time and notice, the expiring Congress kindly and I election of printer at this session? If not, what other providentially took upon itself the business of procuring. election is coming on at this session. "And, sir, I should supplies. This assumption on the part of the espiring like to know whether the next Congress will not be as Congress was gratuitous and unauthorized. The nex well qualified to judge for itself of the mode of electing Congress, not yet born, could not have created as its officers as this Congress is? What right have we say agent to do this business. The fact of vital importance, to our successors, you are a “slippery, sneaking" set
whether the new Congress was to liare a friend or at of fellows. We have a high regard for your constitu: enemy for its printer, might depend upon the time when ents, but no confidence in you, and have therefore said he was elected, and thus it became necessary for the that you shall vote viva voce in the election of your offi.
new Congress to stand upon its inherent and constitucers. It is true that we elected all our officers by ballot; tional right to reclaim the election for itself, and, if 10 there is no complaint; the House is satisfied; the coun
successful in the reclamation, to exercise its indisputable try is well pleased; not a word of discontent, save an occasional groan of disappointment, coming not from
power of rejecting the printer that was imposed upon
Mr. B. remarked that was what he had done, and tbe House or country. Sir, it appears to me to be stepping over the line of our duty, to undertake to dictate referred to a committee which had not reported upon
was doing-he complained that his resolution had been to the next Congress with regard to the mode of the it-said that he could have shown that all the reasons election of printer.
which induced the expiring Congress to provide a prince The constitution secures to each House the power to determine the rules of its proceedings; but not to de.
er for the new Congress had ceased; that the District
now abounded with printing materials; that a printercha termine the rules to govern the proceedings of the next
sen the first week of the session would be ready as soof Congress. But, sir, as it will stand in the light of a mere recom
as necessary to do the work that would be required of
him; that the printer was an officer, and an important modate gentlemen in their fondness for viva soce voting;
officer of the two Houses; that he was a confidential with a hope of conciliating their support on the main question--that of securing to each Congress the right to the
and almost their masters, from the power which the elect its own printer. And, sir, I am the more inclined publication of the proceedings of Congress
, to this, as it is said that
it will certainly secure perfect pressing, mutilating, and distiguring the speeches, the that the oldest drill sergeants may take out a raw recruiting out all that is said by others to the best possible ad and drill him for hours, and, when he comes to vote, he vantage." will not feel those nobly lofty sentiments of independence which will prompi bim to give the sergeant's vote,
These views are sound. They are hailed by myself,
and many gentlemen who I see around me, as containing and ought to be corrected.'s For, if it is not, the noble
the true ductrine of our party, which had watched with and wild, rude milita-men will be constantly consulting
tion. It has been our pride and boast, that the venetk tbeir judgments and their consciences in greato national the nation was the shield" of the constitution des
Jan. 26, 1835.)
Vira voce Elections.
[H. OF R.
shall we forget all this? Shall we say that right reason, small degree, to secure the fidelity of the representative and sound constitutional doctrines, are one thing in the to his constituents. He would not stop to inquire Senate and another in the House of Representatives? whether the printer of the House was an officer of the That our constitutional opinions change with the sea. House, or whether he was embraced within the object sons? No, sir. Let us not bring reproach upon our and meaning of the resolution. Such an inquiry he party and its head, but rather elevate both in the world's | deemed, at this time, out of place and irrelevant. It was estimation, by rescuing the constitution, instead of in- enough for him that there were officers of the House, flicting upon it another blow. Mr. Benton is correct. the mode of whose election the resolution proposed to This House has the inherent as well as the constitutional change. He inquired why the House should not substiright to elect its printer. The constitution says “each tute the mode of election by vira voce, for the existing House shall keep a journal of its proceedings. To do manner of election by ballot. He had listened attenthis, it must have the power to elect a Clerk. “And tively to the remarks of honorable gentlemen, and he From time to time publish the same.” How publish? | would say, with all deference and respect for them, that Does not this important duty imply the power of provi- he had heard few sound reasons advanced against doing ding the means to perform it? How can the laws and so. One objection that had been earnestly urged against proceedings of this House be published without a print- the resolution was, that wise and patriotic men had er? The power to elect the printer is conferred in the established the rule sought to be abolished, and they had obligation to publish. Again, the constitution confers never deemed it fraught with evil. He could say that upon each House the power to determine the rules of he felt as much respect for the opinions, and wisdom, and its own proceedings, secures to the House of Represent. the authority, of ancient practice, as any man did, but he atives the right to choose its Speaker and other officers; / was unwilling to receive them as incontestable maxims, and to the Senate the right to choose all its officers. unless they were supported by some better argument
Now, sir, I care not whether you consider your print. than the mere declaration that they were the dicta of er an officer of the House, or put him upon the footing the virtuous and the wise. Many a patriot and sage, he of stationary, or fuel, or any other supply; She principle said, lived before the memorable year of 1776, and died is the same. These are my reasons for the vote which in undoubting confidence that the scheme of republi. I gave, and mean to give, on this question. I have care. can government was visionary and impracticable; yet fully avoided all remarks which might give offence. this did not deter our revolutionary fathers from repudi. My object has been to conciliate support for a measure ating the creed of ages, and, in despite of consecrated in which my district and my State take a deep interest. dogmas, boldly erecting the Government under which If the election of printer is forced on at this session, I
He was willing to pay a decent respect to have discharged my obligations to my constituents-1 the opinions of others, but he did not esteem them too have redeemed a pledge too long, but unavoidably, de consecrated to be disputed. Whenever we thus prolayed. And, sir, if I am compelled to vote for that offi. foundiy defer to the opinions, either of the living or the cer at this session, I will vote for that uniform, firm, and dead, improvement will be arrested, and retrocession consistent Jackson man who I think best qualified, if
Let some more legitimate objection, then, there should be more than one of our party running,
be advanced by the opponents of the resolution, than though it would be a pity for two to run, as it would that it proposes to abolish a mode of election hitherto look like splitting the party. But which of them would employed by the wise and patriotic of the House of be obnoxious to this charge could not be determined Representatives. until after the election, and then it would justly fall on
Mr. P. further observed that lie thought the powers, the meddling fellow who was beaten, and he should duties, and influence, of the Speaker of the House, fur. be forth with handed over to a sergeant and drilled into nished strong necessity for the adoption of the resolusubmission, and directed to turn his attention to history tion. It is a station, he said, of honor, authority, and -biographical history.
commanding influence. He did not believe it had ever Mr. Speaker, is it in order to move a commitment of been done improperly by any Speaker, but he did know the resolution and amendment to a committee, with in that the incumbent, whoever he might be, had it great. structions to report? I move, sir, that the resolution ly in his power to form or warp public opinion. This and amendment be committed to the Committee on the he could effect by the formation of the committees of Judiciary, with instructions to report the following re
the House. He could give them wbat political comsolve:
plexion he pleased. Although the Speaker is an officer Resolved, &c. That the election of printer to each of the House, yet who will venture to say that the peoHouse of Congress shall hereafter take place within the ple take no interest in the choice of that officer? They first week of the first session of each Congress, and that always feel a profound interest in the selection, and all elections by the two Houses shall hereafter be deci. would be pleased to know for whom their Representa. ded by a viva voce vote.
tives cast their votes. Sir, (said Mr. P.,) they ought to Mr. POPE, of Kentucky, observed that he would know; they ought to have the means of knowing. Their embrace this opportunity to make a few remarks on the confidence may be abused by a Representative in this resolution before the House. He would not have subo | very case. He asked what valid reason could be as. mitted the resolution, but, inasmuch as it had been of- signed why they should not know. It had been said by fered by another, and as he intended to vote for it, he felt the gentleman from Georgia, (Mr. GILMER,) as Mr. P. disposed to assign, very briefly, bis reasons for doing so. understood him, that the proposed change was big with He was unwilling to vote for the amendment proposed peril; that it would bring the Representative of the peoby his colleague, (Mr. Hardin,) and for the motion ple within the reach of executive patronage, and sub. made by the honorable member from Tennessee, (Mr. ject him to the yoke of executive dominion and influPeytox,] for reasons which he would not pause to ex
This Mr. P. understood to be the substance and plain. He did not think, as bad been intimated, that the meaning of the gentleman's remarks. He had great re. fundamental principles of our constitution, or of free spect for the gentleman from Georgia, but he differed government, were involved in the vote on the resolution. with him widely. How (inquired Mr. P.) will the proHe believed that the great fabric of our free institutions posed change effect this? The gentleman from Georgia was too firmly constructed to sustain any serious injury had not pointed out how it would be effected. Mr. P. by the rejection of the resolution; but, on the other considered that the converse of the gentleman's position hand, he believed that its adoption was calculated, in no was true. If a Representative be still allowed to yote by
H. or R.]
Viva voce Elections.
(Jax. 26, 1835.
ballot, he might indeed prostitute his station, and mean- felt himself called upon to shield the people from such ly sacrifice his own independence and the will and in- imputation and reproach. In his (Mr. V's) humble opin*terests of his constituents, to executive or other improp- ion, the people required no such vindication for the exerer influence; for there will be no means of detection. cise of their undoubted right, because their right to vote He might, without the knowledge of bis constituents, by ballot was unquestionable. The people, the sovereigns, pander to the appetite and taste of those whose favor he are responsible to no one but themselves. When they vote sought to obtain by such degrading means. He might they do it in execution of their own business. Whereas, deposite his ballot for one man, and his constituents be- when we vote, we do it in execution of the business of lieve he cast it for another; but if he be required to vote
our constituents. Because a man, sir, has a right to vira voce, there will be less danger of his self-abasement conduct his own operations secretly, it by no means fol. and treachery, because he must encounter the rebuke, lows that he has a right to conduct those of another in the frowns, and scorn, of his constituents. On the other such manner as that his principal, and the party interhand, it may be said (remarked Mr. P.) that the Repre. ested, cannot learn the manner in which his affairs are sentative will be often driven to vote against the dictates managed. Let not, then, our right to vote secretly, by of bis judgment, from fear of offending his constituents; ballot, be inferred from the practice of the people thembut as ours is a representative Government, based upon selves. To attempt to derive such a right from such a the public will, he thought it was better and more safe source is confounding all distinction between master and that he should stand even in terror of their judgment, servant, and between principal and agent. Gentlemen than that he should possess the means of eluding their who seek to deduce the right to vote by ballot here vigilance.
from the practice of the people, seem to forget that, at
. He remarked, in conclusion, that he had no agency though we are “ dressed up in a little brief authority," whatever in offering the resolution. Indeed, he did not we are nevertheless responsible agents, bound to ereknow that the honorable mover intended to submit it. cute ihe will of those who have clothed us with that auThe vote he should give was directed against no mem- thority, and that it is the right of those who have dele. ber of the House. Although he should vote for the gated to us the high trusts which we are here called resolution, he had no doubt those who would vote other. upon to execute, to know the manner in which we ere. wise were actuated by pure and honorable motives. He cute them. It struck him (he spoke with all possible was much attached to the mode of voting viva voce. It respect for those who urged it) that the contrary docwas a cherished principle with the people of the State trine was founded in a disregard for, or a forgetfulness of, whence he came. It was a mode used by themselves, the relations in which we stood to the sovereign creating and by their Representatives in the State Legislature, power. and they had never yet experienced any injury or incon- A word now, sir, as to the benefits claimed by the venience from it.
gentleman from Georgia, (Mr. Gulmer,) from this seMr. VANDERPOEL said it seemed to him that no cret mode of ballot voting. He told us, in substance, good reason could be urged against the passage of the that this practice was calculated to ensure the most inde, resolution under consideration. It involved a question pendent exercise of the right or duty on our part.! of great importance, viz: whether the Representative suppose he means by this, that if we vote viva voce, delicould in justice, without special constitutional leave, be cacy might sometimes restrain or embarrass us. This permitted to execute bis agency in such a manner as to struck him (Mr. V.) as the feeblest of all reasons that exempt him from responsibility to his principals, the could be given in favor of the practice of voting by balpeople.
lot. The fear of offending candidates or parties inter: Mr. V. said he held to the broad principle that, as ested! What an ignoble feeling, sir, to control or alRepresentatives, we should do no act here, the knowl. fect, in the slightest degree, the action of the Representedge of which might be concealed from the people; ative. Why, sir, we should, if this be a valid reason
, that the principle of giving a secret vote was anti-re. or a sound argument, extend the principle-we should publican, and wholly incompatible with responsibility to at once make the effort to amend the constitution, so as the source of all power, which lies
at the foundation of to abolish the yeas and nays, because, in the ordinary all our institutions. The creator should always know, course of legislation, we bave questions here every day or have the certain means of knowing, the acts of the eminently calculated to exercise and try our delicacy
. creature, especially when the latter was commissioned We are not unfrequently
called upon here to vote for only to execute the will of the former.
claims preferred by our friends, and to vote against them He asked upon what principle the practice of here too, sir; and then we a reexposed to the reproaches, if giving a secret ballot vote could be justified. It had not the implacable enmity, of those friends. Now, sit, been said by his honorable colleague, (Mr. Fillmore,] permit me to propose a remedy for all this inconvewho opened the first battery upon this resolution, that nience to which we are thus exposed. Let us alter the the people themselves, in many, if not most, of the States, constitution, abolish the yeas and nays, and tell the world voted by ballot, and, therefore, the practice was sanc- that we “ love darkness rather than light,” because our tioned by the highest authority. Another honorable daylight deeds have exposed us to the querulous moangentleman, from Georgia, (Mr. Gilmen,] who spoke so ings of our friends. seldom in this House, but always spoke so well, had told us that the voting by ballot here was calculated to se.
be a difference between the operations in this ball and
Why, sir, upon what ground of principle should there cure the most upright and independent execution of this those at the other end of the building, when we appoint appointing power, with which we are invested. Let to office? The Senate sits with closed doors; but the us examine, for a moment, into the soundness of these journals of that body are always published; and the positions. He (Mr. V.) contended that the circum- people of the United States bave the means of knowing stance that the people sometimes vote by ballot, in the exercise of their sovereign power, was not a precedent
tive nominations. And the brief existence of this Gos
how the representatives of the States vote upon efect. to justify the practice here, acting, as we here do, in a ernment has already taught us that the people do not representative capacity. The gentleman from Tennessee always regard the votes of honorable Senators upon Mr. Peyton, ) who had just delivered an able argument executive nominations with indifference or unconcern. in favor of the amendment he had introduced seemed to No, sir, we can adduce memorable instances to show imagine that the resolution involved an imputation upor: the people of those States where they voted by ballot, and
that the sensibility and indignation of the people here been awakened against the representatives of the States,
or what they deemed an exceptionable exercise of this. ask the northern manufacturer, at such a crisis, if it is or power. There were not wanting instances in which the is not his interest or desire to know whether his Rep. people had reversed the sentence of unworthiness resentative has voted for a free trade or an ultra-tariff which the Senate had seen fit to pronounce. He would Speaker, and you cannot be at a loss to conjecture what ask if the votes and proceedings of the Senate, when the answer would be. Wo to that Representative acting on executive nominations, should always be con- who should, at such a conjuncture, dare to violate the cealed from the people, if they not only sat with closed will of his constituents! He would not be able to plead doors, but if their journals were always kept secret, in bar to the denunciations of an indignant people the how long would the people submit to a practice so re- plea of the gentleman from Georgia, that the Speaker pugnant to popular sentiment? That august body of this House is the officer of this House, and that he would then soon, very soon, sir, in the estimation of the supposed the people generally did not know or care people, acquire all the odious features of a Spanish in. who were the officers of this House. Those gentlenien quisition.
who, on such an occasion, should calculate so fatally But a new discovery had been made by his honorable upon the ignorance and indifference of the people, colleague, (Mr. FILLMORE,] whose extraordinary per. would soon enjoy a privilege which is oftentimes vouchspicacity and microscopic vision sometimes enable him safed to the best of gentlemen-I mean, the privilege of to see distinctions that were not visible to ordinary staying at home. optics. My honorable colleague has started the idea that Or take, if you please, the case of printer to this there is a fair distinction between voting for officers of House. It requires no very vivid imagination to fancy this House and officers of the nation, and that, as the a choice of printer that would do violence to popular officers embraced in the resolution under discussion are feeling. Suppose this office to be conferred upon a man merely officers of this House, we have an indubitable whose whole life had been devoted to the dissemination of right to elect them by ballot, and in such a manner as principles to which our constituents are mortally opposed that the people may not be able to know how we vote. —to doctrines subversive of equal rights and equal priviSir, with all due deference to my honorable colleague, leges-yea, of the liberty of the people. Think you, sir, (who, from bis professed repugnance to all secret opera- that the people would be supine and indifferent, if we tions, and secret societies, is the last man on this floor lavished the most lucrative patronage of this House upon whom I could suppose would be the first to come out in such a man? Would they be apt to say, “you have favor of secret voting,) I must be permitted to contend done well by rendering more potent the incendiary's that there is no soundness in this distinction, so far as it capacity for mischief?” Let us make the experiment, concerns the principle we are now discussing. How and we will soon hear a response from the ranks of an arrogant the idea that the officers which we here outraged and a sharp-sighted people; a response, too, choose are our officers? What are we, sir, (I speak that will not be distinguished for stoical indifference or of our official capacity,) but the property of the people? extracrdinary ignorance. When we speak of the officers of this House, do we An honorable gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. mean to speak of instruments that belong exclusively Briggs] who, a few days ago, betrayed more warmth on to ourselves, and in which the people have no property this subject than usually belongs to that Spitzbergen reor interest?
With whose moneys are they paid? 'The gion to which he and I belong, pleaded most eloquently people's. Whose business are they appointed to exe- for the practice which the resolution upon your table cute! Not our own individual business, but that of the proposes to abolish, because it was a very old practice
people. And may not the people, then, fairly feel some our wise fathers luud originated it-it had now obtained í little interest in their election! Have they not a clear for forty years, and therefore our sacrilegious bands
right to know what servants they, through their Rep- should not now touch it. resentatives, have chosen, especially when their own Sir, said Mr. V., I am no believer in the doctrine that money is to pay the bire of the laborer?
an error is less an error because it is an old one. Sin The honorable gentleman from Georgia, (Mr. Gil- itself is not less to be lamented and deprecated, because MER,] in the zealous and animated speech which he made it dates back to the garden of Erlen. You are constantly on Saturday told us, that the people generally neither changing your laws, involving great principles; your know nor care who are the officers of this House. This, States have, many of them, changed and vastly improved said Mr. V., (he spoke with great deference to that their constitutions; and is this to be regarded, sir, as a honorable gentleman,) was presuming entirely too much reflection upon the wisdom of our fathers? No, sir. It upon the ignorance and indifference of the people. It only proves that we are not such bigoted admirers of all was not bis (Mr. V's) good or ill luck to be blessed that is old as to reject the improvements that may be with constituents so ignorant or so indifferent to the suggested by time and experience. Let the apologists, doings of their Representatives. They believe and know the advocates of monarchs and despots, plead for the that the sentiments of those who represent them may wisdom and sanctity of their despotic institutions, because be as emphatically indicated and expressed by the elec. they are covered with the dust and the cobweb of ages, tion of the officers of this House as by any other means; it is our principle, yes, our duty, while making the grand that an election for these officers may indeed involve and triumphant experiment of free government, to remuch of principle. Take, if you please, the case of pudiate error and embrace improvement, though the Speaker of the House; consider his power and patronage, genius of antiquity may scowl and shake her boary locks. the power of appointing all the committees, which have We live, sir, in an age of improvement, and that is invery properly been called the eyes and organs of the deed a false and shortsighted philosophy, a philosophy House; the power of controlling, in a great measure, the which has no deeper foundation than poetry, which inorder of the business of this House, and of giving an culcates the wisdom of always “bearing the ills we have,” impulse to, or thwarting or impeding, great measures lest we incur the risk of encountering “others that we that may call for the action of this House. Is it, in truth, know not of.” One of the beauties of our republican a matter of moonshine to the people, who is elevated to system of government is, that it can accommodale itself this high and responsible station? Let the gentleman to changes which time and circumstances may demand. ask the free trade elector of the South, when the cry Its charm is not the inflexibility of a despotism-no, sir, of "give-give us more protection," is raised by the it is not unbending to the spirit of reform and improve. manufacturer of the North and East, whether he feels
In its veneration for the past, it is not blind to any interest in the election of the Speaker of this House; the treasures which lie in the future.