Friday, October 25, 2013

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: "he saw Mr. Haskin put his hand in his breast, and therefrom fell a revolver!"


There was but a slim attendance of members on the opening of the House.

   A call of the House was ordered.

   Mr. Sherman, of Ohio, desired to call attention to the remarks of Mr. Houston, of Alabama, yesterday, reported in the Globe, to the following effect:

   I do not mean to say that these gentlemen (Adrian and Clark) will vote for the Democrats but I have no doubt but that they will. They will, I trust, return to their first love, calm, the agitation of the country, and save the House from the burning' withering curse and shame of putting into the Speaker's chair the gentleman from Ohio.

   Mr. Sherman inquired whether Mr. Houston designed to reflect upon him personally or politically.

   Mr. Houston (Dem.) of Ala., replied that he would have supposed the gentleman would not have propounded this question to him, for there could be no doubt as to tbe proper construction of the language. He did not suppose any gentlemen thought be meant or intended a personal application. The gentlemen had been charged with endorsing the sentiments of the Helper book, and had never disavowed its doctrines. The gentleman from Ohio had endorsed doctrines of a most treasonable and infamous character, and while he had made a statement which some of his friends said was a disavowal, yet he (Houston) contended that it was not a fair and candid disavowal of the doctrines contained in the Helper book. Instead of making a stingy explanation that be did not know what was
in that book, he ought to have disavowed the treasonable and infamous doctrines therein. This did not relieve the gentlemen from having endorsed the doctrines of the book, and until be has relived himself a manly manner, which he has been called upon to do, then he (Houston) would say that Mr. Sherman was subject, politically, to the remarks he (Houston) had made.

   Mr. Sherman said every one ought to be satisfied with Mr. Houston s personal disclaimer. All would bear him witness that he had listened to the character of the debate here without objection. He has not been disposed to regard the remarks as personal so far as his disclaimer of the doctrine of the Helper Book was concerned. Any man who has any sense of feeling knew that his lips in a great measure had been sealed from the first day of the session by what be must regard as an offensive resolution, thrust in the House at improper time and in an improper manner, and insisted on in a way without precedent in parliamentary history. The declaration as made on the floor. If the explanation he had made to the honorable gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Millson] in the presence of the House, was not satisfactory to the gentleman on the other side, they should insist, as a point of manhood and justice, that the offensive resolution should be withdrawn.

   He had said to his friends, and now to others, that he would consent to have the Helper book read page by page, and then be would avow or disavow every sentiment therein. He bad never concealed his opinions, and if the offensive resolution of Mr. Clark, of Mo., be withdrawn, he would be prepared to speak further on the subject. Until that resolution was withdrawn, he appealed to every man to say whether he could say any more.

   Mr. Houston asked Mr. Sherman whe-[ther] that was a fair escape from the responsibility? The gentleman had said that he was willing to bare the Helper Book read, page by page, and would avow or disavow the sentiments therein. But the resolution did not contain the gentleman's name. It says nothing about the gentleman from Ohio, and he could not so construe it unless be feels that it bears upon bim.

   Mr. Sherman wished to be allowed to say that when the resolution was offered he was the only person whose name appeared appended to the list who was a candidate before the House. Therefore the resolution was just as much a personal reference as if his name had appeared herein.

   Mr. Houston replied that that did not relieve the gentleman from the troubles around him. He threw himself back on his insulted dignity, and would not be permitted by the country to shelter himself behind the resolution.

   Mr. Clark, of Missouri, disclaimed any personal hostility to Mr. Sherman, but he had conceived it his duty to offer the resolution in condemnation of those who had endorsed treasonable and insurrectionary doctrines. He stood by the declaration that no man was fit to be Speaker who endorse Helper's book. He never would withdraw it.

   Mr. Harris, of Maryland, said this resolution was the block in the way of an organization, and proposed that the House adopt a substitute which was several days ago agreed upon by a committee representing the Democrats, Americans, and anti-Lecomptonites.

   Mr. Clark, of Missouri, repealed that he never would withdraw his resolution, or agree to the modification. He was not responsible for what had occurred concerning the proposed substitute.

   Mr. Harris said the substitute was a mere expression of opinion against any member of the House who endorses the Helper book or is willing to promulgate its traitorous doctrine. He said this substitute had found its way into the New York Herald, and repeated that the substitute was the result of the committee of conference.

   Mr. Clark expressed his astonishment that any of his friends should have thus an his resolution without consulting him. He had no hand in this proposition. He had never before heard of it, except from the Herald. He would not say that he held it in contempt, but that he cared little for it.

   Mr. Harris supposed it was furnished to the press by the members who drafted the resolution.

   Mr. Noell, of Missouri, wished to know bow the committee was formed.

   Mr. Gilmer, of North Carolina, said he had handed the paper to Mr. Harris. There were ten gentlemen who met to consult, made up of all opinions, except those of the Republican party. The meeting was held for a peaceful purpose. They came to a unanimous vote on the substitute, which was not binding on anybody.

   Mr. Clark wanted to know who made the arrangements. He intended to lay bare all attempts to dodge the Question, and bring the gentleman up fairly and squarely on his resolution.

   Mr. Gilmer said if Mr. Clark intimated that by this substitute the design was to cover up anything, or any party, he did him gross injustice, and indulged in a delusion.

   Mr. Winslow, of north Carolina, remarked that it would be recollected that he had proposed a committee to be composed of the various parties in opposition to the Republicans. He bad asked some of his associates whether this had their consent. The Democrats were represented by Messrs. Robinson, of Rhode Island, McRea, of Mississippi, and himself; the Southern Opposition by Messrs. Hill, of Georgia, Mallory, Kentucky, Etheridge, of Tennessee, and Gilmer, of North Carolina, and the anti-Lecomptonites by Messrs. Clark of New York, and Riggs, of New Jersey. Mr. Adrain was asked to attend, but did not do so, being unwell, but saying he would meet the committee on Monday morning. There was but one copy of the resolution, and all present agreed to consult their respective friend in order to secure their support. It was understood that the proceedings were not to be made public

   He did not know how they got out. He knew there was no place where a "black cat" could be concealed. [Laughter.] He knew that during a caucus, there were men lying down in the galleries, listening to and then publishing the proceedings, but there were none in the room where the meeting was held, except the members of the committee. He was astonished the next day to see the proceedings published in the Herald.

   The substitute which has been the subject of debate, was then read as follows:

   Whereas, The agitation of the slavery question is productive of no good, but of evil to tbe whole country, and its further discussion ought to be discountenanced by all parties; therefore,

   Resolved, That no man who has recommended, and still insits on, and does not disown, the doctrines expressed in the extracts which have read from Helper's Impending Crisis to the South, and who is not opposed to the further agitation of the slavery question, is fit to be Speaker of this House.

   Mr. Crawford, of Georgia, briefly explained his motives for attending the committee, and said be wanted Mr. Clark's resolution voted on.

   Mr. Clark, of New York, said that, although a committee was self-constituted, every man there was prepared to pronounce his condemnation of the atrocity, intolerance, and proscriptive character of the Helper book.

   Mr. Adrian, in reply, remarked that the gentleman had said he represented himself there. This was strictly true.

   Mr. Clark remarked that he never stated anything but truth.

   Mr. Adrian said Mr. Clark did show him the resolution, and he gave his assent to it.

   Mr. Clark replied that he would not have said so for the Capitol full of gold, for it was a confidential conversation which drew such a statement from the gentleman from New Jersey. [Laughter and applause.]

   Mr. Adrian rejoined that he would scorn to violate the confidence reposed in him by his friend from New York.

   Mr. Clark said that every gentleman knew it was not necessary to show the resolution to the Republicans, for, as a party, they had not sense enough to vote for it.


   Mr. McRea, of Mississippi, as one of the consultation committee, was speaking on the subject, when he was interrupted by

   Mr. Haskin, of New York, asked whether his colleague (Mr, Clark) had agreed to support the the proposition to vote own Mr. Bickman's motion to correct the journal! .

   There was so much confusion at this period, that the language used could not be correctly noted, but was something like the following:

   Mr. McRea could not answer now, but would when he got through. (Gives way for the question.)

   Mr. Haskin repeated his interrogatory, when

   Mr. Clark excitedly said to Mr. McRea, that's none of my colleagues business.--[Great confusion.]

   Mr. Haskin, still on the floor, spoke in a loud tone, saying he wanted to show in what position his colleague had stood.--His colleague claimed to be an anti-Lecompton Democrat, but bad been circus-riding.

   There were loud and repeated cries of "Order!" "Take your seat!"

   As the disorder was increasing, a member nervously called for the Sergeant-at-Arms.

   Many members arose to their feet, and some rose to the main aisle near which Mr. Haskin was standing.

   Mr. Keitt's voice was heard amid the calls for order and the Clerk's hammer, saying--"Whenever there are personal grievances they should be settled out of the House.

   Cries of Order! Order!

   Mr. Harris of Maryland, who was near the side of Mr. Haskin, claimed the right to the floor at the Clerk's hand.

   The excitement constantly increased, until every one seemed to be apprehensive of personal collisions.

   Mr. Keitt advanced lo the main aisle, continuing to talk, as did Mr. Cobb, of Alabama, and others.

   A number of members were speaking at the same time, the clerk in the meanwhile smartly rapping with the gavel, while the hisses from the floor and galleries, and cries of "Order!" from all sides of the House, added to the general tumult.

   Cries of "Take your seats!" hissing, and the clerk rapping, were frequently repeated.

   Soon the Sergeant-at-Arms advanced, displaying his mace of office and commanding the peace.

   Quiet was finally partially restored.

   Mr. Harris, of Maryland, claimed the floor.

   Mr. Morris, of Pennsylvania, objected to all proceedings till order was secured.

   The Clerk requested the gentlemen to take their seats, with which invitation they complied.

   Mr. Davidson, of Louisiana, wished to say that when he next came to the House he would bring his double-barrel shot gun with him. (Laughter.)

   Mr. Harris of Maryland, was astonished at his friend from Louisiana. It seemed the gentleman was disposed to make game of the House. (Laughter.) The very best evidence that gentlemen could give of their own self-respect and dignified demeanor was to organize the body, and show that these temporary excitements can be quieted as rapidly as they arise, and can never again be renewed on this floor. (Applause.) They should conduct themselves as dignified Representatives of a dignified people. (Renewed applause.)

   Mr. Clemens, of Virginia. Will the gentleman give way?

   Mr. Harris, I will not, Harris then asked a question of Hickman, who replied that he was willing lo dispose of all the pending propositions without debate, or be was willing to withdraw his proposition if gentlemen thought an organization could thereby be advanced.

   Mr. Harris asked whether Stevens, of Pennsylvania, would withdraw his pending point of order?

   Mr. Stevens replied that he was willing to vote on it instantly, and on all the pending propositions, without further debate.

   Winslow moved that the House proceed to vote for Speaker.

   Clark, of Missouri, exclaimed: Never, till the House vote on my resolution.

   Harris, of Maryland, remarked that he would hereafter present the substitute agreed on by the committee for Clark's resolution.

   Clemens, as a member of the Virginia delegation, said he hoped he would never again witness such a scene as that of today, whether in public or private life. He was standing four from Haskin, and when the latter addressed his colleague, Clark, who had said it was none of his business, he saw Mr. Haskin put his hand in his breast, and therefrom fell a revolver!

   There were immediately loud cries for Order!"

   Harris, of Maryland, said that he did not yield the floor to Clemens.

   Hill, of Georgia, claimed the floor.

   Morris, of Illinois, knew all the circumstances attending the disturbance, and hoped Clemens would not add fuel to the flame.

   Numerous gentlemen sprang to their feet, calling out "Mr. Clerk," wishing to be recognised as entitled to the floor.

   Clemens, of Virginia, yielded to an appeal from Millson, saying, as he took his seat, that Haskin should be held politically responsible for his conduct.

   Hill explained his agency in the committee which prepared the substitue.

   Haskin rose, saying that he regretted the scene which bad taken place.

   Burnett, of Kentucky, would object to the gentleman proceeding unless he would say that he would not indulge in personal reflections.

   Haskin replied that he did not so intend. The gentleman from Virginia had alluded the fact that a firearm had fallen on the floor. It was due to truth to say that, about the time he was talking somewhat excitedly in reference to the harsh and unjust remark by his colleague, a pistol in his breast-pocket accidently fell to the floor. No man who knew him believed that he would use a pistol except in an honorable way. He regretted that this accident had occurred. He put the pistol in his pocket last night about twelve o'clock, to protect himself, if necessary, for he resided in the neighborhood of English Hill, where outrages have been committed, and wanted to feel secure in going home. Until he came to Washington he had never thought it necessary to be armed. He did not carry a pistol for any purpose here, but for his protection while passing through this sometimes violent city. He had seen occasions when, to protect one's self from insult, it was necessary to carry firearms. When the House should become organized, he wonld ask a pledge of honor to the country that no firearms be brought here.

   Florence of Pennsylvania, and others, exclaimed: "Why not now!"

   Haskin resumed. He could assure gentleman that the falling of the pistol was accidental; therefore when it was said that he either drew a pistol or attempted to draw a pistol, they state what is not within the pale of truth. He would never use a pistol unless he was unjustly assailed.

   Clark, of New York, being satisfied that the remarks made by him were discourteous, and led to this excitement, desired simply to say that he ought not to have used the language; that the question which his colleague addressed addressed to Mr. McRae was on a subject about which it was none of his business to inquire

   He was induced to make the remark because he understood his colleague to ask for further revelations of the conference committee than gentlemen were disposed to give, and he intended to suggest to his colleague the idea that he was wandering beyond the scope of the subject matter before the House. He regretted the error, and apologised to the House and his colleague.

   Robinson, as a member of the committee, expressed his surprise that its proceedings, which were designed to be private, should find their way into public prints.

   Etheridge, in a good spirits, alluded to the exciting scenes of to-day. He said such things would sometimes occur, and proposed, now that general peace prevailed, that the House should adjourn.

   Vallandigbam, of Ohio, said that, believing Sherman to be a man of fairness and candor, he interpreted his reply to Millson, several weeks ago, as a full and distinct avowal of the sentiments of Helper's book, and had so staled; but if be (Vallandigham) had misunderstood him, and if Sherman had intended to-day that any doubt should exist as to the character and extent of that disavowal, he did not desire him to be bound by his (Vailandigham's) statement. Adjourned.

[Holmes County Republican, Millersburg, Holmes County, Ohio, Thursday, January 26, 1860. Vol. 4. No. 23. Pg. 1]

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