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trial by jury to persons charged with being slaves; to give a fair and favorable consideration to the question of the repeal of those acts of Congress which now sustain slavery in this district, and to further such measures as may be in the power of Congress to remedy the grievances of which Massachusetts, complains at the hands of South Carolina, in respect to ill treatment of her citizens.
“I should feel much obliged to you for a reply at your early convenience, and I should be happy to be permitted to communicate it, or its substance, to some gentlemen who entertain similar views to mine on this class of questions.
"I am, dear sir, with great personal esteem, your friend and servant,
.." John G. PALFREY.”
“Mr. Winthrop to Mr. Palfrey.
" WASHINGTON, COLEMAN's Hotel, December 5, 1847. “Dear Sir,—Your letter of to-day has this moment been handed to me.
“I am greatly obliged by the disposition you express to aid in placing me in the chair of the House of Representatives. But I must be perfectly candid in saying to you that, if I am to occupy that chair, I must go into it without pledges of any sort.
“I have not sought the place. I have solicited no man's vote. At a meeting of the Whig members of the House, last evening (at which, however, I believe that you were not present), I was formally nominated as the Whig candidate for speaker, and I have accepted the nomination.
"But I have uniformly said to all who have inquired of me, that my policy in organizing the House must be sought for in my general conduct and character as a public man.
“I have been for seven years a member of Congress from our common state of Massachusetts. My votes are on record. My speeches are in print. If they have not been such as to inspire confidence in my course, nothing that I could get up for the occasion, in the shape of pledges or declarations of purpose, ought to do so.
“ Still less could I feel it consistent with my own honor, after having received and accepted a general nomination, and just on the eve of the election, to frame answers to specific questions like those which you have proposed, to be shown to a few gen
tlemen, as you suggest, and to be withheld from the great body of the Whigs.
“ reply, therefore, as I should regret to lose the distinction which the Whigs in Congress have offered to me, and through me to New England, for the want of the aid of a Massachu. setts vote, I must yet respectfully decline any more direct reply to the interrogatories which your letter contains.
“I remain, with every sentiment of personal esteem, your friend and servant,
“Robert C. WinTuROP.” “Hon. J. G. PALFREY, &c., &c."
On taking the speaker's chair, to which he was conducted by Mr. M*Kay, of North Carolina, and Mr. Vinton, of Ohio, Mr. Winthrop thus addressed the House:
Gentlemen of the Ilouse of Representatives of the Unit.
ed States : 5" I am deeply sensible of the honor which you have conferred upon me by the vote which has just been announced, and I pray leave to express my most grateful acknowledgments to those who have thought me worthy of so distinguished a mark of their confidence.
“When I remember by whom this chair has been filled in other years, and, still more, when I reflect on the constitutional character of the body before me, I can not but feel that you have assigned me a position worthy of any man's ambition, and far above the rightful reach of my own.
“I approach the discharge of its duties with a profound impression at once of their dignity and of their difficulty.
* Seven years of service as a member of this branch of the national Legislature have more than sufficed to teach me that this is no place of mere formal routine or ceremonious repose. Severe labors, perplexing cares, trying responsibilities, await any one who is called to it, even under the most auspicious and favorable circumstances. How, then, can I help trembling at the task which you have imposed on me in the existing condition of this House and of the country?
"In a time of war, in a time of high political excitement, in a time of momentous national controversy, I see before me the representatives of the people almost equally divided, not merely, as the votes this morning have already indicated, in their preference for persons, but in opinion and in principle, on many of the most important questions on which they have assembled to deliberate.
“May I not reasonably claim, in advance, from you all, something more than an ordinary measure of forbearance and indulgence for whatever inability I may manifest in meeting the exigencies and embarrassments which I can not hope to escape ? And may I not reasonably implore, with something more than common fervency, upon your labors and upon my own, the blessing of that Almighty Power whose recorded attribute it is that He maketh men to be of one mind in a house!
“Let us enter, gentlemen, upon our work of legislation with a solemn sense of our responsibility to God and to our country. However we may be divided on questions of immediate policy, we are united by the closest ties of permanent interest and permanent obligation. We are the representatives of twenty millions of people, bound together by common laws and a common liberty. A common flag floats daily over us, on which there is not one of us who would see a stain rest, and from which there is not one of us who would see a star struck. And we have a common Constitution, to which the oath of allegiance, which it will be my first duty to administer to you, will be only, I am persuaded, the formal expression of those sentiments of devotion which are already cherished in all our hearts.
“There may be differences of opinion as to the powers which this Constitution confers upon us; but the purposes for which it was created are inscribed upon its face in language which can not be misconstrued. It was ordained and established to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.
“ Union, justice, domestic tranquillity, the common defense, the general welfare, and the security of liberty for us and for those who shall come after us, are thus the great objects for which we are to exercise whatever powers have been intrusted to us. And I hazard nothing in saying, that there have been few periods in our national history when the eyes of the whole people have been turned more intently and more anxiously toward the Capitol than they are at this moment, to see what is to be done, here and now, for the vindication and promotion of these lofty ends.
“Let us resolve, then, that those eyes shall at least witness on our part duties discharged with diligence, deliberations conducted with dignity, and efforts honestly and earnestly made for the peace, prosperity, and honor of the republic.
“I shall estcem it the highest privilege of my public life if I shall be permitted to contribute any thing to these results by a faithful and impartial administration of the office which I have now accepted.”
A CALL OF THE HOUSE.
W E feel some solicitude, courteous reader, that your eyelids should not wax heavy under the influence of those somber records which, of necessity, form so material a portion of our history. We propose, therefore, to draw off your attention for a brief space to a Call of the House.
The representative body, like other assemblies of men, must occasionally have recourse to its muster-roll. The duties of legislation are not always of the summer-day order. Sometimes the spirit chafes, the limbs grow weary, and the mental energies flag under the labor which the daily sessions impose, especially in the pell-mell race for business which marks the period preceding final adjournment. At such times legislators— children of an older growth”-need the stimulating process to bring them up to their task, and the House in these cases asserts its authority by resort to what is termed " a call.”
Our own experience of this instrument of convocation has impressed us with no very high estimate of its utility. Carried beyond the point of merely calling over the names to see who were present and who absent, we can not recollect a sin. gle instance in which we have known it productive of good. We have, on the contrary, frequently witnessed confusion, disorder, vexation, and ill blood grow out of it. We think the House would have done well for its own comfort-to use no stronger term-if it had gone at least so far as Mr. Adams desired it to go in 1840, by his resolution providing that no “ call” should be ordered after ten o'clock at night, and that the attendance of no member should be required after midnight. We have seen men shine forth as heroes of a midnight call of the House, whose genius was equal to no loftier achievement, and the star of whose glory “paled its ineffectual fire” the moment the mandate went forth, “the doors of the hall will be