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by any one as not having uttered it, all I have to say is, I distinctly avow it now.
And now, sir, after what occurred yesterday, I deem it my duty to allude to what I was correctly reported to have said in that part of the report which I did not revise. The report represented me as saying, "I am done with the affair here." I said so yesterday, and I say so again. I expressed my opinion yesterday. I avowed my sentiments as really entertained. I declared my principle of action. I was satisfied with the altercation as it proceeded. I was satisfied with the result of it, so far as a man could be satisfied with a mere preliminary altercation ; and I announced here deliberately, in the presence of the Senate, that, so far as the Senate was concerned, I was done with the affair-that I should press no quarrels any further on this floor.
Now, I care not what the honorable Senator says. Why, sir, his voice of denunciation passes me by as the idle wind. Months ago I expressed my opinion with regard to his course. Ten years ago I said what I thought of him. I have reason to know, and can prove, that he was offended at what I said then. I have had occasion since, very often, to speak of that Senator. I did so in a letter under my own signature last summer. I have done so here, evidently in a manner very offensive. And, sir, I did on yesterday say, and I repeat it now, (as much, at least, of a harsh, disrespectful character as I am reported in the Intelligencer and Union as having uttered—what could I do more ?) that I should dishonor this Senate, I should discredit myself if I were now here, after what occurred, to repeat the language which I repeated yesterday. I avow the speech as printed. I avow every word I am reported to have said; and I care not whether that Senator considers it falsely reported or not. His opinion is with me a matter of absolute indifference.
I did say yesterday that the Senator was understood to disavow the law of honor. I have seen that imputed to him by one of his colleagues in the other House within the last week. I have seen the same fact printed repeatedly, and I have had special reasons to suppose so, unnecessary to be stated. The common impression in the country certainly has existed to that effect. I wish to know, therefore, whether this morning I am authorized to understand (for the language of the honorable Senator was somewhat equivocal ; he simply denied that he had so declared) that he considers himself responsible io the law of honor. I hold myself responsible, and I wish to know whether he places himself in the same attitude ? Let him say ay, and I will know my course. It is not sufficient for him to say he has never said so. Let him say he holds himself responsible to the law of honor, and I pledge my word to perform my part at the proper time.
Question 2. Can you furnish the report of the passages between Mr. Benton and Mr. Foote on the 17th of April last; and, if so, will you please produce it to the Committee ?
Answer. I can; it is as follows:
Mr. Benton subsequently submitted the nine following amendments, upon each of which, as well as the five propositions previously submitted by him, he said he would ask a separate vote by yeas and nays:
1. With instructions, that in any bill, scheme, or other measure or measures they may report, they shall not connect the admission of the State of California with any other proposed legislation which shall require the assent of any other State to its completion.
2. That they shall not connect the admission of the State of California with any measure which is connected with a question of boundary or other controversy with any other State.
3. That they shall not connect the admission of the State of California with any other measure of less dignity than the reception and admission of a sovereign State, to be a new and entire member of this Union.
4. That they shall not make California a party to, or in any way include or connect her with, any provision in the nature or intent of a compact relating to slavery, or to any slave State, or slave Territory, other than the compacts of the Constitution.
5. That they shall not make California a party to, or in any way include or connect her with, any provision in the nature or intent of a compact of any description, other than the compacts of the Constitution, and those compacts relating to the domain, which have been heretofore required of new States formed out of the territory of the United States.
6. That they shall not report any measure proposing any alteration in the boundaries of the State of California.
7. That they shall not make the State of California a party to, or in any way connected with, or the question of her admission in any way connected with or dependant on, any provision in the nature of a compact, which has not been required of either of the following named States : Ohio, Indiana Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida.
8. That they shall not make a party to, or in any manner bind to, include in, or connect with, any provision having the character or intent of a compact, any State, or people, having the political organization of a State not represented in this body.
9. That they shall not connect the admission of the State of Californis with any matter foreign to the admission of that State in a direct manner
, on a precisely equal footing with the original States, and unincumbered with any other conditions, responsibilities, or considerations.
A question of order was raised against the amendments, upon the ground that they were inconsistent with the proposition already adopted, by whick the Senate had declined giving any instructions to the committee. After some debate upon this question of order,
The Vice President ruled, that although a question of consistency migh present a reason for rejecting an amendment, it presented no case for the decision of the Chair as a question of order.
Mr. Clay appealed from this decision; and after some further debate
Mr. Benton. Here, Mr. President, I must recur to the main point Here is an open attempt to enforce the previous question, without any role in the Senate to authorize the previous question, and against the rules the Senate. It is admitted that it is a previous question in a different form and without the rule. And yet I am to be treated as factious for resisting the enforcement of the previous question here, to cut off all amendmens when there is no rule to authorize it. I deem it my duty to resist such a course, so long as parliamentary law permits me to do it. If the Senate have declared ihat they will decline to give instructions, I have the parlis mentary right to offer ihem; and when they are offered, there is no way get rid of them but by a vote upon them. "That we all know. It cannot be declared, Mr. President, that my amendments are out of order because they conflict with a rule which is to govern Senators in the votes which they give upon my amendment. I have the right to offer amendments. The rules are not altered, sir. The Senator from Kentucky has offered a resolve; and that resolve does not alter the rules of the Senate. The rules of the Senate cannot be altered except upon notice and due consideration. They cannot be altered by a side move. They cannot be altered pending a question, sir, in order to cut off debate, or to prevent measures being car. ried. Rules must be known. Rules must be adopted beforehand. If they are to be altered, there must be notice, and the process must be gone through with in a regular manner. The rules of the Senate cannot be overturned. The rules of the Senate cannot be obliterated. They cannot be expunged by a vote adopted in the progress of a case, when the Senate will do a thing contrary to the existing rules. Sir, the motion made by the Senator from Kentucky, and which has been adopted, is a motion to overrule the rules of the Senate; to trample the rules of the Senate under foot, sir, for the purpose of stilling debate-for the purpose of cutting off amendments. When we come to these amendments, we will see whether or not they are abstractions, which have been made the root of all the agitation which has taken place in the United States.
Sir, I intend by those amendments to cut the root of agitation; to cut up the whole address of southern members, by which the country was thrown into a flame. I mean to show that there was no foundation for any such thing. That is to say, I mean to make a proposition, upon which I believe the votes will show that there has been a cry of “wolf,” when there was no wolf; that the country has been alarmed without reason, and against reason; that there was no design in the Congress of the United States to encroach upon the rights of the South, nor to aggress the South, nor to press them upon the subject. I propose, sir, to give the Senate an opportunity of showing that all this alarm has been without foundation. I pro. pose to give to the country, to the people of the United States, the highest declaration upon earth, that they have been disturbed about nothing. When we come to that question, we will see whether they are abstractions or not. If these are abstractions, then the country has been alarmed about abstractions. That is the way it will terminate. In the mean time, Mr. President, I propose my amendments, and ask to have a separate vote of yeas and nays upon each of the fourteen.
Mr. Foote obtained the floor, but gave way to
Mr. Butler. I wish to say to the Senator from Missouri now, and once for all, that, if he supposes the southern people are to be satisfied with votes upon truisms, or what all the country oughi to regard as truisms, he is mistaken; or if he supposes that votes of that kind are to be safety-valves of the dangerous and aggressive agitations of the North, he is mistaken. Sir, the gentleman must see, as plainly as I do, that there is danger; that it has progressed; and that this is but a feeble palliative to meet it—to offer to me a resolution, as I understand him, to say that Congress has no right to interfere with slavery in the States, and to suppose that this is to satisfy the whole country that the South has been in no danger, and that all the agitation, the Southern Address, and everything connected with it, is to be cut up by the roots. I inform the Senator that a declaration of that kind, with whatever intentions it may be made, will reach much further perhaps than he supposes. We may differ as to the extent of the danger; we may fairly differ as to the extent of the danger. But, sir, these are not to be the safety-valves. Such general propositions as these will not soothe the South, I assure him.
Mr. Foote. Mr. President
The Vice President stated the question upon the appeal taken by the Senator from Kentucky.
Mr. Foote. One remark; and the Senate will bear witness to the fact, that I have endeavored to avoid discussion and controversy upon the question. I believe that the time has come when patriots should unite in the true spirit of fraternal conciliation and compromise for the settlement of these questions; that they should feel it to be their duty to endeavor to quiet excitement, and to save the republic from those dangers which we, all of us, know have environed us for the last six or eight months. I repeat that I did not come here this morning expecting to say a single word; and I certainly should not wish to be heard responding to anything that might emanate from a certain quarter, after what has occurred here, but for what I conceive to be a direct attack upon me and others with whom I am proud to stand in association. Sir, we know the history of the Southern Address; and the world knows it. It is a glorious history. It is connected with patriots, ever to be recollected, ever to be held in veneration, and of the proudest respect, when their calumniators—no matter who they may bewill be objects of universal loathing and contempt. Who is the author, sir, of the Southern Address ? He is known to the world. The illustrious Sen. ator from South Carolina, over whose decease a nation now mourns; over whose untimely death every good man, in all Christian countries, at the present day, is full of lamentation : he is the author of that address the acknowledged author of that address—the sole author of that address; an address charged here to-day, in the hearing of the friends of the deceased statesman--charged in the hearing of those associated with him in that holy work-charged in the presence of those who were proud of an opportunity of attaching their signatures to that address, and who aided in the circulation of it throughout this broad nation-in our hearing, sir, that address is pronounced, with great apparent deliberation, as an address fraught with mischief; as an address to supply food for agitation and excitement; as an address which involved our institutions in danger, from which they ought to be rescued by the efforts of others hostile to the purposes of that address, and who did not participate in its preparation. And, sir, those who subscribed that address, those who sanctioned it, are charged with be ing agitators. By whom--by whom—by whom is this charge brought? With whom does such an accusation as this originate? I won't be personal. After the lesson I have received, I mean to be-in a parliamentary sense-perfectly decorous in all things. But by whom is it that this extraordinary declaration is hurled against all those individuals who signed that address ? By a gentleman known to be the oldest member of the Senate: by a gentleman who, on a late
[Here the Senator from Missouri [Mr. Benton] left his seat, and advanced towards Mr. Foote, who proceeded to the centre of the chamber, and drew a pistol. Several Senators immediately surrounded both parties and great confusion ensued, some minutes elapsing before Senators resumed their seats.]
Order having been partially restored,
The VICE-PRESIDENT. The question is upon the appeal.
Mr. Benton. It shall not be disposed of that way. A pistol has been brought in here to shoot me with—to assassinate me.
Mr. Foote. I brought it here to defend myself. I had been informed that I should be fired at.
Mr. Benton. It is a false imputation. A pistol has been brought in here, and for me. Will the Senate take cognizance of the subject?
The Vice-President. Order; order. Will Senators be seated ?
The Vice-PresidENT. Will Senators be seated ? Spectators are required to be seated.
Mr. CLAY. Mr. President
Mr. Foote again addressed the Chair, and proposed to proceed with his remarks.
Mr. Benton. I demand that the Senate take cognizance of what has been done here. A pistol has been brought here under the false pretence that I am armed, the pretext of every assassin that undertakes to constitute a case of self-defence when lying in wait to murder. Will the Senate take cognizance of it, or shall I take it upon myself? I am not to be assassinated here.
Mr. Foote. If, sir, my presenting a pistol here has been has been misunderstood by any one-has been understood as being anything excepting, the necessary means of self-defence-I will explain that, after a threat of personal chastisement, when I saw the Senator advancing towards me, I took it for granted that he was armed. I supposed he was armed. I determined to get ground upon which I could meet him with perfect fairness along that aisle, (pointing towards the main passage of the chamber.) I accordingly advanced, and prepared to draw my pistol, to be ready for my own defence. · I never sought any man's life. I never have gone in quest of any man's life. My life has been a defensive one from my boyhood up. I mention that, not because any imputation has been thrown around me, but because it is due to myself
, and that all honorable Senators who are present, and every American who hears me, may bear witness to the fact, that I was making a strictly parliamentary speech, when threatening language was used, menacing gestures indulged in. The Senator made towards me, which I believed would have the effect to put me to a complete disadvantage in a corner, where I was to be shot at or stabbed. That is what I anticipated. I determined not to use arms until I thought it necessary for self-defence. So help me God of heaven, such was my intention.
Now, Mr. President, I suppose I may proceed with the few remarks I was about to offer, and they are very few.
The VICE-PRESIDENT. Will the Senator pause a moment?
Mr. Hale. I rise, sir, to a privileged question. I simply rise to ask the Senate if it is not due to itself that this subject should be investigated ; that it should not go out without being corrected. Of course no one will