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[477] but the constitutional privileges of this house; but, sir, to come into this chamber and assault a member in his seat until he falls exhausted and senseless on this floor, is an offence requiring the prompt and decisive action of the Senate.

Senators, I have called your attention to this transaction. I submit no motion. I leave it to older senators, whose character, whose position in this body and before the country, eminently fit then for the task of devising measures to redress the wrongs of a member of this body, and to vindicate the honor and dignity of the Senate.

There was a pause; and no one rising, the president began to present other business to the Senate, when Seward rose and offered a resolution of inquiry, carefully drawn so as not to provoke debate, and avoiding even the mention of the assailant's name.1 A single objection would have carried the resolution to another day; but none was made. Seward accepted an amendment, moved by Mason, that the committee be elected by the Senate instead of being appointed by the president, and the resolution then passed without dissent. the amendment was probably moved, as the president would under the responsibility of his position have felt compelled at least to make a show of fairness, and allow both parties in the Senate to be represented. The ballot resulted in the election of a committee consisting (contrary to parliamentary usage) wholly of Sumner's political opponents; to wit, Pearce of Maryland, Allen of Rhode Island, Dodge of Wisconsin, Geyer of Missouri, and Cass of Michigan,—their votes ranging from thirty-three to eighteen.2 Seward, the mover, received only thirteen, and no other Republican received more than four. Cass accepted, though refusing to be chairman, and intimating at first his wish not to serve at all.

The silence of the Republican senators, none of whom rose to denounce the outrage, was not altogether approved in the free States, and was thought to signify a lack of courage. Wilson's whole conduct exempts him from all suspicion of the kind; but it is quite true that the terrorism created by the assault, and the threats which followed it, had a temporary effect on some minds.3 The same day, in the House, Campbell

1 Seward's speech, June 24, Congressional Globe, App. p. 661.

2 The composition of the committee was said to have been inspired by Weller, Douglas, and Mason. J. S. Pike in the New York Tribune, May 26; ‘First Blows of the Civil War,’ p. 340.

3 J. S. Pike in the New York Tribune, May 26; ‘First Blows of the Civil War,’ p. 340.

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