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Chapter 23: three months in Congress.

  • His objects as a member of Congress
  • -- his first acts -- the Chaplain hypocrisy -- the land Reform bill -- Distributing the documents -- offers a novel Resolution–the Mileage Expose -- Congressional delays -- Explosion in the House -- Mr. Turner's oration -- Mr. Greeley defends himself -- the Walker Tariff -- Congress in a pet -- speech at the printers' Festival -- the House in good humor -- traveling deadhead -- personal explanations -- a dry hawl -- the amendment game -- Congressional dignity -- battle of the books -- the recruiting system -- the last night of the session -- the “usual gratuity” -- the Inauguration ball -- farewell to his constituents.

In the composition of this work, I have, as a rule, abstained from the impertinence of panegyric, and most of the few sentences of an applausive nature which escaped my pen were promptly erased on the first perusal of the passages which they disfigured. Of a good action, the simplest narrative is the best panegyric; of a bad action, the best justification is the whole truth about it. Therefore, [289] though Horace Greeley's career in Congress is that part of his life which I regard with unmingled admiration, and though the conduct of his enemies during that period fills me with inexpresible disgust, I shall present here little more than a catalogue of his acts and endeavors while he held a place in the National bear-garden.

He seems to have kept two objects in view, during those three turbulent and exciting months: 1, to do his duty as a Representative of the People; 2, to let the people know exactly <*> fully what Manner of place the House of Representatives is, that methods their business is kept from being done, and under what pretexts their money is plundered. The first of these objects kept him constantly in his place on the floor of the House. The second he accomplished by daily letters to the Tribune, written, not at his desk in the House, but in his room before and after each day's hubbub. It will be convenient to arrange this chapter in the form of a journal.

Dec. 4th. This was Monday, the first day of the session. Horace Greeley “took the oaths and his seat.”

Dec. 5th. He gave notice of his intention to bring in a bill to discourage speculation in the public lands, and establish homesteads upon the same.

Dec. 6th. He wrote a letter to the tribune, in which he gave his first impressions of the House, ,and used some plain English. He spoke strongly upon the dishonesty of members draw <*> it and yet not giving attendance at the early sessions, though the House had a handed bills ready for conclusive action and every day lost at the outset insures the defeat of ten bills at the close. As a specimen of the plain English, take this:

On the third day, the Senate did not even succeed in forming a quorum; out of fifty-seven or eight members, who are all sure to be in for heir pay and mileage, only twenty-nine appeared in their seats; and the annual hypocrisy of electing a chaplain had to go over and waste another day. If either House had a chaplain who dare preach to its members what they ought to hear —of their faithlessness, their neglect of duty, their iniquitous waste of time, and robbery of the public by taking from the treasury money which they have not even attempted to earn—then there would be some sense in the chaplain business; but any ill-bred Nathan or Elijah who should undertake such a job [290] would be kicked out in short order. So the chaplaincy remains a thing of grimace and mummery, nicely calculated to help some flockless and complaisant shepherd to a few hundred dollars, and impose on devout simpletons an exalted notion of the piety of Congress. Should not the truth be spoken?


But in truth the great sorrow is, that so many of the Members of Congress, as of men in high station elsewhere, are merely dexterous jugglers, or the tools of dexterous jugglers, with the cup and balls of politics, shuffled into responsible places as a reward for past compliances, or in the hope of being there made useful to the inventors and patentees of their intellectual and moral greatness. To such men, the idea of anybody's coming to Congress for anything else than the distinction and the plunder, unless it be in the hope of intriguing their way up to some still lazier and more lucrative post, is so irresistibly comic—such an exhibition of jolly greenness, that they cannot contemplate it without danger of explosion.

Dec. 13th. Mr. Greeley introduced the Land Reform bill, of which he had given notice. It provided:

1. That any citizen, and any alien who had declared his intention of becoming a citizen, may file a pre-emption claim to 160 acres of Public Land, settle upon it, improve it, and have the privilege of buying it at any time within seven years of filing the claim, at the Government price of $1 25 per acre: provided, that he is not the owner or claimant of any other real estate.

2. That the Land office where a claim is filed, shall issue a Warrant of Pre-emption, securing the claimant in seven years possession.

3. That, after five years occupancy, a warrant-holder who makes oath of his intention to reside on and cultivate his land for life shall become the owner of any forty acres of his claim which he may select; the head of a family eighty acres.

4. That the price of public lands, when not sold to actual settlers, shall be five dollars per acre.

5. That false affidavits, made to procure land under the provisions of this bill, shall be punished by three years hard labor in a State prison, by a fine not exceeding $1,000, and by the loss of the land fraudulently obtained.

Dec. 16th. The following notice appeared in the Tribune:

In reference to many requests for copies of the President's Message and [291] accompanying Documents, I desire to state that such Message and Documents are expected to cover twelve to fourteen hundred printed octavo pages, and to include three maps, the engraving of which will probably delay the publication for two or three weeks yet. I shall distribute my share of them as soon as possible, and make them go as far as they will; but I cannot satisfy half the demands upon me. As each Senator will have nearly two hundred copies, while Representatives have but about sixty each, applications to Senators, especially from the smaller States, are obviously the most promising.

Dec. 18th. Mr. Greeley offered the following resolution in the House:

Resolved, That the Secretary of the Navy be requested to inquire into and report upon the expediency and feasibility of temporarily employing the whole or a portion of our national vessels, now on the Pacific station, in the transportation, at moderate rates, of American citizens and their effects from Panama and the Mexican ports on the Pacific to San Francisco in California.

This was the year of the gold fever. The fate of the above resolution may be given in its proposer's own words

‘Monday,’ he wrote,

was expressly a resolution day; and (the order commencing at Ohio) it was about 2 o'clock before New York was called, and I had a chance to offer the foregoing. It was received, but could not be acted on except by unanimous consent (which was refused) until it shall have laid over one day—when of course it will never be reached again. When the States had been called through, I rose and asked the House to consider the above as modified so as to have the inquiry made by its own Naval Committee instead of the Secretary of the Navy—thus bringing its immediate consideration within the rules. No use—two or three on the other side sang out “ Object,” “Object,” and the resolution went over—as all resolutions which any member indicates a purpose to debate must do. So the resolution cannot be reached again this Session.

Dec. 19th. Mr. Greeley made what the reporters styled “a plain and forcible speech,” on the tariff, in which he animadverted upon a passage of the Message, wherein the President had alluded to manufacturers as an “aristocratic class, and one that claimed exclusive privileges.” Mr. Greeley walked into the President.

Dec. 22d. On this day appeared in the Tribune, the famous Congressional Mileage Expose. The history of this expose is briefly related by Mr. Greeley, in the Whig Almanac for 1850. [292]

Early in December, I called on the Sergeant-at-Arms, for some money on account, he being paymaster of the House. The Schedule used by that officer was placed before me, showing the amount of mileage respectively accorded to every member of the House. Many of these amounts struck me as excessive, and I tried to recollect if any publication of all the allowances in a like case had ever beer, made through the journals, but could not remember any such publicity. On inquiry, I was informed that the amounts were regularly published in a certain document entitled “ The Public Accounts,” of which no considerable number was printed, and which was obviously not intended for popular distribution. [It is even omitted in this document for the year 1848, printed since I published my expose, so that I can now find it in no public document whatever.] I could not remember that I had ever seen a copy, though one had been obtained and used by my assistant in making up last year's Almanac. It seemed to me, therefore, desirable that the facts should be brought to the knowledge of the public, and I resolved that it should be done.

But how? To have picked out a few of what seemed to me the most flagrant cases of overcharge, and print these alone, would be to invite and secure the reputation of partiality, partisanship, and personal animosity. No other course seemed so fair as to print the mileage of each member, with necessary elucidations. I accordingly employed an ex-clerk in one of the departments, and instructed him to make out a tabular expose as follows:

1. Name of each member of the House;

2. Actual distance from his residence to Washington by the shortest post-route;

3. Distance for which he is allowed and paid mileage;

4. Amount of mileage received by him;

5. Excess of mileage so received over what would have been if the distance had been computed by the shortest or most direct mail-route.

The expose was made out accordingly, and promptly forwarded to the Tribune, in which it appeared.

In the remarks which introduced the tabular statement, Mr. Greeley expressly and pointedly laid the blame of the enormous excess to the law. ‘Let no man,’ he said

jump at the conclusion that this excess has been charged and received contrary to law. The fact is otherwise. The members are all honorable men—if any irreverent infidel should doubt it, we can silence him by referring to the prefix to their names in the newspapers, and we presume each has charged just what the law allows him. That law expressly says that each shall receive eight dollars for every twenty miles travelled in coming to and returning from Congress, “by the [293] usually traveled route;” and of course if the route usually traveled from California to Washington is around Cape Horn, or the members from that embryo State shall choose to think it is—they will each be entitled to charge some $12,000 mileage per session, accordly. We assume that each has charged precisely what the law allows him, and thereupon we press home the question—‘Ought not that Law to be amended?’

It appeared from the statement, that the whole number of ‘circuitous miles’ charged was 183031, which, at forty cents a mile, amounted to $73,492 60. With about twelve exceptions, it showed that every member of the Senate and House had drawn more mileage than he ought to have been legally entitled to, the excess varying in amount from less than two dollars to more than a thousand dollars. Viewed merely as a piece of editorship, this mileage expose was the best hit ever made by a New York paper. The effect of it upon the town was immediate and immense. It flew upon the wings of the country press, and became, in a few days, the talk of the nation. Its effect upon Congress, and upon the subsequent congressional career of its author, we shall see in a moment.

Dec. 23d. Mr. Greeley wrote a letter to the Tribune, in which he explained the manoeuvring by which Congress, though it cannot legally adjourn over for more than three consecutive days, generally contrives to be idle during the whole of the Christmas holidays; i. e. from a day or two before Christmas, to a day or two after New Year's. ‘I was warned,’ he wrote, ‘when going to Baltimore last evening, that I might as well keep on to New York, as nothing would be done till some time in January. But I came back, determined to see at least how it was done.’ It was “ done” by making two bites at the cherry, adjourning first from Saturday to Wednesday; and, after a little show of work on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, adjourning again till after New Year's day. Mr. Greeley spoke in opposition to the adjournment, and demanded the yeas and nays; but they were refused, and the first bite was consummated. ‘The old soldiers’ of the House were too much for him, he said; but he took care to print the names of those who voted for the adjournment.

Dec. 27th. To-day the pent — up rage of Congress at the Mileage [294] Expose, which had been fermenting for three days, burst forth; and the gentleman who knocked out the bung, so to speak, was no other than Mr. Sawyer, of Ohio, Mr. Sausage Sawyer of the Tribune. Mr. Sawyer was “down” in the Expose for an excess of $281 60, and he rose to a “question of privilege.” A long and angry debate ensued, first upon the question whether the Expose could be debated at all; and secondly, if it could, what should be done about it. It was decided, after much struggle and turmoil, that it was a proper subject of discussion, and Mr. Turner, of Illinois, whose excess amounted to the interesting sum of $998 40, moved a series of resolutions, of which the following was the most important:

Resolved, That a publication made in the New York Tribune on the day of December, 1848, in which the mileage of members is set forth and commented on, be referred to a Committee, with instructions to inquire into and report whether said publication does not amount, in substance, to an allegation of fraud against most of the members of this House in this matter of their mileage; and if, in the judgment of the Committee, it does amount to an allegation of fraud, then to inquire into it, and report whether that allegation is true or false.

The speech by which Mr. Turner introduced his resolutions was not conceived in the most amiable spirit, nor delivered with that lofty composure which, it is supposed, should characterize the elocution of a legislator. These sentences from it will suffice for a specimen:

He now wished to call the attention of the House particularly to these charges made by the editor of the New York Tribune, most, if not all, of which charges he intended to show were absolutely false; and that the individual who made them had either been actuated by the low, groveling, base, and malignant desire to represent the Congress of the nation in a false and unenviable light before the country and the world, or that he had been actuated by motives still more base—by the desire of acquiring an ephemeral notoriety, by blazoning forth to the world what the writer attempted to show was fraud. The whole article abounded in gross errors and wilfully false statements, and was evidently prompted by motives as base, unprincipled and corrupt as ever actuated an individual in wielding his pen for the public press.


Perhaps the gentleman (he begged pardon), or rather the individual, perhaps the thing, that penned that article was not aware that his (Mr. T.'s) portion of the country was not cut up by railroads and traveled by stage-coaches [295] and other direct means of public conveyance, like the omnibuses in the City of New York, between all points; they had no other channel of communication except the mighty lakes or the rivers of the West; he could not get here in any other way. The law on the subject of Mileage authorized the members to charge upon the most direct usually-traveled route. Now, he ventured the assertion that there was not an individual in his District who ever came to this city, or to any of the North-eastern cities, who did not come by the way of the lakes or the rivers.


He did not know but he was engaged in a very small business. A gentleman near him suggested that the writer of this article would not be believed anyhow; that, therefore, it was no slander. But his constituents, living two or three thousand miles distant, might not be aware of the facts, and therefore it was that he had deemed it necessary to repel the slanderous charges and imputations of fraud, so far as they concerned him.

Other honorable gentlemen followed, and discoursed eloquent discord in a similar strain. Mr. Greeley sat with unruffled composure and heard himself vilified for some hours without attempting to reply. At length, in a pause of the storm, he arose and gave notice, that when the resolutions were disposed of he should rise to a privileged question. The following sprightly conversation ensued:

Mr. Thompson, of Indiana, moved that the resolutions be laid on the table.

The Yeas and Nays were asked and ordered; and, being taken, were— Yeas 28, Nays 128.

And the question recurring on the demand for the previous question:

Mr. Fries inquired of the Speaker whether the question was susceptible of division.

The Speaker said that the question could be taken separately on each resolution.

A number of members here requested Mr. Evans to withdraw the demand for the previous question (i.e. permit Mr. Greeley to speak).

Mr. Evans declined to withdraw the motion, and desired to state the reason why he did so. The reason was, that the gentleman from New York [Mr. Greeley] had spoken to an audience to which the members of this House could not speak. If the gentleman wished to assail any member of this House, let him do so here.

The Speaker interposed, and was imperfectly heard, but was understood to say that it was out of order to refer personally to gentlemen on this floor.

Mr. Evans said he would refer to the editor of the Tribune, and he insisted that the gentleman was not entitled to reply.

[Loud cries from all parts of the House, “ Let him speak,” with mingling dissent.] [296]

The question was then taken on the demand for the previous question.

But the House refused to second it.

Mr. Greeley, after alluding to the comments that had been made upon the article in the Tribune relative to the subject of Mileage, and the abuse which had notoriously been practiced relating to it, said he had heard no gentleman quote one word in that article imputing an illegal charge to any member of this House, imputing anything but a legal, proper charge. The whole ground of the argument was this: Ought not the law to be changed? Ought not the mileage to be settled by the nearest route, instead of what was called the usually-traveled route, which authorized a gentleman coming from the center of Ohio to go around by Sandusky, Albany, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, and to charge mileage upon that route. He did not object to any gentleman's taking that course if he saw fit; but was that the route upon which the mileage ought to be computed?

Mr. Turner interposed, and inquired if the gentleman wrote that article?

Mr. Greeley replied that the introduction to the article on mileage was writted by himself; the transcript from the books of this House and from the accounts of the Senate was made by a reporter, at his direction. That reporter, who was formerly a clerk in the Post-Office Department, [Mr. Douglass Howard,] had taken the latest book in the Department, which contained the distances of the several post-offices in the country from Washington; and from that book he had got—honestly, he knew, though it might not have been entirely accurate in an instance or two—the official list of the distances of the several post-offices from this city. In every case, the post-office of the member, whether of the Senate or the House, had been looked out, his distance as charged set down, then the post-office book referred to, and the actual, honest distance by the shortest route set down opposite, and then the computation made how much the charge was an excess, not of legal mileage, but of what would be legal, if the mileage was computed by the nearest mail route.

Mr. King, of Georgia, desired, at this point of the gentleman's remarks, to say a word; the gentleman said that the members charged; now, he (Mr. K.) desired to say, with reference to himself, that from the first, he had always refused to give any information to the Committee on Mileage with respect to the mileage to which he would be entitled. He had told them it was their special duty to settle the matter; that he would have nothing to do with it. He, therefore, had charged nothing.

Mr. Greeley (continuing) said he thought all this showed the necessity of a new rule on the subject, for here they saw members shirking off, shrinking from the responsibility, and throwing it from one place to another. Nobody made up the account, but somehow an excess of $60,000 or $70,000 was charged in the accounts for mileage, and was paid from the Treasury.

Mr. King interrupted, and asked if he meant to charge him (Mr. K.) with shirking? Was that the gentleman's remark? [297]

Mr. Greeley replied, that he only said that by some means or other, this excess of mileage was charged, and was paid by the Treasury. This money ought to be saved. The same rule ought to be applied to members of Congress that was applied to other persons.

Mr. King desired to ask the gentleman from New York if he had correctly understood his language, for he had heard him indistinctly? He (Mr. K.) had made the positive statement that he had never had anything to do with reference to the charge of his mileage, and he had understood the gentleman from New York to speak of shirking from responsibility. He desired to know if the gentleman applied that term to him?

Mr. Greeley said he had applied it to no member.

Mr. King asked, why make use of this term, then?

Mr. Greeley's reply to this interrogatory was lost in the confusion which prevailed in consequence of members leaving their seats and coming forward to the area in the center.

The Speaker called the House to order, and requested gentlemen to take their seats.

Mr. Greeley proceeded. There was no intimation in the article that any member had made out his own account, but somehow or other the accounts had been so made up as to make a total excess of some $60,000 or $70,000, chargeable upon the Treasury. The general facts had been stated, to show that the law ought to be different, and there were several cases cited to show how the law worked badly; for instance, from one district in Ohio, the member formerly charged for four hundred miles, when he came on his own horse all the way; but now the member from the same district received mileage for some eight or nine hundred miles. Now, ought that to be so? The whole argument turned on this; now, the distances were traveled much easier than formerly, and yet more, in many cases much more, mileage was charged. The gentleman from Ohio who commenced this discussion, had made the point that there was some defect, some miscalculation in the estimate of distances. He could not help it; they had taken the post-office books, and relied on them, and if any member of the press had picked out a few members of this House, and held up their charges for mileage, it would have been considered invidious.

Mr. Turner called the attention of the member from New York to the fact that the Postmaster General himself had thrown aside that Post Office book, in consequence of its incorrectness. He asked the gentleman if he did not know that fact?

Mr. Greeley replied that the article itself stated that the Department did not charge mileage upon that book. Every possible excuse and mitigation had been given in the article; but he appealed to the House—they were the masters of the law—why would they not change it, and make it more just and equal

Mr. Sawyer wished to be allowed to ask the gentleman from New York a [298] question. His complaint was that the article had done him injustice, by setting him down as some 300 miles nearer the seat of Government than his colleague [Mr. Schenck], although his colleague had stated before the House that he [Mr. Sawyer] resided some 60 or 70 miles further.

Now, he wanted to know why the gentleman had made this calculation against him, and in favor of his colleague?

Mr. Greeley replied that he begged to assure the gentleman from Ohio that he did not think he had ever been in his thoughts from the day he had come here until the present day; but he had taken the figures from the Post Office book, as transcribed by a former Clerk in the Post Office Department.

After much more sparring of the same description, the resolutions were adopted, the Committee was appointed, the House adjourned, and Mr. Greeley went home and wrote a somewhat facetious account of the day's proceedings. The most remarkable sentence in that letter was this:

It was but yesterday that a Senator said to me that though he was utterly opposed to any reduction of Mileage, yet if the House did not stop passing Retrenchment bills for Buncombe, and then running to the Senate and begging Senators to stop them there, he, for one, would vote to put through the next Mileage Reduction bill that came to the Senate, just to punish Members for their hypocrisy.

Jan. 2nd. Mr. Greeley offered a resolution calling on the Secretary of the Treasury to communicate to the House the advantages resulting from the imposition by the Tariff of 1846 of duties of 5 and 10 per cent. on certain manufactures of wool and hemp, more than was imposed on the raw material, and if they were not advantageous, then to state what action was required.

Jan. 3rd. The resolution came up.

Mr. Wentworth objected to the Secretary of the Treasury being called upon for such information. If the gentleman from New York would apply to him [Mr. W.], he would give him his reasons, but he objected to this reference to the Secretary of the Treasury. He moved to lay it on the table, but withdrew it at the request of—

Mr. Greeley, who said it was well known that the Tariff of 1846 was prepared by the Secretary; he had been its eulogist and defender, and he now wished for his views on the particular points specified. He had unofficially more than thirty times called on the defenders of the Tariff of 1846 [299] to explain these things, but had never been able to get one, and now he wanted to go to headquarters.

Mr. Wentworth was not satified with this at all, and asked why the gentleman from New York did not call on him. He was ready to give him any information he had.

Mr. Greeley—That call is not in order. [A laugh.]

Mr. W.—But he objected to the passage of a resolution imputing that the Secretary of the Treasury had dictated a Tariff bill to the House.

Mr. Washington Hunt—Does not the gentleman from Illinois know that the Committee of Ways and Means called upon the Secretary for a Tariff, and that he prepared and transmitted this Tariff to them?

Mr. Wentworth—I do not know anything about it.

Mr. Hunt—Well, the gentleman's ignorance is remarkable, for it was very generally known.

Mr. Wentworth renewed his motion to lay the resolution on the table, on which the Ayes and Noes were demanded, and resulted Ayes 86, Noes 87.

Jan. 4th. Congress, to-day, showed its spite at the mileage expose in a truly extraordinary manner. At the last session of this very Congress the mileage of the Messengers appointed by the Electoral Colleges to bear their respective votes for President and Vice President to Washington, had been reduced to twelve and a half cents per mile each way. But now it was perceived by members that either the mileage of the Messengers must be restored or their own reduced. ‘Accordingly,’ wrote Mr. Greeley in one of his letters, ‘a joint resolution was promptly submitted to the Senate, doubling the mileage of Messengers, and it went through that exalted body very quickly and easily. I had not noticed that it had been definitively acted on at all until it made its appearance in the House to-day, and was driven through with indecent rapidity well befitting its character. No Committee was allowed to examine it, no opportunity was afforded to discuss it, but by whip and spur, Previous Question and brute force of numbers, it was rushed through the necessary stages, and sent to the President for his sanction.’

The injustice of this impudent measure is apparent from the fact, that on the reduced scale of compensation, messengers received from ten to twenty dollars a day during the period of their necessary absence from home. ‘The messenger from Maine, for instance, brings the vote of his State five hundred and ninety-five miles, and need not be more than eight days absent from his business, at an expense [300] certainly not exceeding $60 in all. The reduced compensation was $148 75, paying his expenses and giving him $11 per day over.’

Jan. 7th. The Printers' Festival was held this evening at Washington, and Mr. Greeley attended it, and made a speech. His remarks were designed to show, that ‘the interests of tradesmen generally, but especially of the printing and publishing trade, including authors and editors, was intimately involved in the establishment and maintenance of high rates of compensation for labor in all departments of industry. It is of vital interest to us all that the entire community shall be buyers of books and subscribers to journals, which they cannot be unless their earnings are sufficient to supply generously their physical wants and leave some surplus for intellectual aliment. We ought, therefore, as a class, from regard to our own interests, if from no higher motive, to combine to keep up higher rates of compensation in our own business, and to favor every movement in behalf of such rates in other callings.’

He concluded by offering a sentiment:

The Lightning of Intelligence—Now crashing ancient tyrannies and toppling down thrones—May it swiftly irradiate the world.

Jan. 9th. The second debate on the subject of Mileage occurred to-day. It arose thus:

The following item being under consideration, viz.: ‘For Compensation and Mileage of Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, and Delegates, $768,200,’ Mr. Embree moved to amend it by adding thereto the following:‘Provided, That the Mileage of Members of both Houses of Congress shall hereafter be estimated and charged upon the shortest mail-route from their places of residence, respectively, to the city of Washington.’

The debate which ensued was long and animated, but wholly different in tone and manner from that of the previous week. Strange to relate, the Expose found, on this occasion, stanch defenders, and the House was in excellent humor. The reader, if he feels curious to know the secret of this happy change, may find it, I think, in that part of a speech delivered in the course of the debate, where the orator said, that ‘he had not seen a single newspaper of the country which did not approve of the course which [301] the gentleman from New York had taken; and he believed there was no instance where the Editor of a paper had spoken out the genuine sentiments of the people, and made any expression of disapprobation in regard to the effort of the gentleman from New York to limit this unjustifiable taxation of Milage.’

The debate relapsed, at length, into a merry conversation on the subject of traveling “dead-heads.”

Mr. Murphy said, when he came on, he left New York at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, and arrived at Philadelphia to supper; and then entering the car again, he slept very comfortably, and was here in the morning at 8 o'clock. He lost no time. The mileage was ninety dollars.

Mr. Root would inquire of the gentleman from New York, whether he took his passage and came on as what the agents sometimes call a “deadhead?” [Laughter.]

Mr. Murphy replied (amid considerable merriment and laughter) that he did not know of more than one member belonging to the New York delegation to whom that application could properly attach.

Mr. Root said, although his friend from New York was tolerably expert in everything he treated of, yet he might not understand the meaning of the term he had used. He would inform him that the term “dead-head,” was applied by the steamboat gentlemen to passengers who were allowed to travel without paying their fare. [A great deal of merriment prevailed throughout the hall, upon this allusion, as it manifestly referred to the two editors, the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Levin, and the gentleman from New York, Mr. Greeley.] But Mr. R. (continuing to speak) said he was opposed to all personalities. He never indulged in any such thing himself, and he never would favor such indulgence on the part of other gentlemen.

Mr. Levin. I want merely to say—

Mr. Root. I am afraid—

[The confusion of voices and merriment which followed, completely drowned the few words of pleasant explanation delivered here by Mr. Levin.]

Mr. Greeley addressed the chair.

The Chairman. The gentleman from New York will suspend his remarks till the Committee shall come to order.

Order being restored-

Mr. Greeley said he did not pretend to know what the editor of the Philadelphia Sun, the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Levin], had done. But if any gentleman, anxious about the matter, would inquire at the railroad offices in Philadelphia and Baltimore, he would there be informed that he (Mr. G.) never had passed over any portion of either of those roads free of charge —never in the world. One of the gentlemen interested had once told him he might, but he never had. [302]

Mr. Embree next obtained the floor, but gave way for

Mr. Haralson, who moved that the Committee rise.

Mr. Greeley appealed to the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Haralson] to withhold his motion, while he might, by the courtesy of the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Embree], make a brief reply to the allusions which had been made to him and his course upon this subject. He asked only for five minutes But

Mr. Haralson adhered to his motion, which was agreed to.

So the Committee rose and reported, “ No conclusion.”

Jan. 10th. The slave-trade in the District of Columbia was the subject of discussion, and the part which Mr. Greeley took in it, he thus described:

Slave-trade in the district: Mr. Greeley's remarks in defence of Mr. Gott's resolution, (suppressed.)

[Throughout the whole discussion of Wednesday, Mr. Greeley struggled at every opportunity for the floor, and at first was awarded it, but the speaker, on reflection, decided that it belonged to Mr. Wentworth of Ill., who had made a previous motion. Had Mr. (G. obtained the floor at any time, it was his intention to have spoken substantially as follows—the first paragraph being suggested by Mr. Sawyer's speech, and of course only meditated after that speech was delivered.]

Then follows the speech, which was short, eloquent, and convincing.

Jan. 11th. The third debate on the mileage question. Mr. Greeley, who ‘had been for three days struggling for the floor,’ obtained it, and spoke in defence of his course. For two highly autobiographical paragraphs of his speech, room must be found in these pages:

The gentleman saw fit to speak of my vocation as an editor, and to charge me with editing my paper from my seat on this floor. Mr. Chairman, I do not believe there is one member in this Hall who has written less in his seat this session than I have done. I have been too much absorbed in the (to me) novel and exciting scenes around me to write, and have written no editorial here. Time enough for that, Sir, before and after your daily sessions. But the gentleman either directly charged or plainly insinuated that I have neglected [303] my duties as a member of this House to attend to my own private business. I meet this charge with a positive and circumstantial denial. Except a brief sitting one Private Bill day, I have not been absent one hour in all, nor the half of it, from the deliberations of this House. I have never voted for an early adjournment, nor to adjourn over. My name will be found recorded on every call of the yeas and nays. And, as the gentleman insinuated a neglect of my duties as a member of a Committee (Public Lands,) I appeal to its Chairman for proof to any that need it, that I have never been absent from a meeting of that Committee, nor any part of one; and that I have rather sought than shunned labor upon it. And I am confident that, alike in my seat, and out of it, I shall do as large a share of the work devolving upon this House as the gentleman from Mississippi will deem desirable.

And now, Mr. Chairman, a word on the main question before us. I know very well—I knew from the first—what a low, contemptible, demagoguing business this of attempting to save public money always is. It is not a task for gentlemen—it is esteemed rather disreputable even for editors. Your gentlamenly work is spending—lavishing—distributing—taking. Savings are always such vulgar, beggarly, two—penny affairs—there is a sorry and stingy look about them most repugnant to all gentlemanly instincts. And beside, they never happen to hit the right place—it is always “ Strike higher!” “Strike lower!” To be generous with other people's money—generous to self and friends especially that is the way to be popular and commended. Go ahead, and never care for expense!—if your debts become inconvenient, you can repudiate, and blackguard your creditors as descended from Judas Iscariot!— Ah! Mr. Chairman, I was not rocked in the cradle of gentility!

Jan. 14th. He wrote out another speech on a noted slave case, which at that time was attracting much attention. This effort was entitled, ‘My Speech on Pacheco and his Negro.’ It was humorous, but it was a “settler” ; and it is a pity there is not room for it here.

Jan. 16th. The Mileage Committee made their report, exonerating members, condemning the Expose, and asking to be excused from further consideration of the subject.

Jan. 17th. A running debate on Mileage—many suggestions made for the alteration of the law-nothing done—the proposed reform substantially defeated. The following conversation occurred upon the subject of Mr. Greeley's own mileage. Mr. Greeley tells the story himself, heading his letter “A dry Haw].”

The House having resolved itself again into a Committee of the Whole, [304] and taken up the Civil and Diplomatic Appropriation Bill, on which Mr. Murphy of New York had the floor, I stepped out to attend to some business, and was rather surprised to learn, on my way back to the Hall, that Mr. M. was making me the subject of his remarks. As I went in, Mr. M. continued-

Murphy.—As the gentleman is now in his seat, I will repeat what I have stated. I said that the gentleman who started this breeze about Mileage, by his publication in the Tribune, has himself charged and received Mileage by the usual instead of the shortest Mail Route. He charges me with taking $3 20 too much, yet I live a mile further than he, and charge but the same.

Greeley.—The gentleman is entirely mistaken. Finding my Mileage was computed at $184 for two hundred and thirty miles, and seeing that the shortest Mail Route, by the Post-Office Book of 1842, made the distance but two hundred and twenty-five miles, I, about three weeks ago, directed the Sergeant-at-Arms to correct his schedule and make my Mileage $180 for two hundred and twenty-five miles. I have not inquired since, but presume he has done so. So that I do not charge so much as the gentleman from Brooklyn, though, instead of living nearer, I live some two or three miles further from this city than he does, or fully two hundred and twenty-nine miles by the shortest Post Route.

Richardson of Illinois.—Did not the gentleman make out his own account at two hundred and thirty miles?

Greeley.—Yes, sir, I did at first; but, on learning that there was a shorter Post Route than that by which the Mileage from our city had been charged, I stepped at once to the Sergeant's room, informed him of the fact, and desired the proper correction. Living four miles beyond the New York Post Office, I might fairly have let the account stand as it was, but I did not.

Jan. 18th. Mr. Greeley's own suggestion with regard to Mileage appears in the Tribune:

1. Reduce the Mileage to a generous but not extravagant allowance for the time and expense of travelling;

2. Reduce the ordinary or minimum pay to $5 per day, or (we prefer) $8 for each day of actual service, deducting Sundays, days of adjournment within two hours from the time of assembling, and all absences not caused by sickness;

3. Whenever a Member shall have served six sessions in either House, or both together, let his pay thenceforward be increased fifty per cent., and after he shall have served twelve years as aforesaid, let it be double that of an ordinary or new Member;

4. Pay the Chairman of each Committee, and all the Members of the three most important and laborious Committees of each House, fifty per cent [305] above the ordinary rates, and the Chairmen of the three (or more) most responsible and laborious Committees of each House (say Ways and Means, Judiciary and Claims) double the ordinary rates; the Speaker double or treble, as should be deemed just;

5. Limit the Long Sessions to four months, or half-pay thereafter.

Jan. 20th. Another letter appears to-day, exposing some of the expedients by which the time of Congress is wasted, and the public business delayed. The bill for the appointment of Private Claims' Commissioners was before the House. If it had passed, Congress would have been relieved of one-third of its business, and the claims of individuals against the government would have had a chance of fair adjustment. But no. ‘Amendment was piled on amendment, half of them merely as excuses for speaking, and so were withdrawn as soon as the Chairman's hammer fell to cut off the five-minute speech in full flow. The first section was finally worried through, and the second (there are sixteen) was mouthed over for half an hour or so. At two o'clock an amendment was ready to be voted on, tellers were ordered, and behold! no quorum. The roll was called over; members came running in from the lobbies and lounging-places; a large quorum was found present; the Chairman reported the fact to the Speaker, and the House relapsed into Committee again. The dull, droning business of proposing amendments which were scarcely heeded, making five-minute speeches that were not listened to, and taking votes where not half voted, and half of those who did were ignorant of what they were voting upon, proceeded some fifteen minutes longer, when the patriotic fortitude of the House gave way, and a motion that the Committee rise prevailed.’ The bill has not yet been passed. Just claims clamored in vain for liquidation, and doubtful ones are bullied or manoeuvred through.

Jan. 22d. To-day the House of Representatives covered itself with glory. Mr. Greeley proposed an additional section to the General Appropriation Bill, to the effect, that members should not be paid for attendance when they did not attend, unless their absence was caused by sickness or public business. ‘At this very session,’ said Mr. Greeley in his speech on this occasion, ‘members have been absent for weeks together, attending to their private [306] business, while this Committee is almost daily broken up for want of a quorum in attendance. This is a gross wrong to their constituents, to the country, and to those members who remain in their seats, and endeavor to urge forward the public business.’

What followed is thus related by Mr. Greeley in his letter to the Tribune:

Whereupon, Hon. Henry C. Murphy, of Brooklyn, (it takes him!) rose and moved the following addition to the proposed new section:

‘ “And there shall also be deducted for such time from the compensation of members, who shall attend the sittings of the House, as they shall be employed in writing for newspapers.” ’

No objection being made, the House, with that exquisite sense of dignity and propriety which has characterized its conduct throughout, adopted this amendment.

And then the whole section was voted down.

Mr. Greeley next, with a view of arresting the prodigal habit which has grown up here of voting a bonus of $250 to each of the sub-clerks, messengers, pages, &c., &c., (their name is Legion) of both Houses, moved the following new section:

Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That it shall not henceforth be lawful for either Houses of Congress to appropriate and pay from its Contingent Fund any gratuity or extra compensation to any person whatever; but every appropriation of public money for gratuities shall be lawful only when expressly approved and passed by both Houses of Congress.”

This was voted down of course; and on the last night or last but one of the session, a motion will doubtless be sprung in each house for the “usual” gratuity to these already enormously overpaid attendants, and it will probably pass, though I am informed that it is already contrary to law. But what of that?

Jan. 3d. An honest man in the House of Representatives of the United States seemed to be a foreign element, a fly in its cup, an ingredient that would not mix, a novelty that disturbed its peace. It struggled hard to find a pretext for the expulsion of the offensive person; but not finding one, the next best thing was to endeavor to show the country that Horace Greeley was, after all, no better than members of Congress generally. To-day occurred the celebrated, yet pitiful, Battle of the Books. Congress, as every one knows, is accustomed annually to vote each member a small library of books, consisting of public documents, reports, statistics. Mr. [307] Greeley approved the appropriation for reasons which will appear in a moment, and he knew the measure was sure to pass; yet, unwilling to give certain blackguards of the House a handle against him and against the reforms with which he was identified, he voted formally against the appropriation. It is but fair to all concerned in the Battle, that an account of it, published in the Congressional Globe, should be given here entire, or nearly so. Accordingly, here it is:

In the House of Representatives on Tuesday, while the General Appropriation Bill was up, Mr. Edwards, of Ohio, offered the following amendment:

Be it further enacted, That the sums of money appropriated in this bill for books be deducted from the pay of those members who voted for the appropriation.

Mr. Edwards, in explanation, said that he had voted in favor of the appropriation, and was of course willing that the amendment should operate upon himself precisely as it would upon any other member. He had no apology to make for the vote he had given. He would send to the Clerk's table the New York Tribune of January 18th, and would request the Clerk to read the paragraph which he (Mr. E.) had marked.

The clerk read the following:

“And yet, Mr. Speaker, it has been hinted if not asserted on this floor that I voted for these Congressional books! I certainly voted against them at every opportunity, when I understood the question. I voted against agreeing to that item of the report of the Committee of the Whole in favor of the Deficiency bill, and, the item prevailing, I voted against the whole bill. I tried to be against them at every opportunity. But it seems that on some stand-up vote in Committee of the Whole, when I utterly misunderstood what was the question before the Committee, I voted for this item. Gentlemen say I did, and I must presume they are right. I certainly never meant to do so, and I did all in my power in the House to defeat this appropriation. But it is common with me in incidental and hasty divisions, when I do not clearly understand the point to be decided, to vote with the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, [Mr. Vinton,] who is so generally right and who has special charge of appropriation bills, and of expediting business generally. Thus only can I have voted for these books, as on all other occasions I certainly voted against them.”

The paragraph having been read:

Mr. Edwards (addressing Mr. Greeley) said, I wish to inquire of the gentleman from New York, if I am in order, whether that is his editorial?

Mr. Greeley rose. [Hubbub for some minutes. After which——] [308]

Mr. Greeley said, every gentleman here must remember that that was but the substance of what he had spoken on this floor. His colleague next him [Mr. Rumsey] had told him, that upon one occasion he (Mr. G.) had voted for the appropriation for books when he did not understand the vote. He (Mr. G.) had voted for tellers when a motion was made to pass the item; but by mistake the Chairman passed over the motion for tellers, and counted him in favor of the item.

Mr. Edwards. I understand, then, that the gentleman voted without understanding what he was voting upon, and that he would have voted against taking the books had he not been mistaken.

Mr. Greeley assented.

Mr. Edwards. I assert that that declaration is unfounded in fact. I have the proof that the gentleman justified his vote both before and after the voting.

Mr. Greeley called for the proof.

Mr. Edwards said he held himself responsible, not elsewhere, but here, to prove that the gentleman from New York [Mr. Greeley] had justified his vote in favor of the books both before and after he gave that vote, upon the ground on which they all justified it, and that this editorial was an afterthought, written because he [Mr. G.] had been twitted by certain newspapers with having voted for the books. He held himself ready to name the persons by whom he could prove it.

[Loud cries of “ Name them; name them.” ]

Mr. Edwards (responding to the repeated invitations which were addressed to him) said, Charles Hudson, Dr. Darling, and Mr. Putnam.

[The excitement was very great, and there was much confusion in all parts of the Hall—many members standing in the aisles, or crowding forward to the area and the vicinity of Mr. Greeley.]

Mr. Greeley (addressing Mr. Edwards). I say, neither of these gentlemen will say so.

Mr. Edwards. I hold myself responsible for the proof. (Addressing Mr. Hudson). Mr. Hudson will come to the stand. [General laughter.]


Mr. Greeley. Now, if there is any gentleman who will say that he has understood me to say that I voted for it understandingly, I call upon him to come forward.

Mr. Edwards. The gentleman calls for the testimony. Mr. Hudson is the man—Dr. Darling is the man.

[Members had again flocked into the area. There were cries of “ Hudson, Hudson,” “down in front,” and great disorder throughout the House.]

The Chairman again earnestly called to order; and all proceedings were arrested for the moment, in order to obtain order.

The House having become partially stilled—

Mr. Hudson rose and said: I suppose it is not in order for me to address [309] the Committee; but, as I have been called upon, if there is no objection, 1 have no objection on my part, to state what I have heard the gentleman from New York [Mr. Greeley] say.

[Cries from all quarters, “Hear him, hear him.” ]

The Chairman. If there is no objection the gentleman can proceed.

No objection being made—

Mr. Hudson said, I can say, then, that on a particular day, when this book resolution had been before the House—as it was before the House several times, I cannot designate the day—but one day, when we had been passing upon the question of books, in walking from the Capitol, I fell in with my friend from New York, [Mr. Greeley;] that we conversed from the Capitol down on to the avenue in relation to these books; that he stated—as I understood him (and I think I could not have been mistaken)—that he was in favor of the purchase of the books; that he either had or should vote for the books, and he stated two reasons: the one was, that some of these publications were of such a character that they would never be published unless there was some public patronage held out to the publishers; and the other reason was, that the other class of these books at least contained important elements of history, which would be lost unless gathered up and published soon, and as the distribution of these books was to diffuse the information over the community, he was in favor of the purchase of these books; and that he himself had suffered from not having access to works of this character. That was the substance of the conversation.

Mr. Hudson having concluded—

[There were cries of “Darling, darling.” ]

Mr. Darling rose and (no objection being made) proceeded to say: On one of the days on which we voted for the books now in question—the day that the appropriation passed the House—I was on my way from the Capitol, and, passing down the steps, I accidentally came alongside the gentleman from New York, [Mr. Greeley,] who was in conversation with another gentleman—a member of the House—whose name I do not recollect. I heard him (Mr. G.) say he justified the appropriation for the books to the members, on the ground of their diffusing general information. He said that in the City of New York he knew of no place where he could go to obtain the information contained in these books; that although it was supposed that in that place the sources of information were much greater than in almost any other portion of the country, he would hardly know where to go in that City to find this information; and upon this ground that he would support the resolution in favor of the books.. This conversation, the gentleman will recollect, took place going down from the west door of the Capitol and before we got to the avenue. I do not now recollect the gentleman who was with the gentleman from New York.

Mr. Putnam rose amid loud cries of invitation, and (no objection being [310] made,) said: As my name has been referred to in relation to this question, it is due perhaps to the gentleman from New York [Mr. Greeley] that I should state this: That some few days since the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Edwards] called upon me here, and inquired of me whether I had heard my colleague [Mr. Greeley] say anything in relation to his vote as to the books. I that morning had received the paper, and I referred him to the editorial contained therein which has been read by the Clerk; but I have no recollection of stating to the gentleman from Ohio that I heard my colleague say he justified the vote which he gave; nor have I any recollection whatever that I ever heard my colleague say anything upon the subject after the vote given by him.

The gentleman from Ohio must have misunderstood me, and it is due to my colleague that this explanation should be made.

[Several voices: “What did he say before the vote?” ]

I have no recollection [said Mr. P.] that I ever heard him say anything.

Mr. Edwards rose, and wished to know if any of his five minutes was left?

No reply was heard; but, after some conversation, (being allowed to proceed,) he said, I have stated that I have no apologies to make for giving this vote. I voted for these books for the very reasons which the gentleman from New York [Mr. Greeley] gave to these witnesses. I stated that I could prove by witnesses that the gentleman has given reasons of this kind, and that that editorial was an afterthought. If the House requires any more testimony, it can be had; but out of the mouths of two witnesses he is condemned. That is scriptural as well as legal.

I have not risen to retaliate for anything this editor has said in reference to the subject of mileage. I have been classed among those who have received excessive mileage. I traveled in coming to Washington forty-three miles further than the Committee paid me; but I stated before the Committee the reasons why I made the change of route. I had been capsized once——

The Chairman interposed, and said he felt bound to arrest this debate.

[Cries of “ Greeley! Greeley!” ]

Mr. Greeley rose——

The Chairman stated that it would not be in order for the gentleman to address the House while there was no question pending.

[Cries of “ Suspend the rules; hear him.” ]

Mr. Tallmadge rose and inquired if his colleague could not proceed by general consent?

The Chairman replied in the affirmative.

No objection was made, and

Mr. Greeley proceeded. The gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Hudson] simply misunderstood only one thing. He states me to have urged the considerations which he urged to me. He urged these considerations—and I think forcibly. I say now, as I did the other day on the floor of this House, [311] I approve of the appropriation for the books, provided they are honestly disposed of according to the intent of the appropriation.

Mr. Edwards. Why, then, did you make the denial in the Tribune, and say that you voted against it?

Mr. Greeley. I did vote against it. I did not vote for it, because I did not choose to have some sort of gentlemen on this floor hawk at me. The gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Hudson] submitted considerations to me of which I admitted the force. I admit them now; I admit that the House was justifiable in voting for this appropriation, for the reason ably stated by the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means; and I think I was justifiable, as this Hall will show, in not voting for it. In no particular was there collision between what I said on this floor, the editorial, and what I said in conversation. The conversation to which the gentleman from Wisconsin [Mr. Darling] refers is doubtless the same of which the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Hudson] has spoken.

Mr. G. having concluded—

On motion of Mr. Vinton, the Committee rose and reported the bill to the House, with sundry amendments.

After the flurry was over, Mr. Greeley went home and wrote an explanation which appeared a day or two after in the Tribune. It began thus:

‘The attack upon me by Dr. Edwards of Ohio to-day, was entirely unexpected. I had never heard nor suspected that he cherished ill — will toward me, or took exception to anything I had said or done. I have spoken with him almost daily as a friendly acquaintance, and only this morning had a familiar conference with him respecting his report on the importation of adulterated drugs, which has just been presented. I have endeavored through the Tribune to do justice to his spirited and most useful labors on that subject. Neither in word nor look did he ever intimate that he was offended with me—not even this morning. Conceive, then, my astonishment, when, in Committee of the Whole, after the general appropriation bill had been gone through by items and sections, he rose, and moving a sham amendment in order to obtain the floor, sent to the clerk's desk to be read, a Tribune containing the substance of my remarks on a recent occasion, repelling the charge that I had voted for the Congressional books, and that having been read, he proceeded to pronounce it false, and declare that he had three wit [312] nesses in the House to prove it. I certainty could not have been more surprised had he drawn a pistol and taken aim at me.’


Jan. 25th. Mr. Greeley (as a member of the Committee on public lands,) reported a bill providing for the reduction of the price of lands bordering on Lake Superior. In Committee of the Whole, he moved to strike from the army appropriation bill the item of $38,000 for the recruiting service, sustaining his amendment by an elaborate speech on the recruiting system. Rejected. Mr. Greeley moved, later in the day, that the mileage of officers be calculated by the shortest route. Rejected. The most striking passage of the speech on the recruiting system was this:

Mr. Chairman, of all the iniquities and rascalities committed in our country, I think those perpetrated in this business of recruiting are among the most flagrant. I doubt whether this government punishes as many frauds in all as it incites by maintaining this system of recruiting. I have seen something of it, and been by hearsay made acquainted with much more. A simple, poor man, somewhat addicted to drinking, awakes from a drunken revel in which he has disgraced himself by some outrage, or inflicted some injury, or has squandered means essential to the support of his family. He is ashamed to enter his home—ashamed to meet the friends who have known him a respectable and sober man. At this moment of half insanity and utter horror, the tempter besets him, portrays the joys of a soldier's life in the most glowing and seductive colors, and persuades him to enlist. Doubtless men have often been made drunk on purpose to delude them into an enlistment; for there is (or lately was) a bounty paid to whoever will bring in an acceptable recruit to the station. All manner of false inducements are constantly held out —absurd hopes of promotion and glory are incited, and, when not in his right mind, the dupe is fastened for a term which will probably outlast his life. Very soon he repents and begs to be released—his distracted wife pleads—his famishing children implore—but all in vain. Shylock must have his bond, and the husband and father is torn away from them for years—probably for ever. This whole business of recruiting is a systematic robbery of husbands from their wives, fathers from their children, and sons from their widowed and dependent mothers. It is not possible that a Christian people have any need of such a fabric of iniquity, and I call upon this House to unite in decreeing its abolition.

Jan. 31st. In Committee of the Whole, the naval appropriation bill being under consideration, Mr. Greeley offered an amendment [313] reducing the list of warrant officers. Rejected. He also spoke for abolishing the grog system.

Feb. 1st. Mr. Greeley made a motion to the effect, that no officer of the navy should be promoted, as long as there were owners of the higher rank unemployed. Rejected.

Feb 14th. Mr. Greeley submitted the following resolution.

Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary be instructed to inquire whether there be anything in our laws or authoritative Judicial decisions which countenances the British doctrine of “Once a subject always a subject,” and to report what action of Congress, if any, be necessary to conform the laws and decisions aforesaid, consistently and thoroughly to the American doctrine, affirming the right of every man to migrate from his native land to some other, and, in becoming a citizen of the latter, to renounce all allegiance and responsibility to the former.

Objected to. The resolution, was therefore, according to the rule, withdrawn.

Feb. 26th. A proposal having been made that the New Mexico and Texas Boundary Question be referred to the Supreme Court, Mr. Greeley objected, on the ground that the majority of the members of that Court were slaveholders.

Feb. 27th. The Committee to whom had been referred Mr. Greeley's Land Reform Bill, asked leave to be relieved from the further consideration of the subject. Mr. Greeley demanded the yeas and nays. Refused. A motion was made to lay the bill on the table, which was carried, the yeas and nays being again refused. In the debates on the organization of the new territories, California, etc., Mr. Greeley took a spirited part.

March 4th. The last night of the session had arrived. It was Saturday. The appropriation bills were not yet passed. The bill for the organization of the new territories, acquired by the Mexican war, had still to be acted upon. It was a night of struggle, turmoil, and violence, though the interests of future empires were concerned in its deliberations. A few sentences from Mr. Greeley's own Narrative will give an idea of the scene: [314]

The House met after recess at six--the seats soon filled, the lobbies and galleries densely crowded.


(Members struggled in wild tumult for the floor.


A vehement yell of “Mr. Speaker!” rose from the scores who jumped on the instant for the floor.


Here the effect of the Previous Question was exhausted, and the wild rush of half the House for the floor — the universal yell of “ Mr. Speaker!” was renewed.


The House, still intensely excited, proceeded very irregularly to other business-mainly because they must await the Senate's action on the Thomson substitute.


At length—after weary watching till five o'clock in the morning, when even garrulity had exhausted itself with talking on all manner of frivolous pretexts, and relapsed into grateful silence—when profligacy had been satiated with rascally votes of the public money in gratuities to almost everybody connected with Congress, &c., &c.,—word came that the Senate had receded altogether from its Walker amendment and everything of the sort, agreeing to the bill as an Appropriation Bill simply, and killing the House amendment by surrendering its own. Close on its heels came the Senate's concurrence in the House bill extending the Revenue Laws to California; and a message was sent with both bills to rouse Mr. Polk (still President by sufferance) from his first slumbers at the Irving House (whither he had retired from the Capitol some hours before), and procure his signature to the two bills. In due time—though it seemed very long now that it was broad daylight and the excitement was subsiding—word was returned that the President had signed the bills and had nothing further to offer, a message having been sent to the Senate, and the House was ready to adjourn; Mr. Winthrop made an eloquent and affecting address on relinquishing the Chair; and the House, a little before seven o'clock in the bright sunshine of this blessed Sunday morning—twice blessed after a cloudy week of fog and mist, snow and rain without, and of fierce contention and angry discord within the Capitol-adjourned sine die.

The Senate, I understand, has not yet adjourned, but the latter end of it had gathered in a bundle about the Vice-President's chair, and was still passing extra gratuities to everybody—and if the bottom is not out of the Treasury, may be doing so yet for aught I know. Having seen enough of this, I did not go over to their chamber, but came wearily away.

March 5th. One more glimpse ought to be given at the House [315] during that last night of the session. Mr. Greeley explains the methods, the infamous tricks, by which the “usual” extra allowance to the employes of the House is manoeuvred through.

‘Let me,’ he wrote,

explain the origin of this “usual” iniquity. I am informed that it commenced at the close of one of the earlier of the Long Sessions now unhappily almost biennial. It was then urged, with some plausibility, that a number (perhaps half) of the sub-officers and employes of the House were paid a fixed sum for the session—that, having now been obliged to labor an unusually long term, they were justly entitled to additional pay. The Treasury was full—the expectants were assiduous and seductive—the Members were generous—(it is so easy for most men to be flush with other people's money)—and the resolution passed. Next session the precedent was pleaded, although the reason for it utterly failed, and the resolution slipped through again—I never saw how till last night. Thenceforward the thing went easier and easier, until the disease has become chronic, and only to be cured by the most determined surgery.

Late last night—or rather early this morning-while the House was awaiting the final action of the Senate on the Territorial collision—a fresh attempt was made to get in the usual extra allowance again. Being objected to and not in order, a direct attempt was made to suspend the Rules, (I think I cannot be mistaken in my recollection,) and defeated—not two—thirds rising in its favor, although the free liquor and trimmings provided by the expectants of the bounty had for hours stood open to all comers in a convenient side-room, and a great many had already taken too much. In this dilemma the motion was revamped into one to suspend the Rules to admit a resolution to pay the Chaplain his usual compensation for the Session's service, and I was personally and urgently entreated not to resist this, and thus leave the Chaplain utterly unpaid. I did resist it, however, not believing it true that no provision had till this hour been made for paying the Chaplain, and suspecting some swindle lay behind it. The appeal was more successful with others, and the House suspended its Rules to admit this Chaplain—paying resolution, out of order. The moment this was done a motion was made to amend the resolution by providing another allowance for somebody or other, and upon this was piled still another amendment—Monsieur Tonson come againa—to pay “ the usual extra compensation” to the sub-Clerks, Messengers, Pages, etc., etc. As soon as this amendment was reached for consideration—in fact as soon as I could get the floor to do it—I raised the point of order that it could not be in order, when the rules had been suspended for a particular purpose, to let in, under cover of that suspension, an entirely different proposition, for which, by itself, it was notorious that a suspension could not be obtained. This was promptly overruled, the Ayes and Noes on the amendment refused—ditto on the Resolution as amended—and the whole crowded through under the Previous [316] Question in less than no time. Monroe Edwards would have admired the dexterity and celerity of the performance. All that could be obtained was a vote by Tellers, and ninety-four voted in favor to twenty-two against—a bare quorum in all, a great many being then in the Senate—none, I believe, at that moment in the “extra” refectory. But had no such refectory been opened in either end of the Capitol, I believe the personal collisions which disgraced the Nation through its Representatives would not have occurred. I shall not speak further of them—I would not mention them at all if they were not unhappily notorious already.

March 6th. Mr. Greeley was one of the three thousand persons who attended the Inauguration ball, which he describes as ‘a sweaty, seething, sweltering jam, a crowd of duped foregatherers from all creation.’

‘I went,’ he says,

to see the new President, who had not before come within my contracted range of vision, and to mark the reception accorded to him by the assembled thousands. I came to gaze on stately heads, not nimble feet, and for an hour have been content to gaze on the flitting phantasmagoria of senatorial brows and epauletted shoulders—of orators and brunettes, office-seekers and beauties. I have had “something too much of this, ” and lo! ‘the hour of hours’ has come—the buzz of expectation subsides into a murmur of satisfaction—the new President is descending the grand stairway which terminates in the ball-room, and the human mass forms in two deep columns to receive him. Between these, General Taylor, supported on either hand, walks through the long saloon and back through other like columns, bowing and greeting with kind familiarity those on this side and on that, paying especial attention to the ladies as is fit, and everywhere welcomed in turn with the most cordial good wishes. All wish him well in his new and arduous position, even those who struggled hardest to prevent his reaching it.

But, as at the Inauguration, there is the least possible enthusiasm. Now and then a cheer is attempted, but the result is so nearly a failure that the daring leader in the exploit is among the first to laugh at the miscarriage. There is not a bit of heart in it.

“They don't seem to cheer with much unction,” I remarked to a Taylor original.

“Ne-e-o, they don't cheer much,” he as faintly replied; “there is a good deal of doubt as to the decorum of cheering at a social ball.”

True enough: the possibility of indecorum was sufficient to check the impulse to cheer, and very few passed the barrier. The cheers “stuck in the throat,” like Macbeth's Amen, and the proprieties of the occasion were well cared for.

But just imagine Old Hal walking down that staircase, the just inaugurated [317] President of the United States, into the midst of three thousand of the elite of the beauty and chivalry of the Whig party, and think how the rafters would have quivered with the universal acclamation. Just think of tome one stopping to consider whether it might not be indecorous to cheer on such an occasion! What a solitary hermit that considerer would be!


Let those who will, flatter the chief dispenser of Executive patronage, discovering in every act and feature some resemblance to Washington—I am content to wait, and watch, and hope. I burn no incense on his altar, attach no flattering epithets to his name. I turn from this imposing pageant, so rich in glitter, so poor in feeling, to think of him who should have been the central figure of this grand panorama—the distant, the powerless, the unforgotten- “behind the mountains, but not setting” —the eloquent champion of Liberty in both hemispheres—whose voice thrilled the hearts of the uprising, the long-trampled sons of Leonidas and Xenophon—whose appeals for South American independence were read to the hostilely mustered squadrons of Bolivar, and nerved them to sweep from this fair continent the myrmidons of Spanish oppression. My heart is with him in his far southern abiding—place—with him, the early advocate of African Emancipation, the life-long champion of a diversified Home Industry; of Internal Improvement; and not less glorious in his later years as the stern reprover of the fatal spirit of conquest and aggression. Let the exulting thousands quaff their red wines at the revel to the victor of Monterey and Buena Vista, while wit points the sentiment with an epigram, and beauty crowns it with her smiles: more grateful to me the stillness of my lonely chamber, this cup of crystal water in which I honor the cherished memory with the old, familiar aspiration—

“Here's to you, Harry Clay!”

March 9th. Mr. Greeley has returned to New York. To-day he took leave of his constituents in a long letter published in the Tribune, in which he reviewed the proceedings of the late session, characterized it as a Failure, and declined to take to himself any part of the blame thereof. These were his concluding words:

My work as your servant is done—whether well or ill it remains for you to judge. Very likely I gave the wrong vote on some of the difficult and complicated questions to which I was called to respond Ay or No with hardly a moment's warning. If so, you can detect and condemn the error; for my name stands recorded in the divisions by Yeas and Nays on every public and all but one private bill, (which was laid on the table the moment the sitting opened, and on which my name had just been passed as I entered the Hall.) I wish it were the usage among us to publish less of speeches and [318] more of propositions and votes thereupon—it would give the mass of the people a much clearer insight into the management of their public affairs My successor being already chosen and commissioned, I shall hardly be suspected of seeking your further kindness, and I shall be heartily rejoiced if he shall be able to combine equal zeal in your service with greater efficiency—equal fearlessness with greater popularity. That I have been somewhat annoyed at times by some of the consequences of my Mileage Expose is true, but I have never wished to recall it, nor have I felt that I owed an apology to any, and I am quite confident, that if you had sent to Washington (as you doubtless might have done) a more sternly honest and fearless Representative, he would have made himself more unpopular with a large portion of the House than I did. I thank you heartily for the glimpse of public life which your favor has afforded me, and hope to render it useful henceforth not to myself only but to the public. In ceasing to be your agent, and returning with renewed zest to my private cares and duties, I have a single additional favor to ask, not of you especially, but of all; and I am sure my friends at least will grant it without hesitation. It is that you and they will oblige me henceforth by remembering that my name is simply

And thus ended Horace Greeley's three months in Congress. No man ever served his country more faithfully. No man ever received less reward. One would have supposed, that such a manly and brave endeavor to economize the public money and the public time, such singular devotion to the public interests in the face of opposition, obloquy, insult, would have elicited from the whole country, or at least from many parts of it, cordial expressions of approval. It did not, however. With no applauding shouts was Horace Greeley welcomed on his return from the Seat of Corruption. No enthusiastic mass-meetings of his constituents passed a series of resolutions, approving his course. He has not been named for reelection. Do the people, then, generally feel that an Honest Man is out of place in the Congress of the United States?

Only from the little town of North Fairfield, Ohio, came a hearty cry of well done! A meeting of the citizens of that place was held for the purpose of expressing their sense of his gallant and honorable conduct. He responded to their applauding resolutions in a characteristic letter. ‘Let me beg of you,’ said he, ‘to think little of Persons, in this connection, and much of Measures. Should any see fit to tell you that I am dishonest, or ambitious, or hollowhearted [319] in this matter, don't stop to contradict or confute him, but press on his attention the main question respecting the honesty of these crooked charges. It is with these the public is concerned, and not this or that man's motives. Calling me a hypocrite or demagogue cannot make a charge of $1,664 for coming to Congress from Illinois and going back again an honest one.’

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