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[69]

Mackey seemed anxious to enlarge the body of which he was the Speaker. Some members were declared not elected; these moved to Wallace's hall; their seats were given to others. One of those thus presented with a seat was said not to have been in Columbia at the time, but another personated him, and took the oath for him. Chamberlain, too, seemed doubtful of his position. He sent in no annual message this year.

Meanwhile General Ruger awoke to the conviction that he had been engaged in a very dirty piece of work. He saw that he had been employed as an instrument of the grossest tyranny; that through him a heavy blow had been struck at Republican Government. He was now anxious to exculpate himself and to make it appear that he did not do what he had done. It was the old excuse—the same which Grant had made for himself when he had violently expelled half of the House of Representatives of Louisiana, and delivered the State prostrate into the hands of her enemies—his orders had been misunderstood. So with Ruger. His soldiers were put in the State House, not to interfere in the formation of the Legislature, but to preserve peace. He wished every man, who claimed to have a seat in the Legislature, should have free access to the House. It was through the officious interference of Dennis that any were excluded. He was instantly put to the test. If your orders were so signally misunderstood, and therefore caused such mischief, undo all that has been done. Empty the State House and let us meet and organize de novo. This reasonable proposition did not suit him. It was important to the cause of Chamberlain that the acts of Dennis should be undisturbed. So the people of South Carolina must need be content with the assurance, that the general in command did not intend to do, and really should not be held responsible for what he had done. One thing was certain, that he was heartily ashamed of his conduct, and that he had not the courage to correct his blunder.

As, however, they had his assurance that he had no sympathy with Dennis's proceedings, and that the doors would be opened to all who had been elected, the whole House of Representatives, early on the morning of the 30th, went to the Halls—Wallace occupied the Speaker's chair and Sloan the clerk's. Intense was the surprise of Mackey and his followers when he entered shortly afterwards and found the Speaker's chair occupied. He demanded it as his right. His demand was refused. He then sent to inform the Governor that the Legislature was invaded by a body of strangers, who were obstructing them in their legitimate work. No satisfactory answer


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