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The Federal Congress.
Exciting Debate.

In the Washington House of Representatives, on Friday last, the 12th, the following proceedings took place, in which it will be seen some little feeling was displayed between two of its members:

Mr. Vallandigham offered a preamble and resolution, substantially as follows:

Whereas, It is rumored that Messrs. Gilman Marston, of New Hampshire; James E. Kerrigan, of New York; Chas. J. Biddle, of Pennsylvania; Edward McPherson, of Pennsylvania, and Samuel E. Curtis, holding seats in this House, have been sworn into the military service under the authority of the United States; and whereas, James H. Campbell, of Pennsylvania, has also been admitted on the floor of this House, he holding a military commission: Therefore, be it.

Resolved, That the Committee on Elections be instructed to inquire and report, without unnecessary delay, whether the gentlemen above named, or any of them, claiming seats here and at the same time holding military office under the authority of the United States, are constitutionally disqualified from being members of this House while holding such military commissions.

Mr. Lovejoy desired that the resolution should lie on the table.

Mr. Vallandigham said that two similar cases have heretofore been decided by the House, and it was determined that they were disqualified as members, owing to their military commissions. He did not wish to trespass on the patience of the House by any elaborate remarks at this time; but this being a grave matter, involving a constitutional question, it should be investigated.

Mr. Washburne moved to lay the resolution on the table, and Mr. Vallandingham called the previous question, which, however, he temporarily withdrew upon the appeal of Mr. McKnight, of Pennsylvania, in order to permit that gentleman to propose an amendment.

Mr. McKnight wanted an amendment made, namely, to insert Mr. Vallandigham's name in the resolution; for, after the gentleman's speech on Wednesday, the Committee on Elections ought to examine Mr. Vallandigham's credentials, to ascertain whether or not he was accredited to the wrong Congress.

Mr. Vallandigham quickly calling the gentleman to order, added with warmth that if the latter desired to hold any conversation with him personally, he could do so outside of the House, and that he (the speaker) held himself ready to reply to him whenever, wherever or in whatsoever manner he may be disposed to suggest.

[Excitement upon the floor, the Speaker vigorously rapping for order.]

Mr. Vallandigham (continuing his remarks, which he had scarcely suspended,) said that he came here as a representative of the people, fully determined to observe in every particular the rules and decorum of the House and its courtesies. He did not mean even to infringe those observances, nor did he intend to permit any infringement upon the courtesies due him.

Mr. McKnight endeavored, amid some excitement and confusion, to reply to Mr. Vallandigham, but was prevented by the Chair, who peremptorily called the gentleman to order and appealed to the House to sustain him in his efforts to enforce the rules.

Mr. Campbell, of Pennsylvania, one of those referred to in the resolution, said it was true he held a position in the army, and was elected a member of this House, but there was no conflict of duty in the matter. He held his military commission as under the broad seal of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and his seat here was his under the Constitution and the laws of the United States. He thought the case did not rise to the dignity of a legal question, but that should any doubt be thrown upon his position, he would at once resign to follow the flag of his country in the field wherever it should lead. [Applause in the galleries.]

The chair informed the spectators in the galleries that a renewed indulgence in such a violation of the rules would compel him to order the clearing of the galleries.

Mr. Bingham, of Ohio, said, in relation to the case of Mr. Campbell, the facts were certainly different from those stated in the resolution.

Mr. Vallandigham said the question was one simply of qualification, and he had no wish to press it during the present session. He had no personal feeling in the matter; three out of the five gentlemen named were his political friends.

Mr. Curtis, of Iowa, in explanation of his position, said he was here as a matter of duty to his constituents. As a military officer of the State of Iowa, he had only been loaned to the United States to sustain its flag, yet he knew the two positions were incompatible, and when his services shall be required in the field he would resign his seat here. He inquired of Mr. Vallandigham whether he did not hold a commission in the militia of the State of Ohio, and how he could reconcile his position here with the ground taken in his resolution?

Mr. Vallandigham replied that he did hold a commission in the volunteer force of Ohio, but that he had not been sworn into service under the authority of the United States. If that should be done he would resign his seat here.

Mr. Kellogg, of Illinois, moved to lay the resolutions on the table. Agreed to — ayes 92, noes 6.

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Vallandigham (10)
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