House of Representatives.
At 12 o'clock precisely, the House
was called to order by Hon. Howell Cobb
, of Georgia
, the presiding officer of the late Provisional Congress, who stated that it was made his duty by an act of the Provisional Congress to preside over the Permanent Congress
until its organization.
An earnest and impressive prayer was delivered by the Rev. Mr. Duncan
, of the M. E. Church
The call of the roll of the members was then commenced, and at its conclusion the presiding officer announced that a quorum was present, after which he proceeded to administer the following oath, which was done by calling up the delegations from the several states of the Confederacy
‘"You and each of you do solemnly swear that you will support the Constitution
of the Confederate States
: So help you God."’
This was the most deeply impressive part of the whole ceremony.
As the delegation from each State gathered around the desk of the Speaker
, a solemn stillness pervaded the entire hall, and the whole crowd, members and spectators, seemed to feel the responsibility which rests upon this new, and as yet untried, body.
Each delegation having thus reverently qualified to assume the high and honorable responsiblity of supporting the Constitution
of the new Government, Mr. Cobb
announced that the next duty devolving upon them was the election of a Speaker to preside over their future deliberations.
The nomination of candidates for Speaker being in order, Mr. Foote
, of Tennessee
, offered a resolution declaring Hon. Thos. S. Bocock
, of Virginia
, the choice of the House
The resolution of Mr. Foote
was adopted with but one or two dissenting voices, and Mr. Bocock
was duly declared the Speaker
elect of the first Congress under the permanent Government of the Confederate States
On motion of Mr. Boyce
, of South Carolina
, a committee of two was appointed to conduct him to the chair.
The presiding officer appointed Messrs. Boyce
, of South Carolina
, and Foote
, of Tennessee
After assuming the Chair, the new Speaker delivered the following patriotic address, which was listened to with marked attention, and was received, at its conclusion, with warm applause:
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:
I return to you my sincere thanks for the honor you have done me, in selecting me to preside over your deliberations, during this the first Congress under our permanent Constitution.
And I desire to say that it will be my one great aim, in discharging the duties of this office, so to conduct myself as to show to you and to the world that your confidence has not been altogether misapplied.
I may be permitted to say that I have a firm determination, so far as I may be able, to maintain the dignity and preserve the decorum of this body; to administer its rules with firmness and courtesy, and to conduct its business with strict impartiality.
If such a determination, united with a sincere desire to see our legislation take such shape as will best tend to secure the independence, maintain the honor, and advance the welfare of this entire Confederacy — if this could command success, I am sure I might expect to succeed.
But other qualifications are requisite, about which it is not for me to promise.
If in anything I may tail short, I trust that the same kind partiality which has called me to this position will throw the mantle of charity over my defects, and will give me in every time of trial that kind co-operation and generous support which my deficiencies may require.
The unanimity with which you have made this election is a happy augury of the spirit with which your proceedings will be governed.
This is no time for resentments, no time for jealousies or heart-burnings.
Influenced by a great common purpose, sharing together the same rich hope, and united by a common destiny, let us hush every murmur of discontent and banish every feeling of personal grief.
Here let us know no man, save as a co-laborer in the same great cause, sustaining those whom circumstances may designate to go forward; seeking nothing for the sake merely of personal gratification, but willing rather to yield everything for the public good; ‘"in honor preferring one another."’
That some of you, influenced by momentary impulse, should grow restive under the enforcements of those rules which you may make for your own government, would be a matter neither of surprise nor of complaint.
But he will prove himself either a weak or a bad man who; on reflection, fails to call back his wayward spirit and subject it to necessary restraint.
Submission to constituted authority is the primary necessity in all communities, and self-control is the chief lesson of individual life.
In the light of passing events, we can measure the height and the depth of the excellence intended to be conveyed, when it is said, ‘"Better is he who ruleth his own spirit than he who taketh a city."’
The gaps of the world is fixed upon us. Nations look on, curious to see how this new system of government will move off, and what manner of men have been chosen to guide its earliest movements.
It is indeed a new system; for, though coinciding in many particulars with that under which we lived so long, it yet from it in many essential particulars.
When the Constitution
of 1789 was put in
operation, the war of the Revolution been successfully closed.
Peace throughout our whole land, and hallowed its borders.
The industrial operations of country, long held back, new bounded forward and expanded with all the vigor frankness of tropical vegetation beneath influence of a midsummer sun. The which that Constitution had to encounter its earliest as well as in more matured existence, was simply one engendered by a conflict of these interests.
The question was whether it could give protection to all the interests without becoming the partisan one and the oppressor of another; or, in whether it has the sustaining power to preserve its integrity against the influence interest, wielded by ambition.
We have seen the result.
The case with our Constitution is very different.
It is put in operation in time of and its first movements are disturbed by shock of battle.
Its trial is one created the urgencies of this contest.
The question to be decided is, whether, without injury its own integrity, it can supply the machinery and afford the means requisite to this war to that successful conclusion which the people, in their heart of hearts, have resolved on, and which, I trust, has been discreet in that higher court from whose decisions there is no appeal.
The solution of this question is in the of the future.
But our system never perish out like that to which I have alluded.
When ambition and interest upon that, and destroyed its integrity, were not allowed to appropriate the altogether to themselves.
Fanaticism forward, and demanded to be received participant of power with them, and claimed not in vain.
Beneath the sway this unholy triumvirate justice was forgotten, intolerance was established, private morals were ruined, and public virtue perished.
All feeling of constitutional restraint passed away, and all sense of the obligation of an oath was forever lost.
The whole machinery of government degenerated into the absolute rule of a corrupt numerical majority.
Already the weaker section was marked out for destruction by the strongest and then came disruption and overthrow.--Since then, tyranny the most absolute, and perjury the most vile, have destroyed the last vestige of soundness in the whole system.
Our new system is designed to avoid the errors of the old. Certainly it is founded in a different system of political philosophy, and is sustained by a peculiar and more conservative state of society.
It has elements of strength and long life.
But at the threshold lies the question I have already stated.
Can it legitimately afford the means to carry the war to a successful conclusion?
If not, it must perish, but a successful result must be achieved.
But it must be destroyed not by the hand of violence or by the taint of perjury.
It must go out peacefully, and in pursuance of its own provisions.
Better submit to momentary inconvenience than to injured representative honor, or violate public faith.
In the whole book of expedients there is no place for falsehood and perjury.
Let us, on the contrary, assiduously cultivate the feeling of respect for constitutional limitation, and a sacred reverence for the sanction of an oath.
Seeing, therefore, gentlemen of the House of Representatives, that we are custodians of the nation's life, and the guardians of the Constitution
's integrity, what manner of men should we be?
How cool, how considerate, how earnest, how inflexible, how true!
Having no prospect in the future, save through the success of our cause, how regardless should we be of all selfish views and plans of personal advancement.
Selected by the people to take care of the State
in this time of difficulty and of trial, how we ought to dedicate ourselves in heart, mind, soul, and energy to the public service!
Neither history has recorded, nor song depicted, nor fable shadowed forth higher instances of self-devotion, than ought to be shown in the conduct of this Congress.
It is not allowed us to pursue a course of obscure mediocrity.
We inaugurate a Government, we conduct a revolution.
We must live, live forever, in the memory of men, either for praise or for blame.
If we prove equal to the crisis in which we are place, we maintain imperishable honor.
But if, on the contrary, we show ourselves incompetent to the discharge of our duty, we shall sink beneath the contempt of mankind.
Truly our position is one of great import.
Our gallant army now holds, as it deserves, the first place in the thoughts and affections of our people.
But of scarcely less importance in the estimation of all, is the legislative authority which initiates the true civil policy of the Confederacy
, and which sustains and upholds that army itself.
And when the latter shall have accomplished its holy mission by driving the invader from the soil which he desecrates and pollutes; and when the hearts of a grateful and free people, more generous than a Roman Senate, shall for this service decree to one life-long ovation, if true to ourselves and competent to their duty, this Congress will be united in the triumphal honor.
And if this Constitution be desired to forward, as we hope and believe a distant future, gaining from trial, winning new time, giving protect on and peace to successive generations of happy and enlightened people, as the gray-haired and venerated patriarchs of ages now shall seek to inspire the courage, and fire the hearts of the ingenious youth their day by recommitting the heroic deeds the army which achieved our independence let the lesson be extended and enlarged enabling them to tell also of the self-sacrifice, patriotism, and enlarged statement ship of the Congress
which inaugurated the permanent Constitution of this Southern Confederacy.
Again, I thank you.
When the Speaker
had concluded his marks, Mr. Cury
, of Alabama
, moved the House
proceed to the election of a Clerk and put in nomination Mr. Emmett Dixon
, of Virginia
, nominated Mr. W. Cluskey
, of Tennessee
, and supported the nomination earnestly.
, of Virginia
, nominated Mr. McDonald
, of Virginia
, and earnestly supported the nomination.
He spoke of Mr. McD
's positions one of the editors of as influential journal in this city a journal which, he said, had take an early and decided and in defence of our rights, and which had seriously labored for the maintenance of constitutional liberty.
He hold it would be the pleasure of the house to Mr. McDonald
, which would be an evidence on the part of the House
, in his organization, to disregard former political opinion in the selection of its officers.
A member from Missouri
nominated Mr. Thomas M. Johnson
, in that State, and sustained his nomination by an appropriate and touching allude to the sacrifices made by her citizens, at the sufferings she had endured to release herself from the oppressive thraldom of the abortion Government.
was of eminent qualifications, and the State of Missouri
would accept as a big compliment his selection as the Clerk
of the first Congress under the new Government.
The Clerk then proceeded to call the roll, of the following result: First vote — Dixon
7. Miltons withdrew the name of Mr. McDonald
, and the House
proceeded to a second vote, as follows — Dixon
19. being no election, a third and final vote was had, which decided the contest in favor of Mr. Dixon
. Third vote — Dixon
having received a majority of the votes call was duly declared elected Clerk of the State
, moved that House process the election of a and the choice call upon Mr. R. H. Wyne Alabama
Thus ended the organization of the permanent Congress of our new Government body upon which rests on a graver respectability than ever before a burdened the mind body, and who process of a deliberated to with the keenest acceding will be looked with hopeful shackles sought to throw off the unscrupulous them principled tyranny and full measure of they will fill the enact such laws as expectation, to a successful term the struggle slightest doubt, .