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H. OF R.)
Abolition of Slavery.
(FEB, 6, 1837.
up, in presenting all his petitions. He boped, there- Mr. PINCKNEY said he was opposed to a protracted fore, the House would not hold him responsible for the discussion on the subject, which could only lead 10 useconsumption of time. Mr. A. thereupon presented less excitement and confusion, the maiter before the sundry other petitions.
House being a subject for action, not for debate. He Mr. A. said he presented the petition of nine ladies of hoped the House would act promptly and decisively. Fredericksburg, in the State of Virginia. He would Mr. HAYNES inquired of the Chair if he did not still not name them, because, from the disposition which at hold the foor. present prevailed in the country, he did not know what The SPEAKER said the gentleman from Georgia might happen to them if he did name them. It was not held the floor, but it was not in order to make personal a petition for the abolition of slavery in the District of allusions. Columbia, but it was a petition praying Congress to put Mr. HAYNES said the Speaker was aware that be a stop to the slave trade in the District of Columbia. was one of the last men to violate the rules adopted for
This was one of those petitions which had seemed so the order and government of the House. It was well strange to him when he received it, that he did not feel known that, from the commencement of these discus. a perfect security that it was genuine, and to which he sions, at an early day in the last session of Congress up to had alluded when he first began the presentation of his this moment, his lips had been closed on the subject in petitions. It was sent to him, purporting to be the pe. every form; because he had thought that the members tition of nine ladies, not one of whom should be named from bis section of the country should be among the last by him. Whether it was genuine or not, it was not for to seek or promote discussion upon it. But he would him to determine.
not trust his feelings to pursue the subject further under The petition was ordered- to lie on the table, under its present aspect, extraordinary as it was. The true the resolution.
motion, in his judgment, would be to move that the peMr. ADAMS said he held in his hand a paper on tiiion be rejecied, subject, however, to its withdrawal, which, before it was presented, be desired to have the if the House should become further enlightened as to its decision of the Speaker. It was a petition from twenty contents. two persons, declaring themselves to be slaves. He Mr. LEWIS hoped that no motion of that kind would wished to know whether the Speaker considered such a come from any gentleman from a slaveholding section of petition as coming within the order of the House. the country.
The SPEAKER said he could not tell until he had the Mr. HAYNES said he would cheerfully withdraw bis contents of the petition in his possession.
motion. Mr. ADAMS said that if the paper was sent to the Mr. LEWIS said be was glad the motion was with 1 Clerk's table it would be in possession of the House, drawn. He believed that the House should punish se to and if sent to the Speaker he would see what were its verely such an infraction of its decorum and its rules; contents. Now, he (Mr. A.) wished to do nothing and he called on the members from the slaveholding except in submission to the rules of the House. This states to come forward now, and demand from the paper purported to come from slaves, and it was one of House the punishment of the gentleman from Massachuthose petitions which had occurred to his mind as not selts. being what it purported to be. It was signed parily by Mr. GRANTLAND would second the motion, and go persons who could not write, by making their marks, all lengths in support of it. and partly by persons whose handwriting would mani- Mr. LEWIS said that, if the House would inflict no fest that they had received the education of slave's; and punishment for such fagrant violations of its dignity as the petition declared itself to be from slaves, and he was this, it would be better for the Representatives from the requested to present it. He would send it to the Chair. slaveholding Slates to go home at once.
Mr. LAWLER objected to its going to the Chair. ME. ALFORD inquired if the gentleman from Massa
The SPEAKER said that the circumstance; of tlie chusetts had certainly proposed to introduce this peticase were so extraordinary, that he would take the sense tion. of the House on the course to be pursued.
The SPEAKER said the member from Massachusetts Mr. LAWLER wished it to appear on the journal that had risen, and stated that he had a petition coming from he had objected to the paper going to the Chair.
slaves, and had inquired of the Chair u bether it would The SPEAKER said the genileman from Massachu. come under the order adopted by the House in reference setts had stated that the petiti n came from slaves; but to all petitions and papers on the subject of slavery. it had not been sent to the Clerk's table. It was the The Clerk having been directed to read the minutes first time, in the recollection of the Chair, that persons which he bad taken at the time, read as follows: not free had presented a petition to this House. The " Mr. ADAMs presented the petition of twenty-two Chair wished io take the sense of the House, which he persons, declaring themselves to be slaves, and wished had a right to do.
to know whether it came within the order of the House.'' Mr. HAYNES said he felt astonished at the course Mr. ALFORD said that, if the gentleman from Maswhich had been pursued by the honorable genıleman sachusetts intended to present this petition, he, (Mr. Al from Massachusetis, not only to-day, but every day for FORD,) the moment it was presented, shrould move, as an some rime lime pass, whenever petitions were presented; act of justice to the South, which he in part represented, but bis astonishment reached to a height which he felt it and which he conceived had been treated with indignity, impossible to 'express, when he saw ihe gentleman rise that it be taken from the House and burnt; and he in his place on this floor, and offer 10 present such a pa. hoped that every man who was a friend to the constitu. per as this had been described to be. Mr. H. could not tion would support him. There must be an end to this iell in what manner he would meet a proposition of this constant attempt to raise excitement, or the Union could kind. It might be giving it more attention than it de- not exist much longer. The moment any man should served, if be (Mr. H.) were to oject to receiving it. disgrace the Government under which he lived, by preHe had risen mainly 1o express, so far as language senting a petition from slaves praying for emancipation, could express, bis unseigned surprise that the gentleman be hoped that petition would, by order of the House, be from Massachusetts, or any other gentleman, should ever committed to the flames. bave made a question on a paper of this kind.
Mr. PATTON moved to suspend the rule to enable Mr. ADAMS called the gentleman from Georgia to him to submit a motion to take from the table, to be order, on the ground that he was making personal re- hereafter disposed of as the House may decide, the paflections.
Fkb. 6, 1837.)
Abolition of Slavery.
(H. OF R.
per already presented by the gentleman from Massachu- proceedings of the Ilonse. He was willing the resolution setts, and which had been laid on the table under the and wish of his colleague should prevail, and that the resolution of the House; he alluded to the paper pre: paper should be returned to the venerable gentlesented as a petition from nine ladies of Fredericksburg, man from Massachusetts, to make what mischief he He (Mr. P.) would state in his place, and on his respon. could or he chose from it, in or out of this House. sibility, that the name of no lady was attached to that But the gentleman frum Massachusetts had offered paper. He did not believe there was a single one of in the House the memorial of those who, on the face them of decent respectability. He believed the signa- of it, appeared to be slaves, and had announced to the tures to be genuine, and be recognised only one name Chair and to the House that such was the paper. which he had known before, and that was the name of a Mr. B. said he did not care a rush whether the paper free mulatto woman of the worst fame and reputation. went to the Chair or not. Nothing that that gentleman He had been raised in Fredericksburg, and believed he could say or do in relation to it could add to, or detract was acquainted with all persons of respectability resi- from, the impression that the statement of the propo. ding there, and he could say there was not one respect- sition to the Chair by him had made. He (Mr. B.) wished able name attached to this paper.
now, without interruption of any other business, to proMr. W. THOMPSON asked that the petition, might gress with this matter until he saw and understood what be read, so as to render the gentleman from Massachu- countenance the gentleman from Massachusetts should setts amenable to the resolution which he (Mr. T.) pro- receive from the House. posed to offer.
Mr. B. said he had at the last session gone further The SPEAKER said it was not in order at this time. with and for the North, on 'a maller nearly identical
Mr. ROBERTSON called for the yeas and nays on the with this, than any other man from the South. He al. motion to suspend; which were ordered, and, being ta- luded to the admission of Michigan and Arkansas into ken, were: Yeas 131, nays 50.
the Union. On that occasion be had said, and said undoubt. So the rule was suspended.
ingly and from his heart, that there was no serious in. Mr. PATTON said he was disposed to pursue as kind tention or wish, in any considerable number of the memand respectful a course to the gentleman from Massa- bers of this House, to assail the interests, the rights, or chusetts as the circamstances of the case would admit, the safely, of the South, or to throw any obstacles in the so far as related to the particular question before the way of Arkansas on account of 'negro slavery: On the llouse.
yote he found it so. He believed it then, and believes The gentleman from Massachusetts, before presenting it now. But the countenance and support that the gen. this pelit:on, had stated that he did not know who these tleman from Massachusetts may receive from the House individuals were; be did not know their claims to the in propounding to the Chair bis question whetber slaves consideration of this House, or to bis own agency in pre- can petition ander the rule of the House, or in any way, senting the petition. Mr. P. thought it was to be re- will either confirm this belief, or weaken or entirely an. gretted that the gentleman from Massachusetts had not nibilate it. thought proper, bat, on the contrary, had refused, to Upon this issue would depend with him the question permit bim, (Mr. P.,) coming from the town from which of concurrence in the feeling expressed (though not this paper purported to come, on a subject which the fully, owing to the rules of the House preventing him gentleman knew the people whom he (Mr. P.) repre: from proceeding at that time) by the gallant and ex: sented, as well as himself, felt a deep and exciting inter perienced member from Louisiana, that the time had arest, to see the paper before it had been presented. He rived when it was the business of Southern members to (Mr. P.) could not permit himself to believe that, after go home. stating to him, as he (Mr. P.) would have stated private- Mr. B. wished not to be kept in suspense upon ly, what he had since stated publicly, the gentleman | this point. He wished to know whether he was right from Massachusetts would have persisted in being the in believing that he was surrounded by brothers, sitting organ through whom such a petition should be present in consultation upon the interest, the prosperity, happied. He (Mr. P.) would again state, on his honor and ness, and glory, of their common family and country, or veracity as a man, that he did not believe that there was whether a pórtion, a considerable portion, were willing the signature of any decently respectable individual in
to countenance a proposition of this kind--a proposition Fredericksburg attached to this paper; that the only that could admit of no interpretation milder than that Ta me he recognised was that of a mulatto free woman of of a direct insult to the feelings of the South; the most infamous character; and he believed that the names of natural import, a direct 'attack upon the interest, the others were the names of free negroes, all of whom he property, and the safety, of the slaveholding portion believed to be bad. He therefore moved that the paper of the Union. which had been received and laid on the table should be Mr. W. THOMPSON said he had risen to move, as taken from the table and returned to the gentleman an amendment to the motion of the honorable gen. from Massachusetts.
tleman from Virginia, (Mr. Patron,] the foluwing resoMr. BOULDIN said that, as he had just voted against . lution: Suspending the rules on the motion of his colleague, Resolved, that the honorable JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, (MT. PATTON,) and had found himself voting with those by the attempt just made by him to introduce a petition wbo, from their local situation, might be supposed not purporting on its face to be from slaves, has been guilty to feel with him on the very delicate and vital subject of a gross disrespect to this House, and that he be in. now before the House, and as his name had not been stantly brought to the bar to receive the severe censure recorded with the names of those with whom he knew of the Speaker. he did feel and act substantially in every imporlant Mr. THOMPSON, of. South Carolina, said he had al. matter peculiar to the South, and especially in regard to ways forborne, as far as he could control his feelings, the subject-in atter now before the House, it became him from taking any part in the discussions on this subject. to give the reason for his vote. It was this: He wished He now felt infinite pain in being forced, by an imperi. to dispose of the first branch of the subject, and then he ous sense of duty, to present the resolution wbich he would be willing to suspend the rules for bis colleague, had sent to the Chair. He was aware of the advantages and would be willing to go with him in any vote to take over liim which the gentleman's age and the stations from our files the paper he wished withdrawn, and which which he had filled gave him. But, sir, there is a point *as well calculated to throw disgrace and contempt on the at which forbearance ceases to be proper. The sanctu
II. OF R.)
Abolition of Slavery.
[FEB. 6, 1837.
ary of age is not lightly to be violated; but when I (Mr. Adams] being possessed of, or having guarded bimthat sanctuary is used to throw poisoned arrows, it self by, the requisite information in relation to the petition ceases to be sacred. The gentleman from Massachu. he was about to present. It was well known that no seits offered to present a petition from slaves, and so man bere deprecated more than he (Mr. G.) did the de. purporting to be on its face, in open and willul violation cision of the Chair in tying down members of the House of what he knew to be the rules of this House, and in under the resolution of the last and the present year. It suliing to a large portion of its members. Does the was due to the gentleman whom he had in his eye (Mr. gentleman, even in the latitude which he gives to the W. Thompson) to say that he believed he (Mr. T.] had right of petition, think that it includes slaves? If be dues invariably voted against it. not, he has willully violated the rules of the House and (Mr. THOMPSON explained that he had voted against the feelings of its members. Dues that gentleman know the resolution, because he thought that the petition that there are laws in all the slave States, and here, for the should not be received, but instantly rejected] punishment of abose who excite insurrection? I can tell Mr. G. resumed. What was the position in which him that there are such things as grand juries; and if, sir, we are now placed by the adoption of inat resolution? It the juries of this District have, as I doubt not they have, was that all papers, in advance, having reference, immeproper intelligence and spirit, he may yet be made diately or remotely, to the subject of slavery, no matter amenable to another tribunal, and we may yet see an how offensive in its object, or disreputable in its terms, incendiary brought to condign punishment. Mr. T. said or how respeciful, were carried to the Speaker's table. that, when he first took his seat bere, and heard daily Instead of securing to the people of this country the denunciations of the people whom he represented, and sacred right of petition, with every paper to be passed every vile epithet heaped upon them-a people for upon, if not by the judgment of the person presenting whom he claimed, to say the very least, the proudest it, at least by the judgment of the House, this stifling equality—he was excited almost to the point of frenzy. resolution had been the vehicle of carrying on to the Now be found himself sitting quietly under these things, records of the House documents that should never have when he saw his new colleagues, not more excitable been placed there, and of excluding those wbich were tban be was, in the same state of feeling in which he entitled to its consideration. It bad probably placed on was at the last session. , Sir, it is a most instruc- the table papers which never ougbt to have been adtive commentary upon the gradual wear and tear of feel. miited, and it had shut out from the people of this couning, and the cooling of that just indignation which every try the full and free right of having their petitions preSouthern man should feel. Sir, if I desired the break. sented here, and of being heard upon them. ing op of this Government, I should thank the gentle- Mr. G. said he had regretted as much as the gentleman from Massachusetts for his course on this subject. man from South Carolina (Mr. Thompson) or the gen. All we desire, sir, is an issue, a fair and distinct issue. tleman from Virginia (Mr. Patton] that this paper If gentlemen think slavery an abomination, and that should have been presented. As a member of inis they have a right to abolish it, why not come up to House, he (Mr. G.) considered the right of petition sa. the point, and say so? I will forgive them for all the cred; but he also considered himself bound, in the exerpast if they will do it. We shall then, sir, soon, very cise of that right, to guaranty to ibe House that the pasoon, seitle this question forever,
per be offered was one the responsibility of which, 80 Mr. HAYNES said that, believing the object of the far as presenting it was concerned, rested on bis shoulgentleman from South Carolina might be more readily ders. It did not follow that he approved or disapproved obtained by a resolution in a different form, he would the object of the petition because he presented it; but it send to the table the following amendment:
was due to the House, in presenting it, lo say that he be Strike out all after “ Resolved," and insert
lieved it to be such a paper as a member had a right, I That John Quincy Adams, a Representative from the and was bound, to present to an American Congress; State of Massachusetts, has rendered bimself justly liable and he could not think that the honorable gentleman to the severest censure of this House, and is censured from Massachusetts could strengthen the right of petiaccordingly, for baving attempted to present to the tion by presenting a paper in the manner in which this ? House the petition of slaves."
had been offered.. Mr. GRANGER said this was a question of extreme This question, as now presented, was one of deep in. delicacy, and one which he hoped would not be closed | terest. He felt bound to say that a certain class of the by the previous question. His honorable friend from community were too ready to change their ground, and Massachusetts [Mr. ADAMS] knew that no man in this to hide their opinions on the abolition of slavery under House bad more sincerely stood by him on the right of the denial of the right of petition. He had in his mind petition than be (Mr. G.) had. But he (Mr. G.) must men, not ordinary men, who, feeling that this right bas express his surprise that, with papers in his hand from been unjustly abridged, have enlisted themselves in a sources of which he was ignorant, and of the genuine. cause in which they would never otherwise have en. ness of which he has expressed a doubt, he (Mr. Adams] gaged; men who, only one year ago, were as much opshould have assumed the responsibility he had this day posed to the abolition of 'slavery as any man in this assumed. He (Mr. G.) was surprised that that gentle House, but who are now found within its ranks. These, man, bolding the right of petition as one of the most sa. he bad said, were not ordinary citizens, but those who cred rights granted to this people, should ever have stood forth to the community in that enviable relief cheapened the value of that right by presenting indis- which talent gives to virtue. It was not to be disguised, criminately papers enclosed to him, [Mr. Adams,] when and he felt bound to declare, that, if the House wished he was himself ignorant of the names, condition, or char to forward the cause of abolition, they would pass these acters, of those who forwarded them. He was the more hasty resolutions. No man in this nation held the right surprised that a paper from this immediate vicinity, and of petition under the constitution more sacred than he purporting to bear the signatures of those who are rep- did; but it was due to himself to repeat, what he had resented by a gentleman (Mr. Patton) sitting on the heretofore stated, that so long as the states of Maryleft of the gentleman from Massachusetts, and with land and Virginia should continue their present policy, whom that gentleman was on intimate terms, should have he did not believe that Congress bad any just power to been presented to this House without some inquiry hav. interfere in this question, nor that either philanthropy ing been made as to the character of those whose names or patriotism demanded it: that in his opinion, at the were attached to the petition, or without the gentleman time of the cession of this District, it was no more con.
FEB. 6, 1837.)
Abolition of Slavery.
(H. OF R.
templated that slavery should be abolished here before ed on to act, that they should know whether this was the it was in the surrounding country, than that this terri. fact or not. The resolution asserted also another fact: that tory should continue in its present position after the the gentleman from Massachusetts attempted to offer this adjoining States by which it had been ceded should petition. He (Mr. P.) understood that ihis was not the have changed theirs. But he would say to the gentle fact. He thought he should be disposed to go as far as men from South Carolina (Mr. Thompson) and from those who would go farthest in adopting any proper course Georgia (Mr. Harses] that, if this resolution was for arresting these attempts to procure the action of the pushed to a vote of censure, its effect on the community House in relation to the abolition of slavery in the Dis. would be most serious.
trict of Columbia, or any where else. He should be What was the position of the gentleman from Massa- ready to go to the utmost extent of his constitutional chusetts! He [Mr. Adams] had requested instructions, powers to arrest that action, either by the legislative inhad asked the decision of the Chair as to his right to pre tervention of the House, in its ordinary course, or by re. sent the petition, and whether it came within the reso-fusing to receive the petitions, or by inflicting censure lution of the House to which he had referred. Before on members transgressing the bounds of their duty to the decision of the Chair had been announced, and keep up an excitement on the subject. But let us know whilst the House remained in ignorance even of the ( (said Mr. P.) what we are doing. Suppose that this pe. gentleman's own opinions as to the propriety of pre- tition was a quiz; and that, so far from being a petition senting it, a resolution was introduced, which, in effect, for the abolition of slavery, it was a petition for a very went io censure bim for asking the decision of the different thing. Mr. P. would object as much to the Chair, and which decision had not yet been announced. one proposition being presented here as the other. But If these proceedings must be carried on, for pity's sake, let the House, before it involved itself in this solemn at least, let the opinion of the person presenting it be proceeding, before it took ibis decided and hazardous known; let bim at least declare in his place that he step of bringing to the bar of ibe House a member of claimed the right to present the petition. It will then its body, as having violated its rights, know on what be time enough to act upon these resolutions, and then grounds they were proceeding: be matter of sufficient doubt whether they should be Were the facts as they were stated to be? Had any passed, or whether any member should be censured for
such petition been presented or offered by a member of what he considered an honest discharge of his duty. the House! He regretted to be involved in this excite
He could not conclude without expressing his regret ment on grounds which might turn out to be more of a at the occurrence of this morning, and his firm convic- farce than a tragedy. He expected it would be found tion that the course of the gentleman from Massa, that neither the one fact nor the other, assumed in the chusetts, so far from rendering the right of petition resolution, was true.« more sacred, was calculated to render it a mere bauble, Mr. ADAMS then rose and said he did not know un. to be played with; and he objected to having the right der wbat rule of the House ibe several resolutions which of petition, inalienable in his constituents, tried by any had been presented in relation to himself had taken the such issue as could be made upon the papers which place of the resolution or motion submitted by his friend the venerable gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. from Virginia, (Mr. Parton,) nor how it had happened Adams) had last presented.
that this matter had come under the copsideration of the Mr. LEWIS offered the following amendment, which House, whilst a question was pending whether a paper, be suggested to his friend from South Carolina (Mr. previously presented by him (Mr. A.) should be taken T90XPSON] to accept as a modification:
from the Speaker's table and returned to him. The Resoleed, That John Quince Adams, a member from Speaker, he presumed, knew how this had come about. the State of Massachusetts, by his attempt to introduce The SPEAKER explained that this had been effected into this House a petition from slaves, for the abolition under the operation of that well-establiebed parliamentary of slavery in the District of Columbia, committed an out. law, which gave precedence to questions of privilege rage on the rights and feelings of a large portion of the over all other business. people of this Union; a flagrant contempt on the dignity Mr. ADAMS. Well, sir, I am satisfied, of this House; and, by extending to slaves a privilege In regard to the resolutions now before the flouse, as only belonging to freemen, directly invites the slave they all concur in-naming me, and in charging me with population to insurrection; and that the said member be high crimes and misdemeanors, and in calling me to the forthwith called to the bar of the House, and be cen. bar of the House to answer for my crimes, I have thought sored by the Speaker.
it was my duty to remain silent until it should be the Mr. W. THOMPSON accepted the modification. pleasure of the House to act either on one or other of
Mr. LEWIS said that, as a member, from the South, these resolutions. I suppose that, if I shall be brought he was not disposed to argue this question here. He to the bar of the House, I shall not be struck mute by wished to see whether there was the power or the will the previous question, before I have an opportunity to to discountenance such proceedings as these. If not, say a word or two in my own defence. the members from the South had better go home and But, sir, gentlemen are really consuming the time of prepare to protect themselves.
the House in such a manner, that I lbink the obligation Mr. PATTON said he thought the House was pro. rests upon me to ask them to modify their resolution. It ceeding rather barshly in this matter. The resolution, may be as severe as they propose; but I ask them to in the form in which it now stood, asserted two facts, of change the matter of fact a little, so that when I come to wbich he would desire to be certified before he gave his the bar, I may not, in one single word, put an end 10 Fole upon it. He knew nothing of the character of the their resolution. paper, for the gentleman, from Massachusetts (Mr. The gentlemen, who have such a laudable zeal for the Adams) bad preserved towards him the same silence as slaveholding portion of this confederacy, and I do not on the other paper, purporting to come from Freder. censure them for that zeal, charge upon me, first, that icksburg
I attempted to present a petition from slaves; and, secBut the resolution asserted two facts: First, that the ondly, ibat that pelition was for their emancipation fiom paper was a petition by slaves for the abolition of slavery. slavery. I did not present the petition, and I appeal Was that the fact? Was any gentleman bere authorized to the Speaker to say that I did not. I said I had a paper, to state that this was a paper for the abolition of slavery purporting to be a petition from slaves; I did not say what It was essentially important, before the House was callo the prayer of the petition was; I said it was a paper pur
II. OF R.]
Abolition of Slavery.
(FEB. 6, 1837.
porting to be a petition from slaves, signed parlly by dies of Fredericksburg, 1 ought to have shown it to my crosses for signatures, and partly by letters, scarcely le. friend and neighbor here, (Mr. Patton,) and to have gible, purporting to be names. I asked the Speaker followed the advice which he would bave given, I reply whether be considered such a paper as included within to the gentleman (Mr. GRANGER] that such is not my opin. the general order of the House, that all petitions, memo. ion in regard to the right of petition. I did avoid show. rials, resolutions, and papers, relating in any way, or to ing my friend the petition, because I had every reason to any extent whatever, to the subject of slavery, should believe that, if I did, he would exercise bis influence be laid on the table. I intended to take the decision of over my mind-and that influence is great in every the Speaker before I went one step towards presenting, thing in which my duty does not interpose a barrier or offering to present, that petition. I stated distinctly against ils exercise-and that his advice would bave been to the Speaker that I should not send the paper to the that I should not present the petition. I did not choose table until the question was decided, whether a paper 10 place myself in this position. I adhered to the right from persons declaring themselves slaves was included of petition; and let me say here that, let the petition within the order of the House. This is ibe fact.
be, as the gentleman from Virginia has stated, from Now, as to the fact what the petition was for. I sim. | free negroes--prostitutes, as he supposes, for he says ply state to the gentleman from Alabama, (Mr. Lewis,] there is one such on the paper, and he infers that the who has sent to ihe table a resolution assuming that this rest are of the same description that had not allered petition was for the abolition of slavery; I state to him my opinion at all. Where is your law which says that ihat be is mistaken. He must amend his résolution; for, the mean, and the low, and the degraded, shall be de. if the House should choose to read the petition, I can prived of the right of petition, if their moral character is state to them they would find it something very much not good? Where, in the land of freemen, was the the reverse of that which ihe resolution states it to be; right of petition ever placed on the exclusive basis of and if the gentleman from Alabama still shall choose to morality and virtue?. Petition is supplication—it is en. bring me to the bar of the House, he must amend his trealy--it is prayer! And where is the degree of vice or resolution in a very important particular; for he probably immorality which shall deprive the citizen of the rigbt to may have to put into it, that my crime has been for ai. supplicate for a boon, or io pray for mercy? Where is tempting to introduce the petition of slaves that sla- such a law to be found? It does not belong to the most very should not be abolished. This is possible, sir. ! abject despotism. There is no absolute monarch on say, then, the gentleman must amend his resolution; and earth who is not compelled by the constitution of his I take it for granted that he and the House will be under country to receive the petitions of his people, whosoever the necessity of seeing what ihat petition is, and that they may be. The Sultan of Constantinople cannot they must not take it even from my representation. This walk the streets and refuse to receive petitions from ibe representation I am perfectly willing to make, if the meanest and the vilest in the land. This is the law even Hlouse shall think fit that the petition should be received of despotism. And what does your law say? Does it say and considered; and I shall be willing to do almost any thal, before presenting a petition, you shall look into it, thing, except to grant the prayer of the petition; for and see whether it comes from the virtuous, and the the gentleman from Alabama may, perchance, find that greal, and the mighty? No, sir, it says no such thing; the object of the petition is precisely that which he de. the right of petition belongs to ail. And, so far from sires to accomplish; and that these slaves, who have sent refusing to present a petition because it might come from this paper to me, are his auxiliaries, instead of being itose low in the estimation of the world, it would be an his opponents. I slate these facts for the consideration additional incentive, if such incentive were wanting. of the House. I shall not present the petition until the This I say to my friend from Virginia, (Mr. Patron.) decision of the House has been announced, and I am dis. But I must admit that when color comes into ihe posed to be perfectly submissive to that decision, wbat- question, there may be other considerations. It is possi. ever it may be.
ble that this House, which seems to consider it so great Whilst I am up, Mr. Speaker, I feel it necessary to say a crime to attempt to offer a petition from slaves, may, one word in reply to the observations of a gentleman for for aught I know, say tbat freemen, if not of the carnawhom I entertain a profound respect, and who, on this tion, shall be deprived of the right of petition, in the occasion, has not felt as those gentlemen who have en. sense of the House. It is possible, sir, that had I known tirely misunderstood the course I was pursning, and the the petition from Fredericksburg to have been from col. nature of the paper on which I asked the direction of ored people, I might have taken into my consideration the Speaker. I allude to the gentleman from New the question, not whetber I ought to present the petition York, (Mr. GRANGER,] who has expressed his regret at to the House, but whether, in ihe temper of this House, the course I have this day adopted.
it would be prudent for me to present it. Sir, I did not Sir, it is well known to all the members of this House, know that these were colored women. The petition it is certainly well known to all petitioners for the aboli. was sent without any indication of the color or condition tion of slavery in the District of Columbia, that from the of those who sent it. At all events, it did not purport day I entered this House down to the present moment, to come from slaves; and when the paper which I last I have invariably here, and invariably elsewhere, de. held in my hand came to me as a petition from persons clared my opinions to be adverse to the prayer of peti. declaring themselves to be slaves, I did not present it, tions which call for the abolition of slavery in The Disirict but I asked the Speaker if it came within the general orof Columbia. But, sir, it is equally well known that, der of the House. I am still waiting for that decision; from the time I entered this House down to the present and if it should be the decision of the Speaker that the day, I have felt it a sacred duly to present any petition, petition cannot be received, because it comes from couched in respectful language, from any citizen of the slaves, I shall submit to the determination of the House, United States, be its object what it may; be the prayer If the House think proper to receive the petition, I shall of it that in which I could concur, or that to which I
present it. was utterly opposed. It is for the sacredness of the Mr. MANN, of New York, obtained the floor, and right of petition that I have arlopted this course; and said that the future historian, when arriving at the trans. when my friend from New York (Mr. GRANGER) inima. | actions of the twenty-fourth Congress, would find it re ted his opinion-ot directly expressed, but yet the ne. quisite to pause and contemplate the spectacle now be cessary inference of his remarks-that, before present- fore us and the American people. He will be at fiul ing a paper purporting to be a petition from certain la- to discover the cause for the scenes now presented; and