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The members elect were called to order, at eleven o'clock a. M., by Cornelius W. Armstrong, Clerk of the last Assembly.
The proceedings were opened with prayer by the Rev. Dr. Selkirk. The Hon. G. Hilton Scribner, Secretary of State, administered to the members present the oath of office prescribed by the twelfth section of the Constitution of this State, and the said oath was thereupon subscribed by the members.
Mr. Husted offered for the consideration of the House a resolution, in the words following:
Resolved, That this House do now proceed to the election of a Speaker; that the roll of members shall be called by the Clerk, and that each member as his name is called rise in his place and openly name his choice for such officer; and that after the election of Speaker we proceed to the election of Clerk and Sergeant-at-Arms in the same manner.
The Clerk put the question whether the House would agree to said resolution, and it was determined in the affirmative.
The Clerk then proceeded to call the roll of members; whereupon, each as his name was called, rose in his place and nominated as follows:
Henry Smith having received a majority of all the votes given, the Clerk declared Mr. Smith duly elected Speaker.
The Clerk appointed Messrs. Husted and Jacobs a committee to conduct the Speaker to the chair.
Upon taking the chair, the Speaker arose and addressed the House as follows;
Gentlemen of the Assembly:
Appreciating that you have conferred upon me a distinguished honor in selecting me to discharge the duties of this place, I now return my thanks.
I realize that I am entering upon a work of grave and solemn responsibility. I shall bring to the discharge of the duties of this place my best ability. I shall endeavor to perform its functions with a single regard to the public good, and the sole desire of acting with justice and impartiality toward all. That I shall fail in some particulars I have no doubt, and I must crave your indulgence and your support as we enter together upon the duties, and the discharge of the obligations to which we have so lately taken our solemn oaths.
Such suggestions as are deemed proper in reference to legislation will, at the appropriate time, be communicated to you from the proper depart
ment of government, but I trust you will indulge me, while I am entering upon the discharge of my duties, to make some suggestions in reference to my views of the duties of this place and of members of this House. To make laws is the highest and most responsible duty that ever was undertaken by man in his political capacity. The peace, the harmony, the prosperity, the liberty, the personal protection which we all enjoy depend upon the wisdom and propriety of legislation. It will call upon us in the discharge of this duty to exercise the highest degree of ability of which we are capable.
You and I are representatives of a great State with varied interests. Laws of a general character, laws as to internal improvements, laws as to municipalities, laws as to corporations, are required, and wherever you look, from whatever point of view you consider this question, every right minded legislator must be deeply and solemnly impressed with the awful responsibility that rests upon him; and, while it requires the exercise of the very best ability, it requires that it should be exercised with purity, and with a sole desire to the public good.
Party considerations, political considerations, private considerations, every consideration, must be made subservient to the common good of all, and I feel assured that we as a body realize these things, and that no man here will permit in a direct or indirect manner, however remote, his judgment to be affected, or himself to be swerved in the slightest degree, by any improper considerations whatever.
The wisest man and the most accomplished will find that there is demanded of him in the discharge of these duties the most constant industry, for in the time usually allotted to legislation each year in this State the wisest men on earth could not discharge its duties without the most constant and the most undivided devotion to this public duty, and I trust that all of us shall feel, that while it is a demand upon our private interests and may involve sacrifices in our private affairs, we shall realize that we are in the discharge of a high public duty, and these considerations must yield to that.
I may be allowed to say, I trust, with propriety, here, that the sessions of this Legislature, if you will intelligently consider the questions that are to come before you, must be constant through every business day. There is no time for a recess. There is no time to go home, and I trust from the time when the organization of this House shall be effected until it shall finally adjourn, every one will be steadfast in insisting that we shall keep continuously in session until we shall have discharged the duties resting upon us.
More in the way of industry is required, and, may I suggest from the little experience I have had, deferring, of course, to others who have had more experience than I have had in reference to the discharge of our duties, that it is of the highest importance that gentlemen of the Assembly should realize that when we are convened here it is for the purpose of transacting business in session, and every member will best economize his time and will best fit himself for the discharge of his duty upon final votes of questions that may be presented for consideration, if, while he is here and the House is in session, he will give his undivided attention to the proceedings that are pending before the House.
If that is generally done, there will be no occasion, as sometimes happens, to inquire of the chair what the question is, and there will be no occasion for such repeated calls of absentees on the lists. The sessions can be made much shorter and much more effective, ir members, when
they come together, will realize that they come to discharge a business duty like any other, and that it can only be successfully accomplished like any other business transaction by attention to the business interests. The successful management of the business affairs of the House of Assembly requires the aid of many subordinate officers. I think that I should express to you my views in reference to the question of these officers, because if they are entertained by a majority of the House it may involve the necessity of some pretty prompt legislation. The Legisla ture is the representative of the people. It has absolute power to legislate except where it is restrained by the Constitution. The House of Assembly is but a branch of the Legislature, and it has no power or authority, except where it is conferred by the Constitution, to create an office or incur one dollar's expenditure of public money.
The law provides for some of the details of the organization of this House. It authorizes the election of a clerk, a journal clerk, engrossing clerk, two clerks for miscellaneous duty, sergeant-at-arms and assistant, door-keeper and assistant, librarian and assistant, and ten messengers. Deferring, of course, to your judgment upon this subject, so far as I am left to act I shall deem myself bound by this law, and shall be compelled to respect it. If experience shall prove that more assistance is required, then let it be done according to law, and let a suitable bill be introduced extending the range of offices to such extent as is essential to the discharge of the duties of the respective places involved in legislation.
We shall need no one about us here, holding official connection with this House, who is not absolutely required. We shall need no one but to whom we can afford honest and legitimate employment, and, I am under the impression, if constant work shall be furnished to those who are in the employ of this House, there will not be so many enthusiastic patriots willing to enter into its service.
It is no favor to a man to appoint him to a place here unless it is required in the discharge of some public duty. We should set a poor example to the people of the State if we shall encourage idleness, and we confer no favor upon a man by appointing him temporarily here unless there is actual work for him to do.
It is better for every one who needs employment in this broad, fertile and glorious country to go somewhere where he can always be sure of constant and remunerative employment than to depend upon the caprice of public places.
Gentlemen, I enter now upon the discharge of the duties of this place without a feeling of unkindness towards any gentleman here, and I trust that this feeling may remain thus when we have finished our duties. I have an apprehension, however, that in one particular especially I may at some time for a moment seem to be over-stepping the duties of this place, and I want to say in regard to that, that while I occupy this place, I shall feel it my duty, with sternness and emphasis, if necessary, to maintain perfect and complete order in this House. And if I should find, no matter who it may, be on the floor of this House, transgressing thoughtlessly, as is often done, those rules that are required to maintain perfect order here, I shall not hesitate, because I believe it my duty to call his attention, to the matter, and I speak now to the end that if such a thing shall at any time become necessary, growing out of the thoughtlessness of any one who for a moment may allow himself to be diverted from some other subject that that before the House, he shall appreciate that I do it in the spirit of no unkindness, but with a sole