Imágenes de páginas

FEBRUARY, 1798.]

Breach of Privilege.

[H.or R.

of time upon a business, which, he thought, had want of manners--a want of good breeding. already occupied too much.

There could be no doubt the act was highly indeAfter a few other observations, the question cent; but it did not show a corruption of heart. was put on the amendment and carried—48 to 43. It may disqualify him from associating with some

The question on the resolution as amended was gentlemen on this floor; but, said Mr. G., we do about to be put, when

not come here to associate as individuals, but to Mr. Gallatin said he knew how late in the deliberate upon legislative subjects in our repreday it was, and therefore his remarks should not sentative capacity. We may, if we please, assobe long; but as he considered there was a point of ciate together, or we may let it alone. He did view in which the subject had not been placed, not think himself compelled to associate with he wished to say a few words before the question any member of this House whose society he did was taken.

not like. of the fact itself he had no remarks to make; This was not then one of those cases which the evidence was direct, and all could draw their discovered a corruption of heart, that would disinferences from it. Nor did he consider it very qualify a man from giving a vote on a legislative material whether the insult arose from provoca- subject, though it might show the person to be tion or not, because he did not think that any pro- disqualified for polite society. He would go on vocation could justify an indecency of that nature. to the other case, which was said to be a good

But it appeared to him that gentlemen who ex- reason for expulsion. He allowed that cases pressed so much sensibility on the occasion, had might exist, in which a man might so far persist confined themselves wholly to the indecency com- in interrupting the business of that House, by his mitted within the walls of the House, without disorderly behaviour, as to render it necessary, in taking any notice of the nature of the punishment order that the business might proceed, that he proposed io be inflicted. It was on that part of should be expelled. This led him to inquire ihe subject, and on that alone, he meant to make whether this was the case under consideration, some observations.

and whether the business of the House had been Our Government, he said, was a Government interrupted by the act in question. by representation. The people of the United When he put questions to the witnesses in reStates had not vested power with a sparing hand; lation to the order of the House, at the time the they had given all power out of their hands, but act complained of took place, he did it not with a they had guarded against the abuse of it. They view of lessening the offence itself. He did not had said this power shall not be exercised but by mean to inquire whether the member from Verpersons appointed by ourselves. This being the mont had committed a less degree of indecency, case, said Mr. G., we, the representatives of the because the House was in one situation, than it people, have only a limited power over individual would have been if it had been in another; but representatives in our body. It is true the Con- his object was to show, that the public business stitution has given us the power of expulsion, but had not been interrupted, and that the House was under as much caution as power could be given. in a situation in which it could not have been inIt is guarded by making it necessary to have a terrupted. It was true the Speaker had, in the vote of two-thirds of the members present—the morning, taken the Chair, and the House had not same caution which was laid upon the Senate adjourned; but it must also be allowed, that the with respect to treaties. He conceived that the House was not at that time organized. What power of expulsion had not been given for the was the business before the House? A committee purpose of indulging our sensibility; for the pur- of two members were counting the votes for manpose of impairing the principle of representation, agers of an impeachment. Were they interbut for the purpose of enforcing that principle; rupted; or could they be interrupted by an inciand two cases might exist in which the power of dent of this kind ? He was sure they were not inexpulsion, lodged in that House, might be consid-terrupted. If, then, the public business was not ered as a safeguard to the principle of representa interrupted, and if the faci was not of that nature tion. These iwo cases were, when the House dis- which showed a corruption of heart, he did not covered a person to be disqualified by some infa-think it would be proper to expel the member mous conduct from voting, and when a member from Vermont. pertinaciously interrupted and prevented public He saw, indeed, that it was unpleasant for some business from being carried on.

gentlemen to sit in the House with the member As to the first case, he could not suppose that from Vermont. He allowed it was an evil; but any man would ever be sent to that House who what is the evil, he asked, on the other side ? It had been guilty of any crime that would dis- is this: They all knew that a new election could qualify him from holding his seat, if the people not take place in the State of Vermont for several who sent him knew it at the time; but if any weeks. He remembered, from the contested elecsuch crime should be afterwards committed, or tion which was formerly before the House from be discovered to have been heretofore commitied, that State, that twelve days notice is requisite bethen the House has a right to expel and send such fore writs can be issued; a certain time would be a member back to his constituents. The present required to bring the votes to the Governor; the case, every one will allow, does not fall within necessary notice, a new election, ascertaining the this rule. The charge against the member from return, the notification to the member elected, Vermont is a gross indecency, which shows a land the time necessary for his journey hither,


H. OF R.)

Breach of Privilege.

[FEBRUARY, 1798.

would take up many weeks; and by the laws of I sat writing at the opposite sides of the table; Mr. Lyon that State, if there be not a majority on the first took a seat by the table at the side of Mr. Bradley, and vote, a new election will be necessary ; so that it entered into a conversation upon the subject of the remay be preity certainly said, that if the present port above mentioned. He soon discovered himself to member was expelled, one-half of the State of be somewhat irritated, and in a very rude and pointed Vermont would be deprived of a representation manner declared that no man who had a spark of on that floor for the remainder of the session. honesty could have reported as I had done. Attacked And shall we, said Mr. G., in order to gratify our

in this rude manner, I retorted, in a passion, that he

was an ignorant Irish puppy. sensibilities, deprive one-half of that State, for a number of weeks, and perhaps for the whole ses

Mr. Lyon rose in a violent passion, grasped at my

hair, that was turned back with a comb, which he broke sion, of its representation ? He was not willing to in the grasp. I was at that moment mending a pen; do so, and therefore should vote against the I instantly rose, intending to revenge the insult with resolution.

the knife in my hand; but Mr. Bradley had seized Mr. He knew that other gentlemen on that floor Lyon from behind, round the arms, and drew him back had as great regard for the principle of representa- a little; upon which, Mr. Lyon, bearing himself in tion as he; therefore, he supposed, they had con- Mr. Bradley's arms, threw his feet upon the table to sidered this subject already, and made up their kick across. The awkward appearance of Mr. Lyon minds upon it. When he stated these reasons he at this moment, and the grimaces of his countenance, did not doubt they had weight upon the minds of provoked me to laugh. I dropt the penknife, seized other gentlemen. For his part, however, he was

Mr. Lyon's feet, and, in this manner, with the help of more apprehensive of depriving Vermont of its Mr. Bradley, who still kept his hold, carried him across

the room, and laid him on his back in a corner. Mr. representation, than of any other consideration arising from the subject.

Bradley and I returned to our seats, laughing very mer. He thought gentlemen had laid too much stress rily at the scene. In the meantime, Mr. Lyon rose from on this indecency, as it affected the Legislature without uttering a word. At length he turned upon

his corner, stood a short time in apparent agitation, and of the United States. However disagreeable the his heel, with these expressions: “Damn it, I will not act was in itself, he did not think because a mem

be mad”—forced a laugh, and left the room. Nothing ber sent there by the people of Vermont does an ever afterwards passed between Mr. Lyon and myself improper act, that it could attach disgrace and in- upon this subject. I therefore repeat, that Mr. Lyon's delible infamy to the House itself, nor did he see assertion is wholly without foundation. how it could affect any other person besides the I ask pardon for the trouble I have given the House member from Vermont bimself.

upon this business. There seemed to be a great desire, very loudly

And am, with respect, &c., expressed, that the question should be taken be

NATHANIEL CHIPMAN. fore the committee rose; but Mr. Sewall and

The Chairman of the Committee upon the report of Mr. RUTLEDGE. both appearing to have a desire to

the Committee of Privileges. speak on the subject, and it being near four o'clock, the committee rose and had leave to sit again.

MONDAY, February 12. Just before the committee rose, the Chairman

BREACH OF PRIVILEGE. informed the committee he had received a letter The House baving resolved itself into a Comfrom Mr. CHIPMAN, of the Senate, in consequence Inittee of the Whole on the report of the Comof what had fallen from Mr. Lyon; in his defence mittee of Privileges, Mr. Dent in the Chair, of yesterday. The letter was requested to be read, Mr. RutLEDGE denied that any similar outrage and was as follows:

had ever been committed in that House like the Sir: I feel it my duty, in this public manner, to vin- present, though the gentleman from Virginia had dicate myself against an unwarranted attack on my spoken of something analogous. It was true, a character, by Mr. Lyon, yesterday, in the House of challenge had been sent by a member of the SenRepresentatives. I learn that he there asserted that ate to a member of that House ; but this was not he had once chastised me publicly for an affront which at all comparable to the present offence. Mr. R. I had given him. This assertion of Mr. Lyon is with thought the punishment by expulsion was the out foundation ; it is false. Nor can I conjecture to only punishment which could be adopted, as nowhat circumstance Mr. Lyon could have alluded, un thing short of it would be effectual. less it might be a ludicrous transaction, which took place at Westminster, in the State of Vermont, in the mittee was a question of indecency, and not of

Mr. Findley said, the question before the combeginning of the year 1780, the circumstances of which crime ; and he wished, for the sake of decency, so I beg leave to relate: The Legislature of Vermont much'had not been said upon it. In forming the were in session at that place; Mr. Lyon attended as a member; I attended on business. The House of Re- Constitution there had been a distinction made presentatives requested me, though not a member, to between punishment and expulsion. Expulsion examine and report my opinion concerning certain

was evidently the highest punishment which the debts due from persons whose estates had been confis. House could inflict, but no one could say ipdecated. I had made a report accordingly, at some part cency was the highest crime. He never underof which Mr. Lyon took offence. One morning Mr. stood, either at the time the Constitution was Lyon called at Mr. Bradley's room, in which I was formed, or since, that expulsion was intended to then doing business. No person was in the room but be applied to anything but crimes-for what Mr. Bradley, Mr. Lyon, and myself. Mr. Bradley and would be a subject of impeachment in other bodies FEBRUARY, 1798.]

Breach of Privilege.


where impeachments could be brought. This the House, not only for the security of his person, was not, therefore, an opinion formed upon the but for immediate punishment. As the Constituspur of the occasion. Mr. F. said, he knew of an tion gave the House a power to expel a member instance of this kind, which happened in another for disorderly conduct, he thought this case came Legislative body, upon which a committee was ap- clearly within the rule. In some cases of offence pointed to consider it; but they never made a re- there might appear mitigating circumstances, but pori, but held their decision in terrorem over the there were none in this. The conduct of the offending member. He thought, if a similar member since the transaction was committed had course had been taken in this matter, it would been such as to convince the House that he felt have been preferable to spending so much time in no compunction for what he had done. debate upon it.

Mr. Livingston rose to entreat gentlemen, as Mr. Sewall rose to reply to what fell from Mr. they valued the respectability of the House, the GALLATIN on Friday, with respect to the two good opinion of their constituents, and the public cases which he pointed out, as coming under the Treasury, that they would suffer this business to rule for expulsion, and referred to the law of Par- come to a conclusion. Their constituents, he was liament in England to show that this doctrine certain, had long been tired of the discussion. was ill founded. He said no district of country Nearly twenty days, which had cost as many ought to have it in its power to send a man among thousand dollars to the country, had been conthem as a legislator for the United States, who sumed in this business. Gentlemen rose to exshould be hateful to two-thirds of the House. press their abhorrence of abuse in abusive terms, The Constitution had defined no particular cases and their hatred of indecent acts with indecency. in which the power of expulsion should be exer- The simple question before the House was, whát cised ; the House was therefore left at liberty to degree of punishment was proper to be inflicted use it according to its discretion. And, if it were upon the member from Vermont. [The CHAIRto be abused, instead of punishment, it might be- Man informed Mr. L. he was mistaken in saying come the highest honor to the person expelled, as, twenty days had been consumed in this business; if the House were become so corrupt as to expel it had been before the House only fourteen.) Mr. a person without just cause, it might awaken the L. said it was in a fair way for being !wenty: people to a sense of the necessity of changing their Mr. Coit was sorry to hurt the feelings of the representatives.

gentleman last up by saying anything on the subMr. S. said, it was a new doctrine that the bu-ject, but having been considered as an advocate of siness of the House should actually be interrupted, Mr. Lyon, he would make a few observations before a person should be deemed an offender upon the subject. He did not himself think that against its rules. It was necessary to look at the this vote ought to have been taken without disconsequence of actions, and refer to what might cussion. If, indeed, it had only been necessary to have been the case if Mr. Griswold had resented have inquired how does this man generally vote? the affront upon the spot.

then no discussion was necessary; but he could Mr. S. spoke of the importance of this decision not consider that this was the only inquiry necesas a precedent; and of the danger to be appre-sary to be made. With respect to the fact, nothing hended from the conduct of Mr. Lyon in future, need be said ; every one allowed it to be brutal, if the present outrage was suffered to pass without indecent, and unmannerly. The Constitution exemplary punishment, and that it would be ne- gave the House the power of expulsion for disorcessary to come armed to the House, in order to derly conduct. It had been said, this disorder must guard themselves against him.

be committed within the House ; but he found Mr. Shepard spoke again upon this subject. If nothing of this sort in the Constitution. He had the member from Vermont were not expelled, he no doubt himself that the House was in session at supposed it would break up the present session, the time. It had been attempted to show that without doing any business; that it would divide there was a provocation for the offence; but an the States against each other, and finally end in inquiry into this matter turned wholly against the a civil war.

gentleman from Vermont, as his previous abuse Mr. PINCKNEY said, in order to insure perfect of the whole representation of Connecticut was a freedom of debate, it was necessary to repress every sufficient ground for the retort which was drawn personal violence in the first instance. "In consid from his colleague. It appeared, therefore, to him, ering this question, he considered it as fixing a rule that to retain amongst them a man of this defor their government in future; and he thought, scription was to retain a man who would produce if it were so considered, (and no reference had to nothing but disorder and confusion in their prothe dispute which had produced the discussion,) ceedings. His letter of apology did not say ihat there would be a pretty unanimous opinion that this was a transaction of heat, and that he was an offence of this kind ought to be punished by sorry for it, but that he was sorry the House had expulsion. He thought a member thus violently thought it necessary to take cognizance of it; and offending the rules of the House, should be imme- his defence before the Committee of the Whole diately deprived of the power of the people

that was far from being contrite; it was, indeed, an House; and it was on this ground that he moved attack upon the witnesses, in order to invalidate for the immediate commitment of the member their testimony. He hoped the resolution would from Vermont to the care of the Sergeant-at- be agreed to. Arms, when the offence was first made known to Mr. R. WILLIAMS rose and took notice of the



H. of R.]
Breach of Privilege.

[FEBRUARY, 1798. different arguments urged in favor of the amend- upon the offender, but he would do it with thunment. He denied that the committee ought to der and vengeance! In bis opinion, Mr. W. said, consider the consequences to which an act might nothing could tend more to disgrace the councils possibly lead; if so, an assault would of course of America than such heated language as this. It be punished equally with murder, as it might pos- was sufficient to induce the people to say, “We sibly lead to it. He did not think the House have 100 much liberty-100 much freedom of ought to interfere any further, than to preserve speech; our Government is bad”—and to be ready order and decorum in its proceedings. If a mem- to lay hold of any other that is offered to them. A ber of the House committed a crime, he was an- sentiment of this kind tended more to destroy the swerable to the laws equally with any other man. Government than anything he had heard. Gen. Upon the whole, he considered the proposed pun- tlemen talked of heat in de bate; but where did it ishment as disproportionate to the offence, and come from? Not from the gentlemen in opinion should therefore move an amendment. Mr. w. with him, must be evident to every one. Whatthen moved to amend the resolution reported, ever opinion might be held of his amendment, he by striking out the words, " be for this disorderly thought it proper, and therefore made it; nor did behaviour expelled," and insert in their place, he think it liberal in any man to treat it as it had " is highly censurable, and that he be reprimanded been treated. Was it right to be told by a memby the SPEAKER, in the presence of this House." ber, because he had moved an amendment like the

Mr. Dayton (the Speaker) said the length of present, that he should be ashamed to sit with the present debate had been complained of; but him? Was this what the public expected to hear who, he asked, had first broke silence after the in its Legislative councils? He believed not. He gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Thatcher) thought it would do no credit to him who uttered had expressed his wish that the vote might be taken the sentiment. without debate? It was the gentleman who had Mr. DAYTON said that the gentleman from just sat down; and now he had given the com- North Carolina had misstated what he had said in mittee another speech, and introduced a proposi- several instances; but he did not think it worth tion calculated to produce further discussion. He while to set him right-it would be a waste of wishes the gentleman from Vermont to be repri- time and words. There was one thing he would manded by the SPEAKER. What could the Speak- notice, he called him a judge. Was he not in Er say to him? He could only say, You have Committee of the Whole on this subject? Was done an act which would disgrace a blackguard; he more a judge than that gentleman? [Mr. W. come and take your seat in the House. You have offered to explain.) Mr. D. said that gentleman insulted us with words which show your defiance had already four times explained himself

. If he of us, but come and sit with us, and be our brother had anything more to say to that gentleman, it legislator.

would be a little more pointed. He should say Were these proper words to be addressed to the what he pleased, and if he chose he might call member? The SPEAKER would sooner address upon him in the House or out of the House. (prihim in words of thunder which should drive him vileges aside.) [A loud cry for order was heard.] from his presence. Mr. D. then took notice of Mr. D. said he knew when he was in order. what fell from the gentleman from New York The CHAIRMAN declared such language imwith respect to the length of the present debate, proper. which he thought fully justified by the importance Mr. Dayton concluded by justifying what he of the subject, and concluded by saying, that if had said as to the impropriety of the SPEAKER rethere should be found a majority in this House in primanding the member from Vermont, as the favor of the amendment, he should be ashamed of language of a majority, he was assured, would dihaving a seat in it.

rect him thus to speak, and he could not be expected Mr. Nicholas hoped the committee would not to use the sentiments of a minority in his repribe prevented from doing what it thought proper, mand. He had stated the matter in a strong because there might be a difference between the light, to show the impropriety of the measure ; private opinion of the Speaker, and what he might and he meant to appeal to the breast of every honbe called upon to do in his capacity as SPEAKER. orable gentleman whether the members of that

Mr. R. Willams denied ihat he was the first House would consent to sit in amity with such a who began the debate.

Mr. Dayton repeated that he was the first who Mr. Goodrich thought to have given a silent broke silence after the gentleman from Massachu-vote on this subject; but when a proposition like setts had wished the vote to be taken without the present was brought forth, he could not refrain debate.

from delivering his sentiments upon it. Mr. G. Mr. R. Williams said that it would appear, complained of the slanderous manner in which he from the manner in which the gentleman had said and his colleagues had been treated by the gentle he broke the silence, that he had begun the debate, man from Vermont. Every one allowed ibat which he did not. Mr. W. said, he was more some punishment was proper for the offences of strongly convinced than ever of the impropriety this member—they differed only as to the proporof extending the power of expulsion, since he had tion. For his part, he thought nothing short of heard the passionate expressions of the gentle expulsion would be sufficient ; for it was evident, man from New Jersey. Was this the language from his conduct, that a reprimand would not be of a Judge? He would not only pass the law considered by him as any punishment at all. He



FEBRUARY, 1798.]
Breach of Privilege.

[H. of R. knew not how to account for the strange manner Mr. Gallatin said he should not have risen in which he had conducted himself since he com- again on this subject, if it had not been to explain mitted the insult upon his colleague, except, in- some things which he had before said, and which deed, he was persuaded that, to do what he will, had been misrepresented. After explaining these, it was not in the power of the House to expel Mr. G. went on to state that no act of disorder him ; that his friends would support him. If this done in the House ought to be noticed farther were his opinion, he hoped he would find himself than the decorum of the House required, as the mistaken.

laws were ready to take cognizance of injuries Mr. Harper was strongly opposed to the amend committed on members as well as on those who ment. He was sorry to see gentlemen determined are not members. He quoted the Constitution to to support the member from Vermont, at all show that this was the intention of it. Indeed, events, rather than lose a vote on favorite political he did not believe any gentleman on that floor questions. The reprimand proposed, he was confi- would say he wanted protection; they could gendent, would have no effect upon them; besides, iterally, protect themselves; and if not, the law was a punishment of the lightest kind which the would protect them as it protected others. But it House could inflict, and by no means proportioned was said offences which had a tendency to disturb to the highest possible outrage. He corresponded their proceedings ought to be punished. This he in sentiment with the gentleman from New Jersey allowed, but he would punish them in a less dewith respect to this amendment, and if it were gree. Mr. G. referred to the case which has alapproved by a majority, he should feel ashamed ready been mentioned of a challenge sent by a and degraded at belonging to that House. If this member of the Senate to a member of that House. were the case, every man who had any regard for That business, he said, was referred to a commithis character, would make his escape from the tee, but the parties having written letters of apolpolluted habitation, as such a vote would attach ogy, exactly in tenor with that of Mr. Lyon. they disgrace and infamy to the House, because it was

were deemed sufficient, yet the letter of Mr. LYON an old and true adage, “ He who does not repel did not think that a vote of censure and a repri

is spoken of as aggravating his crime. Mr. G. vile acts, participates in their ipsamy." Mr. Surgreaves said, if this amendment pre- It was said no act of offence had ever been com

mand by the Speaker was a slight punishment. vailed, (and he trusted it would not.) it could only mitted like this, nor did he think any punishment be upon one or two considerations; both of which had ever been inflicted by this Government so had been suggested in the course of the debate, viz: the supposed want of power in the House to

severe as a vote of censure by the House. Be

cause the member from Vermont had not receive expel a member for an offence of this kind, or ed so polite an education as other gentlemen, it that the punishment is not proper for the offence. was supposed this punishment would not greatly

Mr. S. went into a variety of arguments to affect him; but he supposed he was not wholly prove that both these objections were ill-founded; dead to every feeling, and unless he was composed examined the different theories which had been of different materials from other men, such a punlaid down as applicable to the power of expulsion ishment must be considered as a very serious one. given by the Constitution, endeavored to prove He should, therefore, vote for the amendment. that the offence under consideration was of the Mr. G. added that what Mr. Lyon had said rehighest magnitude, and that, therefore, it ought to specting the Representatives of Connecticut was be punished with the highest punishment which spoken as if it made part of the charge against the House has the power of inflicting-which is him; as this was not the case, he thought any obexpulsion. A mere reprimand, he said, was by servations on that head would be better omitted. no means a proper punishment; it was applied to Mr. Dana condemned the wish that had been offences of the lowest kind merely. These being expressed for passing a silent vote upon this subhis views on the subject, he should vote against ject, and particularly the conduct of the gentlethe amendment; and if it were to prevail, he man from Maryland (Mr. S. Smith) for having, would also vote against the resolution itself; for, expressed such a wish. He said it appeared as if so far from such a measure securing them from gentlemen had determined to vote against the exfuture injuries, it would only encourage them. pulsion of the member from Vermont, and were He would, therefore, have nothing to do with it, afraid of hearing anything which might convince but leave every gentleman to protect his own hon-them that they had done wrong in so determining; or. It will then be necessary for them not only or were the gentleman fronı Virginia and others, to bring learning and information to Congress, who were so ready to speak to the public on other but also a sufficient degree of strength and cou- occasions, afraid to do so on this, from a convicrage, or if deficient in strength, arms for their de- tion of the weakness of their cause? Mr. D. took fence. With respect to the length of this discus- notice of the cases stated by the gentleman from sion, it was wholly owing to that part of the Pennsylvania, lo whose manners he paid a comHouse who declined to act upon the business im- pliment at the expense of his logic, and spoke of mediately, but who chose to have the subject re- the necessity of preserving decency and dignity ferred to a committee, and afterwards to have the of manners in all public bodies. The member evidence before a Committee of the Whole, and from Vermont had indeed been very free in his not to those who have always been ready to adopt remarks upon Connecticut; but to have merited the most prompt measures.

the hatred of the gentleman from Vermont was


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