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ADDRESS ON TAKING THE CHAIR AS SPEAKER.

ADDRESS DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED

STATES, DECEMBER 6, 1847.

GENTLEMEN OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES, –

I am deeply sensible of the honor which you have conferred upon me by the vote which has just been announced, and I pray leave to express my grateful acknowledgments to those who have thought me worthy of so distinguished a mark of their confidence.

When I remember by whom this chair has been filled in other years, and, still more, when I reflect on the constitutional character of the body before me, I cannot but feel that you have assigned me a position worthy of any man's ambition, and far above the rightful. reach of my own.

I approach the discharge of its duties with a profound impression at once of their dignity and of their difficulty.

Seven years of service as a member of this branch of the National Legislature have more than sufficed to teach me, that this is no place of mere formal routine or ceremonious repose. Severe labors, perplexing cares, trying responsibilities, await any one who is called to it, even under the most auspicious and favorable circumstances. How, then, can I help trembling at the task which you have imposed upon me, in the existing condition of this House and of the country?

In a time of war, in a time of high political excitement, in a time of momentous national controversy, I see before me the Representatives of the People almost equally divided, not merely as the votes of this morning have already indicated, in their preference for persons, but in opinion and in principle, on many of the most important questions on which they have assembled to deliberate.

May I not reasonably claim, in advance, from you all, something more than an ordinary measure of forbearance and indulg. ence, for whatever of inability I may manifest in meeting the exigencies and embarrassments which I cannot hope to escape ? And may I not reasonably implore, with something more than common fervency, upon your labors and upon my own, the blessing of that Almighty Power, whose recorded attribute it is that “ He maketh men to be one mind in a house ?"

Let us enter, gentlemen, upon our work of legislation with a solemn sense of our responsibility to God and to our country. However we may be divided on questions of immediate policy, we are united by the closest ties of permanent interest and permanent obligation. We are the representatives of twenty millions of people, bound together by common laws and a common liberty. A common flag floats daily over us, on which there is not one of us who would see a stain rest, and from which there is not one of us who would see a star struck. And we have a common Constitution, to which the oaths of allegiance, which it will be my first duty to administer to you, will be only, I am persuaded, the formal expression of those sentiments of devotion which are already cherished in all our hearts.

There may be differences of opinion as to the powers which this Constitution confers upon us; but the purposes for which it was created are inscribed upon its face, in language which cannot be misunderstood. It was ordained and established" to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity.”

Union, justice, domestic tranquillity, the common defence, the general welfare, and the security of liberty for us and for those who shall come after us, are thus the great objects for which we are to exercise whatever powers have been intrusted to us. And I hazard nothing in saying that there have been few periods in our national history, when the eyes of the whole people have been turned more intently and more anxiously towards the Capitol, than they are at this moment, to see what is to be done, here and now, for the vindication and promotion of these lofty ends.

Let us resolve, then, that those eyes shall at least witness on our part, duties discharged with diligence, deliberations conducted with dignity, and efforts honestly and earnestly made for the peace, prosperity, and honor of the country.

I shall esteem it the highest privilege of my public life, if I shall be permitted to contribute any thing to these results, by a faithful and impartial administration of the office which I have now accepted.

as the votes of this morning have already indicated, in their preference for persons, but in opinion and in principle, on many of the most important questions on which they have assembled to deliberate.

May I not reasonably claim, in advance, from you all, something more than an ordinary measure of forbearance and indulg. ence, for whatever of inability I may manifest in meeting the exigencies and embarrassments which I cannot hope to escape ? And may I not reasonably implore, with something more than common fervency, upon your labors and upon my own, the blessing of that Almighty Power, whose recorded attribute it is that “ He maketh men to be of one mind in a house?

Let us enter, gentlemen, upon our work of legislation with a solemn sense of our responsibility to God and to our country. However we may be divided on questions of immediate policy, we are united by the closest ties of permanent interest and permanent obligation. We are the representatives of twenty millions of people, bound together by common laws and a common liberty. A common flag floats daily over us, on which there is not one of us who would see a stain rest, and from which there is not one of us who would see a star struck. And we have a common Constitution, to which the oaths of allegiance, which it will be my first duty to administer to you, will be only, I am persuaded, the formal expression of those sentiments of devotion which are already cherished in all our hearts.

There may be differences of opinion as to the powers which this Constitution confers upon us; but the purposes for which it was created are inscribed upon its face, in language which cannot be misunderstood. It was ordained and established" to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity.”

Union, justice, domestic tranquillity, the common defence, the general welfare, and the security of liberty for us and for those who shall come after us, are thus the great objects for which we are to exercise whatever powers have been intrusted to us. And I hazard nothing in saying that there have been few periods in our national history, when the eyes of the whole people have been turned more intently and more anxiously towards the Capitol, than they are at this moment, to see what is to be done, here and now, for the vindication and promotion of these lofty ends.

Let us resolve, then, that those eyes shall at least witness on our part, duties discharged with diligence, deliberations conducted with dignity, and efforts honestly and earnestly made for the peace, prosperity, and honor of the country.

I shall esteem it the highest privilege of my public life, if I shall be permitted to contribute any thing to these results, by a faithful and impartial administration of the office which I have now accepted.

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