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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 indulgence, 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 tranquil. lity, provide for the common defence, promote the general wel. fare, 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.
Ν Ο Τ Ε.
The following correspondence belongs to the history of the election of Speaker, at the opening of the 30th Congress.
56 COLEMAN'S, WASHINGTON,
December 5, 1847. DEAR SIR: It would give me pleasure to aid, by my vote, in placing you in the Chair of the House of Representatives. But I have no personal hopes or fears to dictate my course in the matter, and the great consideration for me must be that of the policy which the Speaker will impress on the action of the House.
Not to trouble you with suggestions as to subordinate points, there are some leading questions on which it may be presumed that you have a settled purpose. May I respectfully inquire, whether, if elected Speaker, it is your intention,
So to constitute the Committees of Foreign Relations and of Ways and Means as to arrest the existing war ?
So to constitute the Committee on the Judiciary, as to favor the repeal of the law of February 12, 1793, which denies trial by jury to persons charged with being slaves; to give a fair and favorable consideration to the question of the repeal of those Acts of Congress which now sustain slavery in this District; and to further such measures as may be in the power of Congress to remedy the grievances of which Massachusetts complains at the hands of South Carolina, in respect to ill-treatment of her citizens ?
I should feel much obliged to you for a reply at your early convenience, and I should be happy to be permitted to communicate it, or its substance, to some gentlemen who entertain similar views to mine, on this class of questions. I am, dear Sir, with great personal esteem, your friend and servant,
JOHN G. PALFREY.
WASHINGTON, COLEMAN'S HOTEL,
December 5, 1847.
I am greatly obliged by the disposition you express to aid in placing me in the Chair of the House of Representatives.” But I must be perfectly candid in
saying to you, that if I am to occupy that Chair, I must go into it without pledges of any sort.
I have not sought the place. I have solicited no man's vote. At a meeting of the Whig members of the House last evening, (at which, however, I believe you were not present,) I was formally nominated as the Whig candidate for Speaker, and I have accepted the nomination.
But I have uniformly said to all who have inquired of me, that my policy in organizing the House must be sought for in my general conduct and character as a public man.
I have been for seven years a member of Congress from our common State of Massachusetts. My votes are on record. My speeches are in print. If they have not been such as to inspire confidence in my course, nothing that I could get up for the occasion, in the shape of pledges or declarations of purpose, ought to do so.
Still less could I feel it consistent with my own honor, after having received and accepted a general nomination, and just on the eve of the election, to frame answers to specific questions, like those which you have proposed, to be shown to a few gentlemen, as you suggest, and to be withheld from the great body of the Whigs.
Deeply, therefore, as I should regret to lose the distinction which the Whigs in Congress have offered to me, and through me to New England, for want of the aid of a Massachusetts vote, I must yet respectfully decline any more direct reply to the interrogatories which your letter contains. I remain, with every sentiment of personal esteem,
Your friend and servant,
ROBERT C. WINTHROP. Hon. J. G. Palfrey, 8c.,8c.
THE DEATH OF JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.
ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE DEATH OF EX-PRESIDENT ADAMS TO THE HOUSE
OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES, FEBRUARY 24, 1848
GENTLEMEN OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES, —
It has been thought fit that the Chair should announce officially to the House, an event already known to the members individually, and which has filled all our hearts with sadness.
A seat on this floor has been vacated, towards which all eyes have been accustomed to turn with no common interest.
A voice has been hushed forever in this Hall, to which all ears have been wont to listen with profound reverence.
A venerable form has faded from our sight, around which we have daily clustered with an affectionate regard.
A name has been stricken from the roll of the living statesmen of our land, which has been associated, for more than half a century, with the highest civil service, and the loftiest civil re
On Monday, the 21st instant, John Quincy Adams sunk in his seat, in presence of us all, owing to a sudden illness, from which he never recovered ; and he died, in the Speaker's room, at a quarter past seven o'clock last evening, with the officers of the House and the delegation of his own Massachusetts around him.
Whatever advanced age, long experience, great ability, vast learning, accumulated public honors, a spotless private character, and a firm religious faith, could do, to render any one an object of interest, respect, and admiration, they had done for this distinguished person; and interest, respect, and admiration