Harper's Weekly 01/02/1864


CONGRESS.

Senate.—December 16. By Mr. Wade, memorials from
ladies for law emancipating all persons of African descent.
—By Mr. Saulsbury, memorial from clergyman asking to
be exempted from draft; the Senator said that clergymen
who attend to their spiritual duties should be exempt, but
that political parsons should be placed in the front ranks
and made to fight till the war was over.—By Mr. Wilson,
memorial from officers of colored regiments, asking for the
same pay and bounty as given to other troops.—Mr. Wil-
son reported back joint resolution of thanks to General
Grant and his army, recommending its adoption: adopt-
ed.—By Mr. Lane of Kansas, resolution of inquiry relative
to treatment of our Kansas prisoners; he said that there had
been seen seven Kansas prisoners in irons, among others
not ironed, and that it was averred they were to be put to
death: adopted.—By Mr. Hale, bill amending enrollment
act.—Mr. Wilson reported back, with amendments, bill re-
specting back pay and bounty.—By Mr. Sumner, bill to
satisfy claims of American citizens by reason of French
spoliations.—December 17. Mr. Hale rose to a question
of order. It had been charged that he had been guilty of
bribery in accepting fees for defending prisoners charged
by the War Department with offenses. The Senator ex-
plained the transactions. He had acted as friend and
counsel of Dr. Bliss, Superintendent of the Armory Square
Hospital. The result of the trial was that the accused was
acquitted, and recommended to be restored to his place.
Subsequently he was requested to act as counsel for Mr.
Hunt, with an offer of $2000 as a retaining fee; after con-
sultation with his friends, among whom was Senator John-
son, of Maryland, Mr. Hale accepted the work, and re-
ceived $1000. He asked for a Committee to inquire
whether he had been guilty of conduct inconsistent with
his duty as a Senator: agreed to.—By Mr. Wade, that the
Secretary of the Navy furnish the dispatches connected
with the various actions of our iron-clad vessels, and other
matters pertaining thereto: agreed to.—A Message was
received from the President, inclosing a letter from a Com-
mittee representing the Freedman's Aid Societies of Bos-
ton, New York, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. The Pres-
ident submitted the matter to Congress, with an urgent
recommendation that it should receive the most careful at-
tention.—December 18. Mr. Grimes wished to be ac-
cused from service on the Committee on Naval Affairs; he
was on two other Committees. Mr. Hale, the Chairman
of the Committee, said that the services of Mr. Grimes
would be very important, and the matter was laid over.—
Memorials were presented desiring the prohibition of
slavery in the States and Territories. The Committee
on Military Affairs reported back the Bounty law, with
amendments; other amendments were proposed, which
were ordered to be printed.—A resolution, offered by Mr.
Sumner, that to the rules of the Senate should be added
that every Senator should, before entering upon his duties,
take in open Senate the oath prescribed by the Act of
July 2, 1862, came up for consideration. Mr. Saulsbury,
of Maryland, said that his colleague, Mr. Bayard, was the
only Senator affected by the resolution; there was nothing
in the oath itself which he or his colleague could not take,
but the constitutionality of requiring it was doubtful. A
long debate ensued, in the course of which Mr. Bayard
said that he could not without a decision of the Senate vol-
untarily take the oath, though there was nothing in it to
which he objected. His past life should be a guarantee
against any suspicion of disloyalty; but the oath referred to
civil officers, and Senators were not civil officers. Mr. Sauls-
bury moved that the question be referred to the Judiciary
Committee: this motion was lost by a vote of 26 to 15.—
The Senate went into a brief executive session, and then
adjourned to Monday, December 21.—December 21. Va-
rious petitions were presented, among which were, that
ministers of the Gospel should be considered non-combat-
ants, that slavery should be wholly abolished; that to-
bacco rations should be furnished to the army.—Mr. Wil-
son gave notice of a bill making it illegal for members of
Congress to serve as counsel in any case in which the
United States is interested.—Mr. Morgan submitted reso-
lution calling for names of officers and soldiers who have
resigned or deserted: adopted.—Mr. Sumner's oath reso-
lution was further discussed.—The bounty and pay bill
then came up, and several amendments were proposed
and rejected, the main point being as to the payment of
large bounties. Mr. Fessenden opposed this, and said the
true principle was that no man had a right to refuse his
services when called for; the Government could enforce
the demand, and should do so. Mr. Wilson was in favor
of bounties and the commutation clause. Mr. Lane of In-
diana said our armies could not be filled from conscripts
alone; 3,000,000 were subject to draft, of whom, under
this law, only 426,000 could be brought into the field, of
whom 20,000 or 30,000 would be deserters.


House.—December 16. The Speaker announced Select
Committees, of which the following are Chairmen: Pacific
Railroad, Stevens; Emigration, Washburne of Illinois;
Rebellious States, Davis of Maryland.—By Mr. Grinnell,
resolution that Confederate prisoners have been treated
with humane consideration, while our prisoners at Rich-
mond are suffering unto death for food and clothing, and
that the enemy had refused to continue to receive food
and clothing forwarded to our prisoners; and that this
conduct is at war with the sentiment of the age, and de-
serves execration: adopted.—By Mr. Wilson, that the
Committee on Roads and Canals inquire into the expedi-
ency of constructing a canal around the rapids of the Mis-
sissippi, commencing at Keokuk, Iowa: adopted.—By Mr.
Cole, that the Committee on Military Affairs inquire into
the expediency of increasing the rank of provost marshals:
adopted.—By Mr. Sloan, that the Committee on Roads
and Canals inquire into the expediency of a through line
of railway from New York to Washington: laid on the ta-
ble.—By Mr. Cole, resolutions of California Legislature
urging a reduction of the tax on wine.—By Mr. Spaulding,
bill to construe the word volunteer in Enrollment Act to
include sailors as well as soldiers: referred to committee.
—By Mr. Kenney, delegate from Utah, that Government
needs all its soldiers; that there are companies now in
Utah, removed from usefulness; and that the Committee
on Military Affairs inquire into the reasons for stationing
a standing army among that peaceful and loyal people:
rejected.—By Mr. Rollins, resolution in favor of a hearty
support of such measures for overcoming the rebellion as
will not subvert the Constitution; that the present war
has been forced upon the country; that Congress will ban-
ish all feelings of resentment, and recollect only its duty
to the whole country; that the war is not waged for sub-
jugation, or to interfere with the constitutions of the
States, but to maintain the Constitution and the dignity
and equality of the States; and that when these objects
are attained the war should cease: the motion to lay this
resolution on the table was negatived by 115 to 52; debate
arising, it was laid over.—By Mr. Loan, resolution declar-
ing that the act suspending the writ of habeas corpus does
not apply to cases arising in consequence of the action of
any State Government to compel military service: re-
ferred.—By Mr. Kasson, that the Committee on Military
Affairs inquire into the treatment by the enemy of our
dead, wounded, and prisoners: adopted.—By Mr. Long-
year, that the Committee on Military Affairs inquire into
the expediency of amending the Enrolling Act, so that the
right of aged and infirm parents to select one son for en-
rollment shall rest on the fact that the parents are de-
pendent for support on the labor of their sons.—By Mr.
M'Clung, to provide for the deficiency in the pay of troops
in the Western Department of Missouri.—By Mr. Kasson,
resolution that the Committee on Claims inquire into the
delays in the payment of disabled and deceased soldiers.
December 17. The Committee on Naval Affairs re-
ported the joint resolution of thanks to Captain John Rod-
gers, Mr. Cox moving in vain an amendment of thanks
to Admiral David D. Porter.—On motion of Mr. Wilson
of Iowa the proper Committees were instructed to inquire
into the legislation necessary to secure pensions to the
widows and children of those who die in the service: and
to enable those in the naval and military service to have
the benefit of the Homestead Law.—By Mr. Price, resolu-
tion respecting the enlargement of the northern canals,
so as to connect the navigation of the Hudson and the
Mississippi with the Great Lakes.—Mr. Rogers gave notice
of a bill to increase the pay of soldiers, and to refund to
States and municipal corporations the sums paid to volun-
teers.—Mr. Harrington presented a series of resolutions
censuring the course of the Administration in regard to
its action in suspending the writ of habeas corpus, and
instructing the Judiciary Committee to report a bill in ac-
cordance with these declarations: rejected by 89 to 67.—
On motion of Mr. Morrill, the Secretary of the Treasury
was required to furnish documents showing the operation
of the Reciprocity Treaty.—Mr. Edgerton offered resolu-
tions censuring the President's Proclamation of Amnesty,
and denouncing the invasion or occupation of any State
for the purpose of changing its laws or institutions: laid
on the table by a vote of 90 to 66.—Mr. Smith of Kentucky
offered a series of resolutions favoring a vigorous prosecu-
tion of the war, and opposing any armistice so long as
there is a rebel in arms; ignoring all party lines, and
recognizing only patriots and traitors. A motion to lay
these resolutions on the table was negatived by 100 to 60,
and they were passed by a vote of 93 to 64.—A vote then
came up on resolutions previously offered by Mr. Smith,
in the following words: “Resolved, That we hold it to be
the duty of Congress to pass all necessary bills to supply
men and money, and the duty of the people to render ev-
ery aid in their power to the constituted authorities of the
government in crushing out the rebellion
:” agreed to by
152 to 1; and “Resolved, That our thanks are tendered
to our soldiers in the field for their gallantry in defend-
ing and upholding the flag of the Union, and defending
the great principles dear to every American patriot
:”
agreed to by 160 to 1—Mr. Harris, of Maryland, being the
only member voting against these two resolutions.—The
House then adjourned to Monday, 21.—December 21.
Letter from the President respecting Freedman's Aid So-
ciety referred to Committee on Emancipation.—Message
received from the President signing resolution offering
thanks to General Grant and a gold medal, being the first
completed act of the session.—Mr. Blow, from Committee
on Ways and Means, reported bill appropriating $700,000
for paying Missouri troops; Mr. Cox opposed the consid-
eration of the bill at present; debate arising the matter
was laid over till next day. Mr. Yeaman, of Kentucky,
offered a series of resolutions to the effect that the Con-
federate conspiracy does not extinguish the rights of any
States, but that their citizens can resume their civil gov-
ernment on the only condition that their government is
republican, and that it is sufficient for those who are
loyal and qualified by the election laws of the States to
assume their State Government, and that this is suffi-
cient evidence of loyalty;referred to Committee on
Rebellious States.—Mr. Spaulding moved for Select Com-
mittee on a National Bankrupt act; motion to lay on the
table lost by 69 to 86; resolution adopted.—After some
minor business Mr. Miller offered a resolution requesting
the President to instruct those having in charge the ex-
change of prisoners to exchange white man for white man,
leaving the question of negro prisoners to be disposed of
hereafter; a motion to lay this on the table was refused,
85 to 73; when Mr. Washburne offered as a substitute a
resolution approving of the course of the Administration
in the matter of the exchange of prisoners, and recom-
mending that it be pursued, to secure a fair and just ex-
change of all our prisoners: the substitute was adopted,
85 to 63.—The bill appropriating $20,000,000 for bounties,
etc., to volunteers came up, the House being in Commit-
tee of the Whole. After some debate the bill was report-
ed. Mr. Harding offered an amendment that no part of
the money should be expended in arming or paying negro
soldiers: lost, 145 to 41; the bill was then passed without
a dissenting vote.—After some unimportant business, Mr.
Cox offered a resolution instructing the Committee on
Military Affairs to inquire into the expediency of repealing
the Enrolling Act of March 3, 1863, and in lieu of it to re-
port a bill calling forth the militia to execute the laws and
suppress insurrection, providing for the arming of the
militia, and reserving to the State the appointment of
officers and the authority for training; or, if that be not
expedient, that the Committee inquire into the expe-
diency of repealing the $300 exemption clause: debate
arising on this resolution, it was laid over.



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