« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
The present House contained but one hundred and ten Democrats, while the remaining one hundred and eighteen, with the exception of a single Native American from Philadelphia, were nearly all Whigs, the balance being "Free-Soil men," who mostly co-operated with them. Of these, only Messrs. Giddings, Tuck and Palfrey refused to vote for the Hon. Robert C. Winthrop for Speaker, who was elected on the third ballot.
Among the members of the House, on the Whig side, were John Quincy Adams (who died during the first session, and was succeeded by Horace Mann), and George Ashman, of Massachusetts; Washington Hunt, of New York; Jacob Collamer and George P. Marsh, of Vermont; Truman Smith, of Connecti cut; Joseph R. Ingersoll and James Pollock, of Pennsylvania; John M. Botts and William L. Goggin, of Virginia; Alexander H. Stephens, Robert Toombs and Thomas Butler King, of Georgia; Henry W. Hilliard, of Alabama; Samuel F. Vinton and Robert C. Schenck, of Ohio; John B. Thompson and Charles S. Morehead, of Kentucky; Caleb B. Smith and Richard W. Thompson, of Indiana, and Meredith P. Gentry, of Tennessee. On the Democratic side, there were David Wilmot, of Pennsylvania; Robert M. McLane, of Maryland; James McDowell and Richard K. Meade, of Virginia; R. Barnwell Rhett, of South Carolina; Howell Cobb, of Georgia; Albert G. Brown and Jacob Thompson, of Mississippi; Linn Boyd, of Kentucky; Andrew Johnson, George W. Jones and Frederick P. Stanton, of Tennessee; James S. Greene and John S. Phelps, of Missouri; and Kinsley S. Bingham, of Michigan. Illinois had seven representatives, of whom Mr. Lincoln was the only Whig. His Democratic colleagues were John A. McClernand, Orlando B. Ficklin, William A. Richardson, Robert Smith, Thomas J. Turner and John Wentworth.
At this session, Stephen A. Douglas took his seat in the Senate, for the first time, having been elected the previous winter. In that body there were but twenty-two Opposition Senators, against thirty-six Democrats. Among the former were Daniel Webster, Wm. L. Dayton, S. S. Phelps, John M. Clayton, Reverdy Johnson, Thomas Corwin, John M. Berrien, and John Bell. On the Democratic side were John C. Cal
houn, Thomas II. Benton, Daniel S. Dickinson, Simon Cameron, Hannibal Hamlin, Sam Houston, R. M. T. Hunter, and William R. King.
Mr. Lincoln was comparatively quite a young man when he entered the House, yet he was early recognized as one of the foremost of the Western men on the floor. His Congressional record, throughout, is that of a Whig of those days, his votes on all leading national subjects, being invariably what those of Clay, Webster or Corwin would have been, had they occupied his place. One of the most prominent subjects of consideration before the Thirtieth Congress, very naturally, was the then existing war with Mexico. Mr. Lincoln was one of those who believed the Administration had not properly managed its affairs with Mexico at the outset, and who, while voting supplies and for suitably rewarding our gallant soldiers in that war, were unwilling to be forced, by any trick of the supporters of the Administration, into an unqualified indorsement of its course in this affair, from beginning to end. In this attitude, Mr. Lincoln did not stand alone. Such was the position of Whig members in both Houses, without exception. Yet hist course was unscrupulously misrepresented, during the campaign of 1858, as it has been more or less, on other occasions since. That many men who supported Mr. Lincoln, approved President Polk's course in regard to the Mexican War, as well in its inception as in its management from first to last, is not improbable. But all those who, at that time, were induced by their party relations, to sustain the Administration, at heart approved the method in which hostilities were precipitated, or felt satisfied that the most commendable motives actuated the Government in its course toward Mexico, is certainly not true. This is not an issue that any existing party need be anxious to resuscitate. Still less would the friends of Mr. Lincoln be reluctant to have his record on this question scrutinized to the fullest extent.
Early in the session, after listening to a long homily on the subject from the President, in his annual message, in which the gauntlet was defiantly thrown down before the Opposition members, and after his colleague, Mr. Richardson, had pro
posed an unqualified indorsement of the President's views, Mr. Lincoln (December 22, 1847) introduced a series of resolutions of inquiry in regard to the origin of the war. They affirmed nothing, but called for definite official information, such as, if conclusively furnished in detail, and found to accord with the general asservations of Mr. Polk's messages, would have set him and his administration entirely right before the country. Either such information was accessible, or the repeated statements of the President on this subject were groundless, and his allegations mere pretenses. If the Democratic party was in the right, it had not the least occasion to complain of this procedure, if pressed to a vote. Mr. Lincoln's preamble and resolutions (copied from the Congressional Globe, first session, thirtieth Congress, page 64) were in the following words:
WHEREAS, The President of the United States, in his message of May 11, 1846, has declared that "the Mexican Government not only refused to receive him (the envoy of the United States), or listen to his propositions, but, after a longcontinued series of menaces, has at last invaded our territory, and shed the blood of our fellow-citizens on our own soil :"
And again, in his message of December 8, 1846, that "We had ample cause of war against Mexico long before the breaking out of hostilities; but even then we forbore to take redress into our own hands until Mexico herself became the aggressor, by invading our soil in hostile array, and shedding the blood of our citizens:"
And yet again, in his message of December 7, 1847, that "The Mexican Government refused even to hear the terms of adjustment which he (our minister of peace) was authorized to propose, and finally, under wholly unjustifiable pretexts, involved the two countries in war, by invading the territory of the State of Texas, striking the first blow, and shedding the blood of our citizens on our own soil:" and,
WHEREAS, This House is desirous to obtain a full knowledge of all the facts which go to establish whether the particular spot on which the blood of our citizens was so shed was or was not at that time "our own soil:" therefore,
Resolved, by the House of Representatives, That the President. of the United States be respectfully requested to inform this House
1st. Whether the spot on which the blood of our citizens