United States. Congress.

Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives online

. (page 73 of 199)
Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 73 of 199)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

gan, Loyall, Lucas, Lyon, A. Mann, J. Mann, Martin,
W. Mason, M. Mason, S. Mason, Maury, McComas'
McKay, McKeon, McLene, Mercer, Miller, Mont-
gomery, Moore, Morgan, Muhlenberg, Owens, Page,
Parks', Patterson, Patton, F. Pierce, James A
Pearce, Pearson, Pettigrew, Peyton, Phelps, Pmck-
ney, Bencher, Joseph Reynolds, Eichardson, Robert-
son, Eogers, Schenck, W. B. Sheppard, A. H. Shep-
perd, Shields, Shinn, Sickles, Spangler, Standefer,
Taliaferro, Taylor, Thomas, J. Thomson, W. Thomp-
son, Turrill, Underwood, Vanderpoel, Wagener,
Ward, Webster, Weeks, White, E. Whittlesey, T. T.
Whittlesey, L. Williams, S. Williams, Yell, Young—

Nats. — Messrs. Adams, Heman Allen, Beaumont,
Borden, Darlington, Denny, Haley, Hazeltine, Inger-
soU, W. Jackson, Janes, Love, Parker, Phillips, Potts,
Russell, Slade, Sloane — 18.

So the second resolution was adopted.

[When the name of Mr. Wise was called,
that gentleman rose in his place and declined
to vote, for the reason that he held that Con-
gress had no power to interfere, in any way,
with the subject of slavery.]

Case ofR. M. Whitney.

The Speaker informed the House that the
Sergeant-at-arms, in obedience to the order of
the House and the warrant of the Speaker, had
arrested Eeuben M. Whitney, who was then in
custody, and waiting the order of the House.

Mr. Oalhoon, of Kentucky, submitted the
following resolution; which was considered
and adopted :

Resolved, That R. M. Whitney, now in the hands
of the Sergeant-at-arms, be brought to the bar of this
House, to answer for an alleged contempt of the
House, in peremptorily refusing to appear and give
evidence as a witness on a summons duly issued by a
select committee, acting by the authority of this
House, under a resolution of the 17th of January
last, in the matter of a letter, expressing said refusal,
addressed by the said R. M. Whitney to the com-
mittee, and by the committee referred to the House;
and that he be forthwith furnished with a copy of
the report of said committee and of the letter afore-

The House then adiourned.

Monday, February 13.
Case ofB. M. Whitney.

The Speakee announced that Reuben M.
Whitney, now in custody for an alleged con-
tempt of the authority of the House, was with-
out the bar, waiting the further pleasure of the

The Chair also stated that the accused had
been furnished with copies of the papers refer-
red to in the resolution adopted on Saturday

Mr. Patton moved that the Sergeant-at-arms



Febedaky, 1837.]

Case ofR. M. Whitney.

[H. OF R.

be directed to bring the prisoner to the bar of
the House ; which motion prevailed.

The accused having been placed at the bar,
the Speakek addressed him as follows :

" Keuben M. Whitney : You have been
brought before the House, by its order, to an-
swer the charge of an alleged contempt of this
House, in having peremptorily refused to give
evidence in obedience to a summons duly issued
by a committee of this House, which committee
had, by an order of the House, power to send
for persons and papers.

" Before you are called upon to answer in
any manner to the subject-matter of this charge,
it is my duty, as the presiding officer of this
House, to inform you that, by an order of the
House, you will be allowed counsel, should you
desire it. If you have any request to make in
relation to this subject, your request will now
be received and considered by the House. If,
however, you are now ready to proceed in the
investigation of the charge, you will state it,
and the House will take order accordingly."

To which the accused replied, that he held in
his hand a paper in relation to the charge,
which he respectfully requested might be re-
ceived and read.

The following paper was then read :

" The undersigned answers that his refusal to at-
tend the committee, upon the summons of its chair-
man, was not intended or believed by him to be dis-
respectful to the honorable the House of Representa-
tives, nor does he now believe that he thereby com-
mitted a contempt of the House.

" His reason for refusing to attend the committee
are truly stated in his letter to that committee.

"He did not consider himself bound to obey a sum-
mons issued by the chairman of the committee.

" He had attended, in obedience to such a sum-
mons, before another committee, voluntarily, and
without objections to the validity of the process ; and
would have attended in the same way before the
present committee, but for the belief that he might
thereby be exposed to insult and violence.

"Ho denies, therefore, that he has committed a
contempt of the House, because —

" First. The process upon him was illegal, and he
was not bound to obey it. And

" Secondly. Because he could not attend with-
out exposing himself thereby to outrage and vio-

"If the House shall decide in favor of the author-
ity of the process, and that the respondent is bound
to obey it, then he respectfully asks, in such case,
that, in consideration of the peculiar circumstances
in which he is placed, as known to the House, the
committee may be instructed to receive his testimony
upon interrogatories to be answered on oath before a
magistrate, as has been done in other instances in
relation to other witnesses ; or that the committee be
instructed to prohibit the use or introduction of
secret and deadly weapons in the committee room
during the examination of the witnesses.

" And in case he shall think it necessary, he prays
to be heard by counsel, and to be allowed to offer
testimony on the matters herein submitted.


Mr. Gholson offered the following resolu-

Resolved, That Reuben M. Whitney be now per-
mitted to examine witnesses before tliis House, in re-
lation to his alleged contempt.

[A debate then took place, chiefly on points of
order and the. mode of proceeding, in which Messrs.
Haynes, Lincoln, Gholson, Mercer, Fatten, Bouldin,
McKay, Hoar, Huntsman, Mann of New York, Mason
of Ohio, Vanderpoel, Lane, Calhoon, and Bell, took

Mr. Manst, of New York, moved to amend
Mr. GnoLsoN's resolution, by adding the fol-
lowing :

" And that a committee of five be appointed by the
Speaker, to examine such witnesses on the part of
the House."

Mr. Gholson accepted the modification.

The question then recurring on the original

Mr. Paeks said that he, as well as the gen-
tleman from Indiana, was opposed to bringing
this individual before the House ; but, as he
was brought there, they owed it to the gentle-
man himself, and to the House, that he have a
hearing. The motion pending was, that a com-
mittee of five be appointed to examine witnesses
on the part of the House ; and for the pur-
pose of settling the question, and of ascertain-
ing whether they would lay it aside, or go on
with it, he moved the previous question.

Mr. Gholsok appealed to Mr. Paeks to with-
draw the motion for a moment ; which he did ;
when Mr. G. accepted of the amendment of Mr.
Chapiu; and

Mr. Parks then renewed the motion for the
previous question ; which was seconded by the
House — yeas 97, nays 33 ; and the main ques-
tion having been ordered, was put, and carried,
without a division.

So the resolution, as modified, was agreed to
by the House.

The Speaker then announced the committee ;
and Mr. Whitney was again brought in, the or-
der read to him, and he put in a list of witnesses
he requested to be summoned.

Mr. Haeeison, of Missouri, moved a recon-
sideration of the vote by which the resolution
in relation to Mr. Whitney was adopted ; but
the motion was negatived — yeas 92, nays 95.

The respondent was then removed from the
bar, and the House proceeded to the considera-
tion of other business.

Wedkesdat, February 15.
Case ofB. M. Whitney.

Mr. Whitney having been placed at the bar,
and stated his readiness to proceed at once to

The Speakee then addressed the respondent,



H. OF R.]

Case ofR. M. Whitney.

[Fkbruaey, 1837.

and informed him that, by an order of the
House, he was then permitted to examine wit-
nesses before the House, in relation to the al-
leged contempt against him, and that he could
then proceed to do so. The Speaker further in-
formed him that the witnesses he had named
had been summoned.

Mr. Key, one of the counsel of the accused,
asked that the witnesses be now sworn.

Mr. Sutherland objected to the swearing of
Mr. Lewis and Mr. Sullivan at that time, be-
cause he understood they would be brought for-
ward to testify as to the character of the accus-
ed, and that question had not yet come up.

The witnesses who were members of the
House, as before stated, were then sworn, and
the swearing of the other gentlemen deferred
for the present.

The honorable Mr. Faiefield was then call-
ed, and the following question propounded to
him by Mr. Key :

Please state all the circumstances attending
the dispute and disorder that occurred before
the select committee, whereof Mr. Garland is
chairman, on Wednesday, the 25th of January,
and state particularly all that was said and
done by, and the whole demeanor and conduct
of, E. M. Whitney, as a witness attending the
committee, and Messrs. Wise and Peyton as
members of the committee, and all that occur-
red on that occasion.

Mr. Faikfibld then sent to the Clerk's table
the following answer to the first interrogatory :

At the commencement of the affair alluded
to in the question, the different members of the
committee were situated as follows, as near as
I can recollect : Mr Whitney sat at a small ta-
ble in a corner of the room, near the fireplace ;
Mr. Peyton, Mr. Garland, Mr. Hamer, and Mr.
Gillet, sat at a long table, placed transversely
in front of the fire, Mr. Hamer at the end near-
est Mr. Whitney, Mr. Gillet at the opposite
end, and Mr. Garland and Mr. Peyton in front,
the latter nearest to Mr. Whitney, and with his
back turned, or partially so, towards him — one
proposing interrogatories, and the other an-
swering, in writing ; the questions and answers
being handed to the chairman, and by him read
to the committee. Mr. Wise, Mr. Martin, and
myself, were sitting upon a sofa at the side of
the fireplace opposite Mr. Whitney. Mr. Pierce
and Mr. Johnson were not present.

When the chairman read the answer of Mr.
Whitney to the interrogatory of Mr. Peyton,
both of which have been published, the latter
turned towards Mr. Garland, without rising
from his seat, and said, "Mr. Chairman, I wish
you to inform this witness that he is not to in-
sult me in his answers ; if he does, God damn
him, I will take his life upon the spot." He
then rose and turned towards Mr. Whitney,
and said, " I want you to understand, sir, that
I claim no protection from the constitution ;
and if you insult me, you damned dog, I will
take your life." Mr. Wise rose, and advanced
to the side of Mr. Peyton, and, addressing him-

self to Mr. Whitney, said, " Yes, this damned in-
solence is insufferable." Mr. Garland and other
members of the committee were, during this
time, endeavoring to preserve order and to
prevent an affray. Mr. Peyton turned from
Mr. Whitney, and, standing with his back to
the fire, said, by way of soliloquy, or without
addressing himself to any one in particular,
" Hitherto I have treated him with marked
respect — damn him — I have treated him just as
if he had been a gentleman ; to be thus insult-
ed by a damned thief and robber ! damn him,
he shan't do it." While uttering the last words
of this sentence, he became, apparently, more
excited, and turned towards Mr. Whitney, who
rose and said he claimed the protection of the
committee while he was before it, when Mr.
Peyton said, " God damn you, you shan't speak
— you shan't say a word while yon are in thia
room ; if yon do, I wiU put you to death," and
made towards him, at the same time putting
his hand in his bosom. Mr. Wise, who had
previously gone round the long table, and plac-
ed himself near Mr. Whitney, here interposed ;
and he, with Mr. Garland, who was standing
between Mr. Peyton and Mr. Whitney, and Mr.
Martin, who was by his side, endeavored to
calm him, and to prevent his going towards Mr.
Whitney. Mr. Wise said, "Don't, Peyton;
damn him, he is not worth your notice," or
words to that effect. Judge Martin here mov-
ed that the examination of the witness be sus-
pended. Mr. Hamer opposed it ; and, address-
ing himself to the chairman, went on to make
some remarks, but I do not distinctly recollect

Mr. Peyton then resumed his seat, but soon
turned towards Mr. Whitney, and said, " Damn
him, his eyes are on me. God damn him, he is
looking at me — he shan't do it — damn him, he
shan't look at me." Mr. Hamer made some
further remarks, when Mr. Garland suggested
that the witness should retire to another room;
which he did. Mr. Peyton then apologized to
the committee, and Mr. Hamer offered the res-
olution which has been published ; on the pas-
sage of which, Mr. Whitney was recalled, and
the resolution was communicated to him by the
chairman. Mr. Whitney said, that if he had
done any thing which the committee considered
disrespectful, he regretted it, and apologized
for it. Another interrogatory was proposed to
him, which he answered ; and then the commit-
tee rose.

Second question by Counsel. What was Mr.
Whitney's general demeanor as a witness before
the committee ; was any indecorum or disre-
spect on his part towards the committee, or
any member of it, observed or complained of, or
in any manner censured by the committee ?

Answer. With the exception of the answer
in writing of Mr. Wliitney, which was the sub-
ject of a resolution introduced by Mr. Hamer,
and adopted by the committee, I saw nothing
of any indecorum or disrespect on his part, to
the committee, or any member of it ; nor did



Febeuaky, 1837.]

Case of R. M. Whitney.

[H. OF E.

I, at any time, except as above, and prior to
the affair alluded to, hear any complaint on the
part of any member of the committee.

Third question by Counsel. Please state
whether the conduct of Mi\ "Whitney, through-
out the whole of the unhappy scene in question,
was or was not cool, collected, and forbearing ;
whether he did or did not manifest, by deed,
word, or gesture, or by what word, deed, or
gesture, any disposition to assault Mr. Peyton.
Please describe such circumstances of his pos-
ture and manner as may go to show whether
he meditated assault, or stood on the defensive

Answer to the third interrogatory. So far
as I saw or heard, upon the occasion alluded
to, the conduct of Mr. Whitney was cool, col-
lected, and forbearing. I heard him say noth-
ing but what I have stated in my answer to the
first interrogatory. In regard to the extent of
what I saw, it is proper to add that, during
nearly the whole time, several gentlemen were
standing or moving between myself and Mr.
AYhitney. My attention, also, was principally
confined to Mr. Peyton. I cannot say that Mr.
"Whitney did not assume any attitude of assault
towards Mr. Peyton ; but I can say that, if he
did, I did not see it.

rirst question by Mr. 0ALH00^^, of Kentucky.
Did or did not Mr. "Wise endeavor to prevent
any collision between Mr. Peyton and E. M.
"Whitney, by stepping in between them, and
laying his hands upon Mr. Peyton, and pushing
him back from his position ?

Answer. Mr. "Wise did interfere, as I have
stated in my first answer ; he laid his hand up-
on Mr. Peyton's breast, and endeavored to pre-
vent any collision between him and Mr. "Whit-
ney. I do not, however, recollect that he
pushed him back.

Second question by Mr. Oalhoon, of Ken-
tucky. Did or did not Mr. "Wise privately re-
quest the members of the committee not to rise
until after a sufficient time was allowed after
the examination of E. M. "Whitney was closed
to enable him ("Whitney) to withdraw from the
committee room, so as to prevent the witness
and Mr. Peyton being thrown together, with-
out the presence of the committee to restrain
them? And did not Mr. Wise, at the same
time, declare that his object was to prevent
collision between the parties ?

Answer. I answer affirmatively to the whole

Third question by Mr. Calhoon, of Kentucky.
Did Mr. Wise do more than denounce the inso-
lence of E. M. Whitney to the committee?
And, in attempting to pacify Mr. Peyton, did
he do more than to say to him that E. M. "Whit-
ney was not worth his notice ?

Answer. Mr. Wise did no more than what
I have described in my first answer. His object
in going round the long table, and taking his
stand near Mr. Whitney, I only know from his
(Mr. Wise's) statement made in this House. I

did not, at the time, regard it as assuming an
attitude of attack upon Mr. Whitney.

Fourth question by Mr. Oalhoon, of Kentucky.

Did or did not Mr. Wise and Mr. Peyton
treat E. M. Whitney with perfect respect in
his examination before the committee, both be-
fore and after the difficulty beween him and
Mr. Peyton had occurred ? And did not his ex-
amination occupy much more time ; and were
not most of the questions propounded by Mr.
Peyton after the difficulty occurred ?

Answer. I answer affirmatively to the whole
question, except as to the order of time in
which the questions were proposed to Mr.
Whitney. In regard to that I do not recollect

Fifth question by Mr. OALnoou, of Kentucky.
Had you or had you not seen Mr. Whitney's
card in the Globe of the 5th of January last,
wMlh is as follows :

" A Cabd. — During the last session of Congress, it
became necessary for me to expose H. A. "Wise of
having stated, in the hall of the House, a base false-
hood in relation to myself.

" In the Globe of this morning it is reported that
Balie Peyton, the Siamese companion of Wise, for
twelve months past, in uttering falsehood and slan-
der, said that, ' in consequence of the character of
the agent alluded to, Mr. Taney, the former Secre-
tary of the Treasury, would not recommend him as
an agent of the deposit banks.' No one can mis-
take that it is myself alluded to by Mr. P.

" I challenge Mr. Peyton to adduce a single particle
of proof to sustain the above assertion ; and, for
having made it without proof, I pronounce him a
calumniator, and guilty of uttering a base falsehood ;
this, too, like Wise, while shielded by his constitu-
tional privilege.

" If any one who does not know me wishes to
ascertain my character, I refer them to citizens of
those places in which I have passed many years of
my life.


" Wednesday, ith January, IBS'?."

And do you not know or believe that Mr,
Peyton had seen said card, or was informed of
its contents ? And did not the answer to the
question which preceded the difficulty involve
the truth of the charges which the card of Mr.
Whitney pronounced to be false, and for the
uttering of which he pronounced Mr. Peyton a
calumniator ?

Answer. I had seen the card of Mr. "Whit-
ney, alluded to, and believe, from a remark 1
heard Mr. Peyton make in the committee room,
that he also had seen it. The question referred
to, as proposed by Mr. Peyton, I did regard as
involving the truth of the charges which called
out the card of Mr. Whitney.

First question by Mr. Ingeesoll. What lan-
guage did E. M. "Whitney use immediately be-
fore the interposition of Mr. Peyton ?

Answer. I do not know that Mr. Peyton in-
terposed at all, as I understand that word. I



H. OF E.]

Case of R. M. Whitney.

[Febbdary, 1837.

cannot, therefore, answer the question as to the
language used by Mr. Whitney.

Second question by Mr. Ingeesoll. What
language did K. M. Whitney use immediately
before the witness says " Mr. Peyton rose and
addressed the chairman ? "

Answer. If the question refers to what was
said, my answer is, that Mr. Whitney said
nothing that I recollect. If it refers to the
written answer of Mr. Whitney, I cannot an-
swer it without referring to the journal of the
committee. It has, however, been correctly

Question by Mr. Bell. When Mr. Peyton
was called to order by the chairman of tlie
committee for the first remark made by him in
reference to Mr. Whitney, did he not take his
seat, and continue sitting until Mr. Whitney
rose and commenced speaking ?

Answer. I recollect that Mr. Peyton %ok
his seat, but cannot say whether it was when
called to order by the chairman. I do not re-
collect of Mr. Whitney's rising but once prior
to his withdrawing ; and that, according to my
present recollection, was before the time alluded
to in this question.

First question by Committee. Was or was
not the deportment of Mr. Peyton that of a
man who did not intend to make an attack, but
desired to deter another, and make him desist
from insulting remarks and conduct ?

Answer. Mr. Peyton, as I have before stat-
ed, treated Mr. Whitney with respect prior to
the time of this difficulty. After the answer
of Mr. Whitney was read by the chairman, Mr.
Peyton was very much excited, and at one time,
certainly, appeared to be disposed to punish Mr.
Whitney for his alleged insult.

Second question by Committee. What was
the question put to Mr. Whitney, and his an-
swer thereto, to which you refer in your an-
swer to the first interrogatory ; and what was
the vote of the committee, also referred to by
you in your answer to the same interrogatory ;
and will you now set them forth, to be received
in connection with, and as part of, your answer
to said Interrogatory ?

[Time given to witness to answer the forego-
ing second question of Committee.]

Second question of Mr. Bell. When Mr.
Peyton rose the second time, did he advance
across a line drawn from his chair towards the
fireplace, cutting him off from Eeuben M. Whit-
ney ? Could you, at the instant of time when
Mr. Peyton put his hand to his bosom, see the
right hand of Mr. Whitney? If yes, was it not
thrust into his pocket, with his left foot ad-
vanced ?

Answer. I do not recollect when Mr. Pey-
ton rose the second time,, but think it was not
until Mr. Whitney retired, or about that time.
When Mr. Peyton put his hand to his bosom,
he had Just turned from a standing posture, as
I have described in my answer to the first in-
terrogatory I doubt whether at that time I
could see Mr. Whitney's right hand ; but if I

could, I do not recollect of seeing it in the po-
sition described by the question. My answer
is the same with regard to Mr. Whitney's left

Third question of Mr. Bell. Did you occu-
py a position which enabled you to see the of-
fensive look or scowl of the witness, E. M.
Whitney, which he cast upon Mr. Peyton, if
any, at the time of handing his answer to the
chairman ?

Answer. At the time the answer of Mr.
Whitney was handed to the chairman, I sat
nearly opposite Mr. Whitney, with nothing in-
terposing. My attention, however, was fasten-
ed almost entirely upon Mr. Peyton.

Fourth question of Mr. Bell. Did not Mr.
Peyton complain that the witness, R. M. Whit-
ney, had insulted him by his look at the time ?
Answer. I do not recollect that he did.
Fifth question of Mr. Bell. If it had been
Mr. Peyton's intention to draw a weapon upon
Mr. Whitney, had he not ample time to do
Answer. He had.

Sixth question of Mr. Bell. What number
of interrogatories were propounded by Mr.
Peyton to the witness, E. M. Whitney ? How
many before, and how many after, the question
and answer which gave rise to the altercation
alluded to ? Did you apprehend danger of in-
sult or personal violence to said witness, when
he reappeared before the said committee, on
the part of either Mr. Wise or Mr. Peyton?
State whether they, and each of them, did not
treat him with the courtesy due a witness, as
well after as before that occurrence.

Answer. That part of the question relating
to the number of interrogatoric!, and the time
when they were proposed, I will answer after I
have had an opportunity to refer to the journal
of the committee. I did not apprehend insult
or personal violence to Mr. Whitney, on the
part of Mr. Peyton or Mr. Wise, when the for-
mer reappeared in the committee room. Mr.
Peyton's excitement had then subsided. I have
already stated that, prior and subsequent to
this occurrence, Mr. Wise and Mr. Peyton
treated Mr. Whitney respectfully in the com-
mittee room.

Seventh question of Mr. Bell. Was there
not a rule of the committee that all questions
should be reduced to writing, and propounded

Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 73 of 199)