Perley's Reminiscences of Sixty Years in the National Metropolis - Vol. 1

By Ben: Perley Poore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVIII.
THE GREAT COMPROMISE DEBATE.

STORMY SCENES AT THE CAPITOL--CRIMINATION AND RECRIMINATION--
TAYLOR'S ONLY MESSAGE--RETURN OF MR. CLAY TO THE SENATE--
THE GREAT COMPROMISE DEBATE--WEBSTER'S SEVENTH OF MARCH
SPEECH--THE LAST DAYS OF CALHOUN--JEFFERSON DAVIS' LEADER-
SHIP--JOHN P. HALE, ON NEW HAMPSHIRE.

THE Thirty-first Congress, which met on the first Monday in the December following the inauguration of President Taylor, contained many able statesmen of national prominence. The organization of the House was a difficult task, nine "free-soil" or anti-slavery Whigs from the North, and six "Staterights" or pro-slavery Whigs from the South, refusing to vote for that accomplished gentleman, Mr. Robert C. Winthrop, who was the Whig candidate for Speaker. On the first ballot, Howell Cobb, of Georgia, had one hundred and three votes, against ninety-six votes for Robert C. Winthrop, eight votes for David Wilmot, six votes for Meredith P. Gentry, two votes for Horace Mann, and a number of scattering votes. The tellers announced that there was no choice, and the balloting was continued day after day, amid great and increasing excitement. After the thirty-ninth ballot, Mr. Winthrop withdrew from the contest, expressing his belief that the peace and safety of the Union demanded that an organization of some sort should be effected without delay.

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