PERSONALITIES IN DEBATE
I HAVE been, in general, enabled to avoid angry conflicts in debate or the exchange of rough personalities. My few experiences of that kind came from attacks on Massachusetts, which I could not well avoid resenting. The only two I now think of happened in my first term. In one case, Mr. S. S. Cox of New York, who was one of the principal champions on the Democratic side of the House, a man noted for his wit, undertook to make an attack on the Massachusetts Puritans, and to revive the old slander that they had burned witches. I made some slight correction of what Mr. Cox said but he renewed the attack. I was then comparatively unknown in the House. Mr. Cox treated me with considerable contempt, and pointing to Mr. Dawes, who had charge of the bill then under discussion, but who had not given any reply to Cox's attack, said, with a contemptuous look at me: "Massachusetts does not send her Hector to the field," to which I answered that it was not necessary to send Hector to the field when the attack was led by Thersites. The retort seemed to strike the House favorably, and was printed in the papers throughout the country, and Cox let me and Massachusetts alone thereafter.
I had a like encounter with Daniel W. Voorhees of Indiana, who was a more formidable competitor. Mr. Voorhees made the same charge against the people of Massachusetts of having burned witches at the stake in the old Puritan time. It was in a debate under the five-minute rule. After reiterating the old familiar slander that the State of Massachusetts in her early history had burned witches at the stake, Mr. Voorhees added that in 1854 or 1855 the Know Nothings broke up convents, burned Catholic churches, and