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LlST OF THE SENATORS. MANE–Peleg Sprague, Ether Shepley. NEW HAMPSHIitte-Samuel Bell, isaac Hill. MASSACHUSETTS-Nathaniel Silsbee, Daniel Webster. RHODE ISLAND–Nehemiah R. Knight, "Asher Rob
bins, " E. R. Potter.
GEORGIA—John Forsyth, John P. King.
The CHAIR then stated the fact of Mr. Robn INs having been returned as elected, and his credentials read at the last session, and lest it to the Senate to determine on the course to be pursued as to the qualifying of either of those gentlemen. Mr. POINDEXTER rose and said, that it was not his intention to offer any opinion on the merits of the course which had been adopted by the State of Rhode Island, but merely to say, that it seemed to him to be a matter of course that the Senator first elected, and whose credentials were presented at the last session of the Senate, should be permitted to approach the Chair and take the oath; and that the other gentleman, who contests the election of Mr. Rob BINs, should present his credentials either to the Committee on Elections or the Committee on the Judiciary, and that the Senate should afterwards receive the report of that committee, and determine which of the gentlemen is duly, elected. But he was not prepared at this time to question the election of the gentleman whose credentials were before the Senate at the last session, until a committee of the Senate should have decided that he was not fairly elected. He was not prepared at present to offer an opinion on these points, but he thought that the Senator in his zcat suould approach and take the oath. He then moved that Mr. Robbins do take the customary oath. Mr. CLAY suggested the propriety of making the collateral motion, that the credentials of Mr. Potten be laid on the table. On motion of Mr. POINDEXTER, it was then ordered that the credentials of Mr. Potts R do lie on the table. Mr. KING thought it would be the most proper course to leave both the gentlemen where they were, until it should be determined which was entitled to the seat. He adverted to the practice of the House, in referring cases of contested elections to the Committee on Elections, whose report had sometimes the effect of ousting the sitting member. As this was a novel case, he thought it would be better that neither of the individuals should be qualified until it should be determined who was entitled to the seat. It might happen that an important question SENATE.]
Rhode Island Election.
[Dec. 2, 1833.
would be determined by a single vote; and in that case, if it should be afterwards discovered that a member was illegally admitted to a seat, the decision might be vitiated. He suggested that, for the present, the credentials of Mr. Ron BINs should also lie on the table, and that neither should be qualified. Mr. CLAY admitted the delicacy of the question now presented to the Senate, but expressed a hope that it would be examined with a becoming firmness, and a resolution to act justly. At present, Rhode Island stood in the Senate with three representatives; and he was willing to admit that, if he had the power, there was no State in the Union to which he would be more ready to allow a triple representation. But the constitution prescribed a restriction, and she could only have her two Senators. The Senator from Alabama had complained that it would be doing injustice to the State to admit her three Senators, and therefore he desired to limit her to one Senator. That would be a course in opposition to the rights of that State, and of every other State in the Union, because the State of Rhode Island had a right to her two voices on that floor, and on every question, and the Senator could not say that she should have but one. It was not only the right of Rhode Island, but of every State, to have two voices on every question which could arise; and the first act of the Senate, by which the States could be secured in this right, was the verification of those who composed that body. It was the right, and the imperative duty of the Senate, to say who were to be the Senators, and who were the individuals to be associated in the performance of the important duties which devolved upon them. It was now the time to decide (not conclusively, he admitted) which were the two members from the State of Rhode Island to be admitted to their seats. . The question would then come up, as to the ultimate right of either of the contesting members. On this ‘Tuestion he was, perhaps, as well prepared to give his opinion now as at any time, having, by examination, made himself acquainted with the whole subject. But the proper course, at this time, was to determine who should have the temporary occupation of the seat which was contested. By the laws of Rhode Island, a time had been appointed for the election of United States' senators; by the laws, that time had been fixed previous to the expiration of the term of the existing senators; by the laws, the election of Senator had taken place prior to the 4th of March last; and, in conformity to these laws, Mr. Ronnix's had been elected, his credentials were certified, presented to the Senate, recognised, and recorded. So far, therefore, everything was conducted in conformity with the constitution and the laws of Rhode Island. In the month of October last, another session of the General Assembly of the State was held, and, without waiting to see if the United States’ Sgoate y ld pronounce the election of Mr. Ronn INs valid, they pronounced it to be invalid; thus, by their own act, and without any consultation with the United States’ Senate, declaring the first election null and void, and electing another Senator, who had now presented his credentials. The gentleman first elected, and who had the prima facie right to his seat, had, in conformity to law, presented his credentials; his was the prior, and therefore the valid deed; and therefore, in compliance with every law and usage, he ought to be admitted. But he desired it to be understood that, in taking this course, he desired to do nothing which would preclude to the other gentleman the privilege of a full investigation of his right. He had used the term prima facie, and he requested the Senate to look at the credentials presented by Mr. Potten, which admitted on their face the previous election, the validity of which it disputed, on the ground of some non-conformity to forms. He had, however, risen only, without meaning to express any opinion as to the ultimate right of either of the members, to vote
for the admission to his seat of the gentleman who was first elected, and for leaving the validity of the right to be afterwards examined by a committee of the Senate. Mr. KING congratulated the Senator from Kentucky on the knowledge which he had acquired of this case. For his part, he had not made himself so well acquainted with the facts, and he was not so well prepared to argue the question, and to decide who was entitled to the seat under the constitution, laws, and usages of Rhode Island. He wished to act in such manner as would be perfectly fair and respectful to the State, and to the gentlemen claiming the seat. It was his wish that the State should be represented by the Senator she had duly elected— he would not say who that was; it might be this gentleman, or it might be the other. He thought it would be well, as it was a novel case, to refer it to a select committee; and whenever the report of that committee should be submitted, he would be prepared to say which of the gentlemen was, in his opinion, entitled to the seat. If the State was to be deprived of a Senator, it was the fault of the State herself. He was prepared to give her all she was entitled to, but no more. She was entitled to her representatives on this floor who were constitutionally elected. But who were they There was no dispute as to one of the Senators of the State. As to the other, whose credentials were presented at the last session, his claims were contested. Ilis credentials were, it was true, presented last session, in the common form, and were received without any examination, as was usual. In this way it was impossible to know the authenticity of any credentials. They were received by the Senate as a matter of course, and no one could be prepared to say whether documents presented in this manner were genuine or forged. He referred to the practice of the House of Representatives in cases of contested elections, and stated that there an individual, whose right was contested, did not take his seat until he had established it. With the gentleman first elected he had the pleasure of an intimate acquaintance, and, if his right to the seat should be declared valid, he should be glad to continue that intercourse. He was not prepared, however, at this moment, to go into an argument on the question whether, under the constitution, laws, and usages of Rhode Island, that gentleman was duly elected or not. If the gentleman from Kentucky was prepared to go into the question, he would confess that he was not ready to say who was the proper person to be qualified. He hoped there would be no precipitancy, but that the subject would be referred to a select committee for examination. Mr. CHAMBERS observed that the Senate was perhaps placed in rather a delicate situation, and should, therefore, do no act to the prejudice of those who, like himself, had not given the subject a sufficient examination to enable them to come to a correct conclusion. The remark was certainly true that the State of Rhode Island was entitled to be at once properly represented on that floor; and a case had been put by the Senator from Alabama, by which she might be prevented from having more than one voice; but this, Mr. C. said, could not be in consequence of any act of the Senate. Other cases might arise which would leave to a State but one Senator to represent her; a death or a resignation would create a vacancy which could only be filled by the constitutional mode of election; but in such cases the Senate of the United States could not in the slightest degree be culpable. Was the Senator from Alabama prepared to say that the State of Rhode Island should not be properly represented on that floor, because the question of right to one of her seats was still undecided? For his part, Mr. C. said he was not prepared to come to any such decision. If there were no parallel case precisely similar to the present, there were certainly some plain landmarks by which their course might be guided. There were analo