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issue, coupled with the brief career of the United States, it appears almost necessary that we should endeavour to comprehend the nature of that political organisation which not only founded, but has afterwards sustained, an extent of national and individual prosperity hitherto unexampled. The recognition of the “Sovereignty of the People” seems to have formed the basis of all American institutions. It would appear to have been the policy of the founders to establish an electoral power of the widest range, and in that way to uphold the self-respect as well as the authority of the citizens, by placing in their hands the selection and determination of fitness of every candidate for official appointment, whether in the township, the city, the county, the state, the federal legislature, the judges who administer the laws, or the President of the Union. The frequeney of electoral appeals appears to have a sustaining effect upon the independent character of electors. They insist upon being considered " citi28," and not subjects,” of the State; and so jeal us are they of their position that they often carry out their pride of independence into the CONcon concerns of life, to an extent that borders are rudeness, or an absolute disregard of that consideration which is due to others.
Each state is an independent republic, having a local character in its functions, and a representative character in returning its senators to the Legislature. Congress consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The Senate is composed of two members from each state, chosen as before stated by the legislatures of the several states, for the term of six years, one third of whom go out biennially. The senators must be 30
years age, nine years citizens of the states, and inhabiting the state for which they are returned. The regular number is 62; and the Vice-President of the United States is President of the Senate. The House of Representatives is com
posed of members from the several states, elected by the people for the term of two years. The representatives are apportioned among the different states
, according to population. The present number is 234, besides eight delegates returned by Oregon and other recent annexations, who are allowed to speak, but not to vote.
The annual salary of the President is.....
.£1600 The compensation allowed to mombers during attendance in Congress is (per day).
.£1 138. ld. And for every 20 miles of travelling, in going to and returning from the seat of government.
£1 13s. The revenue for the year 1856, derived from customs and the
sale of public lands, was ..... The expenditure in the army department, 12,688 soldiers, was £3,58,6 In the pavy department the number of the men is not given, but the cost is ......
£2,815,00 The legislature allows of no pensions : if any warlike emergency should arise they contract with gener, als and other officers for a given period of service, and at a fixed sum by way of payment, let that sum bo more or less; and when the service is ended, the parties so engaging, again retire into private life
, or resume some profession or pursuit, as other citizens do.
Our introductory letters brought us into a wide range of intercourse with the leading officials, and with many members of the two Houses of Congress.
The senators appeared older men and more deliberative than those of the lower house. An inquiry was at that time pending in which the parties, who were members of the lower house, were supposed to be implicated in corrupt practices; and as the report was daily looked for, I attended the sittings in expectation of seeing the immediate effect upon the parties concerned. In this expectation I was disappointed, as the report was not brought in nntil after I had left Washington. There was mnch in what was passing that was interesting to a stranger, the chaplain,
and therefore you may be curious to hear some portion of it
. One of the representatives procured for me an introduction into the body of the house, and, arriving early, we entered the Speaker's room, and had an agreeable conversation with him before the business proceedings commenced. The moment that the Speaker had taken his seat in the house, a venerable-looking old man, who was sitting below him, immediately rose, and with uplifted hands in adoration, proceeded to invoke a blessing upon the deliberations of the day, and with trembling steps retired as soon as he had ended. I remarked to my friend the member, that Congress did not follow our example in England, seeing that they allowed the chaplain of the house to enter their presence rnsdorned by sacerdotal garments. His reply was, "You will not see any finery here,-neither the Speaker por any official is distinguishable by any outward badge of servitude. The old gentleman,
as you are pleased to designate him, is one of the few remaining oficers who served his country in the war of independence, and, as he is now 94 years of age, and is not well provided for, he is willing to accept a small sum annually, not as a pension-you know that pensioners we have nonebut by way of compensation for coming once a day
blessing upon what we are doing." Every member has a writing desk before him, and nearly every one appeared absorbed in giving attention to his correspondence. Very few of them appeared to be having regard to the proceedings of ber address the house under considerable excitethe house
, and it was very common to see a memment, whilst those who were sitting close at hand were coolly engaged in writing letters or turning over folds of papers, and appearing perfectly tranquil and unimpassioned. One instance of the prevailing irrregularity and want of attention which I noticed, occurred in taking the votes.
to ask a
whose name was called over answered “ Aye." Some time afterwards this gentleman appeared to discover that he had made a mistake, and appealed to the speaker, requesting that his vote might be reversed, alleging, as his reason, that he had been engaged at his desk, and had inadvertently voted the wrong way. Leave was given and the vote was reversed. Another member moved a resolution for a grant of money to explore the river Niger in Africa, and the clerk at the table in reading the form of resolution proposed to the House, fell into the very understandable error of proposing a grant of money for exploring the river * Nigger!" There were other proceedings which would be open to remark, as indicating a demeanou less dignified than would appear becoming of those upon whom there rests so weighty a responsibility.
Discussions of a party political character were frequent, and, as is often the case, the subjects upon which the parties appeared most confident, often proved to be those upon which, in reality, they were most nervous. For instance, slavery was in everybody's mouth. Those from the north would exclaim against the sin and the reproach brought upon their country by the proceedings of the south, always taking care to make sufficient parade of their own example in having liberated the slaves which had belonged to thenselves. The southerners were not slow to make the retort, reminding those of the north that they had taken care to keep possession of their slaves until they had got a sufficient supply of white persons who had emigrated from Ireland and from Germany, whom they greatly preferred to serve them; and it was then, and not before, that they had turned their slaves adrift
, and had called upon the rest of the world to extol their philanthropy, and upon the southerners, who had no white emigrants to fall back upon, to follow their example. That the cases were very
and the example could not be followed. Incidental remarks bearing npon the subject were often being bandied about. The southerners would appeal to the northern men, whether they had ever
known instance in which a member of an American family had become a domestic servant, and the answer uniformly given was, seldom or never, that such a case was almost unknown. Upon this admission, the conclusion was considered as inevitable, namely, that the parties requiring such servants would have retained to this day the slaves they had held, if the emigrants from Europe had not, in so agreeable a manner, superseded the necessity of their retaining possession of them any longer. "It was remarked of the negro race that in those states where they had been liberated from slavery, they had not only not increased as the white population had done, but that they had gradually diminished in numbers, and that this was attributed to their want of forethought, the neglect of their children in infancy, and the improvident and reprehensible courses which they pursued. A gentleman from Philadelphia, an eminent merchant
, one of the visiting directors of a large philanthropic institution, and who was by no means tavourable to slavery, expressed his sorrow and megtet in making the statement of his belief that within a mile of his own city residence he could find, in the dwellings of the free blacks, a greater extent of distress,
squalor, and misery, than could probably be found in any other place. These
remarks may serve to indicate the state of party feeling, and the spirit in which the subject was being discussed in Washington. The northern people feel sore, and deem themselves dishonoured, by the slavery of the south.