First Congress, First Session

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SATURDAY, February 22, 1862.

SENATE

The Senate assembled at 10 o'clock, and after prayer by Rt. Rev. Bishop Early, adopted a programme for the inaugural ceremonies, reported by Mr. Orr, of South Carolina, from the Joint Committee appointed for that purpose.

The Senate then took a recess until quarter-past 11 o'clock, when it proceeded, as an organized body, to participate in the ceremonies of the inauguration.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

The House met at a quarter-past 11 o'clock, and was opened with prayer by Rev. Mr. Duncan.

Mr. Trippe announced the presence of Hon. Chas. J. Munnerlyn, of Georgia, who went forward and took the requisite oath.

Mr. Foote moved to reconsider the vote by which the House adjourned till 12 o'clock on Monday; which motion having been agreed to, he moved that, when the House adjourn to attend the inaugural ceremonies, it adjourn to meet in this hall directly after the close of the same in order to consult together, either with open or closed doors, concerning the public good.

PAGE 38 SOUTHERN HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAPERS.

Mr. Currin, of Tennessee, opposed the motion, and said that there would be but little time to attend to business after the close of the inaugural ceremonies, and he thought there was no necessity whatever for meeting at such an early period.
Mr. Kenner would ask the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Foote) if he had received from the President information that anything would be submitted in the inaugural address which rendered early and immediate action of the House imperative. The Scripture says, "What thou doest do quickly." They did not come hereto idle away their time.

Mr. Foote said he had heard nothing, but thought it best to assemble and not waste two whole days; it was very evident nothing could be done before the ceremonies took place, and something might be needful to be done afterward.

Mr. Currin thought nothing could be done at any rate in one hour or two hours, and it would be hard to get all the members of the body together anyhow.

Mr. Smith, of Virginia, advocated the motion of Mr. Foote.

Mr. Crockett called the question, and the motion was agreed to.

The Speaker then announced that the hour for assembling in the Hall of Delegates, and the member would now proceed in a body to that chamber.

INAUGURAL CEREMONIES*

The members of the Senate and House of Representatives, together with both Houses of the Virginia Legislature, having assembled in the Hall of Delegates, they awaited the arrival of the President.

The galleries were full of ladies, to the entire exclusion of gentlemen, who could only occupy the lower and upper floors of the rotunda. Upon the front seat, directly facing the President's chair was the lady of President Davis, and Miss Howard, together with Mr. Joseph Davis, nephew of the President, and Judge Halyburton. Near by were seated Judge Reagan, of Texas, Postmaster-General; Mr. Benjamin, Secretary of War; Mr. Mallory, Secretary of the Navy, and Mr. Memminger, Secre-

*This description of the inauguration is the most circumstantial given anywhere.

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tary of the Treasury. 'Twas a grave and great assemblage. Time-honoured men were there, who had witnessed ceremony after ceremony of inaugurations in the palmiest days of the old confederation; those who had been at the inauguration of the iron-willed Jackson; men who, in their fiery Southern ardour, had thrown down the gauntlet of defiance in the halls of Federal legislation, and, in the face of the enemy, avowed their determination to be free, and finally witnessed the enthroning of a Republican despot in our Country's Father's Chair of State. All were there; and silent tears were seen coursing down the cheeks of gray-haired men, while the determined will stood out in every feature.

The President was dressed in a plain citizen's suit of black; he was very pale, and although his emotion was slightly visible, showing how deeply he felt the great responsibility resting upon him, yet there was also to be seen in his countenance that great will and determination which gave proof that he was fully equal to the great exigency of the times and the circumstances which surrounded him.

Mr. Hunter, President of the Senate, occupied the right of the platform, and Mr. Bocock, Speaker of the House of Representatives, the left.

On the arrival of the President, accompanied by Mr. Orr, Chairman of the Committee of Arrangements on the part of the senate, all in the Hall rose up, and as he took his seat in the chair of the Speaker a general murmur of applause was heard through the large assembly, but not amounting to audible cheers.

The procession was then formed and moved, according to programme, to the stand erected on the Monument. The press of the crowd was very great, and the aides of the marshall were obliged to open the way with their horses for the procession and afterwards for the band.

The assemblage was called to order by Mr. Lyons, of Virginia, Chairman of the House Committee of Arrangements. A most solemn and appropriate prayer was then offered by the Right Rev. Bishop Johns.

On the coming forward of President Davis he was greeted with cheer after cheer, so that some minutes elapsed before he

PAGE 40 SOUTHERN HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAPERS.

could proceed with his address, as follows: [Speech not given. See newspapers.]

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES (Resumed)

After the close of the inaugural ceremonies the House resumed its session, according to order.

Mr. Foote offered a resolution to the effect that a committee, to be composed of one member from each State, be appointed by the Speaker, whose duty it shall be the request the Secretary of War, at his earliest possible convenience, to furnish them with the fullest and most minute information of the condition of armies in the field and the state of our defences on the seacoast and elsewhere, and report the same to this Hose, with a view to enabling Congress to adopt such measures as may be best calculated to promote the national independence and the safety and unity of our whole people.

Mr. Smith said he did not rise to make opposition to the proposition now before the House, but he thought it would be better to adjourn, as many gentlemen had wet feet and coasts, and were very uncomfortable. Unless some public necessity required it, he thought the House had better not continue in session.

Mr. Foote said he would frankly state that the main object was to obtain information concerning our defences, and particularly the city of Richmond, which he understood were not in a good condition. He thought it would be well to have a committee (of which he wished to be understood he could not be a member, in consequence of the peculiar position he had been compelled to assume), to wait on the secretary of War and respectfully ask for information, which it was due to the country and themselves that the House should be apprised of, and it might be necessary to sit with closed doors to confer on the subject; but if anything was necessary to be done it should be done at an early day.

Mr. Smith, of Virginia, asked that the gentleman would allow him to make the suggestion, that they would have a message from the President on Monday, and little else would be done until proper action was taken upon it.

Mr. Foote thought delay was dangerous, and although he did not want to present opposition to the views of the gentleman from

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Virginia, for whom he had great respect, yet some steps would be taken by our legislative body which were indispensable, and this committee cold be at work in the interim, even if the subject was not acted upon at once. He was free to say that, in his opinion, the loss of two days would be mischievous, and the torpidity of the public mind in regard to the condition of things in general was to him quite ominous.

Mr. Harris hoped they would adjourn.

Mr. Foote said if they wished it he would withdraw it at once and he would have to lay the resolution on the table for the present.

Mr. Pryor said that he had that morning a conversation with the Secretary of War in regard to the defences of Richmond, and the Secretary had, very much to his surprise and gratification, informed him that he had contrived to have the most speedy and ample preparations made for the defence of the city, so that an army could be successful opposed in approach to it; and, if not driven back, could at least be held in check for a sufficient time to allow the bringing of troops from any portion of our army in ample numbers to successful resist invasion. He (Mr. Pryor) thought that this statement should go before the public.

The resolution of Mr. Foote was laid on the table.

Mr. Garland offered a resolution calling for the printing of a certain number of copies of the President's Inaugural Address for the use of the members.

Mr. Curry opposed the printing, as it was not a message to the House.

Mr. Jones said he had great respect for the President, but he supposed the speech would be printed anyhow, and he did not think there was a copy in the possession of the House, and if so, how could it be printed?

Mr. Garland said he did not think of that, and finally withdrew the resolution.

On motion of Mr. Smith, of Virginia, the House adjourned.

Page last updated on 07/08/2008