Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

He then, (a quorum having answered to their names,) propounds another question to the house, viz. Is it the pleasure of the house to proceed to the election of speaker? which question being decided in the affirmative, he names three or four members to count the votes, and asks if they shall act as tellers; which being agreed to, the sergeant-at-arms and door-keeper of the late house carry the boxes provided for the reception of the ballots to the members; and having received them all, deposit them at the clerk's desk, where the tellers are seated. The ballots are then taken from the boxes and counted. The choice of speaker is always made by ballot; and the tellers read aloud the names of the persons voted for, so that the members may all, if they desire, distinctly hear and count the tickets deposited for the respective candidates. It usually happens that the speaker is elected on the first ballot; but if not, the boxes are again carried round, and the count continued by the tellers till a majority of the whole number of the votes polled have been received by some one of the candidates, or the house adjourns over till some other day. The majority of the votes of the members present having been cast for some one of the candidates, and the tellers having reported that fact, the clerk announces that is elected speaker for the congress.* He is conducted by two of the senior

[ocr errors]

* In Parliament, the speaker is elected, not at the commencement of each session, but at the meeting of every new parliament. The title Speaker is given to him because he alone has the right to speak to or address the king in the name and on behalf the house. In the chair, he sits chiefly

members of the house to the chair, when he delivers an appropriate address; and the clerk invites one of the gentlemen who conducted him thither, to administer to the speaker, the oath to support the constitution of the United States, as prescribed by the constitution and the act entitled “ An act to regulate the time and manner of administering certain oaths, passed the first day of June, 1789.” The following is the form of the oath :

I A. B. do solemnly swear, or affirm, [as the case may be,] that I will support the constitution of the United States.

After the speaker has taken the preceding oath, the clerk calls over the names of the gentlemen alphabetically, who come up to the chair as called, when the speaker administers to them the requisite qualification.* This is done in compliance with the following article of the constitution of the United States:

"The senators and representatives (of the congress of the United States,) and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support the constitution of the United States."

It will be observed that this is the practice at

in the capacity of a moderator of the assembly, never taking any part in the proceedings, or expressing any opinion on the subject-matter of discussion.

* In some of the state legislatures the speaker and members, after having been duly qualified, sign their names to a copy of the oath or affirmation, in a book kept by the clerk for that purpose.

the commencement of each congress. But when the second session opens, the speaker takes the chair and calls the house to order. The election, therefore, stands for a congress, or two sessions. The same practice prevails as to clerk, sergeant. at-arms, and door-keeper; they continue for the congress. At the reassembling of the twenty-first congress, at its second session, Mr. Speaker Stevenson was prevented from attending, from indisposition, on the first Monday of December, when the house, having heard the cause of his non-attendance, adjourned over till the next day, at which time he appeared and took the chair.

It is the practice in some of the state legislatures, when the sergeant-at-arms or door-keeper announces "the secretary of the senate," for the speaker to repeat "the secretary of the senate" before the secretary announces his message from the other house. The custom has been supposed to be a good one, as it informs the whole house of the message from the chair, the best selected position in the house to be heard by all the members, while it notifies the secretary from the chair, that the presiding officer is prepared to receive his communication.

The speaker and members being duly qualified, the house now proceeds to the election of clerk. This is sometimes done by resolution, but in most instances by ballot,* which is conducted in the same manner as in the election for speaker. Tellers are appointed, and the sergeant-at-arms and door-keeper collect the ballots. The clerk being

At the third session of the twenty-fifth congress, the clerk was elected viva voce, to fill Mr. Franklin's vacancy.

chosen, a majority of votes being polled for him, the speaker administers to him the oath to support the constitution of the United States, and the oath truly and faithfully to discharge the duties of his office, to the best of his knowledge and abilities, as prescribed by the act of June 1st, 1789.

September 4th, 1837. Instead of electing the sergeant-at-arms, door-keeper and assistant doorkeeper by ballot, which consumes much time, they were appointed by resolution, thus: Resolved, That Roderick Dorsey be appointed sergeant-atarms, that Overton Carr be appointed principal door-keeper, and John W. Hunter assistant doorkeeper. Where there is no intention on the part of the house to change these officers, it is decidedly more convenient to appoint them by resolution; for of all uninteresting business that can come before the house, nothing is more so than going through a tedious ballot for sergeant-atarms, door-keeper and assistant, when they have no opponents.

It is usual about this time to pass the following resolution, which some gentleman offers to the consideration of the house:

Resolved, That the standing rules and orders of the last house of representatives be adopted as the rules and orders of proceeding of this house.

One of the rules (118) runs thus: "The rules of parliamentary practice comprised in Jefferson's Manual, shall govern the house in all cases to which they are applicable, and in which they are not inconsistent with the standing rules and orders of the house and the joint rules of the senate and house of representatives."

In some instances the rules are adopted, with an exception as to some particular rule, which is left open for further consideration. It being, however, exceedingly important to have the great body of the rules adopted for the government of the house, no very serious objections are made to the exception of one or two. The speaker being in the chair, the clerk and sergeant-at-arms elected and sworn, and the rules adopted, the house is considered fully organized, and ready to join with the senate in their legislative duties. Some gentleman, therefore, presents the following resolution:

On motion of Mr.—, Resolved, That a message be sent to the senate, to inform that body that a quorum of this house has assembled, and that one of the representatives from the state of has been elected speaker thereof; and that it is now ready to proceed to business, and that the clerk do go with said message.

2

,

A majority of the house constitutes a quorum in congress. In the British house of commons, forty are sufficient to do business, and in the house of peers a very small number can do the business of legislation.

The following resolution is now adopted: Resolved, That a joint committee be appointed on the part of this house, to join such committee as may be appointed on the part of the senate, to wait on the president of the United States, and inform him that a quorum of the two houses is assembled, and that congress is ready to receive any communication he may be pleased to make; whereupon the speaker appoints the committee. Their names are not publicly announced. The

« FöregåendeFortsätt »