Harper's Weekly 12/16/1865


The Thirty-ninth Congress began its session December
4, at noon. There were present at the time of assembling
forty members in the Senate and one hundred and seven-
ty-five in the House of Representatives, being all but nine
of those on the roll of the former body, and all but eight-
een of those on that of the latter. The roll lists include
the names of no members from the States which took part
in the rebellion. Mr. Schuyler Colfax was elected Speaker
of the House on the first ballot, and Mr. M'Pherson was
retained as clerk.

The Senate was called to order by Vice-President Fos-
ter. The credentials of Messrs. Luke P. Poland, of Ver-
mont, and John P. Stockton, of New Jersey, being pre-
sented and accepted, these new Senators were sworn in.

Bills were then introduced by Mr. Summer, and ordered
to be printed, to enforce the Constitutional Amendment
abolishing slavery; to allow negroes to vote in the Dis-
trict of Columbia; to require juries to be partly composed
of persons of African descent in sections where a large por-
tion of the population is composed of negroes, and in cases
in which negroes are parties to the suits, and prescribing
to be taken by persons in the lately rebellious States an
oath to maintain their republican form of government, to
support the national Union and Government, to discounte-
nance all efforts to repudiate the national debt, and to op-
pose any distinction of personal rights on account of color.

Mr. Sumner also introduced joint resolutions declaratory
of the adoption of the anti-slavery amendment to the Con-
stitution, proposing an amendment to base representation
in Congress on the number of voters instead of on popula-
tion, and suggestive of the duty of Congress in respect to
loyal citizens of the Southern States.

In the House of Representatives the members were called
to order at twelve o'clock by Mr. M'Pherson, Clerk of the
last Congress, who proceeded to read the roll. When the
State of Tennessee was reached Mr. Maynard, elected a
Representative from that State, expressed a desire to make
a remark; but as his name was not on the list the Clerk
declined to recognize him. On the conclusion of the read-
ing an animated debate took place in regard to the ex-
clusion of the Southern members, Mr. Brooks, of New York,
denouncing it, and Messrs. Stevens, of Pennsylvania, and
Washburne and Wentworth, of Illinois, speaking in vin-
dication of it. The matter was settled against the admis-
sion of members from the late rebel States.

The President and Senate were then informed that the
House was organized. Mr. Stevens then introduced a joint
resolution, which, after a suspension of the rules, was adopt-
ed by a vote of one hundred and thirty-three to thirty-six,
to the effect that a joint committee of nine members of the
House and six of the Senate be appointed to inquire and
report whether any of the lately insurrectionary States are
now entitled to be represented in Congress, and that until
said report shall have been made no member from any of
said States shall be admitted into either House.

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