LETTER FROM "MARK TWAIN"
Correspondence of the New York Citizen.
Twain is Made Doorkeeper of the Senate--He Attempts to Make a Speech and is Squelched--He Levies Special Tax & and Is Impeached--Grand Tableaux.
Washington, D. C., Dec. 15th, 1867.
Since this case has excited so much attention in diplomatic circles, and has provoked so much comment in the newspapers, both of this country and Europe, I will make a plain, simple statement of the facts in the matter, and leave the public to judge between myself and the Administration. When I resigned the office of Page of the House of Representatives, the best men of the nation were alarmed for the welfare of the Republic. That this alarm was well founded I cannot undertake to say. it would be indelicate in me to do more than call passing attention to the fact, that while I was connected with the Government in the capacity already named, the affairs of the Government prospered, and no cloud darkened the political horizon. I had no sooner resigned my office than the negotiations with England for the settlement of the Alabama claims came to an abrupt and unsatisfactory termination. This may have been a result of my resignation; it may not have been. I shall express no opinion in the premises.
However, as before stated, the best men of the nation were alarmed. They visited me in my self-imposed exile and begged me to come to the rescue, and take again the helm of the ship of state. They urged that the foreign complications likely to grow out of the new order of things rendered my re-entry into the Cabinet imperatively necessary; that to me the country turned for succor in this season of peril; that it I would live in the hearts of the people, I must not desert them at a time like this. Thus importuned, I consigned to oblivion my grievous wrongs, my bitterness of spirit, and rejoined Mr. Johnson's Administration as Doorkeeper of the Senate.
I surely thought that by this time persecution had tired of hunting its victim.
Was I right? The facts will show. On the first morning of my occupation of my
new post, I locked all the entrances to the Senate Chamber but one, and took
my station there. Presently a gentleman approached, and tried to pass in. I
stopped him, and said:
"Well, sir, what do you want?"
"I want to go in, of course."
"You want to go in. That is all right, no doubt, but we will consider on it a moment, if you have the time to spare. Who are you?"
"You are insolent, sir! I am the President of the Senate."
"President of the Senate. Ah, what might your name be?"
"I will just see, out of curiosity, how far you will venture to carry this thing. My name Is Wade--Benjamin F. Wade."
"Wade--Wade. I don't remember hearing of you before. Is that your regular name, or is it a nom de plume?"
"It is my regular name, as you call it, of course."
"Where are you from, Mr. Wade?"
"About how old might you be, friend?"
"Fifty-two. You look--you look rather older than that, Wade. I should say--well, I should say you, look as much as a hundred and thirty, or a hundred and forty, or along there. But age isn't anything--it is blood that tells. Give me blood, above everything. That is my sentiment. But about this business of President of the Senate. Have you got your credentials along with you?"
He had them. Considering that he was the ringmaster of the circus, I let him in free. But I had trouble with the others. Some of them had no credentials, and had to stay out. I taxed the balance fifty cents admission, and as soon as they got a quorum they passed a resolution of instruction to the Sergeant-at-Arms, and I was arrested and compelled to disgorge. This high-handed usurpation of power came near making another split between myself and the Government, but I submitted, and resolved to bide my time.
During the afternoon one of the Senators addressed the Chair, and said he wished to offer a resolution recognizing his Majesty King Theodorus as a belligerent.
I said: "Your Highness, I rise to a point of order. This old gentleman that has just taken his seat-"
"Silence! The Doorkeeper will resume his station by the door."
This from the man--and the only man--that I had passed in free! My heart was too full for utterance. From this time forward, for three days, I could never get the floor. I was snubbed every time I attempted to speak; whenever a viva voce vote was taken, my voice did not affect the result; when there was a division, I was not counted, either when I stood up or sat down; when there was a call of the house, my name was studiously omitted by the Secretary and his minions. I frequently voted on both sides of the same question, purposely to catch the Secretary, and I succeeded. During all this time the galleries were filled with people from all parts of the country, who were anxious to hear me speak. No matter--their feelings were not respected--the venomous persecution went on.
On the fourth day, at one o'clock, the ring-master announced the special order of the day--the Senate bill for the recognition of General Garibaldi as a Roman General, an Italian Deputy, and an American citizen. Here was my opportunity. I had been waiting, just waiting to catch the house on a special order. I arose and said:
"Your Imperial Highness, I hold in my hand an Act entitled an Act supplementary
to an Act entitled an Act amendatory of an Act to Confer Universal Suffrage
upon Women. Woman! your Royal Highness--Oh, woman! in our hours of ease, uncertain,
coy, and hard to please--"
"Silence!" It is not worth while to repeat more of the tirade uttered by the individual whom the fortuitous accident of a majority vote has elevated to the position of President of the Senate. I was subjugated. That is sufficient.
I waited one hour. A Senator from some obscure Indian reservation was tiring everybody to death with a stupid harangue about Garibaldi and several other incendiary Frenchmen, and it was plain that the crowd In the galleries was growing impatient. I arose and said:
"Your Royal Highness, woman! Oh, woman, in our hours of ease, uncertain--"
It was as far as I could get. A storm of malignant outcries assailed me, and for a time it seemed that I was going to be subjected to personal violence. The Sergeant-at-Arms was ordered to put me in my seat and keep me there. In this humiliating position I remained for full two hours. I leave my countrymen to imagine what my feelings were. A spectacle was here presented to the nation such as has no parallel in history--the spectacle of a Senate degrading and trampling upon one of its own members. I could not long bear this. Every fibre of my being, every emotion of my nature, revolted at it. In the midst of some solemn, sentimental bosh by the Chair, concerning one of the new Senators from Walrussia, who had lost his way in the wilds of his native land, and had had nothing to eat for eighteen days but an iceberg, I emerged from the impressive silence, and thundered forth:
"Woman! Oh, woman! In--?' The door was in the way, and that is how it got broken down. The Senatorial mob did it. I fell in the hall, and in a single instant the aggregated wisdom of the nation was piled above me. Let us drop the curtain upon the disgraceful scene.
I approach the last chapter in the sad record of my official career. Its events transpired the next day. They culminated in a report of the Judiciary Committee--or rather two reports. Five members of it--a majority--brought in a wild document, which they styled "Articles of Impeachment against the Doorkeeper of the United States Senate." The minority, of four members, reported against the impeachment. The curious document first mentioned set forth that I had rendered my impeachment a just and righteous measure for the following specific reasons--viz:
In that I had transcended the powers vested in me by the Constitution of the United States by charging divers and sundry Senators fifty cents admission to their own department of the Capitol.
In that I had voted, during a regular session of the United States Senate, by word of mouth, and upon a division, and also upon the yeas and nays, In direct violation of a clause of the Constitution of the United States, which expressly forbids the doorkeeper of the Senate to vote upon any question whatever which that body may have under consideration.
In that I had frequently risen to points of order, questions of privilege, etc., and had at divers and sundry times interrupted the Senate with attempts to deliver a speech upon a subject which was not before the house at the time, and always commencing with the same tiresome formula of "Woman! Oh, woman," etc.--all of which was in direct violation of that clause in the Constitution of the United States which expressly decrees that the doorkeeper of the Senate shall at no time take part in the deliberations of that body.
In that I had attempted to introduce Female Suffrage at a time when the Hero of Italy was the special order of the day--which was in direct violation of that article of the Constitution of the United States which expressly stipulates that special orders of the day shall at all times take precedence of other matters.
In that, after disrupting and disorganizing the Senate time and again by repetitions of the before-mentioned speech, commencing "Woman! Oh, woman!" I incited the said Senate to rebellion and insurrection by still another attempt to inflict that speech upon them, and thus materially retarded the reconstruction of the aforesaid Senate at the period of its most promising progress--all of which when taken in connection with the aforementioned charge of fifty cents admission to the Senate, is in flagrant violation of that article of the Constitution of the United States which decrees that for the doorkeeper of the Senate to levy war or collect taxes on his individual responsibility is high treason and punishable with death.
The infamy of the Senate is complete. Their work is done, and I stand before my country today a Doorkeeper on Sufferance! But firm as a rock I stand at my post and await the verdict.
MARK TWAIN, Doorkeeper ad interim.
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