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.


President Johnson, on November 30, issued a procla-
mation restoring the privileges of the writ of habeas corpus
over all the States except those which had been in rebel-

The two Houses of the Alabama Legislature met in joint
Convention, November 28, and elected Mr. George S. Hous-
ton and Governor Lewis E. Parsons for United States Sen-
ators. Governor Parsons is a native of Central New York.
He removed to Alabama in 1836. Mr. Houston, a native
of Tennessee, once represented the Fifth Congressional
District of Albama in Congress. He has taken no part
in the rebellion.

Governor Parsons, in his message to the Alabama Legis-
lature, considers the process of reconstruction as progress-
ing favorably. He earnestly recommends the ratification
of the Constitutional Amendment. A telegram was re-
ceived on the 4th by Secretary Seward from Governor
Parsons announcing that the Alabama Legislature had,
by an overwhelming vote, ratified the Constitutional
Amendment abolishing slavery. Alabama is the twenty-
seventh State which has ratified the Amendment. But
one more State is required in order to consummate the

Governor Humphreys sent, on the 20th ultimo, a spe-
cial message to the Mississippi Legislature on the sub-
ject of the negroes. Three hundred thousand slaves have
been emancipated in the State of Mississippi. The Gov-
ernor expressed himself strongly in favor of allowing the
negroes to testify in court. He lays the vagrancy and
pauperism in the State to the Freedman's Bureau. The
Legislature has passed a law excluding negroes from the
judicial courts in all cases where white men are concerned.

The North Carolina Legislature met at Raleigh, Novem-
ber 28. Hon. S. F. Phillips was elected Speaker of the
House. On the 1st instant the President received from
Governor Holden a telegram announcing the ratification
of the Constitutional Amendment by the North Carolina

The members of the Virginia Legislature assembled in
Richmond on the 4th, organized, and received the Mes-
sage of Governor Pierpoint. The Governor believes that
very little legislation in regard to the freedmen is re-
quired, but thinks that they should be allowed to testify
in courts, and be tried and punished in the same manner
as white men.

The Legislature of Louisina on the 2d instant adopted
by acclamation a resolution declaring slavery forever abol-

There having been considerable apprehension in Texas
of trouble from the freedmen, Provisional Governor Ham-
ilton, of Texas, has authorized the organization of spe-
cial police forces in the several counties to assist in the
preservation of order.


The Treasury Department statement for the month of
November has been issued, and shows that the entire na-
tional debt is now a little over twenty-seven hundred mill-
ions of dollars. It was reduced during the past month
over twenty-six millions of dollars. A reduction of nearly
seven millions and a half was made during the month in
the amount of legal-tender notes in circulation.

Charles Comby, alias Mercier, the supposed third person
implicated in the murder of Mr. Otero, in Brooklyn, was
caught on the 2d, after an exciting chase, at Carlisle,
Pennsylvania, by detectives Wonderly and Latinville, of
the Metropolitan police of the Forty-fourth precinct.

The funeral of the gallant seaman, Quarter-master Will-
iam Conway, who so nobly refused to haul down the flag
of his country when ordered to do so by the traitorous
officer at the Pensacola Navy-yard, in 1861, took place on
the afternoon of Dec. 3, at the Brooklyn Navy-yard.

Libby Prison and Castle Thunder, so well known in the
history of the war, will soon be transformed, into store-
houses again.

It appears from the census reports that the population
of the various Indian tribes in the United States and the
Territories is 307,842. In the service of the Government
during the late war there were 5400.

A terrible disaster occurred on the morning of Decem-
ber 1 on the New Jersey Central Railroad, about two miles
west of White House, in Hunterdon County. An express
train going east collided with a coal train bound in the
same direction. The latter had been detained by endeav-
oring to stop a freight car which had broken loose on the
opposite track. The baggage car dashed through the first
passenger car, along the tops of the seats, guillotining the
passengers, of whom seven were killed and seventeen

General Grant, on his journey southward, arrived in
Raleigh, North Carolina, on November 28, and remained
there till November 30, when he took his departure for
Charleston. During his stay in Raleigh he had an inter-
view with Governor Holden, received the members of the
Legislature at his hotel, and, by invitation extended in a
vote of both Houses, visited the State Capitol and was form-
ally received in speeches of welcome from the two presid-
ing officers.

By order of the Commanding-General of the Department
of the Missouri, it is directed that the military post estab-
lished on Power River, Dacotah Territory, by Brigadier-
General P. E. Conner, shall be designated and known as
Fort Reno, in honor of General Jesse L. Reno, who fell at
the battle of South Mountain.

We have later news of the Collins overland telegraph
expedition. It appears that about fifty men have been
scattered in detached parties along the American and
Asiatic coasts, who will spend the winter in surveying
routes. Next summer, it is hoped, this work will be so far
completed that several thousand natives can be employed
in planting poles.

A party of two hundred Cheyenne and Apache Indians
on the 26th ult. attacked one of the stages on the Cali-
fornia overland route, near a place called Downes's Spring,
killed seven persons, burned all the buildings in that vi-
cinity, with the stocks of goods they contained, and com-
mitted other outrages.

Congress Block, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was
destroyed by fire on the morning of the 30th ult. The
loss was about sixty thousand dollars.

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