The Church Historian's Press

February 1877

1 February 1877 • Thursday

Considerable excitement in the city over the counting of the votes of the States by Congress. Jno. Q and myself repaired to the capitol at an early hour. Guards were stationed to prevent any one going into the House wing of the Capitol unless they were privileged or had tickets. Each member had three tickets given to him for his friends. I succeeded in getting Jno. Q on the floor. After the transaction of some business the House took a recess until five minutes to one. The galleries were packed with a very select company of people. At 1 o clock, the Senate, preceded by the Sergeant-at-Arms, President and Clerk marched two & two into the House and took their seats at the right of the Speaker’s desk. The President of the Senate sat in the speaker’s chair with the Speaker on his left. The scene was a most impressive one, and one could scarcely look upon it without emotion. The President of the Senate announced that the Houses were in joint convention for the purpose of counting the votes &c. He stated that he would open the votes alphabetically. Tearing the end of the envelope he said he opened the vote of Alabama which had been brought by messenger and handed it to the tellers to count. The were 4 tellers – two on the part of the Senate – Senators Allison and of Iowa and Ingalls of Kansas – two Republicans – and two on the part of the House – Messrs Cook of Georgia and Stone of Missouri – two Democrats. Senator Allison read the papers from Alabama and Mr. Stone read the duplicate that had been received by mail. Senator Conkling made a motion that but one be read and that the tellers examine the other during the reading to see that they corresponded. Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut and Delaware were counted. Then three sets of certificates were read from Florida, after the reading of which David Dudley Field on the part of the objectors, objected to the vote of the Hayes electors, and Senator Sargent on the part of the objectors, objected to the votes of the Tilden electors. These objections were read and the President of the Senate announced that the papers would all be submitted to the electoral commission and the Houses would separate which they did.

Very little business was done in the House afterwards and a recess was taken till ten o’clock tomorrow morning. Speaker Randall had given me an invitation to a reception at his house which I attended this evening. There were about 27 persons present and we had a very delightful time. The refreshments were excellent and I was pleased to notice the entire absence of wine. The Speaker lives in plain style and his reception was characterized by homelike feeling that made every one feel at ease. The most of us withdrew about 11 o’clock.

2 February 1877 • Friday

The House met at 02 and immediately took a recess until 11.40. At 12 the Speaker called the chaplain to pray. The business done was principally upon the legislative, judicial and executive appropriation bill. It rained heavily this afternoon and evening.

3 February 1877 • Saturday

Went to the Pension Office, then to the Post Office Dept, then to the Land and Indian Dept’s. on business at these several places. Reached the House just about 02, at which time proceedings commenced. Have been very busy all day endeavoring to get an amendment into the legislative, executive and appropriation bill.

4 February 1877 • Sunday

Wrote letters to my family, and answered one or two business letters. The day passed off quietly.

5 February 1877 • Monday

The great event to-day was the arguments of Mr. Evarts and Mr. O’Conner the two foremost lawyers in the United States. I succeeded in getting a good seat in the Supreme Court room, where the Electoral Commission sits. Mr. Evarts spoke one hour and forty-two minutes. Mr. O’Coner following and speaking an hour and twenty-five minutes. Evarts’ style is very finished. He is a better orator than O’Conor, but he either did not have so good a case, or else has not that faculty that O’Conner has of getting down to the points in the case. O’Connor is very condensed in his style and aims directly at the point, and his power, I should imagine, consisted in this faculty. He is a much older man than Mr. Evarts, and seemed to be suffering from internal fever, as he had to moisten his mouth every few minutes with water. I suppose his is nearer 80 than 70 years of age, but his manner is vigorous and I should think there was no failure of intellect. The room was crowded to overflowing with Senators, Members, distinguished men and numbers of ladies. Just as I came out of the court room I met Gen. Kane. The House had in the meantime taken a recess until to-morrow morning at 02 o’clock. I went with the General to the Office of the U. S. Coast Survey, and we walked to the hotel together. He is looking very well.

6 February 1877 • Tuesday

House met at 02 o’clock and took a recess until a few minutes before 12. The deficiency bill was under discussion.

7 February 1877 • Wednesday

Visited the War, Justice, Land, Indian, Interior, and Post Office Departments on business which had been sent me from home. The House was still discussing the deficiency bill.

8 February 1877 • Thursday

Wrote a letter this morning to Prest Young. Was at the House all day. Bro. Orson Whitney, a son of Bro. Horace K. Whitney, and a grandson of Bro. Heber C. Kimball came to the House and occupied my seat for some two hours. He came to Washington on a visit upon the invitation of Jas. McKnight, and is stopping at McKnight’s aunt’s. McKnight, himself left the city last night unexpectedly. Bro. Whitney is on a mission and is laboring with Bro. A. M. Musser in Pennsylvania. This evening I addressed a letter to Bro. Musser in which I stated that if it was his intention to visit Washington, the present would be probably as good a time as he could do so, and I should be glad to see him.

9 February 1877 • Friday

Accompanied Gen. Kane to the depot. We had a very interesting conversation in relation to Mexico and other matters. Was at the House

10 February 1877 • Saturday

At the House.

11 February 1877 • Sunday

Wrote letters home. [I have been meeting daily with my son [John Q.] to offer prayers unto God in the holy order in our temple clothing [12 words in Hawaiian redacted relating to sacred activities]. We have done so from the time of our entering into the rooms we have rented until this past Sunday—it being the 4th. On this particular day, he countered me and refused to pray. He did not want to pray. I said to him to go outside, and I prayed for myself. He went out and I prayed all by myself. I asked him maybe two or three times this past week, if he desired to pray with me in the holy clothes. He was sleeping during those times and he refused. As of now, my pleadings unto him have ceased regarding these matters. I leave him in the hands of God. He is God’s child and He will do with him as he pleases. The only thing left for me to do is to pray to God on behalf of him.]1

12 February 1877 • Monday

The House had two hours discussion over the decision of the Florida case. Some bitter remarks were made. After the discussion the Senate was notified that the House was ready to proceed to the counting of the votes. During the discussion I went down to the Station to meet Bro. Musser and got him into the House before the Senate came. The counting then proceeded until Louisiana was reached, from which State three certificates were read – two in favor of the Hayes and one in favor of the Tilden electors, also a burlesque certificate signed by Jno. Smith evidently got up for the purpose of ridiculing the proceedings. I thought it exceeding bad taste to have it read at such a time. There has been considerable feeling among the Democrats respecting the Florida decision. Many feel that as the commission has decided politically that they will continue thus to divide on all the cases and that Hayes will be declared President. Others hope that Louisiana may be thrown out and the election devolve upon the House. I took Bro. Musser in the evening to see Mrs. Kimball and had a very pleasant visit.

13 February 1877 • Tuesday

House met at 02 o’clock. Was there all day. Took Bro. Musser and Jno. Q to see Mark Twain’s inimitable play “The Gilded Age.” Col. Mulberry Sellers (Jno. T. Raymond) is the principal character and about the only one in the play and it is a capital one

14 February 1877 • Wednesday

Bro. Wm H. Rowe from Salt Lake City who is in the East purchasing goods for Z. C. M. I., came to the city this morning. I found him in my room on my return from breakfast. I took him, Bro. Musser and Jno. Q. to the Treasury Dept. and had them shown through all the rooms where the process of making paper money and engraving the plates for it is carried on. I was busy trying to get arrangements made with the committee on appropriations of the Senate to amend the House bill so that the District Attorney could get some fees out of the money that I had had appropriated for judicial purposes in the Territory. I think I have succeeded in doing it. Had a call at the House from Bro. Jno. Groesbeck who is on a mission in the East. He remained in the House during most of the session, and in the evening dined with me.

15 February 1877 • Thursday

Went up to the House early to witness by invitation of Capt. C. P. Patterson, Supt of the U. S. Coast Survey the separating of a plate which had been electrotyped from another plate that was an original for charts. The original plate is called the basso every object being sunk in it. This is done in copper. A process was discovered by a man named Matthews, belonging to the coast Survey by which an electrotype could be obtained from this without the surfaces of the two plates adhering or in any manner injuring the very finest lines. This great invention had been studied upon and sought after by many British and other scientists. They had tried plumbags and various mixtures of grease and had utterly failed to find anything that would answer the purpose without marring the fine lines of the original engraving. Mr. Matthews discovered a preparation of silver which answers the purpose admirably, in fact is perfect, and for his invention, which is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, he received the paltry sum of two thousand dollars from the U. S. government. This preparation of silver is spread over the original plate and it is then put in the bath and the other plate electrotyped. It was to witness the separation of these that I was invited. They came apart, as Capt. Patterson said, “like a cake off a griddle.” Both plates were exceedingly bright and the finest lines were distinctly traced upon the electrotype. The only difference between it and the original was that the surfaces were raised and reversed. They called this plate the alto. This is used as a matrix and from it another plate is obtained which by a process they have, is faced with steel and possesses in reality all the qualities of a steel plate. They can multiply these plates to any extent, and when the lines are at all injured they can remove the old face of steel and supply a new one. By this means steel engravings can be multiplied at the most trifling cost.

The brethren went to Mt. Vernon to-day.

16 February 1877 • Friday

Was at the Dept’s and House. The Commission decided this evening by a vote of 8 to 7 not to go behind the returns in the Louisiana case.

17 February 1877 • Saturday

Was at the Departments. The House met and after a recess adopted a resolution to meet the Senate to hear the decision of the Electoral Commission concerning the Louisiana case at 11 o’clock on Monday, and then took a recess until 02 o’clock of that day. Visited the Agricultural Bureau about seeds, Bro. Musser accompanying me. Attended a caucus this evening. Resolutions were offered which had for their object the defeat of Hayes by what would be called filibustering tactics, so as to prevent his being declared President before the 4th of March. One third of those present were in favor of this method of dealing with the question, and some very spirited speeches were made upon the subject, but two thirds were in favor of submitting to the law. Speeches were made of this character by some leading men and one was especially forcible delivered by Senator Bayard of Delaware. It was conceded by the best lawyers that in the failure to elect or have a president declared elected by the 4th of March that there would be an interregnum, and no one was clear as to who would be President and some even doubted whether the law of ’92 would cover the case which provides for the election of a President by the Secretary of State sending notifications to the governors of the various states. The impression was that in such a case the law would be inapplicable. The decision was that the Democratic party would plant itself upon the law, preserve peace, and leave the result with the country.

18 February 1877 • Sunday

Brothers Musser and Whitney, Jno. Q. and myself went out to the Soldiers Home. We had a very pleasant time though the wind was rather cold.

19 February 1877 • Monday

The Senate met with the House in joint convention at 11 o’clock. The decision of the Electoral Commission was read, spread on the journals of both houses, and objections, three in number, to the State of Louisiana, were presented. One of the objections was signed by every <Democratic> member of both Houses. After the Senate retired to its own chamber a motion was made that the House take a recess until 02 o’clock to-morrow, which was carried by a close vote. A caucus was held immediately after the recess, and Mr. Ellis of Louisiana stated the object of it, but as there was not a full attendance the general wish was that the caucus should meet at 7.30 this evening. He said he wanted to know from the Democratic party what action it intended to take in relation to his own state. He spoke most forcibly describing the dreadful condition of affairs, and that the people had held quiet and borne dreadful wrongs now for years for the sake of the Democratic party, that no act of theirs should predjudice it, especially in the North. He intimated that now that Hayes was likely to be made President, as a logical consequence Packard’s government must be recognized and the old citizens of Louisiana would be exposed to the dreadful horrors which they had endured now for so many years. He intimated that upon the decision of this question would depend the fealty of himself and people to the Democratic party, and that the step that should be taken would be to reduce the army. But I discover that there are men who are utterly selfish and who would suffer Louisiana to be trampled to death rather than lessen the army because they need it in their section to protect them. I refer to Texas particularly.

20 February 1877 • Tuesday

House convened at 02 o’clock. Discussed the Louisiana case. The Senate just now <then joined> the House in joint session and the count was resumed until Michigan was reached when objections were made to one of the electors. This was discussed and both houses agreed to count the votes. The reading was then resumed until Nevada was reached when the Houses separated and the House adjourned till 02 o’clock to-morrow. Bro. Henry Grow reached here on a visit from Philadelphia

21 February 1877 • Wednesday

Busy at the Departments. The Nevada case was discussed. The House voted to count the votes of that State and the Senate took the same action. About noon the two houses met in joint convention and the count was resumed till Oregon was reached. As this was a case where there were two sets of electors it had to be submitted to the joint commission. The House entered upon the consideration of the sundry civil service appropriation bill.

22 February 1877 • Thursday

House met at 02 o’clock. Engaged most of the day on the sundry civil appropriation bill. In the evening I called upon Mr & Mrs. Landers at the Riggs House, Mrs. Landers having just come down from Conn.

23 February 1877 • Friday

House met at 02 o’clock. Still engaged on the Sundry Civil Appropriation bill. Took a recess about 3.45 p.m. and a caucus was held by the Democrats. Mr. Macmahon of Ohio introduced a resolution to the effect that when the House meet to-morrow it notify the Senate that it would be ready to meet them in Convention at 1 o’clock, and then after hearing the decision of the tribunal, and the houses separate, that the House take a recess till Monday. An amendment was offered to this by Mr. Kehr of Missouri that when the House meet to-morrow it proceed immediately to considering the vote, and Mr. Neal of Ohio added an amendment to the effect that it proceed to discuss the question. There are two parties in the Democratic party, one in favor of preventing by every lawful means the declaration of Hayes as President and his inauguration. They propose to do this under the law and not by any violence. The other party are in favor of acquiescence in the decision of the Electoral Commission and are willing for Hayes to be inaugurated and trust to the future for a vindication of the right. The latter party has been the stronger in the two preceding caucuses but they are losing strength and the other wing is gaining. This is due, I presume to the pressure that is being brought to bear upon members by their constituents some of whom appeal strongly to their members to prevent if possible the inauguration of Hayes. In favor of this amendment there were 42 and those opposed were 66. The resolution of McMahon’s was carried by a large majority, the exact vote was not announced. The caucus then broke up. There was considerable discussion and a great variety of opinion. I think it probable, however, that the measure will be defeated in the House, as I presume the Conservative Democrats will vote with the Republicans to prevent delay. I received the following dispatch from Prest. Young: “Health good. Lameness going. Regards to old friend and new. What prospect for President? Answer by same line – Free.” I replied, as follows:– “Oregon decided by Commission eight to seven for Hayes. If count proceeds he will be declared President-elect. Appeals coming in from people to Democrats to prevent this by every legal and constitutional means <method>. They are divided but majority at present favor acquiescence, though very sore. Disposition to prevent is increasing.”

24 February 1877 • Saturday

House met at 02 o’clock. The decision in regard to Oregon was sent in to the House by the Commission to the effect that the three votes for Oregon should be counted for Hayes. A resolution was introduced to the effect that the House notify the Senate that it would be ready to meet it in joint convention at 1 o’clock. Another motion was introduced by the Republicans to the effect that the House notify the Senate that they were now ready to proceed with the count. The Democrats divided on this vote and those who were disposed to filibuster found themselves in the minority – the conservative Democrats and the Republicans being too many for them. At one o’clock they had got through all the motions that Speaker Randall would entertain and discussion proceeded on the Oregon case. The House rejected the vote of Watts, one of the electors, and the Senate declared his vote legal. Upon the Senate being informed that the House was ready to proceed with the count, that body came into the hall of the House. Upon Pennsylvania being reached objections were made. The Senate then withdrew and the House took a recess till 02 o’clock Monday morning

25 February 1877 • Sunday

Busily employed making preparations with work so that I shall be ready to start when Congress expires.

26 February 1877 • Monday

Attended to Department work. Went to the House. The discussion on Pennsylvania was finished and the House notified the Senate that it was ready to proceed with the count. The Senate came in and upon Rhode Island being reached objections were made to it. The houses separated, but concurred in counting it. Then the count again proceeded until South Carolina was reached, from which State there were two sets of returns[.] They had to be referred to the Electoral Commission. The House then took a recess till 02 o’clock a.m. tomorrow

27 February 1877 • Tuesday

The House considered the sundry civil appropriation bill. Mr Field from the Committee on the powers privileges and duties of the House introduced a bill for just such a contingency as might occur in case there was a failure to declare any one President by the 4th of March. It was passed and other political resolutions were introduced but failed through lack of the necessary two thirds vote.

28 February 1877 • Wednesday

The Houses met in joint convention to read the decision of the Electoral Commission in the South Carolina case. Eight voted that the votes of that State belonged to Hayes and Wheeler and seven voted against it. Objections were considered <presented> and the houses separated to consider them. Filibustering was continued for some little time but was not permitted to go to any great lengths as the Speaker refused to entertain any motion that was clearly of a dilatory character. He said that whatever his sympathies might be he was compelled to abide by the law and the law gave him no latitude to entertain motions of this character. There was considerable excitement during the day, boisterous talking and denunciation. The Speaker, however, maintained his good humor and presided with a great deal of fairness and dignity, extorting praise even from his enemies. Two hours were consumed in the discussion of the objections, Mr. Rainey of South Carolina, a mulatto, exciting considerable applause by his speech. Filibustering tactics were again resorted to, to prevent a vote being reached. Mr. Wood finding that legitimate parliamentary methods could be used by those disposed to filibuster and keep the house in session far into the night proposed a compromise that the decision be taken, the Senate be notified of it, that the House was prepared to continue the count and that after proceeding as far as Vermont they take a recess, which was agreed to by the filibusters. A rather violent scene occurred in the joint session. A package had been received by Mr. Hewitt, which Mr. Springer and others insisted should be read. I think Springer acted indiscreetly but I was disgusted with the manner in which he was treated. I never was in a theatre where manifestations were more boisterous and unbecoming than they were in the House. Catcalls, loud laughter, cries of shut up, and everything of this character were heard all over the House. I felt ashamed of the American Congress and did not fail to express my feelings to members who participated in the scene. In reply to their remark that Springer was a fool and an ass, I said it did not therefore follow that they should make fools of themselves or asses either. The House took a recess at 7.15 p.m.

Cite this page

February 1877, The Journal of George Q. Cannon, accessed June 16, 2024