QUESTION OF THE VALIDITY OF SENATOR LAMAR’S ELECTION
Mr. Blaine had been elected to the United States Senate from Maine, his term beginning March 4th, 1877. The term for which Mr. Lamar, of Mississippi, had been elected, commenced at the same time. It was not possible to have a Congressional investigation of the Mississippi election of 1875 unless the same should be ordered by the Senate,—the Republicans having a small majority in that body. Each House being the sole judge of the elections and qualifications of its own members, the Senate could, of course, have Mr. Lamar’s credentials referred to the Committee of Privileges and Elections, with instructions to make an investigation of the methods used to carry the election. This committee would ascertain and report whether or not there had been a legal and valid election in that State, and, pending the investigation and report by the committee and the disposition of the same by the Senate, the seat to which Mr. Lamar had been elected would remain vacant. As the result of a number of conferences between Republican Senators and representative Mississippi Republicans, this course was decided upon as the one to be pursued. But, in order to do this, the Senate must have something upon which to base its contemplated action. It could not be expected to take official notice of rumors or newspaper reports of what had taken place. It was therefore decided that a memorial should be drawn up and signed by a number of reputable and well-known citizens of the State, making specific allegations with reference to that election, and concluding with a request that a thorough investigation be made before the Senator, chosen by the Legislature that had been brought into existence by that election, could be admitted to the Senate.
In support of this contemplated action there had been a number of precedents,—the recent case of Mr. Pinchback, of Louisiana, being one of them. It fell to my lot to draw up the memorial. It was to be presented to the Senate and championed in that body by Senator Morton, of Indiana. The Republican majority in the Senate was small. The Democrats, of course, would bitterly oppose the Morton motion. To make sure of its adoption the affirmative vote of nearly every Republican Senator was necessary.