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The Potter and Pryor Quarrel

(From the April 21, 1860, New York Weekly Tribune)

THE POTTER AND PRYOR QUARREL
POTTER NAMES HIS WEAPONS
PRYOR DECLINES TO FIGHT
Inglorious Termination for the Chivalry

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In the last WEEKLY TRIBUNE we gave the particulars of an impending duel at Washington, between Mr. Pryor of Virginia, and Mr. Potter of Wisconsin, growing out of a debate which arose between them at the time of Mr. Lovejoy's speech. The proceedings in the house which led to this difficulty are reported as occurring on Wednesday of last week, as follows:

Mr. PRYOR (Dem., Va.) rising to a question of privilege, read from The Globe report concerning the difficulty of Thursday, and quoted the following:

"Mr. PRYOR (advancing from the Democratic side of the House toward the area, where Mr. Lovejoy stood)-The gentleman from Illinois [Lovejoy] shall not approach this side of the House, shaking his fists and talking in the way he has talked. It is bad enough to be compelled to sit here and hear him his treasonable and insulting language; but he shall not, Sir, come upon this side of the House, shaking his fists in our faces.

"Mr. POTTER-We listened to gentlemen upon the other side for eight weeks, when they denounced the members upon this side with violent and offensive language. We listened to them quietly, and heard them through; and now, Sir, this side shall be heard, let the consequences be what they may.

"Mr. PRYOR-This is the point I make: Let the gentleman speak from his seat, and say all under the rules he is entitled to say; but, Sir, he shall not come upon this side shaking his fist in our faces, and talking in the style he has talked. He shall not come here gesticulating in a menacing and ruffianly manner.

"Mr. POTTER-You are doing the same thing."

Mr. PRYOR, after this reading, said it was due to himself to say, on that occasion he did not recognize the honorable Member, or hear any word from his lips; nor was he singular in this oblivion of his presence. The newspapers in giving separate accounts of the proceedings, made no reference to his presence, but, finding him reported in The Globe, he would admit the Member was here. He discovered that the Member had interpolated the record in a manner touching personal relations in a most material regard. The Member had interpolated the words, "Let the consequences be what they may," and "you are doing the same thing." Then again, after the words as taken down by the reporters, "I do not think that side of "the house has a right to say where a gentleman "shall speak," the gentleman adds, "and he shall "not."

Mr. POTTER was very much surprised to hear the gentleman say he did not see him on the occasion alluded to, but he had no right to say the gentleman did see him. He stood within a few feet of the gentleman, and after Mr. Pryor had made the remark as to Mr. Lovejoy shaking his fist, he )Potter) said, "You are doing the same thing." He had a right to do what he did, and gentlemen did the same thing. It was perfectly natural, when there were so many talking, that the reporters should not distinctly have heard all the remarks.

Mr. PRYOR replied that the member night have been here, but he (Pryor) did not see him. He did in two instances substitute one word for another, in no respect changing the sense of his meaning, and not putting himself in a more heroic attitude. He understood the gentleman then to say that on that occasion he (Pryor), in a ruffianly and violent manner, approached and gesticulated toward the member from Illinois (Lovejoy). Was he to understand further that the member intended by that any menace or offense?
Mr. POTTER replied that what he meant was this: While the member from Virginia was making the charge about Lovejoy shaking his fists, he (Potter) said, very naturally, "You are doing the same thing." Mr. Potter said that he deprecated the shaking of fists on one side as much as the other, and he stood by what he had said. He considered that a member has the right to correct his remarks from the notes of the reporters, and to supply omissions. He would ask Mr. Pryor whether he (Pryor) did not erase his (Potter's) remark after it was put in by reporters. What right had he to do this without consulting with him. It was a liberty no gentleman should take with another, and he (Potter) would suffer his right arm to fall off before he would do it.

Mr. PRYOR-The gentleman wants to know by what authority I erased matter he interpolated. I erased no word the reporters had written, but I felt authorized to erase the unwarrantable and impertinent interjection made in the notes of the reporters. The gentleman stands by the language. I understood him to give me the liberty of construing his remarks as I choose. Whether or no he will stand by it, the sequel will prove. [Laughter on the Republican side.]

Mr. DAVIS (Rep., Mass.) said that he heard Mr. Potter make the remarks.

It was understood the next morning that, in consequence of this debate, a challenge had been given by Mr. Pryor and accepted by Mr. Potter, and for a day or two Washington was excited by all sorts of rumors in regard to it, only thus much positively known, that the challenge had been accepted, and bowie knives named by Mr. Potter as the weapons; that Mr. Pryor's second, Mr. Chisman, had declined, for his principal, to fight with such weapons, and that Mr. Potter's second, Mr. Lander, had thereupon offered to take Mr. Potter's place, and fight either Mr. Pryor or Mr. Chisman on their own terms, which generous offer was also declined. On Saturday, Mr. Potter was arrested and bound over to keep the peace, in the sum of $5,000, and the same quite unnecessary course was pursued with Mr. Pryor, probably as a matter of form merely, on Monday. In the mean time the correspondence was made public, which we give below in full:

CARD FROM MESSRS. CHISMAN AND MILES.
In consequence of the numerous false rumors which have been industriously circulated through the Northern Press, the undersigned deem it proper to make the following publication:

The subjoined correspondence took place in consequence of certain words uttered in the House of Representatives, between Messrs. Pryor and Potter. Mr. Hindman, as appears from memorandum (marked A), being compelled to return home, Mr. Keitt received from Mr. Lander Mr. Potter's first note, with the understanding that he was to hand it to Mr. Miles, who delivered it to Mr. Pryor. As Mr. Lander distinctly said to Mr. Keitt that Mr. Potter "would not leave" the District, it was deemed proper, for obvious reasons, and to guard against interruption in the affair, that some one other than a Member of Congress should bear the challenge to a hostile meeting "in the District" to Mr. Potter. Mr. Chisman, a non-resident of Washington, then assumed the place of acting friend for Mr. Pryor. Mr. Miles advised with him throughout, entirely concerned with him in every step up to the termination of the correspondence on their part, and has desired to make this public statement of his position.
T. P. CHISMAN
WM. PORCHER MILES

[A.] MR. PRYOR'S CHALLENGE.
SIR: Will you have the kindness to designate a place outside the District of Columbia, and the time, when and where there may be further correspondence between us? I have the honor to be, very respectfully, R. A. PRYOR.
The Hon. JOHN F. POTTER.

[A.] MEMORANDUM.
On to-day, at three o'clock and ten minutes, I met Mr. Potter in one of the sitting rooms of the House of Representatives, and delivered to him Mr. Pryor's first note, a copy of which marked "A." is in Mr. Pryor's possession. Mr. Potter opened the note, which was unsealed, and read it. I then inquired at what time his answer would be communicated; to which he replied that it should be at his earliest convenience, but that perhaps it would not be before morning. At five o'clock, hearing rumors of the probable arrest of the parties, I met Mr. Potter in the same room, and informed him of these rumors, and also that Mr. Pryor had gone out of the District to avoid arrest. He said that he would endeavor to avoid arrest, but could not leave immediately, lest his wife, who was at that time in the gallery, should be alarmed. At this same interview, I informed Mr. Potter that I was suddenly called home by a sickness in my family, and that Hon. L. M. Keitt would act in my stead. I had just previously notified him of this in writing. T. C. HINDMAN

MR POTTER TO MR. PRYOR.
April 11, 1860.
SIR: Your note of this date, received by the hands of Hon. Thomas C. Hindman, invites a "correspondence" to be hereafter conducted outside the District of Columbia, evidently to avoid on your part certain penalties imposed by law. I reply that the Constitution of Wisconsin allows me no escape from the consequences of such a "correspondence" as you seem to contemplate, wherever it may be conducted. I therefore inform you that such "further correspondence" as you may wish to make, may be delivered to my friend Col. F. W. Lander.
I have the honor to be,
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN F. POTTER.
Hon. Roger A. Pryor.

MR. PRYOR TO MR. POTTER.
VIRGINIA, April 12, 1860
SIR: In order to be assured that I do not misapprehend the precise import of your note by Mr. Lander, I beg to inquire if you will accept a challenge from me, in the District of Columbia? I have the honor to be,
Very respectfully, &c.,
ROGER A. PRYOR.
Hon. JOHN F. POTTER.

MR. POTTER TO MR. PRYOR.
APRIL 12, 1860.
SIR: If there be any ambiguity in my note of last evening, after the explanation of my friend Col. Lander to your friend Col. Keitt last night, and Mr. Chisman to-day, which I understand he made, I beg to say that I will answer the inquiry contained in your note when a challenge shall reach me.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, &c.
Hon. ROGER A. PRYOR JNO. F. POTTER.
NOTE-Immediately on receipt of the above, I delivered the following note, which I had been furnished by Mr. Pryor in advance. T. P. CHISMAN.

MR. PRYOR TO MR. POTTER.
VIRGINIA, April 12, 1860.
SIR: I demand the satisfaction usual among gentlemen for the personal affront you offered me in debate, and for which you were pleased to avow your responsibility.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
Hon. JOHN F. POTTER. ROGER A PRYOR.
PS.-My friend \, Mr. Chisman, will deliver this note
R. A. P.

COL. LANDER TO MR. CHISMAN.
The Hon. Mr. CHISMAN-Sir: Owing to my not being able to find Mr. Potter-an article in the Star causing him to change his place of meeting-I am compelled to request you to await a reply to the note you have favored me with, for a short,

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space of time-say for a few hours. I am, most respectfully &c.,
F. W. LANDER.

MR POTTER TO MR. PRYOR.
APRIL 12, 1860.
Sir: Your second note of to-day is received. I re[f]er you to my friend, Col. F. W. Zander, to make the necessary arrangements. I have the honor to be, &c.,
JOHN F. POTTER.
The Hon. ROGER A. PRYOR.

COL. LANDER TO MR. CHISMAN.
WASHINGTON, April 12, 1860-11 1/2 p. m.
The HON. T. P. CHISMAN-Sir: I have to state that my principal, Hon. John Potter, disclaiming the particular rules of the code, will fight the Hon. Roger A. Pryor with the common bowie-knife, at such a place, private room or open air, in the District, as we may agree upon, at a time to be fixed within the next twelve hours, by you and myself. Distance four feet at commencement of engagement. Two seconds to be present to each principal. Second restricted to one navy revolver each. Knives of principals of equal weight and length of blade. Fight to commence at the word "Three." The calling of the tally and word, as between principal seconds, to be decided by turning a piece of money. I have the honor to be most respectfully,
F. W. LANDER.

MR. CHISMAN TO COL. LANDER.
WASHINGTON, April 12, 1860.
COL. F. W. LANDER-Sir: In response to the demand of my friend Mr. Pryor for "the satisfaction usual among [g]entlemen," from your friend Mr. Potter, you state that your principal, "disclaiming the particular rules of the code, will fight Hon. Roger A. Pryor with the common bowie-knife, etc., etc." Not recognizing this vulgar, barbarous, and inhuman mode of settling difficulties as either usual among gentlemen or consistent with the notions of civilized society, I must, without referring your communication to my principal or even seeing him emphatically refuse to allow him to engage in it. Whenever your principal will reply to Mr. Pryor's demand in such a way as may seem to me consistent with any fair and even most liberal construction of the rules of the code, whether particular or general, I shall be most happy to communicate to my principal such response. I have the honor to be, most respectfully,
T. P. CHISMAN.

COL. LANDER TO MR. CHISMAN.
WASHINGTON, April 13-3 a. m.
The Hon. T. P. CHISMAN-Sir: Your note is just received. Without replying to the terms of indignation which seem to pervade it, I will simply say that my principal detests and abhors the barbarous and inhuman mode of settling difficulties usual among gentlemen, termed dueling. He represents his constituents in the following manner: He asserts and maintains his right to present on the floor of Congress, within parliamentary rules, any matter which he believes to be correct. Called upon by note to reply to your principal, he has made his statement. As his friend, I have presented it. You object to the terms. They were such as would alone enable my principal, who was unacquainted with the usual weapons of duelists, to meet your friend on equal terms. He will not go out of the District to fight a duel. He waives the usual last resort of the non-duelist, the assertion that he will defend himself whenever assailed. He even goes so far as to name time, place, and weapon. When at this stage of the affair you appeal to the strict terms of the code, and express yourself dissatisfied, there is but one result. I disclaim any of the scruples which have actuated my friend, Mr. Potter. Differing with him as much as a man can in politics, I believe with him that every American citizen is entitled to the full expression of his opinions. I therefore present myself in his place without restrictions.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
F. W. LANDER.

MR. CHISMAN TO COL. LANDER.
COL. F. W. LANDER-Sir: Neither my friend Mr. Pryor or myself have any personal quarrel with you. I cannot therefore permit him or myself to take any advantage of your offer to substitute yourself in Mr. Potter's place. As Mr. Potter, "who is," as you state, "unacquainted with the "usual weapons of duelists," cannot meet my friend "on equal terms" in the district of Columbia, except with the "common bowie-knife," which mode of fighting I have refused to accede to, and as he "will not go out of this District to fight a duel," and, moreover, "waives the usual last resort of the non-duelist," the assertion that he will defend himself whenever assailed, I must terminate this correspondence with the expression of my regret that we have been unable to adjust the matter between our principals in the manner "usual among gentlemen," which manner, though your principal detests and abhors it as barbarous and inhuman, would seem to men of plain sense not more so than a fight with bowie-knives.
I have the honor to be very respectfully, T. P. CHISMAN.

COL. LANDER TO MR. CHISMAN.
WASHINGTON, D. C., 8 a. m., April 13, 1860.
THE HON. T. P. CHISMAN.-Sir: I received your last note at 7 1/2 o'clock this morning. In it you reiterate your assertion that your principal shall not meet Mr. Potter with bowie-knives, making assurance doubly sure. I have to correct an impression I have apparently conveyed in my last letter-an expression also referred to in your note. It appears by my statement that "Mr. Potter waives the usual last resort of the non-duelist, the assertion that he will defend himself whenever assailed," has led you to believe that he will not defend himself if assaulted. This is a mistake. If for the time he waives the mere assertion, and placed himself so far as he could at the disposal of Mr. Pryor in regard to a personal combat, by no means believe that he will not defend himself. I beg to assure you, without consulting with my principal, that he will protect himself with honor whenever assailed. It also become my duty to inform you that the Hon. John Potter did not know of my offer to appear for him. The further remarks of your letter being mere expressions of opinion upon a mode of adjusting difficulties, the propriety of which we are not discussing, I have nothing to offer in reply.
I have the honor to be, most respectfully,
F. W. LANDER.

A CARD FROM MR. CHISMAN.
In further explanation of Mr. Pryor's position in the controversy with Mr. Potter, I deem it proper to make public the following notes; which, though never delivered have an essential bearing on the transaction. The first note was handed to me by Mr. Pryor, in Alexandria, and, at his urgent entreaty, I agreed, against my own judgment, to deliver it to Mr. Potter; but on reaching Washington, in deference to the earnest and unanimous remonstrance of Hon. Messrs. Lamar, Keitt, and Miles, I determined to take the responsibility of withholding it. It reads as follows:

"VIRGINIA, 12 o'clock, April 12, 1860.
"SIR: I avail myself of the earliest moment after a report from my friend Mr. Chisman to send you this note. In consequence of the impossibility of communicating with me my friend has been compelled to proceed without conference in the several stages of this controversy. He has acted in my behalf from the highest impulses of honor, and in obedience to the rules which govern the conduct of gentlemen in the settlement of personal difficulties. Nevertheless, I cannot abide his decision. Before formally accepting your terms of combat, I must repel the intimation conveyed in the note of your friend, Mr. Lander, to the effect that I am seeking in some way to restrict your liberty of speech as a Representative. I do not question your privileges in that regard. I only intend to vindicate my own character against an aspersion which you interpolated without warrant in the official report of the debates in the House of Representatives, and for which you refused any apology. Protesting against the terms of combat you offer-first, because they do not afford me the "satisfaction usual among gentlemen," which you engaged to accord me by your acceptance of my challenge; secondly, because they are inhuman, atrocious, and repugnant to all the sentiments of a civilized community; thirdly, because, by reason of your greatly superior size and strength, they deny me every condition of equal encounter-nevertheless, I do accept your terms and will fight you as you proposed. My friend Mr. Chisman is authorized to arrange the details of time and place.

"Before concluding, I must assure you that in the use of every weapon save one, the pistol, you have at least as much expertness and experience as myself. To this note I require a reply in your own name.
"I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
Hon. JOHN F. POTTER." "ROGER A. PRYOR."

Mr. Pryor, being unable to find a friend who would carry the above note, handed me the following, which I agreed to deliver to Mr. Potter.

"APRIL 14, 1860
"SIR: I seize the earliest opportunity after my return to the city, and an examination of the correspondence between Mr. Lander and Mr. Chisman in reference to the difficulty between us, to respond to the intimation contained in your second's last note. Although your proposed terms of combat were rejected by my friend without conference with me, yet I have no alternative now left but to submit to his decision. I find, however, in your rather significant and emphatic proclamation of a purpose to defend yourself against attack, some faint possibility of a settlement of the controversy between us. Acting on that suggestion, I beg to inform you that if you will, within the next three hours, name a particular time and designate some place out of the thoroughfares and more frequented portions of the city, with a view to escape interruption and to avoid injury to other persons, I will afford you an opportunity to redeem the vaunt with which you parade your resources of self-defense.
"Your obedient servant, ROGER A. PRYOR."
"My friend Mr. Chisman will deliver this note.
"Hon. J. F. Potter." R. A. P."
When on my way to deliver the above note to Mr. Potter, to my surprise I was authoritatively informed that he had been arrested and put under bonds to keep the peace. After this I could, of course, present no such communication to him.
T. P. CHISMAN.

To give our readers a perfect understanding of the affair, and the progress of events, we give also the letters of our correspondents in Washington, written as the incidents transpired:

THE PRYOR AND POTTER DIFFICULTY.
Correspondence of the N. Y. Tribune.
WASHINGTON, April 11, 1860
We had one of those extraordinary events happen in the House to-day that it is difficult to characterize in civil terms. The ordinary epithets applied to it by gentlemen in social intercourse it would not do to print. Mr. Pryor came to Congress with some sort of a reputation, which he is gradually getting rid of as fast as his worst enemy could desire. It is incomprehensible to men of common-sense views of life to see the strange proclivity that some people have who get into Congress to be hitting other men, or threatening to hit them, to shoot bullets at somebody, or threatening to shoot bullets. The whole thing seems so preposterous on the face of it, that one wonders if these men have not been sent to the wrong place. The reflection naturally occurs that they must have been dropped at the door of Congress by mistake, while being taken to a hospital for the bereaved in mind.
Here is this dramatic case of Pryor, that one regards with mingled feelings of amazement, sorrow, and contempt. Amazement that a sane man should make such an exhibition of himself-sorrow that the halls of Congress should be disfigured by such a scene, and contempt for the motives that seem to lie at the bottom of the whole display.

Mr. Lovejoy made a speech the other day. He was interrupted. Mr. Pryor said he should not shake his fist on one side of a certain imaginary 36.30 line on the floor of the House. Mr. Potter of Wisconsin retorted that Mr. Lovejoy should be allowed to make his speech, let the consequences be what they might. Mr. Potter went round to the printing-office to see how the report of the colloquy stood. He found that Mr. Potter had interlined the manuscript of the reporter, to correspond with what he had said. Pryor, without authority, erased Potter's remarks. Potter discovered the fact, and replaced them. The Globe appeared to-day with the last correction. Pryor rose formally in his seat, and read the words referred to, and said he did not hear them, and asked Potter

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if he altered them, and when Potter narrated the circumstances of the case and avowed the language, he wanted to know if he (Potter) intended to use language of menace or insult to him (Pryor). Potter said he stood by his words. Thereupon Pryor closed with the very superfluous remark, that whether he did or not would be shown in the sequel; as if a man could not be allowed to know whether he did stand by his statements without inquiring of Mr. Pryor. The object of Mr. Pryor seemed to be to intimate in an offensive manner that he would forthwith challenge Mr. Potter to deadly combat for the language in question. And, as he was well informed that Northern men do not fight duels, he must have known that it was an exceedingly cheap method of avouching his own bravery.

This is the whole story of what occurred in the House to-day. It seems utterly like child's play. The thing might do for a middy, whose mother did not know he was out, or a freshman of some one-horse Southern college. But as an exhibition of a grown man, and that man a member of Congress, it was too grossly out of place to view with patience.

The sneers and derisive laughter with which Pryor's remarks were received by the Republicans caused his face to flush very red, and the perspiration to flow copiously.

And now I have just one more thing to say. This business of challenging men who are known not to be dueling men, and of threatening and attacking Northern men, has gone about as far as it safely can go. Judging from the temper of Republicans, and from remarks that are freely made, it is fair to conclude that the point of determined resistance has been reached, and that when occasion shall call it will be offered in a most effective manner. Flesh and blood cannot stand everything.

Mr. Potter's bearing and behavior on the floor on the floor was perfectly cool and becoming. I have no doubt it will continue to be so. Without knowing anything about the facts, I take it for granted that he will pay no attention to any request of Mr. Pryor, to leave the district, or to fight a duel. This would be to become a participant in the burlesque proceeding, which I presume he has no purpose of becoming. There being nothing in the world to fight about, and no provocation for killing, or excuse for being killed, it would be the hight [sic] of absurdity of any man of sense to allow himself to be drawn into complications, voluntarily, that would involve either result.

The speech of Mr. Parrott, the delegate from Kansas, on its admission as a State, has won golden opinions from all sides. It was marked by unusual ability, good taste, and finish. If our conflicts in the Territories are to bring forth such men as Mr. Parrott, we think our Southern brethren will be shy of provoking them. Few men have made a more decided or better impression than Mr. Parrott since the assembling of Congress. J.S.P.

From Another Correspondent.
While the discussion on this question was dragging its weary length along, The Congressional Globe, as is usual, was laid on the laps (they have no desks) of members. It contained Lovejoy's famous attack upon the black "twin," with the many various things said and done in her defense on that occasion of the patriarchal chivalry. Roger A. Pryor took offense at something said, or not said, done, or not done, printed or not printed in the official report of this attack and defense; and he called John F. Potter to an account on the floor of the House, therefor [sic]. Though called, Potter did not come, and pretty broadly intimated to Pryor that he should stand exactly where the report in The Globe had placed him. This displeased Pryor, and he talked about personal responsibility. Roger seems anxious for notoriety, and something else. He may get both.

APPEARANCE OF THE HOUSE WHEN POTTER ENTERED IT ON HIS RETURN FROM THE WARS-DEBATE ON HIS RESOLUTION FOR A CLERK OF HIS COMMITTEE.
From an Occasional Correspondent.
WASHINGTON, April 13, 1860
This afternoon, about two o'clock, Mr. Potter of Wisconsin, after an absence of forty-eight hours, entered the House of Representatives. He came in without being heralded, in his usual quiet manner, taking the House by surprise. No sooner was his face recognized, than a score of Republican members rushed forward to greet him; and soon there was a universal uprising on that side of the Chamber. Potter, retreating to the cloak-room, and the crowd following. The salutations were hearty and general, even the doorkeepers and pages participating in the enthusiasm.

It was whispered from lip to lip in the galleries, "That is Potter!" and soon the spectators from above were bending over to catch a better view of the scene transpiring below.

For an hour or more before Mr. Potter came in, the termination of his affair with Pryor was the subject of anxious comment upon the Democratic side of the Hall. Heads in clusters of threes and fours were in earnest but subdued cogitation; and though their was an occasional waive [sic] of the hand or other impatient gesture, indicating indifference or contempt even, yet the general aspect was ludicrously grave and deprecatory. Usually, by 2 o'clock p. m., the mass of the Democracy gets to be hilarious, not to say jolly. The writer hereof has often been present when solemn and touching prayers were put up by gifted chaplains for the souls of honorable gentlemen; and occasionally, when impressive funeral rites were performed over the remains of some favorite member; but he has never witnessed upon the Democratic side of the House, and especially among the Chivalry, such a general and extreme elongation of countenance as was exhibited to-day. We doubt whether the observant eye of Lavater himself ever saw seventy men whose combined faces displayed so many feet, lineal measure, as theirs. Nor did the glow of satisfaction, which mantled every Republican cheek when Potter, standing erect, as is his wont his head firmly poised, his iron features and keen gray eye indicating self-possession and calm courage, was literally crowded into the cloak-room by the greetings and congratulations which his friends pressed upon him-nor did this unpremeditated and spontaneous tribute to the man who had "demonstrated" that he stood by his words, while his vaunting foe had been compelled to eat his, tend to lighten up the visages and cheer the hearts of his drooping sympathizers in the other wing of the Chamber.

Potter was in his place. But where was he of the flowing black locks, protuberant nsal appendage, and vast expanse of shirt collar? No one in the House certainly knew, though men of ardent imaginations fancied that at that precise juncture he might be snugly ensconced in a rear room of a dingy hotel in the ancient town of Alexandria, toying with an unpalatable dinner, and ruminating over the dietetic problem whether worms preferred to have their meat served up whole, or cut into slices.

When Potter entered the House, the Committees were being called for reports. Not long after he came in, the Committee of Revolutionary Pensions, of which he is Chairman, was called. At its last meeting the Committee had resolved to ask the House to vote them a clerk. And now, when the Chair announced that reports from this Committee were in order, Potter rose. Instantly the House, which had been in unusual confusion all day, sank into the most profound silence. The Chivalry, especially, strained their eyes to catch the lineaments of the man who had crushed their champion under his heel, and now wanted a clerk for his Committee. Quite a debate sprang up on his motion. Potter, in tones and manner which indicated not the slightest embarrassment on account of the novelty of his position, explained the reasons why his Committee needed a clerk. Barksdale, the vociferous, and Burnett, the dogged, opposed the motion, but were careful to use the most respectful language toward Potter. He very seldom addresses the House; but ever since his encounter with Keitt and his backers, two years ago, whenever it has been necessary to allude to him, the Chivalry have called him "the member from Wisconsin." Pryor invariably used this term in the colloquy with him on Wednesday.
But to-day! Barksdale and Burnett, in the running debate on the resolution, persistently called him either "the gentleman from Wisconsin," or, more frequently, "the honorable gentleman from Wisconsin." And Mr. Thomas of Tennessee, one of Potter's colleagues on the Committee, bestowed unmeasured encomiums upon the fidelity with which he discharged his duties, informing the House that if all the other members were as laborious as "the honorable Chairman," there would be no need of having a clerk. During the rest of the debate, Thomas's key-note was echoed by all the disputants on the Democratic side, and Potter was thenceforward "the honorable Chairman of the Committee." How much virtue, to some eyes, there is in the gleam of a bowie-knife!

Though the House had just denied Clerks to two or three Committees, it was evident that Potter's motion would prevail. Burnett politely suggested an amendment. Potter rose and blandly accepted it. Barksdale desired to propound a question to "the honorable Chairman of the Committee," and the Chairman inclined his honorable ear toward the fiery Mississipian [sic] and imparted to him the desired information. The manner in which the House went off into the usual buzz and turmoil while Burnett and the others who were speaking, and sank into the deepest silence whenever Potter replied, was ludicrously interesting. Tom. Florence finally intimated that the House was ready for the vote, and the House agreed with Tom. Florence. The previous question was sustained, and on a call of the Yeas and Nays the motion was adopted by about two to one.

Correspondence of the N. Y. Tribune.
WASHINGTON, April 15, 1860
It turns out that Mr. Potter was more willing to meet the bravado of the Chivalry than I had supposed. Acting under the pressure of the numerous aggravated assaults upon the Republicans, from the date of the brutal attack upon Senator Sumner until now, and stung to the quick by the systematic attempts at affront and humiliation practiced upon northern forbearance all through the session, the manly instinct of Mr. Potter prompted him to take a step in advance of the counsels of more forbearing men. But for what he has done the sympathy of the whole Republican party in Congress goes out in warm and hearty support. It is perfectly well known that he has acted throughout from motives of the most honorable character, and in the spirit of the severest self-denial. No man has a deeper detestation of broils and violence. No man more abhors and loathes the barbarous, inhuman, and hellish instincts and practices of the duelist. But along with this disgust he possesses a spirit that rises and rebels against the persistent attempts at humiliating Northern representatives made and repeated on the floor of Congress. No person knows who has not himself dwelt and acted amid semi-barbarians and assassins, and among men who seek the lives of their associates, on the most trivial occasions, and without cause, what hurricanes of passion can be roused in the soul of usually moderate men by such aggravating experiences. And to judge the conduct of a man who acts under such influences by the strict rules of propriety and morality laid down for ordinary guidance, is to do him monstrous injustice.

Congress has become little better than a den of semi-savages. It is here that our conflicting systems of civilization impinge. This is the point of contact, and of course of friction, or irritation, and of conflict. The representative of all that is hideous in our gigantic barbarism of slavery comes to the surface here in its most offensive and insulting aspects. The circumstances are the more aggravated because the politics of the country are now in a transition state. The contest being to see whether Slavery is to possess the whole country, or to be limited to the area it now occupies, the question is one that rouses all the brutal forces and instincts of its supporters. This barbarism thus sways its battle-ax in the halls of legislation, and essays to win by intimidation, violence, and bloodshed. The question is thus forced upon the representatives of the civilization of the country, "In what manner shall such demonstrations be met?" Each man must answer for himself. Of course the answers are as various as the individuals themselves. Nobody proposes to succumb; but upon the mode of resistance there is a natural lack of unanimity. While one man, or set of men, believes the barbarians should be met with their own weapons, others insist upon holding to civilized and Christian methods. The necessities of the case must be left to shape their own results. It is difficult to anticipate them. One thing at least is sure. There is a point which all men recognize as one where forbearance ceases to be a virtue. Under the extraordinary circumstances of the present condition of things in Congress, every man should be allowed to be his own judge what that point is in his own case. It would be harsh and outrageous in any Northern constituency to condemn its representative for being to intrepid at such a time.

In this particular instance of Mr. Potter, it is well understood that there are wretched hounds upon his track from his own State, how here, who egg on the Southern bullies to press him to the point of resistance, first, in the hope he may be killed out of their way, and next, that if he escape, they can attack him at home for repelling his assailants in the only way he considers left open to him. These devilish purposes have thus far been baffled, though not ended, so far as his life is concerned. If he should survive their machinations, the other ordeal is still to be met, and in undergoing that, if he should be allowed to live to do it, he will deserve the sympathies and support of every generous heart. His position, and that of every other Northern man who holds or may hold a similar one, is trying in the extreme. Beset by bullies and assassins on the one hand who seek his life for opposing their designs, circumventing their schemes, and humbling their pretensions, he is pursued on the other by hypocritical and malicious doughfaces, who will aim to make his very merits criminal, that they may rise upon his ruin. It is time the Northern people were fully awake to these things. J. S. P.


The original copy of the Tribune from which this text is taken was provided by Kevin Dier-Zimmel.