Report of Legislative Proceedings regarding Suspension of the Rules, 3 April 1848
Mr. LINCOLN moved to suspend the rules of the House to take up the joint resolution from the Senate relative to contracts for the purchase of hemp for the use of the navy, for the purpose of referring it to the Committee on Naval Affairs.1
Mr. HOUSTON, of Alabama, suggested to the gentleman from Illinois that he would accomplish his object by modifying his motion so as to embrace all the bills and resolutions from the Senate lying on the Speaker’s table.
Mr. LINCOLN replied to the gentleman from Alabama, that he was aware of that fact when he made the motion.
Mr. HOUSTON would then inquire whether the motion was susceptible of amendment.
No reply was heard. If any, it was presumed to be in the negative.
The SPEAKER announced the question to be on the motion of Mr. Lincoln.
Mr. HOUSTON demanded the yeas and nays. He wanted to see whether the House would take up this bill and refuse to take up the others.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
Mr. COBB, of Georgia, desired to inquire, in order that the House might be distinctly informed upon what they were voting, if this was a motion to suspend the rules for the purpose of taking up an isolated resolution in preference to other and more important bills on the Speaker’s table?
The SPEAKER. The motion is to suspend the rules, for the purpose of taking up the joint resolution relative to contracts for hemp for the use of the navy.
Mr. COBB. I have no objection to taking them all up. I hope there will be no suspension for any particular bill.
The question was taken, and the vote stood: yeas 81, nays 61.2
So, two-thirds not voting in the affirmative, the rules were not suspended.3
1On March 15, 1848, Thomas Hart Benton in the Senate introduced Senate Resolution 14 (S.R. 14), which proposed the purchase of American-grown hemp for the U.S. Navy. The Senate referred the resolution to the Committee on Naval Affairs. The committee reported back the resolution on March 20 with an amendment, in which the Senate concurred. On March 22, the Senate adopted the resolution as amended, changing the title so as to read, “A Joint Resolution respecting Contracts for Hemp for the Use of the American Navy.”
U.S. Senate Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 213, 222, 229-30; U.S. House Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 597; Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 467, 526, (1848).
2The House Journal recorded the vote as 81 yeas to 68 nays, with Abraham Lincoln voting yea.
U.S. House Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 645-47.
3The House initially refused to consider S. R. 14, and on April 26, members of the House proposed an alternative resolution. After numerous delays, the House took up S. R. 14 on May 4 and adopted it. The Senate and House presented the joint resolution to President James K. Polk on May 8.
The issue involved the Navy’s desire to contract for the purchase of hemp for five years at a price equal to the price of hemp for the previous five years. Senators and representatives were concerned that American producers could not provide hemp of a sufficient quality or quantity equal to that available from foreign sources, and that the price for American-produced hemp would exceed that of foreign-grown hemp. The highest grade of hemp for cordage at that time was Riga Rein hemp from Poland.
U.S. House Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 670, 697, 766-67, 782; U.S. Senate Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 326; Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 526 (1848); S. B. Luce, Seamanship: Compiled from Various Authorities, and Illustrated with Numerous Original and Select Designs, for the Use of the United States Naval Academy, sixth ed., (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1877), 48.
Printed Document, 1 page(s), Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 571 (1848)