Pistol On The House Floor
John Bussing Haskin of New York
United States House of Representatives, January 12 1860

Mr. HASKIN. My colleague, sir, having impertinently said on this floor that it was none of my business, I desire now to make an explanation personal to myself, and personal to that colleague, for the purpose of showing to the House and the country in what a circus-riding aspect that colleague stands in the house. [Loud and excited calls to order.] Now,sir, I desire to make a personal explanation [cries of "Order!" "Order!"] for the purpose of satisfying the House - [continued calls to order from the Democratic benches] for the purpose of satisfying the House that my colleague, who claims to be an anti-Lecompton Democrat, has, on this and on other questions, acted with -

Mr. BARR. (amid much confusion and excitement.) I call the gentleman to order. [cries of "Order!" "Order!"] I call on the Clerk to direct the Sergeant-at-Arms to make gentlemen take their seats -

Mr. HASKIN. I desire to show that that gentleman - [Loud and angry cries of "Order!"]

The CLERK. The gentleman from New York will suspend his remarks till order is restored in the Hall.

Mr. BARR. I call the gentleman to order.

Mr. KEITT. Where personal difficulties exist among gentlemen, it is their business to settle them outside of this Hall.

Mr. HASKIN. I rose to make a personal explanation; and I have a right to do so.

Mr. KEITT repeated his remark, which was hardly audible from the noise and confusion.

Mr. McCLERNAND. The gentleman from New York has no right to bully the House.

Mr. HARRIS, of Maryland. I am entitled to the floor, and I demand it at your hands, Mr. Clerk.

The CLERK. The Sergeant-at-Arms will go into the House and insist that members shall resume their seats. The Clerk calls upon members to preserve the order of the House.
Half a dozen members addressed the Clerk amid cries of "Order!" "Take your seats!" "Sit down!"

Mr. KEITT. Mr. Clerk, I want to say a word.

The CLERK. No member will be recognized until order is restored.

Mr. TAYLOR. took the Clerk's desk and endeavored to address the House, but the confusion among the members who crowded into the area, and the constant cries from all sides of "Order!" "Sit down!" together with excited conversations, prevented him from proceeding.

The CLERK again appealed to members to preserve order.
The Sergeant-at-Arms carried the mace of the House of Representatives through the Hall, and compelled members to disperse to their seats.


Mr. DAVIDSON. I desire to say that if these things are to continue in the future, I must bring a double-barreled shot-gun into the House with me. [Laughter.]

Mr HARRIS, of Maryland. I am sorry to find that my friend from Louisiana is disposed to make game of the House. [Renewed laughter.]


Mr. CLEMENS. I only desire to say, and the gentleman from Kentucky [Mr. BURNETT,] will not object to it, that I have witnessed here to-day what I trust, as a member of this House, and as a member of the Virginia delegation, it may never be my fortune to witness again, whether in public or private life. Standing about four feet from the gentleman from New York - I mean Mr. HASKIN - and when he replied to the remark made by his colleague that "it was none of his business," and said that he had impertinently said something which he ought not to have said, he put his hand upon his breast, his coat buttoned by two brass buttons -
[Loud cries of "Order!" "Order!" all over the Hall.]


Mr. HASKIN. With the gentleman's consent, I would like to have the floor for five minutes, for a personal explanation. I want to say a word or two in reference to the scene which took place here sometime since, which has been refered to by the gentleman from Virginia. [Mr. CLEMENS,] and which I regret as much as any member upon this floor.

Mr. BURNETT. I object, unless the gentleman from New York will say that, in his explanation, he will not indulge in any reflections upon any member upon this floor.

Mr. HASKIN. I do say so.

Mr. Clerk, I want to make a personal explanation that will put me right before this House, the country, and my consituents. The gentleman from Virginia [Mr. CLEMENS,] has alluded to the fact, that a fire-arm had fallen upon the floor of this Chamber, while I was addressing the House. It is due to truth to state, that while I was upon the floor, excited perhaps, because of what I conceived at the time to be a harsh and unjust remark of my colleague, [Mr. CLARK,] a pistol which I had in the breast-pocket of my coat accidentally fell to the floor. Permit me to add, that no man who knows me at home, would believe for one moment, that I could ever use a pistol in any other than an honorable way. I regret as much as any gentleman upon this floor, that the accident occurred.

I will state briefly the reason for my carrying a pistol. Last night I was out until twelve o'clock. I reside in the outskirts of the city, near English hill, as it is called, where you know, sir, many outrages have been committed, and I had it with me for my own protection. And there have been times since I have been a member of this body, when other gentlemen came here armed. Until I came here to Washington I never deemed it necessary to go armed. I regret as much as any man possibly can the necessity for this thing. I do not carry a pistol for any use in this House - God forbid that I should; but for my protection in my movements through this sometimes violent capital. I have seen at the last session, and at this, occasions when, perhaps, for the protection of northern members from assault it might have been necessary to have had a fire-arm. I say now, that when this House is organized, I hope every gentleman here will pledge his honor to the country not to have any fire-arms within this Hall where the business of legislation is to be conducted.


Mr. HASKIN. I am willing. My having this pistol with me this morning, I can assure gentlemen of the House, was an accident growing out of the fact that I was out last night until twelve o'clock, and that I live in a neighborhood where outrages have been committed. Any gentleman of the other side who asserts, if any will do so, that I either drew, or attempted to draw, that pistol in this House, asserts that which is not within the pale of truth. God knows I would not, under any circumstances, draw that pistol upon any in this House, unless I was unjustly assaulted and had to do it in my own self-defense.

Mr. CLARK, of New York. One word of personal explantion. As I am satisifed that a remark made by me, which was, at least, uncourtly, led to this excitment of my colleague, I have to say that I ought not to have used the language which I employed, to say that the question which my colleague addressed to my friend from Mississippi [Mr. McRAE] had reference to a subject in respect of which it occurred to me that it was none of my colleague's business to inquire.


Horace Francis Clark of New York
Lawrence Massillon Keitt of South Carolina
Thomas G. Davidson of Louisiana
John Alexander McClernand of Illinois
James Morrison Harris of Maryland
Sherrard Clemens of Virginia
Miles Taylor of Louisiana
Henry Cornelius Burnett of Kentucky
Thomas Jefferson Barr of New York

The Congressional Globe, The Official Proceedings of Congress, Published by John C. Rives, Washington, D. C.
Thirty-Sixth Congress, 1st Session,
New Series...No. 27, Friday, January 13, 1860, page 432.
New Series...No. 28, Tuesday, January 17, 1860, pages 433, 434, 435.