Diary Entry by Edmund Ruffin, February 19, 1857

    Source citation
    Scarborough, William Kauffman, ed. The Diary of Edmund Ruffin. Vol. 1. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972, p. 37.
    Author (from)
    Edmund Ruffin
    Date Certainty
    Meghan Allen
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as true to the original written document as possible.
    Feb. 19. An exciting scene in the House of Representatives, for which I had been watching two days previous. The report of the “corruption committee” was submitted. Four members, all abolitionists & northern men (3 of N.Y., & 1 of Con.,) are proved guilty of receiving enormous bribes, for their acts to enrich private interests, & their expulsion from the house is recommended by the committee, by 4 to 1. The committee, selected by the abolition speaker, consists of two democrats, two abolitionist, & one “know-nothing” whig. The reading, & then the reception of the report was opposed by every effort, by some of the abolitionists, in long speeches. But two others of that party denounced this attempt to produce delay, & thus ward of the trial—by which delay alone the rascals would escape punishment, as the session is so near at an end. After a long & animated & disorderly debate, the report was received, & ordered, with the testimony, to be printed. The discussion is postponed to next week. We have enough of immoral men in the south, & enough of such representatives in Congress. Nevertheless, not a member from any slave-holding state has been suspected of sharing in this base conduct, of receiving bribes, which, though only now proved, has existed for a long time. So it had come to be understood that very few large private claims could be passed without bribery--& that few such were rejected, if enough money was used to forward them. Still, this was but suspicion, & the facts were known only to those who either paid or receive the bribes…
    Who were to compose the cabinet of the new president has been a mystery until yesterday, when it was announced (though on no certain authority,) & the members are now believed to be understood. Cass is to be Secretary of State, Howel[l] Cobb of Ga., Sec. of War, & Floyd, of Va., Sec. of the Navy. All these I deem bad appointments, & there is nothing to compensate these deficiencies in the other heads of inferior departments. In addition to objections to Cass’s political views, (he being a representative of northern democracy,) he has seemed to have a monomania for war with England. Besides he is so old, that his mind is probably failing, & it was never of very high order. Cobb was an advocate for the “compromise” measures of 1850, by which the rights of the southern states were sacrificed. In Ex-Gov. Floyd’s integrity, public or private, I have no confidence. Pickens of S.C. is the only member of the new cabinet who (I suppose) goes fully for the south. But his own state could supply many men as true as he can be, & of greater ability. Yet all the democratic newspapers are pronouncing the appointments to be admirable.
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