From Chap. 23, Washington, DC, 1822

The houses of Congress were not at all what I had expected. The first thing to strike me in the representative hall was the noise. Henry Clay was the only man I could hear above the din of chattering, clapping, door slamming, hissing, rattling of newspapers, coughing, and hawking of alcohol.

Standing in the gallery, I surmised that each man had been issued a mahogany table and elbow chair, pen, ink, paper, and his choice of bladed weapon. These various knives were employed in whittling, picking teeth, cutting pieces from plugs of tobacco, or merely flicking open and closed, open and closed.

Looking toward the tobacco-stained floor I noticed shavings from the whittlers rolling off boots of every sort-some equipped with spurs. I counted three canines sleeping at their masters' feet.

Nobody was paying any attention to the speaker.

"And what is your impression of your nation's lawmaking body?" asked Luther Rice, standing beside me.

"Would that they displayed one tenth of the dignity I've witnessed in so many Indian councils," I said, "and to think the fate of one rests in the hands of the other."