Did you know that on January 30, 1798 the Honorable Representative of Vermont, Matthew Lyon (Democratic-Republican), was charged with “disorderly conduct” by the House of Representatives? After exchanging several insults with the Honorable Representative of Connecticut, Roger Griswold (Federalist), Mr. Lyon then proceeded to spit tobacco juice on him.
Not long after being charged with “disorderly conduct” the Honorable Mr. Lyon acquired an additional charge of “gross indecency of language in his defense before the House”. This was the result of another confrontation with the Honorable Mr. Griswold on February 8, 1798.
The Honorable Mr. Griswold felt that it was then necessary to even the score there by acquiring his own charge of “disorderly conduct” on February 15, 1798. This particular incident involved Mr. Griswold striking Mr. Lyon with a “stout cane” while on the House floor. Mr. Lyon was kind enough to respond by returning the favor and striking Mr. Griswold with fireplace tongs.
Johns Adams was the subject at the center of this sequence of events. The dispute over whether or not he should be President and Adam’s military stance regarding France and the need to show force in order to create war. Sound familiar?
While these tantrums happened among respected Representatives in an earlier Congress, it is not difficult to visualize these same events occurring behind the closed doors of our current Congress. There is no doubt that history does repeat itself. When considering the grandstanding and bickering that currently exists the likelihood of former methods coloring the House floor it is not a far reach to expect history to re-visit – frequently.