Congress met, a military officer in Baltimore
was appointed a marshal of that city.
Will any man defend the act?
Does it not override all other law?
Is it not substituting the rule of a military commander for the laws of the land?
What more authority has this officer to appoint a marshal for the city of Baltimore
than he had to appoint a pastor for one of their congregations, or a president for one of their banks?
The Constitution guards the people against any seizure without a warrant of judicial authority.
Has not the President
of the United States
, by one broad, sweeping act, laid his hands upon the private correspondence of the whole community?
Who defends it, as conformable to the Constitution
I am told, sir, and if I had the power I would offer a resolution to inquire into it, in the name of the public liberties — I am told that at this moment, in the jail in this city, there are individuals who have been taken by military authorities from Maryland
and other States, and now lie here and cannot get out, and in some instances they have actually been forgotten.
I was told of one instance, where a man was put in jail here and forgotten.
His friends made application at one of the departments, and they looked into the case and found nothing against him, and he was discharged.
But, in the rush of events, the very existence of this man, and the cause of his imprisonment, was forgotten.
We may have this joint resolution to approve these acts and make them valid, but we cannot make them valid in fact.
I know that Congress, in the exercise of its legislative functions, may appropriate money, but it has been expended by the President
without warrant of law. But whatever unconstitutional act he may have committed cannot be cured by a joint
It stands there, and will stand forever.
Nor can this Congress prevent a succeeding Congress from holding any officer of the Government
responsible for a violation of the Constitution
I enumerate what I regard as the usurpations of the executive, and against which I wish to record the protest of those who are unwilling to see the Constitution
subverted, under whatever pretext, necessity, or otherwise. [Mr.
B. then re-enumerated the several acts in the resolution, to which he had referred.] These great fundamental rights, sir, the sanctity of which is the measure of progress and civilization, have
been trampled under foot by the military, and are being now trampled under foot every day in the presence of the two houses of Congress; and yet so great, on one side, is the passion of the hour, and so astonishing the stupid amazement on the other, that we take it as natural, as right, and as of course.
We are rushing, sir, and with rapid strides, from a Constitutional Government into a military despotism.
The Constitution says the freedom of speech and of the press shall not be abridged, yet, three days ago, in the city of St. Louis
, a military officer with four hundred soldiers — that was his warrant — went into a newspaper office in that city, removed the types, and declared that the paper should be no longer published, and gave, among other reasons, that it was fabricating reports injurious to the United States
soldiers in Missouri
Is there a Senator here, a citizen of this land, who will say that the slightest color of authority exists on the part of a military officer for depriving a citizen of liberty or property without a warrant of law, or to suppress the freedom of the press?
And we are told by the same despatch that the proprietors of the paper submitted, and intended to make an appeal.
To the judicial authorities?
No, sir, but to Major-General Fremont
, when he should reach St. Louis
The civil authorities of the country are paralyzed, and practical martial law is being established all over the land.
The like never happened in this country before, and it would not be tolerated in any country in Europe
which pretends to the elements of civilization and liberty.
carried the thirteen colonies through the war of the Revolution without martial law. The President of the United States
could not conduct the Government
three months without resorting to it. I presume every Senator
has read the opinion of the Chief-Justice
to which I have referred.
I shall content myself with reading a few extracts, to present my opinions on the subject. [Mr.
B. read from the closing part of Judge Taney
's opinion.] Thus the President
has assumed the legislative and judicial powers, and concentrated in his hands the executive, legislative, and judicial powers, which in every age have been the very evidence of despotism, and he exercises them to-day, while we sit in the Senate chamber
, and the other branch of the Legislature at the other end of the capitol
. Mr. President
, what is the excuse — what is the justification,--necessity?
I answer, first, that there was no necessity.
Was it necessary to preserve the visible emblems of Federal authority here, that the Southern
coast should have been blockaded?
Did not the same necessity exist when Congress, at the last session, refused to pass the force bill?
Was it necessary to the existence of the Union
, till Congress should meet, that powers not conferred by the Constitution
should be assumed?
Was there a necessity for overrunning the State of Missouri
Was there a necessity for raising the largest army ever assembled on the American
continent, and for collecting the largest fleet ever collected in an American harbor?
Congress may deem it was necessary in contemplation of a protracted struggle for the preservation of the Constitution
and the Union
What I mean to say is, that there was none of that overruling necessity for present preservation which may apply to usurpations of the Constitution
In the case of the man in Maryland
who was confined so long in Fort McHenry
, was there any necessity of confining him, instead of turning him over to the civil authorities?