regard to the Constitution
I content myself in saying that it was never contemplated by the framers of the Constitution
that this Government should be maintained by military force or by subjugating different political communities.
It was declared by Madison
and by Hamilton
himself that there was no competency in the Government
thus to preserve it. Suppose the military subjugation is successful — suppose the army marches through Virginia
and the Gulf
States to New Orleans — then the war is prosecuted unconstitutionally.
Even if there was warrant of law for it, it would be the overthrow of the Constitution
There is no warrant in the Constitution
to conduct the contest in that form.
In further proof of how they intend to conduct this contest, I refer to the speech of the eloquent Senator
, (Mr. Baker
,) when he declared he was for direct war, and said that for that purpose nobody was so good as a dictator.
Is any thing more necessary to show that, so far as that Senator
is concerned, he proposed to conduct the contest without regard to the Constitution
I heard no rebuke administered to the eminent Senator
, but, on the contrary, I saw warm congratulations, and the Senator
declared that, unless the people of these States were willing to obey the Federal Government
, they must be reduced to the condition of territories, and, he added, he would govern them by governors from Massachusetts
This was said seriously, and afterwards repeated.
He said he was delivering a speech against giving too much power to the President
, and was keeping his usual constitutional, guarded position against an increase of the standing army, and gave, as an excuse for voting for the bill, the present state of public affairs.
He did say he would take some risk of despotism, and repeated that he would risk a little to save all. He hoped the States would return to their allegiance; but, if they would not, he thought it better for civilization and humanity that they should be governed as territories.
He did say so then, and believed so now, and thought the events of the next six months would show that it would be better if the senator believed it too.
said the answer of the senator proved what he said, and contended that it was evident that the Constitution
was to be put aside.
It was utterly subversive of the Constitution
and of public liberty to clothe any one with dictatorial powers.
He then referred to the speech of Mr. Dixon
, of Connecticut
, who said, in substance, that if African
slavery stood in the way it must be abolished.
had the secretary read what he did say on the subject, as published.
said it appeared to him that the most violent Republicans had possession of the Government
, and referred to the bill introduced by Mr. Pomeroy
to suppress the slave-holder rebellion, and which also contained a provision for the abolition of slavery.
He contended that the very title was enough to show that the Constitution
was to be put aside.
Mr. Bingham (Mich.)
asked if he contended this was not a slaveholders' rebellion.
--I do, sir; I do. He then referred to the refusal of last session to make any compromise, though the Southern
leaders said they would be satisfied with the Crittenden Compromise
But all efforts were refused, and now any offers of peace are ruled out of order in one House
, and it is vain and idle to argue for it. He wanted to let the country know that Congress deliberately refused the last effort to avert the horrors of an internal struggle.
But why utter words?
I shall trouble the Senate no longer.
I know that no argument or appeal will have any effect.
I have cherished all my life an attachment to the union of these States under the Constitution of the United States
, and I have always revered that instrument as one of the wisest of human works, but now it is put aside by the Executive
of the United States
, and those acts are about to be approved by the Senate, and I see proceedings inaugurated which, in my opinion, will lead to the utter subversion of the Constitution
and public liberty.
It is vain to oppose it. I am aware that, in the present temper of Congress, one might as well oppose his uplifted hand to the descending waters of Niagara
as to risk an appeal against these contemplated proceedings.
The few of us left can only look with sadness on the melancholy drama being enacted before us. We can only hope that this flash of frenzy may not assume the form of chronic madness, but that Divine Providence may preserve for us and for posterity, out of the wreck of a broken Union, the priceless principles of constitutional liberty and self-government.
.) said he wanted to know if the President
had not saved the country, by prompt action.
He sanctioned all done, and the people sanctioned it, and he sanctioned all to be done, when our victorious columns shall sweep treason from old Virginia
The President had suspended the writ of habeas corpus, and he only regretted the corpus of Baltimore
treason had not been suspended at the same time.
Suppose the Senator
had been elected President
, would he have refused to defend the Capital
when he found that armed rebellion was endeavoring to capture it?
He believed not. He proceeded to allude to the seizure of telegraphic despatches, severely commented on as a usurpation of power by the senator from Kentucky
That seizure would be necessary perhaps to implicate certain senators on this floor.
He had read this day in a paper that a certain senator had telegraphed that President Lincoln
's Congress would not be allowed to meet here on the 4th of July.
said he supposed the senator alluded to him.
replied that he did.
replied that his personal relations with the senator precluded him from