of this joint resolution approving the action of the President
Here in Washington, in Kentucky, in Missouri, everywhere where the authority of the President extends, in his discretion he will feel himself warranted, by the action of Congress upon this resolution, to subordinate the civil to the military power; to imprison citizens without warrant of law; to suspend the writ of habeas corpus; to establish martial law; to make seizures and searches without warrant; to suppress the press; to do all those acts which rest in the will, and in the authority of a military commander.
In my judgment, sir, if we pass it, we are upon the eve of putting, so far as we can, in the hands of the President of the United States the power of a dictator.
Then, in reply to the Senator
, (Mr. Baker
,) he seems to have great apprehension of a radical change in our form of government.
goes on to say:
The pregnant question, Mr. President, for us to decide is, whether the Constitution is to be respected in this struggle; whether we are to be called upon to follow the flag over the ruins of the Constitution?
Without questioning the motives of any, I believe that the whole tendency of the present proceedings is to establish a government without limitation of powers, and to change radically our frame and character of government.
Sir, I most fully concur with the Senator
that there is a great effort being made to change the nature and character of our Government.
I think that effort is being demonstrated and manifested most clearly every day; but we differ as to the parties making this great effort.
alludes, in his speech, to a conversation he had with some very intelligent gentleman who formerly represented our country abroad.
It appears from that conversation that foreigners were accustomed to say to Americans
, “I thought your Government existed by consent; now how is it to exist?”
and the reply was, “We intend to change it; we intend to adapt it to our condition; these old colonial geographical divisions and States will ultimately be rubbed out, and we shall have a Government strong and powerful enough.”
seemed to have great apprehensions based on those conversations.
He read a paragraph from a paper indicating that State lines were to be rubbed out. In addition to all this he goes on to state that the writ of habeas corpus has been violated, and he says that since the Government
commenced, there has not been a case equal to the one which has recently transpired in Maryland
I shall take up some of his points in their order, and speak of them as I think they deserve to be spoken of. The Senator
The civil authorities of the country are paralyzed, and a practical martial law is being established all over the land.
The like never happened in this country before, and would not be tolerated in any country in Europe which pretends to the elements of civilization and regulated liberty.
George Washington carried the thirteen colonies through the war of the Revolution without martial law. The President of the United States cannot conduct the Government three months without resorting to it.
puts great stress on the point, and speaks of it in very emphatic language, that General Washington
carried the country through the seven years of the Revolution without resorting to martial law during all that period of time.
Now, how does the matter stand?
When we come to examine the history of the country, it would seem that the Senator
had not hunted up all the cases.
We can find some, and one in particular, not very different from the case which has recently occurred, and to which he alluded.
In 1777, the second year of the war of the Revolution, members of the society of Friends in Philadelphia
were arrested on suspicion of being disaffected to the cause of American freedom.
A publication now before me says:
The persons arrested, to the number of twenty, “* * * * *” were taken into custody by military force, at their homes or usual places of business; many of them could not obtain any knowledge of the cause of their arrest, or of any one to whom they were amenable, and they could only hope to avail themselves of the intervention of some civil authority.
The Executive Council [of the State of Pennsylvania] being formed of residents of the city and county of Philadelphia, had a better knowledge of the society of Friends and of their individual characters than the members of Congress assembled from the various parts of the country, and ought to have protected them.
But instead of this, they caused these arrests of their fellow-citizens to be made with unrelenting severity, and from the 1st to the 4th day of September, 1777, the party was taken into confinement in the Mason's Lodge in Philadelphia.
On the minutes of Congress of 3d September, 1777, it appears that a letter was received by them from George Bryan, Vice-President of the Supreme Executive Council, dated 2d September, stating that arrests had been made of persons inimical to the American States, and desiring the advice of Congress particularly whether Augusta and Winchester, in Virginia, would not be proper places at which to secure prisoners. * * *
Congress must have been aware that it was becoming a case of very unjust suffering, for they passed their resolution of 6th September, 1777, as follows:
“ That it be recommended to the Supreme Executive Council of the State of Pennsylvania to hear what the said remonstrants can allege to remove the suspicions of their being disaffected or dangerous to the United States.”
But the Supreme Executive Council, on the same day, referring to the above,