Suppose the law is passed, and the authority conferred upon the President. Whom shall he seize? What innocent foreigner, what trustful traveller, what honored guest? It may be Mr. Dickens or Mr. Trollope or Rev. Newman Hall; or it may be some merchant here on business, guiltless of any wrong and under the constant safeguard of the public faith. Permit me to say, sir, that the moment you do this, you will cover the country with shame, of which the present bill will be the painful prelude. You will be guilty of a barbarism kindred to that of the Abyssinian king Theodorus; you will degrade the national name, and make it a byword of reproach. Sir, now is the time to arrest this dishonor. See to it by your votes that it is impossible forever.The Senate rejected the House retaliatory provisions by a vote of thirty yeas to seven nays, but yielded to clamor far enough to insert Williams's amendment requiring the President, ‘whenever an American citizen was unjustly deprived of his liberty by a foreign government, to use such means, not amounting to acts of war, as he may think necessary and proper to obtain or effectuate a release.’ Sumner opposed this amendment as conferring undefined powers, even those of reprisal.2 He approved the definition in the bill of the rights of citizenship growing out of expatriation, but Williams's amendment left the measure in such an unsatisfactory shape that he did not vote upon it. The bill passed with only five negative votes.3
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1 Congress was led by popular excitement, but perhaps more by a rivalry of parties, at the time of the dispute concerning the fisheries with Great Britain, to pass a resolution in 1887 authorizing the President to suspend commercial intercourse with that power; but President Cleveland (lid not exercise the power conferred.
3 Speaker Colfax urged Sumner, in an interview, July 23, and by letter the next day, to support the bill for political reasons. On the other hand, letters approving his course came from E. R. Hoar, P. W. Chandler. Marshall O. Roberts, and George Wilkes.
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