Bright's defence — his speech.
In the Congress
on Wednesday, the 5th Mr. Bright
, of Ind.
, delivered himself of the following:
He said that he would address a few words to the Senate before the vote was taken.
He returned his thanks to the members of the Judiciary Committee, who had almost unanimously reported in his favor, and especially those whose able judicial arguments have been heard in his behalf.
The Vice President
, who, at the last session, was a member of that committee, had, however, fallen away from that report, which, for the sake of that gentleman and the principles of justice, he regretted.
As he had said here formerly, had he supposed that he was to be arraigned on such a variety of charges, by such a variety of persons, instead of the one charge of disloyalty as evidenced by the letter to Jefferson Davis
, he might have been better prepared to meet it, and employed counsel.
But he was glad now he had not done so. And all he had now to say was with the view of putting himself right before the country.
entered into a history of his acquaintance with T. B. Lincoln
for the last twenty- five years, whom he pronounced a respectable enterprising business man, and against whom he had never heard anything discreditable until his arrest in Cincinnati
, in July last, on the charge of treason, when two letters were found upon his person purporting to be written by him, (Mr.
B.,) one dated in June, 1860, introducing T. B. Lincoln
to Capt. Franklin
, superintendent of the Capitol
extension, calling his attention to some invention of the former, and the other to Jefferson Davis
, dated March 1st, 1861, introducing Lincoln
as a person who wished to present an improvement in fire arms.
He read them to show that their language was similar, and therefore did not justify the effort that had been made to make the latter appear as particularly courteous and friendly to Jeff. Davis
Touching upon the state of the country at that time, Mr. Bright
referred to the compromise efforts and the cordon of border slave States which engaged therein, Tennessee
, North Carolina
, and others, at first pronouncing against Secession; but Northern Republicans refusing to meet them in like spirit, eventually changing their course.
Then from the time of the issue of the President
's proclamation we were not friends, but enemies, in a belligerent sense.
Up to that time provisions, munitions, mails &c., were freely sent South; then they were suddenly stopped, and after that he would not have given countenance to such a thing, or written the letter in question.
No one who had heard this debate believed that letter was the cause of his expulsion, With that letter before them the committee had reported, six out of seven, in his favor.
But when the matter came in here party drill was applied, and the question brought to its present state.
He repeated the declaration that he had no recollection of writing either the letter to Capt. Franklin
or Jeff. Davis
He referred to the fact that in 1850 he was one of the Committee
of Thirteen, with Mr. Clay
at its head, and Daniel Webster as one of its members, on the Compromise measures, and to the fact that he had from the first opposed the sectional measure of the gentleman from Pennsylvania
, (Mr. Wilmot
,) the proviso which he wished to attach excluding the South
from, the Territories
Though representing a free State, he had never given a sectional vote.
He singled out these two political acts of his life as signal, though they were but consistent with his general course, and that of the State
which had three times elected him to this body and which had never yet given any indication of dissatisfaction with his action.
He could not appeal to any or ask their votes as the decision here should be on higher than personal grounds, but he would give the pledge of an honest heart to those who would do him justice here, and thus regard duly the honor and name of those whose life and welfare are linked with this, that they shall not regret it in the acts of his future life.
He had made an effort to gain influence in his behalf, and if it is true that the Senate had been polled, and he is to go out, he would hasten to another trial, on the great principles of the party he ever acted with, before the people of Indiana
, and be confident of the result.
But he had always desired peace.
Point to him the path which leads to peace, and the star of a restored Union, and he will follow with any as long as there is the faintest glimmer to guide them — even with the gentlemen from Massachusetts
, from New Hampshire
, and Pennsylvania
next made reference to the difference of bearing towards him by Mr. Johnson
, of Tennessee
, and Mr. Willey
, of Va.
, both of whom he sympathized with in their sorrows inflicted by the rebellion.
having kindly asked him for explanation on the letter to Mr. Fitch
, written in September, declaring opposition to coercion, he said that he had on principle agreed with those who urged the policy of withdrawing the troops from Fort Sumter
, a measure that was urged here and elsewhere, and which the Administration itself at one time contemplated and announced as its purpose.
Then it was said that coercion was war, and as the late deceased Senator
,) had declared, ‘"war is disunion,"’--He had ever, however, been opposed to the doctrine of Secession.
He dwelt somewhat on this point.
Finally, he remarked, that it had been said he was to fall, but he should fall back into the ever just hands of the people of Indian.
He might however, go hence is a Bastille, but it was not his fault if he did. It would only be by the force of power which he could not control, but which additional blow, if it should come, he would accept with the same firmness and fortitude that he did the other one now aimed at his bosom.
then addressed a few remarks to the Senate in reference to the pressure which had been brought to bear to induce him to change his determination in this case not to vote for the expulsion, saying that he had been both threatened and coaxed, and told that his political grave was dug; but as on the principles of justice and right, in this, a judicial question, he could not change, he must, if needs be, fall into that grave.
The storm may one day be succeeded by the calm of reason, but whether so or not, he must follow the dictates of conscience and the light of law.
The question was then taken on the resolution of expulsion, (introduced by Mr. Wilkinson
, of Minnesota
,) by yeas and nays, and it was adopted — yeas 32, nays 14--just the requisite two-thirds vote, as follows:
, and Wilson
, of Missouri
, Harris Kennedy
, Ten Eyck
, and Willey
The Senate adjourned.