The Federal Congress.
Hon. Mr. Vallandigham
again arraigned for disloyalty.
In the Yankee Congress
, on Wednesday, the 19th inst., Mr. Hickman
, representative from Pennsylvania
in the lower House, rose to a privileged question and sent up to the Clerk
the following resolution to be read:
The Baltimore Clipper
of this date contains the following publication:
"Documents Found.--During yesterday a police force visited the office of the South
newspaper, and took possession of a number of letters written by Senators Bayard
, of Delaware
, and the notorious Vallandigham
, of Ohio
The documents contain touching sentiment of poor bleeding Dixie, and various suggestions how the Yankees
might be defeated."
That the Committee
on the Judiciary be directed to inquire into the truth of the allegations therein made against C. L. Vallandigham
, a member of this House, with power to send for persons and papers, and to examine witnesses on oath or affirmation, and to make report thereon.
--I call the previous question on the resolution.
(Cries of ‘"No, no."’)
, (opp) of Ohio
— Will the gentleman withdraw?
--I was just waiting for an opportunity to call the attention of the House
to this statement myself, having received it from some source a few moments ago. I do not know, of course, the motive of the gentleman (Mr. Hickman
) in bringing it in this shape before the House
, nor do I care.
My purpose some time since is just what it is now — to give prompt, direct and emphatic contradiction, a flat denial, to the infamous statement in that paragraph.
I never wrote a line or letter upon a political subject to the Baltimore South,
or to any other paper, or to any man south of Mason
's line since this controversy began — never.
I defy any one to prove it.
It is false, infamous, slanderous, beyond endurance, that a man's reputation should be at the mercy of scavengers employed to visit the lowest haunts of vice to get up items for the local editorials of irresponsible newspapers, to parade before the country libellous and slanderous falsehoods like these.
I do not object to the controversy, but i avail myself of this opportunity --until the letters shall be produced here upon which the course taken is bases, if there be any such in existence — to denounce them as forgeries.
I enter upon no defence.
I intend none.
We have had enough of this kind of business already.
I deny the duty or the right of members to rise here and call for investigations upon irresponsible statements like that.
I only regret I did not have an opportunity, in the beginning, and before the Chairman
of the Judiciary Committee had risen here in this formal manner, to ask the attention of the House
to the matter.
I never did this before.
For the five years that I have been a member of this House
I never rose to a personal explanation except once before, and I condemn it in others, as unbecoming the dignity of the House
, to be so engaged.
I did intend, as members near me know, to make the first explanation in my Congressional career.
I desire that this matter may be fully reported in the gallery, so that my defence may go forth with the charge made on this floor — the infamous statement, that I have been in correspondence with any one in that State, and uttered sentiments inconsistent with my duty, not only as a member of the House
, but as a citizen of the United States
--one who has taken a solemn oath to support the Constitution
, and which, thank God, I never deviated from.
I have rights, which, while God lives and I live, I shall exercise for myself, in this house and out of this house, for the purpose of vindicating the rights of American citizens.
(Ironical laughter.) Beyond that I have not gone.
My sentiments will be found here, on the records of the house, and nowhere else.
There is the repository; and foreseeing, more than a year ago — foreseeing in the early part of December, the magnitude and character of this revolution or rebellion, in which the country was about to be plunged, I resolved not to write — thought your own mails then carried the letters — a single solitary word or syllable even before secession began, to any man in a seceded State.
Now the gentleman avails himself of this paragraph for the purpose of giving dignity and importance to a charge of this kind.
Had it come in a tangible shape-- had any editor endorsed it — there might be some shade of apology for it. But no; it was found in the local columns of an irresponsible paper.
I know nothing of those letters with reference to others than myself, but I deemed it due to myself and to the House
to meet this charge as I have done.
I call the previous question.
, (opp) of Ill.--There are members on this floor who declared that they would not vote a dollar for this war unless it was a warfare upon slavery.
I denounce these men as traitors.
They ought to be brought to trial and execution.
--The motives which have actuated me in the matter are not to be doubted.
So far as the charge contained in the article in question is made against a member of this House, even a suspicion — an ordinary suspicion — would justify such an investigation as this resolution contemplates.
But the gentleman (Mr. Vallandigham
) knows, as well as other members on this floor know, that the suspicion which have existed against him — I do not say whether they are justified or not — are numerous, and have existed for a long time past.
It is the duty of this House
to purge itself of unworthy members.
I do to know whether the gentleman occupies properly or improperly a seat on this floor.--By offering the resolution I do not prejudice him. If he was the most intimate friend I had on earth, and accused, as he is in the paragraph in question, I would deem it my duty, and perhaps more solemnly my duty, to urge the investigation which is here suggested.
But, sir, the charge does come before us in a fair and unquestionable shape.--It appears as an original article in the Baltimore Clipper
, and is, therefore, presumed to be editorial, or at least under the immediate supervision of the editor, and that makes it emanate from a responsible source.
But I suggest, further, that the suspicion against the newspaper in question, and the seizure of the office where it was published, was made under the direct authority of this Government, and it is to be presumed that the effects of that office are at this time in the custody of the Government
, or agents of the Government
, and that, therefore, the information communicated in this paragraph must have come through the Government
or its agents, and it is, therefore, responsible in its origin, as far as we can judge.
I refer the gentleman (Mr. Vallandigham
) as my answer to the suggestion that I was not justified in offering this resolution under the circumstances, to the ‘"Manual Parliamentary,"’ page 69, section 15.
Under the head of ‘"Examination of Witnesses,"’ common fame is a just ground for the House
to proceed to inquiry, and even to accusation.
This, sir, is more than command fame.
I repeat it is, so far as it appears, a direct charge by the editor of a responsible newspaper, and comes before us, we must believe, from the Government
or its agents, and is, therefore, more than common fame.
--Is it not merely a local item, in which the author does not pretend to have ever seen the letter?
I know he never did.
--I don't understand what the gentleman means by saying ‘"the author never saw it,"’ and that he himself knows he never saw it. Who never saw it?
--The author of the paragraph.
--I don't care whether it is a local item or not, it is an original article in a responsible newspaper, and therefore presumed to be inserted under the direct supervision of the editor, if not written by him.
--The gentleman has alluded to the suspicions existing in former times.
Now, I desire to know of him what he ever heard, of any specific item on which any suspicion ever rested, anything other than words spoken in this House, or made public over my own name!
--Sir, I have heard thousands.
--Name a single one.
--I do not desire to do injustice to the gentleman.
Great confusion sprung up at this point, calling for the intervention of the Speaker Members
having taken their seats, debate was resumed.
--I call upon the gentleman to specify an item.
--Answer that question.
Cries of ‘"order,"’ ‘"order,"’ and renewed confusion.
--I ask and demand a direct answer.
Can he specify any single item?
--I will answer directly.
--Or do more — newspaper assaults, which I have denounced over and over again on this flow.
--I know nothing of that.
I know that newspaper assaults may well
ist, and that they do exist, even when denials accompany them.
--I know that; but the gentleman is not free himself.
--Let the gentleman defend himself and leave me to take care of myself.
created considerable confusion endeavoring to again address the House
, but was induced to seat himself.
--I do not wish to put the gentleman n a false position, but I say, most distinctly, that suspicions have and do exist against the loyal faith of the gentleman.
I would not have referred to this at all if I had not been satisfied that he himself knew of the existence of these suspicions as well as I do. Indeed, the remarks which have fallen from him, but a few moments since, indicate that fact more clearly than I myself could indicate it by anything I could say, that he was in possession of the knowledge of the existence of the suspicions, for the got up to repel them, not confining himself to the terms of the accusation in the paragraph, but as against the general suspicions and imputations against his character.
The gentleman calls upon me to refresh my memory and give him a single instance.
I will confine myself to one or two.
--Allow me to reply to them one at a time.
--The gentleman will have an opportunity to answer all when I conclude.
I will first refer him to the Convention
, which the gentleman attended, his conduct then giving rise to many suspicious — at least I heard a good many expressed.
I will refer him, also, to the dinner he attended in Kentucky
, given in his honor, or at least published as given in his honor in his papers.
--Allow me to reply.
--I am not done with my answer, sir. I refuse to yield the floor till I finish my answer.
(Several members--‘"That's right."’) Among other things there was a speech made by the gentleman during the July session, which was understood to be a general accusation against the Government
, and against the party having the conduct of the war, and of his fact the gentleman cannot be ignorant.
Is there a man, I ask, in this house--one on this side of the house at least — who has not heard suspicions upon suspicions against the loyalty of the gentleman from Ohio
I allege that it is a common rumor in the Northern States
, among all the loyal people of all the loyal States, that the gentleman is open to great suspicion, if not to direct imputation.
That is my answer.
.--The only specification that the gentleman has been able to point to is with regard to the dinner in Kentucky
Now, I tell him I have not pressed the soil of Kentucky
since 1852, when I accompanied the remains of that great and gallant man and patriot, Henry Clay
, to his last resting place.
I have partaken of no dinner there or elsewhere of a political character since-- That is my answer to this only specification; and yet the gentleman attempts to support that falsehood, which I here denounce as such, by allusions of suspicion which have been afloat throughout the whole country, and which may not only be directed against me, but against thousands of others in whose veins run blood as patriotic as ever flowed since the world began.
Now, I tell the gentleman, that in years past I have heard his loyalty called in question in a manner that would, as justly as in this case, have called for the introduction of a resolution of inquiry into his purposes to disrupt the Union
by the doctrines which he held and the opinion he expressed, for this is ‘"the head and front of my offending,"’ and ‘"this extent — no more."’
There is one other charge, which I have before replied to. I refer to the charge that I had once uttered that the soldiers of the Northwest
would pass over my body before they reached the Southern States
I denied that before, and I deny it now. The gentleman has referred to a speech made here in debate on the 10th of July. But I defy him, sir, and I hurl defiance in his teeth, when I tell him he may take that speech and he cannot point cut one single, solitary disloyal sentence or word in it. I neither retract one sentiment which I have uttered, nor would I obliterate a single vote which I have given.
I speak of the record as it will here after appear — indeed, as it now stands on the journals of this House and in the Congressional Globs.
There is no other record you can get, and no act, or word, or thought of mine, and never has been, in public or private of which any patriot ought to be ashamed.
Yet I am to be told now of a speech made upon this floor, under the protection of the Constitution
, and in the discharge of my solemn rights and duties under the oath I have taken, and to be pointed, in addition to that, to vague rumors of suspicion which have been charged over an I over again against not myself only, but thousands of others.
And I am told that I have been invited to Kentucky
I have been invited to that State by as true Union men as there are there to-day, but I did not go. I have answered as to the last and only time I stepped upon that soil.
But I know nothing that should prevent, thank God!
any loyal and patriotic man from visiting that State, which has given birth to so many patriots, orators and statesmen of renown.
Yet that is all, the sum total of the charges, except this miserable falsehood which an irresponsible, unknown editor — a scavenger and crawler in the streets, alleys and gutters of the city of Baltimore
— has seen fit to put forth in the local columns of his paper, in order that the member from Pennsylvania
may come in here to make charges against a loyal and patriotic man, who has never flattered in his devotion to the stars and stripes, but who has bowed down and worshipped them in his very heart of hearts, from the time when he first knew of them to this hour, and would how give his life, and and all that he is or hopes to be, to see that glorious banner known and honored throughout the whole world — not a stripe erased, not a star obliterated — again floating from one end of this U. States to the other.
And yet, I am to be brought before the gentleman's committee to answer to the charge of being disloyal.
I hurl back the insinuation.
Bring forward something specific, or wait till you have round something I have written or something that I have said that indicates in my bosom there is aught but love to my country.
In every sentiment I have expressed, in every vote I have given, in my whole public career, outside this House or since I have had the fortune to sit here, I have had but one motive, that one-the good of my country.--I have differed from the majority in this House, and I have differed from the party in power, and from the Administration.
Thank God, I have had, and yet have, that right.--And that is my offence.
That is the only crime whereof I have been guilty.
Suppose, in the Thirty-sixth Congress I had seen fit to seize upon the denunciations, loud, continued, and persistent of that member of the party then in power for he, too, has suffered, and be, too, ought to have remembered in this hour that he himself has been the victim of slander and persecution, or what I suppose to be such, for I will do the gentleman the justice he has not done to me. Suppose I had taken paragraphs from the paper in his own town, and brought them here, as he has brought in charges here, which are utterly and basely false.
But, thank God, it is not in his power — in the power of any man — to blast that fair fame, and that reputation for loyalty which has been earned from the beginning of my public career, and from boyhood, through the sphere in which I have acted.
I, then, deem it unnecessary to extend what I have to say. I would have said nothing, but I know this committee will find nothing, and they will be obliged to report that nothing exists which justifies any suspicion of this kind; and I embrace the opportunity of at once promptly refusing and repelling the foul assault and slander at the very threshold, and not delay week after week until your press has sounded the alarm, and until an organization can be effected for the purpose of dong that which hundreds would gladly see done to me, as to others in years past.
I put the question which was put in the Senate of the United States--if this had been the criterion, if irresponsible newspaper paragraphs had been regarded as evidence of disloyalty, what would have been the fate of many in this House and in the other wing of the Capitol
Where would have been the gentleman from the district now represented by my colleague, who made as assault on me the other day?
Where would have been the Senator
)? or the other Senator
or the Senator
from New Hampshire
)? Where would have been the three Senators
who, on the 7th of February, 1850, voted to refer, print and consider, a petition to dissolve the Union
Yet, I am to be singled out, and they who have watched, and waited, and prayed, from the beginning of this controversy to this hour, that they might get some slip of the tongue, some hasty word spoken, something written, or something that they might fortune into evidence of disloyalty, now seize upon this paper — this miserable, irresponsible sheet — wet from the press, and bring it in here to charge me with disloyalty, and attract the attention of the country.
After some further remarks from Mr. Hickman
, the resolution was withdrawn.