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Mr. Blackburn's Speech

Mr. Blackburn's Speech image
Parent Issue
Day
18
Month
April
Year
1879
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

Mr. Blackburn (Dem., Ky.) followed Mr. ítobeson and began by remarking that nobody had been surprised at the speech of the gentleman from Kew Jersey. The performance would not have been complete, would not have been fairly rounded out uuless some member of the Privy Council of that imperialisticdynasty under whose administration the very vicious practice had grown up, which it was not sought to rapeal, had testiñed on the Hoor in its behalf. It had been arerued by various gentlemen on the other side that this repeal was revolutionary in its character, that it had no place upon an appropriation bill, that it was out of line and should be considered as an independent proposition. He was but a poor student of his country's history who was not able to satisfy himself that from the foundation of the Constitution down to the present time it had ever been held (and that by the highest authorities in the land) that it was in the power of the House to control the employment of the army by the withholding of supplies. In the very nature of things the proposed repeal could not be revolutioniry. Negative legislation could never Le revolutionary. Affirmative legislation might be, but not negative legislation. There was no one who would assert that previous to 1865 the Executive had held the power of which this bill proposed to deprive him. ïhis bill could not comprehend revolution, but it was said that it was not in a proper place when it was engrafted apon an appropriation bill. There was no member on the floor who would take issue with him in the assertion that more than one-third of all the permanent legislation affecting the army liad been put upon the statute books as riders upon army appropriation bilis. If lectures were to be read to the Democrats let them come form some quarter and some member not convicted on the record. The gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Garfield) had told the House that this was an effort and an unmanly effort to starve the Government to death and had contrasted it with what he tenned the bolder and braver action of certain members of Congress in 1861 who had left their seats and had carried their issue to the field of carnage. The gentleman from Ohio had said that this was revolution and had decried the effort which the jjemocrats were making to adopt it. Far better would it have been for the people of the country if the power of the gentleman from Ohio had been applied at an earlier period of tion. Did the gentleman remember the record that he had voted in 1868 on an amendment offered by Mr. Wilson, of Iowa, to an appropriation bill proposing to revolutionize the judicial system of them of the country, proposing to rob a co-ordinate branch of the Government, proposing to strip the Suprerne Court of prerogatives and the powers that the Federal Constitution hand clothed it witli? That amend-' ment had provided that if any Circuit Court or District Court should declare any act of Congress to be unconstitutional the judgment should be carried up to the Supreme Court, and if twotliirds of the members of tkat Court should not afftrm the judgment the same should be reversed, and on the cali of yeas and nays the gentleman from Ohio was f ound voting aye. The Supreme Court at that time had consisted of eijfht members and by that amendment six were required to overrule the opinión of a district court declaring unconstitutional any of the 111advised, hasty, crude and partisan measurs, of the Eepublican party. Kevolution ! What was there that the party the gentlemUn so ably led had not done in that catalogue of crimes ? In his speech of Saturday the gentleman from Ohio had challenged all corners to show a single instance in the history of the country where the consent of the Executive had ever been coerced. He (Mr. Blackburn) cepted the gage of battle which the gentleman had thrown down. He would read from the Record and show him an instance. On March 2, 1867, Andrew Johnson had signed an Arniy . Appropriation bill under protest, feeling, as he said, constrained to return the bill with his signature, but accoinpanying it with his protest. Was there no coerción thereV Why, the Record was iull of instances. He found that in the Thirty-ninth Congress that had occurred which would never fade from the minds of the American people. He referred to the effort was made which carne so nigli resulting in the successful impeachment of the Chief Executive of the country. The Executive had been impeached of high crimes, misdemeanors and usurpation, of violation of law. First, "in that he has corruptly used the appointing power." Had the gentleman from Ohio intended to impeach him for that 'i The gentleman knew that he had not. Second, "in that he has corruptly used the pardoning power." Had the gentleman intended to impeach him for that? Everyloly knew he had not. Third, "in that he has corruptly used the veto power." Mr. Blackburn then read the act of George II. and continued. From that day till now I do declare that it is not within the power of any man to flnd a scion of the Saxon race that has not ever held in utter contenipt the effort of liim or them who sought to control the freedom of the ballot by the employment of military power. (Applause on the Democratie side.) The very army of this country protest against such a prostitution of it. 1 nee bef ore methedistinguished General-inChief of the American army (General Sherman occupying Mr Garfield's seat,) and I do not believe that 1 overstate the f act when I say that from him down to the lowest subaltern it is difficult to flnd a commissionedofticer who lias not repugnance for the service which under this prostitution of the army he liad been called upon to perform. It is this question that is before us. We are declaring that the ballot shall be free. We are denying that it is either constitutional, legal, just, fair or decent to subject the sovereign to the surveillance of the servant. We are willing to discuss the question and for my part I shall oppose any limitation to be put on this discussion. It we cannot stand on an issue so broad, no onstitutional, so calholic, bo free and so fair as tliis, then teil me in heaven's name what earthly battlements are strong enough toget behind. Let il s to the country that one party in this Congress asserts that the manaeles sliall fall frora the limbs of freemen, and that the army shall not hold lts marled hand at the throat of the sovereign, and that the other party declares that rather than release its grasp it will bring the GoTernment to starvation. I and those with whom I stand identifled ire willing to accept the issue. Aye, more, we go further and adrnit that we ire the ones who make the issue, and we are ready for you to accept it. Planting ourselves on this broad ?round we weieome the controversy. For the flrst time in eighteen years the Democrucy is back in power in both tranches of Congress. We propose to ïelebrate her return of power by ïviping f rom the statute-book tnoáo airading restrictions on freemn and jy striking away the shackles which mrtisan legislation has imposed. We lo not intend to stop until we have ttricken the last vestige of your war neasures from the statute-book (like ;hose which vrere born of the passions ncident to civil strife and which look;d alone to the abridgment of the librties of the citizen), until we have an mtrammeled election and an unsuperriaed ballot and an absolute free right 'or the citizen to deposit bis ballot as he conditions precedent which we oferto you for the passage of this bill. [f the gentleman from Ohio is to be ixcused - for certainly he cannot be uatifled - for parading bef ore this Elouse the arpumentum in terrorern of i veto that is cut and dried to be put ipon a bill which has not yet passed, ind if he is to be pardoned for wam ng the House that the Executivo aranch of the Government will never .ield its assent to this measure in its resent form. I ask whether I may not ie warranted and justified in employngequal candor in assuring that genieman and his associates that the iominant power in this Congress, the ruling element in this body, is also squally determined that until its just Iemands - sanctioned by all laws huiian and divine, protected and hedged iround by antecedents without number lemanded by the people of this land without regard to section.clamored for. iot;theSouth alone-, but in Philadelphia is well as in New Orleans.in San Franïisco and Boston as well as in Charleston and Savannah- are eomplied with ;his side of the Chamber, which has lemonstrated its power, never means ;o yield or surrender unless this Con?ress shall have died by virtue of its imitation. (Wild applause on the Democratie side.) A principie cannot 30 compromised. It may be surrenlered, but that can only be done by its advocates giving proef to the world that they are cravens and cowarda Töt'yield." (Applause and sensation.) Let me assure my friends on the other iide that this is the restoration to power of a party as old as the Government itself, which for one hundred pears almost has stood the boldest, freest, truest exponent and champion tnd defender of the doctrine of constiLutional limitations against the doctrine of the aggrandisement of power It ia this organization that has come back to rule, and it means to rule and to rule in obedience to law. The issue is laid down. The gage of battle ia ielivered. Lift it when you please, and we are willing to appeal to that sovereign arbiter to which the gentleman from Ohio so handsomely alluded -the American people - to decide between us. We intend to deny to the President of this republic the right to exercise such unconstitutional powers. We do not mean to pitch this contest on the grounds of objection to him who happens if not by "the grace of God" by the "run of luck" to be administering that office. If from yonder canvas (pointing toa picture hanging to the east of the speaker's chair) the flrst President of the Republic should step down to assume the powers which the grateful people of an infant republic conferred upon him as their first Chief Magistrate: if he were here flred by that patriotic ardor which moved him in the earlier and better days of this great Government, to him we would never consent to yield unconstitutional powers or to rest the liberty of the citizens in any man's discretion, nor would he receive it. It was not for the earlier but for the later Executives of this Government to grasp and beek to retain such questionable prerogatives. Tou cannot have it. The issue is made. It is made on principie, not on policy, and it cannot be surrendered. Standing on such broad ground clothed in such a a panoply, resting this case on the broadest principie of justice, we are content to appeal to the people of this land. There is no tribunal before which we are not willing to carry this case of contest, and we are ready to allow him who rules the destinies of man to judge between us and give victory to the right. I do not mean to intimate the gentleman from Ohio. I disclaim any authority to state what others do. But 1 do mean to say that it is my delibérate convictionthat there is not to be found a single man on this side of the House who will ever consent to abandon one jot or title of the faith that is in him. He could not surrender it if he would, and he would not (he begged the other side to believe) be coerced by threats or intimidated by the party in power. We are planted on our convictions. There we will stand. He who dallies is a dastard and he who denies is damned. (Loud applause.) The tragedy ot "Lear was once brought out at the Tremont Theatre during a "star" engagement at a very short notice. The gentleman who played Gloster raanaged to say something like the author, until he ciime to the scène where his eyes are put out, and then he was obliged to ask permission to read the rest of his part. An ill-looking iellow was asked how he could account for nature forming him so ugly. "Nature was to Mame." s.iid he, for when I was two months oíd, I was conaidered the handaomest child in the neighborhood, but my nurse one day swapped me away for another boy just to please a friend. whose ehild was rather plain-looking." A tree grows in the island of Fierro whose branches are covered with a cloud which is never dispelled, but resolving itself into moisture, causes to fnll from the leaves a very clear water in such abundance, that cistems placed beneath are duily supplied.

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Subjects
Old News
Michigan Argus