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Add now the lawless occupation of the Bay of Samana for many months after the lapse of the treaty, keeping the national flag flying there, and assuming a territorial sovereignty which did not exist. Then add the protracted support of Baez in his usurped power, to the extent of placing the national flag at his disposal, and girdling the island with our ships of war, all at immense cost, and to the neglect of other service where the Navy was needed.
This strange succession of acts, which, if established for a precedent, would overturn Constitution and Law, was followed by another class of Presidential manifestations: first, an unseemly importunity of Senators during the pendency of the treaty, visiting the Capitol as a lobbyist, and summoning them to his presence in squads, in obvious pursuance of the stipulation made by his Aide-de-Camp and never disowned by him, - being intervention in the Senate, reinforced by all the influence of the appointing power, whether by reward or menace, all of which was as unconstitutional in character as that warlike intervention on the island; and then, after debate in the Senate, when the treaty was lost on solemn vote, we were called to witness his self-willed effrontery in prosecuting the fatal error, returning to the charge in his Annual Message at the ensuing session, insisting upon his contrivance as nothing less than the means by which "our large debt abroad is ultimately to be extinguished," and gravely charging the Senate with "folly" in rejecting the treaty, and yet, while making this astounding charge against a coördinate branch of Government, and claiming such astounding profits, he blundered geographically in describing the prize.1
All this diversified performance, with its various ec
1 Congressional Globe, 41st Cong. 3d Sess., pp. 6, 7.
centricity of effort, failed. The report of able commissioners transported to the island in an expensive warship ended in nothing. The American people rose against the undertaking and insisted upon its abandonment. By a message charged with Parthian shafts the President at length announced that he would proceed no further in this business. His senatorial partisans, being a majority of the Chamber, after denouncing those who had exposed the business, arrested the discussion. In obedience to irrepressible sentiments, and according to the logic of my life, I felt it my duty to speak; but the President would not forgive me, and his peculiar representatives found me disloyal to the party which I had served so long and helped to found. Then was devotion to the President made the shibboleth of party.
WHERE WAS THE GRAND INQUEST OF THE NATION?
SUCH is a summary of the San Domingo business in its characteristic features. But here are transgressions in every form, open violation of the Constitution in more than one essential requirement; open violation of International Law in more than one of its most beautiful principles; flagrant insult to the Black Republic, with menace of war; complicity with the wrongful imprisonment of an American citizen; lawless assumption of territorial sovereignty in a foreign jurisdiction; employment of the national navy to sustain a usurper, being all acts of substance, maintained by an agent calling himself "Aide-de-Camp to Ulysses S. Grant, President of the United States," and stipulating that his chief should play the lobbyist to help the contrivance through
1 Message, April 5, 1871: Cong. Globe, 42d Congr. 1st Sess., pp. 469–70.
Congress, then urged by private appeals to Senators, and the influence of the appointing power tyrannically employed by the Presidential lobbyist, and finally urged anew in an Annual Message, where undisguised insult to the Senate vies with absurdity in declaring prospective profits and with geographical ignorance. Such, in brief, is this multiform disobedience, where every particular is of such aggravation as to merit the most solemn judgment. Why the grand inquest of the nation, which brought Andrew Johnson to the bar of the Senate, should have slept on this conglomerate misdemeanor, every part of which was offensive beyond any technical offence charged against his predecessor, while it had a background of nepotism, gift-taking with official compensation, and various Presidential pretensions beyond all precedent, all this will be one of the riddles of American history, to be explained only by the extent to which the One-Man Power had succeeded in subjugating the Government.
INDIGNITY TO THE AFRICAN RACE.
LET me confess, Sir, that, while at each stage I have felt this tyranny most keenly, and never doubted that it ought to be arrested by impeachment, my feelings have been most stirred by the outrage to Hayti, which, besides being a wrong to the Black Republic, was an insult to the colored race, not only abroad, but here at home. How a Chief Magistrate with four millions of colored fellow-citizens could have done this thing passes comprehension. Did he suppose it would not be known? Did he imagine it could be hushed in official pigeonholes? Or was he insensible to the true character of
his own conduct? The facts are indisputable. For more than two generations Hayti had been independent, entitled under International Law to equality among nations, and since Emancipation in our country commended to us as an example of self-government, being the first in the history of the African race and the promise of the future. And yet our President, in his effort to secure that Naboth's Vineyard on which he had set his eyes, not content with maintaining the usurper Baez in power, occupying the harbors of Dominica with war-ships, sent other war-ships, being none other than our most powerful monitor, the Dictator, with the frigate Severn as consort, and with yet other monitors in their train, to strike at the independence of the Black Republic, and to menace. it with war. Do I err in any way, am I not entirely right, when I say that here was unpardonable outrage to the African race? As one who for years has stood by the side of this much-oppressed people, sympathizing always in their woes and struggling for them, I felt the blow which the President dealt, and it became the more intolerable from the heartless attempts to defend it. Alas, that our President should be willing to wield the giant strength of the Great Republic in trampling upon the representative government of the African race! Alas, that he did not see the infinite debt of friendship, kindness, and protection due to that people, so that instead of monitors and war-ships, breathing violence, he had sent a messenger of peace and good-will!
This outrage was followed by an incident in which the same sentiments were revealed. Frederick Douglass, remarkable for his intelligence as for his eloquence, and always agreeable in personal relations, whose only offence is a skin not entirely Caucasian, was selected by
the President to accompany the Commissioners to San Domingo,—and yet on his return, and almost within sight of the Executive Mansion, he was repelled from the common table of the mail-steamer on the Potomac, where his companions were already seated; and thus through him was the African race insulted and their equal rights denied. But the President, whose commission he had borne, neither did nor said anything to right this wrong, and a few days later, when entertaining the Commissioners at the Executive Mansion, actually forgot the colored orator whose services he had sought. But this indignity is in unison with the rest. After insulting the Black Republic, it is easy to see how natural it was to treat with insensibility the representative of the African race.
ALL THESE THINGS IN ISSUE NOW.
HERE I stay this painful catalogue in its various heads, beginning with nepotism and gift-taking with repayment by office, and ending in the contrivance against San Domingo with indignity to the African race, not because it is complete, but because it is enough. With sorrow unspeakable have I made this exposure of pretensions, which, for the sake of republican institutions, every good citizen should wish expunged from history; but I had no alternative. The President himself insists upon putting them in issue; he will not allow them to be forgotten. As a candidate for reëlection he invites judgment, while partisans acting in his behalf make it absolutely necessary by the brutality of their assault on faithful Republicans unwilling to see their party, like
1 See Letter to Hon. Andrew D. White, post, p. 205.