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RELIEF OF BOSTON.
REMARKS IN THE SENATE, DECEMBER 12, 1872.
The subject under consideration was a bill from the House providing for a drawback of the duties on all materials imported into Boston for the rebuilding of that portion of the city laid waste by the recent conflagration, — with amendments, including one excepting lumber, proposed by the Committee on Finance, to whom the bill had been referred.
Mr. Sumner said:
R. PRESIDENT, — Hoping that the Senate will
not be less generous than the House of Representatives, I trust that we shall take the bill as it comes from the House, voting down the amendments reported by our Committee.
I hear it said by the Senator from Michigan (Mr. FERRY] that the bill will be a bad precedent; and the same argument is repeated, with variety of illustration, by my excellent friend the Senator from Vermont (Mr. MORRILL). Sir, is it not too late to correct the precedent? You already have the case of Portland and the case of Chicago; I am sorry that you must now add the case of Boston. Call it a bad precedent. It can only be applicable in a parallel case, and I do not believe such cases can occur often. The fire-fiend latterly has been very busy in our land; but he cannot always be so; at least I have a well-founded trust that by proper precaution, if not also by better fortune, we shall escape from his visitations. I put aside, therefore, the arguinent that this is a bad precedent. It can be called into activity only in a similar case; and when a similar case
a occurs, I am ready for its application. Let any other metropolis sit like Boston in ashes, and I hope there will be no hesitation in extending to it a friendly hand.
It is not fair to call up the smaller losses that may occur in smaller places, for the simple reason that such losses are not within the reach of Congress by any ordinary exercise of its powers. It is only where the loss is great, as in the familiar cases before us, that there is opportunity for Congress. An ancient poet says: “Nor should the Divinity intervene, unless the occasion be worthy.”] I would say, Nor should Congress interfere, unless the case be such as to jastify the exercise of extraordinary powers. Obviously such an occasion does not occur except where the scale of loss is great.
Then, again, the Senator from Michigan reminded us of the exception of lumber in the bill for the relief of Chicago; but he vindicated that exception by facts which do not occur in the present case. He said, as we all know, that Michigan was also a sufferer at that calamitous moment; and he did not think it right, therefore, that the peculiar interests of his State should be called to contribute even to the great losses of Chicago. I do not say that the Senator was not entirely right in that position. Certainly the case as presented by him is entirely reasonable. Had I had the honor to represent Michigan at the time, I know not that I should have acted otherwise than he did. But I call attention to the point, as presented by him, that no such case exists now. Michigan is not a sufferer; Maine is not a sufferer; nor is any part of our country which contributes timber to our business a sufferer, Therefore is there no reason for introducing this exception. The reason failing, the exception should fail also. I hope, therefore, that the Senate will keep the bill in that respect precisely as it came from the House.
1 “Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus inciderit.” — HORAT., De Arte Poetica, 191-92.
Then my friend from Vermont suggests that this bill is practically an invitation to the people of Boston to go to Europe and elsewhere in order to find workmen. He seemed frightened at the possibility. I think my friend sees too often the question of protection to American industry, and makes himself too unhappy on this account. I hope that this bill will be considered without any question of protection. Let the people of Boston go where they can buy cheapest in order to meet their great calamity; and if it be to their neighbor British provinces, I hope my friend from Vermont will not interfere to prevent it.
THE LATE HON. GARRETT DAVIS, SENATOR
REMARKS IN THE SENATE ON HIS DEATH, DECEMBER 18,
R. PRESIDENT, - I was a member of the Sen
ate, when, in 1861, our departed Senator entered it; and I was to the end the daily witness of his laborious service. Standing now at his funeral, it is easy to forget the differences between us and remember those things in which he was an example to all.
Death has its companionship. In its recent autumn harvest were Garrett Davis, William H. Seward, and Horace Greeley. Seward was the precise contemporary of Davis, each beginning life with the century and dying within a few days of each other. Always alike in constancy of labor, they were for the larger part of this period associated in political sentiment as active members of the old Whig party. But the terrible question of Slavery rose to divide them. How completely they were on opposite sides I need not say. Horace Greeley was ten years the junior, but he was the colleague and peer of Garrett Davis in devotion to Henry Clay. In the whole country, among all whose enthusiastic support he aroused, there was no one who upheld the Kentucky statesman with more chivalrous devotion than these two. Here they were alike, and in the record of life this signal fidelity cannot be forgotten. It was to the honor of Henry Clay that he inspired this sentiment in such men, and it was to their honor that they maintained it so truly. Kindred to truth is fidelity.
At his death, Garrett Davis was our Congressional senior, laving entered the other House as early as 1839, after previous service of six years in the Legislature of Kentucky. For eight years he sat as Representative, and then, after an interval of thirteen years, he was for nearly twelve years Senator. During this long pe riod he was conspicuous before the country, dwelling constantly in the public eye. How well he stood the gaze, whether of friend or foe, belongs to his good name.
All who knew him in the Senate will bear witness to his wonderful industry, his perfect probity, and the personal purity of his life. No differences of opinion can obscure the fame of these qualities, or keep them from being a delight to his friends and an example to his country. Nor can any of us forget how, amid peculiar trials, he was courageous in devotion to the National Union.
No pressure, no appeal, no temptation, could sway him in this patriotic allegiance. That fidelity which belonged to his nature shone here as elsewhere. He was no holiday Senator, cultivating pleasure rather than duty, and he was above all suspicion in personal conduct. Calumny could not reach him. Nothing is so fierce and unreasoning as the enmities engendered by political antagonists; but even these never questioned that he was at all times incorruptible and pure. Let this be spoken in his honor; let it be written on his