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against the consideration of the bill.
Indeed, with all the assiduity that I could command, I was not able to obtain a hearing for it.
Then came the first session of the Forty-Second Congress, beginning March 4, 1871. Upon the Journal it appears, March 9, 1871,
"Mr. Sumner asked, and by unanimous consent obtained, leave to bring in [this same bill, with one other], which were read the first and second times, by unanimous consent, and ordered to lie on the table and be printed."
In introducing the bill this third time I stated that it had already been to the Judiciary Committee twice before; that it was to be presumed that they had carefully considered it; that they had reported it adversely; that they had not reported any amendment; that I did not think it advisable now to refer the bill to a committee which had twice recorded an adverse judgment; that the bill was well known to Senators; that it had been before the Senate a long time; and that under the circumstances I thought I should be justified in asking that it take its place on the Calendar and be printed. The order was made, and it held its place on the Calendar.
Shortly afterward a measure of general amnesty, it will be remembered, passed the House of Representatives and came to this Chamber. Then it was that I deemed it my duty to move this bill as an amendment, and you will remember the extended discussion that ensued, -how justice to the African race was contrasted with generosity to those who had struck at the life of the Republic, and it was insisted that our first duty was justice. The debate was protracted. Senators cannot
have forgotten it; and more than once votes were had upon the pending amendment. I think it was twice carried by the casting vote of the Vice-President. Certainly it was attached to the bill for general amnesty, and the debate reached over weeks, during which time the Supplementary Civil-Rights Bill, as it came to be called, underwent amendment. It was modified in various particulars, in none of great importance, in none of principle, but verbally; also in the penalties, and in the machinery but the bill now stands, in principle and in substance, as it was when originally introduced. So far as it is changed, it is a change reached by debate in this Chamber. The Senate itself has been a Coinmittee of the Whole sitting on this bill, superseding thereby the labors of any special committee.
Why, then, after two references to the Judiciary Committee should we have a third? Is it for delay? Is it in the hope of any light on this important subject which Senators have not already? Why, then, the reference? I can see no considerable or sufficient object, except one that we are compelled to recognize in this Chamber: can it be a mode of opposition by interposing time, delay ?
Now, Sir, the bill is on the Calendar No. 1. It should have been the first acted upon this session; and if it was not acted upon first, there is no blame on me, for I tried to have you act upon it on one of the earliest days of this session, but I was resisted here by the Senator from Connecticut [Mr. FERRY], and the Senator from Maine [Mr. MORRILL]; the Senator from Connecticut insisting, then as now, that the bill should go to a committee. Now, Sir, I appeal to the Senate to take this important measure into its own hands at once and directly.
What is the use of a Committee? It is as eyes and
ears to the Senate. How often do we repeat that saying! But who wants eyes and ears for the appreciation of this measure? Its character is manifest; its justice is confessed; it is in harmony with all that has been done to carry out the great results of the war; it is in harmony with the Declaration of Independence, and with the grand history of the Republic; it is in harmony with the Constitutional Amendments, and it is indeed necessary in order to their full enjoyment. The necessity is manifest every day in the outrages to which the colored race are exposed, not only in travel and at hotels, but still more in the children of their homes, who are shut out from those schools where they ought to receive practically, as well as by lesson, the great duty of Equality. The bill is an urgent necessity. There ought to be no delay. There should not be the postponement of a Committee, for the Committee is unnecessary. The Committee has already sat upon it once, twice why a third time?
In the debate which ensued, Mr. Stewart, of Nevada, and Mr. Edmunds, of Vermont (Chairman of the Judiciary Committee), among others, participated, both urging the proposed reference, and the latter in remarks replete with personality. Mr. Sumner responded as follows:
THE Senator from Nevada has made a speech which is founded on oblivion of the past. The bill has been examined by the Judiciary Committee, and twice reported by them adversely without amendment.
MR. EDMUNDS. When was the last report?
MR. SUMNER. February 15, 1871.
MR. EDMUNDS. That was in the time of Trumbull.
MR. SUMNER. The Senator says, "That was in the time of Trumbull." But it was reported adversely by the Judiciary Committee, of which my learned friend was a distinguished member, I think. I cannot mistake; he must have been on the Committee, a party to its report; and there was from him no minority voice, no opposition on this floor to the report of the Chairman. He allowed the Chairman to speak for the Committee, including himself.
But the Senator from Nevada, oblivious of this history, insists upon another reference. He wishes to put this bill through another dance. For what purpose? He has read the existing statute to which this is supplementary, and he thinks that the Committee ought to consider the aptitude of this bill to carry out the declared purpose. Why, Sir, I agree with him that such aptitude ought to exist, but do not forget that the bill has been before the Senate now nearly four years. Nearly four years has this bill, substantially as at this moment, been before the Senate, and twice before the Judiciary Committee.
Now, Sir, let us ascend from words to things. Why make another reference? Is it that it may find verbal place on your record that this bill was duly referred and duly reported? That is the only reason I can imagine; for the bill in its substance is well known to every Senator, and, I may add, is well known to every lawyer in the country. It has been discussed here again and again, day after day, and has been modified after discussion; and you now have the result of all the discussion and the modification. It is well known. It is
familiar to the country. It has received the approba
tion of those who are most interested in it. It has been
prayed for by petitioners without number. It has been commended at public meetings with an earnestness and an enthusiasm almost without parallel.
MR. EDMUNDS. May I ask the Senator a question?
MR. SUMNER. Certainly.
MR. EDMUNDS. I should like to ask my friend, the Senator from Massachusetts, (as he is now speaking of the character of the bill, which I did not care to refer to particularly,) where the jury is summoned, and a man should happen to be convicted of murder or any other crime under the State law, would it, or not, set aside the verdict?
MR. SUMNER. The Senator will pardon me. I had not intended to touch this branch of the debate.
MR. EDMUNDS. I merely wish to ask him what he understands to be the character of the fourth section, supposing we pass it just as it stands, and supposing a jury happens to be summoned contrary to the provisions of the fourth section, but in accordance with the law of the State.
violation of the law in
It is sufficient that this
MR. SUMNER. The effect of the that respect need not be considered. section provides a penalty against those who violate the law; such is its simple object.
MR. EDMUNDS. Ah! but let me ask my friend, does it not also provide what shall constitute a lawful jury?
MR. SUMNER. Very well,—and should it not so provide? MR. EDMUNDS. Very well, but my question is, What would be the effect upon the trial of an indictment found by a grand jury not composed in conformity to this motion?
MR. SUMNER. I will not presume to pronounce an opinion on that question. It is sufficient for me that