« PreviousContinue »
REPUBLICANISM VS. GRANTISM.
THE PRESIDENCY A TRUST, NOT A PLAYTHING AND PERQUISITE. - PERSONAL GOVERNMENT AND PRESIDENTIAL PRETENSIONS. — REFORM AND PURITY IN GOVERNMENT.
SPEECH IN THE SENATE, MAY 31, 1872.
Socrates. Then whom do you call the good?
Alcibiades. I mean by the good those who are able to rule in the
AMONGST the foremost purposes ought to be the downfall of this odious, insulting, degrading, aide-de-campish, incapable dictatorship. At such a crisis, is this country to be left at the mercy of barrack councils and mess-room politics? - Letter of Lord Durham to Henry Brougham, August, 1830: Life and Times of Henry Lord Brougham, Vol. III. p. 44.
It is a maxim in politics, which we readily admit as undisputed and universal, that a power, however great, when granted by law to an eminent magistrate, is not so dangerous to Liberty as an authority, however inconsiderable, which he acquires from violence and usurpation.
HUME, Essays, Part II. Essay X., Of Some Remarkable Customs.
THE Sundry Civil Appropriation Bill coming up as unfinished business, Mr. Sumner moved to postpone indefinitely its consideration, and after remarking on the Report of the Committee on the Sale of Arms to French Agents, he said:
I have no hesitation in declaring myself a member of the Republican Party, and one of the straitest of the sect. I doubt if any Senator can point to earlier or more constant service in its behalf. I began at the beginning, and from that early day have never failed to sustain its candidates and to advance its principles. For these I have labored always by speech and vote, in the Senate and elsewhere, at first with few only, but at last, as success began to dawn, then with multitudes flocking forward. In this cause I never asked who were my associates or how many they would number. In the consciousness of right I was willing to be alone. To such a party, with which so much of my life is intertwined, I have no common attachment. Not without regret can I see it suffer; not without a pang can I see it changed from its original character, for such a change is death. Therefore do I ask, with no common feeling, that the peril which menaces it may pass away. I stood by its cradle; let me not follow its hearse.
ORIGIN AND OBJECT OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.
TURNING back to its birth, I recall a speech of my own at a State Convention in Massachusetts, as early as September 7, 1854, where I vindicated its principles and announced its name in these words: "As Republicans we go forth to encounter the Oligarchs of Slavery." 1 The report records the applause with which this name was received by the excited multitude. Years of conflict ensued, in which the good cause constantly gained. At last, in the spring of 1860, Abraham Lincoln was nominated by this party as its candidate for the Presidency; and here pardon me, if I refer again to myself. On my way home from the Senate I was detained in New York by the invitation of party friends to speak at the Cooper Institute on the issues of the pending election. The speech was made July 11, and, I believe, was the earliest of the campaign. As published at the time, it was entitled "Origin, Necessity, and Permanence of the Republican Party," and to exhibit these was its precise object. Both the necessity and permanence of the party were asserted. A brief passage, which I take from the report in the "New York Herald," will show the duty and destiny I ventured then to hold up. After dwelling on the evils of Slavery and the corruptions it had engendered, including the purchase of votes at the polls, I proceeded as follows:
"Therefore, just so long as the present false theories of Slavery prevail, whether concerning its character morally, economically, and socially, or concerning its prerogatives under the Constitution, just so long as the Slave Oligarchy, which is the
1 Duties of Massachusetts at the Present Crisis: Formation of the Republican Party. Ante, Vol. III. p. 463.
sleepless and unhesitating agent of Slavery in all its pretensions, continues to exist as a political power, the Republican Party must endure. [Applause.] If bad men conspire for Slavery, good men must combine for Freedom. [Good! good!'] Nor can the Holy War be ended until the barbarism now dominant in the Republic is overthrown, and the Pagan power is driven from our Jerusalem. [Applause.] And when this triumph is won, securing the immediate object of our organization, the Republican Party will not die, but, purified by its long contest with Slavery and filled with higher life, it will be lifted to yet other efforts and with nobler aims for the good of man. [Applause, with three cheers for Lincoln.]"1
Such, on the eve of the Presidential election, was my description of the Republican Party and my aspiration for its future. It was not to die, but, "purified by its long contest with Slavery and filled with higher life," we were to behold it "lifted to yet other efforts and with nobler aims for the good of man." Here was nothing personal, nothing mean or petty. The Republican Party was necessary and permanent, and always on an ascending plane. For such a party there was no death, but higher life and nobler aims; and this was the party to which I gave my vows. But, alas, how changed! Once country was the object, and not a man; once principle was inscribed on the victorious banners, and not a name only.
THE REPUBLICAN PARTY SEIZED BY THE PRESIDENT.
IT is not difficult to indicate when this disastrous change, exalting the will of one man above all else, became not merely manifest, but painfully conspicuous. Already it had begun to show itself in personal preten
1 For the text of this passage see ante, Vol. V. pp. 224-25.