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sions, to which I shall refer soon, when, suddenly and without any warning through the public press or any expression from public opinion, the President elected by the Republican Party precipitated upon the country an ill-considered and ill-omened scheme for the annexion. of a portion of the island of San Domingo, in pursuance of a treaty negotiated by a person of his own household styling himself " Aide-de-Camp to the President of the United States." Had this effort, however injudicious in object, been confined to ordinary and constitutional proceedings, with proper regard for a coördinate branch of the Government, it would have soon dropped out of sight and been remembered only as a blunder. But it was not so. Strangely and unaccountably, it was pressed for months by every means and appliance of power, whether at home or abroad, now reaching into the Senate Chamber, and now into the waters about the island. Reluctant Senators were subdued to its support, while, treading under foot the Constitution in one of its most. distinctive republican principles, the President seized the war powers of the nation, instituted foreign intervention, and capped the climax of usurpation by menace of violence to the Black Republic of Hayti, where the colored race have begun the experiment of selfgovernment, thus adding manifest outrage of International Law to manifest outrage of the Constitution, while the long-suffering African was condemned to new indignity. All these things, so utterly indefensible and aggravating, and therefore to be promptly disowned, found defenders on this floor. The President who was the original author of the wrongs continued to maintain them, and appealed to Republican Senators for help,thus fulfilling the eccentric stipulation with the Government of Baez executed by his Aide-de-Camp.
At last a Republican Senator, who felt it his duty to exhibit these plain violations of the Constitution and of International Law, and then in obedience to the irresistible promptings of his nature and in harmony with his whole life pleaded for the equal rights of the Black Republic, who declared that he did this as a Republican and to save the party from this wretched complicity, this Republican Senator, engaged in a patriotic service, and anxious to save the colored people from outrage, was denounced on this floor as a traitor to the party; and this was done by a Senator speaking for the party, and known to be in intimate relations with the President guilty of these wrongs. Evidently the party was in process of change from that generous association dedicated to Human Rights and to the guardianship of the African Too plainly it was becoming the instrument of one man and his personal will, no matter how much he set at defiance the Constitution and International Law, or how much he insulted the colored people. The President was to be maintained at all hazards, notwithstanding his aberrations, and all who called them in question were to be struck down.
In exhibiting this autocratic pretension, so revolutionary and unrepublican in character, I mean to be moderate in language and to keep within the strictest bounds. The facts are indisputable, and nobody can deny the gross violation of the Constitution and of International. Law with insult to the Black Republic, the whole case being more reprehensible, as also plainly more unconstitutional and more illegal, than anything alleged. against Andrew Johnson on his impeachment. Believe me, Sir, I should gladly leave this matter to the judg ment already recorded, if it were not put in issue again
by the extraordinary efforts, radiating on every line of office, to press its author for a second term as President; and since silence gives consent, all these efforts are his efforts. They become more noteworthy when it is considered that the name of the candidate thus pressed has become a sign of discord and not of concord, dividing instead of uniting the Republican Party, so that these extraordinary efforts tend directly to the disruption of the party, all of which he witnesses, and again by his silence ratifies. "Let the party split," says the President, "I will not renounce my chance of a second term." The extent of this personal pressure and the subordination of the party to the will of an individual compel us to consider his pretensions. These, too, are in issue.
"UPON what meat doth this our Cæsar feed," that he should assume so much? No honor for victory in war can justify disobedience to the Constitution and to Law; nor can it afford the least apology for any personal immunity, privilege, or license in the Presidential office. A President must turn into a King before it can be said of him that he can do no wrong. He is responsible always. As President he is foremost servant of the Law, bound to obey its slightest mandate. As the elect of the people he owes not only the example of willing obedience, but also of fidelity and industry in the discharge of his exalted office, with an absolute abnegation of all self-seeking. Nothing for self, but all for country. And now, as we regard the career of this candidate, we find to our amazement how little it accords with this simple requirement. Bring it to the touchstone and it fails.
Not only are Constitution and Law disregarded, but the Presidential office itself is treated as little more than a plaything and a perquisite, when not the former, then the latter. Here the details are ample, showing how from the beginning this august trust has dropped to be a personal indulgence, where palace-cars, fast horses, and seaside loiterings figure more than duties; how personal aims and objects have been more prominent than the public interest; how the Presidential office has been used to advance his own family on a scale of nepotism dwarfing everything of the kind in our history, and hardly equalled in the corrupt governments where this abuse has most prevailed; how in the same spirit office has been conferred upon those from whom he had received gifts or benefits, thus making the country repay his personal obligations; how personal devotion to himself, rather than public or party service, has been made the standard of favor; how the vast appointing power conferred by the Constitution for the general welfare has been employed at his will to promote his schemes, to reward his friends, to punish his opponents, and to advance his election to a second term; how all these assumptions have matured in a personal government, semimilitary in character and breathing the military spirit,being a species of Cæsarism or personalism, abhorrent to republican institutions, where subservience to the President is the supreme law; how in maintaining this subservience he has operated by a system of combinations, military, political, and even senatorial, having their orbits about him, so that, like the planet Saturn, he is surrounded by rings,-nor does the similitude end here, for his rings, like those of the planet, are held in position by satellites; how this utterly unrepublican Cæsarism
has mastered the Republican Party and dictated the Presidential will, stalking into the Senate Chamber itself, while a vindictive spirit visits good Republicans who cannot submit; how the President himself, unconscious that a President has no right to quarrel with anybody, insists upon quarrelling until he has become the great Presidential quarreller, with more quarrels than all other Presidents together, all begun and continued by himself; how his personal followers back him in quarrels, insult those he insults, and then, not departing from his spirit, cry out, with Shakespeare, "We will have rings and things and fine array "; and, finally, how the chosen head of the Republic is known chiefly for Presidential pretensions, utterly indefensible in character, derogatory to the country, and of evil influence, making personal objects a primary pursuit, so that, instead of a beneficent presence, he is a bad example, through whom republican institutions suffer and the people learn to do wrong.
Would that these things could be forgotten! but since through officious friends the President insists upon a second term, they must be considered and publicly discussed. When understood, nobody will vindicate them. It is easy to see that Cæsarism even in Europe is at a discount, that "personal government" has been beaten on that ancient field, and that "Caesar with a Senate at his heels" is not the fit model for our Republic. King George the Third of England, so peculiar for narrowness and obstinacy, had retainers in Parliament who went under the name of "The King's Friends." Nothing can be allowed here to justify the inquiry, "Have we a King George among us?"-or that other question, "Have we a party in the Senate of 'The King's Friends'?"