David J. (David Josiah) Brewer.

Crowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 4) online

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friend does not suggest that there was anything like a shock or
distress to her feelings on that account. He does not pretend


that there was anything like affection, esteem, or love to the de.
fendant, or that the plaintiff's heart was wounded, in respect ot
which she is entitled to compensation. It is said that this is a
monetary action for a money loss, as she might have had a set-
tlement upon her; for monetary loss she is entitled to ask the
jury for compensation. Putting aside the accusation which has
been atoned for, it is quite true this is a monetary action, but
an action in which, most justly and rightly, the character of the
parties is always taken into account; and there is no general
rule by which damages in a matter of this kind can be estimated.
There was a case before my lord the other day when we were
refreshed by hearing some of the tones of that great eloquence
which used to ring high and clear not so very long ago from
these same benches. In that case a girl had given herself up for
life to be the affianced wife of a gentleman who had thrown her
aside and discarded her, without reason and without redress.
There the jury meted out damages with no niggard hand. But
this is not that case: the plaintiff in this case is not that sort of
plaintiff; you cannot give her special damages in this case, with-
out, to some extent, approving of the conduct she pursued, and
encouraging women in a like situation to follow in her steps;
and, apart from idle declamation, and according to plain common
sense, if you agree with me in the view of her conduct which I
have endeavored to put before you, it will follow that you will
agree with me when I say that she has forgotten the dignity of
her sex, and by her conduct lowered our ideas of that which we
most esteem, reverence, and admire in the character of woman.
I sincerely trust that you twelve English gentlemen will pause
before you do anything that will give the faintest shadow of coun-
tenance to conduct such as the plaintiff has pursued; and that, if
you think a promise was made, and a promise broken, and that
it must be followed by some damages, you will say they ought
to be most trivial if not nominal in amount.



|cHUYLER Colfax represented an Indiana district in Congress
continuously from December 3d, 1855, to March 23d, 1869.
During the last six years of this time, he was Speaker of
the House. As editor and proprietor of the South Bend, Indiana,
Register, he was one of the organizers of the Republican party, and
from its first contests to the close of his public career, he was always
in great demand as a campaign orator. He was elected Vice-President
on the ticket with General Grant in 1868, and served until March 3d,
1873, when he retired to South Bend, and thereafter appeared in pub-
lic only as a lecturer. He was born in New York city, March 23d,
1823. Going with his parents to Indiana in 1836, and receiving a
common-school education, he began to take an active part in politics
as soon as he was old enough to vote. He died of heart disease at
Mankato, Minnesota, January 13th, 1885.

(From a Speech Delivered in the House of Representatives, April 23d, 1862)

THE bill that was laid on the table a short time ago would
have left the matter in a very indefinite state, as I thought,
in scanning its provisions after our adjournment last night.
I was in favor of the first section of the bill, which declares that
any man who shall hereafter willfully persist in the unholy re-
bellion against this Government shall be stripped of his property,
of his stocks, of his money, and effects. But the second section
provides that these proceedings shall be in the United States
court, and that that court is to order this property to be sold.
And when I recollected the decision of the Supreme Court of
the United States made at one time in reference to " property,'*
a decision which helped to inflame the South into demands for
** rights '^ never before recognized, I felt it might possibly decide
that the slaves of these rebels were "property, *' and that then
we should be held up before the country and before the world



as authorizing the slaves of rebels to be sold, and their proceeds
to be paid into the Treasury. I do not myself, as the House
knows, regard slaves as property. They are persons ^^held to
labor, *^ to use the language of the Constitution. But I have
grave doubts as to what the Supreme Court would decide, and
the bill just laid on the table having been under the previous
question, and therefore not amendable, I prefer that we shall
ourselves settle this important point indisputably by the details
of whatever bill we may pass, and not leave it as a vague ques-
tion of construction to the courts. . . .

The engineers of this rebellion — the Catilines who sat here
in the council chambers of the Republic, and who, with the oath
on their lips and in their hearts to support the Constitution of
the United States, plotted treason at night, as has been shown
by papers recovered at Florida, particularly the letter of Mr.
Yulee, describing the proceedings of the midnight conclaves of
these men to their confederates in the Southern States — should
be punished by the severest penalties of the law, for they have
added to their treason perjury, and are doubly condemned before
God and man. Never, in any land, have there been men more
guilty and more deserving of the extremest terrors of the law.
The murderer takes but a single life, and we call him infamous.
But these men wickedly and willfully plunged a peaceful coun-
try into the horrors of civil war, and inaugurated a regime of
assassination and outrage against the Union men in their midst,
hanging, plundering, and imprisoning, in a manner that throws
into the shade the atrocities of the French Revolution. Not con-
tent with this, they aimed their blows at the life of the Republic
itself; and on many a battlefield, in a carnival of blood, they
sought not only to destroy the Union itself, but to murder its
defenders. Plunging into even still darker crimes, they have
bayoneted the wounded on the field of carnage, buried the dead
that fell into their hands with every possible ignominy, and then,
to gloat their revenge, dug up their lifeless remains from the
tomb, where even savages would have allowed them to rest, and
converted their skulls into drinking cups — a barbarism that
would have disgraced the Visigoths of Alaric the barbarian, in
the dark ages of the past. The blood of our soldiers cries out
from the ground against them. Has not forbearance ceased
longer to be a virtue ? We were told a year ago that leniency
would probably induce them to return to their allegiance, and tc


cease this unnatural war; and what has been the result: Let
the bloody battlefields of this conflict answer.

When I return home I shall miss many a familiar face that
has looked in past years with the beaming eye of friendship
upon me. I shall see those who have come home with constitu-
tions broken down by exposure and wounds and disease to linger
and to die. I shall see women whom I have met Sabba'th after
Sabbath leaning on beloved husbands' arms, as they went to
the peaceful sanctuary, clothed now in widows* weeds. I shall
see orphans destitute, with no one to train their infant steps into
paths of usefulness. I shall see the swelling hillock in the grave-
yard — where, after life's fitful fever, we shall all be gathered —
betokening that there, prematurely cut off by a rifle ball aimed
at the life of the Republic, a patriot soldier sleeps. I shall see
desolate hearthstones and anguish and woe on every side. Those
of us here who come from Indiana and Illinois know too pain-
fully the sad scenes that will confront us amid the circles of our

Nor need we ask the cause of all this suffering, the necessity
for all these sacrifices. They have been entailed on us as part
of the fearful cost of saving our country from destruction. But
what a mountain of guilt must rest upon those who, by their
efforts to destroy the Government and the Union, have rendered
these terrible sacrifices necessary.

Standing here between the living and the dead, we cannot
avoid the grave and fearful responsibility devolving on us. The
people will ask us when we return to their midst: When our
brave soldiers went forth to the battlefield to suffer, to bleed,
and to die for their country, what did you civilians in the Halls
of Congress do to cripple the power of the Rebels whom they
confronted at the cannon's mouth ? What legislation did you en-
act to punish those who are responsible, by their perjury and
treason, for this suffering, desolation, and death ? Did you levy
heavy taxes upon us and our property to pay the expenses of a
war into which we were unwillingly forced, and allow the men
who are the guilty and reckless authors of it to go comparatively
free ? Did you leave the slaves of these Rebels to plant and sow
and reap, to till their farms, and thus support their masters and
the armies of treason, while they, thus strengthened, met us in
the field ? Did you require the patriots of the loyal States to
give up business, property, home, health, life, and all for the


country, and yet hesitate about using the law-making power of
the Republic to subject traitors to the penalties as to property
and possessions which their crimes deserve ? I would feel as if
worthy of the severest condemnation for life, if I did not mete
out to those who are the cause of all this woe and anguish and
death, by the side of which all the vast expenses of the war
dwindle into insignificance, the sternest penalties of the law
while they still remain in arms in their parricidal endeavor to
blot this country from the map of the world.

Why do we hesitate ? These men have drawn the sword and
thrown away the scabbard. They do not hesitate in punishing
Union men within their power. They confiscate their property,
and have for a year past, without any of the compunctions that
trouble us here. They imprison John M. Botts for silently re-
taining a - lingering love for the Union in his desolate home.
They hang Union men in east Tennessee for bridge-burning, re-
fusing them even the sympathy of a chaplain to console their
dying hours. They persecute Brownlow because, faithful among
the faithless, he refused, almost alone, in his outspoken heroism,
to bow the knee to the Baal of their worship. Let us follow his
counsel by stripping the leaders of this conspiracy of their pos-
sessions and outlawing them hereafter from the high places of
honor and of trust they have heretofore enjoyed.



I^Te^r such leaders as Sumner and Seward had ceased to direct
the course of the Repubhcan party in the United States,
Roscoe ConkHng took, and long retained, national prominence
as the leading representative of what finally came to be called its "stal-
wart" element. Between him and James G. Blaine, leader of the oppos-
ing element, there was a long-continued antagonism, first publicly de-
veloped during the celebrated debate in which Mr. Blaine compared
Mr. Conkling to a turkey cock. The history of their time almost forces
a comparison between the two men, each great in his own way. If Mr.
Blaine had the broader intellect, the more extensive culture, the greater
eloquence, the warmer sympathies, and the quicker apprehension, Mr.
Conkling had in him a force which at times more than compensated
for what would otherwise have been the overwhelming advantage of his
rival. His strength of conviction, his decisiveness, his assured belief
in his own cause, no matter what it was, his conviction that those whose
errors he could see because their purposes conflicted with his own were
"eternally wrong" gave him the one overwhelming element of strength
which would have made Mr. Blaine irresistible had he possessed it in
such a degree as adequately to represent the fiery passions and vindic-
tive prejudice of the Civil War period. Something of the same con-
trast of character which exists between Conkling and Blaine is illus-
trated between Andrew Jackson and the great Kentuckian whom Mr.
Blaine so admired. Mr. Conkling was hardly less assured of himself
and of his cause, whatever it was at any given time, than was Andrew
Jackon in his day. He became naturally the leader of the element which
favored forcing the issues raised during the Civil War, until all opposi-
tion had been abandoned. He came thus into strong antagonism with
members of his own party who wished to raise such new issues as that
of Civil Service Reform. And as this same element was most strongly
opposed to the nomination of President Grant for a third term, Mr.
Conkling became a logical leader against them. His speech nomi-
nating Grant for a third term in the Republican National Convention
in Chicago, in 1880, is perhaps the most celebrated nominating
speech ever delivered in the United States, and although it was
apparently without immediate result, the impression it produced on



the convention doubtless had much to do with making Mr. Arthur
Vice-President. Mr. Conkling was born October 30th, 1829, at Albany,
New York. He was a Member of Congress from New York from
1859 to 1863, and from 1865 to 1867. Elected United States Senator
in 1867, he resigned in 1881 as a result of a disagreement with Presi-
dent Garfield over the disposition of New York patronage. Defeated
for re-election to the Senate, he retired from politics and practiced
law with distinguished success up to the time of his death, April
I 8th, 1888.

(Delivered in the National Republican Convention at Chicago, June 1880)

WHEN asked whence comes our candidate, we say from Ap-
pomattox. Obeying instructions I should never dare to
disregard, expressing, also, my own firm conviction, I rise
in behalf of the State of New York to propose a nomination
with which the country and the Republican party can grandly
win. The election before us will be the Austerlitz of American
politics. It will decide whether for years to come the country
will be ^^ Republican or Cossack. '* The need of the hour is a
candidate who can carry the doubtful States, North and South;
and believing that he more surely than any other can carry
New York against any opponent, and carry not only the North,
but several States of the South, New York is for Ulysses S.
Grant. He alone of living Republicans has carried New York as
a presidential candidate. Once he carried it even according to a
Democratic count, and twice he carried it by the people's vote,
and he is stronger now. The Republican party with its stand-
ard in his hand is stronger now than in 1868 or 1872. Never
defeated in war or in peace, his name is the most illustrious
borne by any living man; his services attest his greatness, and
the country knows them by heart. His fame was born not alone
of things written and said, but of the arduous greatness of things
done, and dangers and emergencies will search in vain in the
future, as they have searched in vain in the past, for any other
on whom the nation leans with such confidence and trust. Stand-
ing on the highest eminence of human distinction, and having
filled all lands with his renown, modest, firm, simple, and self-
poised, he has seen not only the titled but the poor and the lowly
in the utmost ends of the world rise and uncover before him. He


has studied the needs and defects of many systems of govern-
ment, and he comes back a better American than ever, with a
wealth of knowledge and experience added to the hard common
sense which so conspicuously distinguished him in all the fierce
light that beat upon him throughout the most eventful, trying,
and perilous sixteen years of the nation's history.

Never having had *a policy to enforce against the will of the
people,*^ he never betrayed a cause or a friend, and the people
will never betray or desert him. Vilified and reviled, truthlessly
aspersed by numberless presses, not in other lands, but in his
own, the assaults upon him have strengthened and seasoned his
hold upon the public heart. The ammunition of calumny has all
been exploded; the powder has all been burned once, its force is
spent, and General Grant's name will glitter as a bright and im-
perishable star in the diadem of the Republic when those who
have tried to tarnish it will have moldered in forgotten graves
and their memories and epitaphs have vanished utterly.

Never elated by success, never depressed by adversity, he has
ever in peace as in war shown the very genius of common
sense. The terms he prescribed for Lee's surrender foreshadowed
the wisest principles and prophecies of true reconstruction.

Victor in the greatest of modern wars, he quickly signalized
his aversion to war and his love of peace by an arbitration of
international disputes which stands as the wisest and most majes-
tic example of its kind in the world's diplomacy. When infla-
tion, at the height of its popularity and frenzy, had swept both
houses of Congress, it was the veto of Grant which, single and
alone, overthrew expansion and cleared the way for specie re-
sumption. To him, immeasurably more than to any other man,
is due the fact that every paper dollar is as good as gold. With
him as our leader we shall have no defensive campaign, no
apologies or explanations to make. The shafts and arrows have
all been aimed at him and lie broken and harmless at his feet.
Life, liberty, and property will find a safeguard in him. When
he said of the black man in Florida, * Wherever I am they may
come also,* he meant that, had he the power to help it, the poor
dwellers in the cabins of the South should not be driven in ter-
ror from the homes of their childhood and the graves of their
murdered dead. When he refused to receive Denis Kearney he
meant that the lawlessness and communism, although it should
dictate laws to a whole city, would everywhere meet a foe in


him, and, popular ci unpopular, he will hew to th^ line of right,
let the chips fly where they may.

His integrity, his common sense, his courage, and his un-
equaled experience are the qualities offered to his country. The
only argument against accepting them would amaze Solomon.
He thought there could be nothing new under the sun. Having
tried Grant twice and found him faithful, we are told we must
not, even after an interval of years, trust him again. What stult-
ification does not such a fallacy involve ? The American people
exclude Jefferson Davis from public trust. Why ? Because he
was the arch traitor and would be a destroyer. And now the same
people are asked to ostracize Grant and not trust him. Why ?
Because he was the arch preserver of his country; because, not
only in war, but afterward, twice as a civic magistrate, he gave
his highest, noblest efforts to the Republic. Is such absurdity
an electioneering jugglery or hypocrisy's masquerade ?

There is no field of human activity, responsibility, or reason
in which rational beings object to Grant because he has been
weighed in the balance and not found wanting, and because he
has had unequaled experience, making him exceptionally compe-
tent and fit. From the man who shoes your horse to the lawyer
who pleads your case, the officer who manages your railway, the
doctor into whose hands you give your life, or the minister who
seeks to save your soul, what now do you reject because you
have tried him and by his works have known him ? What makes
the presidential office an exception to all things else in the com-
mon sense to be applied to selecting its incumbent ? Who dares
to put fetters on the free choice and judgment, which is the
birthright of the American people ? Can it be said that Grant
has used official power to perpetuate his plan ? He has no place.
No official power has been used for him. Without patronage or
power, without telegraph wires running from his house to the
convention, without electioneering contrivances, without effort on
his part, his name is on his country's lips, and he is struck at by
the whole Democratic party because his nomination will be the
deathblow to Democratic success. He is struck at by others
who find offense and disqualification in the very service he has
rendered and the very experience he has gained. Show me a
better man. Name one and I am answered; but do not point,
as a disqualification, to the very facts which make this man fit
beyond all others. Let not experience disqualify or excellence


impeach him. There is no third term in the case, and the pre-
tense will die with the political dog-days which engendered it.
Nobody is really worried about a third term except those hope-
lessly longing for a first term and the dupes they have made.
Without bureaus, committees, officials or emissaries to manufac-
ture sentiment in his favor, without intrigue or effort on his
part, Grant is the candidate whose supporters have never threat-
ened to bolt. As they say, he is a Republican who never wavers.
He and his friends stood by the creed and the candidates of the
Republican party, holding the right of a majority as the very
essence of their faith, and meaning to uphold that faith against
the common enemy and the charletans and the guerrillas who
from time to time deploy between the lines and forage on one
side or the other.

The Democratic party is a standing protest against progress.
Its purposes are spoils. Its hope and very existence is a solid
South. Its success is a menace to prosperity and order.

This convention, as master of a supreme opportunity, can
name the next President of the United States and make sure of
his election and his peaceful inauguration. It can break the
power which dominates and mildews the South. It can speed
the nation in a career of grandeur eclipsing all past achieve-
ments. We have only to listen above the din and look beyond
the dust of an hour to behold the Republican party advancing to
victory with its greatest marshal at its head.

(From a Speech in the United States Senate, April 24th, 1879)

WE ARE told that forty-five million people are in danger from
an army nominally of twenty-five thousand men scattered
over a continent, most of them beyond the frontiers of
civilized abode. Military power has become an affrighting spec-
tre. Soldiers at the polls are displeasing to a political party.
What party ? That party whose administration ordered soldiers,
who obeyed, to shoot down and kill unoffending citizens here in
the streets of Washington on election day; that party which has
arrested and dispersed legislatures at the point of the bayonet;
that party which has employed troops to carry elections to decide
that a State should be slave and should not be free; that party


which has corraled courts of justice with national bayonets, and
hunted panting fugitive slaves, in peaceful communities, with ar-
tillery and dragoons; that party which would have to-day no
majority in either house of Congress except for elections domi-
nated and decided by violence and fraud; that party under whose
sway, in several States, not only the right to vote, but the right
to be, is now trampled under foot.

Such is the source of an insulting summons to the Executive
to become particeps criminis in prostrating wholesome laws, and
this is the condition on which the money of the people, paid by
the people, shall be permitted to be used for the purposes for
which the people paid it.

Has the present national administration been officiously robust
in checking the encroachments and turbulence of Democrats, either
by the use of troops or otherwise ? I ask this question because
the next election is to occur during the term of the present ad-
ministration. What is the need of revolutionary measures now ?
What is all this uproar and commotion, this daring venture of
partisan experiment for? Why not make your issue against these
laws, and carry your issue to the people ? If you can elect a
President and a Congress of your thinking, you will have it all
your own way.

Why now should there be an attempt to block the wheels of
government on the eve of an election at which this whole ques-
tion is triable before the principals and masters of us all ? The
answer is inevitable. But one truthful explanation can be made

Online LibraryDavid J. (David Josiah) BrewerCrowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 4) → online text (page 13 of 39)