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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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of this daring enterprise. It is a political, a partisan manoeuvre.
It is a strike for party advantage. With a fair election and an
honest count, the Democratic party cannot carry the country.
These laws, if executed, insure some approach to a fair election.
Therefore they stand in the way, and therefore they are to be
broken down.

I reflect upon no man's motives, but I believe that the senti-
ment which finds expression in the transaction now proceeding
in the two houses of Congress has its origin in the idea I have
stated. I believe that the managers and charioteers of the Dem-
ocratic party think that with a fair election and a fair count they
cannot carry the State of New York. They know that with free
course, such as existed in i86S, to the ballot box and count, no
matter what majority may be given in that State where the green
grass grows, the great cities will overbalance and swamp it. They



ROSCOE CONKLING j.-,

know that with the ability to give eighty, ninety, one hundred
thousand majority in the county of New York and the county of
Kings, half of it fraudulently added, it is idle for the three mil-
lion people living above the Highlands of the Hudson to vote.

This is a struggle for power. It is a fight for empire. It is
a contrivance to clutch the National Government. That we be-
lieve; that I believe.

The nation has tasted and drunk to the dregs the sway of
the Democratic party, organized and dominated by the same in-
fluences which dominate it again and still. You want to restore
that dominion. We mean to resist you at every step and by
every lawful means that opportunity places in our hands. We
believe that it is good for the country, good for every man
North and South who loves the country now, that the Govern-
ment should remain in the hands of those who were never
against it. We believe that it is not wise or safe to give over
our nationality to the dominion of the forces which formerly and
now again rule the Democratic party. We do not mean to con-
nive at further conquests, and we tell you that if you gain
further political power you must gain it by fair means, and not
by foul. We believe that these laws are wholesome. We believe
that they are necessary barriers against wrongs, necessary de-
fenses for rights; and so believing, we will keep and defend them
even to the uttermost of lawful honest effort.

The other day, it was Tuesday I think, it pleased the honor-
able Senator from Illinois [Mr. Davis] to deliver to the Senate
an address, I had rather said an opinion, able and carefully pre-
pared. That honorable Senator knows well the regard not only,
but the sincere respect in which I hold him, and he will not
misunderstand the freedom with which I shall refer to some of
his utterances. Whatever else his sayings fail to prove, they did,
I think, prove their author, after Mrs. Winslow, the most copious
and inexhaustible fountain of soothing syrup. The honorable
Senator seemed like one slumbering in a storm and dreaming of
a calm. He said there was no uproar anywhere, — one would
infer you could hear a pin drop, — from centre to circumference.
Rights, he said, are secure. I have his language here. If I do
not seem to give the substance aright, I will stop and read it.
Rights secure North and South; peace and tranquillity every-
where. The law obeyed and no need of special provisions or
anxiety. It was in this strain that the Senator discoursed.



j^ ROSCOE CONKLING

Are rights secure, when fresh-done barbarities show that local
government in one portion of our land is no better than despot-
ism tempered by assassination! Rights secure, when such things
can be, as stand proved and recorded by committees of the
Senate! Rights secure, when the old and the young fly in terror
from their homes, and from the graves of their murdered dead !
Rights secure, when thousands brave cold, hunger, death, seeking
among strangers in a far country a humanity which will remem-
ber that —

" Before man made them citizens,
Great nature made them men!*

Read the memorial signed by Judge Dillon, by the Demo-
cratic mayor of St. Louis, by Mr. Henderson, once a Member of
the Senate, and by other men known to the nation, detailing
what has been done in recent weeks on the Southern Missis-
sippi. Read the affidavits accom.panying this memorial. Has any-
one a copy of the memorial here ? I have seen the memorial.
I have seen the signatures. I hope the honorable Senator from
Illinois will read it, and read the affidavits which accompany it.
When he does, he will read one of the most sickening recitals
of modern times. He will look upon one of the bloodiest and
blackest pictures in the book of recent years. Yet the Senator
says all is quiet. " There is not such faith no not in Israel. *
Verily, ^* order reigns in Warsaw. *

Solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.

Mr. President, the Republican party everywhere wants peace
and prosperity — peace and prosperity in the South as much and
as sincerely as elsewhere. Disguising the truth will not bring
peace and prosperity. Soft phrases will not bring peace. * Fair
words butter no parsnips.* We hear a great deal of loose flabby
talk about ^^ fanning dying embers, * *^ rekindling smoldering
fires,* and so on. Whenever the plain truth is spoken, these
unctuous monitions, with a Peter Parley benevolence, fall co-
piously upon us. This lullaby and hush has been in my belief
a mistake from the beginning. It has misled the South and mis-
led the North. In Andrew Johnson's time a convention was
worked up at Philadelphia, and men were brought from the
North and South for ecstasy and gush. A man from Massachu-
setts and a man from South Carolina locked arms and walked



kOSCOE CONKLING j^:^

into tlie convention arm in arm, and sensation and credulity pal-
pitated and clapped their hands, and thought a universal solvent
had been found. Serenades were held at which " Dixie '^ was
played. Later on, anniversaries of battles fought in the war of
Independence were made occasions by men from the North and
men from the South for emotional dramatic hugging ceremonies.
General Sherman, I remember, attended one of them, and I re-
member also, that with the bluntness of a soldier and the wisdom
and hard sense of a statesman, he plainly cautioned ail concerned
not to be carried away, and not to be fooled. But many have
been fooled, and being fooled, have helped to swell the Demo-
cratic majorities which now display themselves before the public
eye.

Of all such effusive demonstrations I have this to say: honest,
serious convictions are not ecstatic or emotional. Grave affairs
and lasting purposes do not express or vent themselves in hon-
eyed phrase or sickly sentimentality, rhapsody, or profuse pro-
fessions.

This is as true of political as of religious duties. The Divine
Master tells us: ^* Not every one that saith unto me. Lord, Lord,
shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the
will of my Father which is in heaven.-**

Facts are stubborn things, but the better way to deal with
them is to look them squarely in the face.

The Republican party and the Northern people preach no
crusade against the South. I will say nothing of the past be-
yond a single fact. When the war was over, no man who fought
against his flag was punished even by imprisonment. No estate
was confiscated. Every man was left free to enjoy life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness. After the Southern States were
restored to their relations in the Union, no man was ever dis-
franchised by national authority — not one. If this statement be
denied, I invite any Senator to correct me. I repeat it. After
the Southern State governments were rebuilded and the States
were restored to their relations in the Union, by national author-
ity, not one man for one moment was ever denied the right to
vote, or hindered in the right. From the time that Mississippi
was restored there never has been an hour when Jefferson Davis
might not vote as freely as the honorable Senator in his State of
Illinois. The North, burdened with taxes, draped in mourning,
dotted over with newly-made graves tenanted by her bravest and
4 — 10



146



ROSCOE CONKLING



her best, sought to inflict no penalty upon those who had stricken
her with the greatest, and, as she believed, the guiltiest rebellion
that ever crimsoned the annals of the human race.

As an example of generosity and magnanimity, the conduct
of the nation in victory was the grandest the world has ever
seen. The same spirit prevails now. Yet our ears are larumed
with the charge that the Republicans of the North seek to revive
and intensify the wounds and pangs and passions of the war,
and that the Southern Democrats seek to bury them in oblivion
of kind forgetfulness.



AGAINST SENATOR SUMNER

(From the Debate in the United States Senate on Chinese Naturalization,

March 1870)

THE Senator from Massachusetts says : *^ Let us have a recess. *
I fear the Greeks. He has no good-will for this bill; and
if New York ever hold an honest election, it is to be in
spite of the honorable Senator from Massachusetts, and not be-
cause he gives one ounce of aid to the Republican party in that
State.

Mr. Sumner — I took the liberty of saying from my seat,
** Have a recess. '* I said so sincerely. I am always in my
place. I intended to be here to-night. I know not why the
Senator from New York should strike back at me because I
made that simple suggestion. He says that I gave no aid to his
bill. I have voted for his bill from beginning to end on every
proposition; and, as I now understand it, I shall to the end as
faithfully as the Senator himself. But allow me to say that
there is something higher than this bill; it is a great American
principle which that Senator now, on the Fourth of July, declares
his readiness to sacrifice. It shall not be sacrificed if I can
save it.

Mr. Conkling — I shall never be able with the ostentation of
the honorable Senator from Massachusetts to vaunt my great
achievements in the cause of human progress, human equality,
and human rights, yet when the volume is closed, though it
should close with the now setting sun, I will put against the
record of that Senator the humbler consistency of my own rec-
ord from first to last. Nor do I fear that those who vote with



ROSCOE CONKLING j .7

me, having some regard for common sense, and not alone foi
declamation, sensation, and high-sounding professions, will find
* their ineffectual fires ^^ paled before the blazing light of the dis-
tinguished Senator from Massachusetts.

I will vote to eliminate this amendment from the bill, and
going to my constituents will say: ^*As the last sands were run-
ning out, when the time had come when, if ever, the protecting
shield could be thrown around the ballot box, I had too much
sincerity and too little regard for personal effect in the galleries
and in the country to trample under foot a practical opportunity
to do a good thing for the sake of a flourish of rhetoric or a
vain and empty profession of love of human rights"; and point-
ing to the record of my votes, insignificant as that record may
be, which has at least no vacant place where an entry might
have been made in behalf of human progress and human rights,
I will trust the intelligence and honesty of my constituents, by
which they discern light from darkness, to discern also the differ-
ence between improving practically an occasion to do good and
trifling it away by vaulting and hollow attempts which every-
body knows can result in no good, and which mean nothing but
popular pretension and striving after effect.




BENJAMIN CONSTANT

(1767-1830)

Ienri Benjamin Constant de Rebecque was born October 25th,
1767, at Lausanne in Switzerland. In 1795 ^^ removed to
Paris, and attracting at once the attention of influential peo-
ple, soon became prominent in the disturbed politics of that period.
He was a member of the Tribunate from 1799 until 1802. Napoleon
banished him, but he returned in 18 14 and held ofltice under Napoleon
during the Hundred Days. As a result of the Bourbon victory he
was again driven into exile, but returning in 18 16 he was re-elected
to the Chamber of Deputies, holding that position from 18 19 to 1830.
He published a number of works on political and ethical questions,
at the head of which is generally ranked the *■ Cours de Politique
Constitutionnelle.* He died at Paris, December 8th, 1830. Constant
stands in France for the advocacy of constitutional and representative
government, such as that under which America and England have
had their remarkable development. He has been admired for his
earnestness and for his power of logical expression, but he had faults
of delivery which impaired what might otherwise have been his com-
manding influence as an orator. It is said that his voice was dry and
his manner stiff, and that his mind, though powerful, did not readily
respond on the spur of the moment to demands made upon it for
impromptus, so necessary for every one who aspires to political lead-
ership.



FREE SPEECH NECESSARY FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT

(Delivered in the Chamber of Deputies at Paris, March 23d, 1820, Against
Restricting the Liberty of the Press)

I WOULD ask the minister if he has reflected on the inevitable
consequences incident to the suspension, temporary or other-
wise, of the free circulation of our newspapers It may ren-
der him ignorant of all that is passing in the cliques of parasites
and flatterers at court. All governments, whether liberal or des-
potic (you see I eschew the words ^^ foreign to the interests or
rights of the people''), must rely for security on some means of
knowing what is transpiring in the State. Even in Turkey the

148



BENJAMIN CONSTANT



149



viziers are sometimes irritated at being deceived by their pashas
as to the situation of the provinces, and perhaps much may be
attributed to the inexact knowledge a neighbor prince had of
the dispositions of his garrisons when he saw them declare
against him. Now, gentlemen, I assert it as a fact, that in sus-
pending the free circulation of newspapers, the Government con-
demns itself to know nothing, except from the advices of its
salaried servants, that is to say, it will never know more than
half the facts, and frequently it will believe the opposite of the
true conditions. To prove this truth I shall not resort to rea-
soning. Reasoning is too near liberty to need to be availed of.
I shall invoke only a few facts, because facts are always the
same. As we have seen, the chartered rights of the people may
be demolished, but the facts remain impregnable.

Well, then, gentlemen, will you remember the occurrence in
Lyons in June 181 7? France was then under the exceptional
laws under which you had placed her. Individual liberty was
then, as it again will be, at the mercy of a ministry, and the
censor made of journalism what you will do here in a week, if
you adopt this proposed law.

What was the result then, gentlemen ? A real or a sham
conspiracy resulted. The severest measures were taken. Many
men were put to death, and for a long time persecution was a
political method. Well! All this was done and the Government
did not know just what it was agitating for. The Government
saw its error itself, for after all these executions had taken place,
when, as a result, the conditions were irreparable, a marshal of
France was sent to the field of these bloody severities to en-
lighten the ministry on the true state of things. In the mean-
while, they incarcerated, judged, condemned, executed, and all
without knowing wherefore; for had it not been felt necessary
to inform them, the tardy mission of M. le Marechal Marmont
would not have been thought necessary. I shall not enter into
this lugubrious history, nor judge between those who affirm or
deny their authority in the conspiracy. Who is right or wrong,
— this has no bearing on what I would prove. What is import-
ant is that for months the Government was in ignorance of the
facts and they had to send a personal messenger to report eye-
witness on which they could depend.

But, gentlemen, it might have been otherwise. If in the De-
partment of the Rhone there had been a single liberal journal,



150



BENJAMIN CONSTANT



this journal — Jacobin, Revolutionary, or whatever you would call
it, might present things from a different point of view from the
local authorities. The Government might hear the two sides. It
should not commence by striking without reason, afterwards to
send to find if it had any cause for striking.

I may be mistaken, but I think this side of the question has
never been indicated, and that it is worth examination. In sus-
pending the free circulation of newspapers, the ministry announce
that they desire to hear or learn nothing save by their own
agents, — that is to say if their agents are by imprudence, by any
personal motives or passions, on a false route, they will learn
from them only that which they think plausible to place their
merit in evidence or to assure their justification. Is this to the
interest of government ? I ask the ministry to reflect. If at all
times I treat this only from the standpoint of the interest of the
ministry, it is because I would address them words they would
hear. If it concerned them alone, I need not speak. All au-
thority brings with it the penalties of its responsibilities, its vex-
ations, and false measures; nothing can be more just and what
the result would be to the ministry is to me indifferent.

But as the example at Lyons has shown us, the people resent
this, and I would save the poor people a part of the sufferings
towards which this new regime is inevitably conducting us. I
call this a new regime, because it is different from what the
charter had commenced to introduce in France, But I might as
well and more justly call it the old regime, for it is the old re-
gime which we are reconstructing piece by piece ; lettres de cachet^
censures, oligarchic elections — these are the bases of the edifice!
The columns and the capitols will come later! I ask the minis-
try if they intend to govern France without knowing her. Will
they adopt measures depending on events of which they are in-
formed only by men whose interests are presumably to disguise
them; to commit thus without profit to themselves much injus-
tice which they can never repair? If this be their intent, the
suspension of the liberty of the press is a sure method of its
fulfillment. But if they find that the French people value the
right of being heard before being condemned, and that twenty-
eight million citizens should not be struck upon uncertain and
possibly false reports, then the journals must be left free in their
field of labor. Whatever the result, I am happy to have thus
put the question. France will know if this be refused how much



BENJAMIN CONSTANT j-j

importance the ministry attach to her requests by the lightness
with which they treat them. I ask if they will do me the honor
to reply, that they refute the example cited in the case of Lyons
and not lose themselves in vague declamations in reply to the
citation of a precise case.

Let us pass to another subject on which two words of explan-
ation will be useful. To suspend the free circulation of the
press is to place the newspapers in the hands of a minister, and
to authorize the insertion in them of what he pleases.

Have you forgotten, gentlemen, what occurred when a law,
similar to the one you would resurrect, gave to a cabinet minis-
ter this power ? I would not speak of the elections. I should
be ashamed to recapitulate facts so well known. It were idle
almost to tell the damage caused, for in three successive elec-
tions, the minister discredited the official articles attacking the
candidates. He only contributed to their election. On my part,
I owe him gratitude in this respect and I pardon his intentions
for their favorable results.

The facts I want you to consider are much more important.
You will probably remember that in the summer of the year
1818 several individuals who had filled responsible functions
were arrested because they were suspected of conspiracy. I am
not called on to explain or to defend these individuals. Their
innocence or their guilt has nothing to do with this matter.
They were detained; they were ironed; they had yet to be
judged; and as they were to be exposed to the rigors of justice,
they had a rightful claim on its safeguards. General Canuel was
among the number. Well, gentlemen, while General Canuel was
incarcerated, what did the minister do ? He selected a journal of
which the editors were friendly to the inculpated, and in it in-
serted the most damaging articles, and as they related to a man
who was untried and unconvicted, I call them the most infa-
mous. These articles circulated throughout France, and he
against whom they had been directed had not the power to
respond with a line. Do you find in this ministerial usage of
the press anything delicate, loyal, legitimate ? It is this slavish
use of the press they would solicit you to enact anew.

This condition can never be renewed. The constituency of
our present ministry is a guarantee against it.

By a law against universal liberty, you place the rights of all
(jitizens at the discretion of a ministry. By suspending the free-



Tr-c> BENJAMIN CONSTANT

dom of the press, you will place at their mercy all reputations.
I shall not stop to examine the promises of the minister of the
interior on this anodyne measure, which is to ** stop personal-
ities,^^ to *' encourage enlightenment,^^ and to ^* leave writers free,*
What opinion have the censors ?

Censors are to thought what spies are to innocence; they
both find their gains in guilt, and where it does not exist they
create it. Censors class themselves as lettered. Producing noth-
ing themselves, they are always in the humor of their sterility.
No writer who respects himself would consent to be a censor.
The title of royal censor was almost a reproach under the an-
cient regime. Has it been rehabilitated under the imperial
censorship ? These men will bring into the monarchy all the tra-
ditions of the empire. They will treat the liberty of the press
as they do the administration, and we shall be marching under
the guidance of the errors of Bonaparte, without the prestige of
his imperial glory and the quiet of its unity.




JOSEPH COOK

(1838-1901)

\Kt address on Ultimate America, delivered by Rev. Joseph
Cook in New York city in 1884, is perhaps the most cele-
brated of those striking addresses which gave him his repu-
tation, and at the same time caused him to be attacked as few other plat-
form orators have been in the history of the United States. In dis-
puting Mr, Cook's judgment on any given point, his opponents found
room to assert their own opinions, but regardless of all such questions
as they raised against him, there is scarcely room for two opinions con-
cerning his native ability as an orator. The facile expression which
others have achieved at the expense of the greatest pains, he seems to
have had under some natural compulsion. To some men the effort of
expressing themselves is always great and painful, while others, pos-
sessed by ideas which drive them into the arena of public debate, would
have even greater trouble in refraining from expressing themselves.
To this latter class Mr. Cook undoubtedly belonged. His address on
Ultimate America was delivered in New York city, July 4th, 1884.
The verbatim report in the New York Independent of July loth, 1884,
has been authoritatively recommended and accordingly used for the
purposes of this work. Dying June 25th, 1901, Mr. Cook remains se-
cure of a place among the leaders of advanced religious thought during
the nineteenth century.



ULTIMATE AMERICA
(From an Address Delivered in New York City, July 4th, 1884)

SIR Charles Dilke says that after he had seen cultured New
England, he looked backward over his course of travel and
did not seem to have seen America; and that after he had
visited the torrid South and the spacious West and the brave
Pacific Coast, he had no feeling that he had seen America; and
that it was only after he had sailed on the Pacific out of sight
of the continent and looked backward that he first, by a combination
of all his impressions, obtained suddenly a conception of America
and of the American character.

153



1^4' JOSEPH COOK

This English baronet should have been yet more cautious.
He should have floated in imagination above the lakes and the



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 14 of 39)