Saturday, May 11, 2013

"...and for the hinderance of which you never will pass any law through Congress...."

"...I understand that while I was temporarily absent from the Senate some time ago, the senator from New York expressed some very erroneous views in reference to the positions I took in the few remarks which I had the honor to submit in the early part of this discussion. What I said, if not with entire distinctness, I had hoped with sufficient clearness to be understood, was, that a citizen of the United States has a right to expatriate himself, that there was no power in the executive government to prevent his doing so, and that in leaving the country he had the right to bear arms. These propositions being true, I illustrated them in my own person by saying that I had the right to shoulder my musket and shake hands with the President, telling him I was going to Nicaragua, or any other country, to take part in a civil war, and that he had no right to molest me. I said every other citizen of the republic had precisely the same right...."[Pg. 514]   

"...Then we are asked to assert that all this was done "in arresting a lawless military expedition set on foot in the United States." That assumes the whole matter in controversy. I undertake to say that the expedition was not lawless and that no facts have been presented to show that it was so. Even the enthusiastic senator from Wisconsin admits the right of expatriation. He would claim for himself at this very moment the right to leave the country, to swear allegiance to any other government; and in going, to bear arms upon his person, would he not? Is there a senator here; is there an American citizen who listens to me at this moment, who would not claim for himself the right to leave his country, to expatriate himself, to swear allegiance to any other government, and in doing so, to bear arms on his person? Did Walker or any of those supposed to have been under his command, do anything more? They went, and they went with arms in their hands, as they had a right to do, as the President admits, as every senator that has yet spoken admits, and as the senator from Wisconsin claims that he would have the right to do. Then, by what authority is it called lawless? Have men acted in a lawless manner in doing that which all of us claim we have a right to do? Is there any lawlessness in doing that which every man insists every American citizen has a right to do, and which you may not hinder under any existing law, and for the hinderance of which you never will pass any law through Congress?

   "It is assumed that the expedition was set on foot in the United States. Where is the evidence of it, sir? Where is the proof? I deny it! I say the fact is not as stated. I say there was no expedition, lawless or otherwise, set on foot in the United States. I admit that persons who were born under our flag and entitled to the protection of our laws, went voluntarily, every man acting on his own responsibility, with arms in their hands, with a view to assist what they claimed to be the rightful government of Nicaragua, in the person of William Walker. This, I claim, they had the right to do. It was no expedition set on foot. It was a body of American citizens, each man for himself, acting for himself, and on his own responsibility, doing precisely what, under the law, he had a right to do."

- Mr. Albert G.Brown, Jan. 21, 1858, [Speeches, Messages and Other Writings of the Hon. Albert G. Brown, A Senator In Congress From The State of Mississippi. 1859. Pg. 520] (Albert Gallatin Brown, (May 31, 1813 – June 12, 1880), was Governor of Mississippi from 1844 to 1848. And a U.S. Senator from 1854 through 1861).

No comments: