Wednesday, May 01, 2013

"But sir, I turn to this sacred paper, the Constitution..."

"But sir, I turn to this sacred paper, the Constitution. You will there find that the word people is mentioned six times, and six times only. I will be as little tedious as possible; but let us look into it. The first time the word occurs is in the preamble: "We the PEOPLE," &c. "to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and posterity," &c. Now sir, it is evident that no office holders of the Government could be members of the convention that created it; yet, sir, if my colleague's doctrine is correct, that the office holders are not a portion of the people, it would inevitably follow that those men who now hold offices under the General Government, who are the "POSTERITY" of the then people of the United States, are not entitled to the "blessing of liberty," which that charter intended to secure to "themselves and posterity." The second occurrence of the word is in the 2d section of the 1st article: "Members, &c. shall be chosen every second year, by the PEOPLE of the several States, and the electors in each State," etc. Now, sir, in this place the people are mentioned without restriction; and such of them as are electors, by the State laws, are secured in all the qualifications granted by the laws of the State; and there is no law in any State, that I know of--certainly not in Virginia--that deprives Federal officers of any of the rights of other electors. The third instance occurs in the first amendment to the Constitution: "Congress shall make no law abridging the right of the people peaceably to assemble," etc. Now, sir, if the officers of the Federal Government are not a portion of the people, they lose this inestimable privilege. The fourth occurrence of this word people, in our charter, is in the second amendment: "A well regulated militia, etc. The right of the people to bear arms shall not be questioned." Who does not perceive that under this extraordinary doctrine advanced by my colleague, no public officer embraced in this bill can keep a firelock? The fifth time this word people is written in the Constitution, is found in the fourth amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be questioned." What security have the poor public officers against search and seizure, if this monstrous doctrine, that they form no portion of the people, is to prevail? The sixth and last time in which the word people is to be found in the Constitution, is in the tenth amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United Stales, etc. are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." I am sorry, Mr. President, to have been thus tedious. Who, sir, does not see from this plain simple reading of the Constitution, that an officer of this Government, who ought to feel at least that he is a freeman, is cut off from every right which this Constitution meant to secure to freemen, if this new and astounding doctrine be true?"--Senator William Roane, Feb. 15, 1839. [CONGRESSIONAL GLOBE CONTAINING SKETCHES OF THE DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE TWENTY FIFTH CONGRESS. BLAIR AND RIVES EDITORS. THIRD SESSION--VOLUME VII. CITY OF WASHINGTON; PRINTED AT THE GLOBE OFFICE, FOR THE EDITORS. 1839.]

Now wait just a minute here, Senator Roane! I think the gentleman's "doctrine" is one of the best I've heard advanced in quite some time!

And here is another quote from the same Congress:

"The settlers can maintain themselves against the Indians. Even if they had no assistance from United States troops, they could maintain their positions. They are to be formed into stations from forty to one hundred men at each place. These stations will be a species of fortification, covering ground enough to shelter many people, impregnable to Indians. The blockhouses be arranged into hollow squares, to include hundred acres of ground for cultivation, or may be formed into a line across a point, or along a coast, within the distance of rifle cross firing, four or five men allotted to each house. Such stations could not be taken by force and with the faithful house dog for a sentinel, they could not surprised. I hold a blockhouse to be impregnable against Indians. No number of Indians take one of these houses with four or five riflemen in it. It is the strongest defence in world against small arms."--Senator Thomas Benton, Feb. 5, 1839. [CONGRESSIONAL GLOBE CONTAINING SKETCHES OF THE DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE TWENTY FIFTH CONGRESS. BLAIR AND RIVES EDITORS. THIRD SESSION--VOLUME VII. CITY OF WASHINGTON; PRINTED AT THE GLOBE OFFICE, FOR THE EDITORS. 1839. (Pg. 164)]

Her's one from an earlier edition of the Congressional Globe:

"But suppose the gentleman had been himself the District Attorney for the District of Kentucky, what could he have done? Suppose Mr. T. had been one of those recruited, could the gentleman have arrested him? If he had and Mr. T. had inquired his authority, he would have replied, "I arrest you because believe you are going to Texas." Mr. T. would have answered, "Well; and what if I am? Have I not a right to go to Texas, if I choose to remove to that country?" "Yes; but you are in arms; you mean to fight against Mexico as soon as you get there." "Well; and if, when not a resident of Texas, I choose to fight for my adopted country against her oppressors, can you hinder me?" Mr. T. insisted that if the Government had had the entire military power of the United States there on the ground, it could not have prevented one of these emigrants from removing over the line. They had a right to emigrate, and, having emigrated, they had a right to bear arms in their new country. Any attempt to prevent it must have proved futile, and have only resulted in the promotion of that which it sought to hinder; and, after all, what violation of neutrality had been committed? What had the Government done? Mr. T. had observed from the beginning the whole struggle of that glorious people, and again he asked, what had this Government done for them? It had sent Gen. Gaines across the line. But was this to keep the Camanches off the Texans? No: but off the Mexicans, their old enemies."--Rep. Waddy Thompson, Jan. 11, 1838, [CONGRESSIONAL GLOBE CONTAINING SKETCHES OF THE DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE TWENTY FIFTH CONGRESS. BLAIR AND RIVES EDITORS. SECOND SESSION--VOLUME VI. CITY OF WASHINGTON; PRINTED AT THE GLOBE OFFICE, FOR THE EDITORS. 1839. (Page 95)]

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