Thursday, July 18, 2013

"But the American people would stand in the way..."

Forty-Third Congress....

Friday, January 8, 1875.



...A Prophet In His Own Country.

   What he had foretold then had come to pass word for word. The policy of the President, instead of being modified, had been doggedly intensified. Lieutenant General Sheridan is sent secretly to New Orleans ro dragoon the people of Louisiana into submission. Scarcely there three days, having no intercourse with any but the adherents of Kellogg, he sends out his dispatches over the country. He would not say one word against whatever glory or renown accrued to this officer. But he was the servant of the people of the United States, fed and clothed by them, educated by them, and was not their master. Has he forgot that by the Constitution of his country the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed that they shall be secure from unlawful searches and seizures, that no man shall be tried without indictment by a grand jury. Sir, this issue cannot come to soon. If this cavalry officer, with his bloody sword, is stronger than all our personal guarantees of liberty, it is time that we should know it. Let us see whether the dispatches sent by this officer do not prove him unfit to breathe the air of a republic. In a three days' stay in one city of a large State he proclaims that whole State to be a lawless community. But there have been replies to these communications of General Sheridan. Mr. B. then read from the resolutions passed by the different exchanges in New Orleans and the bishops and clergy and others, pronounced as caluminous the statements of General Sheridan. The meanest man of all there, said Mr. B., was the peer of General Sheridan in every respect. Reading from the dispatch of General Sheridan asking that Congress proclaim the White Leaguers banditti, Mr. B. said that if there was the tone that once existed at the White House


his name as Lieutenant General of the army. Did this dispatch sound like an American officer? Did it not sound like the commander of a band of Janissaries, asking for instructions from some Oriental despot? In a time of profound peace he asks that Congress shall pass an ex post facto law, that he shall try by military commission and murder his own fellow-citizens. As he (Mr. B.) said, if the proper feeling existed in high quarters General Sheridan would not remain where he was five minutes. He had proved himself utterly unfit for his position. Instead of conciliation, kindness and obedience to the civil law, he rushes at once to set up a military despotism. We talk of Russian rule in Poland, and yet what Russian officer ever penned a dispatch of such remorseless cruelty as this. We read that Secretary Belknap sent a dispatch to General Sheridan that "the president and all of us approve of your course." Every feeling of disgust, of horror and of indignation which I have for the man who could send such a dispatch I have for those who approve it. He believed that the American people would repudiate "all of us" who indorse such action. Mr. B. then quoted at length from the decision of the Supreme Court in the Michigan case on military commissions. General Sheridan holds out threats which are disgraceful to the cloth he wears and to the country of which he is a citizen. The proposition is now here


that the President can, of his own motion and his own discretion, adjudge that sufficient domestic violence exists as to warrant him to interfere in the organization of a Legislature. So far as right is concerned, the people of Louisiana have as much right to pass upon the qualifications of the members of the two Houses of Congress as Congress has to pass upon the qualifications of the members of the Legislature of Louisiana. What has been done in Louisiana to-day may be done in New York to-morrow and in Massachusetts the next day, and it can be done in this Capitol on the fourth of March. He will have the same right to sustain the Clerk of the present House with troops, and allow them to call such names as he pleases and organize the House as he pleases. There would be no physical power in Congress to prevent it. But the American people would stand in the way. They will visit upon the heads of the offenders all such violations of law and right.

   He said this movement now was an attempt to feel the popular pulse, to see how far power could go. If the American people were insensible to the wrongs of their fellow-citizens in Louisiana, depend upon it they would feel themselves, and in a broader manner, the same disregard of their rights and liberties.


had been put over this new usurpation; that there was no pretence of obeying the civil authority; no sham of carrying out the decrees of a corrupt court; but it was plain, open, naked hand of the soldier, and it was for the people to meet the issue....

- National Republican, Washington, D.C., Saturday Morning, January 09, 1875. Vol. XV. No. 39. Pg. 1.

No comments: