[Speech of Senator David Bennett Hill*]
In times like these it becomes necessary to return to the consideration of elementary principles.
The first question presented is what constitutes this Government a republic?
It is a Republic because the people are free--because there is a recognition of the right of self-government--because the creation of a royal family is impossible: because certain inherent rights are deemed to belong to every citizen which regarded as inalienable and of which he cannot be deprived without his consent or due process of law--these are the essential characters which pertain to a republican form of government.
Liberty is its cornerstone. The right of sufferage is one of the pillars of the structure. The enactment of laws by the people through representatives chosen by themselves is one of its attributes. "No taxation without representation" and "government by the consent of the governed" are cardinal maxims which appropriately express the principles underlying free institutions.
Written constitutions wherein the powers granted to those in authority and the powers and rights reserved to the people are specified and defined, have come to be regarded as essential to the safety and perpetuity of representative governments.
The Constitution of the United States constitutes the basis of our Republic. It is the sheet anchor of our liberties. It guarantees religious liberty, freedom of speech, [Pg. 3>] and freedom of press. It protects the right of the people at all times to peacefully assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. It declares that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. It regards a citizen's home as his castle, and declares that no soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. It provides that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to nay office or public trust under the United States, and prohibits any law respecting an establishment of religion. It guarantees the personal liberty of the citizen, and declares that the right of the people to be secure in their persons, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and regulates the methods of procedure in all cases of seizures and searches.
It protects the citizens from government tyranny and oppression by providing that no person shall be held to answer for an infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury; nor shall any person be subjected for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall he be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
We are indebted to the wisdom of the provisions of that Constitution for our national unity, our national progress, our national glory--for all that we have been, and are, and hope to be as a nation.
It is the contention of the Democratic party that the Constitution is and must be supreme over every portion of our country. Hence there can be no such thing as an American colony** belonging to the United States and over which our Constitution has no jurisdiction. Such a situation is impossible under our form of government. It would be an anomaly.
We must govern ourselves and our possessions under the provisions of our Constitution, or else we have no right to govern at all....
- The Times, Richmond, VA. Wednesday, October 03, 1900."David Bennett Hill Had A Big Crowd To Hear Him" Pg. 1 & 3
* - HILL, David Bennett, a Senator from New York; born in Havana (now Montour Falls), Chemung (now Schuyler) County, N.Y., August 29, 1843; attended the public schools; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1864 and commenced practice in Elmira, N.Y.; city attorney the same year; member, State assembly 1871-1872, serving as speaker in 1872; mayor of Elmira 1882; president of the New York State Bar Association 1886-1887; lieutenant governor 1882; Governor of New York 1885-1892; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate on January 1, 1891, for the term beginning March 4, 1891, but did not assume these duties until later, preferring to continue as Governor; served from January 7, 1892, to March 3, 1897; was not a candidate for reelection in 1896; chairman, Committee on Immigration (Fifty-third Congress); while Senator was nominated for Governor of New York in 1894 but was defeated; resumed the practice of law.
** - The Philippines had been denied the right to keep and bear arms, as well as the trial by jury in their constitution. Which had been drafted by the American administration, that included Douglas MacArthur. The same treatment had been done with Puerto Rico.