Sunday, July 07, 2013

"taken from the people of that Territory their arms"

Speech of Mr. Giddings,
Delivered in the House of Representatives 
August 17, 1856.

"...If we pass this bill without the proviso, and make the appropriation in general terms, the President will be at liberty to employ the army for the coming year in the same manner he has for the past year. Indeed, by passing the bill in that form, we shall tacitly approve the action of the President and the purposes for which he has recently employed the army in Kansas. By the use and power of the army, he has taken from the people of that Territory their arms and when the citizens were thus left without the means of defence, they have been set upon by ruffians, by Missouri Democrats, friends of the President, and robbed of their property, their persons insulted, their dwellings burned, and in some instances individuals were murdered.

   "The second article in the amendments of our Federal Constitution declares that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." But in that Western Territory the Constitution is trampled upon by our army, acting under the President's orders; and we are called on to give the President money to support the army, while thus engaged in overthrowing the Constitution; and the Senate insists that unless we leave him at full liberty to continue this revolution, they will not permit the bill to pass, and will leave the army without support! Very well; let them take the responsibility; but I protest against their attempts to charge it upon us, who steadily vote for the bill. We will give him the money, but will prohibit its application to such purposes.

   "During the past year, the President employed the army to disperse peaceful citizens of Kansas, elected by the people to the office of legislators, and who had assembled, under such election, for the discharge of official duties, lest their action might operate against the enactments of those Missourians to whom I have referred. He has used the army as a posse, to aid the arrest of citizens charged with disobeying the enactments of those Missourians who professed to legislate for the government of Kansas; and the army is at this time acting as a guard to hold distinguished citizens of that Territory in durance, under the charge of treason, for refusing to obey those infamous enactments.

   "With these historical facts before us, we see them sustained by the entire Democratic party. Every member of that party now makes himself a participator in all these outrages. And when this bill with its proviso was presented to them for action, they with nearly unanimous voice voted against it. They insist that the army shall go without support, unless we leave the President at liberty to employ it in the same manner that he has done during the year past. The Senate sustains the same position, and even denounces us as factious for refusing to comply with their demands. I propose to meet them frankly on this issue. I will not surrender my own independence. I trust no Republican will. I do not believe
there is a constituency north of Mason and Dixon's line who desires their Representative to yield this point. What member of the Republican party will do it? ...."

- Western Reserve Chronicle, Warren, Trumbull County, Ohio, Wednesday, September 10, 1856, Vol. 41, No. 4. Whole No. 2084. Pg. 1.

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