Monday, November 25, 2013

"They knew that the militant arm of a free people must be the people themselves...."


David Overmyer Eloquently Out
lines the Democratic Issues.

Republican Administration Domineered by
the Wealthy Classes and Promises Pro-
tection Only to the Rich--Nation
Is in Grasp of a Monarchy.

   Manhattan, Kan., Oct. 22. Before a large audience in this city, Hon. David Overmyer, of Topeka, delivered a great speech on the issues of the campaign from a democratic standpoint. He said:

   At the end of 110 years of constitutional life we find ourselves face to face with questions relating to the first principles of government and society and involving consideration of the origin and sources of public powers. We are confronted also with the inquiry as to whether at last ours shall be any exception to the fate of other nations in other lands whose institutions we have decried and denounced. We are face to face with the question as to whether a republic can endure the advent of great wealth; whether it can survive the corruption, the effeminacy, the avarice, the dishonor, the abandonment of high ideals, noble sentiments and human impulses which always follow in the wake of affluence and luxury.

   It has been said that the revolutionary age in this country was an age of plain living and high thinking. This suggests the possibility- of an age of high living and low thinking. That these words accurately describe the conduct of a large body of influential and powerful people in these United States at the present time, cannot be denied. The democratic national platform adopted at Kansas City on July 4 last, declares that in this campaign imperialism is the paramount issue. This the republicans deny and make light of. They declare that there is no such issue; that there can be no such issue, and that there is no room in this republic for imperialism. But imperialism does not ask for room. It makes no requests; it never says "by your leave." It takes what it wants; it makes room for Itself; it never announces its coming, but always denies it. It comes with events, unheralded and unproclaimed. It conceals its identity by every possible device; alleges its absence when it is actually present and is never avowed until long after it is actually established. Doubtless the citizens of the Greek republics in their fancied security imagined that there was no room in their systems for imperialism. But from the hour in which war-like Philip of Macedon began the organization of the Macedonian phalanx into a regular standing army the liberties of Greece were doomed, and it was his own son, Alexander who, less than a generation after, became the imperial conqueror of the entire civilized world. Doubtless the Roman citizen indulged in the fond belief that there was no room in the Roman republic for imperialism, but from the moment in which Claus Marius began the organization of the Roman legions into a regular standing army, maintained out of the public treasury, the fate of the Roman republic was sealed. And in about the space of one generation thereafter his own nephew, Julius Caesar, became imperial dictator of the Roman empire and the immediate predecessor of a long line of emperors. And thus it has ever been and it will ever be.

   A large standing army is a constant menace to the peace of any country. Its very existence is a temptation to exert its power, and the country to which it belongs is constantly tempted to engage in war upon slight provocation, or no provocation, and thus the peace of the world is imperiled. Unjust wars are engaged in and the lives and property and happiness of the human race sacrificed to satisfy the ambition of reckless, violent and wicked men who have the control of nations in their hands. At the last congress a bill was passed through the house of representatives by republican votes, the democrats voting against it, increasing the standing army of the United States to 100,000 men. It was defeated in the senate, but a few days ago word was sent out from Washington that the secretary of war would recommend to the coming congress the passage of such a bill. This shows a settled purpose on the part of the administration to increase the standing army of the United States to 100,000 men. At the outbreak of the civil war the regular army of the United 8tates consisted of 23,000 men. At its close when the volunteer army was disbanded the regular army of the United States contained but 27,000 men. The fact that we enlisted more than 2,000,000 of men in the union army during that war and that they fought the greatest war recorded in history and at its close we returned them to the ways of peace, proves beyond question that the republic is not in need of a large standing army. Our fathers, who formed our institutions understood this very well and so they made no express provision in the constitution for a standing army, and the practice of the government for more than 100 years proves conclusively that all of our statesmen in the past have construed the constitution as not authorizing a large standing army. I do not mean to say that the very small army, which we have heretofore maintained is an unlawful body.

   While the constitution nowhere recognizes a standing or regular army. It shows distinctly that the expectation of its framers was that the reliance of the nation should be upon a citizen soldiery. Among other powers conferred upon congress is power "To provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the militia and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively the appointment of the officers and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by congress." Sec 8 Art. 1, constitution of the United States.

   The second amendment to the constitution provides that "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." These provisions show plainly that the fatners of the republic understood well the whole theory of public powers. They knew that the republic was founded upon the principle that all power is inherent in the people, all power must, therefore, be exercised by or kept under control of the people, or it would pass out of the hands of the people. They knew that of all forms of power the military was the one which if not kept under the strictest control would itself speedily assume control of all others. They knew that the coercive arm of a free society must be society itself. They knew that the militant arm of a free people must be the people themselves. They knew that the republic must always depend upon the people to defend it. In short, the government being a government of the people, for the people, and by the people, they knew that the people could be relied upon to take care of their own government; In other words, to take care of themselves; and that, whenever the government shall be engaged in any just war it could absolutely rely upon the people to sustain it, and it was not their purpose or expectation that a government of the people should ever engage in any war that was not just. They knew that no republic ever fell except by the power of a standing army, and that every republic that ever fell, fell at the feet of a standing army. They were, therefore, opposed to a large military establishment. Washington, in his farewell address especially warned his countrymen against them. He said: "Hence likewise they wilt avoid the necessity of those over-grown military establishments which under any form of government are inauspicious to liberty and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty." The whole record, the whole history, the entire procedure of the government of the United States up to the present administration is a loud, earnest and all anxious warning against a large standing army.

   So, naturally, the states also in their constitutions and laws have declared against standing armies. The fourth section of the bill of lights of the constitution of Kansas is as follows:

   "The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security, but standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty and shall not be tolerated, and the military should be in strict subordination to the civil power."

   In the face of such constitutional provisions and of such a long course of construction and procedure by our governments, both state and national, what possible excuse can be made now for this demand to increase the standing army of the United States to 100,000 men? That such an army is not needed is demonstrated by the experience of 120 years. That the people can be relied upon to defend and maintain their own institutions against enemies either at home or abroad whenever unjustly assailed is a proposition that needs only to be stated to be understood. As such an army is not necessary, the question at once arises, whence comes the motive and where does the purpose of organizing such a body originate? Has congress been petitioned to increase the regular army? Has labor, either organized or unorganized, asked congress to establish a large standing army? Have the farmers asked for it? Have the people asked for It? Has any one dared to petition for it? No! And yet there are those who want it. Who are they?

   They are the same class which has always demanded large military establishments in every country. They are the tyrants and oppressors of our age and generation. They are the men who, in the carrying out of their designs against free institutions and upon the people and the people's substance, who in the prosecution of their ambitious and avaricious schemes desire to be in a position to suppress summarily and despotically all opposition. They are the men who are today violating the law of the nation and the law of every state by forming themselves into gigantic combinations and conspiracies in restraint of trade and to control the markets, to plunder the people and to degrade and enslave labor. They want a large standing army to shoot down strikers and to suppress the populace in times of excitement and trouble. If such an army shall be formed as it is no longer needed upon the frontier, it will be located near the large cities and great trade and industrial centers.

   Then, when trouble arises between employer and employe, between capitalists and wage earners, the ruling class already, as we have seen organized in defiance of law, will not be under the necessity even of a resort to the government by injunction, but can reach its end by a shorter route, through the summary process of government by the bayonet, the bullet, and when necessary, the cannon. When that time shall come the state militia will be a thing of the past, the sheriff's posse, the constable and his deputies, and even the city police will rapidly give way in every emergency to the federal army, which will be thence forth employed generally as a sort of federal police, with which to suppress the people whenever their self-constituted masters shall consider it necessary. This is militarism. This is despotism.

   The day that shall witness the increase of the standing army of the United States to 100,000 men will mark the departure of the government of the United States from the policy of a constitutional citizen soldiery to the policy of an imperial military establishment.

   Having taken this step, having sundered the salutary restraints of the constitution, having violated the sacred traditions of the past, having ignored the lessons of history and embarked upon the dark and stormy sea of imperialism, having suppressed our own better nature and given free rein to the wild, fierce, destructive and lawles impulses of the human heart, a further increase to 200,000, 300,000 or 500,000. with a crushing increase in the burden of taxation and every other evil which follows in the wake of imperialism, may be expected, and the end no man can foresee. Then local self-government will be no more and the greatest bulwark of liberty will be in the possession of the greatest enemy of liberty.

   Against this monstrous iniquity the democratic party has set its face like flint.* It pleads for law and liberty, for justice and peace, and will resist militarism with all its power to the end.

   Their first and greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, did not think so. He regarded the declaration of Independence, as the chief cornerstone of the republic. The republican platform of 1860 also declared:

   "That the maintenance of the principles promulgated in the declaration of independence and embodied in the federal constitution, 'that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Is essential to the preservation of our republican Institutions." And the republican national platform of 1868 also declared:
"That we recognize the great principles laid down in the immortal declaration of independence as the true foundation of democratic government; and we hail with gladness every effort toward making these principles a living reality on every inch of American soil." (This plank was repeated by the republican party in 1876.)

   The declaration of independence designates, defines and declares the rule as to the origin and sources of public powers in this republic. That the definite rule of public power is a law cannot successfully be denied. The declaration of independence is law and has been so recognized by the supreme court of the United States in more than one Instance. In the case of Cruikshank vs. U.S. 52 U.S., 583, the court says; "The right of life and personal liberty are natural rights of men. To secure these rights, says the declaration of independence, governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

   The man of the party that assails or despises the declaration of independence, assails or despises the basic law of the republic.

   Some two years ago a general of the army of the United States declared that this country had outgrown the constitution. This general was at the time under oath to support and maintain the constitution and was being paid out of the treasury of the United States a large salary for bis services to the country.

   Such unconcealed hostility to the government established by our fathers by one in its service tempts us to turn to the constitution and see if we can find anything therein to justify such an utterance from such a source or from any source. Did this general mean that the country has outgrown the purposes of the constitution, expressed in its immortal preamble, as follows:

   "We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America."

   Did he suppose that the country had outgrown a single one of the great purposes above set forth? Did he suppose that the country had outgrown the bill of rights, that great charter of liberty fastened upon it by the American democracy during the Jeffersonian era? Has the country grown so large that we can dispense with the right of religious freedom, the right of freedom of speech and of the press, the right of peaceable assemblage, the right of the people to keep and bear arms for their defense, the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable researches and seizures; the right of immunity from the issuance of any warrants, except upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation? The right of exemption from accusation of felony, or other infamous crime, except by a grand jury; the right of trial by jury; the right to meet the witness face to face, to be heard in person, and by counsel, and to have compulsory process for witnesses in behalf of the accused?


   Has the nation grown so great that it has outgrown the provision that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law? Has it outgrown the reservation of undelegated powers to the people or to the states respectively? Has it outgrown the reservation to the people of rights not enumerated in the constitution? Has it outgrown the admirable distribution of the powers of the government to three great departments, each being a check upon and a balance against the others? Has it outgrown the provision of the constitution that all revenue laws must originate in the house of representatives? Has it outgrown the provision that congress shall declare war, and that congress shall make all needful regulations with respect to the territory and property of the United States? . . .

[The Kinsley Graphic, Kinsley, Edwards County, Kansas, November 2, 1900. Vol. 24. No. 50. Pg. 6]
   (Overmyer, David, 1847-1907, Overmyer was a Republican and in 1876 a candidate for a Republican presidential elector in Indiana. In a relatively short span of time, Overmyer became a well-respected attorney and political advocate. The United States attorney for the District of Kansas appointed him in 1890 to be a special master in chancery to collect testimony relating to a suit filed in the U.S. Circuit Court, District of Kansas, by the U.S. attorney general to resolve the title to lands claimed by the Black Bob Band of Shawnee Indians. He gave his final report and recommendations to the judge five years later. Overmyer represented Democrats at four-way debates with Republicans, Populists, and Prohibitionists in Salina, Kansas, in 1891 and Topeka in 1894. It is said that he argued more cases before the Kansas Supreme Court in 1890s than any other attorney. From the Kansas Historical Society.)

   Also see:

"The people have the right to bear arms for their defence and security"

* - Democrats and war? Let's see about that, shall we?
American war casualties:

Republican wars: (Gulf War, War on Terror)
5,078 (Oct. 7, 2001 - May 29, 2012)

Democrat wars: (WW I, WW II, Korea, Vietnam)

No comments: