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countenance and encouragement to persons engaged in armed hostility to the United States."
Colfax was a man of fervid eloquence, of great personal kindness, and an almost universal popular favorite.
He stated that he offered the resolution in performance of a high public duty ; a duty which he owed not only to his constituents at home, but to the thousands who were in the tented fields, meeting in deadly conflict the armies of the confederacy, and exposing their lives for the imperiled Union. He said with great force, that if the sentiment uttered by the member from Ohio was to go unrebuked, then the republic would have no right to complain of any foreign government which should recognize the independence of the confederacy. “ You should,” said he, “if such expressions are tolerated, stop shooting deserters from the Union army, for they had not turned their backs upon the flag, any more influentially than he who rises in his place in Congress, and declares in favor of recognizing the confederacy as one of the nations of the earth.”
Mr. Cox, an adroit, ready debater from Ohio, opposed the resolution. Taking pains most emphatically to disavow on the part of himself and colleagues, the sentiments of Long, he plead for the freedom of discussion. Harris of Maryland said :
“I am a peace man, a radical peace man, and I am for peace by the recognition of the confederacy. I am for acquiescense in the doctrine of secession. I thought I was alone; but now, thank God! there is another soul saved. I am glad to have such able aid.”
He went on to say:
“ The South asked you to let them go in peace. But no, you said you would bring them into subjection. That is not done yet, and God Almighty grant that it may never be. I hope that you may never subjugate the South.”
Washburne of Illinois, indignant at the expression of such sentiments, immediately called him to order; the words were taken down by the clerk and made the basis of a motion by
Washburne to expel Harris, upon which motion the vote was 81 ayes to 58 noes; not being two-thirds the motion failed. General Schenck immediately introduced a motion declaring Harris to be an “unworthy member” and severely censuring him, which passed by a vote of 93 to 18, many of the democrats voting for it.
Perhaps the most impressive speech in favor of the reso Ition was made by the fiery, impetuous, yet elegant and classic Henry Winter Davis. He always commanded the full attention of the House and galleries, and on this occasion the members gathered around him, and the usually noisy House of Representatives was hushed into complete silence. He said :*
“The question which we are bound as gentlemen and as legislators to determine is, whether a gentleman, acknowledged to be respectable, believed to be sincere, entertaining and avowing purposes which do not differ from those of the chief of the rebel confederacy, or of the men in armed array beyond the Potomac, bent on ejecting us from this Hall, is the fit companion of gentlemen here, a fit depository of his constituent's vote, a safe person to be entrusted here with the secrets of the United States, a worthy guardian of the existence of the Republic? Are we to be seriously told that the freedom of speech screens a traitor because he puts his treasonable purposes in words? Does the Constitution secure the right of our avowed enemies to vote in this IIall ? May a man impudently declare that his purpose here is so to vote as to promote the success of the rebellion, to embarrass and paralyze the Government in its suppression, to secure its triumph and our overthrow, to bring the armed enemy to Washington, or arrest our army lest it exterminate that enemy: then why do not the Congress at Richmond adjourn to Washington, push us from our stools, and by parliamentary tactics under the Constitution, arrest the wheels of Government? You could not expel them! Sir, that picture is history, recent history. In 1860, that side of the House swarmed with the avowed enemies of the Republic. One after one as their stars dropped from the firmanent of the Union, they went out; some with tears in their eyes over the miseries they were about to inflict; some of them with exultation over the coming calamities ; some of them with contemptuous bitterness to the members in the 11:11l ; some staid behind to do the traitor's business in the disguise of honest legislators in both Hou-es as long as they dared. One disgraced the Senate for one long
* Congressional Globe, Ist Sess. 38 Congress, h. 1550.
session after armed men were soaking their native soil with their blood, and now he is in the ranks of our enemies.
"Suppose that in the French Assembly, when the life of France was at stake, as the life of this Nation is now at stake, and when heroic men were struggling to maintain it, some one had arisen and proposed to call back the Bourbons, and place the reins of Government in their hands -how long would he have remained a member of that body? Suppose that the day before the battle of Culloden, or the day after the battle of Preston Pans, some Jacobite had arisen in the House of Commons of England, and declared himself of the opinion that the pretender could not be expelled without the extermination of the Jacobites, and that therefore they should place hiin on the throne of England! Do you think the traditional liberty of speech in England would have saved him from summary expulsion? Do you think there is any law in England that could have stood between him, and, not expulsion, but death? Would not the act have been considered a crime, and the declaration of it in Parliament have been considered but an aggravation of the crime, demanding his expulsion ? Would not the vote of that body have been instantaneous, and his execution swifter than that vote?
“ Are we to be told here that men are to rise in this Hall, when the guns of the impending battle will echo in our ears, when we only sit here because we have one hundred and fifty thousand bayonets between us and the enemy; when Washington is a great camp, the center of thirty miles of fortifications stretching around us for our protection ; are we to be told that here, within this citadel of the Nation, an enemy may beckon with his hand to the armed foe, assuring him of friends within the people's Hall, at the very center of power, and we cannot
There are few if any finer things than the following illustration of the freedom of opinion, and its limitations :
“Surely, sir, opinion is the life of our nation. It is the measure of every right, the guarantee of every privilege, the protection of every blessing. It is opinion which creates our rulers. It is opinion that nerves or palsies their arms. It is opinion which casts down the proud and elevates the humble. Its fluctuations are the rise and fall of parties ; its currents bear the nation on to prosperity or ruin. Its free play is the condition of its purity. It is like the ocean, wbose tides rise and fall day by day at the fickle bidding of the moon; yet it is the great scientific level from which every height is measured—the horizon to which astronomers refer the motion of the stars. But, like the occan, it has depths whose eternal stillness is the condition of its stability. Those depths of opinion are not free, and it is they that are touched by the words which have so moved the House. Men must not commit treason and say its guilt is a matter of opinion, and its punishment a violation of its freedom. Men cannot swear to maintain the integrity of the nation, and avow their intention to destroy it, and cover that double crime by the freedom of speech. That is to break
the fountains of the great deep on which all government is borne, and to pour its flood in revolutionary ruin over the land. To punish that is not a violation of the freedom of opinion or its expression. It is to protect its normal ebb and flow, its free and healthy fluctuations, that we desire to relieve it from the approbrium of being confounded with the declarations of treasonable purposes here, in the high and solemn assemblage of the Union."
Then in a voice that thrilled through the Representative Hall, and which brought the leaping pulse, and the deep breath of emotion, he exclaimed:
“When a Democrat shall darken the White House and the land ; when a democratic majority here shall proclaim that freedom of speech secures impunity to treason, and declare recognition better than extermination of traitors; when McClellan and Fitz John Porter shall have again brought the rebel armies within sight of Washington city, and the successor of James Buchanan shall withdraw our armies from the unconstitutional invasion of Virginia to the north of the Potomac ; when exultant rebels shall sweep over the fortifications, and their bombshells shall crash against the dome of the Capitol; when thousands throughout Pennsylvania shall seek refuge on the shores of Lake Erie from the rebel invasion, cheered and welcomed by the opponents of extermination ; when Vallandigham shall be Governor of Ohio, and Bright Governor of Indiana, and Woodward Governor of Pennsylvania, and Seymour Governor of Connecticut, and Wall Governor of New Jersey, and the gentleman from New York city sit in Seymour's seat, and thus, possessed of power over the great centre of the country, they shall do what they attempted in vain before in the midst of rebel triumphs—to array the authorities of the States against those of the United States ; to oppose the militia to the army of the United States; to invoke the habeas corpus to discharge confined traitors; to deny to the Government the benefit of the laws of war, lest it exterminate its enemies; when the Democrats, as in the fall of 1862, shall again with more permanent success, persuade the people of the country that the war should not be waged till the integrity of the territory of the Union is restored, cost what it might, but that such a war violates the spirit of
free institutions, which those who advocate it wish to overthrow, it should stop, for the benefit of the Democratic party, somewhere this side of absolute triumph, lest there be no room for a compromise ; when gentlemen of that party in New York shall again, as in November 1862, hold illegal and criminal negotiations with Lord Lyons, and avow their purposes to him, the representative of a foreign and unfriendly power, and urge him to arrange the time of proffering mediation with a view to their possession of power and their preparation of the minds of the public to receive suggestions from abroad; and when mediation shall appear by the event, to be the first step toward foreign intervention, swiftly and surely followed by foreign armed enemies upon our shores to join the domestic enemies; when the war in the cars shall begin, which was menaced at the outbreak of the rebellion, and the friends of Seymour shall make the streets of New York run with blood, on the eve of another Gettysburg less damaging to their hopes; when the people, exhausted by taxation, weary of sacrifices, drained of blood, betrayed by their rulers, deluded by demagogues, into believing that peace is the way to Union, and submission the path to victory, shall throw down their arms before the advancing foe; when vast chasms across every State shall make apparent to every eye, when too late to remedy it, that division from the South is inauguration of anarchy at the North, and that peace without Union is the end of the Republic—THEN the independence of the South will be an accomplished fact, and gentlemen may, without treason to the dead republic, rise in this migratory House, wherever it may then be in America, and declare themselves for recognizing their masters at the South, rather than exterminating them! Until that day, in the name of the American nation; in the name of every house in the land where there is one dead for the holy cause; in the name of those who stand before us in the ranks of battle; in the name of the liberty our ancestors have confided to us, I devote to eternal execration the name of him who shall propose to destroy this blessed land, rather than its enemies.
But until that time arrive it is the judgment of the American people there shall be no compromise ; that ruin to ourselves or ruin to the Southern rebels are the only alternatives. It is only by resolutions of this kind that nations can rise above great dangers and overcome them in crisis like this. It was only by turning France into a camp, resolved that Europe might exterminate, but should not subjugate her, that France is the leading empire of Europe to-day. It is by such a resolve that the American people coercing a reluctant Government to draw the sword, and stake the National existence on the integrity of the Republic, are now anything but the fragments of a nation before the world, the scorn and hiss of every petty tyrant. It is because the people