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On the Bill introduced by Mr. Bell, to Secure the Freedom of
Elections, and to provide for the Faithful Administration of the Executive Patronage. House of Representatives, May 19th and 20th, 1840.
Mr. Brown having obtained the floor, said:
He had listened with profound attention to the arguments of both his colleagues (Mr. GENTRY and Mr. Bell,) in favor of this bill. He had done so, because he was desirous to know on what new statement of facts, or by what new process
of reasoning, this odious measure was now to be revived, and again pressed on the consideration of the public, after its signal failure in the other end of the Capitol, and after that deep and decided reprobation of it which had been manifested in so many of the elections of this country. He was particularly anxious to discover whether misfortunes had not subdued, or at least chastened and softened down, some of those fierce and angry passions with which it was first advocated; misfortunes that have fallen with peculiar force on those gentlemen's own personal and political friends. One of them (Mr. BELL,) a few weeks since, on the Cumberland road bill, gave us a most touching and eloquent description of those misfortunes. “He had seen (said he,) during the last summer, one friend after another dropping around him," until that proud and exulting majority by which he used to be surrounded on this floor from his own State, was now sadly reduced to a solitary unit. Looking at the other end of the Capitol, he might have told us that this mortality among his friends had been still greater; there, nothing was to be met with but one entire and perfect scene of desolation and defeat. Sir (said Mr. Brown,) I was anxious
sazemplation of them
sa tinally to abandon zvuced such fatal results.
vist many persons have. . He they fail to reform, are
36 even the dispensations of
wed, often superadd to our
tai o reform.
in this House. I have had fre-
But, sir, I do mean to say, that, on ... and its kindred ones, the gentleman
fequanimity of temper, and to expose ...on of being governed more by the sugvid. than guided by the dictates of reason, or
els of' opinion. In much of that argument w to reply, the gentleman seemed determined mer, in bold denunciation, in reckless invective, As declamation. He seemed to imagine that l'emocracy into its last fortress, and that he was
bold and heroic charge, that was to demolish it 48 use his more sanguinary mode of expression,
olaning a deadly blow at the life-blood of the party Boots verrupt, and infamous party which had so long
immies of this country." But, sir, the democratic It country was not let off with even such denunciathe them. The gentleman (Mr. Bell,) became so far trans
compare it to that fabled monster, the Parisian vamlisted by sucking the blood from the warm and beatALAT of sleeping innocence.” He described the end and Liste dobiont of that unnatural monster, and declared that he wel alle in that end the writhing and expiring contortions of . putred and bloated carcass of democracy. Sir, I allude
Hey bitentas in the speech of my honorable colleague,
are his powers of description and comparison, no one but himself could see the slightest resemblance in this imaginary picture. No. If you wish to see a resemblance of that Parisian monster, go find it in that proud and bloated aristocracy that has so long fed and fattened on the people of this country. Go find it in that system of associated wealth and exclusive privilege, in all its odious forms and varieties, which has been so long consuming our substance, and which is now beginning to crumble beneath its own magnitude, and to expire in the midst of its own rottenness and corruption.
But, Mr. Speaker, I do not mean to content myself with making general observations like these against the present bill. It was introduced originally about three years ago, notoriously with the view of breaking down the Democratic party of the Union. But more especially was it intended to break down the Jackson or Democratic party in the State of Tennessee. It is now revived evidently for the same purpose, and was pressed upon this House in a tone of exultation and defiance which seemed at the time as though it was intended to provoke and challenge a reply. Sir, I do not feel especially called on to repel attacks made against the Democratic party generally. I have no connexion with that party sufficiently notorious to justify me in presuming to become her champion. In my own State, however, that connexion is not quite so obscure and unknown. Although never aspiring to be one of her leaders, I have been for twenty years enrolled among her most zealous and faithful private soldiers. If I seem now for the moment to step out from her lines, and to take position above that of a mere private, it is only because those who used to bear her banner high and proudly amid the ranks of her enemies, have now not only surrendered that banner into the hands of her enemies, but are foremost in the onslaught and loudest in the battle-cry against her!
Let us now turn our attention to the provisions of this bill, the end and aim of which are avowed to be the destruction of the present Democratic party of the United States—that party which the gentleman was pleased to denounce in his speech on tion on this country.”
I begin, sir, with its caption : "A bill to secure the freedom of elections.” The elections of the people of the United States; all the elections, State and Federal, in all the States. The freedom of the elections of the United States! Sir, you have but to state the proposition, in any company, in any State or county in this Union, to raise the smile of derision at its absurdity. What! our elections not free enough in this country, where every man goes forward to the polls of his own accord, and casts his vote for whom he pleases! goes in his own unquestioned and unquestionable majesty, asking no man's permission, and submitting to no limitation or restriction on his rights whatsoever! How can you secure more freedom to us in elections than we now enjoy? How can you better secure, by law, that freedom which has been for more than fifty years secured to us by the Constitution? Sir, it is like substituting statutory freedom for constitutional freedom. It is a good deal like what the advocates of this bill call “the purity of the elective franchise.” Not that purity which is felt and preserved in the hearts of the honest citizens of this country; not that virtue which, emanating from the heart, controls and governs the conduct of the people in administering their own government in their own way, and for their own advantage and prosperity; but a sort of pretended legal purity; a sort of hypocritical statutory virtue, which would yield to all sorts of political prostitutions on the first seducing bribe that might be laid in its way. Away with these forms and shadows; if the people have not purity and virtue enough (as the high toned Federalists have always said they had not,) to govern themselves, you can never infuse those qualities into them by any process of the law. So much for the caption of this bill. I call your attention now to the preamble or recitals of it. The first one of these recitals is the following:
Whereas, complaints are made that officers of the United States, or persons holding offices or employments under the authority of the same, other than the heads of the chief Executive Departments, or such officers as stand in the relation of constitutional advisers of the President, have been removed from office or dismissed from their employment upon political grounds, or for opin. ion's sake; and whereas, such a practice is manifestly a violation of the