Franklin Repository: March 06, 1867Go To Page : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
(Column 1)Summary: An appeal from the editors urging the legislature to approve a bill calling for a constitutional convention.The XXXIXth Congress
(Column 1)Summary: Labeling it the most "important" and "memorable" session ever, the editors note the end of the passing of the 39th Congress. Although the body faced the immense task of countering the "colossal perfidy of Andrew Johnson," they note, it persevered, rescuing the nation from hands of treachery.
Full Text of Article:[No Title]
The 39th Congress belongs to history. Of all it has been the most important, and will be most memorable. The 37th and 38th Congresses had to struggle to save a Republic from open, armed, manly foes. Treason came with its banners streaming, its bayonets bristling, and its deadly purpose was declared in the hoarse thunders of its artillery. It drew a marked dividing line between the people. All were either loyalists or traitors, and the common, patent peril appealed to every consideration of patriotism and every instinct of self-preservation to grapple with the enemies of law and government. The path was clear; the duty plain; and how freely the appalling sacrifice was given, let the ridged graves of our countless martyrs tell. The banner of crime was stricken in hopeless disaster, and there came from the leaders of desolation the promise of submission for peace. The nation had just re-inaugurated its trusted Ruler to complete the great work of restoration prepared by the sword. With him had been called to the second position in the government, one who claimed to have most zeal among the zealous, most fidelity among the faithful, and most devotion among the devoted for the principles of unconditional loyal rule in the land just redeemed by loyal blood. The assassin's arm, nerved by the teaching of treason, bereft the Republic of its President just in the noon-tide of his triumph for Humanity and Freedom, and Andrew Johnson became his successor, and thenceforth he has been the friend only of his country's foes, and the enemy only of its faithful friends.
With the colossal perfidy of Andrew Johnson the 39th Congress had to deal. He stood not upon the order of his treachery, but made it course its way alike in boisterous currents and in still but steady streams throughout the land to poison the popular mind, and paralyze the people in the consummation of their great work. Treason was invited to insolence; the conquered dictated terms to the conqueror; and over the graves of our thousands of slain heroes, the cause of their murderers was defended and their work clothed with honor. Steadily, slowly, but surely the 39th Congress approached its mighty task. It met no flaunting banners of crime; no armed battalions arrayed against the government; no Lees, or Beauregards, or Johnsons, or Forrests waved their plumes amidst the hail of death; no Andersonvilles, or Belle Islands, or Salisburys, remained to shame mankind by their thousand deaths refined for each defender of his flag; but in the very inner sanctuary of power the spoiler sat enthroned, and around him there were millions to greet his effort to deny a nation's deliverance--fairly won in deeply crimsoned triumph--by falsehood and fraud. The foes of Freedom came with gifts to their apostate leader, and the very altar of liberty, still fragrant with the increase of incalculable sacrifices, was blotted by their proffered devotion which was but a lie, and their proposed submission which was a falsehood and fraud as well.
It was no common task for a Congress thus to rescue a distracted nation, and no common men could have performed it. Many faltered, some staggered and a few fell before the temptations of power and plunder; but the feeble were reclaimed, the hesitating were admonished by a faithful people to duty, and the fallen rose no more. For nearly two years there was one ceaseless, desperate struggle between Right and Wrong--Power and Patriotism. Defiantly the perfidious President entered the struggle, and when the bending lines of Congress rallied in stern, unbroken column to resist the shock of the new foes of Freedom, he bowed the Republic that had honored him in consuming shame by his ribald harangues and insolent proclamation of his treachery. But it rallied a mighty and noble people to the new perils which overshadowed them, and they spoke as never men spake before, in behalf of the full fruition of their triumph. There were dark days, and doubtful struggles for a time; but it made names immortal and principles as sacred as religion itself. The Freedman's Bureau bill and the Civil Rights bill were made laws over the impotent veto of the President, and in the hour of victory, the generous terms of reconstruction known as the constitutional amendments, were proposed to the rebellious people with which to rehabilitate themselves in the folds of a common Union. But treason was not content with the struggle. It had gained much--it would have more. The humble Freedman was left destitute of the great element of manhood, and forthwith his practical re-enslavement became the work of traitors. Wherein victorious loyalty had forgotten justice, discomfited treason supplied the crowning boon. The same men who rejected rebel suffrage because it was not universal, now must accept universal suffrage from the disenthralled slave, and henceforth the leaders of the rebellion shall be strangers to citizenship and aliens to our common nationality.
The reconstruction bill, (published in full in our last) was vetoed by the President on Saturday, and on the same day passed over his veto by the overwhelming vote of 38 to 10 in the Senate, and 135 to 48 in the House. On the same day he returned a bill limiting the power of the President in removals from office, and before either branch adjourned, the bill was passed over the veto by nearly the same vote given for the reconstruction bill. Notwithstanding Gen. Grant twice called upon the President to urge his approval of the reconstruction bill, and leading Democratic statesmen like Reverdy Johnson, Caleb Cushing, and Gov. Brown of Georgia, and such journals as the New York World, the Boston Post, the Chicago Times, the Richmond Whig, the Buffalo Courier and many lesser lights of the Democratic faith, demanded the acceptance of the bill by the President and the Southern people, the President, unshaken in his devotion to treachery and wrong, returned it with his veto only to see it enacted before the setting of the sun.
Thus did the 39th Congress close and crown its labors, and whatever may have been its shortcomings and errors, a rescued nation and a grateful people will tell the proud story of its undaunted patriotism and its triumphs for Mankind, while Freedom has votaries among the living!
(Column 2)Summary: The article characterizes the 39th Congress' failure to pass the Tariff Bill as its "most serious blunder," and expresses the hope that the next Congress will remedy the situation.
Full Text of Article:[No Title]
THE defeat of the Tariff bill by the 39th Congress was a most serious blunder, and must have been well nigh fatal to our industrial interests as well as to our credit ultimately, but for the fact that the 40th Congress is now in session and will certainly pass a Tariff bill before it adjourns. It is not pretended that anything like a majority of Congress was opposed to the Tariff, but it was delayed and badgered by the appeals of delegations representing various interests, until the waste of precious time and the multiplicity of amendments ended its overthrow. When it is considered that many of our manufactured articles now pay in direct taxes more than the Tariff on the same articles from abroad, the necessity for a Tariff must be comprehended by all. We are actually, by our taxes, discriminating against our home manufactures, and making them cost much more than the foreign article, with duties added. We charitably infer that the Tariff was purposely referred to the 40th Congress to mature and enact, and it is to be hoped that its fate with the new body will not be doubtful. If we would maintain our credit, we must employ a Tariff for the two-fold purposes of securing revenue, and sustaining our manufactures which will contribute vastly to the public treasury.
(Column 2)Summary: The piece calls on the legislature to pass a Registry law to deal with the "earnest and frequent" complaints of election fraud in the mining counties of the state. "Any party that resists a fair registry of the voters does not desire honest elections," it asserts.[No Title]
(Column 3)Summary: In an opinion delivered by Judge Agnew, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has ruled that the shares in the National Bank are subject to state taxation in the hands of shareholders.Legislative Reform
(Column 5)Summary: In his letter, "Justificus" expresses the belief that a constitutional convention should be convened to increase the size of the legislature.
Full Text of Article:
To the Editors of the Franklin Repository:
I regret to mark that in your last two issues you almost neglected to refer to the plan you propose for a change in the number of our legislators. I hope that in the future you will not cease to urge upon the people of the State the importance and feasibility of reforming the legislature, by a large increase of its proportions. There are so many plausible pretexts for travelling on in the little narrow path our fathers trod before us, and so much sophistry has been employed in past years, in regard to determining how many members best conduce to the united wisdom and integrity of a deliberative assembly, that unless men are pressed to think carefully on the subject, they are liable to lazily conclude we had best be governed in coming years as in those gone by. I believe some of the strongest authorities which might be misconstrued into a vindication of the present constitution of the legislature, are to be found in parts of the contributions of Madison to the almost oracular Federalist. If the conclusions of those productions are closely scrutinized, they can only weigh in favor of an increase of numbers, as we ask. That talented author had before him the difficult task of reconciling the citizens of the different States to a constitution which limited the House of Representatives of the whole country, for the space of three years, to only sixty-five members, and we must remember that one of the reasons Madison gave that the nation should acquiesce in enduring so small a number in the beginning, was that it would rapidly become larger, and that in fifty years, by the arrangement he counselled, the House of Representatives alone would be increased to four hundred members. It had been objected that "so small a number (sixty-five) cannot be safely trusted with so much power," and Madison, in reply, said: "I take for granted here, what I shall in answering the fourth objection, hereafter show, that the number of representatives will be augmented, from time to time, in the manner provided by the constitution," and then adds these emphatic words, "On a contrary supposition, I should admit the objection to have very great weight indeed." He seemed anxious to be clearly understood as proposing the small number for only a limited time. Thus further on he writes: "The true question to be decided then is, whether the smallness of the number, as a temporary regulation, be dangerous to the public liberty. Whether sixty-five members for a few years, and a hundred, or two hundred for a few more, be a safe depository for a limited and well guarded power of legislating for the United States." Again the same statesman argued--"Sixty or seventy men may be more properly trusted with a given degree of power, than six or seven. But it does not follow, that six or seven hundred would be proportionably a better depository. And if we carry on the supposition to six or seven thousand, the whole reasoning ought to be reversed." Observe how guardedly the great writer proceeded in the discussion, and how careful he was to insert the word "proportionably" into his statement, so as to impliedly admit that six or seven hundred were better than sixty or seventy, though it did follow from his preceding axiom, that they afforded so high a degree of security as to insure ten times the safety of sixty or seventy.
We must remember that in framing the constitution of a great government extending over many States, a desideratum was to form as small a House of Representatives at first as prudence would permit in order to prevent the inevitable rapid proportionate increase of members, from swelling the legislature to a number too large for practicable deliberation and thus changing it into a mob. But the number to which we now propose to augment our law-making body has been proved by years of experience in many of the States to be within the limits necessary for candid and successful debate and cool decision, and if our commonwealth grow to rival China in population we need not on that account increase our legislature one man. It is our misfortune that we cannot form our legislatures of men equal in purity and wisdom to the tried patriots who composed the first Congress under the new constitution. As to the material of those past national councils Madison said: "I am equally unable to conceive, that there are at this time, or can be in any short time in the United States, any sixty-five or an hundred men, capable of recommending themselves to the choice of the people at large, who would either desire or dare within the short space of two years to betray the solemn trust committed to them." And he wisely continues, "What change of circumstances, time and a fuller population of our country, may produce, requires a prophetic spirit to declare, which makes no part of my pretensions."
It is painful to be compelled to admit that "change of circumstances" has so metamorphosed the members of our legislatures in States where those bodies are made up of comparatively few members, that in Pennsylvania it is almost as much as a man's character for honesty is worth to be sent to the legislature, while in New York the integrity of that branch of the government in the esteem of the people has been illustrated by the convict, travelling on the Hudson River railroad, just before the legislature met, who when asked by a fellow passenger if he were "going to the legislature," replied, "No, thank God not so bad as that, I'm going to the penitentiary." If we could form our legislatures of such men as those who were sent to the early Congresses, perhaps we might rest at ease with a few members, and feel safe in trusting them. But when, without reflecting upon any particular individual or even any particular legislature, we are forced to acknowledge that if a man should wish a bill put through the House and Senate, the most potent arguments he could use, have become wonderfully light and lustre lacking since greenbacks have superseded gold, and yet strange to say, they are as powerful now as before, and when Senator Chandler would say "it is alleged, I know not whether it be true or false, but it is alleged" that in our legislature an honest member is looked upon with contempt by his fellow lawgivers, as one so weak and foolish as to be an object for the most heartfelt pity. When these statements have become as familiar throughout all Pennsylvania as is the name of William Penn, it behooves us to exert ourselves to remedy the evil. It may be urged that however large a legislature, it will be controlled by the arguments of a few leading spirits. The statement is true when interpreted in one way, and false when interpreted in another. "Enough for two is enough for eight," is said to be correct, with reference to gas lights, but not with reference to oysters. So the arguments which would command the votes of one hundred legislators, might command the votes of five hundred if those arguments were constituted of reason and philosophy, but if they were offered in the shape of bank notes, at least five times the amount would be required to produce the same result, and it would be necessary to possess five times the trickery to conceal the corruption.
It may be argued that having a whole county from which to choose one legislator, we can select a better class of men than we could if we elected five or ten within the same limits. This supposition is very reasonable as a mere theory, but it is not of much importance in practice. We all know what kind of men are sent to our legislature now, and without meaning to cast reproach on the present or even on any past legislature, I am certain all sensible men will agree that we can readily find five or ten men in each county, according to its size, every one of whom will be as good and useful a member of the legislature, as those who have composed the great body of that assemblage, during any session for twenty years. When a legislator sells himself to support a measure in violation of the will of the majority of the people of his county, he loses the respect and support of those people, and he must be paid a price sufficiently large to remunerate him for the sacrifice of popularity he makes. If we send five men in his stead, each of whom at least upon his election establishes a character throughout the whole county, it will require five times as much money to bribe the five that it would to bribe the one. The wisest rule by which to determine how many members should compose a legislature, is to fix on the largest number capable of so controlling themselves as not to degenerate into the turbulence and passion of a mob. As I have already said, a number equal to that we advocate have so governed themselves in several State legislatures for many years. Let us avail ourselves of the wisdom contained in the proverb, "In the multitude of counsellors there is safety."
Trailer: JustificusTo Pennsylvania Soldiers
(Column 7)Summary: An appeal from the State Historian, Samuel Bates, asking soldiers to furnish details of their personal history to be included in the History of the Pennsylvania Volunteer and Militia Organizations.
Local Items--Grand Army of the Republic
(Column 1)Summary: It is reported that Franklin county has been constituted a "District of the Grand Army of the Republic," and that Col. James G. Elder, late of the 126th Regiment Penna Vols., has been elected District Commander.Local Items--Promotion
(Names in announcement: Col. James G. Elder, Col. James R. Gilmore, Col. F. S. Stumbaugh, J. W. Fletcher, Maj. J. H. Harmony, Maj. C. Gilbert, Dr. R. M. Reynolds)
(Column 1)Summary: George O. Seilhamer, formerly editor of the Repository, has been promoted to Assistant City Editor of the New York Tribune.Local Items--Odd Fellows' Anniversary
(Column 2)Summary: The Columbus Lodge, No. 75, of the I. O. O. F. will celebrate their twenty-fifth anniversary on April 5th.Local Items--Revival
(Column 2)Summary: The revival that had been in progress at the M. E. Church for the past eight weeks in Mercersburg has come to end, according to a report in the Mercersburg Journal. Over the course of the event, over one hundred persons "expressed a change of heart, nearly all of whom were admitted as members of that church."
Origin of Article: Mercersburg JournalLocal Items--Confirmed
(Column 2)Summary: Notes that C. S. Eyster, former resident of Chambersburg, has been confirmed by the U. S. Senate as U. S. Judge of Colorado.Married
(Names in announcement: C. S. Eyster)
(Column 3)Summary: On Feb. 21st, C. C. Stull and Rebecca Oller were married by Rev. Jacob Price.Died
(Names in announcement: C. C. Stull, Rebecca Oller, Rev. Jacob Price)
(Column 3)Summary: On Feb. 28th, Mary Gilmore, 61, died in Upper Strasburg.Died
(Names in announcement: Mary Gilmore)
(Column 3)Summary: On Feb. 25th, Susannah Hill, 60, died in St. Thomas.Died
(Names in announcement: Susannah Hill)
(Column 3)Summary: On Feb. 17th, Agnes C., daughter of Thomas and Margaret Zeigler, died near Dry Run. She was 4 months old.Died
(Names in announcement: Agnes C. Zeigler, Thomas Zeigler, Margaret Zeigler)
(Column 3)Summary: On Feb. 18th, Calvin S., infant son of William and Mary Ann Piles, died at Dry Run. He was 3 months old.Died
(Names in announcement: William Piles, Mary Ann Piles, Calvin S. Piles)
(Column 3)Summary: On Feb. 26th, Matthew E. Coulter died near Doylesburg. He was 90 years old.Died
(Names in announcement: Matthew E. Coulter)
(Column 3)Summary: On Feb. 27th, Elmer E., son of Brice B. and Jane M. Zeigler, died near Dry Run. He was 5 weeks old.
(Names in announcement: Elmer E. Zeigler, Brice B. Zeigler, Jane M. Zeigler)
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