Valley Spirit: December 14, 1870Go To Page : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
The President's Message
(Column 02)Summary: Provides scathing commentary on President Grant's recent message. Criticizes the administration's policies concerning Cuba, San Domingo, the Alabama claims, and tariffs. Also detests Grant's remark that blacks were intimidated from voting when soldiers in the South supposedly keep white voters from the polls. Believes Grant has lost touch with the sentiments of the people and stands no chance of re-election in two years.
Full Text of Article:
In a supplement to the Spirit, we, last week, presented to our readers, the message of President Grant, but were unable to make any comments upon it, owing to the late hour at which it was received. The American people have, no doubt, been surprised and horrified at the effrontery of our Chief Magistrate in following his acknowledgment to Providence, for abundant crops, for having been "spared from foreign complications and war with foreign nations," and for the restoration of comparative harmony, with such a reckless and untruthful sentence as this:--"It is to be regretted, however, that a free exercise of the elective franchise has, by violence and intimidation, been denied to citizens in exceptional cases in several of the States lately in rebellion, and the verdict of the people has thereby been reversed."
We say reckless and untruthful because of the meaning the President doubtless desires to convey. He is evidently stung to the quick by the recent Conservative triumphs in States which he and other Radical leaders fondly supposed had been "fixed up" permanently for the Radical party.--He seeks to convey the idea that the fears of the newly enfranchised negroes were so operated upon by threats and violence that they remained away from the polls, or, if they went, were prevented from voting, and "the verdict of the people has been thereby reversed." This is not dealing with the people in a spirit of candor. He knows very well that the defeat of his party and the condemnation of his Administration are not owing to this cause at all, but in a great measure, to another cause which throws the responsibility of the defeat upon the President himself. Viewed in this light the language of the message is true, but we can not conceive that the President was confessing his sins when he wrote it. "An honest confession is good for the soul," but he is not in the habit of making honest confessions.
In what sense is this language true?--Why, the President sent his soldiers into those States for the purpose of controlling the elections there. Through the "violence and intimidation" practiced by these soldiers, the elective franchise was denied to many white voters, and this conduct of the Administration was received with such disfavor that the real republican spirit, which can not brook such interference, rebelled against it, and the former verdict of carpetbag scalawags and worthless negroes has thereby been reversed. We agree with the President that "it is to be regretted" that such intimidation and violence have been practised by him, and no one should make greater haste than he to get down on his knees and pray for pardon on account of it. But if such violence and intimidation were necessary to awaken the people to a sense of the outrages which the Administration has committed, then, though the trial has been a severe one to the Southern people, and the strain has been great upon republican institutions, it is not a matter of regret that the President was weak enough to attempt to retain power by this violence and intimidation. It was he who announced that he would "have no policy to enforce against the will of the people." The people are heartily tired of, and thoroughly disgusted and enraged at, the interference of the military at the polls and in civil affairs. Let the President not seek to enforce this policy against the will of the people.
The President has no word of sympathy, or encouragement, for Cuba. He says that "it is not understood that the condition of the insurrection in Cuba has materially changed since the close of the last session of Congress." The injuries resulting to American citizens by reason of the "system of arbitrary arrests, of close confinement, and military trial and execution of persons suspected of complicity with the insurgents, and of summary embargo of them and their properties and sequestration of their resources by executive warrants"--which system was inaugurated and carried out by the authorities of Spain--have been represented to the Spanish government from April 18th, 1869, to June last, but the negotiations are still pending, and we are not informed by the President that he has any hope that definite action will be taken soon. It is a disgrace to this republic that this delay in the vindication of the rights of American citizens is permitted by the President, and that, too, in favor of Spain, when her authorities are striving in the most brutal manner to crush the gallant people of Cuba, who are struggling to relieve themselves from the yoke of tyranny and who are looking anxiously towards annexation with the United States. But as long as the President retains Hamilton Fish as Secretary of State, no other course will be pursued.
The President renews his recommendations in favor of the San Domingo job, saying that time has only confirmed him in the view that the best interests of this country, commercially and materially, demand the ratification of the treaty for the annexation of this island. There is no subject treated of in the message about which the President grows so earnest and emphatic, as this one. As the Morning Patriot said, one would think that, like Helmbold's Buchu, San Domingo would "cure all the ills that flesh is heir to." It is set forth as a perfect panacea for all the nation's woes. But it is doubtful whether this scheme of the President--so generally denounced by the press and the people last session--will be endorsed by the representatives of the people during the present session. There are so many ugly rumors afloat and so many direct charges made as to the peculiar interest which the President has in this project, that honest men in Congress will hesitate long before they allow the shadow of suspicion to rest upon their names on account of their connection with it. Those lots which are said to be staked off and marked "Grant" are thought to account for the extraordinary interest which the great receiver of good gifts manifests in this annexation scheme. So great is this zeal that on the opening of Congress, an effort was made to have Senator Patterson, who is hostile to the San Domingo job, dropped from the Committee on Foreign Relations and Senator Conkling substituted in his place. Senator Conkling was opposed to it also last session, but is said to have undergone a remarkable conversion. This effort failed, and the President is reported to be considerable mortified at the result.
The following remarkable language is found in the message in relation to the Alabama claims:
I regret to say that no conclusion has been reached for the adjustment of the claims against Great Britain growing out of the course adopted by that Government during the rebellion. The cabinet of London, so far as its views have been expressed, does not appear to be willing to concede that Her Majesty's Government was guilty of any negligence, or did or permitted any act during the war, of which the United States has just cause for complaint. Our firm and unalterable convictions are directly the reverse. I, therefore, recommend to Congress to authorize the appointment of a commission to take proof of the amounts and the ownership of these several claims, on notice to the representative of her Majesty at Washington, and that authority be given for the settlement of these claims by the United States, so that the Government shall have the ownership of the private claims as well as the responsible control of all the demands against Great Britain. It cannot be necessary to add that whenever Her Majesty's government shall entertain a desire for a full and friendly adjustment of these claims, the United States will enter upon their consideration with an earnest desire for a conclusion consistent with the honor and dignity of both nations.
It might, perhaps, be best that the United States Government should have the ownership of the private claims, though we notice that Hon. Reverdy Johnson recommends each of the claimants to proceed for himself. But when, in addition to this, the President speaks of the Government having the responsible control of all the demands against Great Britain, there is a vagueness about it that the people will fail to understand. What are the other demands beside the private claims? When Mr. Johnson went as Minister to England, his instructions only covered private claims, and he was not instructed to demand a settlement for anything else. He had no notice that the Administration desired him to make any other demand until the Senate refused to ratify the Clarendon Johnson treaty.
But what is most remarkable about the President's language is his evident purpose to give England her own time to settle these claims. He says that "whenever her Majesty's Government shall entertain a desire for a full and friendly adjustment of these claims, the United States will enter upon their consideration," &c.
Jones owes Smith a debt, but denies that he owes it. He refuses to pay it and is in no hurry to enter into negotiations for its adjustment. Is it likely that it will ever suit his humor to pay it? What would be thought of Smith as a business man if he should say "whenever Jones shall entertain a desire for a full and friendly adjustment of my claim, I will enter upon its consideration." Would it not rather be advisable for Smith to institute measures to compel a settlement of his claim?
So England owes the United States. She denies the debt and refuses payment. She declines to enter upon fresh negotiations for the settlement of the claim. And President Grant proposes to wait until "Her Majesty's Government entertains a desire" to settle it. It is something new for a debtor to give a creditor all the time he desires to pay a debt. But President Grant intends to treat England with still greater indulgence, for he proposes to wait England's pleasure about entering upon negotiations to ascertain how much she owes us. There were times when England did not treat the United States with such delicate consideration.
The President is manifestly frightened at the Revenue Reform movement. The lesson which Brown and Schurz taught him in Missouri has had the effect of making him tremble for his chances for another term and he tries, by dealing in "glittering generalities," to save himself and party from defeat. He talks of tariff for revenue being necessary, as if everybody did not know and admit it. But he does not say that a tariff for revenue is the only tariff he is in favor of, or define what articles he desires to see "protected" and to what extent. He turns up his nose at the revenue reform movement, by saying that "revenue reform has not been defined by any of its advocates to my knowledge, but seems to be accepted as something which is to supply every man's wants, without any cost or effort on his part." Nobody has claimed anything of this kind for it, and the President has only disgusted still further his dissatisfied party friends, by making any allusion at all and, worst of all, such an allusion, in a state paper. If the President wished to enlighten the country by defining his views on the tariff, the people would have read them with interest,if not with profit, but when he takes occasion to deride a popular movement in one of his messages, without explaining his own position, except by the utterance of such general principles as everybody acknowledges, his hold upon the masses is wonderfully weakened.
The people are not to be hoodwinked by such clap-trap as "reduction of taxation, and tariff to be so arranged as to afford relief to the greatest number." They would rather know what taxes he thinks ought to be reduced. They want the infamous income tax abolished. They would be glad to know his opinion on that. They want an adjustment of the tariff which will "afford relief to the greatest number," but they would rejoice to know how the tariff should be adjusted, in the judgment of the President, to accomplish that end. They want to see every law enforced, but they prefer to see it done after the law has been broken instead of before. Americans are presumed to be law-abiding citizens. They want to see every tax collected as long as it is legal, but they desire to have it done by civil process. They have no love for this business of putting a soldier with a bayonet at the back of the tax-gatherer. They want to see economy in the disbursement of the taxes, but not that kind of economy which pays the tax-gatherers two-thirds of the taxes that have been wrung from the people. They want the debt of the nation paid to the last cent, but they do not believe in paralyzing the industry and rendering stagnant the business of the country in order to pay it in a few years. They want "a reduction of taxes as rapidly as the requirements of the country will admit," but they would like to know just how rapidly the requirements of the country will admit of it. On this subject they are anxious, but the President throws no light on it. They want "honest and fair dealings with all other peoples, to the end that war with all its blighting consequences may be avoided," but they would not see the national honor stained for the mere purpose of keeping Spain and England in a good humor. They are in favor of "a reform in the whole civil service of the country," but when President Grant turns Secretary Cox out of his Cabinet for making an earnest effort in that direction, they doubt the sincerity of this declaration in the message. They believe in "a pure, untrammeled ballot," but since the President has made his Administration infamous, by the employment of troops to overawe and intimidate voters, they do not regard him as a safe judge as to what "a pure, unntrammeled ballot" is.
General Grant has fallen in the public estimation very much since his accession to the Presidency, and this message will not be likely to restore to him the confidence of the people. He may as well get off the track for 1872.
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(Column 01)Summary: The Marshal Literary Society of Mercersburg College will hold its fifth anniversary meeting in the Reformed Church on December 21st.[No Title]
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(Names in announcement: David Kennedy, Rev. Robert Kennedy)
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(Names in announcement: Mrs. Yont, Mr. Shuman)
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(Names in announcement: D. B. Russell, Prof. Charles H. Budd, A. F. Bechdolt)
(Column 03)Summary: George D. Bonebrake of Quincy and Miss Mary A. Funk of New Guilford were married in Chambersburg by the Rev. J. Fohl on November 18th.Married
(Names in announcement: George D. Bonebrake, Mary A. Funk, Rev. J. Fohl)
(Column 03)Summary: James J. Hines of Massachusetts and Mrs. Rosie J. Skinner of Dry Run were married on November 2nd by the Rev. William A. West.Married
(Names in announcement: James J. Hines, Rosie J. Skinner, Rev. William A. West)
(Column 03)Summary: William M. Rummel of Shirleysburg and Miss Kate A. Shearer, daughter of Elias Shearer of Spring Garden Mills were married on November 24th by the Rev. William A. West.Married
(Names in announcement: William M. Rummel, Kate A. Shearer, Elias Shearer, Rev. William A. West)
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(Names in announcement: John O. Hoover, Ann Honoddle, Rev. M. Kieffer)
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