Jonesboro Democratic Club.
Senator Wm. H. Green Addresses the Meeting.
The Club meeting on Tuesday evening was a monster gathering. Every available space in the Court House was filled. There had been but a slight effort made to assemble an audience. But no matter; they came, men and women, actuated by personal interest and a motive, comprehensive as the government. While we beheld this vast concourse of people, we could hardly conclude that it was the beginning of the universal outpouring that is yet to come.
After the Club was called to order, and the following officers elected for four weeks — Capt. John C. Hunsaker, President; A. J. Nimmo, Wm. C. Rich and Jacob Grear, Vice President; Thos. Frick, Recording Secretary; James Evans, Corresponding Secretary, and G. W. Williams, Treasurer — Senator Green came forward amid applause, to address the meeting. After warmly congratulating the democracy of Union county upon their efforts to thoroughly organize the party by the formation of democratic clubs, he said:
"The discussion of the principles of the government are the safeguards of the people. No people have ever remained free who have not an understanding of the principles of their government. It was by discussion that the downtrodden Englishman rescued the Magna Charta from Kingly grasp. It was by discussion that the American Colonies declared their grievances and asserted their right to revolution. If there had been no discussion of the principles of human liberty, in the log school houses and cabins by our Revolutionary fathers, our liberty as a people would never have been asserted and maintained. In behalf of this right, we must make a bold and uncompromising stand. It must be maintained at any and every sacrifice; and if your government fails to guarantee this protection of an original right, let it fall, and we will begin anew.
It is the unfortunate character of nations that in days of prosperity they lapse into indifference. Over forty years anterior to 1860, was a period of national prosperity and peace. The influence of the Federal government was for good. Its power was felt at home. It was recognized abroad, and an affection for its welfare was in the hearts of the people.
During this time the great whig and democratic parties administered the affairs of the government. They were national and patriotic. The welfare of the people was their proudest blast.
The past sixteen years has been a period of continual strife between conservative unionism and sectional fanaticism. — Its effect is civil war — a terrible and sad calamity in the history of the country."
After briefly referring to the contrast between a period of peace and of war, and the desolation and gloomy prospects of reunion by the present policy of our rulers, he discussed at length, and with inexorable logic, the character of the government, and the sovereignty of States. He said:
"The constitution is the charter of the present form of government; in other words, a power of attorney, delegating certain rights to agents for the transaction of certain business. The agent of the constitution cannot exercise any power not provided for in the instrument, any more than has an agent the right to sell fifty acres of land where the power of attorney gives him power to sell but forty.
The executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal government are the respective and distinct agents of the people of the several States. The constitution provides and expressly enumerates the powers to be exercised by each branch of the government. The language of the constitution cannot be misunderstood. — The duties and powers of Congress, of the executive and of the judiciary, are specified; and when unlawful powers are exercised it becomes usurpation, theft, and robbery.
The States are the creators of the general government; and if the powers at Washington understood that they were only agents, we would have more liberties and rights.
It is urged and practiced by those in authority, that during times of war, the grants of the constitution are enlarged. This is not so. There are no provisions in the instrument that guarantee the right to violate it. It is sacred and binding to the letter, or the blood of the Revolution was shed in vain, and the constitution a failure. He that raises the arm of resistance against it, is a traitor. He that urges or violates its provisions is a traitor."
He next referred to the sovereignty of the States, in a brief but telling argument. After giving the history of the Colonies, the theory of their organization, he said:
"The constitution was framed and adopted by delegates of the States. All the powers therein contained are delegated. The sovereignty, of the States were never surrendered. They framed the constitution; they ratified the constitution; not as dependent colonies, not as territories, but as States, free and independent. The treaty of peace with England in 1783 says: — 'His Britanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz: New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia to be free and independent States: and he treats with them as such." The States were free and independent before the adoption of the constitution. — They were free and independent after its adoption. Their sovereign conditions were the considerations upon which they entered the Federal Union and ratified the constitution. But this compact has been violated. This so-called administration has assumed unlawful powers; and have invaded, by the military arm; the sacred and reserved rights of States. State rights have been obliterated, and the confederate form of this government changed for the time into a consolidated military despotism.
The British constitution is a limit upon the powers of Parliament. The United States constitution is a grant of powers to the respective departments of the government.
There is a fundamental difference between confederate governments and consolidated governments. Let the character of our government be maintained, and the sovereignty of States and the obligations of the constitution be preserved.
He next discussed the policy of the war, the corruption of the administration, its imbecility and incompetency, to restore the Federal Union!
"The administration is corrupt. Who denies it? I can bring the high and the low, and leading members of the party, to prove this. John P. Hale, the abolition Senator from the State of New Hampshire, said upon the floor of Congress: There is more danger to our liberties from the corruption of this administration than from rebels in arms." Multiplied evidences of this character are daily furnished.
It has ceased to be a question to the robbers and despoilers of your property. Have you stolen? but the question is, how much did you steal? By its timidity, and want of statesmanship, it has violated the Monroe Doctrine, and permitted an Empire to be established upon our continent. European Empires are watching us. France has laid her hand upon Mexico and established its throne. Spain is watching for Florida and Texas, her original dominions. England will shortly extend her claims upon our soil. And yet, while aspects of a foreign character are threatening our national existence, the administration is pushing forward the policy of bloodshed and desolation of our people, their rights and liberties.
The administration is not only corrupt, but tyrannical.
In the hour of our greatest danger, when the statesmanship and wisdom of all should have been summoned in council, we find the administration depriving men of their rights to speak, to write, or even to offer a word of counsel upon their fanatical and made career. Bastiles and dungeons have been filled with martyrs in the cause of their government."
The speaker closed with an eloquent appeal to the democracy to stand firm by the ancient landmarks. He assured them of our success and the downfall of the administration.
At the close of the address, which was listened to with profound silence and attention, it was.
Resolved, (and unanimously carried) That Senator Green be elected an honorary member of this Club; and that the ladies be invited to attend all future meetings. Judge Mulkey was invited to address the Club at his earliest convenience.
A large number joined the Club. Wanderers from the folds of democracy, return. Why bind yourselves to a secret League that demands your honor, your freedom, and your liberty as consideration of membership? Come out with the people in free discussion. Remember that the "voice of the people is the voice of God." Remember also Tuesday evening, at the Court House.