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MAKE HASTE SLOWLY: IRREVERSIBLE
SPEECH IN THE SENATE, ON THE RECOGNITION OF ARKANSAS, JUNE 13, 1864.
JUNE 10th, Mr. Lane, of Kansas, asked, and by unanimous consent obtained, leave to bring in a joint resolution for the recognition of the Free State Government of the State of Arkansas, which was read, passed to a second reading, and ordered to be printed.
June 13th, he called it up for consideration, when Mr. Sumner made the following speech.
R. PRESIDENT, - I begin by expressing sympathy with every loyal soul in a Rebel State. Knowing well, from long experience, the cruel rule and domination of Slavery, even in this Chamber, I cannot be indifferent to the trials of loyalty anywhere in these latter days. Show me a man who in a Rebel State stands faithful to the national cause, and I go forth to meet him with heart in hand. To have been true at a time when truth was disowned is enough for honor as well as thanks. But the merits of individuals cannot determine the rights of States.
The case is too important. If individual merits, universally recognized, could save a State to present rights in the Union, Tennessee would not now be a self-condemned exile. There are few anywhere so entirely true. as Andrew Johnson, and not one in all the Rebel States
who so bravely encountered the Rebellion face to face. Ten men might have saved Sodom; but he was in himself more than ten men. Besides, he was a Senator on this floor, when the State he represented took its place in the Rebel Confederacy, and joined in war against the National Government; but he stayed behind with his country, and kept his seat here. Persons ignorant of Parliamentary Law have sometimes argued from the latter circumstance that Rebel Tennessee was still entitled to her ancient rights in the Union; but they forget two principles, fixed long ago, beyond all question, in England, the original home of Parliamentary Law: first, that the power once conferred by an election to Parliament is irrevocable, so that it is not affected by any subsequent change in the constituency; and, secondly, that a member, when once chosen, is member for the whole kingdom, becoming thereby, according to the words of an early author, not merely knight or burgess of the county or borough which elected him, but knight or burgess of England. If these two principles are not entirely discarded in our political system, then the seat of Andrew Johnson was not in any respect affected by the subsequent madness of his State, nor can the legality of his seat be any argument for the ancient rights of his State.
Nor, again, can the fact that Andrew Johnson has been selected by the Convention of a powerful political party as candidate for the Vice-Presidency be any argument for these ancient rights. It is not necessary that a candidate for President or Vice-President should be
1 Whitelocke, Notes upon the King's Writ for choosing Members of Parliament, Vol. II. p. 329 Cushing, Law and Practice of Legislative Assemblies, p. 284.