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duty to advance, if we can; to suppress insurrection; to put down rebellion; to dissipate the rising; to scatter the enemy; and when we have done so, to preserve, in the terms of the bill, the liberty, lives, and property of the people of the country, by just and fair police regulations. I agree
that we ought to do all that we can to limit, to restrain, to fetter the abuse of military power. Bayonets are at best illogical arguments. I am not willing, except as a case of sheerest necessity, ever to permit a military commander to exercise authority over life, liberty, and property. But, sir, it is part of the law of war; you cannot carry in the rear of your army your courts; you cannot organize juries; you cannot have trials according to the forms and ceremonial of the common law amid the clangor of arms; and somebody must enforce police regulations in a conquered or occupied district. I ask the Senator from Kentucky again respectfully, is that unconstitutional; or if in the nature of war it must exist, even if there be no law passed by us to allow it, is it unconstitutional to regulate it? That is the question, to which I do not think he will make clear and distinct reply.
I confess, Mr. President, that I would not have predicted three weeks ago the disasters which have overtaken our arms; and I do not think (if I were to predict now) that six months hence the senator will indulge in the same tone of prediction which is his favorite key now. I would ask him what would you have us do now—a Confederate army within twenty miles of us, advancing or threatening to advance, to overwhelm our government; to shake the pillars of the Union; to bring it round your head, if you stay here, in ruins? Are we to stop and talk about an uprising sentiment in the North against the war? Are we to predict evil, and retire from what we predict? Is it not the manly part to go on as we have begun, to raise money, and levy armies, to organize them, to prepare to
advance; when we do advance, to regulate that advance by all the laws and regulations that civilization and humanity will allow in time of battle? Can we do anything more? To talk to us about stopping is idle; we will never stop. Will the senator yield to rebellion ? Will he shrink from armed insurrection? Will his state justify it? Will its better public opinion allow it? Shall we send a flag of truce? What would he have? Or would he conduct this war so feebly, that the whole world would smile at us in derision? What would he have? These speeches of his, sown broadcast over the land, what clear distinct meaning have they? Are they not intended for disorganization in our very midst? Are they not intended to dull our weapons? Are they not intended to destroy our zeal? Are they not intended to animate our enemies? Sir, are they not words of brilliant, polished treason, even in the very Capitol of the Confederacy? 5
I tell the senator that his predictions, sometimes for the South, sometimes for the Middle States, sometimes for the Northeast, and then wandering away in airy visions out to the far Pacific, about the dread of our people, as for loss of blood and treasure, provoking them to disloyalty, are false in sentiment, false in fact, and false in loyalty. The Senator from Kentucky is mistaken in them all. Five hundred million dollars. What then? Great Britain gave more than two thousand million in the great battle for constitutional liberty which she led at one time almost single-handed against the world. Five hundred thousand men. What then? We have them; they are ours; they are the children of the country. They belong to the whole country; they are our sons; our kinsmen; and there are many of us who will give them all up before we will abate one word of our just demand, o retreat one inch from the line which divides right from Trong.
Sir, it is not a question of men or of money in that
All the money, all the men, are, in our judgment, well bestowed in such a cause. When we give them, we know their value. Knowing their value well, we give them with the more pride and the more joy. Sir, how can we retreat ? Sir, how can we make peace? Who shall treat? What commissioners? Who would go? Upon what terms? Where is to be your boundary line? Where the end of the principles we shall have to give up? What will become of constitutional government? What will become of public liberty? What of past of past glories? What
of future hopes? Shall we sink into the insignificance of the grave—a degraded, defeated, emasculated people, frightened by the results of one battle, and scared at the visions raised upon this floor by the imagination of the Senator from Kentucky? No, sir; a thousand times, no, sir. We will rally-if, indeed, our words be necessarywe will rally the people, the loyal people, of the whole country. They will pour forth their treasure, their
money, their men, without stint, without measure. The most peaceable man in this body may stamp his foot upon this Senate Chamber floor, as of old a warrior and a senator did, and from that single stamp there will spring forth armed legions.
Shall one battle determine the fate of an empire? or the loss of one thousand men or twenty thousand, or $100,000,000 or $500,000,000? In a year's peace, in ten years at most, of peaceful progress we can restore them all. There will be some graves reeking with blood watered by the tears of affection. There will be some privation; there will be some loss of luxury; there will be somewhat more need for labor to procure the necessaries of life. When that is said, all is said. If we have the country, the whole country, the Union, the Constitu
tion, free government—with these there will return all the blessings of well-ordered civilization; the path of the country will be a career of greatness and of glory such as, in the olden time, our fathers saw in the dim visions of years yet to come, and such as would have been ours today, if it had not been for the treason for which the senator too often seeks to apologize.
Why did Breckenridge's speech arouse sneers of incredulity?
Do you think that Breckenridge was sincere in his appeal to the future?
What was the political advantage that Breckenridge hoped to attain by remaining a member of the Federal Congress ?
Who during recent war followed in the footsteps of Breckenridge and acted his part?
To what extent was Baker's dramatic entrance responsible for the effect of his speech?
Comment on Baker's transition from polite questioning to impassioned denunciation.
Comment on the argumentative and persuasive effect of Baker's failure to dispute his opponent's estimate of loss of men and property.
Compare the motives appealed to by Breckenridge with those to which Baker appealed.
Contrast the style of the two men. Is it the result of character and training?
What seems to be Baker's controlling purpose in delivering this speech?
THE TRENT AFFAIR
December 4, 1861
WHEN war was declared in America the sympathy of the ruling and influential classes of people in England was largely with the South. The aristocracy of Britain thought they saw in the fight the struggle of conservative and established government against the demagogic champions of democracy. In the House of Commons, Mr. Roebuck, a member for Sheffield, had brought forward a motion in favor of the recognition of the South. He said: “The men of the South are Englishmen; but the army of the North is composed of the scum of Europe.” Even those who possessed democratic sentiments and who were opposed to slavery were slow to show their sympathy with the North, for it was maintained that the success of the Confederacy would promote England's economic welfare.
While public sentiment in Great Britain was in this condition an event occurred in November, 1861, that nearly led to war between England and the United States. The Confederate government sent two envoys from Havana to England and France in the British mail steamer Trent. The ship was stopped by the U. S. sloop of war San Jacinto, commanded by Captain Wilkes, and the envoys were seized and imprisoned in a fort in Boston harbor. The affair raised a storm of indignation in England. Lord Russell, the Foreign Secretary, demanded from Secretary Seward the immediate release of the prisoners.