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With such a cause and such candidates, no man can be disheartened. The tempest may blow, - but ours is a life-boat, not to be harmed by wind or wave. The Genius of Liberty sits at the helm. I hear her voice of cheer, saying, “Whoso sails with me comes to shore !”

Mr. Sumner resumed his seat amid heartiest and long-protracted applause.




THE Army Appropriation Bill being under discussion, Mr. Davis, of Massachusetts, moved the following amendment :

" That from and after the first day of July next, the Act of Congress approved August 23, 1842, be so modified, that the President may, if in his opinion the public interest demands it, place over any of the armories a superintendent who does not belong to the Army.”

In the course of the debate, Mr. Sumner spoke as follows.

R. PRESIDENT, - I do not desire to speak upon

the general subject of the manufacture of arms under the authority of the United States, which has been opened in debate by honorable Senators. What I have to say will be on the precise question before the Senate, and nothing else. That question, as I understand it, is on the amendment proposed by my colleague [Mr. DAVIS], according to which the Act of 1842 is to be so far modified, that the President, in his discretion, may place over the armories persons not of the army,-- leaving it, therefore, to his judgment whether the superintendent shall be a military man or a civilian. This is all.

The Senate is exhorted not to act precipitately. But the character of this proposition excludes all idea of precipitation. We do not determine absolutely that the system shall be changed, but simply that it may be changed in the discretion of the President. This discretion, which will be exercised only after ample inquiry, stands in the way of all precipitation; and this is my answer to the Senator from Illinois [Mr. SHIELDS].

Again, it is urged, that under a military head the armories are better administered than they would be under a civil head, and that the arms are better and cheaper; and here my friend from South Carolina, who sits before me [Mr. BUTLER], dwelt with his accustomed glow upon the success with which this manufacture is conducted at the national armories, and the extent to which it is recognized in Europe. But, Sir, in the precise question before you the merits of the armories are not involved. We do not undertake to judge the military superintendents or their works. The determination of this question is referred to the President; and this is my answer to the Senator from South Carolina.

The objections to this amendment of my colleague, then, seem to disappear. But there are two distinct arguments in its favor, which, at the present moment, do not seem to me susceptible of any answer.

In the first place, there are complaints against the existing system, which ought to be heard. A memorial from five hundred legal voters of Springfield, now on your table, bears testimony to them. Letters to myself and others, from persons whose opinions I am bound to regard, set them forth sometimes in very strong language. The administration of the arsenal at Springfield is commended by many; but there are others who judge it differently. As now conducted, it is sometimes represented to be the seat of oppressive conduct, and the occasion of heart-burning and strife, often running into local politics. In the eyes of some this arsenal is little better than a sore on that beautiful town. Now on these complaints and allegations I express no opinion.


I do not affirm their truth or untruth. What I know of the superintendent makes it difficult for me to believe that anything unjust, oppressive, or hard can proceed from him. But the whole case justifies inquiry at least, and such will be secured by the proposition before the Senate. This is the smallest thing we can do.

This proposition is enforced by another consideration which seems to me entitled to weight. I have nothing to say now on the general question of reducing the army or modifying the existing military system. But I do affirm, confidently, that the genius of our institutions favors civil life rather than military life,

military life, and that, in harmony with this, it is our duty, whenever the public interests will permit, to limit and restrict the sphere of military influence. This is not a military monarchy, where the soldier is supreme, but a republic, where the soldier yields to the civilian. But the law, as it now stands, gives to the soldier an absolute preference in a service which is not military, and which, from its nature, belongs to civil life. The manufacture of arms is a mechanical pursuit, and, for myself, I can see no reason why it should not be placed in charge of one bred to the business. Among the intelligent mechanics of Massachusetts there are many fully fit to be at the head of the arsenal at Springfield; but by the existing law all these are austerely excluded from any such trust. The idea which has fallen from so many Senators, that the superintendent of an armory ought to be a military man, that a military man only is competent, or even that a military man is more competent than a civilian, seems to me as illogical as the jocular fallacy of Dr. Johnson, that he “who drives fat oxen should himself be fat."




WASHINGTON, March 26, 1853. EAR SIR, — I cannot promise myself the pleasure

of being in Rhode Island at the time you propose, and am therefore constrained to decline the invitation with which you have honored me.

But let me assure you, that, in all our political contests, I see no question comparable in practical importance, as surely there is none equal in moral grandeur, to that which is presented by the Free Democracy, and which now enlists your sympathies.

Both the old parties unite in upholding Slavery. It becomes all good citizens to unite in upholding Freedom; nor should any one believe that his single vote may not exert an influence on the struggle. Believe me, dear Sir, faithfully yours,


GEORGE L. CLARKE, Chairman of the State Central Committee of

the Free Democracy of Rhode Island.

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