August 14, 1890
IN the Senate of the United States, July 24, there was the most important debate that has been conducted in Congress, not only during this particular Congress, but for years. And yet we fear that very few people in the United States will know of it or will see in it particular import. The debate arose on the Indian Appropriation Bill, which had passed the House, and was now to be considered in the Senate, and the particular point in debate was the consideration of the two following items. We quote from the record:—
The Presiding Officer. The reading of the bill will proceed.
The reading of the bill was resumed. The next amendment of the Committee on Appropriations, was, on page 60, to strike out the clause from line 19 to line 21, inclusive, as follows:—
For support and education of sixty Indian pupils at St. Joseph’s Normal School at Rensselaer, Indiana, $8,330.
Mr. Dawes. I ask unanimous consent that that amendment and the next one may be considered together, for the same reasons.
The Presiding Officer. The next amendment will be stated.
The next amendment was to strike out the clause from line 25, on page 60, to line 2, on page 61, inclusive, as follows:—
For the education and support of one hundred Indian children at the Holy Family Indian School, at Blackfeet Agency, Montana, $12,500.
Mr. Dawes. Mr. President, the Committee recommend the striking out of those two appropriations, and I desire as briefly as possible, to state the reasons which have actuated the Committee in this recommendation. They both stand on the same ground, if one should be stricken out both should, and if either remains both should remain.
These are schools under the management of the Catholics. They are new appropriations by the Government for the maintenance of two new Catholic schools, and the one between them, the St. Boniface’s Industrial School, is also one of the same kind. That the Committee did not strike out, for the special reasons which I will state in a moment.
What influenced the Committee to strike out these schools was simply this consideration: They desired not to go any further than the present condition of affairs in appropriating the Government’s money for the maintenance of schools of particular religious denominations. The present and existing state of things in that particular, if these schools are not added, will be precisely what it was last year.
Thus it seems that the Government of the United States has already been appropriating public money for the support of schools of religious denominations, and that this question would not have been raised, had not the Catholics made a request for support of these additional schools of their own. The way the matter has stood, up to the present time, not including the appropriations contemplated in this bill, is thus set forth by Senator Dawes, the Chairman of the Committee:—
The appropriations in this regard have run from the year 1886, as follows: For Catholic schools in 1886, $118,343, as against $109,916 for all others; in 1887, $194,635 as against $168,579 for all others; in 1888, $221,169 for Catholic schools, and $155,095 for all others; in 1889, $347,672 for Catholic schools, as against $183,000 for all others; in 1889-90, as I have said, $356,967 for Catholic schools, as against, for all other denominations and all other schools, $204,993.
That is the condition of things which the present administration found when it entered upon office. Hundreds of thousands of dollars given outright to religious denominations for the purpose of teaching their denominational views, virtually a union of Church and State! The present administration desired to put a stop to this, keeping the Church and the State separate, and letting the churches support their own schools, and teach their own schools, and teach their own  doctrines, at their own expense, but says Mr. Dawes:—
The present management was in favor of divorcing the Government absolutely from them all, but it found it impossible to do that.
And has it come to this, that, through the Indian Department, the different religious denominations of the country have already got such a hold upon the United States Government that they cannot be shaken off? Is it possible that already there is such a union between the State and these churches, that it is impossible to divorce the Government from them? That this is so, is proven not only the statement of Mr. Dawes, but by the result of this discussion in the Senate. Although the effort was to strike out two items of appropriation to Roman Catholic schools, the result was that not only was neither of these stricken out, but both with two more were adopted. Strong opposition to the measure was made, by Senator Reagan, of Texas, and Senator George, of Mississippi, whose speeches we shall print in THE SENTINEL; but their noble effort availed nothing. The tide was too strong; the political power of the churches, and especially of the Catholic Church, is too great.
The history of the thing is worth relating. It began in 1885, the first year of President Cleveland’s administration, when the Commissioner of Indian affairs made this statement:—
The Government should be liberal in making contracts with religious denominations to teach Indian children in schools established by those de-nominations. It should throw open the door and say to all denominations, “There should be no monopoly in good works. Enter all of you, and do whatever your hands find of good work to do, and in your efforts the Government will give you encouragement out of its liberal purse.” In other words, the Government without partiality, should encourage all the churches to work in this broad field of philanthropic endeavor.
And according to the list given by Mr. Dawes, the first appropriation of public money that was given for this purpose was $118,343 to Roman Catholics, with $109,916 for all other denominations put together, and that it steadily increased until, by the appropriation for the fiscal year of 1889-90, the Roman Catholics were given $356,967; and $204,993 to all other denominations. That is, within four years the Roman Catholic Church received $1,238,786 while all the other denominations together received $761,583. In other words, within four years the Roman Catholics were enabled to increase their appropriations $238,424 above the amount with which they began, while all other denominations were enabled to increase theirs but $95,087.
Is it difficult, for any reader to see a direct connection between these facts and figures, and the frequent visits of Cardinal Gibbons to the White House during the presidential administration from March 4, 1885 to March 4, 1889? There is not room for reasonable doubt that the suggestion in the report of the Commissioner of Indian affairs for 1885, was secured by the Roman Catholic Church. This probability is made stronger by the fact that in the year 1885, the very year when this thing began, there was established in the city of Washington, a Catholic Bureau of Missions, of which Mr. Dawes says:—
They have been on the ground here for the last five years, pushing Catholic schools upon the Government as earnestly as was in their power, and largely to that influence is attributed this great increase, which has come to be three-fifths of all the appropriations. They are active still.
No man can fail to see the direct connection, we repeat, between these facts and the above figures. It is true that because of their being accessories after the fact, and upon the principle that “the partaker is as bad as the thief;” the Episcopalians, Methodists, and Presbyterians are inexcusably guilty of participating in tries iniquity. But, from the facts, it seems certain that the scheme was originally a Roman Catholic one.
Further particulars are also necessary. The present administration desired to stop the flow of this evil tide, and to break the grasp of this devil-fish upon the national Government. But finding it impossible to do so at once, it thought at least to put a check upon it, and, therefore, absolutely refused to recommend any increase of appropriation to any church; and did recommend that the Government conduct its own schools and teach the Indians itself. The Catholic Bureau of Missions applied to the present administration for aid in establishing three new schools. There were also applications on the part of the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians, and the Methodists; but all such applications were refused. With the refusal the Protestant denominations contented them-selves; but the Catholic Bureau, says Senator Dawes, “having failed to get a contract for these three schools from the Government in addition, and aggravating the inequality that had already aroused public sentiment, they went to the House of Representatives, without any estimate or recommendation from the Department, and obtained the insertion into the bill, of these three schools.”
When the bill reached the Senate, an amendment was there added to it voting an appropriation to yet another school, making four in all that the Catholics had secured. As soon as the other denominations heard of this, they hurried up to Congress with a protest against the proposed appropriation; but there was no suggestion of any protest from them against having the appropriation of former years continued both to the Catholics and to themselves. It seems, therefore, that the protest came only because the Catholics had succeeded in obtaining additional money, when they themselves could secure nothing additional. Their protest, therefore, simply amounts to nothing. It has no force whatever; and their protest never will have any force as long as they continue to receive money from the Government in support of their own church schools. Let these protesting denominations absolutely refuse to take any more money from the Government; let them return to the Government the money which they have already, and unconstitutionally, taken, and then let them protest against the appropriation to Roman Catholic schools. This will live some force to their protest. This, however, is hardly to be expected; because, having been sharers with the Roman Catholics in the iniquity of the thing these five years, and now raising a protest only because the Catholics get more than they can get, it is so far contrary to the nature of church encroachments on governmental power, as to be beyond all expectation that these denominations could by any possible means, be led to take such a proper and honest course.
It is just to state, that the Baptist Missionary Association is among those who have protested against these appropriations; and their protest is consistent, because they have never been partakers in the evil. The Baptists have pursued a consistent course, and have refused to avail themselves of the generous invitations of the administration of 1885-89, and have maintained their own right, as well as their own ability to teach the religion which they believe, at their own expense, without selling their honor as well as their rights, to the national Government.
The condition of things exposed in this debate on the appropriation bill, is one of the most startling revelations that has ever been made on the subject of the union of Church and State in this Government. The fact that there is already formed such an alliance between the national Government and the Church power that it is considered impossible to break it, ought so to arouse every man who loves religion or the Government that the supposed impossibility of breaking the alliance shall be annihilated, and the whole question be put upon its genuine constitutional basis, and the Government have nothing at all to do with religion in the teaching of it, or in any other way.
The reasons for the supposed impossibility of breaking this union of Church and State are, in themselves, of such importance as to require more space than we can give in this article. We therefore defer that point until next week.
A. T. J.