May 10, 1894
TWO years ago a few preachers invaded the capitol of the United States and demanded of Congress legislation in behalf of religion and the churches, and they got it.
THESE preachers had with them a few genuine petitions which they fraudulently multiplied into millions and used so threateningly that the scared vision of Senator Hawley and others multiplied them into many millions more.
THUS under threats these preachers demanded that Congress should openly violate the spirit, the letter, and the whole history of the Constitution; and that at the same time each member of Congress should violate his oath to maintain the Constitution. For these preachers knew perfectly well that what they were thus demanding was in every element of it contrary to the plain language and meaning of the Constitution. All this, however, was nothing to them so long as they could get Congress to do that which they had firmly settled in their minds ought to be done.
UNDER the threats and other persuasions thus brought to bear, Congress did surrender to the demands of the preachers, and did do the unconstitutional thing that they had determined should be done. And thus Congress did make the Government of the United States subordinate to the religious element as expressed through these threatening ecclesiastics. So certainly is this true, and so well did the ecclesiastics know it, that when Congress would have retraced its false step and reversed its unconstitutional action they simply raised their threatening voices to a louder clamor than ever, and Congress still yielded to the clamor for fear that more mischief would be done if it did not yield than if it did.
ALL this is a matter of history with which all the people of the land are acquainted. And Senator Hawley, all know, also, was the grand chief advocate of the movement in Congress. It was he who made the most, and the most lengthy, speeches in its favor. He it was who challenged his fellow-senators to “vote against it if you dare,” under the dread alternative of “How many of you would come back here again?” He is was, and Senators Colquitt and Frye, who declared that the “salvation of the nation” depended on this subordination of the Government to the demand of the preachers, this subordination of the civil to the ecclesiastical power in this nation.
AND now behold there is another set of preachers coming up to Washington to invade the capitol with demands for legislation to suit themselves. They are coming by the hundreds and thousands from all directions. True they are not as well dressed as were the previous ones: they do not look quite as scholarly as those others; it is probable that these do not wear as many gold rings and diamond studs as did those; nor do these come at half fare or lowest excursion rates in elegant trains on all the railroads. Yet they are certainly coming, and what is just as certain is that in principle this new set of preachers preach the same identical gospel as did the others—the gospel of the personality, the paternity, and the divinity, of the Government.
BUT, lo! Senator Hawley stands up in his place and denounces this new set of preachers as “not representative,” and their errand so fraught with the elements of anarchy that when some of his fellow-senators acts toward these as he did toward the others he hesitates not to denounce their action as “anarchistic.” It is true that these new preachers do not come with a few “representative petitions” on paper, which they will fraudulently multiply into millions. No, these come in their own proper and individual persons, and in their own proper persons they propose to “petition;” and no man can deny that they can speedily and in very fact be multiplied into millions. And as to their being representative, they are just as certainly representative as were those preachers who went there before, and whose bad cause Senator Hawley was so prompt to espouse. No man can deny that Coxey, Kelly, Browne, and Frye, are as completely representative as were Crafts, Cook, Shepard, and George. The truth is that they are far more so. And as to the movement of these new preachers containing the elements of anarchy, it is no more true of these than it was, and is, of the others. And in one sense not nearly so much; for the others originated and carried to successful issue, the first movement to undermine every principle of government and order. And in so doing they set the example which these are now following only too fully.
WHY, then, should Senator Hawley denounce these when he supported the others? Senator Peffer denounced the others and favors these. Senator Peffer and his confreres are more consistent than are Senator Hawley and his. For when the principle has once been recognized by legislation in behalf of one class, it is only fair and consistent enough that it should be followed in favor of any other class, on demand. Senators Peffer, Allen, and others, in favoring these are but following in the steps already taken by Senators Hawley, Frye, and others, in favoring those other preachers. And to be consistent Senators Hawley, Frye, Quay, and all the others who surrendered to the clamor and threats of those other preachers in their demand for the Sunday closing of the World’s Fair, should now be just as prompt in surrendering to the clamor of the preachers of the “commonweal,” and just as diligent in advocating their demands.
IS it possible that those senators, and indeed Congress altogether, were so thoughtless in 1892, as not to be able to discern that when they surrendered to the clamor and threats of the ecclesiastics for unconstitutional legislation, or even for any purpose, they were establishing a precedent that could be followed by every other element in the land? Could they not see that when they plainly announced that they not only yielded to the religious sentiment, but that they did not “dare” to do otherwise—could they not see that in this they were but making an open bid for every discontented or self-assertive  element in the nation to come before Congress in the same way, and secure consideration of their demands by the same means? In 1892, Congress thus sowed to the wind, and neither the men who led in that transaction, nor anybody else, should be surprised if in 1894 they should be called upon to reap the whirlwind. And that which is now in sight, perplexing and dangerous as it is, is but a summer’s breeze as compared with the destructive storm that is surely and speedily to come. And all in this same line of things, too. The men who, in 1892, established the evil precedent of “legislation by clamor and threats,” will have ample opportunity yet to see their pernicious example followed to the nation’s undoing. They were told of these things before, but they would not hear. These things will tell of themselves henceforth, and those men will hear.
A. T. J.