September 29, 1892
THE Government of the United States as our fathers made it, as they intended, and as they by the Constitution established it, is now a thing of the past. It is gone. Both by the Supreme Court and by Congress the intention of the fathers has been disregarded, the principles of the Government have been subverted, and the Constitution has been over-ridden.
THE action of the Supreme Court has been reviewed, and the words in which the Court did its part have been given in these columns. The action of Congress in which it did its part in this thing has also been referred to and largely discussed in THE SENTINEL. We are asked however to give more fully the actual words and proceedings in which Congress did this thing. With this request we gladly comply, for the evidence is not only important but conclusive, and should be placed before all the people.
ALTHOUGH Congress is forbidden by the Constitution to make any law on the subject of religion, yet this matter was discussed, and the law was enacted, solely from the standpoint of religion. Senator Hawley, who had the principal part in carrying this thing through the Senate, said plainly:—
Everybody knows what the foundation is. It is founded in religious belief.
And so entirely was the discussion a religious one that Senator Peffer said of it:—
To-day we are engaged in a theological discussion concerning the observance of the first day of the week.
And the chaplain of the United States Senate, in reporting the matter to the New York Independent, July 28, 1892, said of it these words:—
While there were differences of opinion as to how the Sabbath should be honored, every man who spoke protested against any purpose to dishonor the fourth commandment. During this debate you might have imagined yourself in a general council or assembly or synod or conference, so pronounced was one senator after another.
SUCH is the impression received by an official onlooker. And that the impression is not at all strained is evident from the speeches that were made, as any one may see who will read the Congressional Record of July 12 and 13, 1892. The three principal advocates of the Sunday closing bill were Senators Colquitt, Hawley and Hiscock. As Senator Colquitt is a National Reformer nothing else was to be expected of him, and he fully sustained this character in his speech, about half of which was made up from extracts from a sermon by Father Hyacinthe, Old Roman Catholic of France. The rest of his speech was National Reform sentiment of his own manufacture. Altogether it was of such a sort that he himself began to see how incongruous it was in that place, and halted with these words:—
But I shall continue this no further, Mr. President, for it may to some sound like cant, like preaching, as though we were undertaking to clothe ourselves in overrighteous habiliments and pretend to be better than other man.—Congressional Record, 52nd Cong., p. 6755.
SENATOR HISCOCK both preceded and followed Colquitt; and the sum of all his speech is contained in the words of surrender and servitude to the churches, to which we have before referred, as follows:—
If I had charge of this amendment in the interest of the Columbian Exposition I would write the provision for the closure in any form that the religious sentiment of the country demands and not stand here hesitating and quibbling about it. Rather than let the public sentiment against the Exposition being opened on Sunday be re-enforced by the opposition in the other House against any legislation of this kind in the interest of the Exposition, I say to the junior senator from Illinois [Mr. Palmer] he had better yield to this sentiment and not let it go out to the country that there is the slightest doubt that if this money shall be appropriated, the Exposition will be closed on Sunday.
It if were interested in this measure, as I might be interested if it were to be located in my own State, I should make this closure provision satisfactory to those petitioners who have memorialized us against the desecration of the Lord’s day…. I would not have it uncertain whether the Government might engage in business or not upon the Sabbath day. In my judgment, doubt upon this question carries with it more peril to your appropriation than it can encounter from any other cause whatever. I have nothing more to say.—Id., p. 6755.
SENATOR HAWLEY both preceded and followed, both Colquitt and Hiscock. And as his speeches were longer than the others, so also were they more rabidly religious and more cringing and cowardly. Yet for all this he was not able to reach that height of religious enthusiasm and eloquence to which for this particular occasion his longing soul aspired, and so he very pertinently exclaimed:—
I wish, Mr. President, that I were the most eloquence clergyman, the most eloquent of those stanch old sturdy divines who have honored American citizenship as well as American Christianity, that I might give something more than this feeble expression of my belief in the serious importance of this vote.—Id., p. 6700.
But as he could not have all his wish, as he could not be one of “those stanch old sturdy divines,” such as John Cotton or John Davenport, or Cotton Mather, he made up this lack by presenting the views of Archbishop Ireland, Archbishop Gross, and Archbishop Riordan, of the Catholic Church, and followed this in order with the views of the bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church and the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church both North and South.
BUT although Senator Hawley could not have his wish to be one of “those stanch old sturdy divines,” he could be a demagogue—and that seemingly without any particular effort. By the census of 1890 he estimated 13,000,000 members of churches in the United States. Then by  adding to this number “the people who are also attendants, associates, and sympathizers, who go to church and send their wives and children and subscribe for it, and have a profound respect for it whether they believe in it or not,“—by this method of counting he got up “from forty-five to fifty millions of the people of this country who have more or less of religious profession or sympathy.” Then upon this calculation he argues thus:—
There is no use in endeavoring to escape the responsibility. If the Senate to-day decides that it will not close that Exhibition on Sunday, the Exhibition will be opened on that day, and you will have offended more than 40,000,000 of people—seriously and solemnly offended them. No wise statesman or monarch of modern times, no satrap of Rome would have thought it wise to fly in the face of a profound conviction of the people he governed, no matter if he thought it was a profound error. It is not wise statesmanship to do it.
Now, if gentlemen repudiate this, if they desire to reject it, if they deny that this is in the true sense of the word a religious Nation, I should like to see the disclaimer put in white and black and proposed by the Congress of the United States. Write it. How would you write it? How would you deny that from the foundation of the country, through every fiber of their being this people has been a religious people. Word it, if you dare; advocate it, it you dare. How many who voted for it would ever come back here again? None, I hope.—Id., p. 6759.
So, then, the chief duty of a United States senator, or member of Congress, is to “come back here again.” The height of the ambition of such is to “come back here again.” And now it is the perfection of “wise statesmanship” so to play into the hands of threatening, boycotting, and unprincipled religious partisans, as to be sure that they can “come back here again.” No matter though the thing demanded be subversive of every principle of the Government, we must yield to it, or we can’t “come back here again.” No matter though the thing demanded be positively forbidden by the Constitution it must be granted or else we can’t “come back here again.” No matter, though to yield to the demand we must violate the solemn oath which we took to maintain the Constitution of the United States—that oath is nothing, the Constitution is nothing, the principles of the Government are nothing, in the presence of the awful alternative, conveyed in the threats of religious bigots, that we can’t “come back here again.”
Was there ever on earth a more cowardly or more contemptible surrender than this of the Senate of the United States, as proclaimed by its representatives—Senators Frank S. Hiscock, of New York, and Joseph R. Hawley, of Connecticut?
And the Church managers know that it is a surrender to them. The chaplain of the Senate in the article before referred to says:—
Say not that the former days were better than these, for the Congress of the United States never numbered abler, truer, nobler men than fill the chambers to-day! And never more surely than now would avowed hostility to God, his day and word and house and kingdom, remand a public servant to private life.
This is just what these senators told the churches that they were afraid of. And this is now a public notice that henceforth a religious test will be required as a qualification for office under the United States. H. H. George, who labored for months to secure this legislation, said:—
I have learned that we hold the United States Senate in our hands.
They would be very dull indeed not to have learned it, when the Senate openly told them so. Of course they hold it in their hands, and they will use it, too. For did not that other preacher, J. D. Sands, in Pittsburg, declare that as the Senate had listened to the voice of the Church,
This grand, good fact suggests to the Christian’s mind that if this may be done, so may other equally needful measures. The Church is gaining power continually and its voice will be heard in the future much oftener than in the past.
Thus the evidence is complete and the proof conclusive, that the Government of the United States as it was established and as it was intended to remain is no more. It has been given into the hands of the combined churches, and is there now only a tool to be used by them to enforce upon all the decrees of the Church at her arbitrary will. And thus there stand sin the United States to-day the living image of the Papacy, instead of the glorious Government which our father established and hoped would remain.
The “new order of things” to which this Nation stands pledged by the Great Seal of the United States is reversed; and the old order of things which has always been a curse to the world is restored.
A. T. J.