The Congressional Globe: Containing the Debates and Proceedings of the Second Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress Page: 120
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THE CONGRESSIONAL GLOBE.
I say our Government assumes a position. True,
the President has in his message preserved a dis-
creet reticence with reference to it; but this House
in the first hours of its session, and the Secretary
of the Navy in his report, have justified Captain
"Wilkes for his performance. Honors have been
showered on him. His heroism has been lauded.
I assume that our Government, by not disapprov-
ing, at least has sanctioned his conduct on the
highest principles of international justice.
From the most careful examination of these
principles, applied to the case of the Trent, I be-
lieve that we have never, in the history of diplo-
macy, had a clearer ease of indisputable right on
the high seas. Such will be the opinion of every
publicist who will look into the matter with a
mind unwavped by pride or prejudice.
The other day, at the beginning of this session,
the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Lovejoy] in-
troduced his resolution approving the conduct of
Captain Wilkes. I voted for that resolution. I
approveof thatactionof Commodore Wilkes,be-
cause it was founded on international right. This
matter came again before the House yesterday;
and lol'in the face of the morning news which
echoed with the roar of the English lion, there
seemed to be a different spirit on the other side of
the House! I hope that the House did not in-
tend on yesterday to express an opinion adverse
to our rights in the case of the Trent, by referring
the matter to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
I believe that, when the matter is discussed by
that committee and reported to the House, the
committee and the House will stand together by
our rights in the premises. But I was reluctant
to vote for its reference; not because the members
of that committee will not examine it fully and do
their duty to the country, but because my own
opinion was foregone and had been expressed on
the resolution of thegentleman from Illinois. The
more I examine it the more I am satisfied that, in
regard to this question, this Government, stands
in a position to defend herself in any forum be-
fore the world.
Mr. COLFAX. Will the gentleman from Ohio
allow me to make a single word of explanation?
Mr. COX. With pleasure.
Mr. COLFAX. I desire to say to my friend
fromOhio that, in common with many other mem-
bers, I voted yesterday for the reference of the
resolution to the Committee on Foreign Affairs
because I thought that, standing as we may prob-
ably be on the brink of war, it was the duty of
the American Congress to send out whatever it
declared gravely, deliberately, solemnly, as the
emanation of a standing committee, and not as
the mere impulse of a solitary member.
MESSAGE Xi'EOM THE SENATE.
A message was received from the Senate by
Mr. HicKEv,its chief clerk, notifying the House
that the Senate had passed a bill to provide for
allotment certificates among the volunteer forces;
in which he was directed to ask the concurrence
of the House.
DETENTION OF TIIE PERTHSHIRE—AGAIN.
Mr. VALLANDIGHAM. Will thegentleman
from Indiana be kind enough to explain why those
considerations which he urges with such force
just now, did not occur to him on the first day of
the session when he proposed to imprison one of
those men ?
Mr. COLFAX. I will do so with great pleas-
Mr. VALLANDIGHAM. fie had not heard
from England at the time, peradventure.
Mr. COLFAX. My resolution in reference to
Mr. Mason was in reference to a man who had
taken an oath as a Senator of the United States
to support the Constitution of the country, and
had violated it. He was not only a traitor, but
he had violated his oath. He was in our hands,
and I proposed to imprison him and subject him
to treatment corresponding with that shown to
Colonel Corcoran. When we come to deal as a
nation, with foreign nations, that is, of course, a
Mr. VALLANDIGHAM. I ask the gentle-
man from Indiana whether there is to-day any
less violation of their oaths on the part of Mason
and Shdeli than there was the first day of the
session? Are they any less tiaitots now than they
were then? If so, what makes the difference?
Mr. COX. I must arrest this interlocutory
Mr. COLFAX. I am still in favor of meting
out the same treatment to them as Colonel Cor-
Mr. VALLANDIGHAM. These men will be
surrendered before three months in the face of a
threat. I make that prediction here to-day.
Mr. COLFAX. I disbelieve it.
Mr. COX. I hope that the prediction of my
colleague will never be fulfilled. I have some
faith in the sagacity of our Secretary of State, too
much faith in the honor of the people of the coun-
try, to believe that they ^iU ever permit their Gov-
ernment, in a case of clear right, to so dishonor
them. Thehonorof a nation is Us credit; itscredit
is its commerce; its commerce is its cash; and its
cash brings with it the comforts and refinements
of civilization. Where you touch the cash you
have a powerful argument with anyyiation. The
pecuniary argument is, with the majority, gener-
ally stronger than the moral argument. When
moral influences combine with pecuniary, they
are irresistible. The people of the country, how-
ever, will stand,as a point of honor, by the rights
to which they are entitled on land or sea. They
will look with jealousy on anything that has a
tendency towards impairing their nationality,
either at home or abroad. When they fail in this
they deserve expatriation from this the cushioned
part of God's footstool given in high trust to their
I was about to state the proposition on which
I believe the Government can plant itself in this
matter. I do not propose now to argue it elab-
orately. I will cite but few authorities. The pub-
lic newspapers have been teeming with authori-
ties, some relevant and some irrelevant.
Mr. LOVEJOY. I rise to a question of order.
My point of order is, that the remaiks of the
gentleman from Ohio are wholly irrelevant to the
question before the House, which is a question as
to the detention of the Perthshire. The general
discussion of our relations with England is not in
Mr. COX. If I could only put the " African"
into the question, no doubt it would be relevant.
I propose to show a direct connection between our
according the rights that arc due to Great Britain
and our demanding our own rights in return.
Therefore my argument is logical and pertinent.
Mr. LOVEJOY. My point is, that the pay-
ment of this $1,000 in the case of the Perthshire
has nothing whatever to do with our general rela-
tions with Great Britain, and nothing to do with
Slidell and Mason, or their arrest.
The SPEAKER pro tempore^ (Mr. Aldrich in
the chair.) The Chair decides that the gentleman
from Ohio is in order.
Mr. COX. I will show thegentleman imme-
diately that I am in oider. I am going to make
the connection, [laughter,] and will do it without
the aid of the negro. The principle on which we
will accord justice to England, and on which we
shall demand justice from England, is to demand
our rights and do our duty in return. Our justi-
fication in the case of the Trent is, that her act
was one of hostility in bearing these embassa-
dors; and hostility, whether it consist in carrying
dispatches, envoys, or other and worse than con-
traband, in a neutral merchant ship.
It will not do to answer that no case like this
has ever been adjudged. Nearly all the Spanish-
American embassadors, during the revolutions of
their States, that have been sent between this con-
tinentand Europe, have, been sent either in British
or American ships, and have never been interfered
with. Europeanembassadorspassingfrom nation
to nation have, by reason of the geographical re-
lations of the countries, never been disturbed; and
hence specific cases of this nature have not arisen
hitherto. But nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, the
general principles involved have been laid down
by our best international lawyeis,and by the best
judges in the English courts. I will read an ex- j
tract from a letter written the other day by the dis- •
tinguished ex-Attorney General, Mr. Cushing,as 1
to the point why no precedent has been made
especially with regard to embassadors. He says:
" Consjdenng llic geography of Em ope. and theiHahons
of Duiopean Tower* one to amuhci. it would -eldom hap-
pen lo be necost-aiy or CApodient to dispatch emba->adois
by >ea, except as between Great Bi ltum and the continent
To any such mission Great Britain must have been a vol-
untary party, unlesb it were a ho-.ulu mi-^ion to oi fiom
insurgents of her own in Scotland or Ireland, in which case
we may he sure the minister would have had to take the
risk of capture, whether on board a belligerent or a neutral
•5 And as to America, the scopcof example has been very
limited, comprehending only the practice of ourselves and
that of other revolted European colonies. We have sent
ministers across the sea m time of war, but in our own
ships and at our own hazard. And, as to the Spanish-
Ameiiean colonies, when they have dispatched ministers
on hoard neutral vessels in time of war, it has been on
board oi ueuttal vessels like tho: c of Great Britain and the
United States, with little possibility of interference on the
part of one another or of Spain."
But the principle, which covers this case of em-
bassadors is most cogently stated by Phillimore,
by Lord Stowell, in 0 Robinson.
Mr. OLIN. I rise to a question of order. I
submit that debate upon the question of the seiz-
ure from the Trent of the rebel embassadors on
board, is not necessarily involved in the discus-
sion of the bill before the House. I regard all
such discussion as unnecessary and premature at
Mr. COX. I hope the gentleman will allow me
to proceed. I had nearly finished what I have to
say on this question. 1 will show him directly
the pertinency of what I am saying.
The SPEAKER. The gentleman from New
York rises to the question of order, that upon a
bill proposing to pay a British subject for losses
incurred m arresting his vessel while endeavoring
to break the blockade, iris not in order to discuss
the seizure and detention of Mason and Slidell.
Mr. COX. Mr. Speaker, let me say one word
before the question is decided.
Mr. t)LIN. Not unless the Chair also hears
me upon the question of order.
The SPEAKER. The gentleman from Ohio is
entitled to be heard upon the point of order.
Mr. OLIN. Is the question of order debatable?
The SPEAKER. The Chair supposes it is.
Mr. OLIN. Then I wish to be heard.
The SPEAKER. The gentleman must confine
his remarks strictly to the question of order.
Mr. OLIN. Cei tainly; I will discuss that alone.
The bill before the House simply involves an in-
quiry into the legality of the seizure of a British
vessel and the detention of that vessel, and the
question of the propriety of paying an indemnity
for that detention. That vessel and that question
are as entirely distinct from the question involved
in the seizure and detention of Mason and Slidell
as it is possible for one question to be different
from another—each question depending upon its
own peculiar circumstances, and entirely discon-
nected from the other.
The SPEAKER. The gentleman from New
York will suspend for a moment. The Chair
believes he made an erroneous decision in stating
that the question of order was debatable. The
Chair will have the rule upon the subject read.
The Clerk read the 61st rule, as follows:
Ci If any member, in speaking or otherwise, transgress ihe
rules ot the House, the Speaker shall, or any member may,
call to order; in which ea*e the member so called to order
shrill immediately sit down, unless permitted to explain;
and the House shall, if appealed to, decide on the ca^r. but
without debate; if there be no appeal, the decision of the
Chair shall be submitted to. If the decision be in favor of
the mi'mbet called to oider, lie shall be at hbeity to proceed;
it otherwise, he t-liall not he p^imitted lo proceed, in case
anj member object, without leave of the House; and if the
crr-e require it, he shall be liable to the ccnsuie of the
The SPEAKER. The Chair will therefore de-
cide that the epiestion of order is not debatable.
The Chair thinks it is possible to bring the gen-
tleman 's remarks within the line proscribed by the
rule. The Chair hopes, however, the gentleman
will confine himself strictly to the question under
Mr. COX. I will do so.
Mr. LOVEJOY. I appeal from the decision
of the Chair.
Mr. OLIN. Do I understand the Chair to de-
cide that the gentleman's remarks were pertinent
to the bill under consideration?
Mr. COX. I call the gentleman from New
York to order. He has no light to the floor.
The SPEAKER. The gentleman from Ohio
is entitled to the floor when the question of order
has been decided. The gentleman from Illinois
appeals from the decision of the Chair. No de-
bate is in order upon that.
Mr. OLIN. The gentleman from Illinois, I
presume, does not understand the ruling of the
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United States. Congress. The Congressional Globe: Containing the Debates and Proceedings of the Second Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress, book, 1862; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30810/m1/184/: accessed April 2, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.