"The Crowning Infamy."

July 11, 1870


The Radical members of Congress are acting like blind followers of their leaders and ratifying amendments without truly thinking of their consequences. Additionally, the allowing of states to withdrawal their support from various bills or repeal a ratification should be permitted, but as of now, it is prohibited. This is a violation of states rights.


Congress piles the pyramid of usurpation. It is guilty of such a succession of infamous acts, each worse than the last preceding one, that the caption which we have put to this article is nearly always "in order" and appropriate. These acts are done as speedily as if they were the Vermillion decrees of an emperor. In the House of Representatives on Friday a bill was reported by Mr. Bingham "to regulate the mode of determining the ratification of amendments to the Constitution" the rules were suspended, and the bill was passed under the lash. The Radical members of the House are not a whit better than so many automata, or slaves if you prefer the word. They have no wills of their own. They are mere tools in the hands of their leaders. A bill whose features are so outrageous that the mere proposition to enact them into a law ought to have called down upon its author the indignant denunciations of every friend of good government in the House, was passed without debate. The stupid simpletons always know what is expected of them when one of their leaders calls for the previous question or moves to suspend the rules. They incontinently become mere supple-jacks, moved hither and thither along a fixed line by the men who pull the strings. They know not, they care not, whether the bill proposed to be passed is right or wrong, constitutional or unconstitutional. All they know, or care to know, is that Bingham or Butler, or some other of the unprincipled politicians who now assume the role of statesmen, desires their votes in favor of a certain measure. They so give them ; and, like dogs that have pleased their masters, they manifest great satisfaction at the fact. The first section of Mr. Bingham's bill makes it the duty of the Governor of each State whose Legislature shall have ratified a proposed amendment to certify forthwith such ratification to the United States Secretary of State ! Think of that. The Federal Congress prescribing duties for the Governor of a State ! What would Madison, or Jefferson, or Hamilton, or Patrick Henry, have said if such a bill had been even so much as proposed in their day? In the better days of the republic its author would have been severely reprimanded if not ignominiously expelled from Congress. Congress has exactly as much right to pass such a law as we have to order the proprietors of the Richmond Whig to perform any menial service that we desire to have done. It has no more right to pass such a law than it has to require Judge Moncure to certify to that body all his opinions in the various cases that come before the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia. The act is one of gross usurpation, It should be treated with scorn and contempt by the Governor of every State in the Union. It is so clearly unconstitutional, so plain and unmistakable an infringement upon the rights of the State Governments, that it would unquestionably be pronounced null and void by any respectable judicial tribunal in the country. The other two sections of the bill are, if possible, more outrageous than the first. The second makes it unlawful after an amendment has once been ratified for any State officer to certify any repeal of such ratification ! Affirmative always negative never. Though an amendment fail for fifty years to be ratified by the requisite number of States, yet, if at the end of that time the requisite three-fourths be obtained, the States which first ratified shall not have the privilege of withdrawing their ratification ! Can usurpation further go ? And the third section proposes to fine and imprison any member of any State Legislature who shall even propose to repeal a ratification ! These asses in Congress passing a law to define the duties of members of the State Legislature ! But this is too much. It degenerates into a farce. We do not believe that such a bill can ever get through the Senate. If it does, we shall not waste any lamentations over its passage, but shall look upon it as another of those infamous acts which, though conceived in sin and born in iniquity, will have a tendency to educate the northern people in politics up to that high standard which obtains in the South. Of course this bill had its origin in a feeling of spitefulness towards Ohio and New York for having repealed their ratifications of the fifteenth amendment. There is no precedent for such a law ; no warrant for it in the Constitution ; and its enactment would be a gross violation of the spirit of that instrument. Yet this Radical House of Representatives, which can find no authority in the Constitution for excluding the Chinese from this country, did not hesitate to make a wrong precedent, trample upon the Constitution and upon the rights of the States, and pass a bill which ought to send its authors to the gallows, or at least to prison.
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Bryce Smith




“"The Crowning Infamy.",” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed November 28, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1776.