Herald of Freedom and Torch Light, Sept 1862 (4-1B War news: Opinion)
From the Charleston Mercury
What do the people know of the actings and doings of their representatives to Congress? Can they be called to account for their stewardship? They have covered themselves with the mantle of secrecy. They have established a rule amongst themselves that if any of their numbers should presume to communicate anything of its transactions to his constituents he should be expelled from Congress, thus at a single blow casting aside the people and annihilating all responsibility to them. The consequence is the people are utterly in the dark as to the transactions of their representatives for their liberty, involving all that is dear to men. But of the responsibility of their representative to the people let them know nothing of his actions and doings as their representative, and of what avail is the representative to the people. They can neither control him nor rule themselves. The representative becomes an irresponsible ruler of the people, or, what is more probable, the tool of the Executive, from whom all patronage flows, to carry out his despotic behests. For the people to vote themselves through their representative, it is clear they must know all his transactions, and be able to support or repudiate them, and to continue or to change their agent, the representative. Take, for instance, a case by way of illustration. The Constitution of the Provisional Government prescribed as follows:
"The President shall receive for his services a compensation at the rate of $25 000 per annum, and he shall not receive during that period, any other emolument from this Confederacy or any of the States thereof.” It is impossible to mistake these words of the Constitution. Human language could not devise a more distinct declaration; that the President should receive $25,000 per annum as his emolument, and nothing more. Yet we turn to the act of this Congress, soon after the resident was instated in office, and we find the following resolution:—"The Congress of the Confederate States of America do resolve that the committee to arrange for Government buildings be authorized to lease a furnished mansion for the residence of the President of the Confederate States.” Here is a resolution to add to the “emoluments” of the President a furnished mansion, equal to seven thousand dollars—making his emoluments thirty-two thousand dollars instead of twenty-five thousand. Do the people know how their representatives voted on this plain and palpable violation of the Constitution for the benefit of the President.
Another matter we would notice is the Presidential vetoes. It is understood that President Davis vetoed more bills of the Provisional Congress than all the Presidents of the United States from George Washington to Andrew Jackson included.—
Do the people know anywhere how their representatives voted - first on these bills and second, on the vetoes upon them Which of them supported this outrageous abuse of veto power? Do the people know? Do they know what part their representatives played in these grave transactions? Did they vote for the bills and stultify themselves by upholding the vetoes of the Executive upon them? Or did they oppose the bills and consistently uphold the vetoes of the Executive?
Who knows ? The people are called upon to vote for their representatives in profound ignorance of their course in all these matters - an ignorance forced upon them by their representatives themselves. Can any other exemplification be necessary to prove the utter incompatibility of secret sessions in Congress with the right of the people to rule themselves.
Herald of Freedom and Torch Light
Maryland Historical Society
Sept 10-24, 1862
Maryland Historical Society
Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862; Maryland Campaign, 1862; Hagerstown (Md.)--Newspapers.
Washington County, MD. September 1862