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President Andrew Johnson’s Veto Message to Congress Concerning A Bill to Regulate the Elective Franchise in the District of Columbia – January 5, 1867
|| 11/15/2010 || 6:26 pm || 2 Comments Rendered || ||

Even five years after President Lincoln signed An Act for the Release of certain Persons held to Service or Labor in the District of Columbia aka the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act, it was quite evident that emancipation did not mean electoral equality. Amendments to the Constitution were to be required, but before they were even ratified, Congress chose to extend suffrage to African Americans over a recent vote of the qualified, male Caucasian population in the District of Columbia.

Below is the veto message to Congress President Andrew Johnson wrote against a bill that would have extended universal suffrage to African Americans in the District of Columbia. In the message he assumes the role of a “check” against the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress over the District and explains that Congress should not experiment on the District residents, but rather let the Constitutional Amendment be ratified first.

I have chosen to highlight this text because while I disagree with Andrew Johnson’s conclusion, I believe his intention was correct. The 15th Amendment to the Constitutional was ratified three years later and Andrew Johnson was impeached. But the notion that the President should be the protector of the people of the District of Columbia against powers of Congress over the people of the District of Columbia is something to seriously consider when studying means to obtain full representation for residents today, especially since the President is the only federally elected official District residents can vote for, and that was only through a subsequent constitutional amendment.

Detail of a print showing a portion of the campaign banner for the Republican ticket in the 1864 presidential election.

To the Senate of the United States:

I have received and considered a bill entitled “An act to regulate the elective franchise in the District of Columbia,” passed by the Senate on the 13th of December and by the House of Representatives on the succeeding day. It was presented for my approval on the 26th ultimo–six days after the adjournment of Congress–and is now returned with my objections to the Senate, in which House it originated.

Measures having been introduced at the commencement of the first session of the present Congress for the extension of the elective franchise to persons of color in the District of Columbia, steps were taken by the corporate authorities of Washington and Georgetown to ascertain and make known the opinion of the people of the two cities upon a subject so immediately affecting their welfare as a community. The question was submitted to the people at special elections held in the month of December, 1865, when the qualified voters of Washington and Georgetown, with great unanimity of sentiment, expressed themselves opposed to the contemplated legislation. In Washington, in a vote of 6,556–the largest, with but two exceptions, ever polled in that city–only thirty-five ballots were cast for Negro suffrage, while in Georgetown, in an aggregate of 813 votes–a number considerably in excess of the average vote at the four preceding annual elections–but one was given in favor of the proposed extension of the elective franchise. As these elections seem to have been conducted with entire fairness, the result must be accepted as a truthful expression of the opinion of the people of the District upon the question which evoked it. Possessing, as an organized community, the same popular right as the inhabitants of a State or Territory to make known their will upon matters which affect their social and political condition, they could have selected no more appropriate mode of memorializing Congress upon the subject of this bill than through the suffrages of their qualified voters.

Entirely disregarding the wishes of the people of the District of Columbia, Congress has deemed it right and expedient to pass the measure now submitted for my signature. It therefore becomes the duty of the Executive, standing between the legislation of the one and the will of the other, fairly expressed, to determine whether he should approve the bill, and thus aid in placing upon the statute books of the nation a law against which the people to whom it is to apply have solemnly and with such unanimity protested, or whether he should return it with his objections in the hope that upon reconsideration Congress, acting as the representatives of the inhabitants of the seat of Government, will permit them to regulate a purely local question as to them may seem best suited to their interests and condition.

The District of Columbia was ceded to the United States by Maryland and Virginia in order that it might become the permanent seat of Government of the United States. Accepted by Congress, it at once became subject to the “exclusive legislation” for which provision is made in the Federal Constitution. It should be borne in mind, however, that in exercising its functions as the lawmaking power of the District of Columbia the authority of the National Legislature is not without limit, but that Congress is bound to observe the letter and spirit of the Constitution as well in the enactment of local laws for the seat of Government as in legislation common to the entire Union. Were it to be admitted that the right “to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever” conferred upon Congress unlimited power within the District of Columbia, titles of nobility might be granted within its boundaries; laws might be made “respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Despotism would thus reign at the seat of government of a free republic, and as a place of permanent residence it would be avoided by all who prefer the blessings of liberty to the mere emoluments of official position.

It should also be remembered that in legislating for the District of Columbia under the Federal Constitution the relation of Congress to its inhabitants is analogous to that of a legislature to the people of a State under their own local constitution. It does not, therefore, seem to be asking too much that in matters pertaining to the District Congress should have a like respect for the will and interest of its inhabitants as is entertained by a State legislature for the wishes and prosperity of those for whom they legislate. The spirit of our Constitution and the genius of our Government require that in regard to any law which is to affect and have a permanent bearing upon a people their will should exert at least a reasonable influence upon those who are acting in the capacity of their legislators. Would, for instance, the legislature of the State of New York, or of Pennsylvania, or of Indiana, or of any State in the Union, in opposition to the expressed will of a large majority of the people whom they were chosen to represent, arbitrarily force upon them as voters all persons of the African or Negro race and make them eligible for office without any other qualification than a certain term of residence within the State? In neither of the States named would the colored population, when acting together, be able to produce any great social or political result. Yet in New York, before he can vote, the man of color must fulfill conditions that are not required of the white citizen; in Pennsylvania the elective franchise is restricted to white freemen, while in Indiana Negroes and mulattoes are expressly excluded from the right of suffrage. It hardly seems consistent with the principles of right and justice that representatives of States where suffrage is either denied the colored man or granted to him on qualifications requiring intelligence or property should compel the people of the District of Columbia to try an experiment which their own constituents have thus far shown an unwillingness to test for themselves. Nor does it accord with our republican ideas that the principle of self-government should lose its force when applied to the residents of the District merely because their legislators are not, like those of the States, responsible through the ballot to the people for whom they are the lawmaking power.

The great object of placing the seat of Government under the exclusive legislation of Congress was to secure the entire independence of the General Government from undue State influence and to enable it to discharge without danger of interruption or infringement of its authority the high functions for which it was created by the people. For this important purpose it was ceded to the United States by Maryland and Virginia, and it certainly never could have been contemplated as one of the objects to be attained by placing it under the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress that it would afford to propagandists or political parties a place for an experimental test of their principles and theories. While, indeed, the residents of the seat of Government are not citizens of any State and are not, therefore, allowed a voice in the electoral college or representation in the councils of the nation, they are, nevertheless, American citizens, entitled as such to every guaranty of the Constitution, to every benefit of the laws, and to every right which pertains to citizens of our common country. In all matters, then, affecting their domestic affairs, the spirit of our democratic form of government demands that their wishes should be consulted and respected and they taught to feel that although not permitted practically to participate in national concerns, they are, nevertheless, under a paternal government regardful of their rights, mindful of their wants, and solicitous for their prosperity. It was evidently contemplated that all local questions would be left to their decision, at least to an extent that would not be incompatible with the object for which Congress was granted exclusive legislation over the seat of Government. When the Constitution was yet under consideration, it was assumed by Mr. Madison that its inhabitants would be allowed “a municipal legislature for local purposes, derived from their own suffrages.” When for the first time Congress, in the year 1800, assembled at Washington, President Adams, in his speech at its opening, reminded the two Houses that it was for them to consider whether the local powers over the District of Columbia, vested by the Constitution in the Congress of the United States, should be immediately exercised, and he asked them to “consider it as the capital of a great nation, advancing with unexampled rapidity in arts, in commerce, in wealth, and in population, and possessing within itself those resources which, if not thrown away or lamentably misdirected, would secure to it a long course of prosperity and self-government.” Three years had not elapsed when Congress was called upon to determine the propriety of retroceding to Maryland and Virginia the jurisdiction of the territory which they had respectively relinquished to the Government of the United States. It was urged on the one hand that exclusive jurisdiction was not necessary or useful to the Government; that it deprived the inhabitants of the District of their political rights; that much of the time of Congress was consumed in legislation pertaining to it; that its government was expensive; that Congress was not competent to legislate for the District, because the members were strangers to its local concerns; and that it was an example of a government without representation — an experiment dangerous to the liberties of the States. On the other hand it was held, among other reasons, and successfully, that the Constitution, the acts of cession of Virginia and Maryland, and the act of Congress accepting the grant all contemplated the exercise of exclusive legislation by Congress, and that its usefulness, if not its necessity, was inferred from the inconvenience which was felt for want of it by the Congress of the Confederation; that the people themselves, who, it was said, had been deprived of their political rights, had not complained and did not desire a retrocession; that the evil might be remedied by giving them a representation in Congress when the District should become sufficiently populous, and in the meantime a local legislature; that if the inhabitants had not political rights they had great political influence; that the trouble and expense of legislating for the District would not be great, but would diminish, and might in a great measure be avoided by a local legislature; and that Congress could not retrocede the inhabitants without their consent. Continuing to live substantially under the laws that existed at the time of the cession, and such changes only having been made as were suggested by themselves, the people of the District have not sought by a local legislature that which has generally been willingly conceded by the Congress of the nation.

As a general rule sound policy requires that the legislature should yield to the wishes of a people, when not inconsistent with the constitution and the laws. The measures suited to one community might not be well adapted to the condition of another; and the persons best qualified to determine such questions are those whose interests are to be directly affected by any proposed law. In Massachusetts, for instance, male persons are allowed to vote without regard to color, provided they possess a certain degree of intelligence. In a population in that State of 1,231,066 there were, by the census of 1860, only 9,602 persons of color, and of the males over 20 years of age there were 339,086 white to 2,602 colored. By the same official enumeration there were in the District of Columbia 60,764 whites to 14,316 persons of the colored race. Since then, however, the population of the District has largely increased, and it is estimated that at the present time there are nearly 100,000 whites to 30,000 Negroes. The cause of the augmented numbers of the latter class needs no explanation. Contiguous to Maryland and Virginia, the District during the war became a place of refuge for those who escaped from servitude, and it is yet the abiding place of a considerable proportion of those who sought within its limits a shelter from bondage. Until then held in slavery and denied all opportunities for mental culture, their first knowledge of the Government was acquired when, by conferring upon them freedom, it became the benefactor of their race. The test of their capability for improvement began when for the first time the career of free industry and the avenues to intelligence were opened to them. Possessing these advantages but a limited time–the greater number perhaps having entered the District of Columbia during the later years of the war, or since its termination–we may well pause to inquire whether, after so brief a probation, they are as a class capable of an intelligent exercise of the right of suffrage and qualified to discharge the duties of official position. The people who are daily witnesses of their mode of living, and who have become familiar with their habits of thought, have expressed the conviction that they are not yet competent to serve as electors, and thus become eligible for office in the local governments under which they live. Clothed with the elective franchise, their numbers, already largely in excess of the demand for labor, would be soon increased by an influx from the adjoining States. Drawn from fields where employment is abundant, they would in vain seek it here, and so add to the embarrassments already experienced from the large class of idle persons congregated in the District. Hardly yet capable of forming correct judgments upon the important questions that often make the issues of a political contest, they could readily be made subservient to the purposes of designing persons. While in Massachusetts, under the census of 1860, the proportion of white to colored males over 20 years of age was 130 to 1, here the black race constitutes nearly one-third of the entire population, whilst the same class surrounds the District on all sides, ready to change their residence at a moment’s notice, and with all the facility of a nomadic people, in order to enjoy here, after a short residence, a privilege they find nowhere else. It is within their power in one year to come into the District in such numbers as to have the supreme control of the white race, and to govern them by their own officers and by the exercise of all the municipal authority–among the rest, of the power of taxation over property in which they have no interest. In Massachusetts, where they have enjoyed the benefits of a thorough educational system. a qualification of intelligence is required, while here suffrage is extended to all without discrimination as well to the most incapable who can prove a residence in the District of one year as to those persons of color who, comparatively few in number, are permanent inhabitants, and, having given evidence of merit and qualification, are recognized as useful and responsible members of the community. Imposed upon an unwilling people placed by the Constitution under the exclusive legislation of Congress, it would be viewed as an arbitrary exercise of power and as an indication by the country of the purpose of Congress to compel the acceptance of Negro suffrage by the States. It would engender a feeling of opposition and hatred between the two races, which, becoming deep rooted and ineradicable, would prevent them from living together in a state of mutual friendliness. Carefully avoiding every measure that might tend to produce such a result. and following the clear and well-ascertained popular will, we should assiduously endeavor to promote kindly relations between them, and thus, when that popular will leads the way, prepare for the gradual and harmonious introduction of this new element into the political power of the country.

It can not be urged that the proposed extension of suffrage in the District of Columbia is necessary to enable persons of color to protect either their interests or their rights. They stand here precisely as they stand in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. Here as elsewhere, in all that pertains to civil rights, there is nothing to distinguish this class of persons from citizens of the United States, for they possess the “full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property as is enjoyed by white citizens,” and are made “subject to like punishment, pains, and penalties, and to none other, any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom to the contrary notwithstanding.” Nor, as has been assumed, are their suffrages necessary to aid a loyal sentiment here, for local governments already exist of undoubted fealty to the Government, and are sustained by communities which were among the first to testify their devotion to the Union, and which during the struggle furnished their full quotas of men to the military service of the country.

The exercise of the elective franchise is the highest attribute of an American citizen, and when guided by virtue, intelligence, patriotism, and a proper appreciation of our institutions constitutes the true basis of a democratic form of government, in which the sovereign power is lodged in the body of the people. Its influence for good necessarily depends upon the elevated character and patriotism of the elector, for if exercised by persons who do not justly estimate its value and who are indifferent as to its results it will only serve as a means of placing power in the hands of the unprincipled and ambitious, and must eventuate in the complete destruction of that liberty of which it should be the most powerful conservator. Great danger is therefore to be apprehended from an untimely extension of the elective franchise to any new class in our country, especially when the large majority of that class, in wielding the power thus placed in their hands, can not be expected correctly to comprehend the duties and responsibilities which pertain to suffrage. Yesterday, as it were, 4,000,000 persons were held in a condition of slavery that had existed for generations; to-day they are freemen and are assumed by law to be citizens. It can not be presumed, from their previous condition of servitude, that as a class they are as well informed as to the nature of our Government as the intelligent foreigner who makes our land the home of his choice. In the case of the latter neither a residence of five years and the knowledge of our institutions which it gives nor attachment to the principles of the Constitution are the only conditions upon which he can be admitted to citizenship; he must prove in addition a good moral character, and thus give reasonable ground for the belief that he will be faithful to the obligations which he assumes as a citizen of the Republic. Where a people–the source of all political power–speak by their suffrages through the instrumentality of the ballot box, it must be carefully guarded against the control of those who are corrupt in principle and enemies of free institutions, for it can only become to our political and social system a safe conductor of healthy popular sentiment when kept free from demoralizing influences. Controlled through fraud and usurpation by the designing, anarchy and despotism must inevitably follow. In the hands of the patriotic and worthy our Government will be preserved upon the principles of the Constitution inherited from our fathers. It follows, therefore, that in admitting to the ballot box a new class of voters not qualified for the exercise of the elective franchise we weaken our system of government instead of adding to its strength and durability.

In returning this bill to the Senate I deeply regret that there should be any conflict of opinion between the legislative and executive departments of the Government in regard to measures that vitally affect the prosperity and peace of the country. Sincerely desiring to reconcile the States with one another and the whole people to the Government of the United States, it has been my earnest wish to cooperate with Congress in all measures having for their object a proper and complete adjustment of the questions resulting from our late civil war. Harmony between the coordinate branches of the Government, always necessary for the public welfare, was never more demanded than at the present time, and it will therefore be my constant aim to promote as far as possible concert of action between them. The differences of opinion that have already occurred have rendered me only the more cautious, lest the Executive should encroach upon any of the prerogatives of Congress or by exceeding in any manner the constitutional limit of his duties destroy the equilibrium which should exist between the several coordinate departments, and which is so essential to the harmonious working of the Government. I know it has been urged that the executive department is more likely to enlarge the sphere of its action than either of the other two branches of the Government, and especially in the exercise of the veto power conferred upon it by the Constitution. It should be remembered, however, that this power is wholly negative and conservative in its character, and was intended to operate as a check upon unconstitutional, hasty, and improvident legislation and as a means of protection against invasions of the just powers of the executive and judicial departments. It is remarked by Chancellor Kent that–

To enact laws is a transcendent power, and if the body that possesses it be a full and equal representation of the people there is danger of its pressing with destructive weight upon all the other parts of the machinery of Government. It has therefore been thought necessary by the most skillful and most experienced artists in the science of civil polity that strong barriers should be erected for the protection and security of the other necessary powers of the Government. Nothing has been deemed more fit and expedient for the purpose than the provision that the head of the executive department should be so constituted as to secure a requisite share of independence and that he should have a negative upon the passing of laws; and that the judiciary power, resting on a still more permanent basis, should have the right of determining upon the validity of laws by the standard of the Constitution.

The necessity of some such check in the hands of the Executive is shown by reference to the most eminent writers upon our system of government, who seem to concur in the opinion that encroachments are most to be apprehended from the department in which all legislative powers are vested by the Constitution. Mr. Madison, in referring to the difficulty of providing some practical security for each against the invasion of the others, remarks that “the legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.” “The founders of our Republic * * * seem never to have recollected the danger from legislative usurpations, which by assembling all power in the same hands must lead to the same tyranny as is threatened by Executive usurpations.” “In a representative republic, where the executive magistracy is carefully limited both in the extent and the duration of its power, and where the legislative power is exercised by an assembly which is inspired, by a supposed influence over the people, with an intrepid confidence in its own strength, which is sufficiently numerous to feel all the passions which actuate a multitude, yet not so numerous as to be incapable of pursuing the objects of its passions by means which reason prescribes, it is against the enterprising ambition of this department that the people ought to indulge all their jealousy and exhaust all their precautions.” “The legislative department derives a superiority in our governments from other circumstances. Its constitutional powers being at once more extensive and less susceptible of precise limits, it can with the greater facility mask, under complicated and indirect measures, the encroachments which it makes on the coordinate departments.” “On the other side, the Executive power being restrained within a narrower compass and being more simple in its nature, and the judiciary being described by landmarks still less uncertain, projects of usurpation by either of these departments would immediately betray and defeat themselves. Nor is this all. As the legislative department alone has access to the pockets of the people and has in some constitutions full discretion and in all a prevailing influence over the pecuniary rewards of those who fill the other departments, a dependence is thus created in the latter which gives still greater facility to encroachments of the former.”

“We have seen that the tendency of republican governments is to an aggrandizement of the legislative at the expense of the other departments.”

Mr. Jefferson, in referring to the early constitution of Virginia, objected that by its provisions all the powers of government–legislative, executive, and judicial–resulted to the legislative body, holding that “the concentrating these in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one. One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive as one.” “As little will it avail us that they are chosen by ourselves. An elective despotism was not the government we fought for, but one which should not only be rounded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others. For this reason that convention which passed the ordinance of government laid its foundation on this basis, that the legislative, executive, and judicial departments should be separate and distinct, so that no person should exercise the powers of more than one of them at the same time. But no barrier was provided between these several powers. The judiciary and executive members were left dependent on the legislative for their subsistence in office, and some of them for their continuance in it. If, therefore, the legislature assumes executive and judiciary powers, no opposition is likely to be made, nor, if made, can be effectual, because in that case they may put their proceedings into the form of an act of assembly, which will render them obligatory on the other branches. They have accordingly in many instances decided rights which should have been left to judiciary controversy; and the direction of the executive, during the whole time of their session, is becoming habitual and familiar.”

Mr. Justice Story, in his Commentaries on the Constitution, reviews the same subject, and says:

The truth is that the legislative power is the great and overruling power in every free government. * * * The representatives of the people will watch with jealousy every encroachment of the executive magistrate, for it trenches upon their own authority. But who shall watch the encroachment of these representatives themselves? Will they be as jealous of the exercise of power by themselves as by others? * * *

There are many reasons which may be assigned for the engrossing influence of the legislative department. In the first place, its constitutional powers are more extensive, and less capable of being brought within precise limits than those of either the other departments. The bounds of the executive authority are easily marked out and defined. It reaches few objects, and those are known. It can not transcend them without being brought in contact with the other departments. Laws may check and restrain and bound its exercise. The same remarks apply with still greater force to the judiciary. The jurisdiction is, or may be, bounded to a few objects or persons; or, however general and unlimited, its operations are necessarily confined to the mere administration of private and public justice. It can not punish without law. It can not create controversies to act upon. It can decide only upon rights and cases as they are brought by others before it. It can do nothing for itself. It must do everything for others. It must obey the laws, and if it corruptly administers them it is subjected to the power of impeachment. On the other hand, the legislative power except in the few cases of constitutional prohibition, is unlimited. It is forever varying its means and its ends. It governs the institutions and laws and public policy of the country. It regulates all its vast interests. It disposes of all its property. Look but at the exercise of two or three branches of its ordinary powers. It levies all taxes; it directs and appropriates all supplies; it gives the rules for the descent, distribution, and devises of all property held by individuals; it controls the sources and the resources of wealth; it changes at its will the whole fabric of the laws; it molds at its pleasure almost all the institutions which give strength and comfort and dignity to society.

In the next place, it is the direct visible representative of the will of the people in all the changes of times and circumstances. It has the pride as well as the power of numbers. It is easily moved and steadily moved by the strong impulses of popular feeling and popular odium. It obeys without reluctance the wishes and the will of the majority for the time being. The path to public favor lies open by such obedience, and it finds not only support but impunity in whatever measures the majority advises, even though they transcend the constitutional limits. It has no motive, therefore, to be jealous or scrupulous in its own use of power; and it finds its ambition stimulated and its arm strengthened by the countenance and the courage of numbers. These views are not alone those of men who look with apprehension upon the fate of republics, but they are also freely admitted by some of the strongest advocates for popular rights and the permanency of republican institutions. * * *

* * * Each department should have a will of its own. * * * Each should have its own independence secured beyond the power of being taken away by either or both of the others. But at the same time the relations of each to the other should be so strong that there should be a mutual interest to sustain and protect each other. There should not only be constitutional means, but personal motives to resist encroachments of one or either of the others. Thus ambition would be made to counteract ambition, the desire of power to check power, and the pressure of interest to balance an opposing interest.

* * * The judiciary is naturally and almost necessarily, as has been already said, the weakest department. It can have no means of influence by patronage. Its powers can never be wielded for itself. It has no command over the purse or the sword of the nation. It can neither lay taxes, nor appropriate money, nor command armies, nor appoint to office. It is never brought into contact with the people by constant appeals and solicitations and private intercourse, which belong to all the other departments of Government. It is seen only in controversies or in trials and punishments. Its rigid justice and impartiality give it no claims to favor, however they may to respect. It stands solitary and unsupported, except by that portion of public opinion which is interested only in the strict administration of justice. It can rarely secure the sympathy or zealous support either of the Executive or the Legislature. If they are not, as is not unfrequently the case, jealous of its prerogatives, the constant necessity of scrutinizing the acts of each, upon the application of any private person, and the painful duty of pronouncing judgment that these acts are a departure from the law or Constitution can have no tendency to conciliate kindness or nourish influence. It would seem, therefore, that some additional guards would, under the circumstances, be necessary to protect this department from the absolute dominion of the others. Yet rarely have any such guards been applied, and every attempt to introduce them has been resisted with a pertinacity which demonstrates how slow popular leaders are to introduce checks upon their own power and how slow the people are to believe that the judiciary is the real bulwark of their liberties. * * *

* * * If any department of the Government has undue influence or absorbing power, it certainly has not been the executive or judiciary.

In addition to what has been said by these distinguished writers, it may also be urged that the dominant party in each House may, by the expulsion of a sufficient number of members or by the exclusion from representation of a requisite number of States, reduce the minority to less than one-third. Congress by these means might be enabled to pass a law, the objections of the President to the contrary notwithstanding, which would render impotent the other two departments of the Government and make inoperative the wholesome and restraining power which it was intended by the framers of the Constitution should be exerted by them. This would be a practical concentration of all power in the Congress of the United States; this, in the language of the author of the Declaration of Independence, would be “precisely the definition of despotic government.”

I have preferred to reproduce these teachings of the great statesmen and constitutional lawyers of the early and later days of the Republic rather than to rely simply upon an expression of my own opinions. We can not too often recur to them, especially at a conjuncture like the present. Their application to our actual condition is so apparent that they now come to us a living voice, to be listened to with more attention than at any previous period of our history. We have been and are yet in the midst of popular commotion. The passions aroused by a great civil war are still dominant. It is not a time favorable to that calm and deliberate judgment which is the only safe guide when radical changes in our institutions are to be made. The measure now before me is one of those changes. It initiates an untried experiment for a people who have said, with one voice, that it is not for their good. This alone should make us pause, but it is not all. The experiment has not been tried, or so much as demanded, by the people of the several States for themselves. In but few of the States has such an innovation been allowed as giving the ballot to the colored population without any other qualification than a residence of one year, and in most of them the denial of the ballot to this race is absolute and by fundamental law placed beyond the domain of ordinary legislation. In most of those States the evil of such suffrage would be partial, but, small as it would be, it is guarded by constitutional barriers. Here the innovation assumes formidable proportions, which may easily grow to such an extent as to make the white population a subordinate element in the body politic.

After full deliberation upon this measure, I can not bring myself to approve it, even upon local considerations, nor yet as the beginning of an experiment on a larger scale. I yield to no one in attachment to that rule of general suffrage which distinguishes our policy as a nation. But there is a limit, wisely observed hitherto, which makes the ballot a privilege and a trust, and which requires of some classes a time suitable for probation and preparation. To give it indiscriminately to a new class, wholly unprepared by previous habits and opportunities to perform the trust which it demands, is to degrade it, and finally to destroy its power, for it may be safely assumed that no political truth is better established than that such indiscriminate and all-embracing extension of popular suffrage must end at last in its destruction.

ANDREW JOHNSON.
Veto Message
January 5, 1867



Citation: John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters, The American Presidency Project [online]. Santa Barbara, CA. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=72067.



WAR SIGNS IN THE STARS : Our Country’s Horoscope Says There Will Be Peace – The Washington Times, April 10, 1898
|| 7/26/2010 || 12:34 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

One interesting tangent I’ve gone on lately is traversing Chronicling America for historic astrological predictions to see if they came true or not. I chose this article because it included an “Astrological War Map of the United States” (below) related to the Spanish-American War. On February 15, 1898, less than two months before this article was originally published, the U.S.S. Maine mysteriously blew up in the Havana harbor. Most historians consider it to be the beginning of the hostilities, while many others contend that the U.S.S. Maine blew up on its own and was not the result of Spanish sabotage. Regardless, the ten week “clash of arms” known as the Spanish-American War began less than two weeks after this article was published. Only the final couple paragraphs of the article actually make predictions and reading them over a hundred years later provides an interesting perspective. I’m preferential to the notion that the U.S.S. Maine was probably not the result of Spanish sabotage, but it gave fodder to the American public to support the impending war. By blaming the “enemy” for something that was probably not their fault provides a possible glimpse of America’s governing powers “decidedly bellicose attitude.” Another reading into the prediction was that the author uses “clash of arms” and says that there will be no war. While on it’s face this seems to be an incorrect prediction, however, in the context of historical wars like the Civil War or the 100 Years War, a ten week “war” is closer to a “clash of arms” than a full-scale war like the one that would take place 16 years later. Therefore, I contend that this prediction was somewhat accurate. But I’ll let you decide for yourself.


A War Map of the Stars from the Washington Times, April 10, 1898

WAR SIGNS IN THE STARS

Our Country’s Horoscope Says There Will Be Peace

The oldest of sciences is probably astrology. No other can boast such an illustrious list of names among its believers and exponents. It was the favorite study among the Egyptian priests in the days of Pharaoh and Rameses; we are told that Moses taught and professed it, independently of the gift of prophecy.

Solomon did not consider himself too wise to learn from the astrologers, and David owed his escape from Saul, at the time when the latter was coming to besieger him in Keilal, to their advice. The Magi, or wise men, of the Persians were astrologers, and the remarkable future which the science foretold for the youthful Mohammed (which was fully realized) made it a religious institution among the followers of the prophet of Mecca.

So much for the past of astrology. Most persons, no doubt, believe that is to-day an obsolete science. Such is not the case. There are at present in New York City nearly a dozen astrologers, soothsayers, star readers of horoscope casters, as they variously elect to call themselves. There are others scattered about in various parts of the country, and altogether the profession seems to be in a flourishing and prosperous condition.

It certainly is not without its devotees. The headquarters of the best-known New York astrologer is located in one of the Park row skyscrapers. This seer occupies a suite of offices equipped with desks, typewriters, telephone and all the paraphernalia of the modern business establishment. A procession of clients keeps this astrologer busy all day long.

Astor, for this is the astrologer’s name, does not look like an exponent of ancient occultism. He has a business-like manner and might easily be mistaken for a broker or a lawyer. There is no suggestion of hidden mysteries about his workshop; everything is plain, modern, and commonplace.

The spectacle afforded by the seer dictating the mystic lore of 5000 years ago to a modern graphophone may seem trifle incongruous, but it merely goes to show that astrology, as practiced at the present time, is strictly up to date.

One of the business uses to which his skill is put was shown by the recent city election in Philadelphia. One of the candidates for the City Council was a Mr. Byram. On looking over the ground, after his nomination, Bryam made up his mind that the chances were against his election. He decided to work a new wrinkle. So he called in the services of astrology, and during the remainder of the campaign his actions were under the constant direction of the planets favorable to his cause. Bryam was elected. The politicians of the Quaker city were willing to fight such ordinary evices as jobs, deals and combinations, but when it came to bucking against the stars in their courses they gave up the battle.

With this imposing array of precedents, from Moses of Palestine to Byram of Philadelphia, it is interesting to know what answer astrology gives to the absorbing question of the day: Will there be war between Spain and the United States? This problem was present for consideration of Astor a few days ago.

After carefully studying the existing astrological situation the prophet constructed the accompanying “war map,” which clearly proves to the initiated that, while there is considerable vexatious trouble in store for Spain and the United States, which may lead even to a “clash of arms,” there will be no war.

To those who are not familiar with the symbols of astrology the diagram may seem a trifle obscure, and a word or two of explanation is necessary.

Briefly, the astrologer bases his predictions on the positions which the different planets occupy at a given time in the belt of the Zodiac. Each of the planets indicates a certain tendency which may be favorable or otherwise. Likewise each of the twelve signs of the Zodiac relates to certain subjects. When the relations and influences of the different members of the two groups are known the prediction becomes a comparatively simple matter.

The reckoning is made from the sign Aries, which stands, in the present instance, for the United States. Spain is represented by Gemini, which, in spite of some disturbance, is governed by distinctly peaceful influences. This indicates that Spain, however she may bluster, is really anxious to preserve peace, and will endeavor to do so. The governing powers of the United States on the the other hand, are symbolized by Capricornus, which has at present a decidedly bellicose attitude, with Mars in the ascendant.



Emancipation Day by Mrs. Mary E. Kail
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Below is a poem I found on Chronicling America last week and I’ll be reciting this poem later today at the 148th annual celebration of Emancipation Day.


Emancipation Day by Mrs. Mary E. Kail

EMANCIPATION DAY BY MRS. MARY E. KAIL

Originally read by Milton Holland at the Emancipation Banquet, Washington, DC April 13th, 1883

Sound aloud the trump of freedom,
Let the answering echo ring,
While with liberty commanding,
We our heartfelt tribute bring;
As we gather round Columbia,
Let us scatter on the way
Flowers of love and flowers of trusting,
For Emancipation Day.
Let us pray for benedictions
While we bow in reverence low
At the shrine of noble heroes
Bravely charging on the foe.
Gladly we hear our welcome,
To this feast of Liberty.

Lo, the car of progress moving,
Over all Columbia’s land;
Gifted men are proudly coming
And we take them by the hand–
Men of different race and color,
Yet our peers in soul and brain,
And their names shall soon be sculptured
On the towering dome of fame.

Float aloft the stars of glory,
For we love to tell the story
That is written on the pages
Of Columbia’s record true:
How amid the cannon’s rattle,
And the shot and shell of battle,
Chains of living death were broken
By our gallant boys in blue!

Ah! our soldiers never faltered;
Never heeded they the gloom;
Quailed not when the shock of battle
Seemed the eternal knell of doom;
But with comrades pale and bleeding
Only heard Columbia pleading–
“Wipe away from my escutcheon
Every trace of human woe.
Let my rightful sons and daughters
Of whatever race they be,
Hear the clarion voice of heroes,
Making way for liberty.

Let no cloud of dark oppression,
Linger in Columbia’s sky,
Let the joyful shout of freedom
Rise aloft to God on high!”

Days were dark and fierce the struggle–
Can it be the day is lost?
Came from many an anguished mother,
As she reckoned up the cost,
Of the blood and of the treasure,
Given freely without measure,
As the price of liberty.

But amid the desolation,
Spreading o’er our glorious land
Came the news– Emancipation,
Has been reached– the proclamation,
Far above the cannon’s roar
Sounded loud, o’er hill and valley.
Bells were ringing, hearts were singing
As they never sung before.

For the shackles had been broken,
And four millions souls were free,
That ’till then had never tasted
Of the joys of liberty!
And to-day we gladly greet them,
As we gather ’round to meet them,
And to take them by the hand–
Men whose throbbing souls ignited
At the watch-fires freedom lighted.
Freedom’s altar fires, still burning
Flash and sparkle at each turning,
As the car of progress moving,
Rolls them on to nobler fame.



SENATE TIE ON PROHIBITION – The New York Times, December 20, 1916
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This article discusses the Senate’s actions toward implementing Prohibition in the District of Columbia. I found it rather interesting that the Senators were willing to hold a referendum on Prohibition and let District residents vote for the first time since the 1870s. More importantly, the referendum was to include women, who did not earn the right to vote until the passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution.


SENATE TIE ON PROHIBITION


But Suffrage Wins a Referendum Test Vote, 54 to 15
Special to The New York Times.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19- The first test of prohibition sentiment in the Senate came today when a vote on Senator Underwood’s amendment to Senator Sheppard’s bill providing for a referendum on the establishment of prohibition in the District of Columbia, resulted in a tie, 38 to 38. Immediately before the Senate had gone on record overwhelmingly for at least a limited degree of women suffrage, but voting 54 to 15 to accept an amendment giving the women of the District the right to vote under the terms of the referendum.

According to the Senate rules the tie vote defeated the referendum proposal, but as the Senate was at the time acting in Committee of the Whole, Senator Underwood announced his intention of bringing the amendment up again tomorrow when the bill will be reported by the committee to the Senate. A vote on the bill itself is also expected tomorrow.

The provision for a referendum was generally supported by the opponents of the prohibition movement, and today’s vote was commonly regarded as an accurate gauge of the strength of the prohibition forces. Both advocates and opponents of national prohibition have watched the course of the District prohibition bill in the Senate with increasing interest since the House Committee on Judiciary voted to report favorably the national prohibition amendment.

The two parties were very evenly divided today in the vote on the referendum. Twenty-three Democrats and fifteen Republicans voted in favor of the referendum and twenty Democrats and eighteen Republicans opposed it.

Before the vote was taken an amendment offered by Senator Williams of Mississippi was accepted, permitting women to vote, and inserting property and educational qualifications in the requirements for suffrage on the referendum vote. Senator Jones’s amendment making it possible for residents of the District who are citizens of other States to vote was also accepted.

The vote came unexpectedly after a long afternoon’s debate. As soon as the fate of the referendum was known Senator Underwood attempted to fix a definite time tomorrow at which his amendment could be voted on again by the whole Senate. The move was defeated, and the advocates of the prohibition measure attempted to force an immediate vote on the bill itself. They were forestalled by Senator Stone of Missouri, who made a motion that the Senate go into executive session to consider some appointments recently made by the President. The motion was carried, and the final decision on the Sheppard bill was postponed until tomorrow.


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the New York Times archives and is in the public domain. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



S280 – A Bill To Repeal an Act Entitled ”An Act to Retrocede the County of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, to the State of Virginia” – United States Senate, April 23, 1866
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Within two years of the end of the Civil War, it was realized that Virginia’s retrocession in 1846 was unconstitutional and Senator Benjamin Wade, a Radical Republican introduced a bill to repeal the act:


Page 1 - S280 - A Bill To Repeal an Act Entitled 'An act to retrocede the county of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, to the State of Virginia'
Page 2 - S280 - A Bill To Repeal an Act Entitled 'An act to retrocede the county of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, to the State of Virginia'
Page 3 - S280 - A Bill To Repeal an Act Entitled 'An act to retrocede the county of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, to the State of Virginia'
Page 4 - S280 - A Bill To Repeal an Act Entitled 'An act to retrocede the county of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, to the State of Virginia'
[ Source: Library of Congress ]

Bills and Resolutions
Senate
39th Congress, 1st Session:
April 23, 1866

Mr. Wade asked, and by unanimous consent obtained, leave to bring in the following bill; which was read twice, referred to the Committee on the District of Columbia, and ordered to be printed.

A Bill To repeal an act entitled ”An act to retrocede the county of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, to the State of Virginia,” and for other purposes.

Whereas the Constitution of the United States provides that Congress ”shall exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of government of the United States;” and whereas by an act of Congress approved July sixteenth, anno Domini seventeen hundred and ninety, ten miles square of territory was accepted from the States of Maryland and Virginia, as the permanent seat of government, constituting what was subsequently known as the District of Columbia, which when so accepted and defined, all jurisdiction over the same was, by the Constitution, forever vested in Congress, whose duty it was then, and forever after, to preserve unviolated and free from all control whatsoever, save that of Congress; and whereas experience derived from the recent rebellion, has demonstrated the wisdom of preserving such ten miles square under the exclusive control of Congress, both for military and civil purposes, and for the defense of the capital; and whereas, by an act of Congress approved July ninth, anno Domini eighteen hundred and forty-six, that portion of said ten miles square lying south of the Potomac was ceded back to the State of Virginia, in violation of the intent and meaning of the Constitution of the United States, and to the great peril of the capital as aforesaid: Therefore,

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the act of Congress approved July ninth, anno Domini eighteen hundred and forty-six, retroceding to the State of Virginia that portion of the district ten miles square, as provided by the Constitution, known as the District of Columbia, be, and the same is hereby, henceforth and forever repealed and declared null and void, and that the jurisdiction of Congress, and the laws provided for the District of Columbia be, and the same hereby, put in force, as same as if said act of retrocession had never been passed.

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That private and personal property shall not be affected by this act, so far as the rights of parties are concerned; and all public property whereof the United States were possessed at the time of the retrocession of said portion of the District of Columbia to the State of Virginia shall, from and after the passage of this act, be vested in the United States government, any law, act, or conveyance to the contrary notwithstanding, and the government, through its proper officials, is hereby authorized to acquire, by purchase or otherwise, any and all further property, real or personal, in said portion of the District of Columbia, as may be deemed necessary for public use.

Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That all suits and actions at law, civil or criminal, shall from and after the passage of this act be conducted and determined according to the laws, rules, and regulations enacted and provided by Congress for the District of Columbia, excepting causes wherein final judgment, decree, or sentence shall have been pronounced or passed; in such cases the final satisfaction of such judgments or decrees will be in accordance with the laws in force in the State of Virginia. But all causes wherein final judgment or decree shall not have been passed or pronounced, shall be in future conducted and determined as provided by this act.

Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That all taxes and revenues assessable and collectible on property, real or personal, in said portion of the District of Columbia south of the Potomac, shall from and after the passage of this act, be rated, collected, and applied according to the existing or future laws of Congress governing the District of Columbia.

Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That from and after the passage of this act all civil offices in the said portion of the District of Columbia south of the Potomac, in the city of Alexandria and what is known as the county of Alexandria, shall be declared vacant; and the vacancies so created shall be filled by new appointments or elections, to be made and held under the laws, regulations, and qualifications provided by Congress for elections and electors in the District of Columbia.

Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That this act shall be in force from and after its passage.



How the Scythians Used Hemp – Paragraphs 73-75 from Book 4 of The Histories of Herodotus [circa 440 BC]
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The Histories of Herodotus is considered one of the influential works of history in Western literature. Written from the 450s to the 420s BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that were known around the Mediterranean and Western Asia at that time. These paragraphs are about the Scythians, who were an Ancient Iranian people of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who throughout Classical Antiquity dominated the Pontic-Caspian steppe in present day Kazakhstan, southern Russia, and Ukraine. Below is how the Scythians used hemp about 2,450 years ago:


73. Thus they bury their kings; but as for the other Scythians, when they die their nearest relations carry them round laid in wagons to their friends in succession; and of them each one when he receives the body entertains those who accompany it, and before the corpse they serve up of all things about the same quantity as before the others. Thus private persons are carried about for forty days, and then they are buried: and after burying them the Scythians cleanse themselves in the following way:–they soap their heads and wash them well, and then, for their body, they set up three stakes leaning towards one another and about them they stretch woolen felt coverings, and when they have closed them as much as possible they throw stones heated red-hot into a basin placed in the middle of the stakes and the felt coverings. 73. [1] οὕτω μὲν τοὺς βασιλέας θάπτουσι· τοὺς δὲ ἄλλους Σκύθας, ἐπεὰν ἀποθάνωσι, περιάγουσι οἱ ἀγχοτάτω προσήκοντες κατὰ τοὺς φίλους ἐν ἀμάξῃσι κειμένους. τῶν δὲ ἕκαστος ὑποδεκόμενος εὐωχέει τοὺς ἑπομένους, καὶ τῷ νεκρῷ ἁπάντων παραπλησίως παρατίθησι ὅσα τοῖσι ἄλλοισι. ἡμέρας δὲ τεσσεράκοντα οὕτω οἱ ἰδιῶται περιάγονται, ἔπειτα θάπτονται. [2] θάψαντες δὲ οἱ Σκύψαι καθαίρονται τρόπῳ τοιῷδε. σμησάμενοι τὰς κεφαλὰς καὶ ἐκπλυνάμενοι ποιεῦσι περὶ τὸ σῶμα τάδε ἐπεὰν ξύλα στήσωσι τρία ἐς ἄλληλα κεκλιμένα, περὶ ταῦτα πίλους εἰρινέους περιτείνουσι, συμφράξαντες δὲ ὡς μάλιστα λίθους ἐκ πυρὸς διαφανέας ἐσβάλλουσι ἐς σκάφην κειμένην ἐν μέσῳ τῶν ξύλων τε καὶ τῶν πίλων.


74. Now they have hemp growing in their land, which is very like flax except in thickness and in height, for in these respects the hemp is much superior. This grows both of itself and with cultivation; and of it the Thracians even make garments, which are very like those made of flaxen thread, so that he who was not specially conversant with it would not be able to decide whether the garments were of flax or of hemp; and he who had not before seen stuff woven of hemp would suppose that the garment was made of flax. 74. [1] ἔστι δέ σφι κάνναβις φυομένη ἐν τῇ χώρῃ πλὴν παχύτητος καὶ μεγάθεος τῷ λίνῳ ἐμφερεστάτη· ταύτῃ δὲ πολλῷ ὑπερφέρει ἡ κάνναβις. αὕτη καὶ αὐτομάτη καὶ σπειρομένη φύεται, καὶ ἐξ αὐτῆς Θρήικες μὲν καὶ εἵματα ποιεῦνται τοῖσι λινέοισι ὁμοιότατα· οὐδ᾽ ἄν, ὅστις μὴ κάρτα τρίβων εἴη αὐτῆς, διαγνοίη λίνου ἢ καννάβιος ἐστί· ὃς δὲ μὴ εἶδε κω τὴν κανναβίδα, λίνεον δοκήσει εἶναι τὸ εἷμα.


75. The Scythians then take the seed of this hemp and creep under the felt coverings, and then they throw the seed upon the stones which have been heated red-hot: and it burns like incense and produces a vapour so think that no vapour-bath in Hellas would surpass it: and the Scythians being delighted with the vapour-bath howl like wolves. This is to them instead of washing, for in fact they do not wash their bodies at all in water. Their women however pound with a rough stone the wood of the cypress and cedar and frankincense tree, pouring in water with it, and then with this pounded stuff, which is thick, they plaster over all their body and also their face; and not only does a sweet smell attach to them by reason of this, but also when they take off the plaster on the next day, their skin is clean and shining.

75. [1] ταύτης ὦν οἱ Σκύθαι τῆς καννάβιος τὸ σπέρμα ἐπεὰν λάβωσι, ὑποδύνουσι ὑπὸ τοὺς πίλους, καὶ ἔπειτα ἐπιβάλλουσι τὸ σπέρμα ἐπὶ τοὺς διαφανέας λίθους τῷ πυρί· τὸ δὲ θυμιᾶται ἐπιβαλλόμενον καὶ ἀτμίδα παρέχεται τοσαύτην ὥστε Ἑλληνικὴ οὐδεμία ἄν μιν πυρίη ἀποκρατήσειε. [2] οἱ δὲ Σκύθαι ἀγάμενοι τῇ πυρίῃ ὠρύονται. τοῦτό σφι ἀντὶ λουτροῦ ἐστι. οὐ γὰρ δὴ λούονται ὕδατι τὸ παράπαν τὸ σῶμα. [3] αἱ δὲ γυναῖκες αὐτῶν ὕδωρ παραχέουσαι κατασώχουσι περὶ λίθον τρηχὺν τῆς κυπαρίσσου καὶ κέδρου καὶ λιβάνου ξύλου, καὶ ἔπειτα τὸ κατασωχόμενον τοῦτο παχὺ ἐὸν καταπλάσσονται πᾶν τὸ σῶμα καὶ τὸ πρόσωπον· καὶ ἅμα μὲν εὐωδίη σφέας ἀπὸ τούτου ἴσχει, ἅμα δὲ ἀπαιρέουσαι τῇ δευτέρη ἡμέρῃ τὴν καταπλαστὺν γίνονται καθαραὶ καὶ λαμπραί. 


[ source ]



TO MAKE A STATE OF DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA – The New York Times, December 14, 1902
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TO MAKE A STATE OF DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


Mass Meeting of Residents Indorses the Scheme.


Argument For And Against Admission to the Union– The President and New Mexico’s Delegation


Special to The New York Times.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13- A little byplay for the advocates of statehood and their opponents is promised before the contest in the Senate is entirely over. Senator Gallinger, who has espoused the side of Senator Quay and the admission of the three Territories that are demanding to become States, has, as Chairman of the District Committee, introduced a resolution to amend the Constitution and make a State out of the District of Columbia.

The idea has taken with many of the people of Washington, and meetings are being held to discuss the prospect seriously. Last night a mass meeting was held at Brightwood, one of the largest suburbs of the city, and the Gallinger resolution was unanimously indorsed, but with a suggestion that there be a limitation on the suffrage.

The meeting was attended by many of the prominent and wealthy citizens of the District. Pressure is being brought to bear on Senator Gallinger to offer an amendment to the Statehood bill looking to the admission of the District as a State.

So far as population goes, Washington and the District have a good claim to admission. Delaware, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming all rank below the District in population. In point of intelligence and prosperity, so long as the Government stays here, there will be little doubt on that score.

The presence of a large negro vote and dubious jurisdiction involved in being the neutral ceded ground on which the Federal city is placed have been the chief difficulties in the way of giving the district any political status. The courts have uniformly held that the district in its political character is unlike any other principality on earth, and more nearly resembles the Bishopric of Durham than anything else.

Delegate Rodey of New Mexico led a large delegation of his constituents to the White House to-day to urge on the President the claims of the three Territories to admission into the Union.

The New Mexicans came away not entirely satisfied with the President’s manner in receiving their arguments. He was cordial and treated his callers with all possible consideration, but he did not promise he would help them to pass the Statehood bill. This was what they wanted and anything less than this seemed inhospitable.

Senator Beveridge also had a talk with the President about the bill, and when he came away from the White House said he could not make any comment on what the President had said to him, but he was more than ever confident of the defeat of the Tri-State bill. Beveridge says that Senator Quay has claimed too many votes and cannot muster a majority.


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the New York Times archives and is in the public domain. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



The Strange Narcotics Used in Asia and South America – The New York Sun, February 8th, 1880
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This text is from a longer article about global drug use that was first printed 130 years ago. Since I have been working on DC’s medical cannabis legislation, I have found it very interesting to research the historical uses of cannabis and to see how it was written about before the “reefer madness” of the 1930’s. What I found most interesting is that today’s marijuana was then called “Indian hemp.” I have added a few notes in [brackets] as well as hyperlinks.


The Strange Narcotics Used in Asia and South America

The New York Sun, February 8, 1880

One of the earliest attempts to expand the popular acquaintances with the practical lessons of chemical science was made in Jonhsons’s Chemistry of Common Life, first published twenty-five years ago [in 1855]. The progress of inquiry since that epoch has rendered a new edition of the book desirable, and the work of revision and addition has been carefully performed by Mr. A. H. Church in the volume now issued by the Appletons. Mr. Church is himself favorably known as the author of several lucid and trustworthy handbooks on topics relating to the applications of chemistry, and in the portions here contributed by himself he has striven, not unsuccessfully, to emulate the cogency of method and simplicity of style which distinguished the original treatise. His additions comprise some valuable matter which had been gleaned by Prof. Johnston and inserted in that writer’s private copy of the first edition. Altogether, the book, in its present form, deserves to maintain its old preeminence as a readable exposition of the main uses of chemistry in the daily life of man. Of peculiar interest will be found the chapters which discuss the effect of the various narcotics, including opium, tobacco, Indian hemp, the betel nut, the coca leaf, the red thornapple, and the Siberian fungus. Some of the data relating to the least familiar of these narcotising agents deserve particular attention.

Few persons appreciate to what extent certain races are addicted to forms of narcotic indulgence with which Anglo-Saxons are almost wholly unacquainted. According to the work before us, the use of Indian hemp obtains among upwards of 200,000,000 of human beings, dispersed over a large part of the earth, viz. in Persia, India, and Turkey, throughout the whole continent of Africa, from Morocco to the Cape of Good Hope, and even in Brazil. One hundred millions of men in China, Hindostan, and the Eastern Archipelago consume, for the same narcotic purpose, the betel nut and betel pepper. Again, the chewing of coca is more or less practised among some 10,000,000 of the human race.

As regards the first named of these agents, Indian hemp, it seems at first sight curious that the narcotic properties of hemp should never have obtained popular recognition in southern Europe, when we consider that our common plant [Cannabis sativa], so extensively cultivated for its fibre, differs in no essential feature from the Indian variety [Cannabis indica] which, from the remotest times, has been celebrated in the East for its care-dispelling virtues.

In northern climates, however, the peculiar resinous substance residing in the sap is so small that it would naturally escape observation. Yet even in such latitudes the growing plant emits a peculiar smell, which sometimes occasions headache and giddiness in those who remain long in the field.

In parts of India resinous exudation is so abundant that it may be gathered by the hand in the same way as opium. The resin obtained this way is the most highly prized, and is known as the chorrus. It appears that that even the tops and tender parts of the plant, when dried, are powerful narcotic agents, but the seeds, it said, are not used for this purpose.

The preparation known as hashish in Syria is made by boiling the leaves and flowers of the hemp with water, to which a certain quantity of butter has been added, and evaporating and straining the decoction. The butter thus becomes charged with the active resinous principle of the plant, and acquires a greenish color. It is apt to have rancid taste, and hence is commonly mixed with sweetmeats and aromatics, so as to form a sort of electuary. One of these confections used among the Moors is called el mogen(?), and is sold at an enormous price; another is well known at Constantinople under the name of madjoun, and is reputed to possess aphrodisiac powers.

The dried plant is also smoked, and sometimes chewed, five or ten grains reduced to powder being mixed with tobacco in a pipe or narghile. The pure resin and resinous extract are generally swallowed in the form of pills or boluses.

In one or other of these forms the hemp plant appears to have been used from very early times. Herodotus, for instance, tells us that ancient Scythians excited themselves by inhaling its vapor. The potion which Homer makes Helen administer to Telemachus was prepared from a plant said to have been procured from Thebes in Egypt, where, there is reason to believe, a knowledge of the qualities of hemp existed as early as the eighteenth dynasty (1700 B.C.).

There is no doubt that hemp is often mentioned under the name of beng in the “Arabian Nights;” we may add that the derivation of the English word assassin from the hasisheens, or the hemp-eating followers of the Old Man of the Mountain, seems to be generally acknowledged.

The effects of the churrus, or natual resinous exudation, have been carefully studied in India by competent physicians. We are told that when taken in moderation, it produces increase of appetite and great mental cheerfulness, while, in excess, it causes a extraordinary kind of delirium and catalepsy. In the latter case, limbs of the patient can be placed in every imaginable attitude, and they will remain perfectly stationary in violation of the laws of gravity, the brain, meanwhile, being almost insensible to impressions from without.

It has been proved also by experiment that the hemp extract exercises the same extraordinary influence upon other animals as as well as upon man, and it is believed that the wonderful feats of the Indian Fakirs and snake charmers of India should, in many cases, be explained by their employment of this agent. It appears that after the cataleptic trance has passed, the patient is left entirely uninjured.

In general, indeed, the effects of hemp upon the human system are pronounced less deleterious than those of opium. Hemp does not lessen, but rather excites appetite. Moreover, it does not occasion nausea, constipation, dryness of the tongue, or the lessening of any of the secretions, and is not usually followed by that melancholy state of mental depression to which the opium eater is subject. It appears, however, that a long and gradual training to its use is requisite before its agreeable effects can be fully experienced; it is affirmed, also, that the remarkable cataleptic state above described has never been produced in a European.


Click here to continue reading the article on Chronicling America.



Advertisement for the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West at Athletic Park in Washington, DC – National Republican, June 20th, 1885
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Advertisement for the Buffalo Bill's Wild West at Athletic Park in Washington, DC - National Republican, June 20th, 1885

Following up on the previous two advertisements for events at Athletic Park, is this advertisement for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. I first learned of William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody when I was a child as we drove through the town he founded, Cody, Wyoming, while en route to Yellowstone National Park. I bet this show would be have been a lot of fun to watch.



Advertisement for Adam Forepaugh’s Circus in Athletic Park, Washington, DC – The National Republican, April 11, 1885
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Advertisement for Adam Forepaugh's Circus in Athletic Park, Washington, DC - The National Republican, April 11, 1885

Following up on yesterday’s advertisement for the Barnum and London Circus, is this advertisement for Adam Forepaugh’s circus appeared in the same newspaper about one year later.

According to Wikipedia:

Forepaugh was different from most of his fellow circus operators at the time. Already independently wealthy when he entered the circus business, he was much less a showman and much more a businessman — a stark contrast to P. T. Barnum and the Ringling Brothers. He was intimately involved in all aspects of the circus business. He would regularly seat himself at the main entrance into the circus, making sure his face was seen by all. Through the 1870’s and into the 1880’s, Forepaugh and P. T. Barnum had the two largest circuses in the nation. Forepaugh actually had more animals than Barnum and generally paid higher salaries to the much-favored European talent. The two men constantly fought each other over rights to perform in the most-favored venues.

They signed truces in 1882, 1884, and 1887, dividing the country into exclusive territories to avoid disputes. But at least twice, they decided to pool their resources and perform together. In 1880, Forepaugh and Barnum combined their shows for a Philadelphia engagement. In 1887, Forepaugh obtained permission to perform in Madison Square Garden, a venue that Barnum considered to be exclusively his. A compromise was negotiated, and once again the two circuses presented a combined performance.

In 1889, Forepaugh sold his circus acts to James A. Bailey and James E. Cooper and he sold his railroad cars to the Ringling Brothers. The Ringlings used the equipment to transform their circus from a small animal-powered production to a huge rail-powered behemoth, which later purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus. Thus, in liquidating his circus assets, he indirectly contributed to the demise of his arch-rival.

Its probably safe to assume that they also competed to secure the use of Athletic Park in Washington, DC as well.





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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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