A most extraordinary plea (says the Richmond Republican) is set up for Johnsonand Leake’s vote against the Irish Relief Bill. It is, that they could not vote for it on account of its unconstitutionality. How happened it, then, that a large majority of the Democratic Senate voted for it, and that Democrats in the House, headed by Douglass, (the most pominent Democratic name now connected with the next Presidency,) voted for it? How happened that John C. Calhoun considered it constitutional?
This plea will not avail Johnsonat the bar of humanity. Irishmen, whose friends perished for want of the aid which would have been secured them by this bill, will not see the force of such cold-blooded sophistry. The government had extended aid to other nations, whose sufferings did not equal or approach those of Ireland. Why not to her? Her distress was so great that even the British Parliament could not turn a deaf ear to her complaints. Was it to be expected that an American Congress should not be equally compassionate? Irishmen have been conspicuous, from the beginning of our existence as a nation, in their services to this country. They had formed a large portion of our armies and navies in every war which we have ever fought. Their bones have covered every field, from the borders of Canada to the gates of Mexico. Their labor has raised up our cities, towns and works of public improvement. There is not a canal in the United States, nor a railroad, which has not been principally built by Irishmen. Their people at home have ever regarded our own with the most ardent enthusiasm, and have cheered us on in all our struggles from the Cradle of Liberty up to the hour of its matured and manly strength. Yet, when this people, already ground to the earth by oppression and poverty, were visited by a horrible famine; when whole families and whole communities perished from absolute starvation; when the whole island had become little better than a charnel house — JOHNSON and LEAKE refused to extend the aid of this government to these dying friends of our country, because they did not consider it constitutional! Constitutional? It may not have been in their Constitution, but that it was in the Constitution of the Country, as it is in the constitution of human nature, we call upon Calhoun, Douglass, and a host of other Democrats as well as Whigs, to bear witness.
And it is these men — Johnsonand Leake — who could not permit this country to give Ireland bread, who now come to ask Irishmen to give them votes! We again desire Irishmen to say whether it is in accordance with the Constitution of Irish human nature to pay Messrs. Johnson and Leake by Irish votes for the good they did Ireland in Congress? On the contrary, ought they not to be taught a lesson or two in humanity and in comprehensive statesmanship? It is quite possible that Ireland may again need the assistance of the various States of this Union, as well as of Congress. And shall Irishmen sanction by their votes such narrow and contracted views of national duty as those exhibited by Johnson and Leake, so as to exalt these views into precedents, and hereafter prevent the United States and prevent Virginia from extending aid to their suffering countrymen? Suppose that the Irishmen of Virginia should vote for Johnson and Leake — might it not be urged that the Irishmen of this country have endorsed the course of Johnson and Leake to their country, and that even they do not consider it constitutional for the United States to relieve Ireland from famine? And should the friends of Ireland, thus repelled from the halls of Congress, call upon Virginia for aid, can we expect the influence of Johnson and Leake in favor of any legislation for Ireland? May they not declare that they can find no warrant in the Virginia Constitution for appropriating money to save men from famine? Of course no one could expect or would desire them to violate their sense of constitutional duty, but is it not the best way to keep them where their narrow scruples can do no harm?
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