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Robert Green Ingersoll
POLITICAL MORALITY. THE room of the House Committee on Elections was crowded this morning with committeemen and spectators to listen to an argument by Col. Robert G. Ingersoll in the contested election case of Strobach against Herbert, of the IId Alabama district. Colonel Ingersoll appeared for Strobach, the contestant. While most of his argument was devoted to the dry details of the testimony, he entered into some discussion of the general principles involved in contested election cases, and spoke with great eloquence and force. In part he said: Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 20 POLITICAL MORALITY. The mere personal controversy, as between Herbert and Strobach, is not worth talking about. It is a question as to whether or not the republican system is a failure. Unless the will of the majority can be ascertained, and surely ascertained, through the medium of the ballot, the foundation of this Government rests upon nothing -- the Government ceases to be. I would a thousand time rather a Democrat should come to Congress from this district, or from any district, than that a Republican Should come who was not honestly elected. I would a thousand times rather that this country should honestly go to destruction than dishonestly and fraudulently go anywhere. We want it settled whether this form of government is or is not a failure. That is the real question, and it is the question at issue in every one of these cases. Has Congress power and has Congress the sense to say to-day, that no man shall sit as a maker of laws for the people who has not been honestly elected? Whenever you admit a man to Congress and allow him to vote and make laws, and there is any doubt as to his title, you poison the source of justice -- you poison the source of power; and the moment the people begin to think that many members of Congress are there through fraud, that moment they cease to have respect for the legislative department of this Government -- that moment they cease to have respect for the sovereignty of the people represented by fraud. Now, as I have said, I care nothing about the personal part of it, and, maybe you will not believe me, but I care nothing about the political part. The question is, Who has the right on his side? Who is honestly entitled to this seat? That is infinitely more important than any personal or party question. My doctrine is that a majority of the people must control -- that we have in this country a king, that we have in this country a sovereign, just as truly as they can have in any other, and, as a matter of fact, a republic is the only country that does in truth have a sovereign, and that sovereign is the legally expressed will of the people. So that any man that puts in a fraudulent vote is a traitor to that sovereign; any man that knowingly counts an illegal vote is a traitor to that sovereign, and is not fit to be a citizen of the great Republic. Any man who fraudulently throws out a vote, knowing it to be a legal vote, tampers with the source of power, and is, in fact, false to our institutions. Now, these are the questions to be decided, and I want them decided, not because this case happens to come from the South any more than if it came from the North. It is a matter that concerns the whole country. We must decide it. There must be a law on the subject. We have got to lay down a stringent rule that shall apply to these cases. There should be -- there must be -- such a thing as political morality so far as voting is concerned. New York Tribune, May 13, 1882. **** **** Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. **** **** Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 21
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