Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Okay, you are revealing the selfishness and inhumanity of that
....or, the citizen who asked to pick the pocket of the other
citizens, at gunpoint, might be the "selfish" one?
"Mr. Speaker -- I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as
much sympathy for the sufferings of the living, if suffering there be, as any man
in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for
a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of
the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power
to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor
knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money
as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so
to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been
made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker,
the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of
his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him.
This government can owe no debts but for services rendered, and at a
stipulated price. If it is a debt, how much is it? Has it been audited, and
the amount due ascertained? If it is a debt, this is not the place to present it
for payment, or to have its merits examined. If it is a debt, we owe more than we
can ever hope to pay, for we owe the widow of every soldier who fought in the War
of 1812 precisely the same amount. There is a woman in my neighborhood, the widow
of as gallant a man as ever shouldered a musket. He fell in battle. She is as good
in every respect as this lady, and is as poor. She is earning her daily bread by
her daily labor; but if I were to introduce a bill to appropriate five or
ten thousand dollars for her benefit, I should be laughed at, and my bill would
not get five votes in this House. There are thousands of widows in the country
just such as the one I have spoken of, but we never hear of any of these large
debts to them. Sir, this is no debt. The government did not owe it to the
deceased when he was alive; it could not contract it after he died. I do not wish
to be rude, but I must be plain. Every man in this House knows it is not a debt.
We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment
of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity.
Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much of our own money as
we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but
I will give one week's pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do
the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks."
[quote] Davy Crockett, quoted in "The Life of Colonel David Crockett" by
E S Ellis
https://tinyurl.com/Congress-Crockett-Speech resolvesd to
`Tis a famous speech, among those who esteem a _limited_ government.