Page:Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1892).djvu/666

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
658
ADDRESS AT LINCOLN HALL.

Inasmuch as the law in question is a law in favor of liberty and justice, it ought to have had the benefit of any doubt which could arise as to its strict constitutionality. This, I believe, will be the view taken of it, not only by laymen like myself, but by eminent lawyers as well.

All men who have given any thought to the machinery, structure, and practical operation of our government, must have recognized the importance of absolute harmony between its various departments and their respective powers and duties. They must have seen clearly the mischievous tendency and danger to the body politic of any antagonisms between any of its various branches. To feel the force of this thought, we have only to remember the history of the administration of President Johnson, and the conflict which took place between the national Executive and the national Congress, when the will of the people was again and again met by the Executive veto, and when the country seemed upon the verge of another revolution. No patriot, however bold, can wish for his country a repetition of those gloomy days.

Now let me say here, before I go on a step or two further in this discussion, that if any man has come here to-night with his breast heaving with passion, his heart flooded with acrimony, and wishing and expecting to hear violent denunciation of the Supreme Court on account of this decision, he has mistaken the object of this meeting and the character of the men by whom it is called.

We neither come to bury Caesar nor to praise him. The Supreme Court is the autocratic point in our government. No monarch in Europe has a power more absolute over the laws, lives, and liberties of his people than that court has over our laws, lives and liberties-