We are laying the foundations of a government, which we hope may outlast the Pyramids.
It is impossible, in my mind, to distinguish between the refusal to receive a petition, or its summary rejection by some general order, and the denial of the right of petition.
These our great natural rights we keep to ourselves; we will not have them tampered with; respecting them we give to you no commission whatsoever.
Men of New England, I hold you to the doctrines of liberty which ye inherit from your Puritan forefathers.
The right of petition, I have said, was not conferred on the People by the Constitution, but was a pre-existing right, reserved by the People out of the grants of power made to Congress.
Men of Virginia, countrymen of Washington, of Patrick Henry, of Jefferson, and of Madison, will ye be true to your constitutional faith?
The right of petition is an old undoubted household right of the blood of England, which runs in our veins.
This Republic was called into being, organized, and is upheld, by a great political doctrine.
I declare and protest in advance, that I do not intend, at this time at least; to be drawn or driven into the question of slavery, in either of its subdivisions or forms.
The Normans came over, lance in hand, burning and trampling down every thing before them, and cutting off the Saxon dynasty and the Saxon nobles at the edge of the sword; but the right of petition remained untouched.
You well know, sir, that when the Constitution was submitted to the People of the respective States for their adoption or rejection, it awakened the warmest debates of the several State conventions.
Entertaining these opinions of the course to be pursued, I beg of gentlemen to look at the question, as I have done, in a calm review of facts and of principles.
The winged words uttered in this House have gone forth to the world, on their mission of good or of evil.
Here, again, as I conceive, gentlemen forget that this government is a republican one, resting exclusively in the intelligence and virtue of the People.
I maintain that the House is bound by the Constitution to receive the petitions; after which, it will take such method of deciding upon them as reason and principle shall dictate.
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