The More Things Change?

“Where are we to stop?  I ask, in God’s name, where are we to stop?  We have been plunged into this condition by the President of the United States, not by the people of the country.  It has been done by the President, not under the recommendation of General Taylor, but under his own stern, stubborn obstinate will.  Where, I repeat, are we to stop?  It is easy to plunge a country into war.  A weak, ambitious, imbecile President, by a single stroke of the pen, may get us into a long, expensive, ruinous war; but it demands all the sagacity, all the wisdom, all the true-hearted patriotism of the country to get us out of it.  The incendiary may set fire to our building, but it requires a multitude, with well-directed efforts to extinguish it.

“The President may hurl his country almost over the precipice; but it requires all the patriotism of all our wisest and best statesmen to save it.  I trust in God it will be saved.  Our only reliance is on the public virtue of the nation.  If that is not exercised, and exercised speedily, I cannot but foresee a dark and gloomy fate for the country.”

Oh, wait … this was written back in 1848.  About President James K. Polk, who had led the country into the Mexican-American War.  The ‘General Taylor’ mentioned was to become Polk’s successor in office: Zachary Taylor.

You can read the quote in context in Speech of Mr. R.W. Thompson, of Indiana, made during the debate on the bill to supply the deficiency of appropriations for the year ending June 30, 1848. Washington : Printed by J. & G.S. Gideon, 1848.  (in our Pamphlet Volume # 880)

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Published in: on 7 August 2007 at 8:56 pm  Comments (1)