Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> Speech on the Justice of Receiving Petitions for the Abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia >> Page 16

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Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 16
and by so doing he might facilitate the business of the
I listened, sir, with much pleasure to the address of
the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Cushing) who
presented this petition, and I believe I can say that I
concur in every principle which he laid down. I am
sure that he cannot have a greater regard for the right
of petition than I entertain. But, really, I cannot see
what the discussion of that right can have to do with
the question before the House.
No one here desires to " pass a law " depriving " the
people of the right of peaceably assembling, and peti-
tioning for a redress of grievances." They have so as-
sembled. They have petitioned for the redress of their
imaginary grievances. The petition has been present-
ed to the House. Its contents have been stated. If
it had been requested, the petition itself might have
been read by the Clerk. We are, sir, in full possession
of its character and object the petitioners and their
representatives having performed their part without
" let or hindrance ; " and it is now our duty to perform
that which devolves on us. We may refuse to receive
the petition, and record the refusal on our journals ;
or we may receive and instantly reject ; or commit, and,
on a report, reject the prayer of the petitioners ; or we
may grant their prayer. Any of these courses it is
fully competent for this House to adopt ; and none of
them, in my opinion, impugn in the slightest degree
the right of petition which has been so justly denomi-
nated " sacred."
I think, sir, that this House should not receive the
petition, and that is the course which I suggest. The
gentleman says it is not disrespectful in its terms. I