Saturday, February 1, 2014

Security or Liberty? The more things change; the more they stay the same. US Congress January 1814

Robert Wright (1752-1826)
Senator, Governor, Congressman, Judge
Artist: Wightman, J. Pinkney (1896)
Maryland State Archives MSA #:MSA SC 1545-1007
Location : Legislative Services Building, Maryland

The following remarks on Wright's Resolution, in the House of Representatives of the U. S.  to suspend the right of trial by jury, and to substitute Martial Law in lieu thereof, are copied from the Ev. Post.[1]   

               Martial Law . — In a paroxism [sic] some of rage and madness at the disappointment they have met, with in their attempts to carry on a war against the opinions and feelings of the people in a great and powerful section of the union, the administration have [sic] had the desperate hardihood to propose, by one of their leading members in Congress, to tear from the citizens of this country the right to trial by Jury.   This right, on which more perhaps than on any other, depend the lasting existence of a free government; this right, sacredly securing to the citizen in all criminal cases by the Constitution, has been vitally attacked on the floor of Congress, and an attempt made to deprive the accused of it under the awful charge of HIGH TREASON itself; a charge the most heinous that can arise between the government and the citizens, involving life, death and confiscation. Yes, fellow-citizens, governor Wright of Maryland[2], one of the leading members on the side of the administration, has brought forward a formal resolution to extend the rules and articles of war two spies, to all the Citizens of the United States.  This, if adopted, will expose every man residing near a camp, to the bloody vengeance of any villian [sic]  who may happen to be commander in chief. If only to corrupt wretches can be found to charge the most respectable citizen who may happen to visit a camp, or to live near it, with being a Spy, this commander may seize him in an hour, try him by a hand of subservient officers the next, and the third hang him on the first tree.[3]

[1] Northern Whig; Date: 02-01-1814; Volume: VI; Issue: 5; Page: [2]; Location: Hudson, New York
Transcribed by John peter Thompson, February 1st, 2014.

[2] Robert Wright (1752-1826) MSA SC 3520-1425: Governor of Maryland, 1806-1809 (Democrat) Archives of Maryland (Biographical Series)  []

Military service:
            Private, Captain James Kent's Militia Company, 1776
            Captain, Col. William Richardson's battalion of the Maryland Line, commissioned July 1777,
            mustered out in October 17779
Positions held:
          Admitted to the bar, 1773; lawyer
            Maryland House of Representatives, 1777-1778; 1780, 1784; 1786-1787; 1791-1792
            Maryland Senate, 1801
            U.S. Senator, 1801-1806
            Governor of Maryland, 1806-1809
            Clerk, Queen Anne's County, 1810
Ø  U.S. Representative, 1810-1817, 1821-1823
            Associate Justice, Second District, 1823-1826
[3] The Wright Resolution was referred to the House Committee of the Whole in January 1814 as an Order of the Day for the follwing Friday after the debate; it was never called up and, therefore, never acted upon. Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856: May 24, 1813-March 3, 1817: 1813-1817
Volume 5  

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