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NEWS OF 150 YEARS AGO
November and December of 1859
From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, December 13, 1859.
PROGRESS OF THE WAR UPON ST. LOUIS--IMPENDING SACK AND PILLAGE OF THE CITY.
The savage hatred which the plundering Slave Democracy of St. Louis bear to St. Louis, has at length burst all bounds. Their hoarded vengeance is to be wreaked, it seems, on the devoted Free Soil city this winter. Her righteous representatives treat her as if she were a Sodom or Gomorrah, indeed. To strip her of her chartered immunities, to despoil her of her revenue, to tie her hand and foot and deliver her captive to the Executive, to render her incapable of political action, and to rob her of the priceless jewel of self-government, is the task which these gentlemen have undertaken to accomplish. In their haste to strike her foul blows, the paricides trample on constitutional rights and the sacred principles of political equality and government by the people. Like the Venetian renegade of whom the poet sings, each endeavors to be first in leading the deadly assault upon her honor and welfare, and handing her over to sack and pillage, according to the laws of pirates and brigands.
We presume the readers of the DEMOCRAT have perused the abstract of the bill “to regulate the Police of the City of St. Louis,” which we published yesterday. It is undisguisedly a bill to abolish the city charter, and to substitute for our present form of government a regency of five, with absolute powers. All but one of the regency are to be appointed by the Governor; the citizens of St. Louis are to have no power whatever in placing in office or turning out of office, four of the five. The authority of this junta is to be despotic, in the literal sense of the term. They are to have supreme control over the police and over the fire department; they are to have the privilege of drawing to any extent on the city treasury. Their seal or signature to any bill will constitute that bill a legal debt against the city. There is to be no inquiry permitted as to whether the charge be equitable or not. The city shall pay (such is the language of the act to regulate the police,) whatever sums the junta may choose to debit her with. They are also to have the power of enrolling special policemen; of taking the census, of building and renting houses, and of constructing telegraph lines through the streets. The citizens of St. Louis are to have no more to do with protecting themselves and their property, against the janissaries which are to be set over them, than the semi-serfs of St. Petersburg and Paris.
But we have not yet touched the main-spring of the machine, which is nothing more nor less than the organization of a band of political mercenaries who shall be empowered to put down all freedom of election in this city, by regulation bludgeons and revolvers, and to put down at the same time the right of a community of two hundred thousand to govern themselves. The extirpation of the Free Democracy is the primary object of those who have drawn up the bill, but as that can only be partially effected by invading the right of suffrage and surrounding the polls with armed men, after the method pursued with so much success by the despot of France, the Commissioners are to have the power of appointing judges of election. The minions of the Governor will be thus enabled to elect the ticket most acceptable to them. With their cordons of regular police and special police around the polls, with the Dogberries presiding over the ballot box, the right of voting becomes a mere farce. The regency will nominate every city and county officer, while the elected city government will be nothing but a mere shadow. The world is familiar with the fraud and ruffianism which the National Democracy resort to at elections. That party relies more upon multiple voting, unnaturalized voting, and the importation of squads of strangers, than on the regular constituency. The new police bill is framed for the purpose of inviting fraud, encouraging electioneering vagabondism, in its migrations from Ward to Ward and poll to poll; and stimulating the National Democracy to novel aggressions on the ballot-box, by giving them, in advance, the guarantee that no punishment shall reach them. Taken in connection with the Kribben County Court bill and kindred measures yet on the anvil, it becomes plain that the Slave Democracy, in their antipathy to free institutions, and their greed for plunder, have determined to bury the principle of self-government under the ruins of the ancient chartered privileges of St. Louis. That faction here will readily barter their hollow professions of Democracy for the promised pillage and revenge.
That taxation without representation is tyranny, used to be an American maxim. The abandoned slave Democracy, intent only on the sack and pillage of the city, and the destruction of freedom of election and freedom of expression by voice or pen, are preparing to seize the purse and the civil sword. The regency or junta of five will embody all the plundering propensities of the forty thieves of fable, and all the arbitrary powers of the thirty tyrants of history. The Mayor of St. Louis will be a mere titular functionary something like a Roman Consul in the days of Tiberus, or a Bengal rajah at the present time. His power and that of the Council will consist mainly of the power to levy taxes for the purpose of supplying the Police Commissioners with funds. St. Louis is the only city in the State which is to be deprived of the right of self government; the only city which is cursed with Representatives who betray their constituents, abolishing their corporate privileges, and subjecting them to a quintuple-headed despotism. By the Drake police bill, the citizens of St. Joseph, or of Butler County, on the border of the Arkansas swamps, will have the same power, as an equal number of the citizens of St. Louis in the management of the local affairs of St. Louis. And mark! This is to be done at the suggestion and solicitation of the representatives of St. Louis; of the bogus representatives, who, worse than the bogus mother before Solomon, hack and hew limb from limb, that which they should protect and foster.
We call on the Americans and Whigs in the Legislature to prevent the consummation of this base scheme. We call on the whole Opposition to interpose between St. Louis and the parricides and traitors, who are plotting her destruction and conspiring for the overthrow of the great fundamental principle of self-government. We call on honest National Democrats, if such there be, to lend their cooperation. You, gentlemen of the Opposition, will have no worthier labor before you this winter than to thwart the plans of the common enemy against the rights and independence of St. Louis, and, be assured, if you undertake that task, St. Louis will sustain you, and crown your brow with laurels. She does not recognize the members of the General Assembly who pretend to represent her, as her representatives. Therefore, be not stayed on your onset to the rescue by frivolous scruples, practice every expedient, and make use of every weapon with which parliamentary usage furnishes a minority. Tear down or keep back the advances of the black flag of traitorous National Democracy, for the cohorts that follow it are as hostile to the candidacy of Bates and Rollins, or Wilson, as they are to the freedom of elections in St. Louis. In one word: the cause of St. Louis is your own, and if you rescue that cause from defeat, you win for yourselves the omens of victory in 1860.
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