Secession Era Editorials Project

Furman University Department of History


Remove the Capitol

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gazette [Republican]

(27 May 1856)

Since the scenes of violence which have characterized the present Congress, tacitly encouraged as they have been by the people and authorities of Washington city, the desire is growing in the North to have the Capitol removed; and the late brutal assault upon Mr. Sumner, ending in the semi- assassin being held to bail in the paltry sum of $500, the desire has broken out late a general demand, which will sooner or later be heard. -- The seat of the National government should be where freedom of speech can safely be tolerated, where men can traverse the streets with some degree of personal security and where murderers and cowardly cut-throats cannot run at large to frighten day and night from their propriety. This cannot be had at Washington City. Free speech is not allowed there, and Northern men who stand up there for the rights of the people, do it with vision of bludgeons and bowie knives dancing before their eyes. -- The northern Senator who does his duty there is beaten within an inch of his life, and the Congressional assailant goes free; the editor who speaks his mind is brutally knocked down, and the member of the House who assaults him goes unpunished; and another member, who bears upon his hands the stains of murder, passes unrebuked by his colleagues and finds his offence palliated by the ministers of the law. It is plain, therefore, that Washington City is not the place for the capitol of a great, manly, republican nation. The seat of government must be removed. There is an abundance of places in the heart of the free west, where all who have occasion to visit the capitol will be secure in life and limb, where men of all sections will be free to discuss all questions without the restraint of bodily fear, and where prisons are provided for murderers and bullies. The Capitol must be removed, or else cease to become a city of refuge to murderers and cowardly assailants of defenceless men.

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