Federal Spies and Informers
Daniel W. Voorhees

I call the attention of gentlemen upon the other side of the House to the great fact, now almost forgotten, now fading away in memory, that there was a time once in the history of this government when such a thing as a federal officer approaching the ballot-box in the various States of this Union and supervising popular elections all over this wide-spread land would have been looked upon with as much affright as if a wild beast had escaped from a menagerie, and was prowling for prey in the midst of a peaceable neighborhood. Until these latter and evil days the people in the cities and towns and villages, and in their far-away hamlets, along the banks of the creeks and rivers, met and held elections, and no federal spy or informer dared tread the hallowed precincts of the people's place of voting.

In that way the government was sustained upon the principle of the fathers, for our fathers did lay down that this government rested upon the consent of the governed. They did lay down that the virtue and the intelligence of the people could alone sustain it; and whenever we proclaim that the people are not to be trusted, that it is necessary to have force-bills in their midst, that federal satraps have to go among them with bayonets in their hands, that informers have to stand at the polls with the army and the navy at their backs, to regulate the canvass, to inspect the ballot as it goes in, and after it is in, and as it comes out, it will be a proclamation that our government has failed, that its foundations are false, that their virtue and their intelligence are myths and mockeries, and do not exist. That is what your bill does here. It accomplishes this fell purpose. It lays hold upon the foundations of the Republic. It drags them to their downfall. It declares an absolute loss of faith in the people.


Speeches of Daniel W. Voorhees of Indiana compiled by his son Charles S. Voorhees with a Short Biographical Sketch, pages 328-329
A speech delivered in the House of Representatives, February 15, 1871, on a "Bill for the enforcement of the fifteenth amendment."
Robert Clarke & Company, Cinicinnati, 1875