Uriah P Levy Defence 18571204

[p. 86]
Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Court:
My defence, so far as it depends on the examination of the evidence, is before you ; and here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But the peculiarities of my case—the importance and far-reaching interest of the principles it involves—requires, what I hope you will allow me, a few additional remarks.
That the allegation of unfitness for the naval service, made against me by the Government, was wholly unsupported by evidence; and that I have made out a complete defence against the attempt to justify my dismissal, and an affirmative title to restoration, by the proofs on my part ; these I regard as undeniable propositions. And yet there are those connected with the navy, who, notwithstanding all the proofs I have produced, are hostile to my
restoration. This, it would be vain to deny to others, or to conceal …
[p. 87] Never… was there a man, in the ranks of our profession, against whom, in the breasts of certain members of that profession, prejudices so unjust and yet so strong, have so long and so incessantly rankled. Such, too, are the origin and character of these prejudices, as to make them, of all others, the most inveterate and unyielding. The prejudice felt by men of little minds, who think themselves, by the accidental circumstances of wealth or ancestry, better than the less favored of their fellows ; the prejudice of caste, which looks down on the man who, by honest toil, is the maker of his own fortunes ; this prejudice is stubborn as well as bitter, and of this I have had, as you have seen by the proofs, my full share. But, this is placable and transient compared with that generated and nourished by religious intolerance and bigotry.
The first article of the amendments to the Constitution of the United States, specially declares, in its first clause, that ''Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;'' thus showing by its place, no less than by its language, how highly freedom of conscience was valued by the founders of our Republic. In the constitutions of the several States, now in force, the like provision is contained. Our liberality and justice, in this regard, have been honored by the friends of liberty and human rights throughout the world. ….

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