In a 1977 photo provided by County Records, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-WV, posed in front of the capitol building with his fiddle.
This is the last in a series of 14 speeches Sen. Robert C. Byrd gave in 1993 about the line-item veto (From Milestone Documents):
Mr. President, this is the fourteenth in my series of speeches on the line-item veto, with particular reference to the Roman Republic and the Roman Senate. When I began this series of one-hour speeches on May 5, I spoke of Montesquieu, the eminent French philosopher and author who had greatly influenced the Founding Fathers with his political theory of checks and balances and separation of powers.
I have also stated a number of times that if we are to have a better appreciation and understanding of the U.S. Constitution—its separation of powers and checks and balances, and the power over the purse—then we should follow in Montesquieu’s tracks and study Roman history as he did, and that is what we have been doing together during these past several months.
What have we acquired to pay us for our pains? What have we learned that can be applicable to our own time, our own country, and to the political questions of today concerning checks and balances and the control over the purse? Let us see.
Napoleon said, “Let my son often read and reflect on history. This is the only true philosophy.” We have elected, therefore, as did Montesquieu, to look to Roman history for guidance.
Roman power derived from Roman virtue, basically; in other words, from great moral qualities. The average Roman, as we have noted, was simple, steadfast, honest, courageous, law-abiding, patriotic, and reverent, and his leaders were men of uncommon dedication and acumen.
From the earliest times, the Romans possessed a profound reverence for national tradition, a firm conviction of being the special object and instrument of destiny, and a strong sense of individual responsibility and obligation to that tradition and to the fulfillment of that destiny.
There spring to mind several parallels between the history of the Romans and the history of our own Republic, one such parallel being that the same old virtues which lent sturdiness and integrity to the early Romans, also gave stability and substance and strength and character to our own national life in the early years of its formation and development.