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GREAT DEBATES IN 
AMERICAN HISTORY 



From the Debates in the British Parliament on the 

Colonial Stamp Act (1764-1765) to the Debates 

in Congress at the Close of the Taft 

Administration (1912-1913) 



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EDITED BT 

MARION MILLS MILLER, Litt.D. (Princeton) 

Editor of "The Life and Works of Abraham Lincoln," etc. 



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IN FOURTEEN VOLUMES 

^ EACH DEALING WITH A BPECIFIC SUBJECT, AND CONTAINING A SPECIAL INTRODUC- 
TION BT A DISTINGUISHED AMERICAN STATESMAN OR PUBLICIST 



VOLUME SIX 

TuK Civil AVaic 

With an Introduction by Hknry Wattkrson, LL.I). 
Editor of the Louisvilh; (Ky.) Courier Journal 



CURRENT LITERATURE PUBLISHING COMPANY 

^ NEW YORK 

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filL I- - -^ » uUK 

rij:;!.:ci.;i:r{ARY 






COPTRIOHT, 1918, BT 

CURRENT UTERATURE PUBLISHING COMPANY 



Pren of J. J. Little ft Ives Co., New York 




CONTENTS OF VOLUME SIX 

Fi 

nrrBODUCnON: lineoln, the Ineamatioii of the Uidoii \ : -•' -. .1; 

Bjr HiNET WATTB80N : •/ r 



u « 



L "THE UNION IS PERPETUAL" (Ltnooln'f First JiMif: 

gwai and the Debate Thereon) ."9 

Speechaa of Prendent-eleet Arraita^ Lincoln en route to ^. :'» 

Inauguration. t :'"^: 

Hia First Inaugural Address: "The Chorus of the Union.''^' 
Debate in the Senate on the Inaugural: friendly interpretation 

1^ Stephen A. Douglas (Dl).; hostile^ by Thomas L. 

GuNGiCAN (N. C), Louis T. Wiofall (Tex.), James M. 

Mason (Vs.). 

n. THE BIGHT OF SECESSION 38 

Speech of Senator James A. Bataed, Je. (Del.)^ on "The 

Bight of Secession, and the Propriety of Becognidng the 

Southern Confederacy." 
President Lincoln's virtual reply to the same in his First 

Message to Congress: "The Sophistry of Secession. 



• • ••, 

• • • • 



- a » 



yy 



UL THE WAB-MAKING POWEB: DOES IT LIE IN THE 

PBESIDENT OB CONGBESSf 68 

Debate in the House on "Constitutionality of the President's 
Military Acts": in favor, William S. Holman (Ind.); op- 
posed, Clement L. Vallandigham (O.). 

Debate on the same in the Senate: in favor, Edwaed D. Bakeb 
(Ore.), Kinsley S. Bingham (Mich.), Henet S. Lane 
(Ind.); opposed, John C. Bbbckinbidge (Ky.). 

Debate on the Trumbull Bill to suppress insurrection (on war- 
making by Congress) : in favor, Ltman Teumbull (HI.), 
Senator Bakeb; opposed, James A. Bataed, Je. (Del.), Wil- 
liam P. Fessenden ^Me.), Senator Bebcxineidge, Jaoob 

COLLAMEB (Vt.). 

IV. MILITABY EMANCIPATION 119 

Debate in the Senate on Bill to Punish Army Officers for Be- 
tum of Fugitive Slaves: in favor, Jacob Oollameb (Vt.), 
Henby Wilson (Mass.); amendment to punish officers for 
enticing slaves to run away, supported by Willaed Sauls- 
BUBT (Del.) and James A. Peaece (Md.). 
Debate on the Bill in the House: in favor, Feancis P. Blaie, 
Je. (Mo.), John A. Bingham (O.) ; opposed, Bobebt Mal- 
LOBT (Ky.), Chablbs a. Wicklhtb (Ky.), Henet Geidbe 

(Ky.). 

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lU 



^ 






iT GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 



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V. ABOLITION OP SLAVEBY IN THE DI8TBICT OP 

COIiUlffllA 131 

Debate in the Senate on the subject: in favor, Hsnby Wilson 
(Mass.) John P. Hals (N. H.)) Jambs Hablan (Ia.)y 
Ghablbs Sumner (Mass.) ; opposed, Gabbett Davis (Kj.), 
Waitman T. Willey (W. Va.), Anthony Kennedy (McLJ^ 
Willabd Saulsbuey (Del). 

VI. COMPENSATED EMANCIPATION 163 

President Linooln's conference with Border State Delegates. 

\ ^ ; <iDeba.te in the House on the Conkling Bill for Compensated 

*»** *:feitancipation: in favor, BoscoE Conkling (N. Y.)y John 

***'A.*BiNaHAM (O.), Alezandeb S. Diven (N. Y.)y Abbaham 

• J: ••!: ^- ^^N (N. Y.), Owen Lovejoy (I11.)> Thaddeus Stevens 

-•*':• :*••**. * (Pa>)9 John Hickman (Pa.); opposed, William A. Righ- 

".'•■• •. ••.••:. msDBON (HI.), Chables A. WicKUFFE (Ky.), Daniel W. 

V /*:/•*• /:;**: -Voobhees (Ind.), John J. Cbittenden (Ky.). 

* * * iJebate in the Senate on the Bill : in favor. Lot M. Mobbill 
(Me.), John B. Hendebson (Mo.), John Shebman (O.); 
opposed, Willabd Saulsbuby (Del), James A. McDougall 
(Cal.), LiAZABUs W. Powell (Ky.). 
Debate in the House on the Abolition of Slavery in the Terri- 
tories: in favor, Isaac N. Abnold (HI.), Owen Lovejoy 
(HI.); opposed, Samuel S. Cox (O.), John W. Cbisfield 
(Md.). Benjamin F. Thomas (Mass.) secures amendment 
to compensate slave owners. 
President Lincoln's Appeal to the Border States to accept 
Compensated Emancipation. 

» Vn. PUNISHMENT OF TREASON 191 

I , ^v#vSt^' Debate in the Senate on Confiscation of Property of Rebels: 

in favor, Lyman Tbumbull (111.) ; opposed, Edgab Cowan 

(Pa.), James R. Doolittle (Wis.). 
Debate in the House on the same: in favor, Thomas D. Euot 

(Mass.); opposed, Benjamin F. Thomas (Mass.), Samuel 

S. Cox (O.), John Law (Ind.). 

Vni. EMANCIPATION 211 

L Addresses of President Lincoln on Emancipation. 

f- Speech of Representative William A. Richabdson (El.) 

against the Emancipation Proclamation: "Enslaving the 

Whites to Free the Blacks." 

IX. NEGRO SOLDIERS 230 

Debate in the House on enlisting negro troops in the Civil 

War: in favor, Thaddeus Stevens (Pa.), John Hickman 

(Pa.), Thomas M. Edwabds (N. H.), Alexandeb S. Diven 

(N. Y.); opposed, John J. C^ttenden (Ky.), Samuel S. 

^ • Cox (O.). 

X. "THE WAR IB A FAILURE" 255 

Debate in the Hous^ on the subject : in favor of the declara- 
tion, Clement L. Vallandioham (O.); opposed, John A. 
Bingham (O.). 



I 



CONTENTS OF VOLUME SIX 

Gettysburg Speech of President Linooln: "These Dead ShaD 

Not Have Died in Vain.'' 
Second Inaugural Address of President Lincoln: ''The Al- 

mightj Has His Purposes." 

CONSCRIPTION 880 

Debate in the House on the Bill to Draft Soldiers: in favor, 
William M. Davis (Pa.), Jambs H. Campbell (Pa.), John 
'A. Bingham (O.) ; opposed, Chamjbs J. Biddlb (Pa.), Chui- 
TON A. Whitk (O.), Clement L. Vallandiqham (O.), 
James C. Robinson (HI.), Samuel S. Cox (O.), Danul 

W. VOOBHEES (Ind.). 

Xn. CIVIL VS. MILITARY AUTHORITY 317 

Controversy between President Lincoln and Governor Hobatio 

Seymoub (N. Y.) on the Constitutionality of the Draft. 
Controversy between President Lincoln and Committee of 

Ohio Democrats on Military Arrest of Clement L. Val- 

LANDIGHAM. 

Speeches of Fbanklin Piebcb (N. H.) and Oovemor Sbtmoub 

against Military Arrests. 
Address of President Lincoln justifying his acts. 
Controversy between President Lincoln and Mayor IIbbnando 

Wood (New York City) on Peace Proposals to the South. 

Xni. "BAYONETS AT THE P0LI8" 336 

Debate in the Senate on Military Interference at Elections: in 
favor, Jacob M. Howabd (Mich.), James Hablan (la.); 
opposed, Lazabus W. Powell (Ky.), Jambs A. MoDouoall 
(Cal.), Revebdt Johnson (Md.). 

ZIV. THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT (ComtituHonal Aholi- 

tion of SUwery) 362 

Debate in the Senate on the Constitutional Abolition of Slav- 
ery: in favor, Lyman Tbumbull (111.), Henbt Wilson 
(Mass.), Daniel Clabk (N. H.), Timothy O. Howe (Wis.), 
Rbvebdy Johnson (Md.), John P. Hale (N. H.), Chableb 
SuMNEB (Mass.) ; opposed, Gabbett Davis (Ky.), Willabd 
Savlbbuby (Del), Jambs A. MoDouoau< (C!aL). 



/ 



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ILLUSTBATIONS IN VOLUME SIX 

VACS 

of the Emancipation Proclamation . Thmlifpiies 

Photogravare 

Lincoln and Seward Banning the Union Engine 15 

Colombia Demands Her Children [of Lincoln] ... 19 
'^Domestic Troubles*' 23 

[Mother Union and Her Runaway Ghicka] 

The Battle of Booneville, or the Great Missouri Lyon 

Hunt 58 

The American Eagle Scotching the Snake of Secession 63 

**We Want Peace*' 69 

Garieature of Horace Greeley and Benjamin Wood 

The Promissory Note 74 

"I Promise to Subdue the South in Twenty Days— A. IM- 
coin" 

Opponents of the "Unnatural and Fratricidal War'' 95 

[Satire on Breckinridge's Petition] 

John J. Crittenden 102 

Photogravure 

"Contrabands" 120 

[An envelope cut during the Givfl War] 

What the Thirty-seventh Congress Has Done . . . 193 

[Ckmilscation Act and Bankrupt Act] 

Lincoln Crossing Niagara 214 

"The True Issue" 228 

[MeClellan stopping the division of the country by Lincoln 
and Davis] 

"O Massa Jeff, Dis Secesh Fever Will EiU De Nigger!" 248 
Jefferson Davis 250 

Photogravure 

Little Mac in His Great Two-Horse Act, in the Presidential 

Canvass of 1864 278 

Copperheads Worshiping Their Idol 313 

Southern Volunteers . 315 

"Bayonets at the Polls" 343 

vu 



INTEODUCTION 

Lincoln, the Incabnation of the Union ^ 



THE war of sections, inevitable to the conflict of sys- 
tems but long delayed by the compromises of pa- 
triotism, did two things which surpass in impor- 
tance and value all other things : it confirmed the Federal 
Union as a nation, and it brought the American people to 
the fruition of their manhood. Before that war we were 
a huddle of petty sovereignties held together by a rope of 
sand ; we were as a conmaunity of children playing at gov- 
ernment. Hamilton felt it, Marshall feared it. Clay ig- 
nored it, Webster evaded it. Their passionate clinging to 
the Constitution and the flag, bond and symbol of an im- 
perfect if not tentative compact, confessed it. They were 
the intellectual progenitors of Abraham Lincoln. He 
became the incarnation of the brain and soul of the 
Union. *'My paramount object,*' said he, *4s to save 
the Union, and not either to save or destroy slavery. If ^ 
I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I .■ 
would do it; if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, 
I would do it ; and if I could do it by freeing some and 
leaving others alone, I would do thaf 

In the sense of security which his travail and mar- 
tyrdom achieved for us we are apt to forget that it was 
not a localized labor system but institutional freedom 
which was at stake ; that African slavery was the merest 

I Adapted from an article in the Cosmopolitan, March, 1909c 

I 



2 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

relic of a semi-barbarism shared in the beginning by all 
the people, but at length driven by certain laws of 
nature and trade into a comer, where it was making a 
stubborn but futile stand; that the real issue was free 
government, made possible by the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence and the Constitution of the United States, and 
inseparable from the maintenance of the Union. If the 
Union failed, freedom failed. 

The trend of modem thought was definitely set 
against human slavery; but outside the American Union 
the idea of human freedom had gone no further than 
limited monarchy. Though he came to awaken the wild- 
^ est passions of the time, the negro was but an incident 
— ^never a principal — to the final death-grapple between 
'^ ' the North and the South. 

No man of his time understood this so perfectly, em- 
bodied it so adequately, as Abraham Lincoln. The 
primitive Abolitionists saw only one side of the shield, 
the original secessionists only the other side. Lincoln 
saw both sides. His political philosophy was expounded 
in four elaborate speeches: one delivered at Peoria, 
Illinois, the 16th of October, 1854; one at Springfield, 
Illinois, the 16th of June, 1858 ; one at Columbus, Ohio, 
the 16th of September, 1859; and one at Cooper Insti- 
tute, in New York City, the 27th of February, 1860. Of 
course he made many speeches and very good speeches, 
but these four, progressive in character, contain the sum 
and substance of his creed touching the organic char- 
acter of the Government, and at the same tinu? express 
his personal and party view of contemporary affairs. 
They show him to have been an old-line Whig of the 
school of Henry Clay, with strong emancipation lean- 
ings ; a thorough anti-slavery man, but never an extrc^m- 
ist or an Abolitionist. To the last he hewed to the line 
thus laid down. 

It is essential to a complete understanding of Mr. 
Lincoln's relation to the time and of his place in the 
history of the country tlmt the student peruse closely 
those four speeches: they underlie all that passed in 
the famous debate with Douglas, all that their author 
said and did after he succeeded to the presidency. They 



INTRODUCTION S 3 

will always stand as masterpieces of popular oratory. 
The debate with Douglas, however — ^assuredly the most 
extraordinary intellectual spectacle in the annals of our 
party warfare — best tells the story and crystalizes it 
Lincoln entered the canvass unknown outside the State 
of niinois. He ended it renowned from one end of the 
land to the other. 

Judge Douglas was himself unsurpassed as a ready 
debater, but in that campaign, from first to last, he was 
at a serious disadvantage. His bark rode an ebbing tide, 
Lincoln's a flowing tide. African slavery had become 
the single issue now; and, as I have said, the trend of 
modern thought was against slavery. The Democrats 
seemed hopelessly divided. The Little Giant had to 
face a triangular opposition embracing the Republicans, 
the Administration, or Buchanan, Democrats, and a 
remnant of the old Whigs, who fancied that their party 
was still alive and might hold some kind of a balance 
of power. Judge Douglas called the combination the 
*' allied army,*' and declared that he would deal with it 
*'just as the Russians dealt with the allies at Sebasto- 
pol; that is, the Russians did not stop to inquire, when 
they fired a broadside, whether it hit an Englishman, a 
Frenchman, or a Turk. ' ' It was something more than a 
witticism when Mr. Lincoln rejoined, ''In that case I 
beg he will indulge us while we suggest to him that those 
allies took Sebastopol." 

He followed this center-shot with volley after volley, 
of exposition so clear, of reasoning so close, of illus- 
tration so homely and sharp, and, at times, of humor 
so incisive, that, though he lost his election — though the 
allies did not then take Sebastopol — his defeat counted 
for more than Douglas's victory, for it made him the 
logical and successful candidate for President of the 
United States two years later. 

What could be more captivating to an outdoor audi- 
ence than Lincoln's description ''of the two persons 
who stand before the people ds candidates for the Sen- 
ate," to quote his prefatory words! "Judge Douglas," 
he said, "is of world-wide renown. All the anxious poli- 
ticians of his party • . . have been looking upon 



4 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

him as certainly ... to be President of the United 
States. They have seen in his round, jolly, fruitful face 
post-offices, land-offices, marshalships, and cabinet ap- 
pointments, chargeships, and foreign missions bursting 
and spreading out in wonderful exuberance, ready to be 
laid hold of by their greedy hands. And as they have 
been gazing upon this attractive picture so long they 
cannot, in the little distraction that has taken place in 
the party, bring themselves to give up the charming 
hope; but with greedier anxiety they rush about him, 
sustain him, and give him marches, triumphal entries 
and receptions, beyond what in the days of his highest 
prosperity they could have brought about in his favor. 
On the contrary, nobody has ever expected me to bo 
President. In my poor, lean, lank face nobody has ever 
seen that any cabbages were sprouting." 

As the debates advanced these cheery tones deep- 
ened into harsher notes; crimination and recrimination 
followed; the gladiators were strung to their utmost 
tension. They became dreadfully in earnest. Personal 
collision was narrowly avoided. I have recently gone 
over the entire debate, and with a feeling I can only 
describe as most contemplative, most melancholy. 

I knew Judge Douglas well; I admired, respected, 
loved him. I shall never forget the day he quitted Wash- 
ington to go to his home in Illinois to return no more. 
We sat dowm together in a doorway. **What are you go- 
ing to do I ' ' said he. * * Judge Douglas, ' ' I answered, ' * we 
liave both fought to save the Union; you in your great 
way and I in my small way; and we have lost. I am 
going to my home in the mountains of Tennessee, whore 
I have a few books, and there I mean to stay.*' Tears 
were in his eyes, and his voice trembled like a woman ^s. 
He was then a dying man. He had burned the candle 
at both ends; an eager, ardent, hard-working, pleasure- 
loving man; and although not yet fifty the candle was 
burned out His infirmities were no greater than those 
of Mr. Clay; not to be mentioned with those of Mr. 
Webster. But he lived in more exacting times. The 
old-style party organ, with its mock heroics and its dull 
respectability, its beggarly array of empty news columns 



INTRODUCTION 5 

and cheap advertising, had been succeeded by that un- 
sparing, telltale scandal-monger, Modern Journalism, 
with its myriad of hands and eyes, its vast retinue of 
detectives, and its quick transit over flashing wires, an- 
nihilating time and space. Too fierce a light beat upon 
the private life of public men, and Douglas suffered 
from this, as Clay and Webster, Silas Wright, and Frank- 
lin Pierce had not suffered. 

The presidential bee was in his bonnet, certainly ; but 
its buzzing there was not noisier than in the bonnets of 
many other great Americans who have been dazzled by 
the presidential mirage. His plans and schemes came 
to naught. He died at the moment when the death of 
those plans and schemes was made more palpable and 
impressive by the roar of cannon proclaiming the reality 
of the 'irrepressible conflict" he had refused to foresee 
and had struggled to avert. His lifelong rival was at the 
head of affairs. No one has found occasion to come to 
the rescue of his fame. No party interest has been iden- 
tified with his memory. But when the truth of history 
is written it will be told that, no less than AVebster and 
Clay, he, too, was a patriotic man, who loved his country 
and tried to save the Union. He tried to save the Union, 
even as Webster and Clay had tried to save it, by com- 
promises and expedients. It was too late. That string 
was played out. Where they had succeeded he failed; 
but, for the nobility of his intention, the amplitude of 
his resources, the splendor of his combat, he merits all 
that any leader of a losing cause ever gained in the re- 
gard of posterity; and posterity will not deny him the 
title of statesman. 

In those famous debates it was Titan against Titan; 
and, perusing them after the lapse of forty years, the 
philosophic critic will conclude which got the better of it, 
Lincoln or Douglas, much according to his sympathy with 
the one or the other. If Douglas had lived he would have 
become as Lincoln's right hand. Already, when he died, 
Lincoln was beginning to look to him and to lean upon 
him. Four years later they were joined together again 
on fame's eternal camping ground, each followed to the 
grave by a mourning people. 



i 



6 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

As I have said, Abraham Lincoln was an old-line 
Whig of the school of Henry Clay, with strong free-soil 
opinions, never an extremist or an Abolitionist. He was 
what they used to call in those old days *'a Conscience 
Whig/' He stood in awe of the Constitution and his 
oath of office. Hating slavery, he recognized its legal ex- 
istence and its rights under the compact of the organic 
law. He wanted gradually to extinguish it, not to de- 
spoil those who held it as a property interest. He was 
so faithful to these principles that he approached eman- 
cipation not only with anxious deliberation, but with 
many misgivings. He issued his final proclamation as 
a military necessity; and, even then, so fair was his na- 
ture, he was meditating some kind of restitution. 

Thus it came about that he was the one man in public 
life who could have taken the helm of affairs in 1861 
handicapped by none of the resentments growing out 
of the anti-slavery battle. While Seward, Chase, Sum- 
ner, and the rest had been engaged in hand-to-hand com- 
bat with the Southern leaders at Washington, Lincoln, 
a philosopher and a statesman, had been observing the 
course of events from afar, and, like a philosopher and 
a statesman, his mind was irradiated and sweetened by 
the sense of humor. Throughout the contention that 
preceded the war, amid the passions inevitable to the war 
itself, not one bitter, proscriptive word escaped his lips 
or fell from his pen, while there was hardly a day that 
he was not projecting his great personality between some 
Southern man or woman and danger. 

Had Lincoln lived I In that event it is quite certain 
that there would have been no era of reconstruction, 
with its repressive agencies and oppressive lep^islation. 
If Lincoln had lived there would have been wanting to 
the extremism of the time the bloody cue of his takinjj: 
off to mount the steeds and spur the flanks of vengeance. 
For Lincoln entertained, with respect to the rehabili- 
tation of the Union, the single wish that the Southern 
States — to use his familiar phraseology — ** should come 
back home and behave themselves,'' and if he had lived 
he would have made this wish effectual as he made every- 

• 

thing effectual to which he seriously addressed himself. 



INTRODUCTION 7 

His was the genius of common sense. Of admirable 
intellectual aplomb, he sprang from a Virginia pedigree 
and was born in Kentucky. He knew all about the South, 
its institutions, its traditions, and its peculiarities. ''If 
slavery be not wrong, ' ' he said, * ' nothing is wrong, ' ' but 
he also said, and reiterated it time and again : ' ' I have 
no prejudice against the Southern people. They are just 
what we would be in their situation. If slavery did not 
now exist among them they would not introduce it. If it 
did now exist among us we would not instantly give 
it up.'' 

The idea of paying the South for the slaves had been 
all along in his mind. He believed the North equally 
guilty with the South for the existence of slavery. He 
clearly understood that the irrepressible conflict was a 
conflict of systems, not merely a sectional and partisan 
quarrel. He was a considerate man, abhorring pro- 
scription. He wanted to leave the South no right 
to claim that the North, finding slave labor unre- 
munerative, had sold its negroes to the South and 
then turned about and by force of arms confis- 
cated what it had unloaded at a profit. He recog- 
nized slavery as property. In his message to Con- 
gress, of December, 1862, he proposed payment for the 
slaves, elaborating a scheme in detail and urging it with 
copious and cogent argument. ''The people of the 
South," said he, addressing a war Congress at that mo- 
ment in the throes of bloody strife with the South, "are 
not more responsible for the original introduction of this 
property than are the people of the North, and, when it 
is remembered how unhesitatingly we all use cotton and 
sugar and share the profits of dealing in them, it may 
not be quite safe to say that the South has been more 
responsible than the North for its continuance." 

This is the language not only of justice, but of far- 
reaching statesmanship. 

Something more than two hundred and sixty years 
ago there arrived at the front of affairs in England one 
Cromwell. In the midst of monarchy he made a repub- 
lic. It had no progenitor. It left no heirs at law. Why 
such cost of blood and treasure for an interval of free- 



8 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

dom so equivocal and brief puzzled the wisest men and 
remained for centuries a mystery, though it is plain 
enough now and was long ago conceded, so that at last — 
dire rebel though he was — the name of Cromwell, held 
in execration through two hundred years, has a place in 
the history of tlie English-speaking races along with the 
names of William the Conqueror and Richard of the Lion 
Heart 

That which it took England two centuries to realize 
we in America have demonstrated within a single gen- 
eration. Northerner or Southerner, none of us need fear 
that the future will fail to vindicate our integrity. When 
those are gone that fought the good fight, and philos- 
ophy comes to strike tlie balance sheet, it will be shown 
that the makers of the Constitution left the relation of 
the States to the Federal Government and of the Federal 
Government to the States open to a double construction. 
It will be told how the mistaken notion that slave labor 
was requisite to the profitable cultivation of sugar, rice, 
and cotton raised a paramount property interest in the 
Southern section of the Union, while in the Northern, 
responding to the impulse of modern thought and the 
outer movements of mankind, there arose a great moral 
sentiment against slavery. The conflict thus established, 
gradually but surely sectionalizing party lines, was 
wrought to bitter and bloody conclusion at Appomattox. 

The battle was long though unequal. Let us believe 
that it was needful to make us a nation. Let us look upon 
it as into a mirror, seeing not the desolation of the past 
but the radiance of the present; and in the heroes of 
the new North and the new South who contested in gen- 
erous rivalry up the fire-swept steep of El Caney and 
side by side recmblazoned the national character in the 
waters about Corregidor Island and under the walls of 
Cavite, let us behold hostages for the old North and the 
old South blent together in a Union that recks not of the 
four points of the compass, having long ago flung its 
geography into the sea. 



Iiewiv^ W <0&t^A^ 



CHAPTEE I 

"The Union Is Perpetual '* 
[Lincoln's piest inaugural and the debate thereon] 

Speaking Tour of the President-elect on His Way to Washington — Remarks 
at Springfield, III., on "Divine Guidance"; at Indianapolis on "Pres- 
ervation of the Union the People's Business, Not the President's"; to 
the Indiana Legislature on "The Union: Is It a Marriage Bond or a 
Free Love Arrangemcntf "; at Cincinnati on "Good Will to the 
South"; to the Ohio Legislature on "Nothing Is Going Wrong"; at 
Steubenville on "The Majority Should Rule"; at Pittsburgh on "Pro- 
tection"; at Cleveland on "The Crisis Is Artificial"; at Buffalo on 
"Waiting for Developments"; at Albany on "President, Not Party 
Leader"; to the New York Legislature on "Reliance on the People".; 
at Poughkeepsie on "Standing by the Pilot"; at New York on "A 
Time for Silence" and "Save the Ship and Cargo— if Not Both, Then 
the Ship"; to the Senate of New Jersey on "The Liberty Inherited 
from the Fathers"; to the House of Representatives of New Jersey 
on "Putting the Foot Down Firmly"; at Philadelphia on "The 
Teachings of Independence Hall"; "The Principles of the Declara- 
tion," and "The Flag of the Union"; at Harrisburg on "The Men 
of Peace"; at Washington on "Misunderstanding Between the Sec- 
tions" — His First Inaugural Address: "The Chorus of the Union" — 
Debate in the Senate upon the Address: Thomas L. Clingman [N. C], 
Stephen A. Douglas [IIl.]y Louis T. Wigfall [Tex.], James M. Mason 
[Va.] ; Lafayette S. Foster [Conn.] Moves in the House to Expel Sen« 
ator Wigfall; Motion Is Not Brought to Vote — The Senate Declares 
That the Seats of Senators from Seceded States Axe Vacant 

ON February 11, 1861, the President-elect left Ms 
home at Springfield, 111., to travel by a circuitous 
route to the national capital, there to be in- 
augurated on March 4. In a parting speech to his 
neighbors he expressed a solemn sense of his responsi- 
bility and a reliance upon **that Divine Being who ever 
attended Washington," the first President, upon whom 
rested a similar responsibility. 

9 



10 GREAT AaiERICAN DEBATES 

At Indianapolis, upon the same day, ho addressed 
the citizens, saying: ''To the salvation of the Union 
there needs but a single thing — the hearts of a people 
like yours.'' The preservation of the Union, he re- 
peated, **is your business, not mine; not with Presidents, 
not with politicians, but with you is the question." 

To the Indiana legislature he spoke on **The Union: 
Is it a Marriage Bond or a Free Love Arrangement!" 
claiming that the South regarded it as the latter. 
** Coercion," he said, could not properly be applied to 
the enforcement of Federal laws in South Carolina, but 
it could be so applied to the attempt of that State, being 
not one fiftieth part of the nation in soil and popula- 
tion, to break up the nation and force a proportionally 
larger subdivision of itself (the Union men in the State) 
into compliance with the act. 

To the citizens of Cincinnati, on February 12, being 
on the border of the slave States, he expressed good will 
to the South, repeating a former speech which he had 
made in the city in 1859, in which he said: *'We mean 
to treat you, as near as we possibly can, as Washington, 
Jefferson, and Madison treated you. We mean to leave 
you alone, and in no way to interfere with your institu- 
tions, to abide by all and every compromise of the Con- 
stitution. ' ' 

On February 13 he addressed the Ohio legislature 
at Columbus, assuring them that he had not hitherto 
preserved silence on the state of the country from any 
want of real anxiety, as liad been charged. Anxiety he 
felt, but not alarm, for ''there is nothing going wrong." 
'*Time, patience, and a reliance on that God who has 
never forsaken this people" would save the Union. 

On February 14 he ad<lressed the citizens of St(Miben- 
ville, 0., on the subject: "The Majority Should Tiuh»." 
Where is there a judge to be found between the majority 
and the minority? Since one of the two, thereof or(», nnist 
rule, shall we submit to the minority? Would that be 
right? Would it be just or generous? 

At Pittsburgh on February 15 he declared that the 
crisis was artificial, and, as if to minimize its impor- 



/ 



LINCOLN'S FIRST INAUGURAL 11 

tanco, he spoke on the tariff, since, even in the stress 
which was threatening to tear the Union asunder, the 
citizens of Pennsylvania seemed to be primarily inter- 
ested in that subject. 

On the same day, at Cleveland, he returned to the 
theme that the crisis was an artificial one. 

What they do who seek to destroy the Union is altogether yt 
artificial. What is happening to hurt them? Have they not . 
all their rights now as they ever have had ? Do not they have 
their fugitive slaves returned now as ever? Have they not the 
same Constitution that they have lived under for seventy-odd 
years? Have they not a position as citizens of this common 
country, and have we any power to change that position? [Cries 
of ''Nor'] What, then, is the matter with them? Why all 
this excitement? Why all these complaints? As I said before, 
this crisis is altogether artificial. It has no foundation in fact. 7 
It can't be argued up, and it can't be argued down. Let it « 
alone, and it will go down of itself. 

At Buffalo on February 16 he excused himself from 
telling his specific plans to save the Union. 

When it is considered that these difficulties are without prec- 
edent, and have never been acted upon by any individual 
situated as I am, it is most proper I should wait and see the 
developments, and get all the light possible, so that when I do 
speak authoritatively I may be as near right as possible. When 
I shall speak authoritatively I hope to say nothing inconsistent 
with the Constitution, the Union, the rights of all the States, 
of each State, and of each section of the country, and not to 
disappoint the reasonable expectations of those who have con- 
fided to me their votes. 



On February 18 he spoke to the citizens of Albany, 
saying that he intended to be the President, not of a 
party, but of the nation. On the same day he addressed 
the New York legislature, which had tendered him 
unanimous support, saying that he was the ''humblest 
of all individuals that had been elevated to the Presi- 
dency''; and yet, with a more diflScult task before him 
than had confronted any, Mr. Lincoln expressed con- 



12 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

fidence in the Almighty that, with the help of the people, 
these difficulties would be overcome. 

On February 19 at Poughkeepsie, N. Y., he ex- 
pressed the sentiment that, though he had not been the 
choice of all the people to *' pilot the ship of State," 
he was confident that the defeated party were desirous 
of ^'running it through the tempest in safety,'' and 
would loyally support him in his endeavor to do so. 

On the same day lie spoke to the citizens of New 
York City on the theme, ** There Is a Time for Silence." 
He would wait until the proper moment to announce 
details of his policy. For the present it sufficed to say 
that he would propose nothing in conflict with the Con- 
stitution, or the Union, or the perpetuation of the 
liberties of the people. 

Replying to the reception accorded him by the mayor 
of the city, he returned to his former simile of the ship 
of state, saying that he would save, if possible, both 
ship nnd cargo, but, if necessary, the ship without the 
cargo. 

He addressed the Senate and House of the New 
Jersey legislature at Trenton on February 21. Speaking 
to the Senate on the revolutionary memories aroused by 
the name of the State capital, he implored them to save 
the liberty inherited from the Fathers of the country. 
To the House he said, adverting to the fact that most 
of them were his political opponents, he would perform 
his duties in no partisan spirit. 

I shall do all that may be in my power to promote a peace- 
ful settlement of all our difficulties. The man does not live 
who is more devoted to peace than I am, none who would do 
more to preserve it, but it may be necessary to put the foot down 
firmly. [Here the audience broke out in cheers so loud and 
long that for some moments it was impossible to hear Mr. Lin- 
coln's voice.] And if I do my duty and do right, you will sus- 
tain me, will you not? [Loud cheers and cries of ''Yes, yes; 
wewilL"] 

At Philadelphia on February 21 Mr. Lincoln ad- 
dressed the citizens on ''The Teachings of Independence 



LINCOLN'S FIRST INAUGURAL 13 

Hall,*' pledging himself never to do anything incon- 
sistent with these. On the following day (Washington's 
birthday) he spoke in Independence Hall. Amplifying 
his remarks of the former day he said: 

I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring 
from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independ- 
ence. I have often pondered over the dangers which were in- 
curred by the men who assembled here and framed and adopted 
that Declaration. I have pondered over the toils that were 
endured by the oiBcers and soldiers of the army who achieved 
tliat independence. I have often inquired of myself what great 
principle or idea it was that kept this confederacy so long 
together. It was not the mere matter of separation of the 
colonies from the motherland, but that sentiment in the Declara-"^ 
tion of Independence which gave liberty not alone to the people 
of this country, but hope to all the world, for all future time. 
It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights 
would be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all 
should have an equal chance. Now, my friends, can this coun- 
try be saved on that basis? If it can, I will consider myself 
one of the happiest men in the world if I can help to save it. 
If it cannot be saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful. 
But if this country cannot be saved without giving up that 
principle I was about to say I would rather be assassinated on 
this spot than surrender it.* Now, in my view of the present 
aspect of aifairs, there is no need of bloodshed and war. There 
is no necessity for it. I am not in favor of such a course ; and 
I may say in advance that there will be no bloodshed unless it 
is forced upon the Qovernment. The Qovernment will not use 
force unless force is used against it. 

My friends, this is wholly an unprepared speech. I did not 
expect to be called on to say a word when I came here. I sup- 
jK)sed I was merely to do something toward raising a flag. I 
may, therefore, have said something indiscreet. [Cries of **No, 
no."] But I have said nothing but what I am willing to live 
by, and, if it be the pleasure of Almighty God, to die by. 

When the flag to which Mr. Lincoln referred was 
raised, he called attention to the new star which had 
been placed upon it for Kansas, admitted into the Union 
on January 29: ^ 

* Threats had been made that the President -elect would never take his 
seat. 



14 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

I think we may promise ourselves that not only the new 
star placed upon that flag sliall be permitted to remain there 
to our permanent prosperity for years to come, but additional 
ones shall from time to time be placed there until we shall 
number, as it was anticipated by the great historian, five hun- 
dred millions of happy and prosperous people. 

On the same day, at Harrisburg, Pa., he replied to 
the welcome of Governor Andrew G. Curtiii, saying: 

Allusion has been made to the peaceful principles upon wliich 
this great commonwealth was originally settled. Allow rac to 
add my meed of praise to those peaceful principles. I liope no 
one of the Friends who originally settled here, or who lived 
here since that time, or who lives here now, has been or is a 
more devoted lover of peace, harmony, and concord than my 
humble self. 

While I have been proud to see to-day the finest military 
array, I think, that I have ever seen, allow me to say, in regard 
to those men, that they give hope of what may be done when 
war is inevitable. But, at the same time, allow me to express 
the hope that, in the shedding of blood, their services may never 
be needed, especially in the shedding of fraternal blood. It 
shall be my endeavor to preserve the peace of this country so 
•far as it can possibly be done consistently with the maintenance 
of the institutions of the country. With my consent or without 
my great displeasure, this country shall never witness the 
shedding of one drop of blood in fraternal strife. 

Later he addressed the State legislature in the same 
vein. 

From Harrisburg Mr. Lincoln went secretly to 
Washington, since tliose who were managing his tour 
wished to guard against his assassination on tlie way, 
which had been threatened. On his arrival at the na- 
tional capital he was welcomed by the mayor. Mr. 
Lincoln assured those present that he had as kindly 
feeling toward the slaveholding section as toward his 
own, and was confident that the enmity between the two 
was only the result of a misunderstanding. Replying to 
a serenade the next evening (February 28) he repeated 
his assurances of fair dealing toward the whole country. 

On March 4 he delivered his inaugural address be- 



LINCOLN'S FraST INAUGURAL 



15 



fore a vast crowd of people assembled from all parts of 
the conntry. 

A tentative draft of this, the most important of his 
utterances, Lincoln wrote and had privately printed 
while at his home in Springfield, 111. On his way to 
Washington he gave a copy to his friend, O. H. Brown- 
ing, at Indianapolis, who suggested that the statement 




therein that Lincoln would "reclaim" the Federal prop- 
erty in the bands of the secessionists should be omitted, 
as subject to construction as a threat, and as such un- 
necessarily aggravating to the South. This suggestion 
the -President adopted. On arriving at Washington Mr. 
Lincoln gave a copy of the draft to William H. Seward, 
his appointee as Secretary of State. Mr. Seward sug- 
gested two important changes, one that was virtually 
Mr. Browning's emendation, and the other the omission 
of a statement that the President would follow the prin- 
ciples of the Republican platform. Referring to the 



r 



16 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

latter, he reminded Lincoln that Jefferson, at a similar 
crisis when the opposing party sought to dismember the 
Government, **sank the partisan in the patriot in his 
inaugural address, and propitiated his adversaries by 
declaring: 'We are all Federalists, all Republicans.' " 
Most of Seward's other suggestions related to improve- 
ments in rhetoric. His ** general remarks'* were as 
follows : 

The argument is strong and conclusive, and ought not to be 
in any way abridged or modified. 

But something besides or in addition to argument is needful 
to meet and remove prejudice and passion in the South and 
despondency in the East. 

Some words of affection — some of calm and cheerful confi- 
dence. 

Mr. Seward submitted two paragraphs of his own 
as suggestions for closing the speech in a conciliatory 
and cheerful manner. The second was in that poetic 
vein which occasionally cropped out in Seward 's speochos 
and writings, and over which Lincoln, on better ac- 
quaintance, was wont good-naturedly to rally him. 
Seward wrote: 

I close. We are not, wo must not be, aliens or enemies, but 
fellow countrymen and brethren. Although passion has strained 
our bonds of affection too hardly, they must not, I am sure 
they will not, be broken. The mystic chords which, procecKi- 
ing from so many battlefields and so many patriot graves, pass 
through all the hearts and all hearths in this broad continent 
of ours, will yet again harmonize in their ancient music when 
breathed upon by the guardian angel of the nation. 

Lincoln took this paragraph, and by deft touches 
which reveal a literary taste beyond that of any states- 
man of his time, transformed it into his peroration. 
More than anything else in the address, it 'was the tender 
spirit and chaste beauty of these closing words that con- 
vinced the people that Lincoln measured up to the high 
mental stature demanded of one who was to be their 
leader during the most critical period of the life of the 
nation. 



] 



LINCOLN'S FIRST INAUGURAL 17 

The Chorus of the Union 
President Lincoln's First Inauour/Vl Address 

The President began by assuring the people of the 
South that their peace would not be endangered, as they 
apprehended, by the accession of a Republican Adminis- 
tration. He quoted from one of his former speeches a 
declaration that he had neither the right nor the inten- 
tion to interfere with slavery where it existed, and re- 
ferred to a plank in the Republican platform showing 
that the same was true of his party. 

I add, too, that all the protection which, consistently with 
the Constitution and the laws, can be given will be cheerfully 
given to all the States when lawfully demanded, for whatever 
cause — as cheerfully to one section as to another. 

The return of fugitive slaves he regarded as a con- 
stitutional obligation which ho and the national legisla- 
tors were, by their unanimous oaths, bound to see exe- 
cuted. If Congressmen ** would make the effort in good 
temper,*' he said, ''could they not, with nearly equal 
unanimity, frame and pass a law by means of which to 
keep good that unanimous oath?" , 

It mattered little whether the surrender of fugitive 
slaves was by national or State authority. 

If the slave is to bo surrendered, it can be of but little con- 
sequence to him or to others by which authority it is done. 
And should anyone in any case be content that his oath shall 
go unkept on a merely unsubstantial controversy as to how it 
shall be kept ? 

However, abuses of the Fugitive Slave act should be 
remedied so that no free man should be delivered to 
slavery. 

And might it not be well at the same time to provide by law 
i37^ the enforcement of that clause in the Constitution which 
gnarlSntees that **tho citizen of each State shall be entitled to all 
privil?Vges and immunities of citizens in the several States? '* 

VI-^-2 



/ 



18 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

He continued: 

I take the official oath to-day with no mental reservations, 
and with no purpose to construe the Constitution or laws by 
any hypercritical rules. And, while I do not choose now to 
specify particular acts of Congress as proper to be enforced, I 
do suggest that it will be much safer for all, both in official 
and private stations, to conform to and abide by all those acts 
which stand unrepealed, than to violate any of them, trusting to 
find impunity in having them held to be unconstitutionaL 

He then turned to the question of secession. 

I hold that, in contemplation of universal law and of the 
Constitution, the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpe- 
tuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all 
national governments. It is safe to assert that no government 
proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own ter- 
mination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our 
National Constitution, and the Union will endure forever — it 
being impossible to destroy it except by some action not pro- 
vided for in the instrument itself. 

Again, if the United States be not a government proper, but 
an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can 
it, as a contract, bo peaceably unmade by less than all the 
parties who made it ? One party to a contract may violate it — 
break it, so to speak; but does it not require all lawfully to 
rescind itT 

He argued from history that the Union is perpetual. 
It is older than the Constitution, having been formed 
by the Articles of Association in 1774, confirmed by the 
Declaration of Indei)ondence, and specifically plighted 
as perpetual in the Confederation. 

But the Constitution was formed to secure "a more 
perfect union.'* Therefore, 

If the destruction of the Union by one or by a part only 
of the States be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than 
b(»forc the Constitution, having lost the vital element of per- 
petuity. 

It follows, from these views, that no State, upon its .^g^, 
mere motion, can lawfully gt»t out of the Union; that re/jolves 
and ordinances to that effect are legally void ; and that / ^ta of 






LINCOLN'S FIRST INAUGURAL 



19 



violence, within any State or States, against tin; authority of 
the United States, are insurrectiouary or revolutioiinry, aceord- 
ing to circumstancea. 

I therefore consider that, in view of the Constitution and 
the laws the Union is unbroktu and to the ext(.iit of my 
ability I shall take care as the Constitution itself exinessly 
injoins upon me that the laws of tliL I nion be taithtully 
executed in all the Mates Doing this I difm to bi onlj a 
simple duty on in\ part and 1 shall perfoim it so tar as prac 




COLUMBIA DEMANDS HER C1ULD8EN 
mm DM coUcdfon 0/ Vu JVew York BiiloHml Socttlv 

ticable, unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall 
withhold the requisite means or in some authoritative maimer 
direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a 
menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it 
will constitutionally defend and maintain itself. 

In doing this there needs to bo no bloodshed or violence; 
and there shall be none, unless it be forced upon the national 
anthority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, 
occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the 
Goremment, and to collect the duties and imposts; but, beyond 
what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no in- 
Tasion, so using of force against or among the people anywhere. 



20 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

Where hostility to the United States in any interior locality 
shall be so great and universal as to prevent competent resident 
citizens from holding the Federal offices, there will be no attempt 
to force obnoxious strangers among the people for that object. 
While the strict legal right may exist in the Government to 
enforce the exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would 
be so irritating, and so nearly impracticable withal, that I deem 
it better to forego for the time the uses of such offices. 

The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished 
in all parts of the Union. So far as possible, the people every- 
where shall have that sense of perfect security which is most 
favorable to calm thought and reflection. The course here indi- 
cated will be followed unless current events and experience sliall 
show a modification or change to be proper, and in every case 
and exigency my best discretion will be exercised according to 
circumstances actually existing, and with a view and a liope of 
a peaceful solution of the national troubles and the restora- 
tion of fraternal sympathies and affections. 

That there are persons in one section or another who seek 
to destroy the Union at all events, and are glad of any pretext 
to do it, I will neither affirm nor deny; but, if there be such, 
I need address no word to them. To those, however, who really 
love the Union may I not speak? 

Before entering upon so grave a matter as the destruction 
of our national fabric, with all its benefits, its memories, and 
its hopes, w^ould it not be wise to ascertain precisely why we 
do it ? Will you hazard so desperate a step while there is any 
possibility that any portion of the ills you fly from have no 
real existence? Will you, while the certain ills you fly to are 
greater than all the real ones you fly from — will you ask the 
commission of so fearful a mistake? 

All profess to be content in the Union if all constitutional 
rights can be maintained. Is it true, then, that any right, 
plainly written in the Constitution, has been denied? I think 
not. Happily, the human mind is so const it uteil that no party 
can reach to the audacity of doing this. Think, if you can, of 
a single instance in which a plainly written provision of the 
Constitution has ever been denied. If, by the mere force of 
numbers, a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly 
written constitutional right, it might, in a moral j^oint of view, 
justify revolution — certainly would if such a right were a vital 
one. But such is not our case. All the vital rights of minori- 
ties and of individuals are so plainly as8ure<l to them by affirma- 
tions and negations, guaranties and prohibitions, in the Consti- 



LINCOLN'S FIRST INAUGURAL 21 

tution, that controversies never arise concerning them. But 
no organic law can ever be framed with a provision specifically 
applicable to every question which may occur in practical ad- 
ministration. No foresight can anticipate, nor any document of 
reasonable length contain, express provisions for all possible 
questions. Shall fugitives from labor be surrendered by na- 
tional or by State authority? The Constitution does not ex- 
pressly say. May Congress prohibit slavery in the Territories? 
The Constitution does not expressly say: Mv^t Congress pro- 
tect slavery in the Territories? The Constitution does not ex- 
pressly say. 

From questions of this class spring all our constitutional 
controversies, and we divide upon them into majorities and 
minorities. If the minority will not acquiesce, the majority 
must, or the Grovcrnmont must cease. There is no other alter- 
native; for continuing the Qovernment is acquiescence on one 
side or the other. 

If a minority in such case will secede rather than acquiesce, 
they make a precedent which in turn will divide and ruin 
them ; for a minority of their own will secede from them when- 
ever a majority refuses to be controlled by such minority. For 
instance, why may not any portion of a new confederacy a year 
or two hence arbitrarily secede again, precisely as portions 
of the present Union now claim to secede from it? All who 
cherish disunion sentiments are now being educated to the 
exact temper of doing this. 

Is there such perfect identity of interests among the States 
to compose a new Union as to produce harmony only and pre- 
vent renewed secession? 

Plainly, the central idea of secession is the essence of an- 
archy. A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks 
and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate 
changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true 
sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does, of neces- 
sity, fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible; 
the rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly 
inadmissible ; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy 
or despotism in some form is all that is left. 

I do not forget the position assumed by some that constitu- 
tional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court; nor 
do I deny that such decisions must be binding, in any case, 
upon the parties to a suit, as to the object of that suit, while 
they are also v titled to very high respect and consideration in 
all parallel casc\ by all other departments of the Qovernment. 






22 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

And, while it is obviously possible that such decision may be 
erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect following it, 
being limited to that particular case, with the chance that it 
may be overruled and never become a precedent for other cases, 
can better be borne than could the evils of a different practice. 
At the same time the candid citizen must confess that if the 
policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the 
whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Su- 
premo Court the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation 
between parties in personal actions, the people will have ceased 
to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically re- 
signed their government into the hands of that eminent tribu- 
nal. Nor is there in this view any assault upon the court or 
the judges. It is a duty from which they may not shrink to 
decide cases properly brought before them, and it is no fault 
of theirs if others seek to turn their decisions to political pur- 
poses. 

One section of our country believes slavery is right and 
ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and 
ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute. 
The fugitive slave clause of the Constitution and the law for 
the suppression of the foreign slave trade are each as well en- 
forced, perhaps, as any law can ever be in a community where 
the moral sense of the people imperfectly supports the law 
Itself. The great body of the people abide by the dry legal 
obligation in both cases, and a few break over in each. This, 
I think, cannot be perfectly cured; and it would be worse in 
both cases after the separation of the sections than before. The 
foreign slave trade, now imperfectly suppressed, would be ulti- 
mately revived, without restriction, in one section, while fugi- 
tive slaves, now only pai'tially surrendered, would not be sur- 
rendered at all by the other. 

Physically speaking, we cannot separate. We cannot re- 
move our respective sections from each other, nor build an im- 
passable wall between them. A husband and wife may be di- 
vorced, and go out of the presence and beyond the reach of 
each other; but the different parts of our country cannot do 
this. They cannot but remain face to face, and intercourse, 
either amicable or hostile, must continue between them. Is it 
possible, then, to make that intercourse more advantageous or 
more satisfactory after separation than before? Can aliens 
make treaties easier than friends can make laws? Can treaties 
be more faithfully enforced between aliens than lav's can among 
friends? Suppose you go to war, you cannot figfit always; and 






\ 



LINCOLN'S FIRST INAUGURAL 23 

when, after much loss on both sides and no gain on either, you 
cease fighting, the identical old questions as to tenns of inter- 
course are again upon you. 

Thia country, with its institutions, bplongs to tho people 
who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the exist- 
ing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of 
amending it, or their revolutionary right to disincmbor or over- 
throw it. I cannot he ignorant of the fact that many worthy 
and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the National Cou- 




"douestio tsoobles" 
FromOitcotitcUonoflhtNta YerK BUUrUal SocUt]/ 

stitation amended. While I make no recommendation of amend- 
ments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people 
over the whole suhject, to be exercised in either of the modes 
prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing 
circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being 
afforded the people to act upon it. I will venture to add that 
to me the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows 
amendments to originate with the people themselves, instt^ad of 
only permitting them to take or reject propositions originated 
by others not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might 
not be precisely such as they would wish to either accept or 
refnse. I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitu- 
tioa — which amendment, however, I have not seen — has passetl 



24 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never 
interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including 
that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of 
what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of 
particular amendments so far as to say that, holding such a 
provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objec- 
tion to its being made express and irrevocable. 

The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the 
people, and they have conferred none upon him to fix terms for 
the separation of the States. The people themselves can do 
this also if they choose ; but the Executive, as such, has nothing 
to do with it. His duty is to administer the present Govern- 
ment, as it came to his hands, and to transmit it, unimpaired 
by him, to his successor. 

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate 
justice of the people ? Is there any better or equal hope in the 
world t In our present differences is either party without faith 
of being in the right ? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with 
his eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or 
on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely 
prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American 
people. 

By the frame of tlie Government under which we live, this 
same people have wisely given their public servants but little 
power for mischief ; and have, with equal wisdom, provided for 
the return of that little to their own hands at very short inter- 
vals. While the people retain their virtue and vigilance, no 
Administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can 
very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four 
years. My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well 
upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by tak- 
ing time. If there be an object to hurry any of you in hot 
haste to a step which you would never take deliberately, that 
object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object 
can be frustrated by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfied 
still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensi- 
tive point, the laws of your own framing under it; while the 
new Administration will have no immediate pow(T, if it would, 
to change either. If it were admitted that you who are dis- 
satisfied hold the right side in the dispute, there still is no 
single good reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriot- 
ism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never 
yet forsaken this favored land are still competent to adjust in 
the best way all our present diflSculty. 



LINCOLN'S FIRST INAUGURAL 25 

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not 
in mine is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government 
will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being 
yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in 
heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most 
solemn one to ** preserve, protect, and defend it/' 

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We 
must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it 
must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of 
memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to 
every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will 
yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as 
surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. 

Debate Upon the President's Inaugural 

Senate, March 4, 1861 

President Buchanan had convened the Senate in 
special session on March 4 to receive and act upon such 
communications as might be made by his successor. It 
so met and was in session until March 28. 

Upon motion made to print copies of the inaugural 
address of President Lincoln, Thomas L. Clingman 
[N. C] took occasion to dissent from its views as lead- 
ing to war with the seceded States. 

The President declares expressly that he intends to treat 
those States as though they were still members of the Union; 
as though the acts of secession were mere nullities ; and, as they 
claim to be independent, there can be no result except a colli- 
sion. In plain, unmistakable language he declares that it is his 
purpose to hold, occupy, and possess the forts and arsenals in 
those States. We all know that he can hold them only by dis- 
possessing the State authorities. He says, further, that it is 
his purpose to collect the revenue from those States. Surely I 
need not argue to any Senator that this must lead to a collision 
of arms. After we declared independence from Qreat Britain 
nobody supposed that the colonies were willing still to pay taxes 
or duties to the British Government. In point of fact, they 
refused to pay them even before the Declaration of Independ- 
ence. 

Stephen A. Douglas [111.] replied: 



26 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

Mr. President, I cannot assent to the construction which the 
Senator from North Carolina [Mr. Clingman] has placed upon 
the President's inaugural. I have read it carefully, with a view 
of ascertaining distinctly what the policy of the Administration 
is to be. The inaugural is characterized by ability and by 
directness on certain points; but with such reservations and 
qualifications as require a critical analysis to arrive at its true 
construction on other points. I have made such an analysis, 
and come to the conclusion that it is a peace-offering rather than 
a war message. I think I can demonstrate that there is no 
foundation for the apprehension which has been spread through 
the country that this message is equivalent to a declaration of 
war; that it commits the President of the United States to 
recapture the forts in the seceded States, and to hold them at 
all hazards; to collect the revenue under all circumstances; and 
to execute the laws in all the States, no matter what may be 
the circumstances that surround him. I do not understand 
that to be the character of the message. On the contrary, I 
understand it to contain a distinct pledge that the policy of 
the Administration shall be conducted with exclusive reference 
to a peaceful solution of our national difSculties. True, the 
President indicates a certain line of policy which he intends to 
pursue, so far as it may be consistent with the peace of the 
country ; but he assures us that this policy will be modified and 
changed whenever necessary to a peaceful solution of these 
difficulties. 

The President declares that, in view of the Constitution and 
laws, the Union remains unbroken. I do not suppose any man 
can deny the proposition that, in contemplation of law, the 
Union remains intact, no matter what the fact may be. There 
may be a separation de facto, temporary or permanent, as the 
sequel may prove; but, in contemplation of the Constitution 
and the laws, the Union does remain unbroken. Let us see 
what there is in the address that is supposed to pledge the 
President to a coercive policy. He says: 

"I shaU take eare, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon 
me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. '^ 

This declaration is relied upon as conclusive evidence that 
coercion is to be used in the seceding States; but take the next 
sentence : 

''Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty. on my part. I shaU per- 
form it, so far as is practicable, unless my rightful masters, the American 



}. 



IJNriivT^^OLN'S FIRST INAUGURAL 27 

people, ehall wittj jgiliold the requisite meanSi or in some other authoritative 
manner direet th . « jd contrary. ' ' 

This cor'-^ JSitioiiy on which he will not enforce the laws in 
tY ' j&&^ States, is not as explicit as I could desire. When 
hie alludes to his ''rightful masters, the American people," I 
suppose he means the action of Congress withholding the requi- 
site means. Query: does he wish to be understood as sa3dng 
that the existing laws confer upon him "the requisite means "t 
or does he mean to say that, inasmuch as the existing laws do 
not confer the requisite means, he cannot execute the laws in 
the seceding States unless those means shall be conferred by 
Congress? The language employed would seem to imply that 
the President was referring to the future action of Congress as 
necessary to give him the requisite means to enforce obedience 
to the laws in the seceding States. 
In a subsequent paragraph he says : 



ii\ 



The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess 
the property and places belonging to the Government, and to collect the 
duties and imposts.'' 

What power? Does he mean that which has been confided 
or that which may be confided? Does he mean that he will 
exercise the power unless Congress directs the contrary or that 
he will exercise it when Congress confers it ? I regret that this 
clause is understood by some persons as meaning that the Presi- 
dent will use the whole military force of the country to recap- 
ture the forts and other places which have been seized without 
the assent of Congress. If such was his meaning, he was un- 
fortunate in the selection of words to express the idea. 

He says further: 

*'But, beyond what may bo necessary for these objects, there will be no 
invasion, no using of force against or among tho people anywhere.'' 

He will use the power confided to him to hold, occupy, and 
possess the forts and other property, and to collect the revenue ; 
but beyond these objects he will not use that power. I am 
unable to understand the propriety of the distinction between 
enforcing tho revenue laws and all other laws. If it is his 
duty to enforce tho revenue laws, why is it not his duty to 
enforce the other laws of the land? What right has he to say 
that he will enforce those laws that enable him to raise revenue, 
to levy and collect taxes from the people, and that he will not 
enforce the laws which protect the rights of persons and prop- 



\ 



28 GREAT AMERICAN DEBASES 

erty to the extent that the Constitution confers, the power in 
those States? I reject the distinction; it cannot be justified in 
law or in morals. 

The next paragraph is also objectionable. I will r^ad it : 

"Where hostility of the United States in any interior locality sli^ii c? 
BO great and universal as to prevent competent resident citizens from hold- 
ing the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers 
among the people for that object." 

I rejoice to know that he will not attempt to force obnoxious 
strangers to hold office in the interior places where public senti- 
ment is hostile; but why draw the distinction between *' interior 
localities" and exterior places? Why the distinction between 
the States in the interior and those upon the seaboard? If he 
has the power in the one case, he has it in the other ; if it be his 
duty in the one case, it is his duty in the other. There is no 
provision of the Constitution or the laws which authorizes a 
distinction between the places upon the seaboard and the places 
in the interior. 

This brings me to the consideration of another clause in 
the message which I deem the most important of all and the 
key to his entire policy. 

After indicating the line of policy which he would pursue, 
if consistent with the peace of the country, he tells us emphati- 
cally that that course will be followed, unless modifications and 
changes should be necessary to a peaceful solution of the na- 
tional troubles; and if in any case or exigency a change of 
policy should be necessary, it will be made *'with a view and 
hope of a peaceful solution. * ' In other words, if the collection 
of the revenue leads to a peaceful solution, it is to be collected ; 
if the abandonment of that policy is necessary to a peaceful 
solution, the revenue is not to be collected ; if the recai)ture of 
Fort ^foultrie would tend to a peaceful solution, he stands 
pledged to recapture it ; if the recapture would tend to violence 
and war, he is pledged not to recapture it; if the enforcement 
of the laws in the seceding States would tend to facilitate a 
peaceful solution, he is pledged to their enforcement; if the 
omission to enforce those laws would best facilitate i)eace, he is 
pledged to omit to enforce them; if maintaining possession of 
Fort Sumter would facilitate peace, he stands pledged to retain 
its possession; if, on the contrary, the abandonment of Fort 
Sumter and the withdrawal of the troops w^uld facilitate a 
peaceful solution, he is pledged to abandon the fort and with- ^ 

draw the troops. f 



t 



I 

I 
I 



I 



LINCOLN'S FIRST INAUGURAL 29 

Sir, this is the only construction that I can put upon this 
clause. If this be not the true interpretation, for what pur- 
pose was it inserted ? The line of policy that he had indicated 
was stated vaguely ; but there is not a pledge to use coercion. 

I submit, then, to the Senate whether the friends of peace 
have not much to rejoice at in the inaugural address of the 
President. It is a much more conservative document than I 
had anticipated. It is a much more pacific and conciliatory 
paper than I had expected. I am clearly of the opinion that the 
Administration stands pledged by the inaugural to a peaceful 
solution of all our difficulties, to do no act that leads to war, 
and to change its policy just so often and w^henever a change is 
necessary to preserve the peace. 

Now, sir, far be it from me to intimate that the President, 
in these recommendations, has not been faithful to the principles 
of his party, as well as to the honor and safety of his country. 
Whatever departure from party platforms he has made in these 
recommendations should be regarded as an evidence of patriot- 
ism, and not an act of infidelity. In my opinion, if I *have 
understood the inaugural right, he has sunk the partisan in the 
patriot, and he is entitled to the thanks of all conservative 
men to that extent. I do not wish it to be inferred, from any- 
thing I have said or have omitted to say, that I have any polit- 
ical sj'mpathy with his Administration, or that I expect that 
any contingency can happen in which I may be identified with 
it. I expect to oppose his Administration with all my energy 
on those great principles which have separated parties in former 
times; but on this one question — that of preserving the Union 
by a peaceful solution of our present difficulties; that of pre- 
venting any future difficulties by such an amendment of the 
Constitution as will settle the question by an express provision 
— if I understand his true intent and meaning, I am with him. 

Mr. President, if the result shall prove that I have put a 
wrong construction on the inaugural, I shall deplore the conse- 
quences which a belligerent and aggressive policy may inflict 
upon our beloved country, without being responsible in any 
degree for the disasters and calamities which may follow. I 
believe I have placed upon it its true interpretation. I know I 
have put the patriotic construction on it. I believe the action 
of the President will justify that construction. I will never 
relinquish that belief and hope until he shall have done such 
acts as render it impossible to preserve the peace of the country 
and the unity of the States. Sir, this Union cannot be pre- 
served by wai. It cannot be cemented by blood. It can be 



I.' 



1 



30 GREAT. AMERICAN DEBATES 

preserved only by peaceful means. And, when our present 
troubles shall have been settled, future difficulties can be pre- 
vented only by constitutional amendments which will put an 
end to all controversy by express provision. These remedies 
and preventives have been clearly marked out by the President 
in his inaugural. All I ask is that his Administration shall 
adhere to them and carry them out in good faith. Let this be 
done, and all who join in the good work will deserve, and they 
will receive, the applause and approbation of a grateful coun- 
try. No partisan advantage can be taken, no political capital 
should be made out of a generous act of noble patriotism. While 
I expect to oppose the Administration upon all the political 
issues of the day, I trust I shall never hesitate to do justice to 
those who, by their devotion to the Constitution and the Union, 
show that they love their country more than their party. 

Louis T. WiGPALXi [Tex.]. — It is impossible for the Senator 
from Illinois, or for any other Senator to rise here, and, by giv- 
ing a commentary — a construction — of the inaugural to restore 
peace to the country. It is impos^ble for the Administration, 
by dealing in generalities, whether glittering or not, to give peace 
to the country. It is a fact that seven States have withdrawn 
from this Union; that they have entered into a new compact 
with each other ; that they have established a government ; and 
I suppose, though it may not have yet been officially announced, 
as it is a fact that is well known, I may allude to it, they have 
their representatives now here, prepared to reside near this 
court, and, waiving all questions of irregularity as to the exist- 
ence of this (Jovemment, to enter into a treaty with it in refer- 
ence to matters which musl be settled, either by treaty or by 
the sword. 

It is easy to indulge in general phraseology; it is easy to 
write so as to be misunderstood. It is very easy to talk of 
enforcing the laws ; it is very easy to speak of holding, occupy- 
ing, and possessing forts; but, when you come to holding, oc-' 
cupying, and possessing forts, bayonets and not words settle the 
question. This Administration will, by action, be forced to 
construe its inaugural. How will that inaugural be construed T 
Were it not for these facts which are pressing for solution, it 
might be that a Union party, both North and South, might be 
organized ; and, were it not for these troublesome things called 
bayonets, platforms might be adopted to be construed differently 
on different sides of particular degrees of latitude ; but, unfor- 
tunately for the Union-savers, these matters are prp'-tical, press- 
ing for present solution ; and this Government rhay leave Fort 




LINCOLN'S FIRST INAUGURAL 31 

Moultrie, Castle Pinekney, and Fort Johnson in the possession 
of the Confederate States, but the Confederate States will not 
leave Fort Sumter in the possession of this Government. 

I am one of those who deny that this Union, as it formerly 
was, now exists legally, constitutionally. The Union has been 
disrupted. Seven of the high contracting powers have with- 
drawn from this Government (that now de facto exists at Wash- 
ington) the powers heretofore exercised by them through this 
Government, and invested all those powers in their separate 
State governments first, and then entered into a new compact 
with each other. 

These are facts. How are you going to deal with themt 
What is a remedy in one stage of a disease is no remedy in 
another. A blue-mass pill and a cup of coffee next morning 
will relieve the liver and prevent one from having a fever very 
frequently; but when the disease is on you, blistering and 
blood-letting may sometimes be necessary ; and when the patient 
is dead, then it is necessary to have a coffin, a grave-digger, 
funeral services, and things of that sort; the only question is 
whether we shall have a decent, peaceable, quiet funeral or 
whether we shall have an Irish wake. 

''Cannot preserve this Union by war!" Why, sir, there is 
no Union left. You may have reconstruction. The States that 
are now in the old Union may secede from it to the other, and 
come into the new Union, and, in the course of time, the thirty- 
four States may all be living under the same form of government 
again; but the seven States that have withdrawn from this 
Union are surely never coming back. If you were to give them 
a sheet of blank paper, and tell them to write their constitution 
on it, they would not come in again and live under this Ad- 
ministration. They are out; they have formed a union; they 
have a constitution, and it is satisfactory to them; and they 
will not secede again. Our doctrine of secession has been so 
belittled and so belied that we are beginning to have a down- 
right contemptuous opinion of it ourselves ; and we never intend 
to exercise it again. Other States that have not made the ex- 
periment may secede and come to us; Mohammed may come to 
the mountain, but the mountain will never come to Mohammed. 

You have, therefore, to deal with all these things practically. 
What will you dof Getting up here and making constructions 
of Mr. Lincoln 's message is not the remedy. To have persuaded 
the people of the seven seceded States at one time that the 
Republican party was a very conservative. Constitution-loving 
party might have prevented the act of secession ; but it will do 



i 



y 



:J2 great AMERICAN DEBATES 

no good now. The act of secession has been committed ; a new 
government has been formed, and new remedies must be of- 
fered. Tejnpora mutantur, ei nos mutamur in illis.^ The ques- 
tion now is not of saving the Union, but of saving the peace of 
the country. Withdraw your troops; acknowledge the right of 
self-government ; make no futile attempt to collect tribute from 
pcoi)le who are no longer citizens of the United States ; do these 
things and you will have peace. Send your flag into that 
country with thirty-four stars upon it, and it will be fired at 
and war will ensue. 

The seceded States — having paid much of the money into 
the Federal Treasury, with which your army was organized and 
your nsLvy built, with which your lighthouses and your buoys 
were placed, your harbors cleaned out, and the public domain 
acquired — send commissioners here to their former associates, 
and ask them to enter into a fair arrangement for the division 
of the public property and the assessment of the public debt. 
Will you do that t Or will you sit stupidly and idly gazing on 
until there shall be a conflict of arms, because you cannot ** com- 
promise with traitors" — ^because you cannot recognize the inde- 
pendence of States that were States before this Government had 
existence ? 

Senators, what is the meaning of this declaration ? It is that, 
if we acknowledge ourselves to be slaves ; if we will abandon the 
right of self-government; if we will agree to be governed by 
you, you promise us to govern us well. We say first acknowl- 
edge our right of self-government; withdraw your troops; yield 
to us the right of collecting our own revenues; divide fairly 
the public property; give us our pro rata share of men-of-war 
that are now afioat ; send us our pro rata share of the army — 
we want two, three, or four of the regiments ; turn them over to 
US; give us our share of the public domains-do these things, 
and we will, pro tempore^ enter into with you a treaty of com- 
merce, of peace, and amity; and if you will reorganize your 
own Government, and form such a one as suits us, we may 
aj^ain confederate with you and enter into a compact of com- 
mon defence and general welfare. Refuse it and we will settle 
tiiis question by the sword. 

There is no dodging these issues. If you want war, you will 
have it ; if you want i)eace, we are anxious for it ; but the time 
has passed for party platforms; the time has j)assed for dema- 
gogism to adopt compromises which mean nothing. These are 
plain, palpable issues, and they have to be met. 
Times chaiige, aiid wo change with them." 



1 <( 



LINCOLN'S FIRST INAUGURAL 33 

The President of the United States and the Senator from 
Illinois both misapprehend, utterly and wholly, the issues that 
are before the country. They seem to think that the whole 
difSculty is as to the question of the Wilmot proviso or squatter 
sovereignty in the Territories. These are dead issues; they are 
past ; they were discussed ; they have been decided upon ; they 
are res adjudicata. 

Seven States have withdrawn from the Union. What are 
the remaining States going to do? Preserve the Union you 
cannot, for it is dissolved. Conquer those States and hold them 
as conquered provinces, you may. Is the play worth the candle ? 
Treat with them as a separate confederacy, and you have peace. 
Treat with them as States of this Union, and you have war. 
One or the other you must do. Which will you do ? There is a 
very strong desire on the part of many to avoid the issue, to 
hold what are called the tobacco States still in the Union, and 
build up what is to be called a great Union party, composed 
of Free Soilism and Whiggery, and avoid a war with the cotton 
States; hold things as they are at home, get through the next 
succeeding three years, and elect somebody as President of the 
old Union upon the ground that he has been a great Union- 
saver. But, unfortunately, you cannot control facts, and mak- 
ing speeches will not do this thing. Mr. Abraham Lincoln has 
to remove those troops from Fort Pickens and from Fort Sum- 
ter or they will be removed for him. He has to collect the reve- 
nues in Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, New Orleans, or the 
Confederate States will collect their own revenues. He has no 
judiciary department, he has no custom house collectors, he has 
none of the machinery of government there. He has to appoint 
his custom house officers; he has to collect the revenues; and, 
when he attempts it, you know, and I know, that resistance will 
be made, and that a conflict of arms will ensue, and that war 
will be the result. 

As to the States that remain, you can so amend the Consti- 
tution as to give them security for the future, if not indemnity 
for the past; but in doing that it will not be by dividing Ter- 
ritories. I say to you, though I do not represent those States, 
that it is useless to blind your eyes to these facts: that no 
compromise, no amendment of the Constitution, no arrangement 
that you enter into will be satisfactory to those States, Senators, 
unless you recognize the doctrine that slaves are property, and 
that you wiU protect that species of property as you do every 
other. 

I have said so much in reply to the Senator from Illinois 



I 

1 



84 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

because I did not wish his speech to go out as an explanation 
of the meaning of the President of the United States. His 
speech was calculated to produce the impression that Mr. Lin- 
coln meant to do nothing. Masterly inactivity is a policy that 
cannot now prevail. Action ! action ! action ! as the great Athe- 
nian orator [Demosthenes] said, is now necessary. Tou cannot 
longer serve Ood and Mammon ; you must declare ''under which 
king, Bezonianf " 

Senator Douglas. — The Senator from Texas is quite right 
in saying that the issue cannot be long postponed; words will 
not answer the purpose much longer; action must soon begin; 
and that action must be in the direction of peace or war. Which 
shall it be? I think the President means peace. His policy 
must be peace, or it is time that Congress was in session and 
two hundred thousand men ordered into the field and prepara- 
tions made for war. 

The Senator is unwilling to believe that Mr. Lincoln means 
peace. I rejoice in the belief that he does mean peace. The 
Senator and myself look at this question from different points 
of view. He has told us several times that he is here merely 
because you continue to call his name at the desk ; but that to 
all intents and purposes he regards himself a foreigner. His 
affections are with his own country ; mine are with my country. 

Senator Wigfall. — Mr. President, I have tried to explain, 
several times, the position which I occupy. I am not officially 
informed that the State which I represent here has abolished the 
office of United States Senator. When I am so advised offi- 
cially I shall file at your desk that information; and then, if 
after being so informed, you shall continue to call my name, I 
will answer, probably, if it suits my convenience ; and, if I am 
called on to vote, I shall probably give my reasons for voting; 
and, regarding this as a very respectable public meeting, con- 
tinue my connection with it in that way. But, while I am up, 
I will ask the Senator, as he is speaking for the Administration 
— ^though not a part of it, nor a large part of it [laughter] — 
to say explicitly whether he would advise the withdrawal of the 
troops from Fort Sumter and Fort Pickens, the removal of the 
fag of the United States from the borders of the Confederate 
States, and that no effort should be made to levy tribute upon 
a foreign people? 

Senator Douglas. — ^Mr. President, as I am no part of the 
Administration, as I do not speak for them — although I hope 
that I speak the same sentiments which will animate them — as 
I am not in their counsels nor their confidence, I shall not 



LINCOLN'S FIRST INAUGURAL 35 

tender them my advice until they ask it. I do not choose, 
either, to proclaim what my policy would he, in view of the 
fact that the Senator does not regard himself as the guardian 
of the honor and interests of my country, but he is looking to 
the interests of another, which he thinks is in hostility to this 
country. It would hardly be good policy or wisdom for me to 
reveal what I think ought to be our policy to one who may so 
soon be in the counsels of the enemy and the command of its 
armies. 

There was much laughter and applause in the gal- 
leries at this hit at Senator Wigf all's reputed ambition 
to become a military leader of the Confederacy. Upon 
the Vice-President making the usual threat (which was 
never enforced) to clear the galleries if the applause 
were repeated, Senator Wigfall hoped that the applause 
would be permitted, as, the Union being dissolved, he 
considered the present occasion only a public meeting. 

James M. Mason [Va.] denied that the President's 
message could be construed as a pronouncement of peace. 

It is a declaration of the possession of political power, and d 
duty to exercise it, and a purpose to discharge that duty. Now, 
there are seven States out of the Union. You say they are not 
out; that the Constitution and laws are still extended over 
them. They say the contrary. You say you will execute the 
laws in all the States, including those that have abandoned the 
Union ; and common sense tells us, if you attempt it, it will be 
resisted by force. Unless there be some men laboring under the 
hallucination to believe that secession is a mere stage trick to 
deceive and delude the (Government from which these States 
have detached themselves, there can be no man who can tell me 
that the President does not intend war. 

I am not quarreling with the President because of the inter- 
pretation that he puts upon his duty. The responsibility is 
with him; let him exercise it. But what I challenge him for is 
that he has not more explicitly told us what he means to do ; 
that he has left it to inference, to construction, to interpretation 
that may possibly mislead these people as to his actual purpose. 
If the Senator from Illinois thinks that, because the President 
has a peaceful view of this armed invasion of a foreign territory, 
or a hope of a i)eacefnl solution, notwithstanding the armed 
invasion which he declares he will exercise, I can only say to 



36 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

that Senator he is more credulous than any of those around 
him. 

I say, sir, the message is silent only as to the question of 
the time when the President will use his powers. It is reported 
that Fort Sumter has provisions for only thirty daya. No one 
doubts that this fort can never be reinforced by the Federal 
Government, who claim to be its owners, without a struggle of 
thousands and tens of thousands of armed men spilling their 
blood on the sands and on the sea; therefore, within the next 
thirty days, whatever of peace the Senator saw in this mes- 
sage will be converted into war, real war, stern war. 

No, Mr. President, there is a solution of peace, one only — 
a solution that is not only not held out in this message, but 
that is carefully avoided, sedulously avoided ; there is a solution 
of peace of this great question between the contending sections, 
and there is but one ; and, so far from that being contained in 
this inaugural, it is repelled and repudiated by its whole tenor 
and purpose. That solution is to admit that the Union is 
broken; to yield to the existing fact; to admit that the Union 
is at an end by the separation of the seven States which have 
gone out ; and, whether they are acknowledged as an independ- 
ent power or not, to admit the fact of their separate and inde- 
pendent existence; and then withdraw the troops. 

I can see no reason why that should be longer denied, even 
among those statesmen who look upon this Government, as the 
inaugural expresses it, as a thing so peculiar, God-given, or 
otherwise that it is insusceptible of being broken. The Presi- 
dent says by the universal law it is presumed to be perpetual. 
What he means by the universal law I am quite as much at a 
loss to understand as I was the cabalistic meaning of a phrase 
used by a Senator from New York of a higher law. What is 
the universal law f I know what the law of the Constitution is ; 
I know what the laws of the United States are ; I know what the 
international law is ; but what this universal law is, unless it be 
the law of the univeinse, the law which keeps the spheres in 
place, and directs their motions, and provides for their rotation 
upon their axes and in their orbits, I am at a loss to know. 
But it is by terms like these, not only general but unmeaning 
and inapplicable, that we are to be deluded into the idea that 
there is no mode by which this Government, as he calls it, how- 
ever oppressive it may become, however odious to the people 
under it, however cruel in its exactions, however perverse in its 
infractions of constitutional duty, can be got rid of, because 
of some law of the universe. 



LINCOLN'S FIRST INAUGURAL 37 

I have thought it a matter of moment that the policy of 
this message should be eviscerated, wherever its meaning was 
indirect or dark, because my own people, the people in Vir- 
ginia, who are yet in the Union, are banded together upon the 
fixed, unchangeable purpose of making themselves a party to 
that war when the first gun is fired. 

On March 8 Lafayette S. Foster [Conn.] moved to 
expel from the Senate Louis T. Wigfall [Tex.] because 
of his declaration that he was a foreigner. On the 11th 
the matter came up for discussion. Thomas L. Clingman 
[N. C] moved as a substitute: 

Whereas, it is understood that the State of Texas has se- 
ceded from the Union and is no longer one of the United States; 
therefore be it resolved that she is not entitled to be represented 
in this body. 

The motion in regard to Senator Wigfall 's expulsion 
was not brought to vote. 

On March 13 William P. Fessenden [Me.] moved that 
the names of Jefferson Davis [Miss.] and other Sena- 
tors who had announced that they were no longer mem- 
bers of the Senate and had vacated their seats be stricken 
from the roll. 

Senator Fessenden 's motion was finally amended to 
** Whereas the seats of (the said Senators) have become 
vacant, resolved that the Secretary be directed to omit 
their names from the roll/' and was passed in this 
form. 



CHAPTER n 
The Bight of Secession 

Speech of Senator James A. Bayard, Jr., on ''The Right of Secession and 
the Propriety of Becognizing the Southern Confederacy'' — The Confed- 
erate Peace Commission; It Is Not Beceived — The Fall of Fort Sum- 
ter — Secession of Virginia — Military Movements April-July, 1861 — ^Pres- 
ident Lincoln's First Message to Congress: "The Sophistry of Seces- 
sion." 

ON March 30, 1861, James A. Bayard, Jr. [Del.], in- 
troduced in the Senate a resolution to the effect 
that, whatever view be taken of the right of 
secession, seven States having withdrawn from the 
Union and the enforcement there of Federal laws by the 
magistracy being impracticable, the only alternative was 
civil war or recognition of their secession; and that, 
whereas war would not bring them back into the Union, 
their independence should be acknowledged and a treaty 
be made with them. 

In support of his resolution Senator Bayard dis- 
cussed the nature and right of secession and the causes 
which had led to its adoption by the Southern States in 
a speech which continued for three days. 

The Bight of Segsssiok 

Senator Bayard 

The act of secession has been characterized in this body 
by some of its members as a constitutional right, as among the 
reserved rights of the States. By others it has been denounced 
as treason to the United States on the part of any of the actors. 
I agree with neither. It is not among the reserved rights of 
the States, but is a revolution by organized communities, by 
the authority of the people of the seceding States, in whom 
the ultimate power of sovereignty is vested. Its effect is the 

38 



THE RIGHT OF SECESSION 39 

same, whether revolutionary or legal; it severs the State from 
the Union, and it suspends the operation of the laws of the 
Federal Oovernment in the seceding States. It is, in the old 
Roman sense of the term, rebellion — ^the revolt of a nation — 
but not in the modern sense of the term rebellion. 

All forms of republican government rest upon one great 
general principle which is recognized in America, and has been 
always recognized as the great basis, the only just basis, of all 
government, **the consent of the governed." Our fathers so de- 
clared it in the Declaration of Independence, but the mode of 
consent depends upon the character of the government. The con- 
sent of the governed as applied to the State governments, which 
are purely national, and to any purely national government, is 
but a political axiom called commonly the social compact, which 
assumes that there is an implied contract between each individ- 
ual citizen by which that government is established. The law of 
that compact is, in theory and in practice, that the will of the 
majority of society shall be conclusive evidence of the consent of 
the whole; and, further, it has been denominated an inherent 
right in society and in the majority. It is still but an axiom. 
In practice, sex excludes one-half the governed from giving con- 
sent. Age excludes one-fourth. Age is arbitrary; it might be 
twenty-five; it is twenty-one. Further, in the origin of our 
Government, though the States were all national governments 
and all republican, an interest in the soil was essential for the 
purpose of giving consent. Nay, still, in many of the States, 
the prepayment of taxes is essential for the dissent or consent 
on the part of the individual, though he is bound under the 
axiom by the laws of the government established by his implied 
consent. Residence of greater or less duration is requisite in 
all the States; in some three months, in some six, in some a 
year, and at one time two years. Yet all the individuals who 
exist as inhabitants of that government or are within its juris- 
diction are considered by the force of the axiom as consenting 
to the government and bound by its laws. In the State of 
Pennflylvania and in several other of the non-slaveholding States, 
I believe, race excludes many of the community from giving their 
actual consent, but their consent is implied and they are bound 
by the laws. No negro can vote in the State of Pennsylvania, 
and in others of the non-slaveholding States the same rule ap- 
plies. 

Yet the axiom is true and is a wise one; it is the founda- 
tion of government on the basis of the social compact, which is 
the will of goeiety, evidenced by the determination of the ma- 



40 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

jority of the great body of the people who are supposed to be 
competent to form government. 

It is very evident, Mr. President, that revolution in a gov- 
ernment founded upon such a basis could rarely, if ever, occur ; 
because the majority, having it in their power to bring into 
accord with their opinions the legislative authority, could always 
change the form of government at will, without revolutionary 
action; and I understand revolution to mean a change of gov- 
ernment against the will of the existing government. The word 
revolution is sometimes applied to any radical change of a 
government, whether with or without the will of the ultimate 
power of sovereignty; but, in the ordinary acceptation of the 
term, we mean, by revolution, a change against the consent of 
the existing government. The power of change, the right of 
change, exists in all governments, no matter what may be their 
form, and is vested of necessity where the ultimate power of 
sovereignty exists; in Russia, in an autocrat. No one doubts 
that the Emperor of Russia could change the form of govern- 
ment of Russia. In England it is in the King, Lords, and Com- 
mons. Being effected by the will of the existing government, the 
idea of force and resistance is precluded, and the change of 
government would be legal in all respects. 

In the United States this ultimate power of government in 
each State is vested in the people under the social compact, and 
the majority in each State, having the ultimate sovereignty, 
have the right to change the form of government under which, 
they live. This I suppose to be the established and uncontro- 
verted principle derived from all the publicists, as to the theory 
on which purely national republics are founded, which all the 
States of this Union are. But it is very evident that the prin- 
ciple of the social compact cannot be applied to the United States 
as an aggregate nation. Could it be, of course a majority of the 
people of the United States could change the form of govern- 
ment by their will. The majority of one State would be carried 
into another State, and the majority of the aggregate nation 
would be competent to impose the form of government they 
desired over the people of all the States. Such is not the 
structure of the Federal Government. 

The speaker here quoted in support of his views 
from the 39th number of **The Federalist,*' written 
by James Madison. 

I think, if the present President of the United States had 
read this passage, he would have been able to understand the 



THE RIGHT OF SECESSION 41 

distinction between the relations of a county to a State and the 
relations of a State to the Federal Government. There exists, 
then, this broad distinction between the Federal and the State 
governments: the State governments exist by the consent of 
the governed, under the law of the social compact ; but the Fed- 
eral Government exists, not as the result of the implied com- 
pact which arises under that law, but by the express compact 
of the several States which were independent sovereignties at 
the time they created it. That compact specifies the extent of 
the powers delegated to the common Government, and without 
the compact it could have had no existence. Sir, whence came, 
or on what do we base, the power of the Federal Government to 
make or administer any lawsf Has it any other basis than the 
consent given by the people of each State severally, by the adop- 
tion of the Constitution framed by the representatives of States 
and submitted to the people of each State for their several ac- 
ceptance t Did unanimity in the State of Pennsylvania bring 
the State of Georgia within the operation of the Federal Con- 
stitution? Certainly not. The consent of the governed, the 
consent of the community, expressed under the social compact 
in the State (which is the basis of its government), forming, by 
express compact with the people of other States, a common gov- 
ernment for all, with special delegated powers, is the only basis 
of the general Government of this Union. 

Then, sir, what is the rule as to compacts of this kind ? That 
they cannot be changed without the consent of all the parties to 
the compact. It matters not whether the compact is a treaty 
or creates a government ; the law of the compacts of sovereign- 
ties is that no change can be made in terms except by the 
consent of all, unless it is otherwise provided in the instrument. 

The Constitution contains no provision which authorizes a 
State by its own act to separate from the other States and with- 
draw from the Union. Had there been no provision as to 
amendments to the Federal Constitution, within the rule which 
governs the compacts of sovereignties, it would have been un- 
alterable in any one particular; and it can only be altered in 
the mode which it provides. Neither a majority of the people 
of the United States can alter the Constitution on the basis on 
which it rests, nor a majority of the States; nor is the power 
expressly given to any State to withdraw at will from the con- 
federation and establish herself as a separate nation. I hold, 
therefore, that the act of secession is a breach of the compact 
on the part of the seceding States ; and that, being a breach of 
compact and against the will of the Federal Government, it is 



42 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

of necessity an act of revolution. But, Mr. President, it is a 
revolution inaugurated by a people in their collective capacity — 
a revolution and breach of the compact which, if groundless in 
morals and reason, gives just cause of war, but leaves no other 
remedy. You may quell insurrection, you may put down domes- 
tic violence by the operation of the law, but you cannot meet 
the collective action of a people in any other mode than by war 
or by peaceable negotiation ; and that statesman will find that he 
makes a terrible mistake who is unable to distinguish between 
the collective action of a people and a mere temporary insur- 
rection of factious individuals. Lord North made it, and he 
lost, under the plea of executing the laws^ the brightest jewels 
of the British Crown. Concession might have led to a very 
different termination. 

Mr. President, I can scarcely realize that it can be seriously 
urged that the States of this Union were not independent and 
sovereign States when they formed their original confederacy ; 
that they did not, as independent and sovereign States, adopt, 
by the several action of their people, the present Federal Con- 
stitution; and that they did not reserve to the States and the 
people thereof all rights which were not ceded to the common 
Oovernment by the Constitution which they adopted. But, sir, 
if the States were sovereign originally, what change was made 
in their relations by the formation of the present Constitution? 
The first and the most important change was the power to tax 
for the purpose of its support, which was given to the general 
Government, and which was the great defect of the old con- 
federation. The next radical change was that the laws should 
operate upon the individual citizen, instead of operating upon 
the citizen through the action of the State. To that extent the 
alteration made the general Government a National Government. 
This change in the operation of the laws on individuals instead 
of communities was intended to strengthen and give stability 
to the Union by substituting for the coercion of arms — ^which 
existed in the Confederacy as against the State, but was practi- 
cally a useless power — ^the coercion of the magistracy upon the 
individual. No more was intended, and the power it confers is 
quite sufBcient for any federal government existing over inde- 
pendent communities, and founded upon opinion. But the co- 
ercion of a State in its collective capacity, even by the magis- 
tracy, which they inserted in the Constitution when it was origi- 
nally adopted, was stricken out very soon afterward by amend- 
ment. 

The ixif erence seems irresistible. If the power was abrogated 



THE RIGHT OF SECESSION 43 

which, as first inserted in the Constitution, gave the means of 
coercion by the magistracy as against a State, on what princi- 
ple can it be contended that the Federal Constitution gives the 
right of coercion by arms against a State, while the State re- 
mains in the Union f If the State, by secession, becomes alien, 
you have the same right of war or peace with her that you have 
with any other alien people; but, while you recognize her as a 
member of the Union, coercion by arms, or by the magistracy, 
against the State in its collective capacity, was neither given, nor 
intended to be given, by the Federal Constitution. The attempt 
to give the power in both shapes was made in the convention, 
and expressly voted down, both as to coercion by arms and co- 
ercion by the magistracy. It was given indirectly by the clause 
which gave jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in suits by indi- 
viduals against a State ; but that was stricken out, within a few 
years after its adoption, by amendment. The right of secession 
at wUly with or without cause, was not given, because the inser- 
tion of such a clause in the Federal Constitution would but have 
been an invitation to dissolution. It was left unprovided for, as 
one of those exigencies in human affairs against which no gov- 
ernment and no human foresight could provide. 

Sir, coercion by the magistracy of the individual citizen gave 
all the strength and sanction to the laws of the Federal Oovern- 
ment which were requisite ; but it has no application to the collec- 
tive action of the people in any State in their political capacity. 
Where a State, by the action of her people, declares herself out 
of the Union, or, in ordinary language, secedes, the necessary ef- 
fect is that the magistracy is gone ; there is no Federal officer to 
carry into execution the laws by means of the civil power, and 
of course the laws must cease to operate. It is the result of rev- 
olutionary action, I admit, because against the will of the exist- 
ing common (Government ; but it is the action of an independent 
community in their collective capacity, and has precisely the 
same effect upon the relative condition of the people of that 
State and the rest of the Union that the abrogation of a treaty 
would have between independent nations. The treaty in such 
case is at an end ; but if abrogated without sufficient cause the 
annulment gives just cause of war. The Union, however, 
stands; the Federal Government remains, as to all the other 
States, in its entirety, and with its laws and its Constittuion, as 
it stood before ; but secession has abrogated the coercion of the 
magistracy within the States that have withdrawn by the action 
of the people thereof. Is not this action the consent of the gov- 
erned? It is revolutionary; but, still, action had by the con- 



44 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

sent of the governed. Who adopted the Constitution T The peo- 
ple of Georgia, by the vote of their own people alone. If they 
decide to withdraw from that Union by the act of the same peo- 
ple — not of the legislature — on what principle, consistent with 
the Declaration of Independence, can it be denied that this same 
people can change their common as well as their State govern- 
ment, except on the ground that such change is a breach of the 
compact which they made with the people of other States, by 
adopting the Federal Constitution? If secession be, then, as I 
believe, a breach of compact, yet it would be justified by suffi- 
cient cause ; if resulting from caprice without grave cause of dis- 
content, or sense of insecurity, it gives just right of war ; but it 
does not necessarily ensue, from the right of war, that war 
should follow. War is a question of morals and power com- 
bined, and always must be. 

The military power in this country was never intended to 
be a primary power in the execution of the laws. It may bo 
called in aid, under the mandate of the magistrate, as subsidiary 
to the civil power. By the express terms of the Constitution, 
you may, at the request of a State, use the military power in 
case of domestic violence; you may repress insurrection in the 
same mode ; but this Qovernment never was intended to be car- 
ried on by means of the military, as a substitute and primary 
power in place of the civil power — the action of the magistracy ; 
and yet no other mode remains in which the laws can be en- 
forced in the seceding States than by the military power, if their 
enforcement is insisted on. All laws require some sanction, or 
they are futile. There is but the sanction of the magistracy or 
the sanction of arms. Under the old Confederacy they had to 
depend entirely upon the sanction of arms, but never attempted 
its exercise, relying solely on the good faith of the States. The 
change made in constructing the present (Government was by 
giving the power of coercion by the magistracy upon the indi- 
vidual citizen ; but, of necessity, that is dependent upon the ac- 
tion of the people of the State in their collective capacity ; and 
if they subvert and put an end to the magistracy the laws of 
the Union cannot be enforced, under our present Constitution, 
without a violation of its intent. The action of the seceding 
States was beyond human foresight, and one of those calamities 
against which no government, unless a military despotism, can 
guard. 

When a State secedes by the action of her people, though its 
effect severs her from the Union and makes her an alien people, 
it is a breach of the compact which created this Oovemment, 



THE RIGHT OF SECESSION 45 

and is, in itself, just cause of war. But the right of war arises 
only as consequent upon the effect of the action of the people 
of the State, having made the people thereof an alien to the rest 
of the Union. If still in the Union, you cannot make war upon 
a State. Such is the doctrine inculcated by Mr. Madison in 
**The Federalist," as the law of the compact in all governments 
founded upon the express compact of sovereignties, and not, as 
this Federal Oovemment certainly is not, upon the social com- 
pact. It is the law, as laid down by all publicists, that the 
breach of any one article absolves all the others from the en- 
gagements of the compact, ^^ unless they choose rather to compel 
the delinquent party to repair the breach." I will not say that 
the case might not be supposed, where a State, from mere 
caprice, without any cause whatever, should withdraw from the 
Federal Union, hostile measure, mingled with conciliation, might 
have the effect of restoring her to the Union, of repairing the 
breach. Where the people were divided and the State small in 
power, I can conceive that the use of hostile or coercive meas- 
ures, mingled with affectionate consideration for her people, 
might conduce to such a result without destroying the form of 
our Oovemment, though, in such a case, hostile measures would 
be a stretch of constitutional power ; but such supposition has no 
relation to the case of a large section of country, having sufS- 
cient population and resources to exist as an independent na- 
tion, which chooses to throw off its allegiance to the Federal Gov- 
ernment, and, by the action of the people, withdraw from any 
further connection with it. In such a case, you cannot restore 
the Union by means of the power of arms. Conciliation and 
concession alone, and their consent, must bring back those States 
to this Government, as by their separate consent they were origi- 
nally incorporated among its members. 

It has been said that the action of a State in seceding makes 
all the actors guilty of treason if they attempt to support that 
action by force of arms. I am unable to appreciate the force 
or the humanity of such a doctrine. It may serve to excite ; it 
will never serve to deter. It is not a practical question. When 
revolution comes, not insurrection, it overrides and cannot be 
met by the law of treason. The allegiance is due to the State 
as well as to the Federal Government ; and the allegiance to the 
Federal Government is due through the State. If the State, as a 
political community, dissolves her connection with the Federal 
Government, could there be a more revolting proposition than 
that the individual man, who is domiciled in the State, and re- 
siding there, shall be held in the position that he is guilty of 



46 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

treason against the State if he does not side with her, and of 
treason against the general Government if he does? The law of 
domicile must necessarily govern the allegiance of the individual 
where the political action of the community has severed the 
State in which he is domiciled from the general Government. 
Humanity alone requires that such a doctrine should be en- 
forced. But it is really not a practical question. The charge 
of treason only irritates; for the words '' treason'' and 
''traitor" are terms to which no man submits without a sense 
of indignation and a disposition to resistance. Practically you 
can never enforce the law of treason against the collective action 
of a people. It was threatened in the case of the revolution of 
our own ancestors in 1776. Was it ever enforced T Must it not 
always lead to retaliation where there is this collective action? 
Is there a possibility that where revolution occurs — ^and this is 
revolution on the part of the people of seven States in their col- 
lective capacity — ^that the law of treason can be enforced T Why, 
then, is the term applied unless, indeed, those who use it intend 
so to increase exasperation that neither reconciliation nor re-, 
union, nor even peaceful separation, shall be practicable or pos- 
sible. 

But, sir, though the act of secession, which, for the reasons 
I have assigned, I believe to be revolutionary, is a revolutionary 
right, and is a right which the people of a State alone, in whom 
the ultimate sovereignty is vested, not the legislature, can exer- 
cise; and it is from the use of the words "the people," by our 
ancestors, to distinguish between the mere Government as an 
agent and the great body of the people in which, as possessing 
the ultimate sovereignty, the right to change the form of gov- 
ernment reposes, that so many have been led into false views of 
the act of secession. They used the word ** people" as repre- 
senting the ultimate and true source of sovereignty in contra- 
distinction to the mere Government. If the people of a State, 
acting in the same collective capacity in which they adopted the 
Constitution of the United States, as a distinct people, after- 
ward choose to abrogate that Constitution, it seems clear, if they 
had the authority to adopt, they must have the sovereignty to 
rescind. The act is revolutionary, because it is against the will 
of the common Government, and a breach of the compact which 
created that Government. It becomes just cause of war, as in 
any case in which one nation abrogates a compact with another, 
and war alone must be the remedy or peaceful arrangement. 

The remaining (question, which I wish to discuss, is as to the 
power of the President and Senate, by treaty, to adjust all qucs- 



THE RIGHT OF SECESSION 47 

tions likely to give rise to difficulty and to collision between the 
new republic which has been formed and the Federal Govern- 
ment. I cannot entertain a doubt as to the existence of that 
power. It is not expressly given in those terms, but the treaty- 
making power is vested in the President and Senate. It is an 
indefinite power. The war power, contrary to the rule which 
exists in other nations, is in Congress, the legislative body, alone. 
The treaty-making power is confined to the President, and two- 
thirds of the Senate concurring with him in the negotiation of 
the treaty. One must necessarily, in the exigencies of a nation, 
be as broad as the other. What is there that prevents the United 
States from ceding a portion of territory not within a State, if 
the exigencies of the Government require it? You acquire ter- 
ritory by means of treaty, with no express power given for the 
purpose, because the external sovereignty of the Union is vested 
in the Federal Government alone; and for the same reason, if 
the general interests of the whole, where no particular State has 
jurisdiction or authority, require that you should cede territory 
of the United States to a foreign government, can anyone doubt 
Ihat the cession could be made, not by Congress, but by the Pres- 
ident and Senate, only by means of a treaty T You did it for the 
purpose of closing a boundary in the case of Maine, within a 
State, with the consent of the State. You were not able to run 
the line between Great Britain and the United States; and for 
the purpose of establishing a boundary and preventing collision 
and war between the nations you did cede a portion of the State 
of Maine, with the consent of the legislature of that State. 

If one purpose will justify you in ceding a portion of the 
United States to a foreign nation, on what principle is it that, 
where seven States of this Union, by their consent and by the 
action of their people, have chosen to withdraw themselves from 
the Union and declare themselves out of the Union, you cannot 
accept their declaration and treat with them? You cannot 
doubt that you have the power of war against them, though not 
while they are States of the Union. If you once begin war, you 
treat them as an alien people. It is the necessary result of war. 
Will war give a power to the President and Senate to make a 
treaty, which they do not possess antecedent to the war? Is a 
baptism of blood necessary in order to give authority under the 
Constitution to the President and Senate of the United States 
to conclude peace? If such a doctrine be tenable, the result is 
that, if a collision of arms occurs with this new republic, and 
you fight for a period of eight or ten years, still you are power- 
less ; the President and Senate cannot treat, peace caa never be 



48 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

concluded, and eternal war must be the rule of your Gbvem- 
ment. No new power will be acquired by a collision of arms be- 
tween you and this new republic. The power must exist now, or 
it exists never. 

Mr. President, I do not see how this conclusion can be es- 
caped; and why you should not have the power. The treaty- 
making power, beyond all question, is an indefinite power. It 
embraces all relations external to the Union. If any State had 
never become a party to the present Government, can anyone 
doubt that, such State remaining an independent state, you 
could have treated with her, and that every State of this Union 
had the right to part with any portion of her territory irrespec- 
tive of the consent of the general Government, if she was not a 
party to that Qovemmentt It was part of their sovereignty and 
their independence, as it belongs to every other nation, to either 
acquire territory, which is one of the rights of sovereignty, or to 
diminish her territory by cession, where the public exigencies re- 
quire it. Well, then, if a State, by the action of her people, de- 
clares herself out of the Union, what clause in the Constitution 
forbids your acceptance of her declaration, and excludes from 
the treaty-making power negotiation and treaty with her? If 
you, with her consent, can cede a portion of her territory to a 
foreign power, why can you not, with her consent, permit the 
whole State to withdraw from the Federal jurisdiction ? 

For the acquisition of territory by the United States, you 
find no express authority in the Constitution ; but it results from 
the nature of your Government. It is forbidden to the States ; 
it is permitted to the general Government, because the right of 
acquisition is incident to sovereignty. 

The right to acquire territory implies the right to part with 
it. There is no limit, in fact, to the power of diminishing the 
territory of the Union, except in the States. As we have seen, 
the general Government, with the assent of the State concerned, 
did it for one purpose, in the case of the State of Maine, with- 
out even the action of the people. 

In the case of the seven seceded States, the people in their 
original capacity, in whom the ultimate sovereignty rests ac- 
cording to our Declaration of Independence, have declared 
those States to be out of the Union by their representatives 
elected for that purpose, and they have dissolved their connec- 
tion with the Federal Government. Have we not the right, has 
not this Government the power, to accept that declaration ; not 
to destroy the Union, but to preserve it, and maintain peace 
with those States? Tou cannot escape from perpetual and eter- 



THE RIGHT OF SECESSION 49 

nal war, unless yon come to this conclusiony that the President 
and the Senate have the power of negotiation with a State which 
secedes, if they see fit to exercise it. I admit freely that, on the 
other hand, the act of secession having the effect of severing the 
State from the Union, though revolutionary, and making her 
people an alien people. Congress has also the right of war, and 
just cause of war, if there is no cause for the withdrawal. 

If you refuse to treat, if the relations between these two re- 
publics are left in their present unsettled condition, the danger 
of collision must be constantly existent. There is the loss also 
of prestige on the part of the Federal Government, if you assert 
your jurisdiction over the seceded States, and do not enforce 
your laws. In fact, non-action would amount to a virtual ac- 
knowledgment of the independence de facto of those States. 
Why not acknowledge it by treaty, by direct action, and thus 
avoid collision T Foreign governments will so act if you do not, 
and thus complicate the relations between the two republics. 

But, sir, it cannot be doubted that war will be the inevitable 
result if the army or the navy is employed to execute the laws 
of the Federal Union within the seceded States. If you do mean 
war, it is a question of morals and of power. There is but one 
legitimate object for such a war, and that is the restoration of 
the seceded States to the Union. But you can never effect that 
result by a war of subjugation. Is it consistent with your form 
of government, if you could succeed in conquering those States, 
to hold them as subject provinces? You must either desolate 
them, if you succeed, or you must maintain your supremacy by 
an immense standing army, in order to keep them in subjection. 
Look at the condition of Venice and Austria. What myriads of 
troops is Austria obliged to maintain in order to keep an ener- 
vate people in a state of subjection against their will ! Sir, the 
admiration of military glory is quite as strong a passion 
among the American people as with other nations. The per- 
manent maintenance of a large standing army would necessa- 
rily foster and encourage that passion, and, in the end, some suc- 
cessful soldier would become the military autocrat of the Re- 
public, and substitute the coercion of arms for the coercion of 
the magistracy, because the character of the people, under a war 
of one or two generations, would change, and the love of civil 
liberty that now exists throughout this nation would be seriously 
diminished, or, perhaps, entirely pass away. 

You cannot conquer the South any more than the South 
could conquer the North. The first attempt at conquest would, 
of necessity, from the cause of contest, force other alaveholding 
VI— 4 



50 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

States into the Southern Confederacy, and this new republic, as 
it stands, has both the wealth and population to maintain a na- 
tional existence. It would be no short war. The result of war, 
too, is always doubtful, and far beyond human foresight. Acci- 
dent will often determine a decisive battle. The individual 
genius of leaders controls the events of war far beyond any con- 
trol that can be exercised by human genius during a state of 
peace. The genius of Andrew Jackson secured the victory of 
New Orleans. Under another, though an able soldier, it might 
have been lost. The majority of numbers and resources will not 
insure success in war. On the plains of Marathon, ten thousand 
Greeks defeated the countless hosts of Xerxes, and a compara- 
tively small number of deficiently armed Swiss mountaineers 
met the mailed chivalry of Charles of Burgundy, and defeated, 
utterly and disastrously, the best armed and organized army of 
Europe. Bannockbum must not be forgotten, and history is 
filled with similar illustrations. 

Again, sir, a war of invasion — ^which, if the war commences, 
must be its character, if you attempt to effect your purpose un- 
der the pretext of enforcing the laws — ^is always in favor of the 
invaded country. Men will fight for their homes and their fire- 
sides as they will not fight for conquest, and will endure the ut- 
most extent of privation and suffering, rather than 3deld to the 
invader ; and disparity of force never insures the conquest of an 
invaded country. You have the illustration in our own contest 
with Great Britain. 

Great Britain might possibly, under abler military men, have 
succeeded for the time; but after the first blood was shed she 
never could have retained her supremacy over this country. 
Conciliation might have saved her the colonies in the first in- 
stance, before independence was declared, but after its declara- 
tion the acknowledgment of their independence became an in- 
evitable result, and was merely a question of time. 

I trust the idea that it would be a legitimate act on the part 
of the Federal Government, for the purpose of effecting their 
subjugation, to incite servile insurrection in the States of this 
new republic, is not entertained. The act would be forbidden by 
common humanity and the indignant voice of the world. But if 
the spirit of malignity entertain such an idea, it will be disap- 
pointed. Servile insurrections may occur, and have occurred 
in the history of the world, but not at the call of an invader. 
Your own wars with Great Britain, in the Revolution and in 
1812, illustrate this. 

Is there, &Ir. President, a point of honor T The Union is not 



THE RIGHT OF SECESSION 51 

dissolved if we let these States go. The United States remain; 
the Federal Gh>vernment remains. We are a great and powerful 
nation. Part of the dominions over which our laws extended 
may be curtailed, and our jurisdiction over them lost, but we 
remain with all the elements of a great nation, if we acknowl- 
edge the new republic. But it may be said that, if we sever in 
consequence of this secession, arising from the anti-slavery sen- 
timent, into two separate governments, the same sentiment will 
produce collision between the independent governments by the 
same interference which has led to secession from the com- 
mon government. The answer is that the anti-slavery sen- 
timent, with the masses at least, is an honest, though, as I 
think, a mistaken conviction, founded in ignorance of the rela- 
tions of race. They believe, also, that there is a moral responsi- 
bility on their part connected with the operations of the com- 
mon government, in relation to this institution. That responsi- 
bility ceases if this new republic is acknowledged as a separate 
nationality. 

Mr. President, if so many separate and independent com- 
munities existing under a common government find that, from 
dissonance of habits, of manners, of customs, or from antago- 
nism of opinion, or any other cause, they can no longer remain 
under that common government, and can agree by peaceful 
action to separate into two republics, each pursuing its own des- 
tiny according to its own views and the will of its own people, 
it will afford the most pregnant and conclusive evidence that 
has ever been exhibited to the world of the capacity of man for 
self-government. If, on the contrary, blood must flow, and war, 
prolonged civil war, be consequent upon separation, then, in- 
deed, will the columns that support this Federal Government be 
scattered into fragments, and probably many petty and power- 
less governments arise upon their ruins. Years of conflict may 
establish separate nationalities, but in that event the last hope 
of the patriot, the philosopher, and the statesman, for the self- 
government of man, will perish with the dissolution of the Fed- 
eral Union. 



Negotiations wfth Confederate Peace Commission 

Prior to the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln the Con- 
federate Government had selected three commissioners 
to adjust the ** differences ' ' which existed between the 
two governments. They were Martin J. Crawford, a 



52 GREAT. AMERICAN DEBATES 

former Democratic member of Congress from Georgia ; 
John Forsyth, editor of a Democratic paper at Mobile, 
Ala., and Andrew B. Roman, a former Governor of 
Louisiana, and a Whig who had used all his influence to 
prevent disunion. 

On the 13th of March, 1861, the commissioners sent 
a diplomatic dispatch to the Federal State Department 
informing the Federal Government that they had been 
appointed by the Confederate authorities as commis- 
sioners empowered to open negotiations for the settle- 
ment of all controverted questions between the two gov- 
ernments, and to conclude treaties of peace Between ^ ^ the 
two nations/' 

To this note no reply was returned, but Secretary 
William H. Seward made out a memorandum and filed 
it with the document, simply stating that the Govern- 
ment could not recognize the authority under which the 
alleged conmiissioners acted, nor reply to them. The 
memorandum stated that ^ ' it could not be admitted that 
the States referred to had, in law or fact, withdrawn 
from the Federal Union, or that they could do so in 
any other manner than with their consent, and the con- 
sent of the people of the United States, to be given 
through a national convention to be assembled in con- 
formity with the provisions of the Constitution of the 
United States/' 

This memorandum was withheld until April 8, when 
it was at once telegraphed both to Montgomery, Ala., 
the Confederate capital, and Charleston, where it created 
great excitement. 

In the meanwhile Chief- Justice Taney and Assodate- 
Justices Campbell and Nelson had, of their own volition 
as good citizens, examined the legal question of the 
right of the President to coerce a State, and had con- 
cluded that there was no constitutional right so to do; 
and they gratuitously advised the several members of 
the Cabinet of the conclusions to which they had come, 
and recommended that terms of conciliation be proposed 
to the Confederate Government through the commis- 
sioners. 



THE RIGHT OF SECESSION 53 

Secretary Seward was in favor of evacuating Fort 
Sumter, and he informed Judge CampbeU, who was act- 
ing as mediator, that it would be evacuated, and Camp- 
beU so informed the Confederate commissioners, who in 
turn informed their Government Mr. Lincoln was 
taking ample time to deliberate what to do, being uncer- 
tain as to the best policy. He was hopeful that Virginia 
would not secede, and that the Virginia convention, 
which was deliberating upon the question, would ad- 
journ and so cease to be a menace to him. 

On the 9th of April the Confederate commissioners 
sent a letter to the Secretary of State in which they 
proffered as their ultimatum of negotiation the evacua- 
tion of Sumter. Secretary Seward replied that he was 
not **at liberty to hold official intercourse with them.*' 

Of this action the Confederate authorities were duly 
apprised, and the commissioners left Washington on 
Apnl 11, and returned to Montgomery. 

The Fall of Fobt Sumteb 

President Lincoln, against the advice of a majority 
of his Cabinet, had finally resolved to send provisions 
to Fort Sumter, and an expedition sailed for this pur- 
pose on April 6. 

Owing to a gale only the Baltic of the fleet arrived 
in time to be of service to Major Anderson, and that 
only to bear away the surrendered garrison. The Con- 
federate Government heard of the coming of the pro- 
visioning expedition and, considering the capture of the 
fort necessary to the life of the rebellion, ordered ^ 
General Pierre G. T. Beauregard, who was in charge of 
tiie investment, to procure its surrender, or, failing in 
this, to bombard it On the 11th Beauregard sent to 
Major Anderson a smnmons to surrender, offering to 
him, in case of compliance, facilities to remove the troops, 
and to the garrison the privilege of saluting their flag. 
To this Anderson replied that he would surrender the 
fort on the 15th if supplies did not reach him by that 
time, or if he did not before then receive orders to the 
contrary from his Government. 



y 



54 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

These conditions did not suit the Confederates, and 

on Friday, April 12, at 3 a. m., they gave Anderson 

notice that their batteries would open on the fort in an 

^hour. At 4:30 the bombardment began, and continued 

throughout that day and into the next. 

Anderson then accepted the conditions of surrender 
offered, and on the following day, Sunday, April 14, the 
garrison sailed northward in the Baltic. 

The Virginia Convention 

Since February 13 Virginia had been holding a con- 
vention to consider its policy in the crisis. The Union 
delegates were in a majority. An ordinance of secession 
was voted down on March 17 by a majority of ninety to 
forty-five, and a similar proposition was defeated on 
April 4, but still the convention declined to adjourn. 
Mr. Lincoln therefore caused a letter to be sent to 
George W. Summers of Charleston, Va., the most tal- 
ented of the Union men in his State, requesting that he 
come to Washington for conference. Summers was kept 
by timidity from accepting the President's invitation, 
but he sent John B. Baldwin in his place. 

The interview was held on the morning of April 4. 
Baldwin returned to the convention reporting that his 
conference with the President was inconclusive; that 
Mr. Lincoln had characterized the convention as a 
* ' standing menace which embarrassed him very much, ' * 
and therefore he desired that it adjourn sine die, but 
that he had given no promise of what return he would 
make to it for compliance with his wishes. John Minor 
Botts, another member of the convention, called on the 
President two days afterward, and held a conversation 
in which Mr. Lincoln gave an account of the interview 
with Baldwin which, as remembered by Mr. Botts, dif- 
fered materially from Baldwin's report. The President, 
said Botts, spoke of the fleet in New York harbor pre- 
paring to sail that afternoon to provision Fort Sumter. 
"Now," said Mr. Lincoln, *'your convention in Rich- 
mond has been sitting for nearly two months, and all it 
has done has been to shake the rod over my head 



THE RIGHT OF SECESSION 55 

(threatening to secede if coercion should be used to 
bring back South Carolina into the Union). If the Union 
majority in the Virginia convention will adjourn it with- 
out its passing an ordinance of secession, this fleet shall 
be kept from sailing, and, instead, Fort Sumter shall be 
evacuated. I think it is a good swap to give a fort for 
a State any time.'* 

As a result of Baldwin 's report, the Virginia conven- 
tion remained in session, and on April 8 appointed an- 
other delegation, consisting of William Ballard Preston, 
Alexander H. H. Stuart, and George W. Randolph, to 
wait on President Lincoln, and ask him to communicate 
to the convention ''the policy which the Federal Execu- 
tive intends to pursue in regard to the Federal States.'* 

The committee had an audience with the President 
at Washington on April 13, the day after Fort Sumter 
had been fired upon by the South Carolinian secession- 
ists. He referred the convention to the policy expressed 
in his inaugural address : 

As I then and therein said, I now repeat: **The power con- 
fided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the prop- 
erty and places belonging to the Government, and to collect the 
duties and imposts; but beyond what is necessary for these ob- 
jects th^re will be no invasion, no using of force against or 
among the people anywhere." ... In case it proves true that 
Fort Sumter has been assaulted, as is reported, I shall perhaps 
cause the United States mails to be withdrawn from all the 
States which claim to have seceded, believing that the com- 
mencement of actual war against the Government justifies and 
possibly demands this. ... 

Whatever else I may do for the purpose, I shall not attempt 
to collect the duties and imposts by any armed invasion of any 
part of the coimtry ; not meaning by this, however, that I may 
not land a force deemed necessary to relieve a fort upon a bor- 
der of the coimtry. 

The report of this conunittee, followed as it was by 
the President ^s call of April 15 for 75,000 militia to sup-^ 
press the rebellion and to be raised by the several States 
of the Union, which included Virginia, caused the con- 
vention, on April 17, to pass an ordinance of secession. 



56 GREAT, AMERICAN DEBATES 

This was followed by a similar ordinance in Arkansas 
on May 6, and a military league with the Confederacy in 
Tennessee on May 7. 

The Confederate Government established its capital 
at Richmond, Virginia, on the 21st of May, and North 
Carolina, being surrounded by secession territory, se-* 
ceded the same day. 

The Call fob Teoops 

On April 15, the day after the surrender of Fort 
Sumter, the President) issued a proclamation calling 
forth the militia of the several States of the Union to 
the aggregate number of 75,000 to suppress combina- 
tions which existed in the seceding States for the pur- 
pose of opposing and obstructing the enforcement of 
Federal laws, and which were * * too powerful to be sup- 
pressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, 
or by the powers vested in the marshals by law/' The 
concluding paragraph of the proclamation convened 
Congress to meet on July 4 ' ' to consider and determine 
such measures as, in their wisdom, the public safety 
and interest might seem to demand/' 

The call for troops was really signed on Sunday, 
April 14, though dated April 15. On the evening of 
the 14th Senator Stephen A. Douglas called upon Presi- 
dent Lincoln and was closeted with him for two hours. 
He went forth from the conference to publish by tele- 
graph to the country the declaration that he was "pre- 
pared to sustain the President in the exercise of all his 
constitutional functions to preserve the Union, and 
maintain the Government, and defend the Federal 
capital. ' ' On April 25, before the Illinois legislature, he 
made, in behalf of the Union, the most eloquent speech 
of his life. Unfortunately for the cause which had be- 
come the paramount passion of his soul, he died a little 
more than a month thereafter, on June 3, at his home 
in Chicago. Even measured by his few weeks of service, 
his place is secure in American history as the first and 
greatest of "War Democrats.'* 

The governors of all the free States responded to fhe 



THE RIGHT OF SECESSION 57 

call for troops with enthusiasm, offering more men than 
were required or could be armed. The governors of the 
border States, however, indignantly refused the call. 
Governor Jackson of Missouri said, *'Not one man will 
Missouri furnish to carry on such an unholy crusade.'* 
Governor Magoffin of Kentucky said, *'I say emphati- 
cally, Kentucky will furnish no troops for the wicked 
purpose of subduing her sister Southern States," and 
Governor Harris of Tennessee said, ' ' Tennessee will not 
furnish a man for coercion, but 50,000 for the defence 
of our Southern brothers." 

MnJTABY Movements of the Confedebacy 

As an answer to Lincoln's call for troops, Jefferson 
Davis, President of the Southern Confederacy, issued a 
proclamation on April 17, offering letters of marque 
and reprisal to privateers desiring to prey upon the 
conmierce of the United States. Two days later Presi- 
dent Lincoln replied by proclaiming a blockade of all 
the Confederate ports, and giving notice that privateer- 
ing would be treated as piracy. 

General Beauregard was ordered by President Davis 
into northern Virginia to assume conmiand of the forces 
gathering there from the Gulf States. 

Mttjtaby Movements of the Union 

On May 3 the President issued a proclamation calling 
for 42,034 more volunteers from the several States, and 
an increase in the regular army of 22,714 men, and in 
the navy of 18,000. 

The first efforts of the Government were to hold the 
border States in the Union. Major Eobert Anderson, 
the hero of Fort Sumter, was sent to his native State 
of Kentucky to recruit volunteers. Captain Nathaniel 
Lyon, an ardent anti-slavery man, who was in charge 
of the St. Louis arsenal, was ordered to enlist 10,000 
loyal Missourians, aTid, if necessary, to proclaim martial 
law in the State. £L^^ ,-he was put in charge of the 
military department in wjiich Missouri was situated. 



58 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

replacing General William H. Harney, a conservative, 
who had been cajoled into making a compact with the 
State government, which was attempting to take Mis- 
souri into the Confederacy, to refrain from military 
movements, since these were apt to "create excitements 
and jealousy." General Lyon at once went into action, 
and on June 17 defeated the State (really Confederate) 
troops under General Sterling Price at Booneville. The 




THE BATTLE Of BOONEVJLLE, OR TUE CR£AT ) 

Fnm Ou telHaDm «f Ou N«w fork BlMoHcol Sactit 

governor, Claiborne F. Jackson, was forced to flee from 
place to place in the State while keeping up the pretence 
of a government. Missouri, under Jackson, was recog- 
nized as a part of the Confederacy by the Davis Govern- 
ment. 

General George B, McClellan entered West Virginia 
from Ohio and occnpied it for the Union, A Michigan 
regiment under Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth entered 
Virginia from Washington and occupied Alexandria. 
Ellsworth, as he was cutting down a rebel flag on a 
hotel there, was assassinated by tbe-f'Top-'ietor. 

The capture of Alexandria' inangurated open conflict 



THE RIGHT OF SECESSION 59 

between the Confederacy and the Union in Virginia. 
General Pierre G. T. Beauregard, who was looked upon 
by the South as the hero of Fort Sumter, was sent on 
May 31 to command the Confederate forces centering 
about Manassas. General Joseph E. Johnston was in 
command at Winchester, having fallen back from Har- 
per's Ferry before a superior Union force under Gen- 
eral Robert Patterson. On June 19 President Lincoln 
called his Cabinet and the leading generals to a council 
of war, at which it was decided that General Irvin Mc- 
Dowell should lead the Union forces against Beauregard, 
while Patterson should remain confronting Johnston in 
the Shenandoah Valley, following him in a rear attack if 
he should attempt to join Beauregard. 

This was the situation when Congress met in special 
session July 4 and listened to the President's message. 

The message was in effect an answer to Senator 
Bayard's speech on the right of secession. 



The Sophistby of Secession 

m 

FiBST Message of PREsmENT Lincoln to Concbess 

In his message President Lincoln described the state 
of affairs at the time of his inauguration; the suspen- 
sion of all functions of the Federal Government, save 
those of the postoffice, in South Carolina, Georgia, Ala- 
bama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida ; the seizure by 
the several governments of these States of forts and 
other Federal property, and the organization of these 
States into a Confederation which ''was already invok- 
ing recognition, aid, and intervention from foreign 
powers." The President recounted his forbearance in 
pursuing the policy expressed in his inaugural address 
of exhausting all peaceful measures before resorting to 
stronger ones. 

He then lucidly recited the story of the assault upon 
Fort Sumter by South Carolina, demonstrating that it 
was in no sense an act of defence, but on the contrary 



60 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

of deliberate aggression, designed to force the hand of 
the Federal Government. 

That this was their object the Executive well understood; 
and having said to them, in the inaugural address, ''You can 
have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors," he 
took pains not only to keep this declaration good, but also to keep 
the case so free from the power of ingenious sophistry that the 
world should not be able to misunderstand it. By the affair at 
Port Sumter, with its surrounding circumstances, that point was 
reached. In this act, discarding all else, they have forced upon 
the country the distinct issue, "immediate dissolution or blood." 

And this issue embraces more than the fate of the United 
States. It presents to the whole family of man the question 
whether a constitutional republic or democracy — a government 
of the people by the same people— can or cannot maintain its 
territorial integrity against its own domestic foes. It presents 
the question whether discontented individuals, too few in num- 
bers to control administration according to organic law in any 
case, can always, upon the pretences made in this case, or on any 
other pretences, or arbitrarily without any pretence, break up 
their government, and thus practically put an end to free gov- 
ernment upon the earth. It forces us to ask: **Is there, in all 
republics, this inherent and fatal weakness?" ''Must a govern- 
ment, of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its own peo- 
ple, or too Aveak to maintain its own existence?" 

So viewing the issue, no choice was left but to call out the 
war power of the Government; and so to resist force employed 
for its destruction by force for its preservation. 

The President then discussed the action of the border 
States, particularly Virginia, pursuant to the attack on 
Sumter. 

The course taken in Virginia was the most remarkable — ^per- 
haps the most important. A convention elected by the people 
of that State to consider the very question of disrupting the 
Federal Union was in session at the capital of Virginia when 
Fort Sumter fell. To this body the people had chosen a large 
majority of professed Union men. Almost immediately after the 
fall of Sumter, many members of that majority went over to 
the original disunion minority, and with them adopted an ordi- 
nance for withdrawing the State from the Union. Whether this 
change was wrought by their great approval of the assault upon 



THE RIGHT OF SECESSION 61 

Sumter or their great resentment at the Ooyemment's resist- 
ance to that assault is not definitely known. Although they sub- 
mitted the ordinance for ratification to a vote of the people, to 
be taken on a day then somewhat more than a month distant, 
the convention and the legislature (which was also in session at 
the same time and place), with leading men of the State not 
members of either, immediately commenced acting as if the State 
were already out of the Union. They pushed military prepara- 
tions vigorously forward all over the State. They seized the 
United States armory at Harper's Ferry, and the navy yard at 
Gosport, near Norfolk. They received — ^perhaps invited — into 
their State large bodies of trooi>s, with their warlike appoint- 
ments, from the so-called seceded States. They formally entered 
into a treaty of temporary alliance and cooperation with the so- 
called "Confederate States,'' and sent members to their con- 
gress at Mcmtgomery. And, finally, they permitted the insur- 
rectionary government to be transferred to their capital at 
Bichmond. 

The people of Virginia have thus allowed this giant insur- 
rection to make its nest within her borders; and this Qovem- 
ment has no choice left but to deal with it where it finds it. And 
it has the less regret as the loyal citizens have, in due form, 
claimed its protection. Those loyal citizens this Government is 
bound to recognize and protect, as being Virginia. 

The attitude of ** armed neutrality" adopted by 
Kentucky the President characterized as ' ' disunion com- 
pleted." 

Figuratively speaking, it would be the building of an im- 
passable waU along the line of separation — and yet not quite an 
impassable one, for under the guise of neutrality it would tie 
the hands of Union men and freely pass supplies from among 
them to the insurrectionists, which it could not do as an open 
enemy. ... It recognizes no fidelity to the Constitution, no 
obligation to maintain the Union; and, while very many who 
have favored it are doubtless loyal citizens, it is, nevertiieless, 
very injurious in effect. 

The President proceeded to justify his orders to 
Lieutenant-General Scott authorizing him at discretion 
to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, an order which 
had been harshly oritioiBed as arbitrary and unconsti- 
tutionaL 



y 



62 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

The provision of the Constitution that ''the privilege of the 
writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when, in 
cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it," 
is equivalent to a provision — ^is a provision — that such privilege 
may be suspended when, in case of rebellion or invasion, the 
public safety does require it. It was decided that we have a 
case of rebellion, and that the public safety does require the 
qualified suspension of the privilege of the writ which was au- 
thorized to be made. Now it is insisted that Congress, and not 
the Executive, is vested wth this power. But the Constitution 
itself is silent as to which or who is to exercise the power ; and, 
as the provision was plainly made for a dangerous emergency, 
it cannot be believed the f ramers of the instrument intended that 
in every case the danger should run its course until Congress 
could be called together, the very assembling of which might be 
prevented, as was intended in this case, by the rebellion. 

The President concluded his message proper with 
an appeal to Congress to pass those measures which 
would enable him to suppress the rebellion quickly and 
decisively : 

It is now recommended that you give the legal means for 
making this contest a short and decisive one : that you place at 
the control of the Government for the work at least four hun- 
dred thousand men and $400,000,000. That number of men is 
about one-tenth of those of proper ages within the regions where, 
apparently, all are willing to engage ; and the sum is less than 
a twenty-third part of the money value owned by the men who 
seem ready to devote the whole. A debt of $600,000,000 now is 
a less sum per head than was the debt of our Revolution when 
we came out of that struggle ; and the money value in the coun- 
try now bears even a greater proportion to what it was then than 
does the population. Surely each man has as strong a motive 
now to preserve our liberties as each had then to establish them. 

A right result at this time will be worth more to the world 
than ten times the men and ten times the money. The evidence 
reaching us from the country leaves no doubt that the material 
for the work is abundant, and that it needs only the hand of 
legislation to give it legal sanction, and the hand of the Ex- 
ecutive to give it practical shape and eflSciency. One of the 
greatest perplexities of the Government is to avoid receiving 
troops faster than it can provide for them. In a word, the peo- 



THE RIGHT OF SECESSION 63 

pie will save their Oovernment if the Government itself will do 
its part only indifferently well. 

The latter half of the message was is its nature an 
address to the country upon the fallacies of Becession 




THI AUBKICAtf EAOLE BCOTCHINO THE SNASK OP SICESStOH 
[Cover picture of "Vanity Fair," May 4, 1861] 
From Um (oUsaion ^ at Ntw York PuftKe LOrarji 

and the constitutional duty imposed upon the President 
to suppress it by arms. The movers of secession, said 
Mr. Lincoln, in order to undermine the loyalty of the 
South to the Union, "invented an ingenious sophism, 
which, if conceded, was followed by perfectly logical 
steps through all the incidents to the complete destruo- 



64 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

tion of the Union. The sophism itself is that any State 
in the Union may, consistently with the national Con- 
stitution, withdraw from the Union without the consent 
of the Union or of any other State. The little disguise 
that the supposed right is to be exercised only for just 
cause, themselves to be the sole judges of its justice, is 
too thin to merit any notice. '* 

This sophism, said Mr. Lincoln, is based upon the 
false doctrine of State sovereignty. **Our States,'' he 
said, ^'have neither more nor less power than that re- 
served to them in the Union by the Constitution — ^no 
one of them ever having been a State out of the Union. 
. . . The States have their statiis in the Union, and 
they have no other legal status. If they break from 
this, they can only do so against law and by revolution. 
The Union, and not themselves separately, procured 
their independence. . . . The Union is older than 
any of the States, and, in fact, it created them as States. ' ' 

The rights of the States reserved to them by the 
Constitution, argued Mr. Lincoln, are obviously ad- 
ministrative powers, and certainly do not include a 
power to destroy the Government itself. **This relative 
matter of national power and State rights, as a principle, 
is no other than the principle of generality and locality. 
Whatever concerns the whole should be confined to the 
whole — to the general Government, while whatever con- 
cerns only the State should be left exclusively to the 
State. 

''The nation purchased with money," continued Mr. 
Lincoln, **the countries out of which several of these 
States were formed; is it just that they shall go off 
without leave and without refunding? . . . The 
nation is now in debt for money applied to the benefit 
of these so-called seceding States in conunon with the 
rest; is it just that . . • the remaining States pay 
the whole f . • . Again, if one State may secede, so 
may another, and when all shall have seceded none is 
left to pay the debts. . . . The principle itself is 
one of disintegration, and upon which no government 
can possibly endure." 



THE RIGHT OF SECESSION 65 

It may be afi&nned, without extravagance, that the free insti- 
tutions we enjoy have developed the powers and improved the 
condition of our whole people beyond any example in the world. 
Of this we now have a striking and an impressive illustration. 
So large an army as the Qovemment has now on foot was never 
before known without a soldier in it but who had taken his place 
there of his own free choice. But, more than this, there are 
many single regiments whose members, one and another, possess 
full practical knowledge of all the arts, sciences, professions, and 
whatever else, whether useful or elegant, is known in the world ; 
and there is scarcely one from which there could not be selected 
a President, a Cabinet, a Congress, and perhaps a Court, abun- 
dantly competent to administer the Government itself. Nor do 
I say this is not true also in the army of our late friends, now 
adversaries in this contest ; but if it is, so much better the reason 
why the Government which has conferred such benefits on both 
them and us should not be broken up. Whoever, in any sec- 
tion, proposes to abandon such a government, would do well to 
consider in deference to what principle it is that he does it; 
what better he is likely to get in its stead ; whether the substi- 
tute will give, or be intended to give, so much of good to the 
people? There are some foreshadowings on this subject. Our 
adversaries have adopted some declarations of independence, in 
which, unlike the good old one, penned by Jefferson, they omit 
the words, "all men are created equal." Why? They have 
adopted a temporary national constitution, in the preamble of 
which unlike our good old one, signed by Washington, they omit, 
"We, the people," and substitute, '* We, the deputies of the sov- 
ereign and independent States," Why? Why this deliberate 
pressing out of view the rights of men and the authority of the 
people ? 

This is essentially a people ^s contest. On the side of the 
Union it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form 
and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate 
the condition of men; to lift artificial weights from all shoul- 
ders; to clear the paths of laudable pursuits for all ; to afford all 
an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life. Yield- 
ing to partial and temporary departures, from necessity, this is 
the leading object of the Government for whose existence we 
contend. 

I am most happy to believe that the plain people understand 
and appreciate this. It is worthy of note that, while in this, 
the Government's, hour of trial, large numbers of those in the 
army and navy who have been favored with the o£Sces have re- 

VI--5 



66 GREAT, AMERICAN DEBATES 

fligued and proved false to the hand which had pampered them, 
not one common soldier or common sailor is known to have de- 
serted his flag. 

Oreat honor is due to those officers who remained true, de- 
spite the example of their treacherous associates ; but the great- 
est honor, and most important fact of all, is the unanimous firm- 
ness of the common soldiers and common sailors. To the last 
man, so far as known, they have successfully resisted the traitor- 
ous efforts of those whose commands but an hour before they 
obeyed as absolute law. This is the patriotic instinct of plain 
people. They understand, without an argument, that the de- 
stroying the Government which was made by Washington means 
no good to them. 

Our popular (Government has often been called an experi- 
ment. Two points in it our people have already settled — ^the 
successful establishing and the successful administering of it. 
One still remains — ^its successful maintenance against a formi- 
dable internal attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to 
demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an elec- 
tion can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful 
and peaceful successors of bullets; and that, when ballots have 
fairly and constitutionally decided, there can be no successful 
peal back to bullets; that there can be no successful appeal, ex- 
cept to ballots themselves, at succeeding elections. Such will be 
a great lesson of peace; teaching men that what they cannot 
take by an election neither can they take by a war; teaching 
all the folly of being the beginners of a war. 

It was with the deepest regret that the Executive found the 
duty of employing the war power in defence of the (Jovemment 
forced upon him. He could but perform this duty or surrender 
the existence of the (Jovernment. No compromise by public serv- 
ants could, in this case, be a cure ; not that compromises are not 
often proper, but no popular government can long survive 
a marked precedent that those who carry an election can save 
the government from immediate destruction only by giving up 
the main point upon which the people gave the election. The 
people themselves, and not their servants, can safely reverse 
their own deliberate decisions. 

As a private citizen the Executive could not have consented 
that these institutions shall perish; much less could he, in be- 
trayal of so vast and so sacred a trust as the free people have 
confided to him. He felt that he had no moral right to shrink, 
nor even to count the chances of his own life in what might fol- 
low. In full view of his great responsibility he has, so far, done 



THE RIGHT OF SECESSION 67 

what he has deemed his duty. You will now, according to your 
own judgment, perform yours. He sincerely hopes that your 
views and your actions may so accord with his as to assure all 
faithful citizens who have been disturbed in their rights of a 
certain and speedy restoration to them, under the Constitution 
and the laws. 

And having thus chosen our course without guile and with 
pure purpose, let us renew our trust in Ood, and go forward 
without fear and with manly hearts. 



CHAPTER in 
The Wab-makino Poweb : Does It Lib in the Pbesident 

OB CoNOBESSf 

General George B. McQellan's Victories in Western Virginia— Union De- 
feat at Manassas [Bull Run], Va. — ^Demoralization of the Country — 
Lincoln's War Measures — ^War Acts of Congress — Debate in the House 
on '' Constitutionality of the President's Acts"; Against the Acts^ 
Clement L. Vallandigham [O.] ; in favor, William S. Holman [Ind.] — 
Debate on the Same in the Senate; Against the Acts, John C. Breck- 
inridge [Ky.] ; in Favor, Edward D. Baker [Ore.] ; Kinsley S. Bingham 
[Mich.], Henry S. Lane (Ind.) — Anti-Secession Besolutions of Bepre- 
sentatiye John J. Crittenden [Ky.] and Senator Andrew Johnson 
[Tenn.] ; Carried — ^Lyman Trumbull [111.] Introduces in the Senate Bill 
tq Suppress Insurrection (Virtually to Make War) — ^Debate on the Bill: 
in Favor, Senator Trumbull, Edward D. Baker [Ore.] ; Opposed, James 
A. Bayard, Jr. [Del.], William P. Fessenden [Me.], John C. Breckin- 
ridge [Ky.], Jacob Collamer [Vt.] ; Bill Is Not Pressed. 

TEN days after the President had promulgated his 
enheartening message. Congress, as well as the 
Northern people, were rejoiced by the victories 
of Oeneral McClellan at Bich Mountain and Carrick's 
Ford, whereby western Virginia was secured to the 
Union. A week later, however, their joyful anticipation 
of an early and complete conquest of the seceded States 
was turned into dismay; instead of this easy victory 
perhaps it was the North which would be invaded; the 
national capital might fall, and the Southern Con- 
federacy dictate from the halls of Congress terms for 
its recognition as a separate republic, and, indeed, the 
dominant one on the continent. 

Battle of Bull Bun [Manassas] 

On July 21 the Confederate troops under Generals 
P. G. T. Beauregard and Joseph Johnston defeated the 

68 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 69 

Union troops under General Irwin McDowell at Manas- 
sas [Bull Run] Va. The Union retreat became a disor- 
derly flight back to Washington. Many civilians had 
gone to see the battle, and these, mingling with the re- 
treating soldiers, contributed to the confusion. One 
Congressraan was captured by the rebels — a salutary 




! pkace" 

I Wood, of tbe New York Daily News (pro-SoDth), and Horace 
Greeley, of tho Tribune (anti-Blavery) 
From On mlUclKm of IS* N€V York PiMlc Librani 



lesson to his colleagues of the evil effects of over-confi- 
dence. 

The entire country was thrown into a panic, from 
which it was some time in recovering. On July 29, "after 
seven sleepless nights, ' ' Horace Greeley wrote a despair- 
ing letter to Lincoln, in which he advised the President 
that, if, in his opinion, the recent disaster was fatal, 
he should not shrink even from making peace with the 
rebels at once, and on tlieir own terms. 

Lincoln had spent sleepless nights, not in selfish 



70 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

nursing of grief, but in planning for the salvation of the 
Republic, He placed General McClellan in chief com- 
mand at Washington, with power to organize a new 
army out of the three years' regiments beginning to 
pour in upon the capital, and he devised plans for a 
vigorous oflfensive campaign in the West 

Congress, which, during the days of victory, had up- 
held the President in granting him the legislation he 
asked, did not falter in the days of defeat, but was, if 
anything, more whole-hearted in its support, passing 
more drastic measures than it otherwise might have 
done, to exert the full military power of the Republic in 
order to preserve its honor and integrity. 



War Acts of Congress 

It authorized a loan of $250,000,000; it passed laws 
to define and punish treason ; it superseded the ' ' Morrill 
Tariff, ' ' enacted during the previous session, by a * ' War 
Tariff*^ in which increases of rate of duty were made 
wherever these would result in increases of revenue; 
it passed an income tax; it authorized the Presi- 
dent to close Southern ports in cases where collec- 
tion of duties was impossible, to call out 500,000 
volunteers if necessary, and to confiscate the properly 
of secessionists, including slaves (where these were em- 
ployed against the Government) , and, in a section of the 
act of August 6 to increase the pay of the army, it vali- 
dated all the President's preceding acts to suppress the 
rebellion, such as calling out troops, blockading Southern 
ports, and suspending the writ of habeas corpus. 

In the discussion upon the President's message and 
the acts passed by Congress in accordance with his 
reconunendations, strenuous opposition was manifested 
by *' State Rights" Democrats to what they considered 
to be "executive usurpation." 

On July 10, 1861, Clement L. Vallandigham [Dent], 
of Ohio, replied in the House to the President 's message. 
On July 16 William S. Holman [Dem.], of Indiana, re- 
plied to him. 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 71 



CONSTITUTIONAUTY OP THE PsBSroBNT's AOTS 

House op Repbesentativbs, July 10-16, 1861 

Mb. Vallandigham. — ^Holding up the shield of the Constitu- 
tion, and standing here in the place and with the manhood of 
a representative of the people, I propose to myself to-day the 
ancient freedom of speech used within these walls. 

Mr. Chairman, the President, in the message before us, de- 
mands the extraordinary loan of $400,000,000 — an amount 
nearly ten times greater than the entire public debt. State and 
Federal, at the close of the Revolution in 1783, and four times 
as much as the total expenditures during the three years' war 
with Great Britain, in 1812. 

Sir, that same Constitution which I hold up, and to which I 
give my whole heart and my utmost loyalty, commits to Con- 
gress alone the power to borrow money and to fix the purposes 
to which it shall be applied, and expressly limits army appro- 
priations to the term of two years. Whenever this House shall 
have become but a mere office wherein to register the decrees of 
the Executive, it will be high time to abolish it. 

Sir, it has been the misfortune of the President from the 
beginning that he has totally and wholly underestimated the 
magnitude and character of the revolution with which he had 
to deal, or surely he never would have ventured upon the wicked 
and hazardous experiment of calling thirty millions of people to 
arms among themselves, without the counsel and authority of 
Congress. But when at last he found himself hemmed in by the 
revolution, and this city in danger, as he declares, and waked 
up thus, as the proclamation of the 15th of April proves him to 
have waked up, to the reality and significance of the movement, 
why did he not forthwith assemble Congress, and throw himself 
upon the wisdom and patriotism of the representatives of the 
States and of the people, instead of usurping powers which the 
Constitution has expressly conferred upon usf aye, sir, and 
powers which Congress had, but a little while before, repeat- 
edly and emphatically refused to exercise, or to permit him to 
exercise? 

At twelve o 'dock on the 4th of March last, from the eastern 
portico of this Capitol, and, in the presence of twenty thousand 
of his countrymen, but enveloped in a cloud of soldiery which 
no other American President ever saw, Abraham Lincoln took 
the oath of office to support the Constitution, and delivered his 
inaugural — ^a message, I regret to say, not written in the direct 



k I -. ^ ^ 

V" 



72 great; AMERICAN DEBATES 

and straightforward language which becomes an American Presi- 
dent and an American statesman, and which was expected from 
the plain, blunt, honest man of the Northwest, but with the 
forked tongue and crooked counsel of the New York politician 
[Secretary Seward] , leaving thirty millions of people in doubt 
whether it meant peace or war. But, whatever may have been 
the secret purpose and meaning of the inaugural, practically for 
six weeks the policy of peace prevailed ; and they were weeks of 
happiness to the patriot and prosperity to the country. Busi- 
ness revived; trade returned; commerce flourished. Never was 
there a fairer prospect before any people. Secession in the past 
languished and was spiritless and harmless; secession in the 
future was arrested and perished. By overwhelming majorities, 
Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Missouri 
all declared for the old Union, and every heart beat high with 
hope that, in due course of time, and through faith and patience 
and peace, and by ultimate and adequate compromise, every 
State would be restored to it. 

Mr. Vallandigham then claimed that party necessity 
canscd the change from this pacific policy to one of 
coercion. 

The peace policy was crushing out the Republican party. 
Under that policy, sir, it was melting away like snow before the 
sun. The general elections in Rhode Island and Connecticut, 
and municipal elections in New York and in the Western States, 
gave abundant evidence that the people were resolved upon 
the most ample and satisfactory constitutional guaranties to the 
South as the price of a restoration of Union. And then it was, 
sir, that the long and agonizing howl of defeated and disap- 
pointed politicians came up before the Administration. The 
newspaper press teemed with appeals and threats to the Presi- 
dent. The mails groaned under the weight of letters demanding 
a change of policy ; while a secret conclave of the (Governors of 
Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and other States assembled 
here promised men and money to support the President in the 
irrepressible conflict which they now invoked. And thus it was, 
sir, that the necessities of a party in the pangs of dissolution, 
in the very hour and article of death, demanding vigorous meas- 
ures, which could result in nothing but civil war, renewed 
secession, and absolute and eternal disunion, were preferred and 
hearkened to before the peace and harmony and prosperity of 
the whole country. 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 73 

Another cause for fhe change of policy, said Mr. 
Vallandighaniy was '^the passage of an obscure, ill-con- 
sidered, ill-digested, and unstatesmanlike high protective 
tariff act, known as the Morrill tariff/* The Confed- 
erate Government had adopted the old United States 
revenue tariff of 1857, the lower duties of which began 
to turn trade southward 

Political association and union, it was well known, must soon 
follow the direction of trade and interest. The City of New 
York, the great commercial emporium of the Union, and the 
Northwest, the chief granary of the Union, began to clamor now 
loudly for a repeal of the pernicious and ruinous tariff. Threat- 
ened thus with the loss of both political power and wealth or 
the repeal of the tariff, and at last of both. New England — and 
Pennsylvania, too, the land of Penn, cradled in peace— de- 
manded now coercion and civil war, with all its horrors, as the 
price of preserving either from destruction. And, sir, when 
once this policy was begun, these self-same motives of waning 
commerce and threatened loss of trade impelled the great City 
of New York, her merchants and her politicians and her press, 
with here and there an honorable exception, to place herself in 
the very front rank among the worshipers of Moloch. Much, 
indeed, of that outburst and uprising in the North which fol- 
lowed the proclamation of the 15th of April, as well, perhaps, 
as the proclamation itself, was called forth, not so much by the 
fall of Sumter — an event long anticipated — as by the notion 
that the "insurrection," as it was called, might be crushed out 
in a few weeks, if not by the display, certainly, at least, by the 
presence of an overwhelming force. 

I will not venture now to assert, what may yet some day 
be made to appear, that the subsequent acts of the Administra- 
tion, and its enormous and persistent infractions of the Consti- 
tution, its high-handed usurpations of power, formed any part 
of a deliberate conspiracy to overthrow the present form of Fed- 
eral republican government, and to establish a strong central- 
ized government in its stead. No, sir; whatever their purposes 
now, I rather think that, in the beginning, they rushed heed- 
lessly and headlong into the gulf, believing that, as the seat of 
war was then far distant and difficult of access, the display of 
vigor in reinforcing Sumter and Pickens, and in calling out 
seventy-five thousand militia upon the firing of the first gun, 
and, above all, in that exceedingly happy and original conceit 
of commanding the insurgent States to "disperse in twenty 



74 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

daya,*' vonld not, on the one hand, precipitate a erisifl, while, 
upon the other, it would satisfy its own violent partisans, and 
thus revive and restore the faUing fortonea of the Republican 
party. 

I can hardly conceive, air, that the President and his ad- 
visers could be guilty of the exceeding folly of expecting to 
carry on a general civil war hy a mere posse comitatua of three 




nOUTSK TO aUBDDK THB BOVTB IN TWKNTT DATS — A. UMOOLN.' 



months' militia. It may be, indeed, that, with wicked and most 
desperate crinning, the President meant all this as a mere enter- 
ing wedge to that which was to rive the oak asonder ; or posnbly 
as a test, to learn the public sentiment of the North and West. 
But, however that may be, the rapid secession and movements 
of Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennesseee, taking 
with them, as I have said elsewhere, four millions and a half 
of people, immense wealth, inexhaustible resources, five hundred 
thousand fitting men, and ike graves of Washington and Jack- 
son, and bringing up, too, in one single day the frontier from 
the Qulf to the Ohio and the Potomac, together with the aban- 
donment by the one side and the occupation by the other of Har- 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 75 

per's Ferry and the Norfolk navy yard, and the fierce gust and 
whirlwind of passion in the North, compelled either a sudden 
waking up of the President and his advisers to the frightful 
significancy of the act which they had committed in heedlessly 
breaking the vase which imprisoned the slumbering demon of 
civil war, or else a premature but most rapid development of 
the daring plot to foster and promote secession, and then to 
set up a new and strong form of government in the States which 
might remain in the Union. 

But, whatever may have been the purpose, I assert here to- 
day, as a Representative, that every principal act of the Ad- 
ministration since has been a glaring usurpation of power and 
a palpable and dangerous violation of that very Constitution 
which this civil war is professedly waged to support. Sir, I 
pass by the proclamation of the 15th of April summoning the 
militia — not to defend this capital; there is not a word about 
the capital in the proclamation, and there was then no possible 
danger to it from any quarter; but to retake and occupy forts 
and property a thousand miles away. The militia thus called 
out, with a shadow, at least, of authority, were amply sufficient 
to protect the capital against any force which was then likely 
to be sent against it — ^and the event has proved it — and ample 
enough also to suppress the outbreak in Maryland. Every other 
principal act of the Administration might well have been post- 
poned, and ought to have been postponed, until the meeting of 
Congress; or, if the exigencies of the occasion demanded it, 
Congress should forthwith have been assembled. 

But, sir. Congress was not assembled. The entire responsi- 
bility of the whole work was boldly assumed by the Executive, 
and all the powers required for the purposes in hand were 
boldly usurped from either the States or the people, or from 
the legislative department ; while the voice of the judiciary, that 
last refuge and hope of liberty, was turned away from with 
contempt. 

Sir, the right of blockade — ^and I begin with it — is a belliger- 
ent right, incident to a state of war, and it cannot be exercised 
until war has been declared or recognized ; and Congress alone 
can declare or recognize war. But Congress had not declared 
or recognized war. On the contrary, they had but a little while 
before expressly refused to declare it, or to arm the President 
with the power to make it. And thus the President, in declar- 
ing a blockade of certain ports in the States of the South, and 
in applying to it the rules governing blockades as between inde- 
pendent powers, violated the Constitution. 



76 OREAll AMERICAN DEBATES 

But if, on the other hand, he meant to deal with these States 
as still in the Union, and subject to Federal authority, then he 
usurped a power which belongs to Congress alone — ^the power to 
abolish and close up ports of entry; a power, too, which Con- 
gress had also but a few weeks before refused to exercise. And 
yet, without the repeal or abolition of ports of entry, any at- 
tempt by either Congress or the President to blockade these 
ports is a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of that clause 
of the Constitution which declares that ''no preference shall 
be given by any regulation of conunerce or revenue to the porta 
of one State over those of another." 

Jackson, sir! the great Jackson! did not dare to do this 
without authority of Congress; but the mimic Jackson of to- 
day blockades not only Charleston harbor, but the whole South- 
em coast, three thousand miles in extent, by a single stroke of 
the pen. 

Next after the blockade, sir, in the catalogue of daring ex- 
ecutive usurpations, comes the proclamation of the 3d of May, 
and the orders of the War and Navy Departments in pursuance 
of it — ^a proclamation and usurpation which would have cost 
any English sovereign his head at any time within the last 
two hundred years. Sir, the Constitution not only confines to 
Congress the right to declare war, but expressly provides that 
''Congress (not the President) shall have power to raise and' 
support armies"; and to "provide and maintain a navy." And 
yet the President, of his own mere will and authority, and 
without the shadow of right, has proceeded to increase, and 
has increased, the standing army by twenty-five thousand men ; 
the navy by eighteen thousand ; and has called for and accepted 
the services of forty regiments of volunteers for three years, 
numbering forty-two thousand men, and making thus a grand 
army or military force, raised by executive proclamation 
alone, without the sanction of Congress, without warrant of law, 
and in direct violation of the Constitution and of his oath of 
office, of eighty-five thousand soldiers enlisted for three and five 
years, and already in the field. And yet the President now asks 
us to support the army which he has thus raised ; to ratify his 
usurpations by a law ex post f(icto, and thus to make ourselves 
parties to our own degradation and to his infractions of the 
Constitution. Meanwhile, however, he has taken good care not 
only to enlist the men, organize the regiments, and muster them 
into service, but to provide in advance for a horde of forlorn, 
womout, and broken-down politicians of his own party, by ap- 
pointing, either by himself or through the govesnors of the 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 77 

States, major-generals, brigadier-generals, colonels, lieutenant- 
colonels, majors, captains, lieutenants, adjutants, quarter- 
masters, and surgeons, without any limit as to numbers, and 
without so much as once saying to Congress, ''By your leave, 
gentlemen." 

Beginning with this wide breach of the Constitution, this 
enormous usurpation of the most dangerous of all powers — ^the 
power of the sword— other infractions and assumptions were 
easy; and, after public liberty, private right soon felL The 
privacy of the telegraph was invaded in the search after treason 
and traitors ; although it turns out, significantly enough, that the 
only victim, so far, is one of the appointees and especial pets 
of the Administration. The telegraphic dispatches, preserved 
under every pledge of secrecy for the protection and safety of 
the telegraph companies, were seized and carried away without 
search warrant, without probable cause, without oath, and with- 
out description of the places to be searched or of the things to 
be seized, and in plain violation of the right of the people to 
be secure in their houses, persons, papers, and effects against 
unreasonable searches and seizures. One step more, sir, will 
bring upon us search and seizure of the public mails; and 
finally, as in the worst days of English oppression — as in the 
times of the Bussells and the Sydneys of English martyrdom — 
of the drawers and secretaries of the private citizen; though 
even then tyrants had the grace to look to the forms of the 
law, and the execution was judicial murder, not military slaugh- 
ter. 

But who shall say that the future Tiberius of America shall 
have the modesty of his Roman predecessor, in extenuation 
of whose character it is written by the great historian, avertii 
oculos, jussitque scelera nan spectavUt ^ 

Sir, the rights of property having been thus wantonly vio- 
lated, it needed but a little stretch of usurpation to invade the 
sanctity of the person ; and a victim was not long wanting. A 
private citizen of Maryland, not subject to the rules and articles 
of war — ^not in a case arising in the land or naval forces, nor 
in the militia when in actual service — ^is seized in his own 
house, in the dead hour of night, not by any civil oflScer nor 
upon any civU process, but by a band of armed soldiers, under 
the verbal orders of a military chief, and is ruthlessly torn 
from his wife and his children and hurried off to a fortress of 
the United States— and that fortress, as if in mockery, the very 

^"He averted Ids eres that he might not see the erimes which he or- 
dered." 



78 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

one over whose ramparts had floated that star-spangled banner 
immortalized in song by the patriot prisoner who, 

'*By the dawn's early light," 

saw its folds gleaming amid the wreck of battle, and invoked 
the blessings of Heaven upon it, and prayed that it might 
long wave — 

' ' O 'er the land of the free and the home of the brave. ' ' 

And, sir, when the highest judicial of&cer of the land, the 
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, upon whose shoulders, 
''when the judicial ermine" fell, it touched nothing not as spot- 
less as itself, the aged, the venerable, the gentle and pure- 
minded Taney, who but a little while before had administered 
to the President the oath to support the Constitution and to 
execute the laws, issued, as by law it was his sworn duty to 
issue, the high prerogative writ of habeas corpus — ^that great 
writ of right, that main bulwark of personal liberty, conunand- 
ing the body of the accused to be brought before him that justice 
and right might be done by due course of law, and without 
denial or delay; the gates of the fortress, its cannon turned 
toward and in plain sight of the city where the court sat, and 
frowning from the ramparts, were closed against the officer of 
the law, and the answer returned that the officer in command 
has, by the authority of the President, suspended the writ of 
habeas corpus. And thus it is, sir, that the accused has ever 
since been held a prisoner without due process of law ; without 
bail ; without presentment by a grand jury ; without speedy or 
public trial by a petit jury of his own State or district, or any 
trial at all; without information of the nature and cause of 
the accusation; without being confronted with the witnesses 
against him ; without compulsory process to obtain witnesses in 
his favor ; and without the assistance of counsel for his defence.^ 
And this is our boasted American liberty t And thus it is, too, 
sir, that here, here, in America, in the seventy-third year of the 
Republic, that great writ and security of personal freedom 
which it cost the patriots and freemen of England six hun- 
dred years of labor and toil and blood to extort and to hold 
fast &om venal judges and t3rrant kings; written in the great 
charter at Runnymede by the iron barons, who made the simple 
Latin and uncouth words of the times, nullus liber homoy^ in 

1 This ease is known as ex parte MeriTman, and is found in 9 Amer. 
Law Beg. 524; 1 Taney's, Dee. 246. 
«**No free man," 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 79^ 

the language of Chatham, worth all the classics ; recovered and 
confirmed a hundred times afterward, as often as violated and 
stolen away, and finally and firmly secured at last by the great 
act of Charles II, and transferred thence to our own Constitu- 
tion and laws, has been wantonly and ruthlessly trampled in the 
dust. Ay, sir, that great writ, which no English judge, no Eng- 
lish minister, no king or queen of England, dare disobey ; that 
writ brought over by our fathers and cherished by them as a 
priceless inheritance of liberty, an American President has con- 
temptuously set at defiance. Nay, more, he has ordered his 
subordinate military chiefs to suspend it at their discretion! 
And yet, after all this, he coolly comes before this House and 
the Senate and the country, and pleads that he is only pre- 
serving and protecting the Constitution; and demands and ex- 
pects of this House and of the Senate and the country their 
thanks for his usurpations of power; while outside of this 
Capitol his myrmidons are clamoring for impeachment of the 
Chief Justice, as engaged in a conspiracy to break down the 
Federal Government! 

Sir, however much necessity — ^the tyrant's plea — ^may be 
urged in extenuation of the usurpations and infractions of the 
President in regard to public liberty, there can be no such 
apology or defence for his invasions of private right. What 
overruling necessity required the violation of the sanctity of 
private property and private confidence? What great public 
danger demanded the arrest and imprisonment, without trial by 
common law, of one single private citizen, for an act done 
weeks before, openly, and by authority of his State ? If guilty 
of treason, was not the judicial power ample enough and strong 
enough for his conviction and punishment? What, then, was 
needed in his case but the precedent under which other men, 
in other places, might become the victims of executive sus- 
picion and displeasure? 

As to the pretence, sir, that the President has the constitu- 
tional right to suspend the writ of habe<is corpus, I will not 
waste time in arguing it. The case is as plain as words can 
make it. It is a legislative power ; it is found only in the legis- 
lative article ; it belongs to Congress only to do it. Subordinate 
officers have disobeyed it; General Wilkinson disobeyed it, but 
he sent his prisoners on for judicial trial ; General Jackson dis- 
obeyed it and was reprimanded by James Madison; but no 
President, no body but Congress, ever before assumed the right 
to suspend it. And, sir, that other pretence, of necessity, I 
repeat, cannot be allowed. It had no existence in fact. The 



80 great; AMERICAN DEBATES 

Constitution cannot be preserved by violating it. It is an of- 
fence to the intelligence of this House and of the country to 
pretend that all this, and the other gross and multiplied infrac- 
tions of the Constitution and usurpations of power, were done 
by the President and his advisers out of pure love and devotion 
to the Constitution. But if so, sir, then they have but one step 
further to take, and declare, in the language of Sir Boyle Boche 
in the Irish House of Commons, that such is the depth of their 
attachment to it that they are prepared to give up, not merely 
a part, but the whole of the Constitution, to preserve the re- 
mainder. And yet, if indeed this pretext of necessity be well 
founded, then let me say that a cause which demands the sac- 
rifice of the Constitution and of the dearest securities of prop- 
erty, liberty, and life cannot be just; at least, it is not worth 
the sacrifice. 

Sir, the power and rights of the States and the i>eople, and 
of their Bepresentatives, have been usurx>ed; the sanctity of 
the private house and of private property has been invaded; 
and the liberty of the person wantonly and wickedly stricken 
down ; free speech, too, has been repeatedly denied ; and all this 
under the plea of necessity. Sir, the right of petition will fol- 
low next — ^nay, it has already been shaken ; the freedom of the 
press will soon fall after it ; and let me whisper in your ear that 
there will be few to mourn over its loss, unless, indeed, its an- 
cient high and honorable character shall be rescued and re- 
deemed from its present reckless mendacity and degradation. 
Freedom of religion will yield too, at last, amid the exultant 
shouts of millions, who have seen its holy temples defiled and 
its white robes of a former innocency trampled now under the 
polluting hoofs of an ambitious and &ithles8 or fanatical clergy. 
Meantime national banks, bankrupt laws, a vast and perma- 
nent public debt, high tariffs, heavy direct taxation, enormous 
expenditure, gigantic and stupendous peculation, anarchy first 
and a strong government afterward, no more State lines, no 
more State governments, and a consolidated monarchy or vast 
centralized military despotism, must all follow in the history 
of the future, as in the history of the past they have, centuries 
ago, been written. 

Sir, I have spoken freely and fearlessly to-day, as became 
an American Bepresentative and an American citizen ; one firmly 
resolved, come what may, not to lose his own constitutional 
liberties, nor to surrender his own constitutional rights in the 
vain effort to impose these rights and liberties upon ten mil- 
lions of unwilling people. I have spoken earnestly, too, but 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 81 

yet not as one unmindful of the solemnity of the scenes which 
surround us upon every side to-day. Sir, when the Congress 
of the United States assembled here on the 3d of December, 
I860, just seven months ago, the Senate was composed of sixty- 
six Senators, representing the thirty-three States of the Union, 
and this House of two hundred and thirty-seven members — 
every State being present. It was a grand and solemn spec- 
tacle; the embassadors of three and thirty sovereignties and of 
thirty-one million people, the mightiest republic on earth, in 
general Congress assembled. The new wings of the Capitol had 
then but just recently been finished, in all their gorgeous mag- 
nificence, and, except a hundred marines at the navy yard, not 
a soldier was within forty miles of Washington. 

Sir, the Congress of the United States meets here again to- 
day ; but how changed the scene. Instead of thirty-four States, 
twenty-three only, one less than the niunber forty years ago, 
are here or in the other wing of the Capitol. Forty-six Sen- 
ators and a hundred and seventy-three Representatives consti- 
tute the Congress of the now United States. And of these, eight 
Senators and twenty-four Representatives, from four States 
only, linger here yet as deputies from that great South which, 
from the beginning of the (Government, contributed so much 
to mold its policy, to build up its greatness, and to control its 
destinies. The vacant seats are, indeed, still here; and the 
escutcheons of their respective States look down now solemnly 
and sadly from these vaulted ceilings. But the Virginia of 
Washington and Henry and Madison, of Marshall and Jefferson, 
of Randolph and Monroe, the birthplace of Clay, the mother 
of States and of Presidents ; the Carolinas of Pinckney and Sum- 
ter and Marion, of Calhoun and Macon; and Tennessee, the 
home and burial place of Jackson; and other States, too, once 
most loyal and true, are no longer here. The voices and the 
footsteps of the great dead of the past two ages of the Republic 
linger still, it may be in echo, along the stately corridors of 
this Capitol; but their descendants from nearly one-half of the 
States of the Republic will meet with us no more within these 
marble halls. But in the parks and lawns, and upon the broad 
avenues of this spacious city, seventy thousand soldiers have 
supplied their places; and the morning drumbeat from a score 
of encampments within sight of this beleaguered capital gives 
melancholy warning to the Representatives of the States and 
of the people that amid abms laws are shjEnt. 

Sir, some years hence, I would fain hope some months hence, 
the present generation will demand to know the cause of all 

VI— 6 



82 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

this; and some ages hereafter the grand and impartial tribunal 
of history will make solemn and diligent inquest of the authors 
of this terrible revolution. 

At the close of his speech Mr. Vallandigham, merely 
to record his position, presented a resolution to the 
effect that the Federal Government, being the agent of 
the States, should be sustained by the people in the 
exercise of its constitutional powers for the preserva- 
tion of the Union. 

Mr. Holman, in his reply to Mr. Yallandigham, de- 
clared that a pacific policy could no longer be pursued by 
the Government ; indeed at no time since the secession of 
the Confederate States would it have availed. 

South Carolina, Florida, and Mississippi declared the sepa- 
ration to be eternal. It was not an apprehension of encroach- 
ment on their constitutional rights that induced secession; for, 
from the very beginning of this Administration the opposition 
would have controlled every measure of its policy. No, sir; 
the triumph of the Republican party was not the cause, but 
the pretence and the occasion, for dissolving the Union. 

Thus, by the intemperate ambition of the leaders of public 
opinion in the South, war became inevitable ; for upon the part 
of the secession leaders it is war — ^war with all its violence and 
hatred and malignity and bitterness. What, then, sir, on the 
part of the loyal men of the nation, is the object of the wart 

It is not vengeance ; for, in the midst of these vast prepara- 
tions, the public indignation at the wanton wickedness of this 
attempt to overthrow the Constitution is softened by shame and 
sorrow, and the very bitterness of grief. It is not for the pur- 
pose of conquest or subjugation; not to enlarge the powers of 
the Government or increase its territorial limits; not to estab- 
lish the supremacy of the one section of the Union, or to dimin- 
ish the social or political rights of the other. But I say, sir, 
here in my place, in the presence of the Representatives of the 
people, on the authority of a well-defined public opinion, that 
the sole and only purpose of the people of the United States in 
this appeal to arms is to maintain the Union under the com- 
pacts AND safeguards OP THE CONSTITUTION. The popular in- 
stincts are not to be deceived. But for this high purpose, not 
a farmer would have left his field or a mechanic his shop ; not a 
sword would have been withdrawn from its scabbard. Not only 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 83 

has this single purpose summoned your army into the field, hut 
if it were possible that any other purpose ^ould he developed 
— as the invasion of any constitutional right or the usurpation 
of political power — ^your army would either, with irresistible 
fury, hew down the new enemies of the Constitution or, over- 
whelmed with grief, abandon the tented field in despair. I 
tell you, sir, that, for purity of purpose, unselfishness of patri- 
otism, intelligence, and cultivation, the army of the Republic 
may challenge the history of the world for a parallel. 

A generation unaccustomed to arms, and in the enjoyment 
of unexampled blessings of peace, trampling on every selfish 
consideration, is almost in a moment transformed into a nation 
of soldiers ; peaceful cities and towns and villages and the scenes 
of rural life, unused to even the tones of martial music, except 
in celebrating the achievement of a past generation, became the 
camps of gathering armies. The hereditary feuds of party, 
bitter as they may have been, are silenced, and the landmarks 
of political opinion, apparently indelible in the growth of more 
than half a century, are, at least for the moment, swept away. 
One sentiment animates every bosom: ''The Union must be 
preserved." 

No people have ever so clearly comprehended the necessity 
of an appeal to arms. The whole people understand the origin 
and immediate cause of our misfortunes. The unbridled ambi- 
tion of a few men, unfortunately too great in the confidence of 
the South, indulging in the delusive hope of a great Southern 
empire, and, by new commercial relations, making the cities of 
Charleston and Savannah and New Orleans the commercial 
rivals of New York and Philadelphia and Boston, suggested the 
policy of a Southern Confederacy; and the leading statesmen, 
whose power was to be increased, seizing upon the intemper- 
ate opinions of a few fanatical men of the North on the question 
of slavery, inspired the Southern mind with the belief that 
the North meditated an assault on the domestic policy of the 
South and an invasion of their constitutional rights, and thus 
ensnared the Southern people into the whirlpool of revolution, 
and aroused such a storm of public rage as might only be sa- 
tiated by overturning a Union which they themselves and their 
fathers, for more than three generations, had believed to be the 
very palladium of their safety. 

To recognize secession or acquiesce in the right of peaceful 
revolution is an end of the Oovemment, destroying the founda- 
tion of public faith on which it rests. What State would aid 
in the construction of forts and arsenals, or other works of 



84 OREAH AMERICAN DEBATES 

national necessity, within the limits of other States, with the 
right of secession or acquiescence in revolution the established 
policy of the €K)yemnientT To maintain the Union by an ap- 
peal to arms, or submit to total national ruin, is the only alter- 
native. Could a brave and free i>eople, controlled by senti- 
ments of justice and honor, hesitate in their choice T 

In my judgment an overwhelming majority of the people of 
the free States would not only have defended the constitutional 
rights of the South while in the Union, but would have made 
sacrifice upon sacrifice, even of opinion, to preserve the old 
fraternal relations and save us from the horrors of civil war, 
but secession has left us no alternative. It has appealed to the 
sword ; and bitter as may be our grief, dark and gloomy as may 
be the future, we cannot escape the issue. The sword must 
decide the contest. A generation, twelve months ago the most 
happy and peaceful and prosperous that the world has ever 
seen, may be sacrificed by the mad ambition of the hour. But, 
if public liberty shall be upheld, the sacrifices of this genera- 
tion, its shame and sorrow and tears, may redound to the stabil- 
ity and enduring honor of the Bepublic. As generations of the 
past have been, so ours may be sacrificed for the happiness and 
prosperity of the future. 

But, sir, I cannot suppress my astonishment that a Repre- 
sentative of any part of the people of the great West, whose 
interests are so indissolubly united with the free navigation of 
the Mississippi River, should doubt the overwhelming necessity 
of maintaining the Union at every hazard. 

Recognize the Southern Confederacy, and you place the navi- 
gation of the Mississippi, and with it the prosperity of the whole 
West, at the mercy of a foreign government. It may be said 
that mutual interests will produce treaties of mutual advan- 
tage. But a right existing in nature, sustained by every con- 
sideration of justice, and sanctioned by national compacts, can- 
not be the further subject of treaty. It is a right whidi the 
brave men of the West, following the example of their fathers, 
will hold, if it must be, by the tenure of the sword, and not by 
the arts of diplomacy. They will not pay one cent for the right 
to navigate the Mississippi River or any of its tributaries. If 
the South persists in the obstruction of this right, as she must 
do if she would maintain her separate nationality, the univer- 
sal sentiment will be, ''millions for war, but not one* cent for 
tribute.'' If the Government shall hesitate in the vindica- 
tion of this right, the people will vindicate it for themselves, 
and wiU never desist until the great river of the West, from its 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 85 

springs to the Gulf, shall be as free to their commerce as the 
ocean is to the conunerce of the world. 

So far, then, as the great 'West is concerned, there can be 
but one sentiment — there can he no compromise ai the expense 
of the Union; there can be no settlement of pending difficulties 
except on the basis of the Constitution and the union of the 
States. The constitutional rights of no loyal citizen are to be 
impaired. The domestic and social policy of no State is to be 
invaded. The constitutional powers of the general Government 
are to be sustained, not to be enlarged. It is war for the 
Union, and not for the subjugation of States. As a Democrat 
and a citizen of the dominant section, I would hail with joy 
any proposition for compromise and peace coming from the 
people of the States the wild ambition of whose leaders has 
plunged the nation into the horrors of civil war, and for the 
time crushed the Union sentiment of the South. I would insist 
that the Government should meet such propositions, springing 
from a returning sense of patriotism and honor, in a spirit of 
magnanimity, of conciliation, and kindness. I would only de- 
mand, sir, that the misguided people of the South should sub- 
mit, not to the supremacy of the North, or to the force of mili- 
tary power, or to new forms of government, but to the majesty 
of the Constitution — ^the Constitution as it was made by their 
and our fathers ; and until that auspicious hour shall come, sir, 
the army of the Union, following the flag of the Republic wher- 
ever it ^all be unfurled, cannot with honor return their swords 
to their scabbards or turn their thoughts upon the sweet bless- 
ings of peace. 

In the Senate on July 16 John 0. Breckinridge [Ky.] 
attacked the acts of the President as unconstitutional 
and denied the power of Congress to validate them. 
Edward D. Baker [Ore.], Kinsley S. Bingham [Mich.], 
and Henry S. Lane [Ind.] replied to hinu 



Constitutionality op the Pbbsident's Acts 

Senate, July 16, 1861 

Senator Bbeceiniudge. — ^I deny, Mr. President, that one 
branch of this Government can indemnify any other branch of 
the Government for a violation of the Constitution or the laws. 
The powers conferred upon the general Government by the 



"^ 



86 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

people of the States are the measure of its authority. Those 
powers have heen confided to the different departments and the 
boundaries of those departments determined with perfect exac- 
titude, and I deny that one can encroach upon another, or can 
indemnify it for a usurpation of powers not confided to it by 
the Constitution. Sir, Congress, by a joint resohition, has no 
more right, in my opinion, to make valid a violation of the 
Constitution and the laws by the President than the President 
would have by an entry upon the executive journal to make 
valid a usurpation of the executive power by the legislative 
department. Congress has no more right to make valid an 
unconstitutional act of the President than the President would 
have to make valid an act of the Supreme Court of the United 
States encroaching upon executive power ; or than the Supreme 
Court would have the right to make valid an act of the Execu- 
tive encroaching upon the judicial power. 

On the contrary, I think that the acts of the President were 
usurpations, and that, so far from a resolution being passed 
ratifying and approving them, I think the Chief Magistrate of 
the country — and I have a right in my place to say it — should 
be rebuked by the vote of both Houses of Congress. 

The President of the United States, first, has established a 
blockade of the whole Southern coast and an interior blockade 
of the chief rivers. By what authority has he done it t Where 
is the clause of the Constitution that authorized himt An at- 
tempt was made at the last session of Congress to confer the 
authority by bill. It did not pass. Congress refused to grant 
this authority by law in face of the fact that seven States had 
then withdrawn from the Federal Union. Will any Senator say 
that the power exists, under the Constitution, upon the part 
of the President to establish a blockade t It is an incident of 
war, sir ; it is the exercise of the war power ; and the Constitu- 
tion of the United States declares that Congress shall pass an 
act to declare war, or exercise that power. 

In this connection the speaker quoted from remarks 
made by Daniel Webster during the troubles in South 
Carolina in 1832-33, when it was suggested that Presi- 
dent Jackson would blockade the port of Charleston. 

"For one, I raise my voice beforehand against the nnaathorized em- 
ployment of military power, against superseding the authority of the laws 
by an armed force, under pretence of putting down nullification. The 
President has no authority to blockade Charleston; the President has no 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 87 

authoritj to employ militarj f oree^ till he shall be duly required so to do, 
by law, and by the civil authorities. His duty is to cause the laws to be 
executed. Hit duty is to support the civil authority.'' 

It is proposed, continued the speaker, to make valid the act of 
the President in enlisting men for three and five years. I ask 
you by what authority of Constitution or law he has done this 
actt The power is not conferred in the Constitution; it has not 
been granted by the law. It is, therefore, an unconstitutional and 
illegal act of Executive power. The President, of his own will 
— ^and that is one of the acts enumerated in this joint resolu- 
tion which it is proposed to approve and ratify — ^has added im- 
mensely to the force of the regular army. The Constitution 
says that Congress shall raise armies, and a law now upon your 
statute book limits the number of the regular force, officers 
and men. Hence, sir, that is an act in derogation both of the 
Constitution and of the laws. 

The President has added immensely to the navy of the 
United States. The Constitution says that Congress shall pro- 
vide and maintain a navy, and there is now a law upon the 
statute book limiting the number of men to be employed in the 
navy. That, like the rest, sir, will not bear argument. 

Mr. President, it needs no elaborate argument to show that 
the Executive authority of the United States has no right to 
suspendthe writ of habeas corpus. I content myself here, unless 
some defence be offered upon this floor, with referring to the 
fact that the privilege to suspend the writ in case of rebellion 
or invasion is classed among the legislative powers of the Con- 
stitution. That article of the Constitution which refers to the 
powers of the President, executive powers, touches not the ques- 
tion. I may add that upon no occasion has it ever been asserted 
in the Congress of the United States, as far as I recollect our 
history, that this power exists upon the part of the Executive. 
On one memorable occasion in our history, Jefferson thought a 
period had arrived when, perhaps, that writ might properly be 
suspended. He did not undertake to do it himself. He sub- 
mitted the question to Congress. He did not even recommend 
that it should be done; and in the long debates that occurred 
in this and the other branch of Congress upon the question of 
suspending the writ, which finally was not suspended, not one 
intimation was given by 4my speaker in either House, as far as 
I remember, that the power existed on the part of the Presi- 
dent. 

What part of the Constitution is it, sir, which confers upon 



88 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

the President the right to do this act more than upon any 
other ofScer, executive or judicial, of the (Government t Surely 
it is not that portion of the Constitution which declares that 
he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed. The 
most eminent commentators on the Constitution of the United 
States concur in saying that it is purely a legislative act. Jus- 
tice Story, one of the most eminent judicial lights of New Eng- 
land, in his "Commentaries on the Constitution,'' declares it to 
belong to the legislature and not to the Executive. The Supreme 
Court of the United States have determined that Congress alone 
can suspend the privilege of the writ. Upon a recent occasion, 
in a case which arose in Maryland,^ the present Chief Justice 
[Roger B. Taney], in an opinion which has never been an- 
swered, and which never will be answered, exhausts the argu- 
ment, and makes all other reference to the subject idle and 
superfluous. 

You propose to make valid the President's suspension of the 
writ, without making a defence of his act either upon constitu- 
tional or legal grounds. What will be the effect, sirT In ap- 
proving what the President has done in this regard in the past, 
you invite him to do the like in the future ; and the whole coun- 
try will lie prostrate at the feet of executive power when, in the 
opinion of the President, the time shall have come to suspend 
the rights of individuals and to have substituted military power 
for judicial authority. 

I eniunerate what I regard as usurpations of the Executive 
to go upon the record as a protest of those of us who are not 
willing to see the Constitution subverted and the public liberty 
trampled under foot, under whatever pretext of necessity or 
otherwise. 

The Constitution declares that Congress alone shall have 
power "to declare war." The President has made war. Con- 
gress alone shall have power "to raise and support armies." 
The President has raised and supported armies on his own 
authority. Congress shall have power "to provide and main- 
tain a navy." The President has provided an immense navy 
and maintains it without authority of law. The Constitution 
declares that no money shall be taken from the treasury except 
in pursuance of appropriations made by law. The President 
has taken money from the treasury without appropriations made 
by law for the purpose of carrying out the preceding unconstitu- 
tional acts. One of the amendments to the Coi^tution de- 
clares that — 

I See page 77, 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 89 

''A well-regulated militia being neceflsarj to the seeuritj of a free 
State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be in- 
fringed." 

They have been difiarmed, and disarmed without criminal 
charge and without warrant. One of the amendments to the 
Constitution declares that — 

''The right of the people to be Beenre in their persons, houses^ papers, 
and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be vio^ 
lated; and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by 
oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched 
and the persons or things to be seized.'' 

The people have not been exempt from unreasonable searches 
and seizures. Their property has been taken from them; their 
houses have been searched without authority of law, and by a 
pure military authority. 

"No person*' — 

says one of the amendments to the Constitution — 

"shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless 
on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury." 

Many persons have been held to answer for infamous crimes 
without presentment or indictment, and without warrant, by 
military authority. The same amendment continues: 

"Nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against 
himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process 
of law." 

Citizens have, by military authority, been deprived of lib- 
erty and property without due process of law. 

These great and fundamental rights, sir, the sanctity of 
which is the measure of progress and of civilization, which have 
been carefully guarded and locked up in your Constitution, have 
been trampled under foot by military power, are being now 
every day trampled under foot by military power here and 
hereabouts in the presence of the two Houses of Congress; and 
yet, so great upon the one side is the passion of the hour, and 
so astonishing the stupid amazement on the other, that we 
receive it as natural, as right, as of course. !We are rushing, 
and with rapid strides, from a constitutional government to a 
military despotism. 

The Constitution says the freedom of speech and of the press 
shall not be abridged. Three days ago, in the dty of St. Louis, 



90 GREAT AMERICAN DSBATES 

a military officer, with four hundred soldiers — that was his 
warrant — ^went into a newspaper office of that city, removed 
the types, and declared that it should no longer be published, 
giving, among other reasons, that it was fabricating reports 
injurious to the United States soldiers in Missouri. We are 
told in the same dispatch that the proprietors of the paper sub- 
mitted, and intended to make their appeal — ^where, and to 
whom? To the judicial authorities t No, sir; but to Major- 
Qeneral Fremont when he should reach St. Louis; to appeal 
from General Lyon to General Fremont. The civil authorities 
of the country are paralyzed, and a practical martial law is 
being established all over the land. The like never happened in 
this country before, and would not be tolerated in any country 
in Europe which pretends to the elements of civilization and 
regulated liberty. George Washington carried the thirteen colo- 
nies through the war of the Revolution without martial law. 
The President of the United States cannot conduct the Govern- 
ment three months without resorting to it. 

Then, Mr. President, the Executive of the United States 
has assumed legislative powers. The Executive of the United 
States has assumed judicial powers. The executive power be- 
longs to him by the Constitution. He has, therefore, concen- 
trated in his own hands executive, legislative, and judicial 
powers, which, in every age of the world, has been the very 
definition of despotism, and exercises them to-day, while we sit 
in the Senate Chamber and the other branch of the legislative 
authority at the other end of the Capitol. What is the excuse ; 
what is the justification; what is the pleaf Necessity. Neces- 
sity 1 I answer, first, there was no necessity. Was it necessary, 
to preserve the visible emblems of Federal authority here, that 
the Southern coast should have been blockaded? Did not the 
same necessity exist when Congress, at its last session, refused 
to pass the force bill, that existed at the time the President 
assumed these powers ? Was it necessary, until Congress should 
meet, to the existence of the Union of these States, and of its 
Constitution, that powers not conferred by the instrument 
should be assumed? Was there any necessity for overrunning 
the State of Missouri? Was there a necessity for raising the 
largest armies ever assembled upon the American continent, and 
fitting out the largest fleets ever seen in an American harbor? 
Will any Senator point out the necessity for the occurrences 
which are now taking place every day of arresting individuals 
without warrant of law? If that be a necessity in the present 
condition of affairs, and when Congress is in session here, what a 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 91 

long neoessily we have before us and impending over us! Sir, 
let Congress adjourn, approving and ratifying these acts, and 
the same character of necessity precisely, even stronger, per- 
haps, will justify the President in superseding the laws in every 
State of this Union where, in his opinion, it should be done; 
and, sir, there will not be a vestige of civil authority left to 
rise after the passing tread of military power. 

But, Mr. President, I deny this doctrine of necessity. I deny 
that the President of the United States may violate the Consti- 
tution upon the ground of necessity. The doctrine is utterly 
subversive of the Constitution; it is utterly subversive of all 
written limitations of government ; and it substitutes, especially 
where you make him the ultimate judge of that necessity, and 
his decision not to be appealed from, the will of one man for a 
written constitution. Mr. President, the Government of the 
United States, which draws its life from the Constitution, and 
which was made by that instrument, does not rest, as does the 
constitution in many other countries, upon usage or upon im- 
plied consent. It rests upon express written consent. The Govern- 
ment of the United States may exercise such powers, and such 
only, as are given in this written form of government and bond 
which unites the States ; none others. The people of the States 
conferred upon this agent of theirs just such powers as they 
deemed necessary, and no more ; all others they retained. That 
Constitution was made for all contingencies; for peace and for 
war. 

Mr. President, is this contest to preserve the Constitution? 
If so, then it should be waged in a constitutional manner. Is 
the doctrine to obtain that the provisions of the Federal Con- 
stitution are to be entirely subordinated to the idea of political 
unity? Shall the rallying cry be, **the Constitution and the 
Union," or are we prepared to say, **the Constitution is gone, 
but the Union survives"? What sort of Union would it be? 
Let this principle be announced, let us carry on this contest 
with this spirit, and wink at or approve violations of this sacred 
instrument, and, sir, the people will soon begin to inquire 
what will become of their liberties at the end of the strife. 
The pregnant question, Mr. President, for us to decide is 
whether the Constitution is to be respected in this struggle; 
whether we are to be called upon to follow the flag over the 
ruins of the Constitution. Without questioning the motives of 
any, I believe that the whole tendency of the present proceed- 
ings is to establish a government without limitations of powers, 
and to change radically our frame and character of government. 



92 GREAT. AMERICAN DEBATES 

Sir^ in proof of my statement that the disposition is to con- 
duct tiiis contest without regard to the Constitution, witness 
the remarks that fell the other day from the able and very 
eloquent Senator from Oregon [Edward D. Baker]. He is a 
constitutional lawyer; he knows what the Constitution of his 
country is — ^no man better. He declared, in the presence of the 
Senate and the country, that he meant direct war, and that for 
that purpose nothing was so good as a dictator; he therefore 
was for conferring upon the President of the United States al- 
most unlimited powers. I heard no rebuke administered to that 
eminent gentleman. Upon the contrary, I saw warm congratu- 
lations from more than one Senator, apparently upon the senti- 
ments and the character of the address. 

In the course of the same speech to which I have referred 
that eminent Senator declared that not only must that country 
be ravaged by armies, but that unless the people of those States 
paid willing and loyal obedience to the Federal (Government, 
their State form must be changed, and they must be reduced to 
the condition of Territories; to be governed by governors sent 
from Massachusetts and Illinois. 

Senatob Baeeb. — On the contrary, I spoke against giving 
too much power to the President. I was occupying my usual 
constitution guarded position against the increase of a stand- 
ing army. I gave, as an excuse for voting for an army at all, 
the present condition of public affairs; and, in that light and 
with that purpose, I did say that, in order to save the Union, I 
would take some risk of despotism. I repeat that now: I will 
risk a little to save all. 

Again: I expressed my sincere hope — perhaps I may have 
added my conviction — ^that in a better and not a very distant 
day the Southern States would not only return to their alle- 
giance, but would become loyal in sentiment as well as opinion. 
But I declared then what no comment of his will drive me from, 
that if, contrary to that hope, they did not do it, if they would 
not send members here to govern them, it was better, for the 
sake of ultimate peace, for freedom, civilization, humanity, that 
they should be governed as Territories are governed, rather than 
permit perpetual anarchy, confusion, discord, and civil war. 
[Manifestations of applause in the galleries.] I did say that 
and I do believe that now; and I think the events of the next 
six months will show that it would be better for the country 
and the world and the Senator himself if he believed it. [Ap- 
plause in the galleries.] 

Sbnatob BBECKiNEmm. — ^Mr. President, I did Hot misunder- 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 93 

stand the position of the Senator from Oregon, and I think that 
I stated it in substance as he has stated it himself. The Senator 
reaffirms upon this floor that, if it should become necessary in 
the opinion of Congress, he would be in favor of reducing these 
States to a territorial condition. Well, sir, if they are out of 
the Union, I suppose we have the i)ower to make war on them 
' under that general power which exists in all people to make 
war, and conquer them and do as we please with them ; but, if 
they are regarded as still being States in this Union, and to be 
treated according to the provisions and the i)owers conferred 
by the Federal Constitution, there is no pretence of argument, 
none will be made, that the instrument contains any authority 
to reduce them to the territorial condition. It is an additional 
proof of the statement I made that the Constitution of the 
United States is put aside in this contest. I want the people 
to know it. Let them determine. They will determine as they 
think best for their own interest and their own destiny. Per- 
haps, sir, they will pause and consider what is likely to become 
of their own liberties after this spirit shall have worked out 
itself. 

I consider it not only subversive of the Constitution, but I 
consider it subversive of the public liberty, to clothe any man 
with dictatorial powers, and to undertake, under a republican 
form of government, to govern ten million people as if they were 
in a territorial condition. 

Mr. President, as a further proof, I will accumulate two or 
three more. The excellent Senator from Connecticut [James 
Dixon] , heretofore always regarded as one of the most moderate 
and conservative in the political organization to which he is 
attached, said in substance that, if the iostitution of African 
slavery stood in the way of the Union, it must be abolished. 

Let us pause one moment, Mr. President, and consider to 
what that leads. Men who love the Constitution and the Union 
of the States as sincerely and cordially as the Senator him- 
self could possibly do consider the Union not an end, but a 
means — a means by which, under the terms of the Constitution, 
liberty may be maintained, property and personal rights pro- 
tected, and general happiness secured. The substance of what 
is declared by the Senator is that the unity of the Government 
shall survive not only the Constitution, but all rights both of 
persons and of property. 

The institutions of the Southern States existed before the 
Constitution was formed, and were intended to be secured by it. 
Their proi>ert3r of any other description is no more sacred in 



94 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

view of the Constitution, or of their own laws, than the descrip- 
tion of property to which the Senator referred. To declare 
that this contest shall be prosecuted, if necessary, to the aboli- 
tion of slavery in the Southern States is in principle to declare 
that, if it becomes necessary, it shall be prosecuted to the total 
subversion of all State authority, to the total overthrow of all 
rights, personal and political, and to the entire subversion of 
their liberties, i)ossibly of ours. The conclusions are not too 
large which I draw from the principle announced by the Sen- 
ator ; and taken in connection with the declaration of the Sen- 
ator from Oregon, taken in connection with the acts which are 
treated in this joint resolution, and the other acts which I have 
enumerated, it proves what I fear, and what I desire the coun- 
try to understand, that the Constitution of the United States 
is no longer to be held as the measure of power on one side and 
of obedience on the other, but that it is to be put aside to carry 
out the purposes of the majority. 

I hold, sir, that it is no legitimate mode to preserve the 
Union of the States by trampling the Constitution under foot; 
and I do not believe that the people of the adhering States are 
willing to go into this strife with vast armies, make war, abolish 
institutions and political communities themselves, struggling 
simply for the idea of territorial integrity and national unity, 
and finding, when they come out of the contest, the Constitution 
gone and themselves at sea as to the character of the institutions 
with which they shall emerge from it. 

Mr. President, I regret to say that what may be called the 
more extreme, violent, and resolute men of the Republican or- 
ganization appear to have control of its destiny at this time, 
and all efforts are being made for the purpose of preventing any 
return to peace, and of inflaming the public passions against the 
institutions of the South. I heard a bill read at that table this 
morning by its title, **A bill to suppress the slaveholders' re- 
bellion.''^ If it had had a title, *'A bill to provide for the 
execution of the laws," or any other parliamentary title known 
heretofore in American legislative proceedings, of course I 
should not have been astonished ; but when I see in a deliberative 
body an attempt made, through the very heading of a bill, to 
create odium and prejudice against a particular interest, which 
is equally protected with others under the Constitution of your 
country, it shows a frame of mind which leads all thoughtful 
men to despair both of the Constitution and the country, if 
such a spirit can prevail. 

'Introdneed by Samnel C. Pomeroj [Kan.]. 



96 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

Senator Bingham. — ^I wish to ask the Senator if he denies 
that the present rebellion is a slaveholders' rebellion? 

Senator BBECKiNsmGE. — I do, sir. I have no doubt that 
the question of slavery, and their rights as connected with that 
institution, as they understand them, had a great deal to do 
first with the controversies which preceded the separation, and 
then with the act of separation itself ; but it is perfectly mani- 
fest that, whereas the proportion of slaveholders to non-slave- 
holders is very small in the seceded States, the sentiments of the 
population are almost unanimous. Allow me to ask the Senator 
a question. Does he approve the title of that billT 

Senator Bingham. — ^I do. 

Senator Breckinridge. — ^I regret to hear that answer; but 
it serves to bring the mind of the country to consider the actual 
condition of affairs, and the danger which is impending over us. 

My colleague has this moment handed me the bill referred 
to. The enacting clause, as might have been anticipated from 
the title, reads as follows: 

Be it enacted, That from and after the passage of this act, there shaU 
be no slayery or involuntary servitude in any of the States of this Union 
that claim to have seceded from the Government and are in open and armed 
resistance to the execution of the laws and the provisions of the Constitation 
of the United States. 

I believe that is to be carried out by a proclamation of the 
President. 

And he it further enacted, That immediately after the passage of this 
act, the President of the United States shall cause his proclamation to be 
issued, setting forth the immediate and nnconditional emancipation of all 
persons held as slaves in any of the aforesaid States nnder the laws thereof, 
and also ordering all officers to give protection to all such emancipated 
slaves, and to accept the services of all who may tender them in beh^f of 
the Government, if, in the judgment of such officers, such services shall be 
useful or necessary to the prosecution of this war. 

It is not only a congressional act of emancipation, but it is 
intended to arm the slaves against the masters. It is not only 
to confiscate the whole property, but it is to foment a servile 
war. That is a proposition offered in the Senate of the United 
States! Sir, I shall find myself denounced in the newspapers 
to-morrow morning as a man who was uttering treason here for 
speaking a word in favor of the Constitution ; but not one word 
will be uttered against a Senator who deliberately proposes to 
trample that Constitution under his feet, and to plunge the 
country into all the horrors of civil and of servile war. 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 97 

I shall trouble the Senate no longer. I fcaow that arga^ 
ment and appeal are all in vain. The Senate pants for action. 
I am quite aware that, in the present temper of Congress, 
one might as well oppose his uplifted hand to the descending 
waters of Niagara as to reason or to appeal against the con- 
templated proceedings. The few of us left here who are faith- 
ful to our convictions can only look with sadness upon the 
melancholy drama that is being enacted before us. We can only 
hope that this flash of frenzy may not assume the form of 
chronic madness, and that in any event Divine Providence may 
preserve for us and for posterity, out of the wreck of a broken 
Union, the priceless principles of constitutional liberty and of 
self-government. [Applause in the galleries.] 

Senator Lane. — Gentlemen take a technical objection 
against the action of the President, and say that he has 
violated the Constitution of the United States. I remember an 
incident, I think in Roman history, where an African pro-consul 
was required to swear that he had not violated the laws of 
Rome; instead of which, with uplifted hand, he swore that he 
had saved the Roman republic. And, whatsoever differences of 
opinion may this day exist in reference to the action of the 
President, I take it for granted that every intelligent patriot 
in the land not only believes but knows that the President has 
saved the Republic by his energetic and patriotic action since 
the 4th of March. I sanction and approve everything that the 
President has done during the recess of Congress, and the people 
sanction and approve it, and there is no power this side of 
Heaven that can reverse that decision of the American people. 
I not only sanction all that they have done, but I sanction all 
that they are soon to do. When your victorious and conquer- 
ing columns shall sweep treason out of old Virginia ; when they 
shall make that old commonwealth a fit residence for the patri- 
otic descendants of her revolutionary fathers, I shall sanction 
and approve that. I sanction and approve the use of force now, 
at once, immediately; and I would shake that traitorous com- 
monwealth as with an earthquake tread of a hundred thousand 
armed men. 

What is it that the President has done since the last meeting 
of Congress f First, he has declared a blockade of the Southern 
ports, and gentlemen tell us there is no constitutional authority 
for that. It is the first duty of the President to see that the 
laws are faithfully executed. We have a tariff law imposing 
duties upon foreign importations. That has been disregarded 
by the seceding States; they have assumed to pass a tariff act 

VI--7 



98 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

different from ours. That law of Congress cannot be enforced 
by the ordinary course of procedure under your collections of 
revenue at the proper ports established by law. There is no 
higher power in the Constitution of the United States delegated 
to the President than the power to ''take care that the laws 
be faithfully executed." These high and extraordinary powers, 
although not perhaps technically granted in the Constitution, 
result as an incident to the war power, which is invoked, and 
constitutionally invoked, under that provision of the Constitu- 
tion which authorizes the President to use force to suppress 
insurrection and to put down rebellion. I sanction, then, the 
proclamation establishing a blockade. 

The next objection is to the declaration of martial law, by 
which the writ of habecis corpus was suspended. I only regret 
that when the writ was suspended the corpus of Baltimore trea- 
son was not ''suspended" too. It is necessary to the enforce- 
ment of the laws and to the preservation of the Union that this 
writ of habeas corpus should be suspended; and the Constitu- 
tion of the United States says, in express terms, it may be sus^ 
pended in case of rebellion and insurrection. Then the whole 
question comes to this: Who is to judge? Where is the discre- 
tion lodged? Clearly with the President of the United States; 
and it can be safely lodged nowhere else. Suppose an insurrec- 
tion breaks out during the recess of Congress: the President is 
sworn to uphold the law and the Constitution; he finds armed 
rebellion; has he no power to put it down? May he not use 
all proper power to put down armed rebellion T I approve, 
then, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. 

What more does the honorable Senator from Kentucky say T 
That General Washington prosecuted the Revolutionary War 
to a successful termination without ever suspending the writ 
of habeas corpus. That is true. He was in a contest with a 
foreign foe. Here we are engaged in entirely a different war, 
where our enemies are in our midst. What would gentlemen 
have the President do 1 Suppose my distinguished friend from 
Kentucky had been elected President, and seven States had 
seceded and levied war against the United States, and were with 
an embattled host threatening to take and capture the capital: 
what would have been his action? Would he have folded his 
arms? No, no. He, I doubt not, would have made a blow to 
defend the Union and the Constitution of the United States. 
Then what else could he have done than President Lincoln has 
done ? If, as I suppose he does, the distinguished Senator from 
Kentucky echoes public opinion in Kentucky or intends to 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 99 

echo public opinion there, I have no doubt that that proud 
commonwealth would have sanctioned and approved and ad- 
vised the very step the President has taken to vindicate the 
laws and to defend the Constitution of the United States. 

But another charge which he made against this Administra- 
tion — ^that private papers were seized. I suppose the honorable 
and distinguished Senator from Kentucky refers to telegraphic 
dispatches. They were seized, but not quite soon enough, as I 
think ; and still they have proven a California placer of treason. 
It was right and proper to seize them. It was right to seize the 
dispatches to vindicate the character of honorable Senators on 
this floor. 

Another count in this indictment is that citizens have been 
imprisoned without any authority of law, which amounts to 
precisely the former charge that martial law has been declared 
under the proclamation of the President in some few localities 
where it was eminently necessary. Citizens of Baltimore have 
been imprisoned under military authority, and, as I believe, 
have been rightfully imprisoned. When a New England regi- 
ment cannot march through the city of Baltimore to defend the 
capital without being attacked and shot down by a mob, it is 
time that the military authority should do what the civil au- 
thority was not able to do-Hsuppress and put down that unau- 
thorized mob. I i^rmpathize with the true and loyal citizens 
of Baltimore. I sympathize with the patriotic soldiery of Mas- 
sachusetts who were coming to defend the capital. I have no 
sympathy to waste upon armed traitors and rebels. I leave 
others to pronounce their eulogy and to show them sympathy. 

Another charge is that the President has violated the Con- 
stitution of the United States in this: that he has disarmed 
citizens; refused them the privilege, under the Constitution, of 
bearing arms. Sir, it is true that he has refused traitors the 
privilege of using arms against the Oovemment of the country. 
Qeneral Lyon, of Missouri, and the gallant Frank Blair, and 
their associates, did disarm some fifteen hundred rebels at 
Camp Jackson, near St. Louis; and for that we are told they 
are violators of the Constitution. The President has not only 
guaranteed by his action the right to bear arms, but he has 
invited the patriotic citizens of the United States to bear arms 
for the only noble purpose for which men can take arms^— in 
defence of the Constitution and liberties of the people. Is the 
right to bear arms in Kentucky so sacred that it may never 
be violated T Then why do you not bear arms in defence of the 
Constitution and liberties of the Republic t There is a right 






100 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

to bear arms that is worth something. Does Kentucky stand 
upon the right to bear armsf Why is she not bearing arms 
upon the battlefield to-day, beside Massachusetts and Indiana 
and Ohio, and the loyal States f Why does she not insist upon 
her right to bear arms, wheoi traitors are seeking to tear down 
the Government under which we live ? The right to bear arms, 
forsooth, is a forgotten right in the chivalric old commonwealth 
of Kentucky. I have listened for her voice in this war ; I have 
heard it not; and why! Because her action is, as I believe, 
paralyzed by the course of her State authorities; but on the 
first Monday of next August the true voice of old Kentucky 
will be heard, and you will have a two-thirds majority in favor 
of loyalty to the Union, and the places that know her distin- 
guished governor now will soon know him no more forever. 

Another count in this indictment against the Administration 
is that they have put down treasonable newspapers. The Ad- 
ministration have shown a forbearance beyond all parallel in 
history. There is no government of constituted authority upon 
earth that would have tolerated either the treasonable utterance 
or publications of these traitors. I say that I not only approve 
of the destruction of that St. Louis paper, but I rejoice at it 
as an evidence of returning common sense in those who are 
to defend the Government of the country. 

One word, before I forget it, on the subject of this war 
and the object of the war. There is no war levied against any 
State, or against any State institutions. The President has 
called out troops to suppress insurrection and put down re- 
bellion. These are the objects for which your troops have been 
called into the field. The abolition of slavery is no object con- 
templated for which this war is to be prosecuted. But let me 
tell gentlemen that, although the abolition of slavery is not an 
object of the war, they may, in their madness and folly and 
treason, make the abolition of slavery one of the results of this 
war. That is what I understand to be precisely the position 
of the Administration upon the subject of this war. 

The gentleman closes his very able and eloquent speech with 
the assumption of a position and doctrine that I do not for 
one moment admit; and that is that the States made this Na- 
tional Union of ours. I have read wrongfully, and to little pur- 
pose, the history of the convention that formed the Constitution 
if that is historically corect. I understand the people of the 
United States to have made this Constitution; and so Webster 
understood it. 

This doctrine of State rights, as opposed to the rights of 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 101 

fhe general Government, under the Federal Constitution, is a 
most dangerous and pestilent heresy, which underlies this whole 
controversy. Out of that idea, and one other idea, the present 
disastrous state of things has been brought upon the country. 
The idea of social, political inequality among the respective mem- 
bers of the Confederacy underlies this war at its very founda- 
tion. We are to teach them, I hope, a lesson of respect for the 
North; we are to teach them a lesson of equality. Whatever 
else this war may do, it will teach a lesson of equality for a 
thousand years ; nay, more, it will add a thousand years to the 
glorious lifetime of this, the only republic upon the earth. 

So much for these objections to what the President of the 
United States has done. But the closing argument, after all, 
and that upon which the gentleman places most stress, is that 
an effort was made at the last session of Congress to give to 
the President this very power, and that the Congress of the 
United States refused to pass that bill. That is true; and whyf 
Because the vacant seats around us were then filled by traitors, 
many of whom are now in arms against the Republic. For 
that reason, and that alone, we failed to confer this i)ower 
upon the President of the United States. 

But the gentleman says he is glad that the people have their 
attention now directed to the true posture of American politics. 
I am glad that the people have their eye turned in the same 
direction. In the last sixty days four hundred thousand troops 
have volunteered to defend the Stars and Stripes and to defend 
the Constitution. There is no parallel in all human history to 
the widespread enthusiasm which has pervaded the whole people. 
The nearest parallel is when Peter the Hermit preached a cru- 
sade for the recovery of the Holy Sepulcher ; and our cause is 
little less sacred than that for the recovery of the grave of the 
Savior of mankind, for we propose a crusade in defence of the 
Constitution, the rights of man, and the liberties of the Amer- 
ican people. 

I understand by coercion a right to march troops whereso- 
ever the Government desires to march them. You hear much 
said about the invasion of a sovereign State. Who can invade a 
State? The home government or a foreign government T Vir- 
ginia is to-day as much a part of the United States as Indiana, 
and the President has as much right to march troops there, 
and I hope is now engaged in marching troops there for the 
purpose of crushing out rebellion. Let us stand by the com- 
promises of the Constitution. Let us hereafter send all our 
pacific messages to traitors at the mouth of the cannon. Let 



102 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

the politicians reflect honestly the will of the people, and your 
volunteer soldiers will crush out this rebellion without leaders 
and without officers. They have determined to do this very 
thing. 

But gentlemen say how, from the ruins, will you reconstruct 
the Republic f We do not contemplate any destruction of the 
Republic which involves a reconstruction* We intend to protect 
the Union men of the border States, to foster the Union senti- 
ment, to get up a counter revolution, which will lay all seces- 
sion and treason in ruina We expect soon to readmit Tennes- 
see into the Union, as we have recently readmitted old Virginia ; 
we expect soon to readmit North Carolina; and we expect to 
present in six months an unbroken front to all foreign powers, 
no single star erased, the light of no star obliterated by treason 
in any part of the country. When we get the seceding States 
properly represented upon the floor of the Congress of the 
United States, then we shall have nothing to do but to punish 
the last remains and remnants of this most disgraceful rebel- 
lion ; and the remedy, after all, is a Kentucky remedy ; we pro- 
pose — ^hemp. That is the remedy for treason; not under mob 
law, but under indictments in courts. We propose to have 
courts and judges sworn to support the law, and who will abide 
by that sacred oath. When this is done, I promise you that 
treason and rebellion will be buried forever. 



Anti-Secession Resolutions 

The day after the Union defeat at Bull Run, John 
J. Crittenden [Ky.], who had retired from the Senate 
to enter the House of Representatives, introduced in 
the House a resolution confirming the President's theory 
of secession, namely, that war had been forced on the 
Government by the Southern disunionists ; that it was 
waged by the Government not for subjugating the se- 
ceded States, nor interfering vnth their rights and in- 
stitutions, but to maintain the supremacy of the Con- 
stitution, the dignity and integrity of the Union, and 
the equality of all the States; and that, so soon as these 
objects were accomplished, the war ought to cease. 

This was passed by the House on July 22 vnth only 
two dissenting votes, those of Henry C. Burnett [Ky.] 
and John W. Reid [Mo.], other opponents of the 



' .■ 



^-rL 



•..=-.v I 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 103 

measure, such as Clement L. Vallandigham [0.], not 
voting. On July 24 the Senate passed a resolution to the 
same effect (introduced by Andrew Jackson of Ten- 
nessee) with only five dissenting votes, John C. Breckin- 
ridge [Ky.] being among the number. 

On July 17 Lyman Trumbull [111.] introduced in the 
Senate a bill to suppress insurrection in places pro- 
claimed by the President, by giving the military au- 
thorities power in their respective districts to suspend 
the writ of habeas corpus by proclamation, arrest per- 
sons on the charge of sedition and try them by court- 
martial, compel suspected persons to take the oath of 
allegiance, etc. This came up for discussion on July 30. 

Mabtial Law by Legislative Enactment 
Senate, July 30-August 1, 1861 

Senator Trumbull supported his resolution. He said : 

I wish to premise by saying that I am as much for standing 
by the Constitution of the country and for putting down this 
rebellion in a constitutional and legal way as any gentleman 
here. I will not yield to the Senator from Kentucky [Mr. 
Breckinridge] or any other Senator in my veneration for the 
Constitution of the United States. I believe that that instru- 
ment was intended by its framers to be perpetual. I believe it 
contains all the power necessary to suppress even this gigantic 
rebellion ; and the object of this bill is to confer the necessary 
power on the military authorities, in cases of insurrection and 
rebellion, to suppress them, and to regulate, as far as prac- 
ticable, by law the exercise of those powers. The object of the 
bill is to provide for putting down rebellion in a coiustitutional 
and legal manner. 

When the Constitution gives authority to call forth the 
militia for the purpose of enforcing the laws of the Union it is 
not a meaningless authority, and whatever authority it may be 
necessary to exercise to accomplish that object I say your 
militia and your army may lawfully exercise. If it be neces- 
sary to suspend the writ of habecis corpus, if it be necessary to 
ravage the country and plunder towns, if it be necessary to slay 
persons, to search houses, to do anything that men la time of 
war may do, then that authority is given in the Constitution, 



104 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

You will find, by reference to the works upon international law, 
that it is laid down by all writers that whenever an insurrection 
assumes such formidable proportions as to be recognized by the 
Government, and whenever the civil authority is unable to put 
it down and the military is called out, then all the incidents 
which, according to the laws of nations, may be done by an army 
follow your army called out for that purpose. 

The Supreme Court of the United States has so decided this 
very question [Luther vs. Borden and others, in 1849, reported 
in 7 Howard] . Judge Woodbury dissented from the opinion of 
the court, and placed his dissent chiefly upon the ground that a 
State had not this power, admitting that the (Jovemment of 
the United States might exercise it. 

Here is an express decision that the military power 
may interfere in a case where the civil authorities are 
overborne, and may arrest anyone when they have rea- 
sonable grounds to believe that he is engaged in the in- 
surrection, and may enter houses for that purpose; and 
the court say that, if this were not so, the military array of 
the Government would be mere parade, and rather encourage 
than repel attack. Shall it then be said, when express power 
is given by the Constitution of the United States to call out 
the militia to enforce the laws of the country, that they are 
merely to make a parade T What more has your military power 
done in this instance than was done in the State of Rhode 
Island? Have they done anything more in Baltimore than to 
arrest persons suspected of favoring this insurrection t Noth- 
ing. The writ of habeas corpus cannot relieve them ; the courts 
cannot interfere; and this power, the court say, is essential to 
the preservation of order and free institutions and the existence 
of every government, and they would draw the power from the 
nature of government itself if it were not expressly given in 
the Constitution. 

That case covers, in my judgment, every feature of the bill 
now under consideration. 

James A. Bayard, Jr. [Del.], considered the bill ** ex- 
ceedingly dangerous to the personal liberties and rights 
of every citizen of the United States, and also entirely 
unnecessary for the purpose of carrying on this war with 
the seceded States. ' ' In order that it might have grave 
consideration he moved its postponement until n ^xt day. 

William P. Fessenden [Me.] wished the bill settled 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 105 

at onoe, or to be postponed indefinitely ; with his present 
impressions he would vote against it. 

John C. Breckinridge [Ky.] concurred with the 
Senator from Maine. He said: 

If there is a serious intention to pass it, at some time before 
the vote is taken I may briefly express my opposition to it. I 
content myself now with saying that it appears to me to com- 
bine in eleven sections eve]:ything most atrocious which has been 
resisted, fought against, and trampled down by a free people 
for the last five hundred years; and that I think the introduc- 
tion of such a bill into the American Senate is the most gloomy 
commentary we could have upon the degenerate character of 
the times. 

After some discussion the bill was postponed until 
next day, and, when it then came up, imtil the day fol- 
lowing (August 1). 

Jacob CoUamer [Vt.] opposed the bill as a usurpa- 
tion by Congress of the powers of the President. 

Mr. President, it is quite useless for men to talk about Con- 
gress having the war-making power. All there is in that argu- 
ment is this : Among the powers enumerated in the Constitution 
is that Congress shall have power to declare war ; that is to say 
that that department of the Government which can initiate a 
war in this country is Congress; but that has nothing to do 
with a war made upon us. If a war be waged and declared 
by another nation upon this nation, I take it, it needs no dec- 
laration of Congress about it; it is a state of war. The diffi- 
culty that arose in my mind was this: War has been declared 
by those whom we do not recognize as a sovereign power. We 
do not regard it as a regularly declared war. Therefore, in 
order to avoid all doubt about the fact that an insurrection 
existed, in order to give to that insurrection in this country, 
by whatever name called, a local and legal existence, recognized 
by us, we passed a law in the early part of this session by which 
we authorized the President, wherever the insurrection existed in 
a State, and especially if it claimed to do so by State author- 
ity, and the State authority did not disclaim it, to declare the 
people of that State, or any section of it, where the insurrection 
existed, in a state of war. This is what we have done in order 
to give it all formal sanctipn. 

Now, Mr. President, the war, I take it, exists. It has been 
suggested by some gentlemen here that that war cannot be 



106 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

• 

legally prosecuted after Congress meets; that thoo^^ it might 
be, from the necessity of the case, prosecuted by the President, 
in the exercise of the powers that ordinarily belong to the 
prosecution of war, until Congress met, yet when Congress did 
meet he could do nothing but what Congress authorized. I ut- 
terly disclaim any such principle in our Government. Why, 
sir, since we have met and during the three or four weeks we 
have been sitting here, the President, or those acting under 
him, have sent down twenty, thirty, or forty thousand of our 
own citizens into Virginia, and have killed hundreds of people. 
Is this murder T Where is your law to authorize it? Look 
through your acts and through all your statutes, and whiere do 
you find any authority of that kind T Has it been done by any 
action of Congress? Not at all. Sir, we may as well come to 
it first as last: the power to prosecute war and the manner 
of carrying on that war is entirely executive — ^it is so in every 
country everjrwhere — ^and the laws that govern those who thus 
prosecute that war are the laws of war, not the laws of munici- 
palities. 

They are not the laws of Congress, nor of Parliament, 
nor of the National Assembly of France: they are the laws of 
war; and no war can be prosecuted in any other way. The 
President, or the general of our armies, in the prosecution of 
this war, is to conduct it just the same as any other. I desire 
no resentments or irritations about it; but they do not derive 
their authority from Congress. Not only do they not derive 
their authority from that source, but they cannot. The laws 
of war are laws between the belligerents. When you capture a 
spy you can execute him, according to the laws of war. Those 
laws are recognized, and do not come out of legislation by 
anybody. 

Again, Mr. President, the mere powers which are absolutely 
necessary to the prosecution of a war are many of them powers 
which Congress, in the express words of the Constitution, is 
forbidden to adopt. Now, take one feature of the bill before 
us which recognizes the trying of people and punishing them 
capitally, executing them, by court-martial. The Constitution 
provides expressly that all crimes shall be tried by a jury, unless 
they are offences committed by those who are members either 
of the army or navy. That is the provision of the Constitution. 
Now it is not with that clause as it may be with the habeas 
corpits. That clause may be suspended; but the provision in 
regard to trial by jury Congress has no power to suspend any- 
where. 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 107 

I mention that as one illustration. I can find a number of 
others similar to it, wherein the prohibitions of the Constitu- 
tion — prohibitions upon the action of Congress — ^are of that 
character that shows it is not i)ossible to give, by any action of 
Congress, those powers which everybody recognizes as the rights 
of war, under the laws of war. Therefore, without occupying 
any further time about it, the war now being in legal existence, 
and, if any more particular locality should be given to it, 
it is by presidential proclamation, under the statute we have 
already passed; my idea is that the rights of war, the power 
of prosecuting it, and the mode of carrying it on, with all its 
limitations, are to be derived from what are known in the 
world as the laws of war. They are entirely in the executive 
administration, not derived from Congress, and, I think, ought 
not to be undertaken to be legislated about in Congress, because, 
as I before said, the very attempt to legislate upon them is to 
negative the idea that they have any other power; and we 
should want more time and more forethought and foresight to 
provide for the various exigencies which may present them- 
selves in war than we should ever be able to give to the subject. 
Therefore, I think it better to leave it to the laws of war, where 
it properly belongs. 

Senator Trumbull. — The Senator from Vermont asserts 
that this is war; that you cannot regulate a war by Congress; 
it is the law of nations that regulates war; and he wants to 
know, if this is a bill providing for war, why you do not pro- 
vide for spies, and why you do not make other provisions! He 
goes on to say that it is directly against the Constitution of 
the United States to try a man by court-martial, because a man 
is entitled to a jury trial. Why, sir, did the learned Senator 
from Vermont never read the acts of Congress? It is provided 
by the act of 1806, in force to-day, that — 

"Whoever shall be convicted of holding correspondence with, or giving 
intelligence to, the enemy, either directly or indirectly, shall suffer death, 
or such other punishment as shall be ordered by the sentence of a court- 
martial." 

The Senator says we cannot regulate the proceedings during 
a time of war; that Congress has no power over them. The 
statute is full of regulations of the army in time of war; and 
this very act, the very case he puts, provides the punishment 
for a spy. 

The statute is full of provisions controlling and governing 
the army in time of war. Express authority is given to Con- 



108 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

gress by the very words of the Constitution to make the rules 
and regulations for the government of the army ; and yet, f or- 
soothy we are told by the Senator from Vermont Congress cannot 
make any laws at all; war is declared, and the President can 
carry on the war just as he pleases. Now, sir, I deny his very 
premises. I deny that this is a war in the sense in which he 
speaks. There is a rebellion. We have treated it as a rebellion. 
The Executive has treated it as a rebellion. The Senator wants 
to know if it was murder when our army went over to Virginia 
a few days ago and killed several hundred persons T Certainly 
not. It was not necessary to write down in the statute book 
that our army should have authority to go into Virginia and 
shoot men; but what has Congress done? Congress has recog- 
nized this existing state of things. It has voted hundreds of 
millions of money and hundreds of thousands of men to put 
down the rebellion. It has authorized the calling out of the 
militia for the purpose of enforcing the laws; and the courts 
have decided that when the militia are called out for that pur- 
pose they may use all the means necessary to accomplish the 
object; and the provision of the Constitution which provides 
for trial by jury has no application. When the military author- 
ity is called out to enforce the laws and suppress rebellion, they 
have all the authority necessary to accomplish the end for which 
that power is given; and if it be necessary to level houses, to 
ravage the country, and to shoot men, they have the authority. 
The militaiy power is not called out as a display. Nor is this a 
war in the sense the Senator from Vermont would intimate. 
His doctrine would recognize these Southern rebels as a govern- 
ment. He wants to provide for an exchange of prisoners, and 
he asks why that is not in the bill. 

Senator Collameb. — I disclaimed that they were a govern- 
ment. I said the reason we passed a law to authorize the Presi- 
dent to issue his proclamation was because we did not recognize 
such a power on earth. 

Senator Trumbull. — Then, if he does not recognize this as 
a war in that sense, why undertake to apply to it the rules of 
war ? Is a war existing in my State ? By virtue of the military 
authority men in the State of Illinois have been arrested. Is 
war existing in Baltimore T By what authority are you arresting 
men in the city of Baltimore and holding them in custody? Is 
the Senator from Vermont, or is anybody in this country, for 
leaving the power in the hands of the President, or, rather, in 
the hands of your commanding general, just when he pleases^ 
without proclamation, to march to any locality, arrest men, put 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 109 

them in prison, and do what he pleases with themT Shall we be 
told that Congress has no power, although the express authority 
to make rules and regulations for the government of every ofiQeer 
is vested here in Congress and nowhere else? Our power is 
omnipotent over this army; and they ought to have rules and 
regulations by which to be governed. And, let me tell Senators, 
it is no new feature for courts-martial, in time of rebellion, in- 
surrection, and civil war, to bring men before them and try 
them, sentence them, and shoot them without the intervention of 
any grand or petit jurors. 

Senator BRECKiNRmoE. — I endeavored, Mr. President, to 
demonstrate a short time ago that the whole tendency of our 
proceedings was to trample the Constitution under our feet and 
to conduct this contest without the slightest regard to its pro- 
visions. Everything that has occurred since demonstrates that 
the view I took of the conduct and tendency of public aflfairs 
was correct. Already both Houses of Congress have passed a 
bill virtually to confiscate all the property in the States that 
have withdrawn. Nothing can be more apparent than that that 
is a general act of emancipation. 

Again, sir : to show that all these proceedings are character- 
ized by an utter disregard of the Federal Constitution, what is 
happening around us every day? 

The police commissioners of Baltimore were arrested by mili- 
tary authority without any charges whatever. In vain they have 
asked for a specification. In vain they have sent a respectful 
protest to the Congress of the United States. In vain the House 
of Representatives, by resolution, requested the President to 
furnish the Representatives of the people with the grounds of 
their arrest. He answers the House of Representatives that, 
in his judgment, the public interest does not permit him to say 
why they were arrested, on what charges, or what he has done 
with them — and you call this liberty and law and proceedings 
for the preservation of the Constitution! They have been 
spirited oflf from one fortress to another, their locality unknown, 
and the President of the United States refuses, upon the applica- 
tion of the most numerous branch of the national legislature, to 
furnish them with the grounds of their arrest, or to inform them 
what he has done with them. 

Well might the Senator from Delaware [Willard Saulsbury] 
say that this bill contains provisions conferring authority which 
never was exercised in the worst days of Rome, by the worst of 
her dictators. I have wondered why the bill was introduced. I 
have sometimes thought that possibly it was introduced for 



110 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

the pari)ose of preventing the expression of that reaction which 
is now evidently going on in the public mind against these pro- 
cedures so fatal to constitutional liberty. The army may be thus 
used, perhaps, to collect the enormous direct taxes for which 
preparation is now being made by Congress; and, if in any 
part of Illinois, or Indiana, or New York, or any State, North 
or South, there shall be difiSculty or resistance the President, in 
his discretion, may declare it to be in a state of insurrection, all 
the civil authorities may be overthrown, and his military com- 
mander may make rules and regulations, collect taxes, and exe- 
cute the laws at his pleasure. 

Mr. President, gentlemen talk about the Union as if it was 
an end instead of a meana They talk about it as if it was the 
union of these States which alone had brought into life the 
principles of public and of personal liberty. Sir, they existed 
before, and they may survive it. Take care that in pursuing 
one idea you do not destroy, not only the Constitution of your 
country, but sever what remains of the Federal Union. These 
eternal and sacred principles of public and of personal liberty, 
which lived before the Union and will live forever and ever 
somewhere, must be respected; they cannot with impunity be 
overthrown; and, if you force the people to the issue between 
any form of government and these priceless principles, that form 
of government will perish ; they will tear it asunder as the irre- 
pressible forces of nature rend whatever opposes them. 

The Senator from Vermont [Mr. Collamer] says that all these 
proceedings are to be conducted according to the laws of war ; he 
adds that these laws require many things to be done which are 
absolutely forbidden in the Constitution ; which Congress is pro- 
hibited from doing, and all other departments of the (Govern- 
ment are forbidden from doing by the Constitution; but that 
they are proper under the laws of war, which must alone be the 
measure of our action now. I desire the country, then, to know 
this fact: that it is openly avowed upon this floor that consti- 
tutional limitations are no longer to be regarded ; but that you 
are acting just as if there were two nations upon this continent, 
one arrayed against the other ; some eighteen or twenty millions 
on one side and some ten or twelve millions on the other, as to 
whom the Constitution is nought, and the laws of war alone 
apply. 

Sir, if the Constitution is really to be put aside, if the laws 
of war alone are to govern, and whatever may be done by one 
independent nation at war with another is to be done, why not 
act upon that practically T I do not hold that the clause of 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 111 

the Constitution which authorizes Congress to declare war ap- 
plies to any internal difficulties. I do not believe it applies to 
any of the political communities bound together under the Con- 
stitution in political association. I regard it as applying to 
external enemies. Nor do I believe that the Constitution of the 
United States ever contemplated the preservation of the Union 
of these States by one half the States warring on the other half. 
It details particularly how military force shall be employed 
in this Federal system of government, and it can be employed 
properly in no other way ; it can be employed in aid of the civil 
tribunals. If there are no civil tribunals, if there is no mode 
by which the laws of the United States may be enforced in the 
manner prescribed by the Constitution, what follows? The 
remaining States may, if they choose, make war, but they do 
it outside of the Constitution; and the Federal system, as de- 
termined by the principles and terms of that instrument, does 
not provide for the case. It does provide for putting down 
insurrections — illegal uprisings of individuals — ^but it does not 
provide, in my opinion, either in its spirit or in its terms, for 
raising armies by one half of the political communities that 
compose the Union for the purpose of subjugating the other 
half; and the very fact that it does not is shown by the fact 
that you have to avow on the floor of the Senate the neces- 
sity for putting the Constitution aside and conducting the whole 
contest without regard to it and in obedience solely to the laws 
of war. 

Then, if we are at war, if it is a ease of war, treat it like 
war. Practically it is being treated like war. The prisoners 
whom the United States have taken are not hung as traitors. 
The prisoners which the other States have taken are not hung 
as traitors. Is it war? The Senator is right in saying it is war ; 
but, in my opinion, it is not only an unhappy but an unconsti- 
tutional war. Why, then, all these proceedings upon the part 
of the Administration, refusing to send or to receive flags of 
truce ; refusing to recognize the actual condition of affairs ; re- 
fusing to do those acts which, if they do not terminate, may at 
least ameliorate the unhappy condition in which we find our- 
selves placed? 

So much, then, we know. We know that admitted violations 
of the Constitution have been made and are justified. We know 
that we have conferred by legislation, and are, perhaps, still 
further by legislation to confer, authority to do acts not war- 
ranted by the Constitution of the United States. We have it 
openly avowed that the Constitution of the Union, which is the 



112 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

bond of association, at least, between those States that still ad- 
here to the Federal Union, is no longer to be regarded. It is 
not enough to tell me that it has been violated by those com- 
munities that have seceded. Other States have not seceded ; Ken- 
tucky has not seceded; Illinois has not seceded; some twenty 
States yet compose the Federal Union, nominally under this Ck)n- 
stitution. As to them, that instrument, in its terms and in its 
spirit, is the bond of their connection under the Federal system. 
They have a right, as between themselves and their comembers 
of the Union, to insist upon its being respected. If, indeed, 
it is to be put aside, and we are to go into a great continen- 
tal struggle, they may pause to inquire what is to become of 
their liberties and what their political connections are to be in 
a contest made without constitutional warrant and in derogation 
of all the terms of the instrument? How can this be suc- 
cessfully controverted! Though you may have a right to 
trample under foot the Constitution and to make war (as 
every power has a right to make war) against the States that 
have seceded, have you a right to violate it as to any of the 
adhering States who insist upon fidelity to its provisions? No, 
sir. 

Edward D. Bakeb [Ore.] . — Will the gentleman be kind enough 
to tell me what single particular provision there is in this bill 
which is in violation of the Constitution of the United States T 

Senator Breckinridge. — They are all, in my opinion, so 
equally atrocious that I dislike to discriminate. The Senator can 
select which he pleases. 

Senator Baker. — Let me try, then, if I must generalize as 
the Senator does, to see if I can get the scope and meaning of 
this bill. It is a bill providing that the President of the United 
States may declare, by proclamation, in a certain given state of 
fact, certain territory within the United States to be in a condi- 
tion of insurrection and war; which proclamation shall be ex- 
tensively published within the district to which it relates. That 
is the first proposition. I ask him if that is unconstitutional T 
He will not dare to say it is. 

Senator Breckinridge. — The State of Illinois, I believe, is 
a military district. The State of Kentucky is a military 
district. In my judgment, the President has no author- 
ity, and, in my judgment, Congress has no right to confer 
upon the President authority, to declare a State in a condition 
of insurrection or rebellion. 

Senator Baker. — The bill does not say a word about States. 

Senator Breckinridge. — Does not the Senator know, in fact, 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 113 

that those States compose military districts T It might as well 
have said ''States" as to describe what is a State. 

Senator Baker. — The objection certainly onght not to be 
that the President can declare a part of a State in insurrection 
and not the whole of it. In point of fact, the Constitution of the 
United States, and the Congress of the United States acting 
upon it, are not treating of States, but of the territory compris- 
ing the United States ; and I submit once more to his better judg- 
ment that it cannot be unconstitutional to allow the President 
to declare a county or a part of a county, or a town or a part 
of a town, or part of a State or the whole of a State, or two 
States, or five States in a condition of insurrection, if, in his 
judgment, that be the fact. 

In the next place the bill provides that, that being so, the 
military commander in that district may make and publish such 
police rules and regulations as he may deem necessary to sup- 
press the rebellion and restore order and preserve the lives and 
property of citizens. I submit to him, if the President of the 
United States has power, or ought to have power, to suppress 
insurrection and rebellion, is there any better way to do it, or is 
there any other? The gentleman says do it by the civil power. 
Look at the fact. The civil power is utterly overwhelmed ; the 
courts are closed; the judges banished. Is the President not 
to execute the law T Is he to do it in person, or by his military 
commanders? Are they to do it with regulation, or without itt 
That is the only question. 

Mr. President, the honorable Senator agrees with the Senator 
from Vermont that there is a state of war. What then T There 
is a state of public war; none the less war because it is urged 
from the other side ; not the less war because it is unjust ; not the 
less war because it is a war of insurrection and rebellion. It 
is still war ; and I am willing to say it is public war — public as 
contradistinguished from private war. What then? Shall we 
carry that war on ? Is it his duty as a Senator to carry it on ? 
If so, how ? By armies, under command ; by military organiza- 
tion and authority, advancing to suppress insurrection and re- 
bellion. Is that wrong ? Is that unconstitutional ? Are we not 
bound to do with whoever levies war against us as we would do 
if he was a foreigner? There is no distinction as to the mode 
of carrying on war ; we carry on war against an advancing army 
just the same, whether it be from Russia or from South Carolina. 
Will the honorable Senator tell me it is our duty to stay here, 
within fifteen miles of the enemy seeking to advance upon us 
every hour, and talk about nice questions of constitutional oon- 

vi—s 



114 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

struction as to whether it is war or merely insurrection T No, 
sir. It is our duty to advance, if we can; to suppress insurrec- 
tion; to put down rebellion; to dissipate the rising; to scatter 
the enemy ; and, when we have done so, to preserve, in the terms 
of the bill, the liberty, lives, and property of the people of the 
country by just and fair police regulations. When we took 
Mexico did we not do it there T Is it not a part, a necessary, 
an indispensable part of war itself, that there shall be military 
regulations over the country conquered and heldT Is that un- 
constitutional T 

It is true that the Constitution of the United States does 
adopt the laws of war as a part of the instrument itself during 
the continuance of war. The Constitution does not provide that 
spies shall be hung. Is it unconstitutional to hang a spy 1 There 
is no provision for it in terms in the Constitution ; but nobody 
denies the right, the power, the justice. Whyt Because it is 
part of the law of war. The Constitution does not provide for 
the exchange of prisoners; yet it may be done under the law of 
war. Indeed the Constitution does not provide that a prisoner 
may be taken at all ; yet his captivity is perfectly just and con- 
stitutional. It seems to me that the Senator does not, will not, 
take that view of the subject. 

Again, sir, when a military commander advances, as I trust, 
if there are no more unexpected great reverses, he will advance, 
through Virginia, and occupies the country, there, perhaps, as 
here, the civil law may be silent ; there perhaps the civil officers 
may flee as ours have been compelled to flee. What then? If 
the civil law is silent, who shall control and regulate the con- 
quered district — ^who but the military commander? As the Sen- 
ator from Illinois has well said, shall it be done by regulation or 
without regulation? Shall the general, or the colonel, or the 
captain be supreme, or shall he be regulated and ordered by 
the President of the United States? That is the sole question. 
The Senator has put it well. 

I agree that we ought to do all we can to limit, to restrain, 
to fetter the abuse of military power. Bayonets are at best il- 
logical arguments. I am not willing, except as a case of sheerest 
necessity, ever to permit a military commander to exercise au- 
thority over life, liberty, and property. But, sir, it is part of 
the law of war; you cannot carry in the rear of your army 
your courts ; you cannot organize juries ; you cannot have trials 
according to the forms and ceremonial of the common law amid 
the clangor of arms, and somebody must enforce police regula- 
tions in a conquered or occupied district. I ask the Senator 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 115 

from Kentucky again respectfully, is that unconstitutional; or, 
if, in the nature of war, it must exist, even if there be no law 
passed by us to allow it, is it unconstitutional to regulate itT 
That is the question, to which I do not think he will make a clear 
and distinct reply. 

I would ask the Senator what would you have us do now — 
a Confederate army within twenty miles of us, advancing, or 
threatening to advance, to overwhelm your Government; to 
shake the pillars of the Union ; to bring it around your head, if 
you stay here, in ruins T Are we to predict evil and retire from 
what we predict T Is it not the manly part to go on as we have 
begun, to raise money and levy armies, to organize them, to pre- 
pare to advance ; when we do advance, to regulate that advance 
by all the laws and regulations that civilization and humanity 
will allow in time of battle T Can we do anything more? To 
talk to us about stopping is idle; we will never stop. Will the 
Senator yield to rebellion T Will he shrink from armed insur- 
rection? Will his State justify itt Will its better public opin- 
ion allow it? Shall we send a flag of truce? What would he 
have? Op would he conduct this war so feebly that the whole 
world would smile at us in derision? What would he have? 
These speeches of his, sown broadcast over the land, what clear, 
distinct meaning have they? Are they not intended for disor- 
ganization in our very midst? Are they not intended to dull 
our weapons? Are they not intended to destroy our zeal? Are 
they not intended to animate our enemies? Sir, are they not 
words of brilliant, polished treason, even in the very Capitol of 
the Confederacy? [Manifestations of applause in the galler- 
ies.] 

What would have been thought if, in another capitol, in 
another republic, in a yet more martial age, a Senator as grave, 
not more eloquent or dignified than the Senator from Kentucky, 
yet with the Roman purple flowing over his shoulders, had risen 
in his place, surrounded by all the illustrations of Roman glory, 
and declared that advancing Hannibal was just and that Car- 
thage ought to be dealt with in terms of peace? What would 
have been thought if, after the battle of Cannse, a Senator there 
had risen in his place and denounced every levy of the Roman 
people, every expenditure of its treasure, and every appeal to 
the old recollections and the old glories? Sir, a Senator, himself 
learned far more than myself in such lore [Mr. Fessenden^, 
tells me, in a voice that I am glad is audible, that he would hav^ 
been hurled from the Tarpeian rock. It is a grand commentary 
upon the American Constitution that we permit these words to 



116 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

be uttered. I ask the Senator to recollect, too, what, aaye to 
send aid and comfort to the enemy, do these predictions of his 
amount to? Every word thus uttered falls as a note of inspira- 
tion upon every Confederate ear. Every sound thus uttered is 
a word (and falling from his lips, a mighty word) of kindling 
and triumph to a foe that determines to advance. For me, I 
have no such word as a Senator to utter. For me, amid tempo- 
rary defeat, disaster, disgrace, it seems that my duty calls me 
to utter another word, and that word is : bold, sudden, forward, 
determined war, according to the laws of war, by armies, by 
military conunanders clothed with full power, advancing ¥ath 
all the past glories of the Republic urging them on to con- 
quest. 

I do not stop to consider whether it is subjugation or not. 
It is compulsory obedience, not to my will, not to yours, sir, not 
to the will of any one man, not to the will of any one Senate; 
but compulsory obedience to the Constitution of the whole coun- 
try. When we subjugate South Carolina what shall we do ? We 
shall compel its <>^^ttlN^ to the Constitution of the United 
States; that is all. wedio not mean, we have never said, any 
more. If it be slavery that men should obey the Constitution 
their fathers fought for, let it be so. If it be freedom, it is free- 
dom equally for them and for us. We propose to subjugate 
rebellion into loyalty ; we propose to subjugate insurrection into 
peace; we propose to subjugate Confederate anarchy into con- 
stitutional Union liberty. When the Confederate armies are 
scattered; when their leaders are banished from power; when 
the people return to a late repentant sense of the wrong they 
have done to a Government they never felt but in benignancy and 
blessing, then the Constitution made for all ¥dll be felt by all, 
like the descending rains from heaven which bless all alike. Is 
that subjugation? To restore what was as it was for the benefit 
of the whole country and of the whole human race is all we de- 
sire and all we can have. 

Sir, how can we retreat? Sir, how can we make peace? 
Who shall treat? What commissioners? Who would go? 
Upon what terms? Where is to be your boundary line? 
Where the end of the principles we shall have to give up? 
What will become of constitutional government? What will 
become of public liberty? What of past glories? What of future 
hopes? Shall we sink into the insignificance of the grave — ^a 
degraded, defeated, emasculated people, frightened by the results 
of one battle and scared at the visions raised by the imagination 
of the Senator from Kentucky upon this floor ? No, sir ; a thou- 



THE WAR-MAKING POWER 117 

sand times, no, sir! We will rally — if, indeed, our words be 
necessary — we will rally the people, the loyal people, of the 
whole country. They will pour forth their treasure, their 
money, their men, without stint, without measure. The most 
peaceable man in this body may st€mip his foot upon this Sen- 
ate chamber floor, as of old a warrior and a Senator did, and 
from that single tramp there will spring forth armed legions. 
Shall one battle determine the fate of empire, or a dozen? the 
loss of one thousand men or twenty thousand, or $100,000,000 
or $500,000,000? In a year's peace, in ten years, at most, of 
peaceful progress, we can restore them all. There will be some 
graves reeking with blood, watered by the tears of affection. 
There will be some privation ; there will be some loss of luxury ; 
their will be somewhat more need for labor to procure the neces- 
saries of life. When that is said, all is said. If we have the 
country, the whole country, the Union, the Constitution, free 
government — ^with these there will return all the blessings of 
well-ordered civilization ; the path of the country will be a career 
of greatness and of glory such as, in the olden time, our fathers 
saw in the dim visions of years yet to come, and such as would 
have been ours now, to-day, if it had not been for the treason 
for which the Senator too often seeks to apologize. 

Senator Bbegeiniudge. — The Senator asks me: ''What 
would you have us do?" I would have us stop the war. We 
can do it. I have tried to show that there is none of that inex- 
orable necessity to continue this war which the Senator seems 
to suppose. I do not hold that constitutional liberty on this 
continent is bound up in this fratricidal, devastating, horrible 
contest. Upon the contrary, I fear it will find its grave in it. 
The Senator is mistaken in supposing that we can reunite these 
States by war. He is mistaken in supposing that eighteen or 
twenty million upon the one side can subjugate ten or twelve 
million upon the other; or, if they do subjugate them, that you 
can restore constitutional government as our fathers made it. 
You will have to govern them as Territories, as suggested by the 
Senator, if ever they are reduced to the dominion of the United 
States. Sir, I would prefer to see these States all reunited upon 
true constitutional principles to any other object that could be 
offered me in life; and to restore, upon the principles of our 
fathers, the Union of these States, to me the sacrifice of one un- 
important life would be nothing; nothing, sir. But I infinitely 
prefer to see a peaceful separation of these States than to see 
endless, aimless, devastating war, at the end of which I see the 
grave of public liberty and of personal freedom. 



118 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

The Senator asked if a Senator of Rome had uttered these 
things in the war between Carthage and that power, how would 
he have been treated? Sir, the war between Carthage and 
Rome was altogether different from the war now waged between 
the United States and the Confederate States. I would have said 
— ^rather than avow the principle that one or the other must be 
subjugated, or perhaps both destroyed — let Carthage live and 
let Rome live, each pursuing its own course of policy and civili- 
zation. 

The Senator says that these opinions which I thus expressed, 
and have heretofore expressed, are but brilliant treason; and 
that it is a tribute to the character of our institutions that I am 
allowed to utter them upon the Senate floor. Mr. President, 
if I am speaking treason I am not aware of it. I am speaking 
what I believe to be for the good of my country. If I am speak- 
ing treason, I am speaking it in my place in the Senate, By 
whose indulgence am I speaking f Not by any man 's indulgence. 
I am speaking by the guaranties of lliat Constitution which 
seems to be here now so little respected. And, sir, when he 
asked what would have been done ¥dth a Roman Senator who 
had uttered such words, another Senator on this floor replies in 
audible tones: ''He would have been hurled from the Tarpeian 
rock." Since, in ancient Rome, (while the defenders of the pub- 
lic liberty were sometimes torn to pieces by the people, yet their 
memories were cherished in grateful remembrance,) to be hurled 
from the Tarpeian rock was ever the fate of usurpers and 
tyrants, this remark is an insult which ought not to be offered 
on the floor of the Senate chamber to a Senator who is speaking 
in his place. 

Senator TrumbulPs bill was not brought to a vote, 
owing to the opposition of such influential Republicans 
as Senators Fessenden and CoUamer, who thought it 
both unnecessary and of doubtful constitutionality. 

Senator Breckinridge soon after left the Senate to 
become a general in the Confederate army. Senator 
Baker also shortly resigned his seat to become a Union 
officer. He was killed while gallantly leading his regi- 
ment in a hopeless charge at the battle of Ball's Bluff, 
Va., on October 21, 1861, 



CHAPTER IV 

MiLITABT EmANCIPATIOIT 

Gen. Benjamin F. Butler Declares Slaves Employed on Confederate Works 
"Contraband of War"; the Doctrine Is Upheld by the President and 
Congress — Gen. John C. Fremont Issnes an Order of Military Emanci- 
pation; It Is Revoked by the President, Who Is Criticized Therefor by 
Anti-Slavery Radicals-His Beply to Sen. Orville H. Browning [Ili.] — 
Fremont Is Removed — Gen. Henry W. Halleck Is Put in Charge of 
Department of Missouri — ^He Excludes Fugitive Slaves from the 
Army — Henry Wilson [Mass.] Introduces in the Senate a Bill to Punish 
Army Officers for Returning Fugitives — ^Debate: in Favor, Jacob Col- 
lamer [Vt.], Sen. Wilson; Amendment to Punish Officers for Enticing 
Slaves to Run Away, Supported by Willard Saulsbury [Del.], James A. 
Pearce [Md.] — Francis P. Blair, Jr. [Mo.] Makes a Similar Proposi- 
tion in the House — ^Debate: in Favor, Mr. Blair, John A. Bingham 
[O.]; Opposed, Robert Mallory [Ky.), Charles A. WickUffe [Ky.], 
Henry Grider [Ky.] — ^BiU Passed by House and Senate — Gen. David 
Hunter's Proclamation of Military Emancipation; It Is Revoked by 
the President. 

SLAVES employed on the earthworks of General 
John B. Magmder [Conf.], in May, 1861, ran away 
to Fortress Monroe, Va., which was held by Union 
troops nnder Benjamin P. Butler, and General Butler 
refused to give them up to their owners on the ground 
that, Virginia claiming to be a foreign State, its citizens 
who endorsed this claim (as did the owners) could not 
assert as their right a duty of the Federal Government 
which extended only to its citizens. 

This reasoning led to an even more advanced posi- 
tion which was concisely summed up in a single phrase, 
viz., that negroes employed in aid of rebellion were 
^^ contraband of war, and so subject to confiscation.'' 
Since the Southerners regarded slaves as chattels they 
could not consistently except to this conclusion. 

The Government heartily approved General Butler's 

119 



120 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

coarse. On May 30 Secretary Cameron of the War 
Department gave bim a formal order authorizing )iim 
to pursue the policy he had adopted. Even the border- 
State Union men did not voice any objeotions, for to do 
BO would impeach their loyalty. The public generally 
applauded Butter. 

Congress, as we have seen (page 70), declared that 
all negroes employed upon fortificationg, etc., by the 
Confederates, should not, if taken by the Union troops, 
be returned to their owners, and in this it was sup- 
ported by public opinion in the North and even in the 
border States. 

When, however, Major-Qeneral John C. Fremont, 
in command of the Western Department, consisting of 




An envelope cut during tlie Ciril War 

niinois and all the region between the Mississippi and 
the Bocky Mountains, attempted to gain a similar pop- 
ular acclaim by issuing on his own responsibility a proc- 
lamation confiscating all property of persons in rebellion, 
and emancipating their slaves, neither the Administra- 
tion nor the conntry as a whole supported him, although 
the Abolitionists hailed it as the most important act thus 
far of the war. 

To President Lincoln and his military advisers the 
previous course of General Fremont had been most dis- 
appointing. His neglect to reenforce the brave General 
Lyon, isolated at Springfield in southwestern Missouri 
among gathering rebel forces, had led to the defeat 
and death of Lyon at Wilson's Creek on August 10, and 
his egotism in refusing to consult with the civil auttiori- 
ties and his subordinate officers had thoroughly demoral- 
ized his entire department 



MILITARY EMANCIPATION 121 

President Liiiiioln therefore was watching for danger 
in that quarter, and, as soon as he was informed of 
Fremont's proclamation on August 30 of military eman- 
cipation, wrote him on September 2 to modify it so that 
it should conform to the act of Congress confiscating 
property used for insurrection, giving as a reason for 
his objection that the liberation of slaves would alarm 
Southern Unionists, and perhaps precipitate Kentucky 
into the Confederacy. 

Before Lincoln received a reply to this he wrote to 
General David Hunter a letter full of shrewd foresight 
and delicate diplomacy: 

September 9, 1861. 
My dear Sib: General Fremont needs to have by his side a 
man of large experience. Will you not, for me, take that place 1 
Your rank is one grade too high to be ordered to it; but will 
you not serve the coimtry and oblige me by taking it volun- 
tarily? 

Two days later he received an answer from Fremont 
to his letter of September 2. It was full of excuses 
and self -justification. Mrs. Fremont brought it in per- 
son. She adopted a hostile attitude toward the Presi- 
dent, and, insinuating that there was a conspiracy 
against her husband, demanded a copy of the President's 
Missouri correspondence. Lincoln courteously but firmly 
replied : 

I do not feel authorized to furnish you with copies of letters 
in my possession, without the consent of the writers. No im- 
pression has been made on my mind against the honor or in- 
tegrity of General Fremont, and I now enter my protest against 
being understood as acting in any hostility toward him. 

The situation precipitated by General Fremont's 
proclamation was most critical. The border States, for 
whose adherence to the Union Lincoln had thus far 
most successfully played, seemed about to escape from 
his control Besides, soldiers from the Northern States, 
who had enlisted to save the Union and not to free 
the negro, were greatly disaffected by Fremont's 



122 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

proclamation. On the other hand events had rapidly 
developed many conservative Northerners into anti- 
slavery radicals, and these, together with the original 
Abolitionists, made a hero of General Fremont Such 
persons had to be treated with utmost consideration. 

One of these was an old friend and adviser of 
Lincoln, Orville H. Browning, who had succeeded 
Stephen A. Douglas in the Senate. On September 17 
he wrote to the President objecting to his attitude to- 
ward Fremont's proclamation. To this letter Lincoln 
replied on the 22d: 

My dear Sir : Yours of the 17th is just received ; and, coming 
from youy I confess it astonishes me. That you should object 
to my adhering to a law which you had assisted in making and 
presenting to me less than a month before is odd enough. But 
this is a very small part. General Fremont's proclamation as 
to confiscation of property and the liberation of slaves is purely 
political and not within the range of military law or necessity. 
If a commanding general fmds a necessity to seize the farm 
of a private owner for a pasture, an encampment, or a fortifica- 
tion he has the right to do so, and to so hold it as long as the 
necessity lasts; and this is within military law, because within 
military necessity. But, to say the farm shall no longer belong 
to the owner, or his heirs forever, and this as well when the 
farm is not needed for military purposes as when it is, is purely 
political, without the savor of military law about it. And the 
same is true of slaves. If the general needs them, he can seize 
them and use them ; but, when the need is past, it is not for him 
to fix their permanent future condition. That must be settled 
according to laws made by law-makers, and not by military proc- 
lamations. The proclamation on the point in question is simply 
"dictatorship." It assumes that the general may do anything 
he pleases— confiscate the lands and free the slaves of loyal 
people as well as of disloyal ones. And, going the whole figure, 
I have no doubt, would be more popular with some thoughtless 
people than that which has been done! But I cannot assume 
this reckless position, nor allow others to assume it on my re- 
sponsibility. 

You speak of it as being the only means of saving the Qoy- 
emment. On the contrary, it is itself the surrender of the 
(Jovemment. Can it be pretended that it is any longer the 
Government of the United States — any government of constitu- 



MILITARY EMANCIPATION 123 

tion and laws — ^wherein a general or a president may make 
permanent rules of property by proclamation? I do not say 
Congress might not with propriety pass a law on the point 
just such as General Fremont proclaimed. I do not say I might 
not, as a member of Congress, vote for it. What I object to is, 
that I, as President, shall expressly or impliedly seize and exer- 
cise the permanent legislative functions of the Government. 

So much as to principle. Now as to policy. No doubt the 
thing was popular in some quarters, and would have been more 
so if it had been a general declaration of emancipation. The 
Kentucky legislature would not budge till that proclamation was 
modified; and General Anderson telegraphed me that, on the 
news of General Fremont having actually issued deeds of manu- 
mission, a whole company of our volunteers threw down their 
arms and disbanded. I was so assured as to think it probable 
that the very arms we had furnished Kentucky would be turned 
against us. I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to 
lose the whole game. Kentucky gone, we cannot hold Missouri, 
nor, as I think, Maryland. These all against us, and the job on 
our hands is too large for us. We would as well consent to sep- 
aration at once, including the surrender of this capital. On the 
contrary, if you will give up your restlessness for new positions, 
and back me manfully on the grounds upon which you and other 
kind friends gave me the election and have approved in my 
public documents, we shall go through triumphantly. You must 
understand I took my course on the proclamation because of 
Kentucky. I took the same ground in a private letter to General 
Fremont before I heard from Kentucky. 

There has been no thought of removing General Fremont 
on any ground connected with his proclamation. ... I hope 
no real necessity for it exists on any ground. 

Fremont's continued inaction, however, compelled the 
President at last to supersede him with General David 
Hunter. A few months later Fremont was placed in 
charge of the Mountain Department [western Virginia 
and eastern Kentucky and Tennessee]. 

On November 9, 1861, General Henry W. Halleck was 
placed in charge of the Department of Missouri [Mis- 
souri, Arkansas, western Kentucky, Iowa, Minnesota, 
Wisconsin, and Illinois]^ and Hunter put in command 
of the Department of Katisas [Kansas, Nebraska, Colo- 
rado, Dakota, and Indian Territory]. 



124 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

General Halleck set himself at once to settle the vexa- 
tions problem of the relation of the army to fugitive 
slaves. Contrary to Fremont's policy he issued an order 
on November 20 excluding these fugitives from the army 
lines on the ground that they conveyed information to 
the enemy. For this order he was violently attacked 
by the anti-slave press and Congressmen, who averred 
that, on the contrary, the fugitives brought in valuable 
information about the enemy. 

During the session of December, 1861-July, 1862, 
several bills were proposed in both the Senate and the 
House to punish officers and privates of the army and 
navy for aiding owners to recover fugitive slaves. That 
of Henry Wilson [Mass.] was reported on January 6, 
1862, in the Senate. On January 17 it came up for 
discussion. 



Retubn of Fugitivb Slaves by Abmy Officebs 
Congress, January 6-Mabch 10, 1862 

Jacob Collamer [Vt.] said: 

It is a perversion entirely to undertake to use soldiers 
a mere posse comitatus, or as a mere police force, or to use them 
in any way in the enforcement of the laws of any particular 
section into which they may be marched. They have nothing 
to do with that ; their business is to suppress the rebellion, and 
disperse the insurgents wherever they may be found in arms. 
I believe we are generally agreed that there is great impropriety 
in military men exercising military authority within the States 
in relation to their internal and municipal affairs; it is very 
likely to produce collisions that ought to be avoided. 

Willard Saulsbury [Del.] moved to amend the resolu- 
tion by making it punish soldiers for enticing slaves 
from their masters or harboring them. This amend- 
ment was amended by limiting the cases to slaves of 
loyal masters. 

Senator Wilson was opposed to any amendment. 
James A. Pearce [Md.] supported the amendment. 



MILITARY EMANCIPATION 125 

The bill without it is an invitation to all slaves in the vicinity 
to resort to the lines of the army as a harbor of refuge where 
they can be safe from the operation of the undoubted legal 
rights of the owner. It is an invitation to the whole body of such 
people within a loyal State, such as Maryland, to accomplish 
their freedom by indirection. It is not an act of emancipation 
in its terms; but, so far as it can operate and does operate, it' 
leads directly to that result. I know that fact that the slaves of 
masters whose titles are undoubted and their loyalty unques- 
tioned have resorted to camps, and the officers sometimes have 
been very unwilling and have positively refused to take any 
step whatever in the matter? What is the result of that? A 
great many of these soldiers come from States where they hold 
this whole i^ystem of domestic servitude in such dislike that they 
will not permit the master to exercise his undoubted, valid 
rights, even though he goes accompanied by an officer of the 
law. He cannot exercise his rights except at the peril of per- 
sonal ill treatment from these soldiers, who are not to be re- 
strained by a military officer and who, therefore, will make their 
will the law of the case. Sir, I do not think that is right. I 
think that is making a camp of the United States army a refuge 
for runaway negroes. I think we are violating the rights of 
loyal masters in loyal States. 

As for its operation in seceded States the bill will have no 
operation there anyway. Its effect is to take away the property 
of the people of Maryland, and of the loyal people of Maryland 
too. If it does not have that effect it will have none. I think, 
therefore, the amendment ought to be retained and that equal 
justice demands it. If it is not retained we of Maryland shall 
have to consider that our rights in this species of property are 
set aside, so far as this Government can set them aside by such 
an act. 

The bill was kept from a vote by the tactics of the 
Democrats aided by a few conservative Republicans. 

In the House, however, Francis P, Blair, Jr. [Mo.], 
of the Military Committee, on February 25, reported the 
substance of the Wilson resolution in an additional 
Article of War. The article was strongly opposed by 
Robert Mallory [Ky.], who argued with great ability 
that the army was intended to aid the Government in 
enforcing its laws, of which the Fugitive Slave Act was 
one, and, if the articles were not intended to repeal this 



126 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

act, it was a denial to the State where that law was 
sought to be enforced by the aid of the general Govern- 
ment in its enforcement. 

"If it be the intention to repeal that law I wiah gentlemen 
of the House to say so candidly and at once, and to let us know 
what we are to expect in regard to this matter." 

Mr. Blair refused to decide whether his bill was a 
virtual repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act, contenting 
himself with saying that in common with a great many 
others he believed that **the army of the United States 
has a great deal better business tiian returning fugitive 
slaves. ' ' 

John A. Bingham [0.], however, took it upon him- 
self to declare that: 

"it is impossible by any fair construction to make the bill imply 
any interference with the administration of civil justice in this 
coimtry, either under the legislation of 1850 or under any act 
that has ever been passed by this Qovemment. Sir, the bill 
simply provides that your officers in. the army and navy, and 
those under them, shall not exercise in the future, as in the past, 
the fimctions which belong alone and exclusively to the civil 
magistrates of the country, upon the penalty of being tried by 
a court-martial, and, upon conviction, of being dismissed from 
the service thus abused and disgraced." 

Mr. Mallory, while granting the high legal attain- 
ments of the gentleman from Ohio, was 

'Wery suspicious of the accuracy of the working of his mind 
upon questions of this character. [Laughter.] Upon this ques- 
tion, at any rate, I cannot concur with him in opinion upon the 
construction he gives to this bill." 

Charles A. Wickliffe [Ky.], referring to General 
Grant *s return to their owners of slaves captured at 
Fort Donelson [February 16, 1862], asked the gentleman 
from Ohio if the bill would prevent a military comman- 
der from the exercise of such a power hereafter 1 

Henry Qrider [Ky.], stating that the Bebel army had 
run off with $300,000 worth of slaves in three counties 



MILITARY EMANCIPATION 127 

of Kentucky, asked the gentleman if the bill proposed 
that these should not be intercepted and returned, and 
whether he would make the military power paramount to 
every other consideration, even of constitutional obliga- 
tion, and turn these negroes free. 

Mr. Bingham replied that the prevalent practice of 
officers in the army returning without trial slaves to 
those claiming to be their owners was in direct viola- 
tion of the carefully guarded provisions of the B^igitive 
Slave act, and this practice the bill was intended to 
prevent. 

This practice is a military despotism that the American 
people should not tolerate for a moment, nor lose a moment in 
ending by the enactment of this bill into a law. Mr. Speaker, 
if I had my way, instead of having this bill provide, as it does 
simply provide, that persons in the United States military or 
naval service thus offending should, upon conviction by court- 
martial, be dismissed from the service, I would have the bill 
provide that such offenders should, by the sentence of a court- 
martial, be shot as kidnappers and as invaders of the rights of 
persons, as violators of justice and of the very sanctuary of 
justice. 

Mr. Mallory said that he did not ask that slaves be 
returned where there was doubt as to their ownership. 
The laws of his State, indeed, forbade it. 

Mr. Bingham replied: 

There is always a doubt, a doubt imposed by law upon the 
conscience of every civil magistrate, in favor of the party brought 
before him and attempted to be deprived of his liberty — a doubt 
which should bind the magistrate to stand by the narty who is 
thus sought to be deprived of his liberty until fhat doubt is 
overcome by lawful evidence. But, sir, no man in the military 
or naval service of this country has the right to hear evidence 
or to determine that question of doubt. I go further. The 
presumption of law is that every man in this land is entitled to 
his liberty until the contrary shall be made to appear. I want 
to know by what authority any officer in the naval or military 
service of the United States has the right to assume for himself 
to hear evidence and to determine against that presumption? 

Mb. Mallory. — I understand my friend from Ohio to admit 



128 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

in a case where there is no doubt either in law or in fact, where 
the officer knows the party is the slave of the loyal master who 
claims him, that he is willing that the slave should be restored 
to the master by the United States officer. 

Mb. Bingham. — The gentleman will pardon me ; I admit no 
such thing. 

Ma. Malloby. — Does the gentleman deny that in that case it 
becomes the duty of the officer to restore the slave to his loyal 
master? 

Mb. Bingham. — I do deny it. I deny that he has the right 
to entertain the question. I deny that he has the right, where 
no offence is charged, to clothe himself with authority to sit 
upon the right of any human being in this land to his liberty. 
One of the strongest utterances of the Declaration of Independ- 
ence may be repeated upon this floor this day in favor of the 
enactment of this very bill. That utterance was: that "the 
King," whose character is thus marked by every act which may 
define a t3^ant, "has affected to render the military independent 
of, and superior to, the civil power." 

That is what is so offensive in this practice which has ob- 
tained in your camps, from the shores of the Potomac to the 
shores of the Mississippi — the attempt by the military power 
to assume and exercise civil authority in contempt of the civil 
power of the land. Some of your military officers of high and 
low degree have been detailing their men for the purpose of 
seizing, and have seized, persons not accused of crime, but sus- 
pecied of the virtue of preferring liberty to bondage. Are we 
to revive here in this land the hated rule of the Athenian ostra- 
cism, by which men were condemned, not because they were 
charged with crime or proved guilty of crime, but because they 
were suspected to possess and practice the virtues of justice and 
patriotism in such degree as rendered their presence in the state 
dangerous to republican equality? Aristides was condemned 
because he was just, and Themistoeles because he was the savior 
of the city. 

These alleged fugitive slaves, who are subjected to this in- 
tolerable military despotism, are seized, not upon the charge 
or the proof that they have stolen anybody's goods, not that 
they have invaded anybody's rights, but upon the suspicion that 
they have been guilty of asserting their right of personal lib- 
erty, and of running away from a cruel and unjust bondage. 
Some of your officers, according to the practice of late, assume 
the right to sit in judgment upon the delicate question of the 
liberty of these suspected persons, to seize them, to condemn 



MILITARY EMANCIPATION 129 

them as slaves, and to sarrender them over to stripes and punish- 
ment. 

I have read in the papers, and I believe it is true, that one 
of these persons suspected of escaping from bondage to liberty 
swam across the Ohio River, making for an encampment upon 
the Indiana shore, where he saw the banner of liberty flying 
which he fondly looked upon as consecrating that place, at least, 
as sacred to the rights of person, and where even the rights of a 
hunted bondman would be respected. After having been beaten 
about, bruised, and mangled against the rocks in the channel of 
the river, to whose rushing waters he committed his life that 
he might regain his liberty, he reached the opposite shore. 
Somebody went into the camp and reported that this man was 
suspected of the crime of having run away from chains and 
slavery. A company of soldiers, it is said, were detailed to seize 
him, and did seize and return him as a slave to the man who 
claimed him. If that practice is to be pursued by the army and 
navy under the American flag it ought to cover with midnight 
blackness every star that bums upon its field of azure, and with 
everlasting infamy the men who dare to desecrate it to such 
base uses. 

What are we fighting for in this land? For the supremacy 
of the laws ; for the administration of justice according to law ; 
for liberty regulated and sheltered by law. We are fighting for 
the principle, among others, that no man shall be deprived of 
his liberty in this land without a hearing before the only tri- 
bunals authorized by law to hear and determine the question. 
The bill now under consideration proposes to provide against 
interfering with that right, sacred as any other, guarded and 
protected by the very letter and spirit of the Constitution. And 
it surprises me that any gentleman should stand here to-day 
objecting to the enactment of such a law. 

The bill was passed by a substantially party vote- 



yeas, 83; nays, 44. Coming before the Senate on March 
4 it was vehemently opposed by the Democrats, and as 
stoutly supported by the Bepublicans, and on March 
10 was passed by 29 yeas to 9 nays — a party vote, with 
the exception that James A. McDougall [Dem.] of Cali- 
fornia voted for it. 

The capture of Port Royal, S. C, on November 7, 
1861, opened the way to the Federal occupation of the 
coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, which 

VI— 9 



130 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

was formed into the military department of the South, 
General Hunter being called from Kansas to com- 
mand it. 

General Hunteb's Emancipation Pboglamation 

On May 9, 1862, General David Hunter issued a 
proclamation on the ground that, martial law having 
been declared in it (on April 25), slavery and martial 
law were * * altogether incompatible in a free country. ' ' 

On May 19 the President revoked the order, saying 
that he **had no knowledge, information, or belief of 
an intention on General Hunter's part to issue it, nor 
had the general nor any other commander or person 
authority from the Government to declare the slaves of 
any State free. 

I further made known that, whether it be competent for me, 
as commander-m-ehief of the army and navy, to declare the 
slaves of any State or States free, and whether, at any time, in 
any case, it shall have become a necessity indispensable to the 
maintenance of the government to exercise such supposed power, 
are questions which, under my responsibility, I reserve to my- 
self, and which I cannot feel justified in leaving to the decision 
of commanders in the field. These are totally different questions 
from those of police regulations in armies and camps. 



CHAPTER V 

Abolition op Slavery in the Distbict op Columbia 

Ben. Wilson Introduces Bill in Senate for Abolition of Slavery in the Dis- 
trict of Columbia— Debate: in Favor, John P. Hale [N. H.], Sen. 
Wilson, James Harlan [la.], Charles Sumner [Mass.]; Opposed, Gar- 
rett Davis [K7.], Waitman T. Willey [Va.], Anthony Kennedy [Md.], 
Willard Saulsbury [Del.] ; Bill Is Passed in Senate and House— Points 
Made by Bepresentative Benjamin F. Thomas [Mass.]— The President 
Signs the Bill, with Bemarks. 

IN his first annual message (December 2, 1861) Presi- 
dent Lincoln recommended that steps be taken to 
colonize the ' ' contraband * ' f reedmen and other free 
negroes in a congenial climate. 

To carry out the plan of colonization may involve the acquir- 
ing of territory and also the appropriation of money beyond that 
to be expended in the territorial acquisition. Having prac- 
ticed the acquisition of territory for nearly sixty years, the ques- 
tion of constitutional power to do so is no longer an open one 
with us. The power was questioned at first by Mr. Jefferson, 
who, however, in the purchase of Louisiana, yielded his scruples 
on the plea of great expediency. If it be said that the only legiti- 
mate object of acquiring territory is to furnish homes for white 
men, this measure effects that object; for the emigration of 
colored men leaves additional room for white men remaining 
or coming here. Mr. Jefferson, however, placed the importance 
of procuring Louisiana more on political and commercial grounds 
than on providing room for population. 

On this whole proposition, including the appropriation of 
money with the acquisition of territory, does not the expediency 
amount to absolute necessity — ^that, without which the Govern- 
ment itself cannot be perpetuated t 

On February 13, 1862, a bill drawn by Henry Wilson 
[Mass.] was reported in the Senate from the Conunittee 

131 



132 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

on the District of Columbia abolishing slavery in the 
District. It provided for compensation to the owners, 
which was fixed by commissioners appointed by that 
purpose, but with limitation of an average of $300 per 
slave to each owner, for the punishment of kidnapping 
of such freedmen and other negroes as felony, and ap- 
propriated $100,000 to be expended under direction of 
the President for colonizing these and other negroes 
of the District, if they so desired, in tropic countries 
outside of the United States. 

The bill came up for discussion on March 12, six 
days after the receipt of a special message from the 
President proposing compensated emancipation in any 
State so desiring it (see page 163). 

Abolition of Slavery in the District op Columbia 

Senate, March 12-April 3, 1862 

Garrett Davis [Ky.] objected to the bill; he first at- 
tacked the voluntary colonization feature as impractica- 
ble. 

Not one slave in a hundred will consent to be colonized when 
liberated. The^ liberation ol the slaves in this District, and in 
any State of the Union, will be just equivalent to settling them 
in the country where they Jive; and whenever that policy is in- 
augurated, especially in the States where there are many slaves, 
it will inevitably and immediately introduce a war of extermina- 
tion between the two races. Free negroes are notoriously worth- 
less. A negro's idea of freedom is freedom from work as a 
general rule. Where you have a few free negroes in a white 
community, and the negroes have but a small association and the 
examples all around them are the examples of diligence, indus- 
try, and thrift, this outward influence will force them to a 
modicum of labor and of thrift, too. But whenever you settle 
negroes in large numbers, or liberate them in large numbers, 
and they become a society to themselves, you will have a thrift- 
less, worthless, indolent, inefficient population. 

The negroes that are now liberated, and that remain in this 
city, will become a sore and a burden and a charge upon the 
white population. They will be criminals; they will become 
paupers. They will be engaged in crimes and in petty mis^ 



ABOLITION IN FEDERAL DISTRICT 133 

demeanors. They will become a charge and a pest upon this 
society, and the power which undertakes to liberate them ought 
to relieve the white community in which they reside, and in 
which they will become a pest, from their presence. 

Mr. President, whenever any power, constitutional or uncon- 
stitutional, assumes the responsibility of liberating slaves where 
slaves are numerous they establish as inexorably as fate a con- 
flict between the races that will result in the exile or the exter- 
mination of the one race or the other. I know it. We have now 
about two hundred and twenty-five thousand slaves in Kentucky. 
Think you, sir, that we should ever submit to have those slaves 
manumitted and left among us? No, sir ; no, never ; nor will any 
white people in the United States of America where the slaves 
are numerous. If, by unconstitutional legislation, you should, by 
laws which you shrink from submitting to the test of constitu- 
tionality in your courts of justice, liberate them, without the 
intervention of the courts, the moment you reorganize the white 
inhabitants of those States as States of the Union, they will 
reduce those slaves again to a state of slavery, or they will 
expel them and drive them upon you, or south of you, or they 
will hunt them down like beasts and exterminate them. They 
will not do this from choice, but they will do it from neces- 
sity. Emancipation will produce such a conflict between the 
races as will render extermination inevitable, and there will be 
no escape from it. 

I maintain that it is a matter of humanity to the negro in 
this city, and of justice to the white population of this city, 
that, when you turn three or four thousand negroes who are now 
in a state of slavery free, you should relieve them from the curse 
of such a population, from its expense, from its burdens upon 
this community in every form ; you ought to assume the philan- 
thropy and the justice — ^the philanthropy to the negro race and 
the justice to the white race — ^to remove these people from the 
.District. You may refuse to do it. If you do, a few years' ex- 
perience will tell you what a mistake you made. I shall speak, 
though, on this subject at more length on another occasion. I 
will only say now that, when the negroes are liberated in the 
cotton States, it is giving up the cotton States to the negro race, 
and it is expelling, in a very short time, by inevitable necessity, 
the white population from that country, or it is introducing war 
between the two races that will result in the exile or expulsion of 
one or the other. 

I know what I talk about. Mr. President, the loyal people 
of the slave States are as true to this Union as any man in the 



134 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

Senate chamber, or in any of the free States ; but never, never 
n^ill they submit by unconstitutional laws to have their slaves 
liberated and to remain domiciled among them; and the policy 
that attempts it will establish a bloody La Vendue in the whole 
of the slave States, my own included. If, at the time you 
commenced this war, you had announced as the national policy 
that was to prevail the measures and visionary schemes and 
ideas of some gentlemen on this floor, you would not have had a 
solitary man from the slave States to support you. Whenever 
you seek to carry those measures into operation you unite the 
slave States as one man. They will tell you that in resisting 
such schemes they are fighting for the Union and the Constitu- 
1;ion ; and they will tell you so truly. They will tell you that 
your system of policy is no less aggressive and destructive upon 
the Union and the Constitution than that of the rebels of Seces- 
cia themselves ; and they will tell you so truly. They will feel it 
as incumbent on them as men and as freemen to resist your 
unconstitutional policy, by which you will overturn and trample 
under your feet the principles of the Constitution, as they feel 
it to be their duty to resist the war which the secessionists have 
made upon the Union. 

On March 18 John P. Hale [N. H.] replied to Sena- 
tor Davis. 

Of all the forms skepticism ever assumed the most insidious 
and the most fatal is that which suggests that it is unsafe to per- 
form plain and simple duty for fear that disastrous consequences 
may result therefrom. 

This question of emancipation, wherever it has been raised in 
this country, has rarely ever been argued upon the great and 
fundamental principles of right, but upon what are to be the 
consequences. Men entirely forget to look at the objects that 
are to be effected by the bill, in view of the inherent rights of 
their manhood, in view of the great questions of humanity, of 
Christianity, and of duty ; but what is to be its effect upon the 
price of sugar, tobacco, cotton, and other necessaries and lux- 
uries of life 1 The honorable Senator from Kentucky looks upon 
it in that point of view entirely. Now, it does not become me 
to venture my opinions against the opinions of that Senator who 
has lived among the population of which he speaks ; but it is as 
much my prerogative as it is the honorable Senator's to read a 
little of history, and to know what is its teaching upon this ques- 
tion, and by that test to oompare the predictions of the honor- 



ABOLITION IN FEDERAL DISTRICT 135 

able Senator with some other predictions of a different character 
that have been made elsewhere on other occasions. 

The Senator here discussed the situation of Jamaica. 
He admitted that a steady decline had occurred there in 
its staple industries, particularly sugar, but showed from 
official British statistics that this deterioration had be- 
gun long before emancipation [1838] , and was therefore 
due to other causes, the chief of which, he declared, was 
the system of great estates operated not by the owners, 
but by overseers. 

But, sir, since emancipation the island has been divided into 
small proprietorships, and the proprietors of these estates have 
got up a Gfystem of exports of other things, such as cocoanuts, 
etc., which now amount to a very considerable sum. 

But, sir, Jamaica is almost the only island that shows a 
comparative decrease of wealth from the effect of emancipation. 
It is different in the island of Barbadoes. That island has in- 
creased in its exports, in its value, in its wealth more than 
double since emancipation. Similar progress has been made in 
the Leeward Islands, Antigua, Dominica, Nevis, Montserrat, and 
St. Kitta 

I hope that it will be gratifying to the humane feelings of 
the honorable Senator from Kentucky to find that he is alto- 
gether mistaken as to the effects that emancipation will produce 
upon this laboring class of population. I hope that it will do 
something to expel from his mind that skepticism which makes 
him shrink from looking at this measure in the light in which 
an enlightened and philanthropic statesman ought to look at it, 
and that is in regard to its bearings upon the great question of 
human rights. 

Mr. President, it seems to me that in the good providence 
of God He presents to this nation to-day an opportunity never 
presented before. If the rebellion which is now rending this 
Republic, and which is strewing our plains with the dead of our 
young men who have gone out to do battle on the field, has hor- 
rors, if it has miseries, if it has everything or almost everything 
to make humanity weep, it is not without some aspects that re- 
lieve the dark shade of the picture. If this rebellion — ^I trust 
ere long to be crushed out — shall, in the progress of the great 
injury that it is doing, afford this Republic, these United States, 
the opportunity of trying here, iii this little District of lesa 



136 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

than ten miles square, the experiment which other nations 
trying upon a great scale; and if we are enabled to show to 
the world that it is sometimes safe to do right, and not always 
inexpedient ; then, sir, we shall have achieved something at which 
humanity will rejoice and something for which our posterity, to 
the latest generations, will bless us. 

Sir, the governments of the world the world over are tr3dng 
this experiment. The Emperor of Russia [Alexander II] over his 
vast dominions is now striking the bands of oppression from his 
long trodden down millions of serfs. The ameliorating influ- 
ences of better principles and purer Christianity than have yet 
prevailed in the monarchies of the Old World are melting those 
iron despotisms and carrying into practical effect that great les- 
"son of Christianity: ''to loose the bands of wickedness" and 
**let the oppressed go free"; and it would be a reproach that 
ought to mantle the cheek of every citizen of this Republic with 
burning shame, if, at this day and this hour, when the mon- 
archies of the earth are waking up to the great questions of 
human rights and making Christianity, instead of being a bar- 
ren speculation, a practical and efficient principle of their gov- 
ernment, this nation, at a time when the providence of Ood pre- 
sents this opportunity to it, should, from any skepticism or fear 
of consequences, fail to meet the question and do justice by 
the oppressed. 

Sir, I do not ask that the Government of the United States 
should trample upon the Constitution in any one of its pro- 
visions. I believe that, up to a very late period in our history, 
it was the conceded doctrine of this Republic, by statesmen 
North and South, that the constitutional power to legislate upon 
the subject of slavery in this District existed in Congress. I know 
that in late years that has been questioned and even denied. I 
know that within the last ten or twelve years this nation has 
been rent upon a new dogma, which denied the constitutional 
power of Congress to legislate for the Territories ; and, while that 
question was rending the country, while it was tearing political 
parties in twain, dividing churches, bringing itself home to the 
hearts and consciences of this people, the Supreme Court of the 
United States undertook, with their puny efforts, to throw them- 
selves in the way of the great questfon by the Dred Scott de- 
cision, and to say to the surging waves of humanity that, while 
washing out the stains of oppression from our history, they 
should go thus far and no further. The Supreme Court will find 
out ere long how much that has effected. Whether it has done 
more to wipe out the controversies that they wanted to crush 



ABOLITION IN FEDERAL DISTRICT 137 

out, or to obliterate whatever of respect there was remaining 
in the public heart for themselves, they will find out before the 
issue is settled. 

But, sir, while by this decision the Territories of the United 
States were taken theoretically from the management of the 
Federal Government, I believe, though I never read the Dred 
Scott decision in reference to that particular view of it, it did 
not go to the extent of saying that Congress had no constitutional 
power to legislate in the District of Columbia. I am glad they 
did not. I think they would if they had thought of it. [Laugh- 
ter.] But, sir, that is left to us. Over this little spot of ten 
miles square, or what there is left of it after the retrocession of 
the part ceded by Virginia, we have confessedly the right of 
legislation ; and here in our midst, and by our laws, this system 
of human slavery exists, and we are called upon to-day to 
abolish it, to repeal the laws upon which it rests, and to the 
most limited extent to try what will be the effect of emancipa- 
tion upon the few slaves that are in this District. 

When the midnight clock ushered in the 1st of August, 
1838, the last manacle fell from the last slave in the British West 
India Islands. This population knew it, and what was the as- 
pect they exhibited? Riots, drinking, acts of degradation and 
crime ; such scenes as you might expect from what the Senator 
from Kentucky said when he predicted that they would become 
pests to society? Was there anything of that kind exhibited? 
No, sir ; but on the preceding night almost the whole population 
gathered themselves together in their churches, in their places 
of worship, and when the hour of twelve struck, which told 
them that the slaves had been converted into British freemen, 
they rose and sent up one united shout of thanksgiving to Al- 
mighty God for the great boon He had conferred upon them; 
and the conduct that these emancipated slaves have exhibited 
in most, if not all, the islands since has been such as indicates 
not only the wisdom and the justice but the expediency of this 
measure. 

Mr. President, there is nothing on earth that is more unjust, 
nothing more unkind, than for this boasted white Caucasian 
race to enslave the colored race, to keep them in a state of 
ignorance, to keep them in a state where it is a penal offence to 
teach them to read so much out of the Bible as that they may 
learn that God made them and Christ died to redeem them; 
I say it is cruel and unjust to such a people, denied the right 
of bringing a suit in court, denied the right of testifying as 
to their own personal rights and wrongs, the whole intelligence 



138 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

of the world shut out by the bar of an inexorable penal statute 
from enlightening their understandings; to pronounce them as 
degraded, ignorant, incapable of representation, because under 
the crushing weight of all these disabilities they have not made 
such progress as to enable them to step at once on an equality 
into a condition which their masters have enjoyed for many 
years. It is cruel. The injustice of it cannot be winked out 
of sight. It is as unjust as it would be to put out the eyes 
of a man and then taunt him with his blindness, as unjust as 
it would be to reproach any man with a personal deformity. It 
is as unjust as it is possible for perverted human intellect to 
be. Take off these burdens, give them a fair chance, let the light 
of science shine into their minds, make it no longer a crime 
punishable with imprisonment to open to them the pages of 
Gtod's eternal truth, let them read something of the world that 
is about them, and something of the hope which leads to the 
world beyond them, give them the elevating influence of some 
of the motives that have elevated you, and then, if against all 
that, they fail to rise and fail to improve, then, and not till 
then, will it be time to reproach them with their inability to 
cope and contend with their white masters. 

On March 20 Waitman T. Willey [Va.] opposed the 
measure. 

Sir, this bill is a part of a series of measures, already in- 
itiated, all looking to the same ultimate result — the universal 
abolition of slavery by Congress. The consequences, in my 
judgment, involve the lives of thousands of my fellow-citizens 
and the happiness of all the loyal people of all the border slave- 
holding States. Perhaps I should be justified in saying that 
they involved in most serious peril the restoration of the Union 
and the Constitution. 

Mr. President, I shall not trouble the Senate with any argu- 
ment respecting the constitutional power of Congress to pass 
laws emancipating slaves. The arguments already made against 
this power by Congress in the States where slavery exists have 
not been answered, and, I believe, they never will be. But I 
do not think the argument against the expediency and practi- 
cability of such laws has been exhausted. Sir, I admit that the 
rebels, especially the leaders of the rebellion, should be pun- 
ished. They ought, in some manner, to be made to bear the 
burdens of the war they have forced upon the country, as far as 
is possible, and to indemnify loyal men for the injuries inflicted 



<. 



ABOLITION IN FEDERAL DISTRICT 139 

npon them by the rebellion. But this punishment should be 
according to law. To punish treason by unconstitutional pen- 
alties is to be guilty of virtual treason ourselves, to say nothing 
of the inconsistency and danger of such a procedure. And it 
is worthy of remark, that no measure of emancipation yet pro- 
posed contains any indemnity for injuries received by the 
(Government or individuals. Simply to emancipate the slave 
of the rebel may be a punishment to him, but it affords no relief 
to the loyal man who has suffered by the rebellion. Nay, one 
of the fundamental provisions of the confiscation bill of the Sena- 
tor from Illinois [Mr. Trumbull] is to make the loyal people of 
the Union contribute of their means to transport and colonize 
the emancipated slaves of rebels. I cannot understand either 
the justice or expediency of such a policy. It seems to me to 
involve a manifest inconsistency. It punishes the traitor, indeed, 
but it only increases the burdens and taxes of the loyal people. 
The agitation of these questions, under existing circumstan- 
ces, must be positively mischievous. Will it not create strife and 
divisions here? Will it not disturb the country? Above all, 
will it not afford aid and comfort to the enemy? I am sure it 
will. It will be used by the leaders of the rebellion to **fire the 
Southern heart." The people of the South have been taught 
to believe that the object and design of the Republican party 
are to abolish slavery in all the States. These propositions will 
be seized upon as evidence of this intention. They will say: 
"Look at their unconstitutional confiscation laws, making no 
safe nor practical discrimination between Union men and seces- 
sionists. Look at the bill to abolish slavery in the District of 
Columbia ; it is a stepping-stone to further encroachments. " Es- 
pecially will they point to the sweeping resolutions of the great 
apostle of abolition, the Senator from Massachusetts [Mr. Sum- 
ner], which, by one dash of the pen, deprive every Southern 
man of his slaves. No recruiting officer wUl have such power to 
replenish the thinned ranks of the rebel army as these proposi- 
tions. No financial skill of Southern statesmen will have such 
power to replenish the depleted treasury of the rebel Govern- 
ment. Thus will these measures advance the cause of rebellion 
in the South ; and so, consequently, will they prolong the horrors 
of war on our part, increase our expenditures, and augment the 
burdens of taxation. Worse than all, they will destroy that 
Union settlement in the South on which we hope to reorganize 
the State governments and restore the authority of the Constitu- 
tion. They will not only encourage our enemies in the South, 
but they will dishearten our friends there. Thus do the claims 



140 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

of our common humanity, deprecating the evils of war, suggest 
the impolicy of such legislation at this time. 

There is no necessity for driving the secessionists to such des- 
perate extremities. Justice, moderation, generosity will meet 
a joyful response in many a Southern heart. They love the 
old flag; they love the old Union. Show them that their rights 
under the Constitution — ^their prejudices of education and habit, 
if you please to say so — are to be respected, and you will strike 
a blow more fatal to the rebel cause than a score of such victories 
as that at Fort Donelson. And this will be a victory without 
bloodshed. It destroys no valuable lives. It wastes no resources 
of the country's wealth. It makes no widows nor orphans. 
It desolates no homes. Why should not the North be generous 
and forbearing? Are not moderation and forbearance the in- 
variable characteristics of a great people! 

I understand Mr. Lincoln himself to be actuated by such 
principles. I understand that, in reference to this very matter 
of abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia, he was in 
1858, and I hope is still, governed by the same considerations 
of expediency. If in 1858 considerations of expediency were 
enough to cause the Republican party to pause in their course 
at that day, now with the storm and tempest of war upon us, 
and an accumulating debt pressing down the people, should 
we not also hearken to the suggestions of expediency! 

Why may we not to-day conquer a peace, and, after that, 
in the language of Mr. Douglas just before he died, settle all 
these difficulties? I will quote his words: 

"When we shall have rescned the Oovernment and conntry from its 
perils, and seen its flag floating in triumph over every inch of American 
soil, it will then be time enough to inquire as to who and what has brought 
these troubles upon us. Let him be marked as no true patriot who will 
not abandon all such issues in times like these." 

Again, I ask Senators to consider what may be the effect of 
these extreme measures upon the public sentiment of the loyal 
States. There is but one sentiment there now, but one mind, 
one purpose. Therein consist our strength and the surest guar- 
anty of our success. But this unity of sentiment and purpose 
is predicated on the distinctly declared purpose of the war, to 
wit, the suppression of the rebellion and the restoration of the 
Constitution and the Government as they were prior to the re- 
bellion, without change or modification. Sir, let it be under- 
stood that there is a different object to be accomplished — such 
as is indicated by some, if not all, of the measures to which I 



ABOLITION IN FEDERAL DISTRICT 141 

have alluded — and that unity and harmony of public sentiment 
will be instantly destroyed. We shall thereafter in the loyal 
States be ''a house divided against itself." Distraction will dis- 
turb our proceedings here, division will enter the army, and the 
cause of constitutional liberty will be imperiled with defeat 
and disgrace. Already are there indications of dissatisfaction 
in the public mind lest Congress should depart from the avowed 
purpose hitherto announced as the only object of the war. 

Mr. President, what must be the practical effects of these 
measures of emancipation upon the welfare of the slave? Tou 
cannot enact the slave into a freeman by bill in Congress. A 
charter of his liberty may be engrossed, enrolled, and passed 
into a law, with all the formalities of legislation, and still he 
must remain, virtually, a slave. The servile nature of centuries 
cannot be eradicated by the rhetoric of Senators, nor by an act 
of Congress. You may call '* spirits from the vasty deep," but 
they will not come. A freeman has the right of locomotion; 
he has the right of going into any State and of becoming the 
citizen of any State. Let me ask the Senators from Illinois 
and Indiana whether, if I set my slave free, they will allow 
him to come to these States. Sir, the constitutions of both of 
those States prohibit free negroes from becoming citizens of 
those States, or even residents thereof; and that is the liberty 
which you propose for the slave. Other States are agitating 
the question whether they will enact similar interdicts. 

In how many States is the free negro entitled to the right 
of suffrage or to be a juror, or a judge, or to a seat in the 
legislature ; to make, interpret, or execute the laws of the State 
in which he lives? I understand there are some negroes living 
in the North who possess large estates, are well educated, and 
of good morals and manners. Do you receive them into your 
families on terms of equality ? Do you give them your daughters 
in marriage? 

We must take things as they actually exist and, legislating 
for the slave, we must conform to his actually existing character 
and condition — moral, intellectual, and physical. We shall not 
deserve the name of statesmen if we do not ; nor shall we entitle 
ourselves to the character of philanthropists if we disregard 
such considerations. Sir, would you recommend the Chinese 
to adopt a republican form of government ? Would you advise 
the native Africans, cannibals and all, to organize a government 
on the model of the Constitution of the United States? The 
idea is preposterous. 

And now, sir, candidly considering the ignorance, degrada- 



142 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

tion, and helplessness of the slaves in the South, can jon desire 
their immediate emancipation? Think of four millions of these 
degraded, helpless beings, without a dollar of money, without 
an acre of land or an implement of trade or husbandry, without 
house or home, thrust out upon the community to maintaJTi 
themselves! Sir, they would starve to death, or they would 
steal, or they would murder and rob. Better drive them into 
the Gulf of Mexico and end their sufferings at once than per- 
petrate such a monstrous cruelty as this upon them. 

We heard from the honorable Senator from New Hampshire 
[Mr. Hale] in regard to the prosperity of the British West Indies 
and of the French West Indies. I shall rejoice in the perfect 
success of those efforts to elevate the African race. But did 
not the Senator know how different was the position of the slaves 
in those states from that of the slaves in the United States? 
There were but few white men in those islands; the soil was 
all their own; implements of husbandry were put into their 
hands; and, with the moral influence and watchfulness 
of great Christian nations standing beside them and breathing 
upon them encouragement and words of good will, affording 
them moral and physical aid and protection; and yet, with all 
these advantages ; with a soil all their own ; with no white men 
to overshadow them ; with a government of their own ; with the 
moral influence and aid of these Christian patrons that had 
set them free, it is to-day, after so many years, a question 
whether it will not be a failure rather than a success. God 
grant that it may be a perfect success! 

And now you, men of the North, I beg to ask, what would 
be the consequences of this wholesale emancipation on your own 
communities? How long would it be until this miserable popula- 
tion, like the frogs of Egypt, would be infesting your kitchens, 
squatting in your gates, and filling your almshouses? Sir, are 
you willing to receive them? If you set them free you must 
receive them. Will your operatives extend to them the right 
hand of fellowship and receive them as coequals and oolaborers 
in your fields and shops? Meantime, what will become of the 
cotton fields of the South, and the cotton factories of the North ? 
While you are increasing the number of your laborers, you ¥rill 
be destroying the sources of their employment. You will ruin 
the industrial interests of the South and bring serious detriment 
on the labor of the North. 

The answer to all this is: transport and colonize the emanci- 
pated slaves in some tropical country. What then? Whither 
shall they be sent ? Where shall we find a tropical territory for 



ABOLITION IN FEDERAL DISTRICT 143 

four millions of inhabitants t And where shall we find the 
money to pay for a territory sufSeient to settle four millions 
of inhabitants t How much will it costt I say nothing of con- 
stitutional difficulties in the way. Let them pass, along with 
the suspension of the habeas corpus, et id omne genus} Where 
is the money to come from Y Rhetoric and philanthropic plati- 
tudes will not purchase territory nor furnish the cost of trans- 
portation and the cost of the outfit and the cost of houses to be 
built for the reception of four millions of people, and the cost of 
implements of husbandry and tools of trade, and the cost of 
food and clothing for the first year, at the least. And then, sir, 
our task is just commenced. We must provide for their con- 
tinued supervision, direction, and protection. And how long 
must all this continue? How long will it be before this mass 
of ignorant and servile population will become capable of self- 
government and self -subsistence! How many generations will 
it require to divest the slave of his servility and to clothe him 
with the independence of the freeman ? Who can pay the debt 1 
The accumulating millions of the current war debt, now rising 
mountain high, and resting with the weight of mountains upon 
the people, sink into mole-hills before the Atlas-like dimensions 
of the sum that will be required for the accomplishment of this 
stupendous scheme of philanthropy. 

Mr. President, if slavery shall suflfer from the incidental and 
necessary effects upon it of this war, let it be so; I shall not 
regret it. I am no pro-slavery man. I wish there were no 
slavery. I believe that slavery is doomed. I believe the time 
is coming when it will be abolished. Heaven hasten the day 
when, under the regenerating and reforming influences of Chris- 
tian civilization, the slave shall be qualified for the enjoyment 
of freedom, and when it shall be practicable and humane to 
strike the fetters from the limbs of the last bondman of our race. 
But let us abide the appointed time of divine Providence. Let 
us not, in our eagerness to avenge the wrongs, real or imaginary, 
of* the slave, repeat the folly of Samson, and in the frenzy of 
an indiscreet zeal pull down the pillars of the Constitution 
and involve both the slave and ourselves in the ruins of our 
country. 

On March 4 Senator Davis spoke again upon the bill. 

An honorable member of the other House has proclaimed, 
audaciously proclaimed, that he has attended and harangued 

'And the liko. 



144 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

negro meetings here, that he has told them they had tJie same 
right to their masters' labor that the masters had to theirs; that 
they had the same right to sell their masters as their masters 
had to sell them; that they had the same right to sell their 
masters' children as the masters had to sell their children. Are 
these the dogmas, destructive to society, that you intend to 
preach and establish in this District! Was there anything in 
British oppression upon the colonial inhabitants of this country 
at all comparable in grievance, in real wrong and outrage, to 
what you are endeavoring now to force upon the people of this 
District t Have they not as much right to say they will have 
slaves as you to say that you will not have slaves? If you will 
not allow them that privilege, will you not allow them the poor 
privilege of voting whether free negroes shall stay here among 
them or not, a curse to the soil, a blight upon this small and 
poverty-stricken society? 

If you are so humane, so benevolent, buy the slaves of the 
poor helpless widows in this city at fair prices with your money 
and take them to your homes, and there make them your neigh- 
bors, if you choose, your equals in politics and in the social 
circle. When you do this the world will give you credit for 
benevolence and philanthropy, but now it is all cant, it is all 
ambition. You and the men in the South are trying to make 
the same use of the slavery question. The business of both 
parties is to agitate, agitate, and never cease to agitate, because 
it becomes an element of political power by which individuals 
or parties may vault into oflSce. Out, out with such benevolence 
and philanthropy as that ! 

It is not for the advantage of the white man in the agricul- 
tural States that slavery exists. It is expensive labor ; it would 
be better for the country if it had never been there. I am no 
friend to slavery as an abstract question. If now I could decide 
whether slavery should exist or not, or whether it should cease 
with the colonization of all the negroes, I would colonize them 
all. If my own will could prevail I would put into operation 
in my own State a system of gradual emancipation that it would 
take about a hundred years to consummate and the thing should 
die out so gradually that nobody would be injured by it. But 
I say, in relation to this District and these people, give them a 
fair compensation for their slaves, and, when you get them, 
remove them from the country; let the races be separated; let 
the negro go to a land where, when he is buried, memory may 
raise some trophies over his tomb. None, none can ever be 
raised over his tomb in this land. 



ABOLITION IN FEDERAL DISTRICT 145 

On March 25 Senator Wilson spoke in defence of Ms 
bill. He referred to certain laws in regard to slavery 
in the District as barbarous in the extreme, such as 
the act of May 31, 1827, that all negroes, except they 
proved the contrary, were presumed to be absconding 
slaves, and were to be committed to jail as such. 

In what age of the world, in what land under the whole 
heavens, can you find any enactment of equal atrocity to this 
iniquitous and profligate statute — ^this "legal presumption" that 
color is evidence that man, made in the image of Ood, is an 
"absconding slave*'? 

This monstrous doctrine, abhorrent to every manly impulse 
of the heart, to every Christian sentiment of the soul, to every 
deduction of human reason which the refined, humane, and 
Christian people of America have upheld for two generations, 
which the corporation of Washington enacted into an imperative 
ordinance has borne its legitimate fruits of injustice and inhu- 
manity, of dishonor and shame. Crimes against man, in the 
name of this abhorred doctrine, have been annually perpetrated 
in this national capital which should make the people of America 
hang their heads in shame before the nations, and in abasement 
before that Being who keeps watch and ward over the humblest 
of the children of men. Men and women of African descent, 
no matter in what State they were bom, no matter what rights 
and privileges they possessed under the laws and institutions 
of the States from whence they came, have annually been seized, 
imprisoned, fined, and sometimes sold into perpetual servitude. 

This doctrine, that color is presumptive evidence of slavery — 
this ordinance, consigning its victims to imprisonment, offers a 
tempting bribe to the base, the selfish, the unprincipled, to be- 
come men-stealers and kidnappers. This bribe has converted 
Government officials, justices of the peace, constables, and police 
officers into manufacturers of slaves. This bribe has annually 
filled your jail with its victims, making it the workshop where 
the selfish, the base, the ignoble have plied their trade in the 
souls and bodies of men. Hundreds, aye, thousands of men of 
African descent have been seized, arrested, imprisoned since the 
District of Columbia became the seat of the national capital. 

The men of New England, New York, and Pennsylvania of 
that generation were responsible before Ood for these deeds of 
inhumanity. 

But, sir, we of this age in America are not guiltless of like 
enormities. 

VI— 10 



146 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

Here the Senator referred to the numeroxis negroes, 
many of them claiming to be free, that were incarcerated 
as fugitive slaves in Washington jails as late as the 
foregoing December. 

In this national capital lurks a race of official and unofficial 
man-hunters, greedy, active, vigilant, dexterous, ever ready by 
falsehood, trickery, or violence to clutch the hapless black man 
who carries not with him a title-deed to freedom. Only a few 
days ago these harpies of the land, more merciless than the 
wreckers of the seas, pounced upon and hurried to your jail two 
men your officers in the field had sent to Washington to give 
important intelligence to your generals. For these deeds of 
inhumanity and injustice the intelligent, patriotic, and Christian 
freemen of America are responsible before man and before 
God! And if we, their representatives, who now for the first 
time have the power, do not end these crimes against man for- 
ever, the guilt and shame will rest upon our souls, and we shall 
be consigned to the moral indignation of Christendom. 

Justice to a wronged and oppressed race demands that this 
corrupt and corrupting doctrine, that color is presumptive evi- 
dence of slavery in the capital of the Republic, shall be con- 
demned, disowned, repudiated by the Government of the United 
States. For two generations it has pressed with merciless force 
upon a race who mingled their blood with the blood of our 
fathers on the stricken fields of the war of independence. In 
those days of trial black men, animated by the same mighty im- 
pulse, fought side by side with our fathers to win for America 
a place among the nations. They rallied at the tap of the drum 
on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775, to meet the shock 
of the first battle of the Revolution. They poured their unerr- 
ing shots into the bosom of the veteran troops of England as they 
moved up the slopes of Bunker Hill. They met, and three times, 
by their steady valor repulsed the charges of British veterans 
on the battlefield of Rhode Island, which La Fayette pronounced 
"the best fought battle of the Revolution." They fought and 
fell by the side of Ledyard at Fort Griswold. They shared 
in the glorious defence and victory of Red Bank, which will 
live in our history as long as the Delaware shall flow by the spot 
made immortal by their valor. They endured with our fathers 
uncomplainingly the toils and privations of the battlefields and 
bivouacks of the seven years' campaigns of the Revolution, from 
Lexington to Yorktown, to found in America a Government 
which should recognize the rights of human nature. For more 



ABOLITION IN FEDERAL DISTRICT 147 

than sixty years, unmindful of their rights and ungrateful for 
their services in our hour of weakness, we have recognized in 
the capital of the nation the wicked and insulting dogma which 
writes ** slave" on the brow of all who inherit their blood. Let 
us of this age hasten to atone for this great wrong by erasing 
that word from the brow of this proscribed race here, and mak- 
ing manhood, here at least, forever hereafter presumptive evi- 
dence of freedom. 

What wrongs, what outrages may not be perpetrated upon 
a race of men where '* color is legal presumption of slavery, *' 
where they **may be arrested as absconding slaves," where their 
oath cannot be received as **good and valid evidence in law," 
where "every person seizing and taking up runaways shall re- 
ceive two hundred pounds of tobacco or the value thereof," 
where, '*if any slave strikes a white person, he may, upon the 
oath of the person so struck, have one of his ears cropped "Y 
What wrongs, what outrages may not be perpetrated upon a 
race where, upon ''information to any justice of the peace thaf 
any free negro or mulatto is going at large without any visible 
means of subsistence such justice is required to issue his warrant 
to any constable directing him to apprehend such free negro 
or mulatto ; and, if such free negro or mulatto shall fail to give 
security for his good behavior, or to leave the State within five 
days, or if, after leaving the State, he shall return again within 
six months, such justice may commit said free negro or mulatto 
to the common jail; and, if such offender so committed shall 
not, within twenty days thereafter, pay his or her prison charges, 
the sheriff, with the approbation of any two justices of the peace, 
may sell such free negro or mulatto to serve six calendar 
months?" 

The speaker here enumerated other oppressive laws 
against free negroes in the District, such as the punish- 
ment by whipping, fine, or imprisonment of frequenters 
of night assemblies and the fine or imprisonment of 
negroes found in the streets after 10 p. m. 

Since I have held a seat in the Senate I have known colored 
men, trusted and employed by the Government, while quietly 
hastening to their homes after ten o'clock from their duties 
in the public service, to be arrested under color of this ordi- 
nance. An ordinance so oppressive, so barbarous should be an- 
nulled by the Congress of the United States. 

Another act requires every free colored person to furnish the 



148 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

mayor of the city of Waahing^n evidence of his or her title to 
freedom, and to give bonds annually for his or her orderly con- 
duct, and, failing so to do, to be sent to the workhouse; this 
places ten thousand free persons of color at the mercy of the cor- 
poration officials of this city, who may exercise, under color 
of this law, the most oppressive acts of petty tyranny. 

Another act fines frequenters of religious meetings after 
10 p. m. 

The Christian men of New England, of the central States, of 
the West, must not forget that they are not free from respon- 
sibility for the existence, in their national capital, of a statute 
which imposes a fine of five dollars upon Christian men and 
women who may be found in a religious meeting after the hour 
of ten o 'clock at night ; that in the capital of this Christian Re- 
public it is made the duty of police constables, under penalties 
of fine and disfranchisement, to enter a religious meeting after 
the hour of ten at night and disperse Christian men and women 
listening to the story of salvation, or offering up to Him who 
made the humblest of the race in His own image the praises and 
gratitude of contrite hearts. 

The corporation of the city of Washington, from 1829 to 
1841, enacted cruel and brutal laws for the punishment of slaves 
within the limits of the city by whipping on the bare back for 
breaking street lamps, exploding fire-crackers, etc. 

Do Senators believe that there can be in the laws and or- 
dinances of any Christian nation on the globe enactments so 
brutal, degrading, inhuman, indecent Y It is time these bloody 
statutes for lashing men and lashing women should be obliter- 
ated from the laws and ordinances of the capital city of the 
Republic. 

In spite, however, of these oppressive and cruel enactments 
which have pressed with merciless force upon the black race, 
bond and free, slavery, for more than half a century has grown 
weaker, and the free colored stronger, at every decade. Within 
the last half century the free colored population of the District 
of Columbia has increased from four to twelve thousand. In 
spite of the degrading influences of oppressive statutes, and a 
perverted public sentiment, this free colored population, as it 
has increased in numbers, has increased also in property, in 
churches, schools, and all the means of social, intellectual, and 
moral development. This despised race, upon which we are 
wont to look down with emotions of pity, if not of contempt or 
of hate, are industrious and law-abiding, loyal to the Govern- 
ment and its institutions. To-day the free colored men of the 



ABOLITION IN FEDERAL DISTRICT 149 

District of Columbia possess hundreds of thousands of dollars 
of property, the fruits of years of honest toil ; they have twelve 
churches, costing some $75,000, and eight schools for the instruc- 
tion of their children. They are compelled to pay for the support 
of public schools for the instruction of the white children from 
which their own children are excluded by law, custom, and public 
opinion. Some of these free colored men are distinguished for 
intelligence, business capacity, and the virtues that grace and 
adorn men of every race. Some of these men have in possession 
considerable property, real and personal. The passage of this 
bill by the Congress of the United States will not, cannot, dis- 
turb for a moment the peace, the order, the security of society. 
Its passage will excite in the bosoms of the enfranchised, not 
wrath nor hatred nor revenge, but love, joy, and gratitude. 
These enfranchised bondmen will be welcomed by the free col- 
ored population with bounding hearts, throbbing with gratitude 
to God for inspiring the nation with the justice and the courage 
to strike the chains from the limbs of their neighbors, friends, 
relatives, brothers, and lifting from their own shoulders the 
burdens imposed upon them by the necessities, the passions, and 
the pride of slaveholding society. 

This bill, to give liberty to the bondman, deals justly, ay, 
generously, by the master. The American people, whose moral 
sense has been outraged by slavery and the black codes enacted 
in the interests of slavery in the District of Columbia, whose 
fame has been soiled and dimmed by the deeds of cruelty per- 
petrated in their national capital, would stand justified in the 
forum of nations if they should smite the fetter from the bond- 
man, regardless of the desires or interests of the master. With 
generous magnanimity this bill tenders compensation to the 
master out of the earnings of the toiling freemen of America. 
In the present condition of the country the proposed compensa- 
tion is full, ample, equitable. 

But the Senator from Kentucky [Mr. Davis] raises his warn- 
ing voice against the passage of this measure of justice and 
beneficence. He assumes to speak like one having authority. He 
is positive, dogmatic, emphatic, and prophetic. The Senator 
predicted, in excited, if not angry, tones, that the passage of 
this bill, giving freedom to three thousand bondmen, will bring 
into this District beggary and crime, that the *' liberated negroes 
will become a sore, a burden, and a charge*'; that they "will be 
criminals"; that '*they will become paupers**; that **they will 
be engaged in crimes and petty misdemeanors"; that *'they will 
become a charge and a pest upon this society." Assured, con- 



150 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

fident, defiant, the Senator asserts that ''a negro's idea of free- 
dom is freedom from work"; that after they acquire their free- 
dom they become ''lazy/' ''indolent/' "thriftless," "worth- 
less," "inefficient," "vicious," "vagabonds." 

The Senator from Kentucky, who speaks with so much as- 
surance, may have the right to speak in these terms of emanci- 
pated slaves in Kentucky ; but he has no authority so to speak of 
the twelve thousand free colored men of the District of Colum- 
bia. Under the weight of oppressive laws and a public opinion 
poisoned by slavery they have by their industry, their obedience 
to law, their kindly charities to each other, established a char- 
acter above such reproaches as the Senator from Kentucky ap- 
plies to emancipated bondmen. 

But the Senator from Kentucky, upon this simple proposi- 
tion to emancipate in the national capital three thousand bond- 
men, with compensation to loyal masters, chooses to indulge in 
the vague talk about "aggressive and destructive schemes," "un- 
constitutional policy," the "horrors of the French Revolution," 
the "heroic struggle of the peasants of La Vendue," and the 
"deadly resistance" which the "whole white population of the 
slaveholding States, men, women, and children, would make to 
unconstitutional encroachments." Why, sir, does the Senator 
indulge in such allusions Y Have not the American people the 
constitutional right to relieve themselves from the guilt and 
shame of upholding slavery in their national capital? Would 
not the exercise of that right be sanctioned by justice, humanity, 
and religion t Does the Senator suppose that we, the represen- 
tatives of American freemen, will cowardly shrink from the per- 
formance of the duties of the hour before these dogmatic 
avowals of what the men and the women of the slaveholding 
States will dot Sir, I tell the Senator from Kentucky that the 
day has passed by in the Senate of the United States for in- 
timidation, threat, or menace, from the champions of slavery. 

I would remind the Senator from Kentucky that the people, 
whose representatives we are, now realize in the storms of battle 
that slavery is, and must ever be, the relentless and unappeas- 
able enemy of free institutions in America, of the unity and per- 
petuity of the Republic. Slavery — perverting the reason, blind- 
ing the conscience, extinguishing the patriotism of vast masses 
of its supporters, plunged the nation into the fire and blood o 
rebellion. The loyal people of America have seen hundreds o 
thousands of brave men abandon their peaceful avocations, leave 
their quiet homes and their loved ones, and follow the flag of 
their country to the field, to do a soldier's duties, and fill, if 



ABOLITION IN FEDERAL DISTRICT 151 

need be, soldiers' graves, in defence of their periled country; 
they have seen them fall on fields of bloody strife beneath the 
folds of the national flag; they have seen them suffering, tor- 
tured by wounds or disease, in camps and hospitals; they have 
seen them return home maimed by shot or shell, or bowed with 
disease ; they have looked with sorrowful hearts upon their pass- 
ing coffins, and gazed sadly upon their graves among their kin- 
dred, or in the land of the stranger; and they know — ^yes, sir, 
they know — that slavery has caused all this blood, disease, agony, 
and death. Realizing all this — ay, sir, knowing all this, they are 
in no temper to listen to the threats or menaces of apologists or 
defenders of the wicked and guilty criminal that now stands 
with uplifted hand to strike a death blow to the national life. 
While the brave and loyal men of the Republic are facing its 
shots and shells on the bloody fields their representatives will 
hardly quail before the frowns and menaces of its champions in 
these Chambers. 

4 

Anthony Kennedy [Md.] opposed the bill on the 
ground that it would tend to make his State, already 
containing the highest ratio of free negroes to popula- 
tion of any State in the Union,'* the great free negro 
colony of the country. ' ' 

What must be the embittered state of feeling in Maryland 
when they find that this Congress, departing from every prin- 
ciple of good faith and of constitutional obligation to the com- 
pact of the Union, interferes to throw more of this class of free 
negroes in direct competition with the white labor of our own 
State t 

Speaking of the proposition of the President for 
gradual compensated emancipation in Maryland he said 
that '*it would produce an exodus of such of the slave- 
holding population from my State as can leave, and 
would force those who cannot emigrate either to manumit 
or to take the little pittance that is proposed." 

But, sir, the worst of it all is that you will produce an 
exodus of that class of people upon whom Uie State of Maryland 
has rested more than all others for her great material prosperity 
— I mean her great mechanical and manufacturing class. In- 
stead of the city of Baltimore being, as she has been heretofore, 



,t.' ts 



>. 



152 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

the third commercial emporium of this country, I fear that the 
day is to come when the grass may grow in her streets and her 
vessels lie rotting at her wharves. 

This Government was created to promote domestic tranquility 
and to insure the general welfare. The passage of this bill does 
not promote either the general welfare or insure the domestic 
tranquility of my State ; it will create strife in our borders as 
a forerunner of that other question, which is shortly to become 
a leading and important question in the future discussions and 
organizations of parties, and that is the emancipation policy of 
the President. You can show me no possible way by which 
emancipation can be effected without colonization. If you do not 
carry with emancipation colonization at the same time, if you 
emancipate these eighty-seven thousand slaves in the State of 
Maryland, making one hundred and seventy-five thousand col- 
ored people to remain there, one race or the other will ultimately 
perish ; and scenes of blood and carnage that we have little idea 
of will result from it. 

Sir, I am constrained to submit to the people of Maryland, 
if this measure passes, how far good faith has been kept with 
their trusting confidence ; how far their honor and devotion to 
principle have been respected in the taunts and low flings which 
have been made at various times in both branches of Congress 
against their loyalty to constitutional obligations. Sir, I may 
speak warmly, for I feel deeply. I feel that whatever of con- 
sideration my State has had heretofore she has lost it ; that while 
we of Maryland avoided the rock of secession, still clinging to 
the Constitution upon which we were embarked, we may find 
ourselves fast drifting into the dark and overwhelming whirl- 
pool of a relentless, unyielding, and reckless sectional policy, 
which will end forever, in my humble judgment, the last hope 
of bringing together the dismembered and broken ties that bound 
this great and prosperous nation in one fraternal bond of union 
and power t In the name of my State I protest against this 
measure. 

Willard Saulsbury [Del.], referring to Northern mis- 
sionaries going to Port Royal, S. C. (captured by the 
Federal army and navy), and these embracing the 
negroes as brothers and sisters, said Senators should 
carry their principles to the logical conclusions and take 
negroes to their bosoms. 

James Harlan [la.] opposed the charge that mis- 



ABOLITION IN FEDERAL DISTRICT 153 

cegenation would result from emancipation, or that the 
white people would rise and murder the freedmen. He 
therefore opposed colonization. 

Do you find white gentlemen and white ladies marrying the 
free negroes that are now in this District! Do Senators find 
that the amalgamation of the white and the negro race is in 
progress in the States they represent t And, if so, does it pro- 
gress more rapidly in the free than in the slave States t I have 
known of but three cases in my own State, and all three of those 
men married to wenches have been residents of slave States, 
where, I doubt not, they acquired their tastes. [Laughter.] 
Liberating the negroes carries with it no obligation to marry 
their wenches to white men. Gentlemen may follow their tastes 
afterward as now. 

It is here in a slave District and in the slave States that men 
learn to associate familiarly as laborers and mechanics with the 
colored population ; and, as a result of that familiar association 
at the daily toils of life, there is less reluctance at receiving them 
into their embrace, so handsomely described by the Senator from 
Delaware but a moment since. You will find in every slavehold- 
ing community a much larger number of mulattoes than in the 
free States. 

But, then, what is to be done with these fifteen hundred lib- 
erated slaves t If they are to be liberated we are told they must 
be expatriated ; they must be sent into some other country, into 
a strange community, and there compelled to provide in a land 
of strangers for the supply of their daily wants t Where are 
they now t In the bosom of the families of this metropolis. They 
are the house servants and the field hands of those who now 
claim to be their owners. Whence, then, a necessity for ex- 
patriating themt It does not increase their number to liberate 
them. If their labor is now necessary for the industrial pur- 
poses and comfort of the people of this District, will it not be 
as necessary after they shall have been liberated t If they are 
now needed as house servants and hotel servants, laborers and 
mechanics, in shops and fields, will they not be as necessary 
afterward t The only change in this regard that I can perceive 
is that after their liberation, those who now enjoy their 
labor gi*atuitously will, if their services are continued, be 
compelled to pay them reasonable compensation, the Qovem- 
ment paying them a bonus of $300 each to relinquish the sup- 
posed right to their labor without the payment of wages. This 
is the only wrong that will have been inflicted on those who now 



164 GREAT. AMERICAN DEBATES 

own them. They now employ them, and give them food and 
raiment and shelter for their services, without reference to their 
own wishes, coercing obedience with the lash when found neces- 
sary. Afterward they will be compelled to consult the will and 
wishes of the employed, and to pay them probably stipulated 
wages, with which the servant will provide his own supplies. No 
injury is inflicted on society, no change is wrought on its or- 
ganization, and no change is made in the political condition of 
the emancipated. They will have acquired no political rights or 
franchises. They will have acquired simply the right to enjoy 
as they choose the proceeds of their own labor. But if you con- 
fer this right on fifteen hundred more negroes now slaves in this 
District, we are gravely warned by Senators, in most eloquent 
and pathetic strains, that we will thus inaugurate a war of ex- 
termination between the white and black race ! Bather than pay 
the negroes just compensation for their services their former 
masters, who have lived on the proceeds of their unpaid toil, will 
take down their rifles and shoot them! A war of extermination 
is to arise! 

It is declared on the floor of the American Senate, in the face 
of a Christian nation, that, if men are to be liberated from a 
slavery that is more galling and degrading than any that has 
ever existed on the face of the earth from the commencement of 
time down to this moment, the people will rise and murder the 
poor freedmen. Senators say so without expressing so much 
as a regret. They thus approve and justify this savage 
feeling — ^if it exists; but, sir, it does not exist; I will defend 
the people of Kentucky, of Maryland, of Delaware, and of this 
District from any such slanderous aspersion. They entertain no 
such purpose on their part as the indiscriminate murder of the 
colored population, if they should become free. I doubt not but 
that the public sentiment that now exists, induced by the slave- 
holders themselves, in the State to which I have referred, is bit- 
terly opposed to the liberation of the slaves ; but if these slaves 
should be set free it will be eflfected by their own legislatures; 
and, if thus set free, no such savage war would arise. 

You say that if two races are thrown together as freemen they 
will necessarily engender a war of extermination. Such a war 
never did commence between two races of free people ; and, until 
the laws of the human mind and the human heart change, never 
will. To say that men of different, so called, races are natural 
enemies to each other, and will commence and wage a war of 
extermination when brought into contact, is a libel on humanity. 
It is a libel on the Author of the human race. The Almighty 



ABOLITION IN FEDERAL DISTRICT 155 

never implanted such feelings in the human heart. They never 
have been cultivated by an enlightened people. Wars of ex- 
termination exist only among savages; and with them only be- 
tween belligerent tribes. 

On March 31 Charles Sumner [Mass.] made an ex- 
haustive and carefully prepared speech on the bill. 

Mr. President, with unspeakable delight I hail this measure 
and the prospect of its speedy adoption. It is the first install- 
ment of that great debt which we all owe to an enslaved race, and 
will be recognized in history as one of the victories of humanity. 
At home, throughout our own country, it will be welcomed with 
gratitude; while abroad it will quicken the hopes of all who love 
freedom. 

In early discussions of this question it was part of the tactics 
of slavery to claim absolute immunity. Indeed, without such 
immunity it had small chance of continued existence. Such a 
wrong, so utterly outrageous, could find safety only where it was 
protected from inquiry. Therefore, slave masters always in- 
sisted that petitions against its existence at the national capital 
were not to be received ; that it was unconstitutional to touch it 
even here within the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress; and 
that, if it were touched, it should be only under the auspices of 
the neighboring States of Virginia and Maryland. On these 
points elaborate arguments were constructed ; but it were useless 
to consider them now. Whatever may be the opinions of in- 
dividual Senators the judgment of the coimtry is fixed. The 
right of petition, first vindicated by the matchless perseverance 
of John Quincy Adams, is now beyond question, and the con- 
stitutional power of Congress is hardly less free from doubt. 
It is enough to say on this point that, if Congress cannot abolish 
slavery here, then there is no power anywhere to abolish it here, 
and this wrong will endure always, immortal as the capital 
itself. 

But as the moment of justice approaches we are called to 
meet a different objection, inspired by generous sentiments. It 
is urged that since there can be no such thing as property in 
man, especially within the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress, 
therefore all now held as slaves at the national capital are justly 
entitled to freedom, without price or compensation of any kind 
to their masters; or, at least, that any money paid should be dis- 
tributed according to an account stated between masters and 
slaves. Of course, if this question were determined according to 



156 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

divine justice, so far as we may be permitted to look in that di- 
rection, it is obvious that nothing can be due to the masters, and 
that any money paid belongs rather to the slaves, who for gen- 
erations have been despoiled of every right and possession. But, 
if we undertake to audit this fearful account, pray what sum 
shall be allowed for the prolonged torments of the lasht What 
treasure shall be voted to the slave for wife ravished from his 
side, for children stolen, for knowledge shut out, and for all the 
fruits of labor wrested from him and his fathers t No such ac- 
count can be stated. It is impossible. If you once begin the in- 
quiry all must go to the slave. It only remains for Congress, 
anxious to secure this great boon, and unwilling to embarass 
or jeopard it, to act practically according to its finite powers, 
in the light of existing usages, and even existing prejudices, 
under which these odious relations have assumed the form of 
law; nor must we hesitate at any forbearance or sacrifice, pro-* 
vided freedom can be established without delay. 

The clear-headed Senator from Kansas [Mr. Pomeroy] has 
asked, first, has slavery any constitutional existence at the na- 
tional capital? and, secondly, shall money he paid to secure its 
abolition? The answer to these two inquiries will make our 
duty clear. If slavery has no constitutional existence here, then 
more than ever is Congress bound to interfere, even with money ; 
for the scandal must be peremptorily stopped, without any post- 
ponement or any consultation of the people on a point which is 
not within their power. 

It may be said that, whether slavery be constitutional or not, 
nevertheless it exists, and therefore this inquiry is superfluous. 
True, it exists as a monstrous fact ; but it is none the less im- 
portant to consider its origin, that we may understand how, as- 
suming the form of law, it was able to shelter itself beneath the 
protecting shield of the Constitution. 

It is true, there can be no such thing as property in man. 
If this pretension is recognized anywhere it is only another in- 
stance of the influence of custom, which is so powerful as to 
render the idolater insensible to the wickedness of idolatry, and 
the cannibal insensible to the brutality of cannibalism. To 
argue against such a pretension seems to be vain; for the pre- 
tension exists in open defiance of reason as well as of humanity. 
It will not yield to argument ; nor will it yield to persuasion. It 
must be encountered by authority. It was not tlie planters in 
the British islands or in the French islands who organized eman- 
cipation, but the distant governments across the sea, far removed 
from the local prejudices, who at last forbade the outrage. Had 



ABOfLITION IN FEDERAL DISTRICT 157 

these planters been left to themselves they would have clung to 
this pretension as men among us still cling to it. Of course, 
in making this declaration against the idea of property in man, 
I say nothing new. An honored Senator from Maryland, whose 
fame as a statesman was eclipsed, perhaps, by his more remark- 
able fame as a lawyer — I mean William Pinkney, whom Chief 
Justice Marshall called the undoubted head of the American bar 
— in a speech before the Maryland House of Delegates, spoke as 
statesman and lawyer when he said : 

"Sir, by the eternal principles of natural justice no master in the 
State has a right to hold his slaves in bondage for a single hour." 

And Henry Brougham spoke not only as statesman and lawyer, 
but as orator also, when, in the British Parliament, he uttered 
these memorable words: 

"Tell me not of rights — talk not of the property of the planter in his 
slaves. I deny the right — I acknowledge not the property. The principles, 
the feelings of our common nature, rise in rebellion against it. Be the 
appeal made to the understanding or to the heart, the sentence is the same 
that rejects it. In vain you tell me of laws that sanction such a claim. 
There is a law above all the enactments of human codes — the same through- 
out the world, the same in all times: it is the law written by the finger of 
God on the heart of man ; and by that law, unchangeable and eternal, while 
men despise fraud and loathe rapine and abhor blood they will reject with 
indignation the wild and guilty phantasy that man can hold property in 
man." 

It has often been said that the finest sentence of the English 
language is that famous description of law with which Hooker 
closes the first book of his ''Ecclesiastical Polity"; but I cannot 
doubt that this wonderful denunciation of an irrational and in- 
human pretension will be remembered hereafter with higher 
praise ; for it gathers into surpassing eloquence the growing and 
immitigable instincts of universal man. 

Of course, here in the national capital, which is under the 
exclusive jurisdiction of Congress, the force which now main- 
tains this unnatural i^ystem is supplied by Congress. There- 
fore does it behoove Congress to act in order to relieve itself of 
this painful responsibility. 

But this responsibility becomes more painful when it is con- 
sidered that slavery exists at the national capital absolutely 
without support of any kind in the Constitution. Nor is this all. 
Situated within the exclusive jurisdiction of the CoQstitution, 
where State rights cannot prevail, it exists in open defiance of 
most cherished principles. Let the Constitution be rightly in- 



158 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

terpreted by a just tribunal, and slavery most cease here at once. 
The decision of a court would be as potent as an act of Con- 
gress. If authority could add to the force of irresistible argu- 
ment it would be found in the well-known opinion of the late 
Mr. Justice McLean, in a published letter, declaring the con- 
stitutional impossibility of slavery in the national Territories, 
because, in the absence of express power under the Constitution 
to establish or recognize slavery, there was nothing for the 
breath of slavery, as respiration could not exist where there was 
no atmosphere. The learned judge was right, and his illustra- 
tion was felicitous. Although applied at the time only to the 
Territories, it is of equal force everywhere within the exclusive 
jurisdiction of Congress; for within such jurisdiction there is 
no atmosphere in which slavery can live. 

Under the Constitution Congress has '^ exclusive jurisdiction 
in all cases whatsoever" at the national capital. But Congress 
can exercise no power except in conformity with the Constitu- 
tion. Now, looking at the Constitution, we shall find, first, that 
there are no words authorizing Congress to establish or recognize 
slavery ; and, secondly, that there are positive words which pro- 
hibit Congress from the exercise of any such power. The argu- 
ment, therefore, is twofold : first, from the absence of authority, 
and, secondly, from positive prohibition. 

Of course, a barbarism like slavery, having its origin in 
force, and nothing else, can have no legal or constitutional sup- 
port except from positive sanction. It can spring from no 
doubtful phrase. It must be declared by unambiguous words 
incapable of a double sense. In asserting this principle I simply 
follow Lord Mansfield, who, in the memorable case of Sommer- 
sett, said: **The state of slavery is of such a nature that it is 
incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, 
but only by positive law. It is so odious that nothing can be suf- 
fered to support it but positive law." (Howell's "State Trials," 
Vol. 20, p. 82.) This principle has been adopted by tribunals 
even in slaveholding States. (See Horey vs. Decker, Walker's 
R., 42; Rankin vs. Lydier, 2 Marshall, 470.) But I do not stop 
to dwell on these authorities. Even the language, "exclusive 
jurisdiction in all cases whatsoever," cannot be made to sanc- 
tion slavery. It wants those positive words, leaving nothing to 
implication, which are obviously required, especially when we 
consider the professed object of the Constitution, as declared in 
its preamble, "to establish justice and secure the blessings of 
liberty." There is no power in the Constitution to make a king, 
or, thank Ood, to make a slave, and the absence of all such 



ABOLITION IN FEDERAL DISTRICT 159 

power is hardly more clear in one case than in the other. The 
word king nowhere occurs in the Constitution, nor does the word 
slave. But, if there be no such power, then all acts of Congress 
sustaining slavery at the national capital must be unconstitu- 
tional and void. The stream cannot rise higher than the fountain 
head ; nay, more, nothing can come out of nothing; and, if there 
be nothing in the Constitution authorizing Congress to make a 
slave, there can be nothing valid in any subordinate legislation. 
It is a pretension which has thus far prevailed simply because 
slavery predominated over Congress and courts. 

To all who insist that Congress may sustain slavery in the 
national capital I put the question, where in the Constitution is 
the power found? If you cannot show where, do not assert the 
power. So hideous an effrontery must be authorized in unmis- 
takable words. Do not insult human nature by pretending that 
its most cherished rights can be sacrificed without solemn au- 
thority. Remember that every presumption and every leaning 
must be in favor of freedom and against slavery. Do not forget 
that no nice interpretation, no strained construction, no fancied 
deduction, can suffice to sanction the enslavement of our fellow- 
men. And do not degrade the Constitution by foisting into its 
blameless text the idea of property in man. It is not there ; and 
if you think you see it there, it is simply because you make the 
Constitution a reflection of yourself. 

A single illustration will show the absurdity of this preten- 
sion. If under the clause which gives to Congress ** exclusive 
legislation" at the national capital slavery may be established, 
if under these words Congress is empowered to create slaves 
instead of citizens, then, under the same words, it may do the 
same thing in ''the forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and 
other needful buildings*' belonging to the United States, wher- 
ever situated, for these are all placed within the same "exclu- 
sive legislation." The extensive navy-yard at Charlestown, in 
the very shadow of Bunker Hill, may be filled with slaves, whose 
enforced toil shall take the place of that cheerful, well-paid 
labor whose busy hum is the best music of the place. Such an 
act, however consistent with slaveholding tyranny, would not be 
regarded as constitutional near Bunker Hill. 

A court properly inspired, and ready to assume that just 
responsibility which dignifies judicial tribunals, would at once 
declare slavery impossible at the national capital, and set every 
slave free — ^as Lord Mansfield declared slavery impossible in 
England, and set every slave free.^ The two cases are parallel ; 

iThe famous Sommeraett case; see Index. 



160 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

but, alas ! the court is wanting here. But the good work which 
courts have thus far declined remains to be done by Congress. 

But the question is asked, shall we vote money for this pur- 
pose t I cannot hesitate. And here there are two considera- 
tions, which with me are prevailing. First, the relation of 
master and slave at the national capital has from the beginning 
been established and maintained by Congress, everywhere in 
sight, and even directly under its own eyes. The master held 
the slave; but Congress, with strong arm, stood behind the 
master, looking on and sustaining him. Not a dollar of wages 
has been taken, not a child has been stolen, not a wife has been 
torn from her husband, without the hand of Congress. If not a 
partnership, there was a complicity on the part of Congress, 
through which the whole country has become responsible for the 
manifold wrong. Though always protesting against its con- 
tinuance, and laboring earnestly for its removal, yet gladly do 
I now accept my share of the promised burden. And, secondly, 
even if we are not all involved in the manifold wrong, nothing 
is clearer than that the mode proposed is the gentlest, quietest, 
and surest in which the beneficent change can be accomplished. 
It is, therefore, the most practical. It recognizes slavery as an 
existing fact and provides for its removal. And when I think 
of the unquestionable good which we seek ; of all its advantages 
and glories ; of the national capital redeemed ; of the national 
character elevated; and of a manganimous example which can 
never die; and when I think, still further, that, according to a 
rule alike of jurisprudence and morals, liberty is priceless, I 
cannot hesitate at any appropriation within our means by which 
all these things of incalculable value can be promptly secured. 

Let this bill pass, and the first practical triumph of freedom, 
for which good men have longed, dying without the sight — for 
which a whole generation has petitioned, and for which orators 
and statesmen have pleaded — ^will at last be accomplished. Slav- 
ery will be banished from the national capital. This metropolis, 
which bears a venerated name, will be purified; its evil spirit 
will be cast out ; its shame will be removed ; its society will be 
refined ; its courts will be made better ; its revolting ordinances 
will be swept away ; and even its loyalty will be secured. If not 
moved by justice to the slave, then be willing to act for your 
own good and in self-defence. If you hesitate to pass this bill 
for the blacks, then pass it for the whites. Nothing is clearer 
than that the degradation of slavery affects the master as much 
as the slave; while recent events testify that, wherever slavery 
exists, there treason lurks, if it does not flaunt. PVom the be- 



ABOLITION IN FEDERAL DISTRICT 161 

ginning of this rebellion slavery has been constantly manifest 
in the conduct of the masters, and even here in the national 
capital it has been the traitorous power which has encouraged 
and strengthened the enemy. This power must be suppressed at 
every cost, and, if its suppression here endangers slavery else- 
where, there will be a new motive for determined action. 

Amid all present solicitudes the future cannot be doubtful. 
At the national capital slavery will give way to freedom; but 
the good work will not stop here. It must proceed. What God 
and nature decree rebellion cannot arrest. And as the whole 
widespread tyranny begins to tumble, then, above the din of 
battle, sounding from the sea and echoing along the land, above 
even the exultations of victory on well-fought fields, will ascend 
voices of gladness and benediction, swelling from generous hearts 
wherever civilization bears sway, to commemorate a sacred 
triumph, whose trophies, instead of tattered banners, will be 
ransomed slaves. 

The bill was passed on April 3 by 29 yeas to 14 
nays, the Senators from the border and Pacific States 
and Joseph A. Wright of Indiana voting in the negative. 

The bill was sent to the House and there debated 
on April 10-11, the discussion including the right of 
secession, the power of Congress to confiscate property 
and to emancipate slaves in the seceded States. 

Judge Benjamin F. Thomas [Mass.], a conservative 
Republican, was the leading speaker on these subjects. 
He delivered a profound legal argument showing that 
there could be no secession of States, but only of citizens, 
and that the acts of these were rebellion and not war; 
that confiscation of the property of the rebels was un- 
constitutional, unjust, and impolitic; and that emancipa- 
tion of slaves could be justified only as a military 
necessity. 

The bill was passed upon this day (April 11), and 
signed by the President on April 16. In his message 
to the House communicating his act the President said : 

I have never doubted the constitutional authority of Con- 
gress to abolish slavery in this District, and I have ever desired 
to see the national capital freed from the institution in some 
satisfactory way. Hence there has never been in my mind any 

VI— u 



162 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

question upon the subject, except the one of expediency, arising 
in view of all the circumstances. I am gratified that the two 
principles of compensation and colonization are both recognized 
and practically applied in the act. 

One curious result of the act was that under it a 
District negro (free) claimed and received compensation 
for his wife and their six children, whom he had pre- 
viously purchased from their white master. 



CHAPTER VI 

Compensated Emancipation 

The President's Special Message Proposing a Bill for Compensated Eman- 
cipation in States so Desiring It — His Conference with Border State 
Delegates — Boscoe Conkling [N. Y.] Introduces the Bill in the House — 
Debate: in Favor, Mr. Conkling, John A. Bingham [O.], Alexander S. 
Diven [N. Y.], Abraham B. Olin [N. Y.], Owen Lovejoy [lU.], Thad- 
deus Stevens [Pa.], and John Hickman [Pa.] Supporting the Bill under 
Protest; Opposed, William A. Bichardson [111.], Charles A. WicklifTe 
[Ky.], Daniel W. Voorhees [Ind.], John J. Crittenden [Ky.] — Bill 
Passed — It Is Introduced in the Senate — ^Debate: in Favor, Lot M. 
Merrill [Me.], John B. Henderson [Mo.], John Sherman [O.] ; Op- 
posed, Willard Saulsbury [Del.], James A. McDougall [Cal.], Lazarus 
W. Powell [Ky.]--The Bill Is Passed— Debate in the House on Aboli- 
tion of Slavery in the Territories: in Favor, Isaac N. Arnold [HI.], 
Owen Lovejoy [HI.]; Opposed, Samuel S. Cox [O.], John W. Crisfield 
[Md.], Benjamin F. Thomas [Mass.] — Bill Becomes Law — The Presi- 
dent Appeals to the Border States to Accept Compensated Emancipa- 
tion — ^Results of Federal and State Action in Begard to CompensatecU' 
Emancipation. 

DURING the debates on abolition of slavery in the 
District of Columbia the President sent a special 
message to Congress on compensated ema/ndpch 
Hon in the States so desiring it. 

Compensated Emancipation 

Special Message of Pbbsident Lincoln, March 6, 1862 

I recommend the adoption of a joint resolution by your hon- 
orable bodies, which shall be substantially as follows : 

*^ Resolved, That the United States ought to cooperate with 
any State which may adopt gradual abolishment of slavery, giv- 
ing to such State pecuniary aid, to be used by such State, in its 
discretion, to compensate for the inconveniences, public and 
private, produced by such change of system." 

If the proposition contained in the resolution does not meet 

163 



164 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

the approval of Congress and the country, there is the end ; but 
if it does command such approval I deem it of importance that 
the States and people inmiediately interested should be at once 
distinctly notified of the fact, so that they may begin to con- 
sider whether to accept or reject it. 

The Federal Government would find its highest interest in 
such a measure, as one of the most efficient means of self-preser- 
vation. The leaders of the existing insurrection entertain the 
hope that this Government will ultimately be forced to acknowl- 
edge the independence of some part of the disaffected region, 
and that all the slave States north of such part will then say, 
''The Union for which we have struggled being already gone, 
we now choose to go with the Southern section." To deprive 
them of this hope substantially ends the rebellion ; and the in- 
itiation of emancipation completely deprives them of it as to all 
the States initiating it. 

The point is not that the States tolerating slavery would very 
soon, if at all, initiate emancipation ; but, that while the offer is 
equally made to all, the more Northern shall, by such initiation, 
make it certain to the more Southern that in no event will the 
former ever join the latter in their proposed confederacy. I say 
'"initiation" because, in my judgment, gradual and not sudden 
emancipation is better for all. In the mere financial or pe- 
cuniary view any member of Congress, with the census tables 
and treasury reports before him, can readily see for himself how 
very soon the current expenditures of this war would purchase, 
at fair valuation, all the slaves in any named State. Such a 
proposition on the part of the general Gk)vemment sets up no 
claim of a right by Federal authority to interfere with slavery 
within State limits, referring, as it does, the absolute control 
of the subject in each case to the State and its people immedi- 
ately interested. It is proposed as a matter of perfectly free 
choice with them. 

In the annual message, last December, I thou^t fit to say, 
"The Union must be preserved, and hence all indispensable 
means must be employed." I said this not hastily, but delib- 
erately. War has been made, and continues to be, an indispen- 
sable means to this end. A practical reacknowledgment of the 
national authority would render the war unnecessary, and it 
would at once cease. If, however, resistance continues, the war 
must also continue; and it is impossible to foresee all the inci- 
dents which may attend and all the ruin which may follow it. 
Such as may seem indispensable, or may obviously promise great 
efficiency, toward ending the struggle, must and will come. 



COMPENSATED EMANCIPATION 165 

The proposition now made, though an offer only, I hope it 
may be esteemed no offence to ask whether the pecuniary con- 
sideration tendered would not be of more value to the States and 
private persons concerned than are the institution and property 
in it, in the present aspect of affairs! 

While it is true that the adoption of the proposed resolution 
would be merely initiatory, and not within itself a practical 
measure, it is recommended in the hope that it would soon lead 
to important practical results. In full view of my great respon- 
sibility to my God and to my country, I earnestly beg the at- 
tention of Congress and the people to the subject. 



Lincoln's Conference on Compensated Emancipation 

WITH BORDEB StATB DELEGATES 

On March 10 the President held a conference with 
delegates from the border slave States. One of the dele- 
gates, John W. Crisfield [Md.], reported the substance 
of the conference. 

The President disclaimed any intent to injure the interests 
or wound the sensibilities of the slave States. On the contrary, 
he declared that his purpose was to protect the one and respect 
the other. We were, he said, engaged in a terrible, wasting, and 
tedious war; immense armies were in the field, and must con- 
tinue there as long as the war should last ; these armies came of 
necessity into contact with slaves in the States we represented, 
and, as they advanced, would be brought into contact with the 
slaves of other States. Slaves came, and would continue to 
come, to the camps, thus keeping up continual irritation. He 
was constantly annoyed by conflicting and antagonistic com- 
plaints. On the one side a certain class complained if the slave 
was not protected by the army ; persons were frequently found 
who, participating in these views, acted in a way unfriendly to 
the slaveholder. On the other hand, slaveholders complained 
that their rights were interfered with, their slaves were induced 
to abscond and were protected within the lines. These com- 
plaints were numerous, loud, and deep. They were a serious 
annoyance to him, and embarrassing to the progress of the war. 
They kept alive a spirit hostile to the Government in the States 
we represented ; they strengthened the hopes of the Confederates 
that at some day the border States would unite with them, and 
thus tend to prolong the war; and he was of opinion, if this 



166 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

resolution should be adopted by Congress and accepted by our 
States, that these causes of irritation and these hopes would be 
removed, and more would be accomplished toward shortening 
the war than could be hoped from the greatest victory achieved 
by Union armies. He made this proposition in good faith, and 
desired it to be accepted, if at all, voluntarily, and in the same 
patriotic spirit in which it was made. Emancipation was a 
subject exclusively under the control of the States, and must 
be adopted or rejected by each for itself; he did not claim, nor 
had this Government any right, to coerce them for that purpose. 

The President disclaimed that he had any ulterior purpose, 
such as emancipation by Federal authority. He should lament 
the refusal of the States to accept compensated emancipation, 
but had no designs beyond their refusal. 

In respect to the constitutionality of the proposition he said 
that it presented no difficulties, proposing as it did simply to co- 
operate with any State by giving it pecuniary aid. It was the 
expression of a sentiment, rather than the presentation of a con- 
stitutional issue. In any scheme to get rid of slavery the North 
as well as the South was morally bound to do its equal share. 
He thought that the institution was wrong and that it ought 
never to have existed ; but yet he recognized the rights of prop- 
erty which had grown out of it, and he would respect those 
rights as fully as similar rights in any other property ; he recog- 
nized that property can exist, and does legally exist, in slavery ; 
he would get rid of the odious law,. not by violating the right, 
but by encouraging the proposition and offering inducements to 
give it up. 



Compensated Emancipation 

House of Representatives, March 10-11, 1862 

On March 10 Roscoc Conklin^ [N. Y.] introduced the 
President's bill in the House. He said: 

This resolution is in the exact words of the President of the 
United States, as sent here with the message in which he recom- 
mends its passage. It relates to a subject in regard to which 
almost every member, if not every one, has made up his mind ; 
and those who have not made up their minds will not have their 
conclusions settled by any discussion which may occur on this 
resolution. 



COMPENSATED EMANCIPATION 167 

William A. Bichardson [Dem.], of Illinois, replied: 

The gentleman from New York says that we ought to have 
our minds made up on the subject of this resolution. Why, sir, 
there is no subject which will engage the attention of this Con- 
gress of more magnitude. I venture to say that not one half of 
the members on this side of the House have had time to consider 
it. We have had no time to communicate with our people. 

But I am prepared to say one thiag in regard to that mes- 
sage of the President. So far as it recommends the doctrine of 
the rights of the States in this matter I recognize its force. My 
objection to it is not of that character; I object to it upon an- 
other ground altogether. I do not believe my people are pre- 
pared to enter upon this proposed work of purchasing the slaves 
of other people and turning them loose in our midst. I have 
long entertained the idea that this class of negroes in our coun- 
try are incapable of becoming the repository of freedom or gov- 
ernment. 

In reference to another point embraced in that message I 
have but a single word to offer. Without the Constitution and 
the Union there is no liberty — ^no government — and whatever 
stands in the way of their preservation I am prepared to strike 
down or to yield up. Whatever stands in the way of our Gov- 
ernment and its integrity must be destroyed. But I do not pro- 
pose to go beyond the Constitution. I do not know why a single 
article of property should be singled out and made an exception. 

But, sir, I am satisfied that gentlemen are not prepared to 
vote upon this question to-day. It is a subject which requires 
consideration; and I move, therefore, that it be postponed to 
this day week. 

John A. Bingham [0.]. — I hope the motion to postpone will 
not prevail. If gentlemen propose to entertain the proposition 
of the President they can have but little, if any, difficulty in 
coming to a just conclusion upon it, as it involves no principle 
save the power of the Government of the United States to con- 
tribute in aid of the gradual abolition of slavery in any State 
which, of its own motion, may initiate that policy. That is all 
there is of the resolution. 

The President has told us that he deems it important, if the 
resolution meets the approval of Congress, that the people im- 
mediately interested should be at once distinctly notified of the 
fact, so that they may begin to consider whether they will accept 
or reject the proposition. The adoption of the resolution im- 
poses upon no State any obligation to act in the premises. It 



168 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

interferes with no right of any State by intendment or other- 
wise. 

Charles A. Wicklippb [Ky.]. — The gentleman is learned in 
the Constitution of the United States. Will he tell me under 
what clause of the Constitution he finds the power in Congress 
to appropriate the treasure of the United States to buy negroes, 
or to set them free! Is it under the head of "the general wel- 
fare''? 

Mr. Bingham. — I supposed, Mr. Speaker, that that question 
was settled long ago by those who made the Constitution. If the 
gentleman will pardon me, I b^ leave to remind him again of 
the words of Madison, that 

"It is in vain to oppose constitutional barriers to the impulse of self- 
preservation. It is worse than in vainf 

And, says Hamilton : 

''Congress have an unlimited discretion to make requisitions of men 
and money." 

Daniel W. Yoobhees [Dem.], of Indiana. — I shaU vote 
against any postponement of this question. I, for one, as a 
member of this House, am fully prepared to act upon it now. 
If this measure is to be pressed, and to become a part of the 
policy of the Government, I think it is right and proper that 
the people should know it soon; that, while groaning under 
almost untold burdens, while trembling under the weight of 
taxation upon their shoulders, if this additional burden is to 
come upon them they may prepare in season their sad and op- 
pressed hearts and almost broken bodies to bear it. 

I will say one thing further : that if there is any border slave 
State man here who is in doubt whether he wants his State to 
sell its slaves to this Government or not, I represent a people 
that is in no doubt as to whether they want to become the pur- 
chasers. It takes two to make a bargain ; and I repudiate, once 
and forever, for the people whom I represent on this floor, any 
part or parcel in such a contract. Slavery, wherever it exists 
under the Constitution, I and my constituents will recognize 
and respect in its legal rights; the slave trade, either domestic 
or foreign, we are opposed to, and it is no favorite of the Con- 
stitution. If emancipation means taxation on the free States, 
now lavishing their all for the Union and the Constitution, and 
ever ready to do so, I am opposed to that cause ; and I here take 
my stand in the name of the people I represent against it. 



COMPENSATED EMANCIPATION 169 

Thaddeus Stevens [Eep.], of Pennsylvania, was in 
favor of postponing the bill in order to give every mem- 
ber time to consider it. 

I have read it over ; and I confess I have not been able to see 
what makes one side so anxious to pass it or the other side so 
anxious to defeat it. I think it is about the most diluted, milk 
and water gruel proposition that was ever given to the American 
nation. [Laughter.] The only reason I can discover why any 
gentleman should wish to postpone this measure is for the pur- 
pose of having a chemical analysis made to see whether there is 
any poison in it. [Laughter.] 

The House adjourned with the motion to postpone 
the bill before it. The discussion was resumed on the 
following day (March 11). The motion to postpone 
was decided in the negative — yeas, 67; nays, 71. 

Charles A. Wickliffe [Ky.] opposed the bill on con- 
stitutional grounds, stating that the only color of its 
justification was to be found in the ** general welfare" 
clause in the preamble of the Constitution. 

Under this pretence of power, Congress might think that it 
would be advancing the interests of the general Gfovernment to 
dot the whole country over with turnpikes, railroads, and 
bridges, or with schools and colleges, or to do anything or every- 
thing that a legislative body, unrestrained by a constitution, may 
do for the benefit of the people. I thought that this idea of a 
general welfare power had long since been exploded by our 
statesmen and jurists and courts whenever it was attempted to 
be asserted in the State or Federal tribunals. If you were to 
allow that to be taken as a granting power in the Constitution, 
then there is no limit to which the Federal Government or Con- 
gress may not go. 

But we are told that this measure is to be consummated 
under the war power. It is alleged that we are now in a state 
of war, and we are told that the Constitution is, therefore, to be 
disregarded. It is said that whatever is necessary to carry on 
this war to a successful conclusion may be done with perfect 
freedom under the license and authority, not of the Constitu- 
tion, but as a military necessity. I deny that a state of war, and 
especially the present state of war, enlarges the power of Con- 
gress. What will be the result of that military necessity which, 



170 GREAT. AMERICAN DEBATES 

it is said, enables us to lay aside the Constitution T What is it, 
and what has caused this line of executive and military action T 
I greatly fear there are many who desire more the emancipatiod 
of the slaves of the South than the restoration of the Union of 
the States. If it had not been for that strong desire I think that 
we would never have heard of this military-necessity power. 

I suspect, sir, that these old-fashioned opinions of mine may 
be taken as evidence of my want of loyalty. I have not as yet 
seen any necessity why we should violate the Constitution in 
order that we should do what is required of us, and that is to 
furnish the men and money necessary to the restoration of the 
Union — I deny that a state of war increases or enlarges the 
powers of Congres& 

Furthermore, the proposition is unwise. If the measures 
which now seem to be the particular and favorite ones urged to 
our consideration shall be carried out, if you proclaim to these 
people extermination or subjugation, and the confiscation of 
private property, you will have a war that will last longer than 
the life of any man upon this floor. You may conquer battles, 
and gain victories; but you will not in that way secure the re- 
establishment of the Government and the restoration of the 
Union. How do you expect to maintain the Union and to re- 
establish the laws of the United States over the seceded States T 
How do you expect to induce the people of those States to aid 
and assist you in the restoration of the Union and of the Gov- 
ernment T How do you expect to do that if you drive every man 
from his homestead under the threat you make here of utter de- 
struction or subjugation? You destroy all hope of peace. Leave 
the peaceful non-combatants at rest; let them know that they 
have the pledge of their security by this Government. If that 
be done, when the war is over you will find a nucleus of Union 
men in the slave States around which the inhabitants of those 
States can rally, and then the Union may be restored. But if 
they are to be alarmed by threats of confiscation of estates of 
non-combatants, then their homesteads will be abandoned and 
burned either by themselves or the enemy. You see already the 
madness of the leaders of the rebellion. They urge the popula- 
tion of the South to burn their homesteads, and to destroy all 
their crops, in order to keep them out of the possession of what 
they term their enemies. You have taken possession of a por- 
tion of the South. I was glad when I heard of it. You have 
alarmed the population. They have now run off and left their 
slaves unprotected. What is proposed here? One gentleman 
has proposed that we shall have a land office in the South, and 



COMPENSATED EMANCIPATION 171 

that the lands of the nabobs shall be distributed to the slaves 
that have been abandoned. There are other projects equally as 
absurd, and in violation of the laws of civilized war. 

Suppose you emancipate the whole of the black population 
of the Southern seceded States, something over three millions, 
what do you intend to do with them! Have you provided any 
colony to which you can send themT Do you intend to leave 
them in the South where they areT Or do you intend to locate 
them in the free States T One plan was before us, I think, in a 
bill this morning. It is proi>osed that the Congress of the United 
States shall open cotton plantations in the South, upon lands 
now in the possession of the army. Is that a military necessity? 
Is it a military necessity that we should employ, at the public 
expense, many agents (I do not know that they are called over- 
seers, as they are in the South; that would not sound well), 
sub-agents or superintendents T They are none of them to be 
called overseers, that would sound too much like the agent of a 
Southern slaveholder. There was a peculiar provision in it — ^this 
bill to which I refer. They were to force these creatures to work 
— ^they were to use ^^ humane and Christian force/' I believe. 
What do you mean by thatT You are to send a parcel of men 
to superintend the negroes on the cotton plantations as over- 
seers for the United States. 

I ask the gentlemen who are advocating these propositions 
if it is a ''military necessity" that this Government, with a debt 
now of upward of seven hundred millions of dollars, should 
commence the business of cotton planting in South Carolina and 
Georgia or elsewhere ? I ask where are the power and authority 
in the Government of the United States to go into the business 
of farming — for it amounts to that practically? Where is the 
authority for the Government of the United States to send a 
parcel of men South to engage in the business of cotton-growing 
who, when they get there, will know as much about raising cot- 
ton as I do about preaching the Gospel, and not as much, for I 
have heard the Gospel preached, and they never saw a stalk of 
cotton growing. [Laughter.] If you carry out your plan it 
will be the finest position for one of your modem honest men 
to steal that you can find in the United States, not excepting 
army contracts. 

What is to be the effect of this resolution upon the warT 
There seems to be an intimation, if I understand it, that there 
is danger that the border slave States, as they are termed, unless 
this measure shall be inaugurated, may wieih to join the slave 
States of the South, not while the war is going on, but when the 



172 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

Southern Confederacy, composed of the cotton States, shall have 
gained its independence. Sir, I can see how this message of the 
President and the vote of this House may be understood abroad 
greatly to our prejudice. The inference will be inevitably drawn 
there that you from the North who advocate this resolution look 
to the utter impossibility of carrying out your favorite scheme 
of emancipation and confiscation, and the liberation of the 
slaves of the South ; that you do not desire Union until slavery 
is abolished; and that you are willing to give up the cotton 
States, provided you can get the border States to emancipate 
their slaves. 

In Kentucky and all these border States the great difficulty 
that we have had to encounter from the influence of the South, 
and those of our own citizens who acted with the South, was to 
convince them that the Federal Government did not mean to in- 
terfere with slavery. I do not mean this to apply to the man 
alone who owns the slave ; for it is a strange fact that the non- 
slaveholding portion of the population are most against emanci- 
pation. 

The speaker concluded with declarations of the Ad- 
ministration, Congress, and the officers of the army, 
made at the beginning of difficulties and up to this time, 
that the war, being forced upon the United States, is to 
be prosecuted for the maintenance of the Constitution 
and the restoration of the Union as it was. He said : 

To give it now a different purpose, to wage it for the destruc- 
tion of the States, the abolition of slavery, would be a fraud so 
infamous that it would call down upon its authors the anathemas 
of all good and honest men. 

Alexander S. Diven [N. Y.] believed that the reason 
which urged the President to his recommendation was 
that President Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy 
had issued a proclamation implying that the Con- 
federate forces would be concentrated for the defence 
of the cotton States, and that the border States would 
be abandoned to the Union, thus inducing the United 
States Government to acknowledge the independence of 
the cotton States. 

The rebels, he said, hugged the idea that we care but little 
for these States, if we could only get the border States — the 



COMPENSATED EMANCIPATION 173 

most valuable in a commercial point of view — and believe that 
with the Union thus broken, with that holy devotion broken 
which the whole country has ever had for the Union of Wash- 
ington, Jefferson, and Madison, the loyalty for the Union would 
be broken. It was then hoped that a petty annoyance would be 
waged against the border States until they would be driven, one 
by one, to join that confederation of the Gulf States. They 
would thus add to their power, and secure what they now find 
they cannot secure by force of arms. Seeing that they were 
clinging to that hope, the President is desirous to strip them of 
their last hope of refuge, and to show them that, even though 
they should succeed in their rebellion, they will be disappointed 
in their expectation of drawing the border States with them. 
Disappointed in it by this, by a noble, just, fair proposition 
upon the part of the Government not to interfere with any of the 
reserved rights of these States; not, under the Constitution or 
above the Constitution, to meddle with any of their institutions ; 
not to assume to pass laws, if we have the right to pass them, 
which could interfere with their reserved rights; but a mag- 
nanimous proposition to them, that if they would stand by the 
Union no injustice should be done to them. If the posses- 
sion of their slaves should become intolerable they might have 
an opportunity to rid themselves of them without crushing them 
out and breaking them down. In a spirit of magnanimity the 
President of the United States recommended that this Congress 
should adopt this resolution, looking to an ultimate resort in 
case any of the States at any time find it necessary, for the 
protection of their rights, to adopt that ultimate resort. 

When they pass a law for the emancipation of their slaves, 
if they ever do pass such an act, they will make it conditional 
that Congress shall pay a portion of the loss. If that condition 
be not complied with they lose nothing by their law. If it be 
complied with by Congress they gain. There is, I repeat, no 
tampering with their rights, no infringement upon their rights. 

The gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Voorhees] has thought 
proper in the discussion of this proposition to refer to the ex- 
pense that would be incurred. Why, sir, half a day's expense 
of this war will pay for the emancipation of all the slaves in 
Delaware. The cost of sustaining this war for half a month 
will pay for the emancipation of all the slaves in Kentucky. 
The cost of maintaining this war for a month would pay for 
the emancipation of the slaves in Missouri and Kentucky. And 
if we can cut off from these rebels their last hope, and in my 
judgment this is their last hope, for they have already been 



174 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

obliged to sarrender the hope to which they have bo fondly clung 
of the intervention of European countries; and now if you will 
cut off this last desperate hope which the rebel leaders still en- 
tertain, you will do more to accelerate the termination of this 
rebeUion than any other congressional measure that can possibly 
be adopted. 

Abraham R. Olin [N. Y.] replied to Mr. Wickliffe. 

It is not true that either this House or the people of this 
country have any other motive in the prosecution of this war 
than they had in August last. They are fighting this war for 
the maintenance of the Constitution and the Union. I know 
that there is a difference of opinion upon another question, and 
that is as to the means to be employed for the prosecution of this 
war. I know that some gentlemen, and perhaps my friend from 
Illinois [Owen Lovejoy] for one, think that the best way is, like 
the Dutch governor of New York, to fight it by proclamations, 
to proclaim liberty throughout the land to captives. Another 
gentleman would say, let the negro question alone. 

Mb. Lovejoy. — ^I beg the gentleman's pardon for interrupt- 
ing him; but I simply desire to say that I want to fight with 
bayonets and bullets, and not with proclamations. 

Mr. Olin. — I am happy to hear that, and it will enlighten 
the House upon that point, I have no doubt. 

Now, there is, as I have observed, a difference of opinion 
upon this subject. But every intelligent man in the free States 
as well as in the slave States knows — the whole world knows — 
that this institution of slavery, never very palatable to the free 
States of the Union, has been the cause of this accursed rebel- 
lion. Mr. Speaker, you remember Toombs said that that institu- 
tion could only exist as long as slaveholders controlled this Gov- 
ernment, and that, when they were deprived of the power and 
patronage of the Government to uphold it, that institution must 
fall. Slaveholders having been deprived of that power, this 
rebellion is the consequence. Now, gentlemen from slave States 
must treat with a little forbearance my friends upon this side of 
the House. I beg you remember they, together with all the 
world, know that this war has been brought upon us by men 
who sought to control the destinies of this country by wielding 
the influence of slavery. It is not to be wondered at that the 
people of the free States do not feel very kindly disposed to- 
ward that institution, or that every opportunity is sought within 
the constitutional limits of the Government to strike a blow at 



COMPENSATED EMANCIPATION 175 

slavery, which, if it shall not destroy that institution forever, 
will leave it in such a situation that it will never hereafter 
be a disturbing power in the administration of this Govern- 
ment. 

Now, I am desirous to see this war prosecuted within the 
strict limits of the Constitution. I think that this Government 
is released from no obligation to my friend from Kentucky by 
reason of this rebellion; that the Government is bound to pro- 
tect all his rights of property and everything that is dear to him 
in his social and political relations, and I wish to see the war 
prosecuted successfully, if it may be, with a most sacred regard 
to all the rights of every citizen. In my humble judgment the 
whole strength of this accursed rebellion rests in an entire de- 
lusion on the part of the Southern people. Every gentleman 
who has held a seat on the floor of this House as long as I have 
knows one fact, and that is that there has been for years a 
strenuous, constant, and persistent effort on the part of some 
Southern men in this House, and out of it, to imbue the entire 
Southern mind with the idea that the party now in power, if 
they ever did attain power, would, by force and violence, if 
necessary, emancipate their slaves; and it is that belief that now 
adds strength to their army. If that delusion could be dispelled 
this rebellion would melt away like frost-work before the sun. 
I believe as sincerely that that is so as I believe any truth re- 
vealed from above. 

What, then, is obviously the policy of the GOvemment in 
respect to this measure? Why, I think — ^though, perhaps, my 
opinion upon that subject is not worth much — ^that the President 
is pursuing a wise and prudent course, and I think that my 
friend from Kentucky is unnecessarily alarmed at the introduc- 
tion of this resolution. What is it, in its whole scope and ex- 
tent! Why, simply that if you gentlemen of the slave States 
are willing to get rid of slavery the general Government will aid 
you to do it by giving you a compensation for any loss that you 
may sustain; and, although I am not worth much, GOd knows 
I would divide my last crust of bread to aid our Southern 
friends to get rid of slavery, and let us live in peace and har- 
mony together. If these gentlemen say, ''we cannot afford to 
make the sacrifice of manumitting our slaves," the President 
says, ''vety well; the general GOvemment will aid you to ac- 
complish it." That is the magnanimous, the great, the GOd-like 
policy of the Administration. But, while it says that, it says to 
you and it says to the world, "we do not propose to force this 
question of emancipation upon you; you are perfectly free to 



176 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

accept or to reject the offer. We disclaim entirely the right to 
constrain yon in the matter." 

But the gentleman from Kentucky [Mr. Wickliffe] says that 
the offer to aid in the emancipation of the slaves is an interfer- 
ence with this institution. Merciful Qod ! Does this institution 
make you mad ? Must you close your eyes to what is going on 
all over the civilized world ? Look, I beseech you, at this matter ! 
Conduct your army in the best way you can, with the most 
sacred regard to every right, and when it overruns a State, as 
it has overrun Missouri, what is the result f Where have gone 
to-day her slave population? Nearly two-thirds of them have 
fled either North or South ; and, if our army marches successfully 
through Kentucky and Tennessee, to some extent this same result 
will be produced there. Nay, more. As they march throu^ 
other States, as they are now marching through South Carolina, 
thousands upon thousands of these poor negro slaves will flock to 
the standard of the Union — ^the slaves of rebel masters, the 
slaves of men who have taken up arms to subvert this Qovem- 
ment, a Government such as was never founded by man. And 
do you think, I pray you, that any power of this (Government, 
judicial, military, or executive, can ever be induced to surrender 
those men to those rebel masters? Oh, no; you are touching 
there a chord that vibrates through the whole Northern heart, 
and it says we never will consent that property of this descrip- 
tion shall be returned to men thus arrayed against the Qovem- 
ment by the strong arm of the Qovemment. 

John J. Crittenden [Ky.] construed the proposition 
as asking the border States to give up their ** domestic 
institution '* of slavery as a pledge of loyalty to the 
Union. 

What right have you to suppose now that old Kentucky will 
abandon her faith in the Constitution of the United States, and 
unite herself with the South? None at all. The way to con- 
ciliate Kentucky is not by pressing these questions upon her. 
The way to conciliate her is to let her alone. That is the way to 
show your confidence in her — ^your confidence that she will al- 
ways, and under all circumstances, do her duty. That will make 
the old State proud. But when you demand of her a revolution 
in her domestic policy, when you make a demand of that sort 
upon her, I am apprehensive it may not have the good effect 
you suppose. The cardinal principle upon which our whole sys- 
tem of Government is founded is that matters of a local and do- 



COMPENSATED EMANCIPATION 177 

mestic character ahall be under the exclucdye control of the State 
governments, and national and external matters under the con- 
trol of the general Oovemment. If you begin now to trench 
upon that paternal and patriarchal jurisdiction which belongs 
to the States by taking one domestic subject from under its con- 
trol, what will be the result in the future? 

I do not know how this proposition will be deceived by my 
constituents. It is suddenly brought before them. It relates to 
a subject about which they are very sensitive. I fear they will 
think that they ought to be let alone on this subject. You urge 
them to take a further step in proof of their loyalty. They will 
say: "Is this the way the other States of the Union treat us? 
The moment we come within their grasp, the moment we join 
hands with them, and take up the sword in defence of the Con- 
stitution, they desire that we shall modify our institutions in ac- 
cordance with their wishes." 

Do you demand of us a surrender of a part of our constitu- 
tional rights, while you are professing to support the whole 
Constitution? 

Mb. Lovejoy. — I desire to ask the gentleman if he thinks it 
would be unconstitutional if Kentucky should emancipate her 
slaves, on condition that the Federal Government shall pay her 
a certain amount of money ? 

Mb. Cbittendbn. — ^I am not prepared to say that it would be 
unconstitutional. But the gentleman looks at the matter in a 
very limited way. When this Ctevemment makes a proposition 
of this sort, it is equivalent to an invitation, and by such an in- 
vitation agitation may be introduced at a time when we want no 
agitation. 

But gentlemen say that this wiU break the hopes of the re- 
bellion, and that otherwise the South wiU compel you to recog- 
nize her independent government. So says my friend from New 
York [Mr. Diven] ; and this measure proposed is only to prevent 
Kentucky and the border States from acceding to that indepen- 
dent Southern government when it shall force itself upon our 
acknowledgment. Sir, I hope that that day is never to come. It 
is too remote a possibility to found any argument upon. If that 
time ever does come, when these twenty millions of people shall 
be content to see this great (Jovernment broken up ; and if, look- 
ing forward beyond that infamous and disgraceful day, we shall 
be told that there is a fear on the part of the North that the 
border States will then join the Southern Confederacy, if you 
permit that day to come I shall not want to be with you. Are 
we recreantly to submit to have this country broken into pieces, 

VI— 12 



178 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

and then dare to think of things that are to happen afterward t 
No, sir; there is no thereafter; there is no future beyond that. 
I will not look into it. And yet the argument used here to-day 
is that we shall, without consideration, without knowing what 
will happen to this measure in Kentucky or the other border 
States, base this measure only upon things that may happen in 
the future, that may happen after that day of infamy. My 
policy does not reach so far, nor will I act upon any supposition 
of the sort. 

Sir, we are in the habit of saying a great many things in the 
ardor of our feelings which we would like to recall. My friend 
from New York [Mr. Olin] has said so many admirable things 
that he will excuse me for alluding to one extravagance of this 
sort in the remarks which he has just made. He says that when 
it shall be necessary for the preservation of the country he would 
be willing to see the negro armed and servile war made in the 
South by Southern negroes upon Southern planters — a war of 
the black man upon the white man. 

How can it ever become necessary for a nation to do what, 
in the sight of Qod and man, is condemnable under all circum- 
stances? I will not suppose such a case. It is the very argu^ 
menfum which ranges through the long series of resolutions here 
for confiscation and emancipation — that you have a right to do 
anything to weaken your enemy and to strengthen yourself. A 
doctrine more at war with every principle of ethics, of morals, 
and of religion cannot be proclaimed. 

In the name of God, what are we fighting for this day ? Are 
we not fighting to uphold the Government ; to uphold humanity ; 
to put down those who violate law, who would induce to disor- 
der, homicide^ and crime 1 And are you to say that you have a 
right to commit all manner of crimes for the purpose of accom- 
plishing your object? No matter what your enemy was, he could 
not be worse than you are, if that is your morality. In a cause 
like ours, a glorious cause, which seeks to maintain justice and 
liberty and right among men, let not us, its chosen defenders, 
sink ourselves down to the level of those who have called forth 
this effort on our part to subdue them. This is a great contest. 
I want to see it waged on principles that become it; that are 
lofty as the subject itself is. It is not necessary for us to do 
wrong. It is only necessary for us to behave dutifully toward 
our country, and to enforce our laws. We shall thus do our 
whole duty, and shall have nothing to upbraid ourselves with 
when the war is over. 



COMPENSATED EMANCIPATION 179 

John Hickman [Pa.], a radical Eepublican, said that 
he would vote for the bill, although he thought it of 
little practical importance. 

It does not possess any great intrinsic merit, for the reason 
that its adoption would not constitute legislation. It would be 
better distinguished as a plank in the platform of a political 
party. If carried through this House it will not even bind the 
present House to pass a law, much less a House that shall be 
convened in the future. It is, in my judgment, simply a dec- 
laration of opinion as to a policy, and nothing more. As I look 
at it is is rather a compensation to the North for disappointed 
hopes, and a warning to the people of the border slave States. 
The President of the United States cannot be ignorant of the 
fact that he has, thus far, failed to meet the just expectation of 
the party which elected him to the office he holds, and his friends 
are to be comforted, not so much by the resolution itself as by 
the body of the message, while the people of the border slave 
States will not fail to observe that with the comfort to us is 
mingled an awful warning to them. 

The paper is somewhat of an assurance — slight, I admit — 
that the President still has convictions upon the great question 
of freedom and slavery, and that in a certain event the interests 
of slavery, which he seems anxious to protect, may be prostrated ; 
and that, therefore, it is better for the border States to put 
themselves in a position to meet a great crisis. It is, therefore, 
rather a palliative and caution than an open and avowed policy ; 
it is rather an excuse for non-action than an avowed determina- 
tion to act. Neither the message nor the resolution is manly and 
open. They are both covert and insidious. They do not become 
the dignity of the President of the United States. The message 
is not such a document as a full-grown independent man should 
publish to the nation at such a time as the present, when posi- 
tions should be freely and fully defined. 

Sir, any man who sits down and carefully reads this message 
cannot fail to understand just what it was the President had in 
his mind at the time he penned it. In the first place, he sajrs 
to the Republican party: '' Gentlemen, I am not such a great 
defender of the institution of slavery as you would make the 
country believe I am. I am willing that the institution of 
slavery shall be sustained, and especially in the border States, 
but in case a dissolution of the Union, to any extent, shall occur, 
I will see, as far as my official influence extends, that those 
border States shall affiliate with the States of the North." In 



180 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

the second place, he says to those border States: ** Gentle- 
men, I give you warning in time that in the prosecution of 
the war a policy may eventually become necessary on the part 
of this Administration which will lead to the destruction of the 
slave interest in these States." 

I am satisfied that I cannot be mistaken as to the points in 
the mind of the President. He does look, and we look, and you 
gentlemen from the slave States look to a contingency in which 
extreme war measures may become necessary. If this Union and 
Constitution are deserving of the eulogiums which have been 
passed upon them by gentlemen from all sections they are worth 
more than the pecuniary interests involved in any single local or 
domestic institution; and if you are possessed of the patriotic 
feelings which I suppose you to be possessed of, and which I am 
willing to admit you are possessed of, you will regard the preser- 
vation of the Constitution and the Union as paramount to the 
pecuniary interests involved in any domestic institution, not 
excepting slavery. That man who is not willing to save the Con- 
stitution and the Union by the sacrifice of a private interest is 
already a rebel, and I care not upon whose ear that declaration 
may fall with harshness ; and, sir, when, a few weeks since, in a 
running discussion in this Hall, I propounded the question to 
gentlemen from the border slave States whether they would sus- 
tain the Constitution and the Union, although it might be neces- 
sary to sacrifice slavery to save them, there was but a solitary 
and a very feeble voice came up in affirmative response. Now, 
sir, although the North has magnanimity, the North has not too 
much patience. I proclaim here a fact which has studiously 
been concealed, as it seems to me, that the border States are not 
in this Union because they love freedom. They are in it because 
they fear force. 

What means the action of Kentucky maintaining neutrality 
in the hour when the Union required friends? If a man pro- 
fesses to be a friend of mine I expect him to show his active 
friendship in the hour of my trial and my sufferings. Kentucky, 
proud, magnanimous Kentucky, as she has been designated here 
this morning — and I have nothing to say against either attribute 
— ^in that hour of trial and danger stood on the ground of perfect 
neutrality. But when the passage of our troops to the national 
capital had been secured, when the integrity of the Union 
had been put out of danger for the time being, and when 
the safety of Kentucky was imperiled, then she was the proud 
and magnanimous State to declare herself on the side of the 
Union. 



COMPENSATED EMANCIPATION 181 

And, sir, I do not hedtate to say that, from all I can see, 
there is no slave State population that has not the well-being of 
slavery so much at heart, and into the composition of whose 
hearts slavery does not enter to such an extent that they love 
human slavery, with its christianizing and republican influences, 
its separations of husbands and wives, of parents and children, 
its days of toil without recompense, its servility and utter degra- 
dation, its life without hope, and its death without knowledge, 
as much as they love the Government. Why, sir, I have found 
but one among the Representatives of slave constituencies on this 
floor who, when the Union was in the hour of its direst peril, 
was ready to make the open and distinct avowal that, if the 
Union and slavery could not both be saved, he would save the 
Union in preference to slavery. 

Now, sir, but one word more. Mr. Lincoln has found himself 
between two swords — ^the sword of the party looking to a par- 
ticular policy, to be pursued toward a rebellion springing from 
slavery, and the sword in the hands of the border States, who 
insist all the time that the war shall be prosecuted in such a way 
as to save their peculiar, divine, and humanizing institution. 
The President of the United States, if he has any recollection — 
and I do not know whether he has or not, for I do not perceive 
any evidence of the fact — if he has any recollection he will re- 
member that he was taken up by a party, sustained and carried 
into his high position by a party whose very life was dedicated 
to the maintenance of the Constitution and the Union; and 
they had the right to expect the adoption of such measures, not 
inconsistent with the laws of war, as would be most likely to 
crush treason at the earliest moment. And when I say to this 
House that the nation at large has been somewhat disappointed 
in its reasonable expectation, I may be open to a charge of in- 
discretion, but not to one of misrepresentation. 

I say, further, that the nation has felt a great lack of confi- 
dence, not only in the President, but in those military leaders 
put in the highest position by the President. He knows this 
well, and has made some changes. He knows, further, that the 
people of the Northern States regard this Government as sacred, 
and will never allow the sacrilegious hand to touch it without 
striking it off, and that its downfall cannot precede Northern 
desolation and death. No matter what interests may perish, no 
matter what lives may be sacrificed, they will command that the 
war shall be prosecuted with the greatest vigor, and that the 
Government shall be reestablished, even if it be but over smold- 
ering cities and wasted lands. 



182 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

I speak for myself alone ; I do not speak for organizations, 
political or otherwise, and I assome the responsibility. That 
may be my misfortune. 

"Never mind! 
My words, at least, are more sincere and hearty 

Than if I sought to sail before the wind. 
He who has naught to gain can have small art; he 

Who neither wishes to be bound nor bind 
May still expatiate freely, as will I, 
Nor give my voice to slavery's jackal cry." 

The bill passed the House on March 11 by a vote of 
89 to 31. It came up in the Senate on March 24. 

Compensated Emancipation 
Senate, March 24-ApRni 2, 1862 

Willard Saulsbury [Del.] denounced the bill as in 
effect an interference with slavery in the States by 
fomenting agitation upon the subject, and by holding 
out inducements for the abolition of the institution. 
Whether force or bribery was used to accomplish this 
end, it was an infraction of the solemn pledge of the 
Eepublican party not to touch slavery in the States. 

On March 26 James A. McDougall [Dem.], of Cali- 
fornia, opposed the bill on the ground that it would 
be ineffectual — indeed, would defeat the very end aimed 
at by arousing antagonism to emancipation through 
agitating the question. 

I have seen the time when I hoped Missouri would soon 
provide for the gradual emancipation of her slaves, and it would 
have been done but for agitation. The same thing has been 
known in the history of Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, and 
Delaware. I believe that by the just administration of the Gov- 
ernment of its own affairs the legitimate course of events will 
accomplish all these results yet; but they never will be accom- 
plished by legislation. We may have this subject agitated ses- 
sion after session, year after year, Congress after Congress, 
angry discussions, expensive discussions, profitless discussions — 
Federal legislation cannot cure this evil ; it cannot be reached by 
any such medicine; for favorable times, circumstances, events, 



COMPENSATED EMANCIPATION 183 

we may hope ; but if we here undertake the management of this 
great social problem we will find that we are not merely antici- 
pating, but that we are usurping the ways of Providence, and 
assuming an office higher than any to which we have been yet 
elected. 

Lazarus W. Powell [Ky.] regarded the measure as 
*'a pill of arsenic, sugar-coated/' its object being to 
inaugurate Abolition parties in the border States. 

I happened a few nights ago, through curiosity, to go to the 
Smithsonian Institution, to hear a man of some distinction as an 
orator and lecturer in this country. There I heard this man, 
Wendell Phillips, for half an hour, and he distinctly announced, 
after eulogizing the President very highly for this message, that 
the interpretation of it was simply saying to the border slave 
State men: ''Gentlemen, if you do not take this we will take 
your negroes anyhow." That was the interpretation given to it 
by some gentlemen of the House of Representatives, and that, 
in my opinion, is the plain, distinct, and proper interpretation of 
the message, when you take it as a whole. 

Lot M. Morrill [Me.] defended the proposition of 
the President as generous and just. He could not con- 
ceive how it could possibly be offensive to any man 
who had not made up his mind to hold slavery supreme 
above the Constitution and the integrity and welfare 
of the Union. 

John B. Henderson [Dem.], of Missouri, supported 
the bill (and, indeed, thereafter acted as an emancipa- 
tionist). 

It has been urged with a great deal of power in the border 
slaveholding States that the design of the bill is to effect the 
emancipation of the slaves in the border slaveholding States, and 
then to consent to a dissolution of the Union. I have no idea 
that any such thing is really contemplated. 

The institution of slavery in the State of Missouri has not 
been sufficient, notwithstanding it has been deemed by Senators 
here to be sufficient in a great many of the States — ^because 
slavery has been charged to be the cause of all our troubles — 
to withdraw the people of my State from their allegiance to the 



184 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

Federal Oovemment. There are other interests in Missouri 
besides the interests of slavery of equal, if not superior, impor- 
tance. One of the great reasons inducing them to remain firm 
and fixed to the Union is that they will never consent to sur- 
render their right to the Mississippi River, over every inch of it, 
from the borders of Missouri to the Gulf of Mexico ; and, sir, if 
they lose all idea that that is to be an object of the majority 
here, it will inevitably affect their feelings in the future. 

We of the South have been annually frightened by some 
imaginary plot for the overthrow of slavery in the United States. 
We have been regularly informed by a race of politicians^ whose 
watchful and jealous regard for our true interests has been about 
equal to that of the Abolitionist for the negro, that unless they 
were continued in power the whole institution would be immedi- 
ately upset, the owner robbed of his property, and the negro 
made equal, if not superior, to the white man. We have listened 
to these stories, and been made alike to fear and hate the most 
unsubstantial and harmless thing on earth. 

Why was this war forced upon us, and who are its authors f 
However opposed I may be to some radical measures which have 
been introduced in Congress, and which, no doubt, are largely 
attributable to the feelings engendered by this unjustifiable war, 
yet candor compels the Union men of the border States to do 
justice to the President, and even to his friends in Congress. 
This terrible revolution was brought about by Mr. Yancey and 
his confederates, by inflaming the Southern mind against the 
dangers of Abolition, which they knew to be false. They drove 
the South to madness, to self-destruction. 

Now, sir, what has been the result of this unnecessary strife 
upon my State. In 1860 our slave population was one hundred 
and fourteen thousand nine hundred and sixty-five. Our white 
population at the same period was upward of one million. How 
is it now? I doubt whether there are fifty thousand slaves in 
the State. 

The true value of real and personal property in Missouri in 
1860 was $501,214,398. Aside from the depreciation of value, 
which no man can now estimate, and beyond the loss of slaves 
to which I have referred, I think it safe to say that ten per cent, 
of this vast amount of property has been destroyed and forever 
lost to the owners in consequence of this war — an amount equal 
to the aggregate value of all the slaves in the State at the com- 
mencement of hostilities. 

If I were to add to this the loss occasioned to the people of 
the State by the utter prostration of its agricultural, commercial. 



COMPENSATED EMANCIPATION 185 

and manufacturing interests for the last twelve months I might 
add fifty millions more to the sum already named. 

Looking, then, to my own State, I am not disposed to take 
issue with the President in regard to the future results of the 
war. I regard his expression as a prophecy, and not as a threat 
— a prophecy that I feel will be realized if this war continues. 
It is a new pledge of faith by the representatives of the people 
that this vexed question shall be left with the people of each 
State. It comes not in the spirit of arrogance, demanding con- 
formity with the views of others, but with humility acknowledg- 
ing if slavery be an evil it is a sin for which we are all respon- 
sible, and for the removal of which we are willing to come with 
practical benevolence. It means more than all this. It inti- 
mates to the States that the nation would prefer gradual to im- 
mediate emancipation, and that the measures now pending in 
Congress, looking to such results, should be superseded by one 
of conciliation and good will. 

If this spirit had been more largely cultivated in dajB gone 
by we would not this day be forced to witness a ruined South 
and a deeply oppressed North. Why, sir, ninety-six days of this 
war would pay for every slave, at full value, in the States of 
Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of 
Columbia. Nine months of the expenditures of this strife would 
have purchased all the slaves in the States named, together with 
those in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana, thus 
preserving in peace the whole of the Mississippi to the Gulf. 
Less than two years of these expenditures would have paid for 
every slave that treads the soil of the nation. If Northern men 
had treasured these things, and learned that kind words can 
accomplish more than wrath, and if Southern men had resolved 
to look upon slavery as upon other questions of moral and po- 
litical economy, and both had determined to examine this as all 
other subjects, in calmness and deliberation, we would have been 
spared the evils that now oppress us. 

Mr. President, I have made up my mind to cast my vote for 
the resolution, and to leave it with the people of my State. I 
am indifferent as to the result upon myself. I feel that it is 
altogether a change from what we have witnessed for the last 
number of years on the floor of this and the other House. In- 
stead of that wrangling controversy, instead of those rushing 
waves of tumult, of ill feeling, and of anger that have been en- 
gendered in the discussion of this question, it marches up and 
takes hold of the slavery question as a practical one, worthy of 
the calm, cool, and deliberate judgment of those in whom the 



186 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

nation has trosted its prosperity and its future greatness. Then, 
sir, I shall cast my vote for it. I regard it as no insult to the 
people of my State ; I regard it as no threat ; but I regard it as 
a measure that is conciliatory, and looks to the future peace and 
harmony of the country, and to the early restoration of the 
Union. 

On April 2 John Sherman [0.] spoke in behalf of 
the billy closing the debate. 

It is said that the resolution of the President now before us 
looks to an interference with slavery in the Statea I do not so 
construe it. It does not assert the power or advise us to inter- 
fere with slavery in the States. On the contrary, it, by necessary 
implication as strong as express denial, denies the power. If 
the State of Maryland should, in its wisdom, see fit to commence 
a system of gradual emancipation of slaves, would they not have 
the right by this bill to call upon us for aid and assistance ? We 
here announce beforehand that we will give them pecuniary aid, 
but not until they call for it. It is right that we should announce 
that doctrine. It is right that they should inaugurate that sys- 
tem ; and I believe that in the providence of Almighty God the 
system will be inaugurated more rapidly even than we now hope 
for. 

Why should we not give this aid ? By it we accomplish great 
purposes. We banish from the Halls of Congress a disturbing 
element which in some form or other will permeate this body and 
every political organization in this country. It is for the peace 
and quiet and comfort of our people we should aid any State 
desiring to emancipate their slaves. 

Besides, the policy of emancipation would tend to develop 
the resources of the States in a wonderful degree. Why, sir, I 
visited the other day the Chesapeake Bay, James River, and 
York River. It surprises me beyond expression that that mag- 
nificent region, with resources unrivaled in this country, is not 
now peopled by a million of men. When I look upon those deep 
bays, those fertile fields, requiring only energetic labor to develop 
them, when I see those marts of commerce in the very center of 
our Atlantic coast, I wonder in amazement that a million of men 
are not now crowded there, delving and striking and working 
with honest toil for an honest reward. But, sir, there is no other 
cause for this lack of development except simply that labor, 
upon which all civilization depends; labor which has built up 
New York, New England, and the West, is there degraded by 



COMPENSATED EMANCIPATION 187 

the presence of slaves, so that the master mnst live on the labor 
of the slaves, and the slaves must work for the master without 
hope of reward. 

Sixty years ago Ohio was a wilderness, now she has two and 
a half millions of people. I believe that if Virginia was a free 
State now, in thirty years from this time she would contain 
three or four millions of people. Therefore I say that, if I 
were a citizen of a border State, I would at once raise the banner 
of gradual emancipation; I would call on the general Govern- 
ment for aid, and, for one, if I should happen to be a member of 
this body, I will give that aid cordially and freely. 

But it is said that Congress by giving this aid would inter- 
fere with slavery. The resolution of the President does not say 
that Congress shall render this aid, but that the United States 
ought to cooperate. It may be necessary to call upon the States; 
and I think I can say in advance that, if Kentucky should free 
her slaves, Ohio would gladly respond to anything that Ken- 
tucky would ask. She would gladly pay the debt she owes from 
the war of 1812 by any aid that Kentucky might ask of her. 

The policy and the effect of emancipation in the border States 
would undoubtedly be to induce the slaves to go southward. 
They would commence a kind of hegira southward, and free 
people from the Old World and from the Northern States would 
go down to the border States. I have no doubt that the tide of 
emigration, having now met the vast plains and deserts of the 
West, will gradually seek a home southward. If you will wel- 
come it, avail yourself of it, use that labor to develop your 
resources, it will make the people of Kentucky and of these bor- 
der States rich, prosperous, and happy. The owner of seventeen 
hundred acres of land will be worth three times as much as his 
lands and his slaves are now worth. Labor makes everything 
and not the mere possession of land. 

I am willing, therefore, to adopt the policy of the President 
in regard to slavery in the States, to abolish slavery in this Dis- 
trict, to promote a system of voluntary colonization. I am also 
in favor of confiscation ; I think such a measure should be passed 
promptly. We must seize upon the property of these men who 
have taken up arms against the Government. Our people, when 
they come to pay taxes, will demand it. These men know it. 
They themselves are confiscating all the property of their own 
citizens who will not take up arms. Tou must in war adopt the 
laws and policy of war. I am, therefore, in favor of the most 
rigid law of confiscation against the leaders of this rebellion; 
but I would, as an act of wisdom, of amnesty, of wise forbear- 



188 GREAT AMERICAN. DEBATES 

ance, and moderation, authorize the President at any time to 
proclaim an amnesty to the great masses of the rebels. As to 
those who have led, the captains of companies, the members of 
Congress, the leaders in the rebellion, all those who have staked 
their property upon it, men of intelligence and character, I 
would, without mercy, prosecute the laws of confiscation and 
war against them to the furthest extent. Let us adopt this 
policy, guided by wise moderation, controlled by a manly ear- 
nestness and a determination to stand by each other, and I be- 
lieve the Republican party will not only save the country, but 
will put the country in a march of prosperity of which we have 
heretofore had no example. If, on the contrary, any useless 
measures of legislation, looking to extreme means, be adopted, 
prejudicing the great mass of the people of the Southern States, 
destroying their rights as citizens of those States, or reducing 
the States to Territories, it will only exasperate the people of 
those States more and more, will make conquest impossible, and 
a reunion of all the States utterly futile. I believe that by a 
wise system we may, one by one, gather these States again into 
the folds of the Union ; and if the Republican party, through its 
wisdom and ability, shall carry the country through this revolu- 
tion, I do not fear for the verdict of the popular will. I have 
heard some of my friends express a doubt, and say, ' ' let us do 
this now, because after a while we may not have the power." I 
will do what I think is right, and I have an abiding confidence 
in the people of the United States that they will stand by those 
who follow their convictions of duty with moderation and good 
Bense. 

The bill was then passed by a vote of 32 yeas, includ- 
ing Henderson, Garrett Davis [Ky.], and Waitman T. 
Willey [Va.], to 10 nays, mostly from the border States. 



Abolition of Slavebt in the Tebbitobies 

On March 24, 1862, Isaac N. Arnold [111.] introduced 
in the House a bill abolishing slavery without compensa- 
tion in every existing Territory, and prohibiting it in 
all which might be formed in the future. It was re- 
ferred to the Committee on Territories. On May 1 it 
was reported from the committee by Owen Lovejoy [HL]. 
The bill was bitterly opposed by the Democrats : Samuel 



COMPENSATED EMANCIPATION 189 

S. Cox [0.] called it a complete justification of the 
charges of the secessionists that the Republicans had 
never intended to abide by the pledges of the Chicago 
platform, and therefore that its title should be **A Bill 
for the Benefit of Secession and of Jeff. Davis/' John 
W. Crisfield [Md.] characterized the bill as **a palpable 
violation of the rights of the States, and an unwarranta- 
ble interference with private property — a fraud upon 
those States which have made cessions of land to the 
Government, and a violation of the Constitution/' 
Judge Benjamin F. Thomas [Mass.] ably opposed the 
bill because of the lack of compensation to slaveholders 
in it, and to remove this objection the feature of com- 
pensation was added. The bill was then passed by vote 
of 85 yeas, including all the Republicans and two Demo- 
crats, William T. SheflSeld [R. I.] and Judge Thomas, 
to 50 nays. 

The bill was reported in the Senate by Orville H. 
Browning [111.] on May 15, and on June 9 it was passed 
by a strict party vote of 28 yeas to 10 nays. On June 
19 it was approved by the President 

Lincoln 's Appeal to the Bobdeb States 

On July 12 President Lincoln read to the border 
State Representatives in Congress an appeal that their 
States adopt compensated emancipation. 

If the war continues loug, as it must if the object be not 
sooner attained, the institution of slavery in your States will be 
extinguished by mere friction and abrasion — ^by the mere inci- 
dents of the war. It will be gone, and you will have nothing 
valuable in lieu of it. Much of its value is gone already. 

I am pressed with a difSculty which threatens divlEdon among 
those who, united, are none too strong. An instance of it is 
known to you. General Hunter is an honest man. He was, and 
I hope stUl is, my friend. I valued him none the less for his 
agreeing with me in the general wish that all men everywhere 
could be free. He proclaimed all men free within certain 
States, and I repudiated the proclamation. He expected more 
good and less harm from the measure than I could believe would 
follow. Yet, in repudiating it, I gave dissatisfaction, if not' 



190 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

offence, to many whose support the country cannot afford to lose. 
And this is not the end of it. The pressure in this direction is 
still upon me, and is increasing. By conceding what I now 
ask you can relieve me, and, much more, can relieve the country, 
in this important point. 

In his annual message of December 1, 1862, the Presi- 
dent was forced to report on his favorite project of 
colonization that no countries were willing to accept the 
freedmen as citizens except Liberia and Hayti, and to 
these the freedmen were unwilling to migrate. 

He had, however, a more favorable report to present 
of State action in regard to compensated emancipation, 
a number of loyal slave States having initiated legisla- 
tion looking to this end. 

The passage of the Thirteenth Amendment abolish- 
ing slavery superseded Federal action in regard to com- 
pensation. 



CHAPTER Vn 

Punishment of Treason 

Thomas D. Eliot [Mass.] Introdnees in the House, and Lyman Tmmbull 
[lU.] in the Senate, a Bill to Confiscate Property of Bebels — Speeches 
against the Bill by Sen. Edgar Cowan [Pa.] and Sen. James B. Doo- 
little [Wis.]— Daniel Clark [N. H.] Introduces in Senate Bill to Eman- 
cipate Slaves of Rebels, Garrett Davis [Ky.] Opposes It — Mr. Eliot In- 
troduces Confiscation and Emancipation Bills in the House — Debate: 
in Favor, Mr. Eliot; Opposed, Benjamin F. Thomas [Mass.], Samuel 
S. Cox [O.], John Law [Ind.] — Conference of Senate and House Re- 
ports Combined Confiscation and Emancipation Bill — ^It Is Passed — No 
Punishments Inflicted for Treason. 

THE policy of punishing treason by confiscation of 
the property of rebels, at least their slaves, had 
been timidly suggested in the extra session of 
Congress (July- August, 1861), but no action was then 
taken to this end. Early in the present session it was 
more definitely proposed: on December 2, 1861, by 
Thomas D. Eliot [Mass.] in the House; and on Decem- 
ber 5, by Lyman Trumbull [111.] in the Senate. The 
proposition with various amendments, sometimes includ- 
ing other property than slaves, was hotly discussed in 
both Houses throughout the session in intervals of other 
measures, and in connection with these when they dealt 
with the question of emancipation. By all the Demo- 
crats, and by some of the more conservative Republicans, 
the proposition was denounced as utterly and glaringly 
in antagonism to the Constitution and the pledges of 
the dominant party, and as calculated to extinguish the 
last vestige of Unionism in the seceded States, and to 
imperil it in the loyal border States. Thus Edgar Cowan 
[Sep.], a Senator from Pennsylvania, said, on March 
4,1862: 

191 



192 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

Against Confiscation op Rebel Pbopbbty 

Senator Cowan 

We are standing now squarely face to face with questions of 
most pregnant significance. Shall we stand or fall hy the Con- 
stitution, or shall we leave it and adventure ourselves upon the 
wide sea of revolution f Shall we attempt to liberate the slaves 
of the people of the rebellious States, or shall we leave them to 
regulate their domestic institutions the same as before the re- 
bellion f Shall we go back to the doctrine of forfeitures which 
marked the middle ages, and introduce feuds which intervening 
centuries have not yet sufficed to quiet T These are great ques- 
tions, and they are in this bill, every one of them. 

This bill proposes, at a single stroke, to strip four millions of 
people of all their property, real, personal, and mixed, of every 
kind whatsoever, and reduce them at once to absolute poverty ; 
and that, too, at a time when four hundred thousand of them 
are in the field opposing us desperately. 

Now, sir, it does seem to me that, if there was anything in 
the world calculated to make that four millions of people and 
their four hundred thousand soldiers in the field now and for- 
ever hostile to us and our (Government, it would be the promul- 
gation of a law such as this. Will they yield to us sooner in 
view of such a result to themT What would we be likely to do 
if they were to threaten us with a similar law f Would we ever, 
under any circumstances, yield on terms like those f I need 
hardly ai^ that question to men descended from sires who re- 
fused to pay the tax on teas, and from grandsires who rose in 
rebellion and overturned a monarchy rather than pay twenty 
shillings ship money — for that, I believe, was the sum demanded 
from Hampden, and which cost Charles I his head. 

The English conquerors of Ireland, in their long series of 
forfeitures and confiscations, from the time of Strongbow down 
to the rebellion of 1798, never, at any time, ventured upon such 
a sweeping measure as this; their attainders exhausted them- 
selves upon the Irish nobility, and they never were rash Plough 
to strip the Irish people. 

I do not know the value of the property forfeited by this 
bill ; I cannot even approximate it, except to say that it is enor- 
mous — ^to be computed by billions. But, sir, the bill goes 
further, and forfeits a vast amount of property of the rebels 
which, when forfeited, cannot be confiscated or put into the 
coffers of the conquerors — ^I mean their property in negro staves. 



PUNISHMENT OF TREASON 193 

This bill would liberate perhaps three millionB of slaves surely 
the most stupendous stroke for universal emaDCipation ever be 
fore attempted m the world nay I think it equivalent if car 
ried out to a virtual liberation of the whole four imllions of 
slaves in the Union 

Now I do not mean to stop here to discuss their right to this 
species of property it is enough for me to say that all the 
people of the slave States loyal and rebellious seem to agree as 




^'l^t^.-^'}"^ "^^ 




WHAT THE THIKTY- SEVENTH CONQBESS HAS DONS 

[ConflMation Act and Bankrupt Act] 

From Ou ceOtcUoa of DM Ktu York Public Library 

to this with a wonderful unanimity, and to resent with an exces- 
sive sensibility any interference with it whatever. And, al- 
though in the bitterness of the feuds engendered by the civil 
war now raging among them, the loyalists there would be glad to 
join in inilicting upon the rebels even the severest pimishments, 
yet this one they abhor and refuse, because they aver that it 
would be equally injurious to them as to their enemies. 

But what is to be the effect of it upon the wart Will we be 
stronger after it than before; or will we find we have doubled 
the number of those in arms against uat They have now no 
cause of war; will not this measure furnish them one, and one 
they think more just a-id holy than any other! Let the loyal 
VJ— 13 



194 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

men who know them also answer this question. I will abide their 
answer. 

Those who favor this astounding bill seem determined to be- 
wilder and blind us still more hy an additional project of 
greater magnificence and, if possible, of greater difSculty; and 
that is, in the duty it imposes upon the President, of procuring 
a home for these emancipated millions in some tropical country, 
and of transporting, colonizing, and settling them there, if they 
desire to go, with guaranties for their rights as freemen ! Surely, 
sir, we must have been recently transi)orted away from the sober 
domain of practical fact, and set down in the regions of eastern 
fiction, if we can for a moment entertain this proposition seri- 
ously. Do the advocates of the scheme propose to confer upon 
the President the gold-making touch of Midas f One would 
think the universal menstruum or the philosophers' stone had 
been at last discovered. Certainly, nothing short of the ring and 
lamp of Aladdin, with their attendant genii, would enable us in 
our present condition to assure the President of his ability to 
enter upon such a task, unless, indeed, it is conceived the treas- 
ury note is of equal potency in this behalf. If so, the sovereign 
of the tropical country and the transportation companies ought 
to be consulted in regard to the legal tender clause. I supi>08e 
it is not expected that the exodus can be supported on the way 
by quails and manna ; and yet, I am free to say, it will need the 
miraculous interposition of Heaven quite as much as did that of 
the Israelites of old. 

Then there is a further consideration involved in this bill 
of still greater moment than even those I have already glanced 
at; and that is its direct conflict with the Constitution of the 
United States, requiring us, indeed, should we pass it, to set 
aside and ignore that instrument in all its most valuable and 
fundamental provisions ; those which guarantee the life, liberty, 
and property of the citizen, and those which define the boun- 
daries between the powers delegated to th%: several departments 
of the Government. 

Pass this bill, sir, and all that is left of the Constitution is 
not worth much. Certainly it is not worth a terrible and de- 
structive war, such as we now wage for it. And it must be re- 
membered that that war is waged solely for the Constitution, 
and for the ends, aims, and purposes sanctioned by it, and for 
no others. 

I am aware, however, that some think the Constitution, is a 
restraint upon the free action of the nation in the conduct of 
the war, which they suppose could be carried on a great deal 



\ 



PUNISHMENT OF TREASON 195 

better without it, etc. Now, sir, I have no hesitation in saying 
that no greater mistake ever was made in the world than is made 
by such people, because, under the Constitution, we have full 
and ample power delegated to the general (Government to enable 
it to do, in war as well as peace, everything which a Government 
ought to be allowed to do; while, at the same time, it has laid 
down accurately upon its charts all those rocks upon which 
other governments have been split and wrecked heretofore, with 
the proper prohibitions to prevent us from seeking our destruc- 
tion upon them. And I will venture to say that there is not a 
restraint it imposes which is not salutary, and which, if thrown 
oflf, will not prove most destructive. The real danger consists 
in the fact that the prohibited measures are all of them at first 
sight most plausible ; they are not roaring breakers, obvious to 
all, but sunken rocks in a calm sea, where the chart of experi- 
ence is most necessary to guide the political pilot, if he is pru- 
dent enough to take the warning. 

Congress cannot forfeit the property of rebels for longer 
than their lives, by the enactment of any law whatever, for the 
following reasons: 

1. Those persons now in rebellion, having levied war against 
the United States, are guilty of treason within the exact defi- 
nition of that crime contained in the third section of the third 
article of the Constitution, in which it is declared that 

'' Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war 
against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and com- 
fort." 

Hence, as soon as the rebels are arrested and brought within 
the power of any law we may pass, they become eo insianii^ 
traitors, and obnoxious to the punishment which is imposed by 
our statute for treason. As long, however, as the rebel is at 
large, or in the hands of the military, he cares nothing for the 
law, and is not amenable to it, because the military power can- 
not try him under the law — ^that must be done by the courts. 
But the second clause of that same section provides further, that 

"The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, 
but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture, 
except during the life of the person attainted.'' 

Therefore any law made for the guidance of the courts must 
conform to this provision, and no other or greater penalty could 

*"In that instant." 



196 GREAT AlIERICAN DEBATES 

be imposed than it would warrant. If, therefore, the law was 
to enact an absolute forfeiture of the estates of the traitor, it 
would be bad for the excess, and the judges would be obliged 
to make the sentence constitutional, either hy cutting down the 
statutory penalty to a forfeiture of his estates for life, or by 
omitting to forfeit them at alL AU this seems to me so obvious 
as not to be doubted. 

2. The power assumed in this bill is also obnoxious to the 
provisions of the Constitution, if it be assumed that Congress 
can legislate an effectual forfeiture of the estates of rebels, as 
such, without allowing them an opportunity or means of trial in 
the courts. Because, 

By the fifth amendment to the Constitution, it is provided : 

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous 
crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jurj, except in 
cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia when in actual 
service, in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject, 
for tho samo oflFence, to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor 
shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself; 
nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; 
nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensa- 
tion.'' 

Here it is attempted to deprive a large class of persons of all 
their estates and property, without any arrest, without any pre- 
sentment by a grand jury, without any trial by a petit jury, 
without, indeed, any trial at all in any court. This would be 
to deprive them of their property in the very face of the pro- 
vision requiring that it shall only be done "by due process of 
law," which, all commentators and all lawyers agree, means 
proceedings according to the course of the common law. 

I am aware that this will seem strange to some people who 
think that, as we are at war with the rebels, we ought of course 
to be able to enact any law we pleased, inflicting upon them pun- 
ishment befitting their crimes. Such people, however, will do 
well to remember that our Government is not one of absolute 
powers — it is in no respect omnipotent or restrained only by its 
own sense of propriety or policy. On the contrary, its powers 
are limited to those expressly delegated to it, and are not to be 
implied from any supposed necessity that they ought to be there, 
or that it was intended to confer them. Besides this, the powers 
actually delegated are also distributed and divided to and among 
the several departments of the Government which are to exercise 
them. These, too, must confine themselves severally to their 



PUNISHMENT OF TREASON 197 

functions as fixed by the terms of the grant. Congress has its 
party the President has his part, and the courts their part. Now 
Congress, for instance, has no power to punish anybody (except 
for contempts), and to-day, if we had half a dozen of the worst 
rebels caged here in this Chamber, we could inflict upon them 
no punishment. We could not order the sergeant-at-arms to 
hang or behead them, no matter how certain we might be of their 
guilt. Nay, more, the President himself and all his army could 
not lead them away from this hall to execution. The only way 
they could be punished at all would be to deliver them over to 
the judges — ^the proper judges — ^because no one judge might 
have a right to try all of them. Nay, it is possible every one of 
them might have to be tried by his separate judge, in his sepa- 
rate court and district. There, again, the functions of the 
judges, in such cases, are limited — a jury shares them, and its 
members are the exclusive judges of the facts, while, after the 
condemnation and judgment, the sheriff or marshal would be the 
only person having the right to execute the judgment. 

I may also further remark that it is in this limitation of the 
powers of the Government, and their distribution after the man- 
ner of the Constitution, that its great merit consists. On those 
accounts we love, cherish, and revere it ; and because it has such 
features we are now at war with all our force and treasure to 
defend and preserve it. Had we no Constitution limiting its 
powers, defining its agencies, fixing the boundaries of their rights 
and duties under it, nobody would lift a hand for it ; and if you 
make it usurp powers not granted at all, not granted to the 
usurping department, then our war for it is a great mistake if 
not a great wickedness. 

Again, this is further guarded against in the ninth section 
of the first article and third clause, as follows: 

''No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed." 

A bill of attainder was a mode of proceeding resorted to in 
England, as well as in some of the United States during the Rev- 
olution, to condemn and punish traitors, by Parliament or the 
legislature, in cases where they were out of the reach of the 
process of the courts ; nay, indeed, in many cases even after they 
were dead. In such cases the law-making branch of the Govern- 
ment supplied the want of due process of law by blending to- 
gether in one statute the law and the application of the law to 
particular persons named therein, or to a class of persons by 
description. Bills of attainder condemned the accused to death 



198 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

(if not dead already), forfeited their estates, and corrupted the 
inheritable blood of their children and heirs, so that no one 
could take any estate either from or through thein. Bills, how- 
ever, like the one under consideration, which does not propose 
to inflict capital punishment, or corrupt the blood of the offend- 
ers, but imposed other penalties of lesser grade, were called 
"bills of pains and penalties." 

It may be said the latter are not within the prohibition, and 
therefore allowable here. It is true they are not within the let- 
ter of it, but being equally within the mischief, which was that 
the legislature should in any case attempt to usurp and exercise 
the functions of the courts ; and construing the fifth amendment 
in connection, I have no doubt they are also prohibited. Indeed, 
no one can come to any other conclusion but that the convention 
which framed the Constitution intended to remove every pos- 
sibility of the usurpation, by Congress, of the power to punish 
anybody without "due process of law." 

Besides, to grant our power of passing biUs of pains and 
penalties is to nullify the whole effect of the clause, inasmuch 
as it is easy, by passing several of these against the same person, 
to make their aggregate result precisely the same as a bill of 
attainder. Such a construction would defeat the provision in- 
stead of making it avail, as intended. 

We are not left, however, without authority as to this point, 
if any were needed to give force to the reason adduced for it, 
because Judge Story, in his "Commentary on the Constitution," 
at section 1344, says: 

"But in the sense of the Constitution, it seems that bills of attainder 
include bills of pains and penalties; for the Supreme Court have said, 'A 
bill of attainder may affect the life of an individual, or may confiscate 
his property, or both.' " 

And for this he cites Fletcher vs. Peck, 6 Cranch's Reports, 
137; 1 Kent's Commentaries, sec. 19, p. 382; and this was well 
shown by the honorable Senator from California [James A. Mc- 
Dougall] . 

This, then, being, in the language of the Supreme Court, a 
bill of attainder, and in the stricter language of the common law 
a bill of pains and penalties, is clearly within the prohibition 
contained in the clause read ; and nothing which I can say is so 
apposite as the remainder of the section quoted from Judge 
Story, and from it all may see the view taken of such laws as 
this by a jurist so eminent— one, too, sitting calmly in his closet 
and free from all those exciting influences which, in troubled 



PUNISHMENT OF TREASON 199 

tiines like ours, are so apt to warp our judgments and blind our 
reason to the truth : 

"The injustice and iniquity of such acts, in general, constitute an irre- 
sistible argument against the existence of the power. In a free govern- 
ment it would be intolerable; and, in the hands of a reigning faction, it 
might be, and probably would be, abused, to the ruin and death of the 
most virtuous citizens. Bills of this sort have been most usually passed, 
in England, in times of rebellion, or of gross subserviency to the Crown, 
or of violent political' excitements — ^periods in which all nations are most 
liable (as weU the free as the enslaved) to forget their duties, and to 
trample upon the rights and liberties of others." 

I now propose to go further and argue that the exercise of 
such a power, even if it had been granted, would now be mis- 
chievous and impolitic, and that our fathers did vdsely and well 
in refusing it. By their just leniency they showed that they 
looked beyond the hour of conflict to the better day of reconcilia- 
tion, and offered a bounty to the heirs of the guilty that they 
might be loyal. I may say, too, that the civilized world, at least 
in all Christendom, have come to this same conclusion, and have 
generally purged their statute-books of such a relic of angry 
barbarism : 

"The reasons commonly assigned for these severe punishments, beyond 
the mere forfeiture of the life of the party attainted, are these: by com- 
mitting treason the party has broken his original bond of allegiance, and 
forfeited his social rights. Among these social rights, that of transmitting 
property to others is deemed one of the chief and most valuable. More- 
over, such forfeitures, whereby the posterity of the offender must suffer, 
as well as himself, will help to restrain a man, not only by the sense of 
his duty and dread of personal punishment, but also by his passions and 
natural affections; and will interest every dependent and relation he has 
to keep from offending. But this view of the subject is wholly unsatisfac- 
tory. It looks only to the offender himself, and is regardless of his inno- 
cent posterity. It really operates as a posthumous punishment upon them, 
and compels them to bear, not only the disgrace naturally attendant upon 
such flagitious crimes, but takes from them the common rights and privi- 
leges enjoyed by all other citizens, where they are wholly innocent, and 
however remote they may be in the lineage from the first offender. It 
surely is enough for society to take the life of the offender, as a just pun- 
ishment of his crime, without taking from his offspring and relatives that 
property which may be the only means of saving them from poverty and 
ruin. It is bad poUcy, too; for it cuts off all the attachments which these 
unfortunate victims might otherwise feel for their own government, and 
prepares them to engage in any other service, by which their supposed in- 
juries may be redressed, or their hereditary hatred gratified. Upon these 
and similar grounds it may be presumed that the clause was first intro- 
duced into the original draft of the Constitution; and after some amend- 
ments it was adopted without any apparent resistance. By the laws since 
passed by Congress, it is declared that no conviction or judgment, for any 



200 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

capital or other offences, shall work cormption of blood, or anj forfeiture 
of estate. The history of other countries abundantly proves that one of 
the strong incentives to prosecute offences as treason has been the chance 
of sharing in the plunder of the victims. Bapacity has been thus stimu- 
lated to exert itself in the service of the most corrupt tyranny; and tyr- 
anny has been thus furnished with new opportunities of indulging its 
malignity and revenge, of gratifying its envy of the rich and good, and of 
increasing its means to reward favorites, and secure retainers for the worst 
deeds." — Story's "Commentaries on the Constitution," See. 1500. 

In the light of this exposition let us follow the consequences 
of this bill into detail, and let us suppose its provisions fully 
carried out. Our armies have overrun the whole territories of 
the Confederate States; resistance has entirely ceased; and the 
President and his ofScers being masters of the country, they 
have time to finish the residue of their work by gathering in the 
balance of the property of the rebels not already taken to supply 
the ''military necessities" of the suppression. The rebels them- 
selves are homeless, houseless, and propertyless ; and the ques- 
tion arises, have you made them loyal by your severity! Are 
you assured their love for the Union will return again after this 
chastisement? Have you thought how they would shout at the 
sight of the glorious old banner — ^**the stars and stripes" — 
which brought them such deliverance t 

Mr. President, these people are to be again our brethren and 
kinsmen, if such a thing is possible ; but it does seem to me that, 
by such laws as this, you will make that possibility a very remote 
one. Will not their women and children hate you, and their 
children's children hate and curse you down to the latest gen- 
eration; and whenever they get a chance will they not rebel 
against you? Have you not sown the seeds of many rebellions 
by this one ill-advised act? All this might make little or no 
difference if they were of hostile race and alien enemies, and if 
we were making war upon them for conquest and subjugation. 
But that is not the fact. We have here in these Halls of Con- 
gress solemnly declared that the war was for no such purpose, 
but that it was for the purpose of compelling obedience to the 
Constitution and the laws; and I am for standing upon that 
declaration. 

The Constitution and the laws being restored and obedience 
tendered, is this law one of them ? Now, we suppose that a large 
number of people everywhere in the Confederate States were 
constrained, even by force, to join in the rebellion — are these to 
suffer upon the same scaffolds with the willing traitor; and is 
there no difference to be made between the general who betrayed 
his country and the soldier he has compelled to march at his 



PUNISHMENT OF TREASON 201 

bidding at the head of a rebel column t This bill makes none; 
and, if it did, it makes no provision to try it and determine its 
value when it is found ; the officers have seized the property, and 
the victim of force in the beginning ends by being the victim of 
wrong and injustice. To him the Constitution and laws are not 
yet restored. Again : thousands of these people have been duped 
into rebellion by being told that we of the North were all Aboli- 
tionists — ^intent, when we had the power, to wield it for the 
emancipation of their slaves, and the destruction of their social 
system. What does your bill do with these— these men, who be- 
lieved the falsehood because it was first asserted by Southern 
demagogues and then proved and corroborated by Northern 
knaves f Is there no difference here, again, between the wily 
traitor and his simple dupef This bill makes none, but includes 
within its terms the whole rebel population, of every state and 
degree, from the lordly planter down to the negro laborer; and 
the broad acres of the one, as well as the narrow hovel of the 
other, are alike forfeit under it. 

But the President and his officers ar^ to dispose of these con- 
fiscated estates. Who will buy themT What kind of neighbor- 
hood will exist between the former owner or his heirs and your 
alienees or their heirs T How the delights of this society will 
enhance the value of those estates to the purchasers, especially 
when they reflect that the forfeiture will never be forgotten in 
the family of the rebel, and that, if they have no other, they 
can transmit this inheritance to their descendants unimpaired 
for centuries! The tradition of it will sit continually by the 
hearthstone of that family a hideous specter, deathless for ages, 
prompting to revenge and inciting to rebellion. Sir, your thrifty 
purchasers will not like incumbrances such as these hanging over 
your forfeited estates ; and you might as well try to attract them 
and their capital to your vendue by promising they should be 
entitled, as appurtenant to the land offered for sale, to an Irish 
feud in perpetuity or a Corsican vendetta in fee to them and 
their heirs forever. Such titles have never been desirable. In the 
French Revolution, even when its success seemed well assured 
the holders of the assignats refused to buy the public domain 
with them, although at that time (August, 1793) the franc 
assignat had so depreciated that the metal franc was worth nine 
of them. Sir, you might as well expect capital to seek the margin 
of an extinct volcano before the lava had cooled for investments 
in real estate. The only purpose forfeitures ever served in an- 
cient times was to furnish a means of payment to the hardy 
soldier who achieved their conquest ; his title was in his sword, 



202 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

and he conld maintain it. That which is taken in war mnst be 
kept in war. Every hill must have its castle, and every march 
its wardens. But surely this is not one of the ** dispositions'* 
the President and his officers are to make of this property. 

As a Republican, standing upon the Constitution as con- 
strued by that party, I protest against this bill as being a total 
and entire departure from the principles of that instrument, 
most mischievous at this time, because it uselessly distracts, 
divides, and weakens the friends of the country when they ought 
to be united and of one accord in action, if ever such were needed 
before. In addition to this, it would make us do of all things in 
the world that which would most gratify and strengthen our 
enemies everywhere — ^worth to-day more than a hundred thou- 
sand armed men to the traitors of the South, and worth more 
than five hundred thousand votes to the would-be traitors of 
the North ; thus enabling the latter again to get control of the 
Government, to wield it as they have wielded it before. No, sir ; 
pass that bill by this Congress and every falsehood uttered and 
every design charged upon us in six years of desperate struggle 
is verified by our deliberate act, an act as useless to the country 
and to the cause in which we are engaged (apart from other 
objections) as would be a law against serfdom in Russia passed 
here. 

Sir, I hope and trust some other and better way than this 
will be found to punish those concerned in this rebeUion after 
it shall have been suppressed, and that the method adopted, 
whatever it may be, will not be one which will furnish cause for 
future revolts. Those who are to be punished at all ought to 
be punished effectually under the Constitution, and according to 
the laws they have violated; and those who are to be forgiven 
ought to be forgiven fully and freely as it becomes the majesty 
of a great nation to forgive. Having rescued the revolted States, 
and restored the dominion over them to the loyal people within 
them, I would have the traitors dealt with in such way as not 
to endanger in the future either the happiness or safety of 
such as have remained faithful through the terrible ordeal to 
which they have been subjected. In this I should consult their 
wishes and defer much to their better judgment ; but certainly 
I would not do that which, in their opinion, would leave them 
worse with the Union restored than they would be with the Con- 
federacy sustained. I would not offer bounties to make them 
rebels, neither would I impose penalties or conditions having 
the like effect. I look upon this bill as a measure of the latter 
kind — the natural consequence of which would be to give to 



PUNISHMENT OF TREASON 203 

the rebels the energy of despair, and to take from the loyalists 
every motive for fidelity. Pass this bill and the same messen- 
ger who carries it to the South will come back to us with the 
news of their complete consolidation as one man. We will then 
have done that which treason could not do; we, ourselves, will 
then have dissolved the Union; we shall have rent its sacred 
charter and extinguished the last vestige of affection for it in 
the slave States by our blind and passionate folly. 

I am well aware, sir, of the object of this second clause — 
emancipating the slaves of the rebels — ^and I know there are 
many who think that ought to be done, because they think slavery 
the only cause for the rebellion. In considering this it is well 
to remember that there are now in the world, and always will 
be, many great evils which Ood, in His wisdom and for His 
own purposes, has put out of the reach of remedy except in His 
own way and at His own time, and then His means are always 
adequate and very generally apparent. Four millions of negro 
slaves are now in bondage in the United States. Where are the 
signs of their emancipation? Have not hundreds of thousands 
of these everywhere had ample opportunities to throw off their 
chains within the last few months? Have they done so? And, 
if they have not done so, can you compel them to exchange 
voluntary servitude for involuntary freedom? I thought the 
world was old enough by this time to know that they who are 
entitled to freedom themselves must strike the blow which is 
to secure it. What blow has the negro struck for himself in this 
his fairest opportunity? His rebel master, with a madness to 
all other men incomprehensible, engaged himself in revolt, broke 
up the society in which he lived, liberated all its elements, so 
that they are free to act,- and thus tacitly invited him to assert 
his manhood? How has he availed himself of it? Why, sir, 
just in the way one might have expected; knowing nothing of 
liberty, caring nothing for it, he has remained inactive as the 
domestic animals around him, impelled, perhaps, by the same 
unconscious instinct of dependence upon the providence of a 
master wiser and stronger than himself. A child always in the 
scale of development, he may have had some child's conscious- 
ness that the boon of liberty so ostentatiously offered him by his 
over-zealous friends might prove to him fatal as the shirt of 
Nessus or the box of Pandora, and he still hesitates and hugs his 
chains. 

I have no hope of the negro yet, though, God knows, I would 
have him free, free as I am myself, if freedom be his choice, 
through the strife and agony by which he, as all men, must 



204 GREAT AllERICAN DEBATES 

purchase it. Eternal vigilance and continual struggle is the 
price of liberty. 

On May 2, 1862, James R. Doolittle [Bep.], of Wis- 
consin, spoke in the Senate upon the limitations in the 
Constitution upon the punishment for treason. 



Against Gonfisgation of Real Estate of Tbaitobs 

Senator Doolittlb 

When the Constitution was formed it was a serious question 
whether there should be any power given to the United States 
(Government to punish treason against it. Under the old Articles 
of Confederation no such power existed. It, however, is given by 
the Constitution of the United States, and the same language 
which gives it puts a limitation upon it. There is the power 
and there its limitation. There they stand side by side, put into 
the Constitution in the same clause. We cannot close our eyes 
to one and open them to the other. 

The power to suppress insurrection is a distinct and sub- 
stantive power, without limitation, except that whatever law 
shall be passed by Congress and whatever shall be done by the 
Executive in suppressing insurrection should not go beyond the 
powers usually exercised according to the modem usage of 
nations in carrying on civilized warfare— the laws of necessity 
and of humanity. 

Under this Constitution Congress is not prohibited from 
declaring that personal estate shall be forfeited upon the con- 
viction of a traitor, but that his real estate cannot be forfeited 
beyond his life upon the attainder for treason. I have received a 
copy of an able argument written by Joel Parker, who stands at 
the head of the law school of Harvard University. I find 
he makes the same distinction. He assumes it to be almost too 
clear for an argument. He says: 

"The attainder spoken of in the clause cited from the Constitution 
being such attainder as, according to the common law, results from a judg- 
ment, it seems clear that the forfeiture, which is limited by the Constitution 
to an estate for life, relates to the same general kind of property which 
was forfeited by the attainder at common law; and the language of the 
constitutional provision indicates that this was real and not personal prop- 
erty. A forfeiture of a life estate in personal property, of which the traitor 
had the absolute title, would certainly be an anomaly. But it is clear that 
the forfeiture on attainder of treason was of real property only, lands, and 



. T 



PUNISHMENT OP TREASON 205 

intereets in or rights to lands, and eonld be no other; for the forfeiture of 
the personal property of the traitor was the result of the conviction which 
preceded the judgment and the attainder. ' ' 

I will also read a sentence or two from Ghitty's Criminal 
Law: 

"There is this difference between conviction and judgment, that if the 
traitor die after conviction and before judgment he may pass his real 
estate, but not his personal property, because the goods and chattels are 
forfeited on the verdict of guilty, but the lands are not divested until the 
attainder, which is the pronouncing of the sentence of the court. ' ' 

See, also. Coke's "Commentaries on Littleton," Vol. 2, Sec. 
745. 

It is clear, therefore, that, under this clause of the Constitu- 
tion, giving to Congress the power to declare the punishment of 
treason, we may declare the absolute forfeiture of every dollar 
of the traitor's personal estate upon his conviction; but, when 
we come to touch his real estate, we can forfeit it for his life, and 
for his life only. 

I am aware that Senators here have contended that in other 
countries of the world, upon a conviction of treason, men have 
had not only their personal property confiscated absolutely, but 
their real property also. I agree to that. Such was the law 
among the Persians, the Macedonians, the Greeks, the Bomans, 
and in England, too, until they passed a law, to take effect after 
the death of the Pretender, to restrain its effect. The same 
power was exercised in this country in most if not all of the colo- 
nies during the Revolution; but not under this Constitution. 
That power was exercised before this Constitution was formed, 
when there was no such limitation upon them, when the com- 
mon law was in full force, and the judgment of attainder for- 
feited all his real estate absolutely, as his personal estate was 
forfeited upon conviction. 

It was with all these facts before them that our ancestors 
who formed the Constitution placed this limitation in it. They 
had been in rebellion themselves. In their own experience they 
had learned all there is in the passions which dictate and the 
consequences which follow attainders, forfeitures, and confisca- 
tions. They knew it all. With all the lights of human history 
before them, under the old and under the new dispensation, be- 
fore and after Christ, when they met in convention to form this 
Constitution, to found this new Government to be the light and 
the example of nations, they determined to limit the power of 
confiscating real estate to the life of the guilty party, even in 



206 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

this highest of political crimes. They determined that, to the 
extent of the homes and lands of the family, the rale should 
be, punish the guilty, but spare the innocent. 

On May 6 Senator Trumbull's bill was referred to 
a select committee of seven. The chairman, Daniel 
Clark [N. H.], duly reported the conmiittee's bill, which 
merely authorized the President, at his discretion, to 
proclaim free all slaves of persons who shall be found in 
arms against the United States thirty days after such 
proclamation. It came up for discussion on May 16, and 
Garrett Davis [Ky.] tried to amend it by providing that 
the confiscated slaves be sold, the proceeds accruing to 
the Treasury. This amendment failing (only 7 votes be- 
ing recorded in its favor), he then moved that no slave 
should be emancipated unless provision had been made 
for his inunediate colonization out of the country; this 
amendment received only 6 votes. The bill was then put 
aside in favor of the House [Eliot] bill. 

The Confiscation and Emancipation Bills 
House of Representatives, April 30-May 26, 1862 

This bill had been referred in the House to the 
Judiciary Committee, and was there reported against by 
John Hickman [Pa.], the chairman, because the Presi- 
dent had already the power that it sought to confer. It 
was then referred to a select committee of seven, of 
which Mr. Eliot was made chairman. By this com- 
mittee it was separated into two bills, one providing for 
confiscating the property of persistent rebels, and the 
other providing for emancipating their slaves, and these 
were reported on April 30. The debate on these meas- 
ures lasted for several days. Judge Benjamin F. 
Thomas [Mass.], a conservative Republican, opposed 
them as a violation both of the Constitution and the law 
of nations. 

' ' The duty of obedience to that Constitution was never more 
imperative than now. I am not disposed to deny that I have for 
it a superstitious reverence. I have 'worshipped it from my 



PUNISHMENT OF TREASON 207 

forefathers. ' In the school of rigid discipline by which we were 
prepared for it, in the struggles out of which it was bom, the 
seven years of bitter conflict, and the seven darker years in 
which that conflict seemed to be fruitless of good ; in the wisdom 
with which it was constructed and first administered and set in 
motion; in the beneficent government it has secured for more 
than two generations; in the blessed influences it has exerted 
upon the cause of freedom and humanity the world over, I can- 
not fail to recognize the hand of a guiding and loving Provi- 
dence. But not for the blessed memories of the past only do I 
cling to it. He must be blinded 'with excess of light,' or with 
the want of it, who does not see that to this nation, trembling on 
the verge of dissolution, it is the only possible bond of unity." 

Samuel S. Cox [DenL], of Ohio, asked: 

''Must these Northern fanatics be sated with negroes, taxes, 
and blood, with division North and devastation South, and peril 
to constitutional liberty everywhere, before relief shall comef 
They will not halt until their darling schemes are consununated. 
History tells us that such zealots do not and cannot go back- 
ward." 

Said John Law [Dem.], of Indiana: 

"The man who dreams of closing the present unhappy con- 
test by reconstructing this Union upon any other basis than that 
prescribed by our fathers, in the compact formed by them, is 
a madman — ^aye, worse, a traitor — and should be hung as high as 
Haman. Sir, pass these acts, confiscate under these bills the 
property of these men, emancipate their negroes, place arms in 
the hands of these human gorillas, to murder their masters and 
violate their wives and daughters, and you will have a war such 
as was never witnessed in the worst days of the French Revolu- 
tion, and horrors never exceeded in St. Domingo, for the balance 
of this century at least." 

Mr. Eliot closed the debate on May 26 with a most 
radical speech in favor of the bills. Of the Confiscation 
Bill he said : 

This bill seeks to condemn the property of the leading rebels, 
and to place the proceeds in the treasury for the purpose of help- 
ing to defray the expenses of the war, and also in aid of those 



208 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

who have been robbed by the Confederate Qovemment. All laws 
of this kind, gentlemen must be aware, must be in their terms 
severe. The rebels began to confiscate a year ago. They passed 
confiscation laws, and under those laws there is but little prop- 
erty of loyal men left in their States. We are slow in following 
their example. I am surprised that, after a year's experience of 
the effects of their confiscation schemes, and after they have 
used the property taken from loyal citizens against the Oovem- 
ment of the United States, gentlemen should come here and speak 
of this bill as being too severe. There is not a rebel of the 
classes mentioned in the bill who does not deserve to be hanged 
by the neck until he is dead. 

I believe, Mr. Speaker, that this bill will accomplish good in 
the border States. It will strengthen the hands and hearts of 
loyal men. If made effectual, it will deprive the enemy of his 
means of carrying on the war. It will help to weaken and sub- 
due him. It will increase our strength. It will, in part, indem- 
nify us against the cost of this rebellion. It will give the prop- 
erty of rebels, first, to their creditors in loyal States; and, sec- 
ondly, it will provide a means of indemnity for loyal men whose 
property, owned in rebellious States, has been taken from them. 

Sir, when it is argued that this bill affects men who are dupes 
of ambitious leaders, I cannot but be struck with the audacity of 
such a proposition. Who are the dupes named in the first sec- 
tion of the bill? Are the President and Vice-President of this 
rebel Confederacy dupes f Are the members of Congress, mem- 
bers of the cabinet, members of the legislatures, members of con- 
ventions, high ofScers of the Confederacy or of different States, 
dupes f Have they not good sense enough to know what they are 
doing f Are they not conscious and willful rebels, and enemies 
against their Government f Are they not at war with usY Does 
any sane man believe they do not mean what they are doing, and 
that they do not know what they meanf Are they dupes Y Sir, 
if we are deceived by such arguments against our bills we shall 
be the dupes, and the enemy, as they wage this war and confis- 
cate our property, will hold us in derision. 

The Confiscation Bill was passed by a vote of 82 
to 68. The Emancipation Bill was next taken up and 
defeated by a vote of 74 yeas (all Republican) to 78 
nays (15 of which were Republicans). It was then re- 
considered, and, after elimination of its harsher features, 
was passed by a vote of 82 to 54. 



PUNISHMENT OF TREASON 209 

The House Confiscation Bill was amended in the 
Senate on motion of Daniel Clark [N, H.] by the addi- 
tion of provisions under certain conditions of emancipa- 
tion of slaves, and, on June 28, passed by a vote of 
28 to 13, The House refused by a vote of 8 yeas to 124 
nays to concur in this action, whereupon a joint con- 
ference of the two Houses was brought about, which 
presented a combined Confiscation and Emancipation 
BUI. 

This bill passed the House by 82 yeas to 42 nays, and 
the Senate by 27 yeas to 12 nays, and was approved by 
the President on July 17, In its final form the bill con- 
tained the following provisions : 

The slaves of the person convicted of treason performed after 
the passage of the act should be set free, and he himself should 
either suffer death, or be imprisoned not less than five years and 
fined not less than $10,000, at the discretion of the court. A per- 
son convicted of assisting rebellion was to have his slaves lib- 
erated, and himself be imprisoned not less than ten years, or 
fined not over $10,000, or suffer both penalties, all at the discre- 
tion of the court. Persons convicted under the act were perma- 
nently disqualified to hold o£Sce under the United States. The 
President was authorized to confiscate for the support of the 
army the property of any one of several enumerated classes of 
persons, namely: (1) rebel military and naval o£Seers; (2) offi- 
cers of the Confederate government; (3) officers of Confederate 
State governments; (4) all other citizens of seceded States who 
do not within sixty days after the President's proclamation of 
this act return to their allegiance to the United States; and (5) 
those citizens of loyal States and Territories who assist rebellion. 
Fugitive and captured slaves of rebels were deemed captives of 
war by the act, and ordered to be set free. Fugitive slaves of 
loyal owners were to be returned to them on their taking oath 
that they had not aided the rebellion ; the civil authorities were 
to return these slaves — in no case the military or naval authori- 
ties. The President was authorized at his discretion to employ 
negroes to suppress the rebellion; and to colonize free negroes in 
some tropical country beyond the limits of the United States, as 
well as to proclaim amnesty to rebels. 

Al the end of the rebellion there were no prosecu- 
tions for treason. Says Alexander Johnston, in his 
*' American Political History*': 

VI— u 



210 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

It has been roundly asserted that the reason for this was the 
consciousness of the Government of the United States that it had 
been illegally suppressing a misnamed rebellion, that treason 
could only hold against a State, and that Jefferson Davis and 
his associates had committed no crime and engaged in no treason, 
in any sense known to the Constitution or its framers. Those 
who so argue forget that Mr. Davis, at least, was no prisoner of 
war ; that his surrender was unconditional and in a territory un- 
der military occupation; and that, if there had been any such 
impotent spite against him as this theory assignd to the Govern- 
ment, a drum-head court-martial and a file of men would quickly 
have made it patent, treason or no treason. The fact seems to 
be that his escape was due entirely to lack of spite. The col- 
lapse of the rebellion had been too complete to allow of spite. 
The nation stood aghast as it realized the thoroughness of its 
work; and its controlling impulse was to efface as rapidly as 
possible all evidences of the conflict. Treason trials would have 
been a festering sore in the body politic, and they were avoided. 



CflAPTEB Vin 
Emancipation 

Union Victory at Antietam [Sharpsburg], Md. — ^Preaideiit Lincoln Issues 
the Emancipation Proclamation — He Forestalls Objections to It in an 
Address on Colonization to Negro Deputation; in a Letter to Horace 
Greeley, Replying to His ''Prayer of Twenty Millions," and in an 
Address on Emancipation to a Beligious Delegation — ^The Preliminary 
Proclamation — Its Reception by the Country and Europe — ^The Pinal 
Proclamation — Second Annual Message of the President; It Treats of 
Compensated Emancipation and the Relative Advantages of Retaining 
Freedmen in the Country and Deporting Them; and Pleads That Con- 
gress and the Country Aid Him in His Plan for Saving the Union — 
Reply of William A. Richardson (Dem.); of Illinois, to the Message: 
<< Enslaving the Whites to Free the Blacks." 

THE Union victory at Antietam [Sharpsburg], Md., 
on September 18-19, 1862, precipitated the eman- 
cipation proclamation of President Lincoln. 

By the advice of William H. Seward, Secretary of 
State, Lincoln had only been waiting for a Union victory 
to declare an emancipation proclamation applying to 
slaves in the disloyal States. Not only did he believe 
that, as commander-in-chief of the army and navy of 
the Republic, he had a constitutional right to issue the 
proclamation as a war measure, but he was fortified by 
the special authorization of Congress to do so at his 
discretion. Late in July or early in August he had 
announced to the Cabinet his determination to issue such 
a proclamation. 

After the President had determined to issue the 
proclamation he set himself to forestall the objections 
which he knew the document would call forth, such as: 
that it was intended to establish negro, equality; that 
it proved the insincerity of the declared purpose of the 
Administration to save the Union by showing this to 

211 



■i 



212 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

have been from the beginning to free the slave, etc. On 
August 14, addressing a deputation of negroes on the 
subject of colonization, he said, in regard to the vexed 
question of race equality: 

Why should the people of your race leave the country T It 
is because you and we are different races. We have between us 
a broader physical difference than exists between any other two 
races. Whether this is right or wrong I need not discuss; but 
this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both. Your 
race suffer greatly, many of them, by living among us, while ours 
suffer from your presence. This affords a reason why we should 
be separated. Your rafee is suffering, in my judgment, the great- 
est wrong inflicted on any people. But, even when you cease to 
be slaves, you are yet far remote from being placed on an equal- 
ity with the white race. You are cut off from many of the ad- 
vantages which the other race enjoys. The aspiration of men is 
to enjoy equality with the best when free, but on this broad con- 
tinent not a single man of your race is made the equal of a sin- 
gle man of ours. Go where you are treated the best, and the ban 
is still upon you. I do not propose to discuss this — ^but to pre- 
sent it as a fact with which we have to deal. I cannot alter it if 
I would. ... I believe in its general evil effects on the white 
race. See our present condition — white men cutting one an- 
other's throats — none knowing how far it will extend. . . . But 
for your race among us there could not be war, although many 
men engaged on either side do not care for you one way or the 
other. ... It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated. 

On August 19, 1862, Horace Greeley, in his paper, 
the New York Tribu7iey addressed a letter to the Presi- 
dent some weeks after this, entitled **The Prayer of 
Twenty Millions," exliorting Mr. Lincoln not to proclaim 
all the slaves in our country free, but to execute the laws 
of the land which operated to free large classes of the 
slaves of rebels. It concluded as follows : 

**0n the face of this wide earth, Mr. President, there is not 
one disinterested, determined, intelligent champion of the Union 
cause who does not feel that all attempts to put down the re- 
bellion, and at the same time uphold its inciting cause, are pre-' 
posterous and futile — ^that the rebellion, if crushed out to-mor- 
row, would be renewed within a year if slavery were left in full 



I 

I 



EMANCIPATION 213 

vigor — that army officers, who remain to this day devoted to 
slavery, can at best be but halfway loyal to the Union — and that 
every hour of deference to slavery is an hour of added and deep- 
ened peril to the Union. I appeal to the testimony of your em- 
bassadors in Europe. It is freely at your service, not mine. Ask 
them to tell you candidly whether the seeming subserviency of 
your policy to the slaveholding slavery-upholding interest is not 
the perplexity, the despair of statesmen of all parties ; and be ad- 
monished by the general answer ! 

What an immense majority of the loyal millions of your coun- 
trymen require of you is a frank, declared, unqualified, un- 
grudging execution of the laws of the land, more especially of 
the Confiscation Act. The rebels are everywhere using the late 
anti-negro riots in the North — as they have long used your offi- 
cers' treatment of negroes in the South — to convince the slaves 
that they have nothing to hope from a Union success — that we 
mean in that case to sell them into a bitter bondage to defray 
the cost of the war. Let them impress this as a truth on the 
great mass of their ignorant and credulous bondmen, and the 
Union will never be restored — ^never. We cannot conquer ten 
millions of people united in solid phalanx against us, power- 
fully aided by Northern sympathizers and European allies. 
We must have scouts, guides, spies, cooks, teamsters, diggers, 
and choppers, from the blacks of the South — whether we allow 
them to fight for us or not — or we shall be baffled and repelled. 
As one of the millions who would gladly have avoided this 
struggle at any sacrifice but that of principle and honor, but 
who now feel that the triumph of the Union is indispensable 
not only to the existence of our country but to the well-being of 
mankind, I entreat you to render a hearty and unequivocal 
obedience to the law of the land. 

The President replied to this appeal by telegraph 
on August 22, 1862. 

As to the policy which I "seem to be pursuing," as you 
say, I have not meant to leave anyone in doubt. I would have 
the Union. I would have it in the shortest way under the Con- 
stitution. 

The sooner the national authority can be restored, the nearer 
the Union will be the Union as it was. 

If there be those who would not save the Union unless they 
could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. 

If there be those who would not save the Union unless they 



•*- 



214 



GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 



could at the same time destroy alaveiy, I do not a^ree with 
them. 

My paramount object is to save the Union, and not either 
to save or destroy slavery. 

If I could save the Uniou without freeiog any slave, I would 
do it — if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it — 
and if 1 could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I 
would also do that. 




LIHCOLN CBOBSINO NlAOA&l 

[Suggested Y>j a feat of Bloodin, the tigtit-rope nalker] 



What I do about slavery and the colored race I do because 
I believe it helps to save this Union; and, what I forbear, I 
forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the 
Union. 

I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing 
hurts the cause ! and I shall do more whenever I believe doing 
more will help the cause. 

I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors ; and I 
shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true 
views. 



EMANCIPATION 215 

I have here stated my purpose according to my views of offi- 
cial duty ; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed per- 
sonal wish that all men ever3rwhere could be free. 

But the most astute of the President's preparatory 
statements was his reply, on September 13, to a com- 
mittee from the religious denominations of Chicago ask- 
ing him to issue a proclamation of emancipation. In 
this he reviewed the arguments for the proclamation 
as if he were an opponent of them, and so, by admitting 
their cogency, he put himself, when ultimately he did 
issue the proclamation, in the politically advantageous 
position of being forced to do so. Also, by bringing ex- 
pediency as a consideration to the fore, he prepared 
the country for an indefinite postponement of emanci- 
pation, which would be the case if there was delay in 
achieving the victory upon which its promulgation de- 
pended. The President said: 

The subject presented in the memorial is one upon which 
I have thought much for weeks past, and I may even say for 
months. I am approached with the most opposite opinions and 
advice, and that by religious men who are equally certain that 
they represent the Divine will. I am sure that either the one 
or the other class is mistaken in that belief and perhaps in 
some respects both. I hope it will not be irreverent for me to 
say that, if it is probable that God would reveal his will to others 
on a point so connected with my duty, it might be supposed He 
would reveal it directly to me ; for, unless I am more deceived 
in myself than I often am, it is my earnest desire to know the 
will of Providence in this matter. And if I can learn what it 
is I will do it. These are not, however, the days of miracles, 
and I suppose it will be granted that I am not to expect a direct 
revelation. I must study the plain physical facts of the case, 
ascertain what is possible, and learn what appears to be wise 
and right. . . . 

What good would a proclamation of emancipation from me 
do, especially as we are now situated f I do not want to issue a 
document that the whole world will see must necessarily be in- 
operative, like the Pope's bull against the comet! Would my 
word free the slaves, when I cannot even enforce the Constitu- 
tion in the rebel States f Is there a single court, or magistrate, 
or individual that would be influenced by it there T And what 



216 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

reason is there to think it would have any greater effect upon 
the slaves than the late law of Congress, which I approved, and 
which offers protection and freedom to the slaves of rebel masters 
who come within our lines? Yet I cannot learn that that law 
has caused a single slave to come over to us. And suppose they 
could be induced by a proclamation of freedom from me to 
throw themselves upon us, what should we do with themf How 
can we feed and care for such a multitude T General Butler 
wrote me a few days since that he was issuing more rations to 
the slaves who have rushed to him than to all the white troops 
under his command. They eat, and that is all ; though it is true 
General Butler is feeding the whites also by the thousands ; for 
it nearly amounts to a famine there. If, now, the pressure of 
the war should call off our forces from New Orleans to defend 
some other point, what is to prevent the masters from reducing 
the blacks to slavery again; for I am told that whenever the 
rebels take any black prisoners, free or slave, they immediately 
auction them off ! They did so with those they took from a boat 
that was aground in the Tennessee River a few days ago. And 
then I am very ungenerously attacked for it! For instance, 
when, after the late battles at and near Bull Run, an expedition 
went out from Washington under a flag of truce to bury the 
dead and bring in the wounded, and the rebels seized the blacks 
who went along to help, and sent them into slavery, Horace 
Greeley said in his paper that the Government would probably 
do nothing about it. What could I do ? 

Now, then, tell me, if you please, what possible result of 
good would follow the issuing of such a proclamation as you 
desire? Understand, I raise no objections against it on legal or 
constitutional grounds, for, as commander-in-chief of the army 
and navy, in time of war I suppose I have a right to take any 
measure which may best subdue the enemy ; nor do I urge objec- 
tions of a moral nature, in view of possible consequences of 
insurrection and massacre at the South. I >new this matter as 
a practical war measure, to be decided on according to the ad- 
vantages or disadvantages it may offer to the suppression of the 
rebellion. 

The committee at this point replied to the President's 
objection that the measure was inexpedient, by contend- 
ing that it would secure at once the sympathy, hereto- 
fore in suspense, of England and France, and, indeed, of 
the whole civilized world; further, that, as slavery was 
dearljr the root of the rebellion, it must be eradicated 






EMANCIPATION 217 

if the war was to be decisively ended. The President 
said: 

I admit that slavery is at the root of the rebellion, or at least 
its sine qua non. The ambition of politicians may have insti- 
gated them to act, but they would have been impotent without 
slavery as their instrument. I will also concede that emancipa- 
tion would help us in Europe, and convince them that we are 
incited by something more than ambition. I grant, further, 
that it would help somewhat at the North, though not so much, 
I fear, as you and those you represent imagine. Still, some 
additional strength would be added in that way to the war, and 
then, unquestionably, it would weaken the rebels by drawing 
oflf their laborers, which is of great importance; but I am not 
so sure we could do much with the blacks. If we were to arm 
them, I fear that in a few weeks the arms would be in the hands 
of the rebels; and, indeed, thus far, we have not had arms 
enough to equip our white troops. I will mention another 
thing, though it meet only your scorn and contempt. There are 
fifty thousand bayonets in the Union army from the border 
slave States. It would be a serious matter if, in consequence 
of a proclamation such as you desire, they should go over to 
the rebels. I do not think they all would — not so many, in- 
deed, as a year ago, or as six months ago — not so many to-day 
as yesterday. Every day increases their Union feeling. They 
are also getting their pride enlisted, and want to beat the rebels. 
Let me say one thing more: I think you should admit that 
we already have an important principle to rally and unite the 
people, in the &ot that constitutional government is at stake. 
This is a fandainental idea, going down about as deep as 
anything. 

In dismissing the committee he said assuringly : 

Do not misunderstand me because I have mentioned these 
objections. They indicate the di£Sculties that have thus far 
prevented my action in some such way as you desire. I have 
not decided against a proclamation of liberty to the slaves, 
but hold the matter under advisement. And I can assure you 
that the subject is on my mind, by day and night, more than 
any other. Whatever shall appear to be God's will, I will do. 
I trust that in the freedom with which I have canvassed your 
views I have not in any respect injured your feelings. 

Already fhe President had laid the event in the hands 



218 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

of God by vowing to issue the proclamation if Lee were 
driven back over the Potomac. This result of the battle 
of Antietam was not at once apparent As Lincoln said 
to George S. Boutwell: **The battle of Antietam w^as 
fought Wednesday, and until Saturday I could not find 
out whether we had gained a victory or lost a battle. 
It was then too late to issue the proclamation that day, 
and ... I fixed it up a little Sunday, and Monday 
(September 22) I let them have it." 

In accordance with the request of Mr. Lincoln Secre- 
tary Seward suggested a few minor changes in the docu- 
ment, which were indorsed by his colleagues and accepted 
by the President. The proclamation then received the 
unqualified approval of the entire Cabinet except Post- 
master-General Blair, who, while personally in favor 
of it, expressed apprehension of its evil eflfect on the 
border States and the army, which contained many op- 
ponents of Abolition. He asked leave to file a paper 
which he had prepared on the subject with the proclama- 
tion. This the President readily granted. Secretary 
Blair, however, changed his mind over night, and next 
morning withdrew his objections. The proclamation was 
published in the newspapers of the 23d. As the Presi- 
dent said in response to a serenade from approving 
Washington citizens at the White House that evening: 
**It [was] now for the country and the world to pass 
judgment, and, may be, take action upon if 

The Emancipation Proclamation 

The proclamation, after solemnly affirming that the 
purpose of the war was, and should continue to be, 
the restoration of the Union, and promising measures 
of compensated emancipation to those slave States which 
should adhere or return to the Union, and of colonization 
to the freedmen, declared that on January 1, 1863, **aU 
persons held as slaves within any State, or designated 
part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in re- 
bellion against the United States, shall be then, thence- 
forward, and forever free.*' 



EMANCIPATION 219 

The country quickly gave its approval of the proc- 
lamation in the most official way possible at the time. 
When Confederate invasion of Pennsvlvania was im- 
minent Governor Andrew G. Curtin of that State had 
invited the governors of the Northern States to meet 
at Altoona on September 24 to consult on emergency 
measures for the common defence. Before this date 
arrived the defeat of Lee had removed the original 
purpose of the convocation, and the governors, after 
spending a day or so at Altoona in a helpful exchange of 
information upon military methods employed by their 
several States, proceeded to Washington and presented 
a written address to the President, pledging their sup- 
port in suppressing the rebellion, with the recommenda- 
tion that an army of 100,000 men be held in reserve 
at home ready for such emergencies as that which had 
recently occurred. To this was added an indorsement 
of the new proclamation. All the governors of the loyal 
States, those who were present, and the absentees to 
whom it was shortly sent, signed that portion relating 
to the suppression of rebellion, and all but the governors 
of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Mis- 
souri signed the indorsement of the proclamation. 

The measure was acclaimed by the newspapers in 
general and by men of prominence all over the country. 
Nevertheless the President deplored the absence of ma- 
terial results. On September 28 he wrote to Vice-Presi- 
dent Hamlin in reply to his congratulation upon the 
proclamation : 

It is six days old, and, while commendation in newspapers 
and by distinguished individuals is all that a vain man could 
wish, the stocks have declined and troops come forward more 
slowly than ever. This, looked soberly in the face, is not very 
satisfactory. We have fewer troops in the field at the end of 
the six days than we had at the beginning — the attrition among 
the old outnumbering the addition by the new. The North re- 
sponds to the proclamation suflSciently in breath; but breath 
alone kills no rebels. 

The passage of the Emancipation and Confiscation 



220 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

Acts of Congress, followed as these were by the Eman- 
cipation Proclamation of the President, converted the 
Opposition, which had hitherto with few exceptions sup- 
ported every other measure for the suppression of the 
rebellion, into a peace party. A number of Democrats 
continued to support the Administration in the vigorous 
prosecution of the war, and, in order to admit these 
into their ranks without committing them to other than 
the war issues, the Republicans assumed temporarily 
the character and designation of a ''Union" party. 
''Union League" clubs for the support of the Adminis- 
tration began to spring up in the large cities of the 
country. By strenuous appeals to patriotism the Union 
party, in the congressional elections of the fall of 1862, 
retained its majority of Representatives, although with 
greatly decreased pluralities. 

Abroad the proclamation secured inmiediately and 
enduringly the sympathy of the common people and 
their representative statesmen for the Northern cause, 
and so sounded the knell of Southern expectations of 
foreign aid and intervention. 

Lincoln's Proposed Emancipation Amendments to the 

Constitution 

In his annual message of December 1, 1863, the Presi- 
dent proposed amendments to the Constitution which 
would provide compensation in the form of United 
States bonds to those States or loyal individuals which 
should free the slaves under their control at any time 
before January 1, 1900, and which would authorize Con- 
gress to colonize f reedmen abroad. The articles he dis- 
cussed at length, advocating them as embodying a plan 
of mutual concession between loyal and honest slave- 
holders and loyal and honest Abolitionists. 

Doubtless some of those who are to pay, and not to receive, 
will object. Yet the measure is both just and economical. In 
a certain sense the liberation of slaves is the destruction of 
property — property acquired by descent or by purchase, the 
same as any other property. It is no less true for having been 



EMANCIPATION 221 

often said that the people of the South are not more responsi- 
ble than are the people of the North; and when it is remem- 
bered how unhesitatingly we all use cotton and sugar and share 
the profits of dealing in them, it may not be quite safe to say 
that the South has been more responsible than the North for 
its continuance. If, then, for a common object this property is 
to be sacrificed, is it not just that it be done at a common 
charge ? 

Of the economic advantage of this plan the Presi- 
dent said, prophesying a population at the end of the 
century of 100,000,000 : 

The proposed emancipation would shorten the war, per- 
petuate peace, insure this increase of population, and propor- 
tionately of the wealth of the country. With these we should 
pay all the emancipation would cost, together with our other 
debt, easier than we should pay our other debt without it. 

On the subject of the competition of the freedmen 
with white laborers the President remarked at length, 
presenting economic arguments as to the relative advan- 
tages of retaining the freedmen in the country and of 
deporting them. 

I cannot make it better known than it already is that I 
strongly favor colonization. And yet I wish to say there is an 
objection urged against free colored persons remaining in the 
country which is largely imaginary if not sometimes malicious. 

It is insisted that their presence would injure and displace 
white labor and white laborers. If there ever could be a proper 
time for mere catch arguments, that time surely is not now. In 
times like the present men should utter nothing for which they 
would not willingly be responsible through time and in eternity. 
Is it true, then, that colored people can displace any more 
white labor by being free than by remaining slaves? If they 
stay in their old places, they jostle no white laborers; if they 
leave their old places, they leave them open to white laborers. 
Logically, there is neither more nor less of it. Emancipation, 
even without deportation, would probably enhance the wages 
of white labor, and very surely would not reduce them. Thus, 
the customary amount of labor would still have to be performed ; 
the freed people would surely not do more than their old pro- 
portion of it, and very probably for a time would do less, leav- 



222 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

ing an increased part to white laborers, bringing their labor 
into greater demand, and consequently enhancing the wages of 
it. With deportation, even to a limited extent, enhanced wages 
to white labor is mathematically certain. Labor is like any 
other commodity in the market — increase the demand for it and 
you increase the price of it. Reduce the supply of black labor 
by colonizing the black laborer out of the country, and by 
precisely so much you increase the demand for, and wages of, 
white labor. 

But it is dreaded that the freed people will swarm forth 
and cover the whole land? Are they not already in the land? 
Will liberation make them any more numerous? Equally dis- 
tributed among the whites of the whole country, and there 
would be but one colored to seven whites. Could the one in 
any way greatly disturb the seven? There are many communi- 
ties now having more than one free colored person to seven 
whites, and this without any apparent consciousness of evil from 
it. The District of Columbia and the States of Maryland and 
Delaware are all in this condition. The District has more than 
one free colored to six whites ; and yet in its frequent petitions 
to Congress I believe it has never presented the presence of free 
colored persons as one of its grievances. But why should eman- 
cipation south send the free people north ? People of any color 
seldom run unless there be something to run from. Heretofore 
colored people, to some extent, have fled north from bondage; 
and now, perhaps, from both bondage and destitution. But, if 
gradual emancipation and deportation be adopted, they will have 
neither to flee from. Their old masters will give them wages 
at least until new laborers can be procured ; and the freedmen, 
in turn, will gladly give their labor for the wages till new homes 
can be found for them in congenial climes and with people of 
their own blood and race. This proposition can be trusted on 
the mutual interests involved. And, in any event, (cannot the 
North decide for itself whether to receive them ? 

He said in conclusion: 

It is doubted, then, that the plan I propose, if adopted, 
would shorten the war, and thus lessen its expenditure of 
money and of blood? Is it doubted that it would restore the 
national authority and national prosperity, and perpetuate both 
indefinitely? Is it doubted that we here — Congress and Execu- 
tive — can secure its adoption? Will not the good people re- 
spond to a united and earnest appeal from ust Can we, can 



EMANCIPATION 223 

they, by any other means so certainly or so speedily assure 
these vital objects? We can saccecd only by concert. It is 
not **Can any of us imagine better?" but '*Can we all do bet- 
ter?*' Object whatsoever is possible, still the question occurs, 
'*Can we do better?" The dogmas of the quiet past are inade- 
quate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with 
difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is 
new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disen- 
thrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. 

Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Con- 
gress and this administration will be remembered in spite of 
ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare 
one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass 
will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest genera- 
tion. We say we are for the Union. The world will not for- 
get that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The 
world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here — 
hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom 
to the slave we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in 
what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or 
meanly lose the last, best hope of earth. Other means may suc- 
ceed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, gener- 
ous, just — ^a way which, if followed, the world will forever 
applaud, and God must forever bless. 



Acts of Cokobess 

Congress failed to legislate upon the subject of com- 
pensated emancipation; the Senators and Representa- 
tives from the border States holding that Congress 
under the Constitution had no authority to appropriate 
public money for such a purpose. 

In other respects Congress loyally upheld the hands 
of the President. It ratified his suspension of the writ 
of habeas corpus in the cases of persons suspected of 
treason, and broadly authorized him to suspend the writ 
in the future **at such times, and in such places, and 
with regard to such persons, as in his judgment the 
public safety may require.'* An act was passed to en- 
roll and draft in the national service the militia of the 
whole country, each State contributing its quota in the 
ratio of its population. By this the nation's power to 



224 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

compel the military services of its citizens was for the 
first time declared and maintained. 

Of the attacks made by the opposition upon the 
President's message the following, delivered in the 
House on December 8 by William A. Richardson [111.], 
is typical : 

Enslaving the Whites to Free the Blacks 
Attack on the President's Message 
By WujUAm a. Richardson, M. C. 

Sir, it is a remarkable document. It is an extraordinary 
message, when we come to think of its sum and substance. To 
feed, clothe, buy, and colonize the negro we are to tax and 
mortgage the white man and his children. The white race is to 
be burdened to the earth for the benefit of the black race. 

A friend of mine from New England the other day made a 
mathematical analysis of the message. He said, one from one 
and naught remains. Naught from naught and the message is 
the result. [Laughter.] 

So far as it relates to the white race, that mathematical cal- 
culation is right. So far as it relates to the negro, or, in the 
court language of the President, the * * free American of African 
descent, ' ' rivers of blood and countless millions of treasure are 
not enough for his benefit and advantage. 

Now, sir, when our people have anxiously looked to the mes- 
sage from the President of the United States to learn what they 
have to hope of a restored Union, and a return of the blessings 
of peace once more to their firesides, by inference we learn, if not 
directly, that, if we will carry out all of the President's plans, 
if we will carry out his schemes, thirty-seven years from now 
the people may again behold the restoration of the Union and 
the return of peace. True, the message states that at the end 
of those thirty-seven years but few of us will then be living to 
enjoy the blessings we once enjoyed in this now distracted and 
divided country. 

But, Mr. Chairman, there are a few passages in the message 
so extraordinary, so wonderful, that they require at least a 
passing notice. There has been, and still is, a great anxiety 
felt and expressed by our people that this negro population shall 
not interfere with them; that it shall not jostle them in the 
occupations they have heretofore pursued in the various indos- 



EMANCIPATION 225 

trial pursuits of life in the great fertile regions of the West. 
The President tells our people, those who supported him because 
they believed he and his party intended to keep the non-slave- 
holding States and all the Territories of the Union for the sole 
occupation of the white race, if you do not like my plan of 
disposing of this black race; if you fear from their introduc- 
tion among you that their labor will be brought into compe- 
tition with that of your own, all you have to do to avoid this 
competition is to quietly leave your present fields of labor, homes 
to which, perhaps, you may be attached, and the graves of 
your kindred, and emigrate southward, and occupy the places 
made vacant by the exodus of what His Excellency terms the 
**free Americans of African descent/' That is the sum and 
substance of it. 

But, for sake of argument, admit, if you choose, that all the 
plans of the President touching emancipation and colonization 
of the negro were to-day successfully carried out, what would 
it accomplish in the great work of restoring the Union? Noth- 
ing — worse than nothing. 

The President recommends in his annual message three prop- 
ositions to amend the Constitution of the United States. The 
first, second, and third are for the benefit of the negro. The 
people are sick and tired of this eternal talk upon the negro, 
and they have expressed that disgust unmistakably in the recent 
elections. The President's proposed amendments as a whole, or 
either of them, could not receive the suffrages of a majority of 
the people of more than two States of this Union. 

While upon this subject I desire to call the attention of the 
committee to a single feature in relation to these amendments. 
In the message he recommends an amendment to the Consti- 
tution as follows: 

"Art. — . Congress may appropriate money, and otherwise provide 
for colonizing free colored persons, with their own consent, at any place or 
places without the United States." 

In this recommendation he seeks to give power to do what 
he claims he has the power to do without it ; and by this recom- 
mendation he admits he has been exercising unauthorized and 
illegal authority. Is not this in itself an admission that the 
Constitution, unamended, grants no power to Congress or the 
Executive to appropriate or use the money of the people for 
any purposes contemplated in this amendment ? He calls upon 
us to compromise. What compromise is that? For whom does 
he propose a compromise? WTiat for? In order that you may 

VI— 15 



226 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

have more power to advance the negro. That is all there is to it, 
and there is nothing less of it. He tells us there are differ- 
ences of opinion among the friends of the Union "in regard 
to slavery and the African race among us." He says, to all of 
those who differ with him, surrender your convictions and come 
to my plan — and he calls that compromise ! Compromise ! Yes, 
I trust in God the day is not far distant when the people of this 
country will compromise and save the Constitution and the 
Union for the white people, and not for the black people. Our 
people are for no other compromise than that. 

There are other portions of the message upon which I should 
like to bestow some attention, but I will forbear to do so now, 
for I desire to call the attention of the committee to another 
proposition of the President which is connected with this sub- 
ject. 

The proclamation of the 22d of September last, issued by 
the President, took the country by surprise, and no one of the 
citizens more than myself. I had fondly hoped and been anx- 
ious that the President of the United States should so conduct 
himself in his high office as Chief Magistrate that I could lend 
him my support. I have been driven, with thousands of others, 
into opposition to the policy contained in that proclamation, for 
reasons which must commend themselves to every reflecting man 
sincerely desirous of terminating this war and suppressing the 
rebellion. 

Mr. Lincoln, on the 4th of March, 1861, on the east j>ortico 
of this Capitol, took a vow, which he said was registered in 
Heaven, to support the Constitution of the United States. In 
his inaugural address delivered on that occasion he said he 
had no lawful authority or inclination to interfere with the 
institution of slavery in the States where it exists. In his 
proclamation of the 22d of September last he assumes that he 
has power to forever free **all persons held as slaves within any 
State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall be 
in rebellion against the United States," thus violating the pledge 
so solemnly made in his inaugural address. 

If the object of the proclamation was not to aid the rebel- 
lion, its effect was. It has strengthened the rebellion by driving 
into their army every person in the South that it was possible 
to drive there. Was its intent to affect those alone in rebellion 1 
Certainly not. The slaves of every man in a rebellious State 
were to be free. The loyal man owning twenty slaves and the 
man in the rebel army owning a like number were by that 
proclamation to be affected precisely the same. The object of 



EMANCIPATION 227 

the proclamation was to benefit the negro, not to restore the 
(Jovernment or preserve the Constitution. It was nothing more, 
nothing less. It goes a bow-shot beyond anything done by this 
House at the last session of Congress. 

But again. If the proclamation is to be carried into effect, 
the war must continue until every slave is free. If every rebel 
should lay down his arms on the 2d day of January next, or 
any subsequent day, and submit himself to the laws and Con- 
stitution of the United States, the war would still have to go 
on, unless the slaves were all free, for the proclamation declares 
that **the executive Government of the United States, including 
the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and 
maintain the freedom of such persons." It strengthens the arm 
of the rebellion, and postpones the time of restoring peace to 
this country, by the declaration of the purpose for which the 
executive power shall be used. In what respect has our cause 
— the cause of the Union — been advanced? Up to that time, 
throughout the great Northwest, you had but to call for volun- 
teers and they rushed to the army. Since then you have had 
no volunteering. Prior to that time it was not necessary, as the 
Secretary of War — as I am told, for I have not read his report — 
now declares it is necessary, to have provost marshals in every 
county to arrest deserters from the army. 

We are informed that but a few days before the issuing of 
this proclamation the President himself declared, in a confer- 
ence with some gentlemen who were urging him to this step, 
that it would not only be wholly inoperative in the object sought, 
but would directly weaken us in the border States, but signifi- 
cantly added that it might increase our strength in the North. 
I pause here to inquire where that additional strength in the 
North was to be obtained; not certainly from the Democratic 
element in the North. If additional vigor was infused into the 
service, it must come from some other quarter which until then 
had not heartily sustained the policy of the Administration. I 
need not particularize what class of individuals were to be thus 
induced to lend their support — ^the country well knows the bale- 
ful influences of this class, and the ends they seek to accom- 
plish. 

But this is not all. The record of the military operations 
shows to-day almost conclusively what the country had for some 
considerable time suspected : that success in a military point of 
view was not so much the object sought as the bringing about a 
condition of things when a proclamation of this sort could be 
urged as the only means of securing to us success. 



228 



GliEAT AMERICAN DEBATES 



Here the speaker went on to prove that on two ocoa- 
Hions General McCletlan could have captured Bichmond 
had he not been interfered with by the Administration, 
and that finally McClellan had been removed from com- 
mand because, in his orders to tlie army, he had failed 
to indorse the President's Emancipation Proclamation, 
intended as it was to enslave the white man by freeing 
the black. 




B TRUB IB8UE" 

[McCIctlan Btoppiog the ilivisioD of the country by Lincoln ani] Daria] 
From tlu eolltctlim of Ott Nra York MlMUrical Soeittv 

The speaker tlien adverted to the despotic acts of 
the Administration. 

Arrests of thousands of men in loyal States, without due 
process of law. by the order of the executive officers of this 
Ooveriiment, at the times and places where, in all cases, courts 
of justice were entirely open and the execution of the laws 
wholly unobstruetwl. The most remarkable page in the history 
of our race is the fact that, while these outrages have been com- 
mitted upon the rights of our people, no resistance has been 
offered, no violence done, and no life has been taken as the 



EMANCIPATION 229 

penalty for the wrong. The desire of the people to preserve 
the peace in their own midst has restrained them thus far from 
the commission of violence. 

But they are in earnest. They mean to preserve their liber- 
ties and their rights. The results of the last elections were 
of no temporary character. Such a triumph has never before 
been witnessed in this country. There is not a man who voted 
the Democratic ticket last fall throughout the country who is 
not prepared, when the proper time comes, to lay down his life 
rather than sacrifice his liberty. Do not misunderstand us. We 
are for union. We are for liberty — constitutional liberty. Our 
ancestors, in all times past, have vindicated it; and their de- 
scendants, after long suffering, will, if need be, vindicate it 
before God and the world. They do not wish to be slaves, and 
do not mean to be made slaves. 

Perhaps I should not anticipate the course of the President 
of the United States in regard to his proclamation. I trust that 
he will reconsider it; that he will pause and not go forward 
with it. This Government cannot be restored by the sword alone. 
You must carry with it the olive branch. The President says 
we are making history. I trust we are not making such history 
as the incendiary* who swung his lighted torch in the air to 
burn the temple of Diana at Ephesus, and who has left his 
name behind, while the name of him who reared that temple 
has perished from our memories. I think we may expect that, 
under a change of policy, the blessings of the Union may yet 
be restored and made perpetual. 

* HerostratoB. 



CHAPTER IX 
Nbobo Soldiebs 

Negro Soldiers in the Bevolntion — In the War of 1812 — Organization of 
Negro Companies by Union Generals in 1862 — Jefferson Davis Orders 
Execution for Felony of Union Officers Engaged in Such Organiza- 
tion — Congress Passes Act of July 17, 1862, Accepting Negroes for 
General Service in the Army — Thaddeus Stevens [Pa.] Introduces Bill 
in the House Specifically Employing Negroes as Soldiers — ^Debate: in 
Favor, Mr. Stevens, John Hickman [Pa.], Thomas M. Edwards [N. H.], 
Alexander S. Diven [N. Y.] ; OJpposed, John J. Crittenden [Ky.], 
Samuel S. Cox [O.] — Bill Is Passed by the House, and Rejected by 
the Senate as Conferring Power Already Granted — ^History of Negro 
Troops in the War — Employment of Negroes by the Bebels — ^Retaliation. 

CRISPUS ATTUCKS, a mulatto and a fugitive 
slave, led the patriot mob at the Boston mas- 
sacre. It was Peter Salem, one of the enfran- 
chised negroes who fought at Bunker Hill, that shot 
dead Major Pitcairn, leader of the British marines, as 
he leaped over the breastworks crying, **The day is our 
own.** 

The Revolutionary Conmiittee of Safety, feeling that 
it was inconsistent with the principles of the conflict and 
reflecting dishonor on the colonies to employ slaves 
as soldiers, decreed, on May 20, 1775, that only those 
negroes who were free should be admitted into the army. 
Many patriots thereupon freed their slaves that these 
might be permitted to fight. 

In the Continental Congress Mr. Edward Rutledge, 
of South Carolina, moved, on September 26, 1775, that 
all negroes be dismissed from the patriot armies, but the 
opposition was so formidable and so determined that 
the motion did not prevail. Negroes, instead of being 
expelled from the service, continued to be received, often 
as substitutes for ex-masters or their sons; and, in Vir- 

230 



NEGRO SOLDIERS 231 

ginia especially, it gradually became a custom to give 
a slave his freedom on condition of his taking his mas- 
ter's place at the front 

The Congressional Conrndttee of Conference with 
General Washington before Boston, headed by Benja- 
min Franklin, ordered on October 23, 1775, that negroes, 
*^ especially such as are slaves,** should no longer be 
enlisted; but, on Washington's representation that the 
negro soldiers whose time had expired were much dis- 
satisfied with the order, and that he feared some might 
show their resentment by deserting to the enemy. Con- 
gress, on January 16, 1776, permitted these to reenlist. 

Already (in November, 1775) Lord Dunmore, Royal 
Governor of Virginia, in order to * ^ reduce ' ' the colonists 
*^to a proper sense of their duty to His Majesty's crown 
and dignity," had invited slaves to enter the British 
army, offering them freedom if they would do so. 

The Virginia patriots, to offset the effect of this 
proclamation, called the attention of the slaves to the 
fact that enlistment in the British army would leave 
their families at the mercy of **an enraged and injured 
people." Many enlisted, however, though almost all 
were destroyed by a malignant fever contracted in the 
camps. 

On August 24, 1778, 775 negroes were enrolled in the 
Continental army. On August 29 a black regiment, all 
of whose members had been freed by the Rhode Island 
legislature on condition they enter the State militia, 
fought with notable gallantry at the battle of Rhode 
Island. The legislatures of other Northern States fol- 
lowed the example of that of Rhode Island, and in the 
South this policy was urged by leading patriots. It is 
highly probable, says Horace Greeley in his ** American 
Conflict, ' ' that had the Revolutionary War lasted a few 
years longer slavery would have been abolished through- 
out the 'country. 

So great was the fear of the British commanders 
that negroes would be set free and enrolled in the pa- 
triot army, that Sir Henry Clinton, on June 30, 1779, 
issued a proclamation offering protection and employ- 



232 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

ment to all slaves who should enter the British lines. 
Lord Cornwallis, in his Southern campaign, proclaimed 
freedom to all slaves who should join him. Thomas Jef- 
ferson, in a letter to Dr. Gordon, from Paris, on July 16, 
1788, estimated that this policy in one year cost Vir- 
ginia 30,000 slaves, most of whom died of small-pox and 
camp-fever. Thirty of these were his own, and he char- 
acteristically said: **Had this been to give them free- 
dom he (Lord Cornwallis) would have done right ^' 

In the beginning of the War of 1812 the policy was 
generally adopted of not enlisting negroes, but toward 
its close, under the stress of military necessity, the re- 
striction was abandoned. Thus the New York legisla- 
ture, on October 24, 1814, authorized in several quarters 
the raising of two regiments of negroes, freeing those 
who were slaves, and compensating their owners with 
the negroes' pay. On September 21, 1814, Gen. Andrew 
Jackson, in a proclamation from Mobile, Ala., vigorously 
denounced the ** mistaken policy'' of excluding m&groes 
from the army, and gave high praise to the bravery of 
those who had fought under him, which was shortly 
afterward confirmed in the defence of New Orleans 
(January 8, 1815), where a number of negroes fought 
side by side with the white soldiers, repelling from be- 
hind the breastworks the advance of the trained British 
soldiers under Pakenham with the same ardor w^hich 
Peter Salem and his black companions had displayed at 
Bunker Hill. 

In the Civil War, before Gen. David Hunter's procla- 
mation of military emancipation had been revoked [see 
page 130], he had organized some of the slaves of his 
department into companies. 

In his report to the Secretary of War [Edwin M. 
Stanton], on June 23, 1862, General Hunter gave this 
testimony to their eflSciency: 

The experiment of arming the blacks, so far as I have made 
it, has been a complete and even marvelous success. They are 
sober, docile, attentive, and enthusiastic ; displaying great natu- 
ral capacities for acquiring the duties of the soldier. They are 
eager beyond all things to take the field and be led into action ; 



NEGRO SOLDIERS 233 

and it is the unanimous opinion of the officers who have had 
charge of them that, in the peculiarities of this climate and 
country, they will prove invaluable auxiliaries — fully equal to 
the similar regiments so long and successfully used by the Brit- 
ish authorities in the West India Islands. 

On July 16, 1862, Congress passed an act authorizing 
the President to accept negroes for **any war service for 
which they may be found competent, ' ' though not speci- 
fying fighting as one of these services. The act was ap- 
proved by the President on July 17. 

On August 25, 1862, Secretary Stanton issued a spe- 
cial order to Gen. Rufus Saxton, military governor of 
the sea islands off the coast of South Carolina, to enlist 
and drill not over 5,000 negroes and to give them tlie pay 
of white soldiers. Saxton was ordered to cultivate the 
plantations with other negroes, and in every way to 
*^ withdraw from the enemy their laboring force and 
population." 

Brigadier-General J. W. Phelps, a Vermont Aboli- 
tionist serving under Benjamin F. Butler at New Or- 
leans during the summer of 1862, organized five com- 
panies of negroes, who, he announced to his chief, were 
*^all willing and ready to show their devotion to our 
cause in any way it may be put to the test. ' ' He recom- 
mended that they be used as soldiers under the com- 
mand of recent graduates of West Point and the more 
promising non-commissioned officers and privates. 

General Butler, in response, instructed General 
Phelps to employ his ** contrabands ' ' upon the fortifica- 
tions instead of organizing them as soldiers. This Gen- 
eral Phelps peremptorily declined to do, saying, ^*I am 
not willing to become the mere slave-driver you pro- 
pose, having no qualifications that way,** and thereupon 
he threw up his conunission. 

Later (on July 31, 1862) General Butler felt con- 
strained by the necessities and perils of his position to 
appeal to the free colored men of New Orleans to take 
up arms in the national service, which appeal was re- 
sponded to with alacrity and enthusiasm, and a first 
regiment, 1,000 strong, was filled within 14 days — all its 



234 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

line officers being colored, as well as the rank and file. 
His next regiment, filled soon afterward, had its two 
highest officers white, all the rest colored. His third was 
officered by the best men that could be had, regardless 
of color. His two batteries were officered by whites 
only; for the simple reason that there were no others 
who had any knowledge of artillery. 

On the reception at Richmond of tidings of Gteneral 
Hunter's and General Phelps's proceedings with refer- 
ence to the enlistment of negro soldiers for the Union 
armies. President Jefferson Davis issued an order di- 
recting that said generals be no longer regarded as pub- 
lic enemies of the Confederacy, but as outlaws; and that, 
in the event of the capture of either of them, or of any 
other commissioned officer employed in organizing, drill- 
ing, or instructing slaves, he should not be treated as a 
prisoner of war, but held in close confinement for execu- 
tion as a felon, at such time and place as he should order. 
It is not recorded that anyone was ever actually hung 
under this order. 

Employment of Neobo Soldesbs 
House of Bepbbsentatives, January 29-Febbuaby 2, 1863 

On January 27, 1863, Thaddeus Stevens [Pa.] in- 
troduced in the House a bill authorizing the President 
to raise and equip 150,000 negro soldiers, and as many 
more as he deemed it expedient ; to receive the same pay 
and treatment as white soldiers ; to serve for five years, 
if necessary; the officers to be white or black; conmds- 
sioned by the President; recruiting stations to be estab- 
lished in both free and slave States; all the slaves 
among the negroes to become free at discharge, the 
Government purchasing those belonging to loyal citi- 
zens. 

The bill was hotly opposed by Representatives from 
the border States, and by the * * Peace ' * Democrats of the 
North. Of the speeches of the former class that by 
John J. Crittenden, made on January 29, is representa- 
tive. 



NEGRO SOLDIERS 235 

You propose by this bill to raise a force of one hundred 
and fifty thousand slaves as soldiers. You include, to be sure, 
and permit to be enlisted, free men of color. How can you 
approve of it? You say the war is a contest for freedom, a 
contest for liberty ; and diall we, sir, stigmatize our constituents, 
our brothers, the white free-bom men of this land, as being 
so degenerate as to shrink from this contest, and compel you 
to appeal to your own black men to defend the liberties of the 
white man? 

The bill proposes to raise one hundred and fifty thousand 
Americans of African descent. You stigmatize them, while you 
invite them into the field. You employ them as soldiers to fight 
your battle, but give them only one-half pay and exclude them 
from command to a great extent. 

This distinction which the white race makes in its own 
favor against the negro may be an unjust one. It is not neces- 
sary for me to enter into that question or to define exactly 
the degree of superiority on the one side or of inferiority on 
the part of the other race. We know that it exists; it exists 
North, it exists South, and it exists everywhere. The feelings 
of our people in reference to it are founded upon instincts that 
have come down from one generation to another. There is not one 
of you here who would admit a black man to social equality or 
to any species of equality. Yet what are you striving to do? 
You propose to enlist the negro for five years. We are engaged 
in a mighty war now, a war caused by revolution and pregnant 
with revolution. What will be the result if we do not conquer 
a peace shortly? Before long the term of service of your white 
troops will have expired. Is the nation to be left to a standing 
black army, with the President at its head, clothed with almost 
illimitable war powers? Would anyone dare to propose such a 
policy as that to the American people — ^to leave the defence of 
the country and the lives and liberties of its people in the 
guardianship of any President with one hundred and fifty thou- 
sand myrmidons like these, without a knowledge of the simplest 
principles upon which our Cbvemment depends, and without 
any possibility of their being able to appreciate that liberty 
for which you are willing to fight and to send your sons to 
fight? The janizaries are safer depositaries of the liberties of 
the Ottoman than would be this army of slaves to protect our 
liberties. 

All nations which have held slaves have been found to re- 
ject their services for military purposes in time of war. My 
learned friend from Ohio [Samuel Shellabarger] , who the other 



236 GREAT AMEUICAN DEBATES 

day was comparing tluise rebtJs to Catilino, is well enough ac- 
quainted with his history, and can bear testimony that he, that 
bold conspirator, had Roman pride enough left in the midst of 
his vices to reject the assistance, even in his extremest hour of 
peril, of slaves and gladiators, although they were white slaves, 
men who had been bom free, men who had been made captives 
in war, and reduced by the inhuman policy of that age to the 
condition of slavery; they had been tainted and marked with 
that degradation, and that was enough; even Catiline would 
not be their leader, and preferred to face the perils of the 
battle alone. And what a spectacle is here presented! The 
representatives of a nation which has ever boasted of its readi- 
ness to shed the last drop of its blood in defence of the liberties 
of its people are calling upon slaves to defend it and to defend 
them ! Sir, it is a mockery — a mockery of the American people. 
It is a policy unlike that of any other nation. It is an insult 
to your army. It is a crime against the civilization of the age. 
It is a crime against the Constitution. It is an act of hostility 
against the Union. These are the sentiments with which I am 
compelled to regard this measure. 

I say it is a crime against the Constitution. You send out 
your recruiting officer, and you authorize him to go into the 
State of Maryland, for instance, and to any gentleman's house 
and seduce away his slave and persuade him to enlist by the 
promise of his freedom, or, perhaps, the promise of a captaincy, 
and that dave the property of the master! Mr. Lincoln says 
the owner has property in his slave ; that, he says, is plain and 
cannot be contested. And yet your recruiting officer is author- 
ized to enlist the slave ; to take from the lawful ownership of a 
loyal man his slave and put him in the army. Did injustice 
ever go further than this? 

John Hutciiins fPa.]. — I would like to ask the gentleman 
from Kentucky a question. Do not the Gtovemment of the 
United States take minors and apprentices, whose services by 
law belong to the father or master, and put them into the 
army of the United States? 

Mr. Crittenden. — Sir, if the gentleman can mislead himself 
by any such ideas as those that his question suggests, I cannot 
help him. I tell him now that the free-born boy owes no obliga- 
tion of slavery to anyone. His father is his guardian; the 
owner of the slave is his master. To those who cannot under- 
stand that distinction I can make no explanation that will enable 
them to understand it. 

]Mr. Speaker, your law is impracticable. My friends, just 



\ 



NEGRO SOLDIERS 237 

think of what you are doing ! One hundred and fifty thousand 
negroes are to be enlisted. I say your army will consider it an 
insult and a degradation. 

I remember that the distinguished gentleman from Pennfifyl- 
vania, last session of Congress, was in favor of this same meas- 
ure. The topics of our conversation then were the battles near 
Richmond, and there was much sympathy over the great slaugh- 
ter there. It was then that he introduced this idea of a negro 
army; they would have saved so many of our dear sons. It 
seems to me that the gentleman's idea, fairly translated, 
amounted to this: that he wanted a negro to march before 
every white man in the field of battle. What a shame it is that 
proud Republicans, who talk so much about their liberties, 
should require to have poor negroes held before them in battle 
as a sort of shield ! Do you want this negro army for such a 
purpose ? Sooner advise your sons and brothers to desert. That 
may escape the attention of history. But, if you want to make 
the cowardice of our army memorable and historical, bring out 
your one hundred and fifty thousand black men, put them in 
the front of the battle, and shelter your white soldiers behind 
them. 

Whenever the American sinks so low ; whenever that pusil- 
lanimous policy is adopted by him, the liberties of such men 
are not worth much. The pride and heroism of the American 
name will have all gone. Let not the man who wants such a 
defence as that go forth to battle. Let him stay at home. That 
is not the way to train up a great people. Sparta had her 
slaves. So had Athens. Did they ever send these slaves into 
the battle? They were small republics, and were often greatly 
harassed by war, but they never used their slaves as soldiers. 
Shall we alone voluntarily degrade ourselves below the condition 
of other nations? Have not our citizens the courage and 
strength to defend the country? Have they not the public 
virtue that is absolutely necessary for the defence of their na- 
tional existence and of their public liberties? When we shall 
abandon that defence to slaves we ought to give up our coun- 
try. 

Sir, you cannot execute such a law, and you know it. If 
you want to make war directly in Kentucky, I assure you, much 
as I deprecate and deplore it, that this will produce it. It is 
not in the power of the Government, State or Federal, to pre- 
vent actual hostilities there on the very day this sort of recruit- 
ing shall be entered on. Your recruiting officers will be driven 
pell-mell out of the State, or they will be hung, just as the 



238 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

temper of the people may happen to be. I tell you that this 
is a fact, and that the passage of this measure, instead of assist- 
ing to restore the Union, will enlarge and embitter the war. I 
do not believe that you can, by any measure, drive Kentucky to 
go out of the Union, and to make alliance with the secessionists 
and rebels of the South ; but the people of Kentucky will resist 
oppression, come from where it will. They are for the Consti- 
tution and are against the rebels, because the rebels are the 
enemies of the Constitution ; and they will be against you, too, 
whenever you resort to unconstitutional measures. We are fight- 
ing so that when peace comes our Constitution and liberties will 
be restored to us with it. But for that hope there would be 
no heart for the fight. But if, while we are carr3ring on a war 
against the rebellion, the Constitution of our country is to be 
destroyed piece by piece behind us, and we are to have nothing 
but the ruins of it left, why should we not be hostile to those 
who have done this work of destruction ? 

Sir, this plan of bringing black men into your military serv- 
ice will prove an act of cruelty to the slaves, but of profit to 
no one. Can they sympathize with us in the motives that actu- 
ate us in carrying on this war? That Constitution for which 
we are fighting makes them slaves; and yet you now call upon 
them to assist you in restoring its supremacy. What claim 
have you upon their services in any such cause f What do 
you bring them to the field for? Do you believe in your hearts 
you can ever make soldiers of them? There may have been 
brave seamen in the Pacific Ocean of the African race, and 
there may have been a brave company of black men which Gen- 
eral Jackson saw fit to compliment after the battle of New Or- 
leans; but do you expect your army of one hundred and fifty 
thousand blacks will prove to be of that class? Let me tell you 
that if you do you will be disappointed. You will gain no 
strength to your army by such means. For every black soldier 
you may muster into the service, you will disarm more brave 
soldiers who will think you have degraded them by this sort 
of military association. You cannot carry into the field, I re- 
peat, an army made up of the African race. The slave is not a 
soldier, and he cannot be a soldier. It is not in the nature of 
things. 

I protest, then, against the President, Mr. Lincoln, under- 
taking to garrison our important posts with negro soldiers. They 
are not safe, and never will be safe. I care not though the 
forts are in New York or Massachusetts; they are as much mine 
as they are yours. They belong to the United States, and I^ 



NEGRO SOLDIERS 239 

protest against their being placed in the hands of sach de- 
fenders. 

But, sir, I do not care so much about the employment of these 
men in respect to their inefficiency as soldiers as I do in respect 
to the character their employment will give to the war itself. 
Tou put one white man to command a thousand negroes at the 
South, and will he restrain them? Will it not result in servile 
war? It will be a servile war led by white men. 

The speech of Samuel S. Cox [0.] is representa- 
tive of the views of the Northern Democrats. On Janu- 
ary 30 he spoke against the bill. He declared that those 
who promoted it were, in so doing, not the true friends 
of the negro, but rather his enemies. 

The Confederate States will not treat our black soldiers as 
the equals of their white soldiers or of our white soldiers; and 
the result will be, as many negroes at the North are shrewd 
enough to foresee, that they will, if captured, receive none of 
the advantages of the laws of war, but all the terrible conse- 
quences of being outlawed from the international code, slavery, 
imprisonment, and perhaps death. And how, sir, can we retali- 
ate for any such injuries or outrages? As the gentleman from 
Kansas argued the other day, and as Vattel argued before him, 
a rebellion, when formidable, demands, in the name of humanity, 
the observance of the laws of civilized warfare, the laws of mod- 
eration and honor. There is a distinct society, organized de 
facto, in the South; and the laws of war obtain the same as 
between two nations with regard to prisoners of war. These 
men in the South have the power, and, although it may have 
been obtained wrongfully and outrageously, we must legislate 
on the facts as they exist. We must not shut our eyes to the 
fact that they are a power so formidable that we cannot, as 
an act of humanity to our soldiers, refuse to observe the laws 
of war, not as we would interpret them, but as they also may 
interpret them. No genuine friend of the negro would try to 
persuade him to take the position of a soldier in our army, 
knowing how the Confederate Government has determined to 
treat negro soldiers. The men who would try to dragoon him 
into that position are not his friends. The poor negro, if he 
survive this conflict, will bitterly curse the very men who seem 
most to champion him, but whose championship has in it more 
of political consideration than of generous feeling. 

Thomas M. Edwards [N. H.]. — I understand the gentleman 



240 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

to say that, if these black soldiers in our army should be cap- 
tured by the enemy and be handed over to the civil authorities 
to be treated as felons and their lives taken, or any other conse- 
quence visited them not known to the rules of civilized war- 
fare, the United States Government would have no remedy. 

IVIr. Cox. — ^What is your remedy? 

Mb. Edwards. — Retaliation. 

Mr. Cox. — Retaliation — that is a rule which will soon turn 
this into a barbarous war. It has no limit — no law. It has but 
one end — bloody extermination. 

Mr. Edwards. — I would hang or shoot one of their soldiers 
every time they hung or shot one of ours. 

Mr. Cox. — ^Would you have the President retaliate upon 
white rebels because they abuse the captured negroes? You will 
answer yes. Then what? Retaliation again from them upon 
our white soldiers, and so on, until the war becomes unbearable 
to the Christian world and an outrage upon all civilized codes. 

Furthermore, the measure is inadvisable because many 
white soldiers will not serve when black soldiers are enlisted. 
We can never eradicate from the great body of the white people 
of America that prejudice against the black race which has been 
carried from private life into the public service, and which, if 
you run counter to it, will destroy the vigor and esprit of the 
army. 

Why, Mr. Speaker, perhaps one-third of our present army 
is made up of Irishmen. I tell you, sir, these Irishmen will not 
light side by side with the negro. You would listen to such, 
warnings if indeed you wished the army to succeed and the 
Union restored. 

The bill was stoutly defended by Bepublicans, the 
most typical speech being by Mr. Stevens, mover of the 
} bill, made on February 2. 

It is said that we have already so large an army that we 
have no need of more soldiers, and that this bill will cause a 
needless expense. Let us look at this. It will require some 
three or four months to raise one hundred and fifty thousand. 
By that time, about June, the time of the two years' men of 
New York and of the nine months' men will expire. They will 
take from the army, I think, at least three hundred thousand 
men. How are you to supply their place except by colored sol- 
diers? It is said by our opponents that in the present temper 
of the country you could not raise in the whole North fifty thou- 



NEGRO SOLDIERS 241 

sand men by voluntary enlistment, and that to enforce con- 
scription is out of the question. It may be so; and, if it be, 
it is useless, perhaps, to inquire what has produced this con- 
dition of the public mind. No doubt the unhappy management 
of the war, and want of successful battles, have done something 
toward it. An unsuccessful war is always unpopular. 

Another great cause is the conduct of partisan demagogues. 
The Democratic leaders — ^and when I speak of Democrats in 
these remarks I beg to be understood as not including those 
true Democrats who support the war and give their aid to the 
Administration — the Democratic leaders, I say, have been busy 
for the last year in denouncing the war and the Administration. 
They tell the people that this is an Abolition war, a war for 
the negro and not for the Union; that our Southern brethren 
have been injured and that we ought to lay down our arms and 
compromise. During the last electioneering campaign through- 
out Pennsylvania, and I suppose the whole North, when the new 
volunteers were called for, Democratic leaders traveled every- 
where and advised that no Democrat should volunteer, but stay 
at home and carry the election and regain power. The masses 
followed their advice; scarcely any Democrats joined the vol- 
unteers. 

Another thing that has cooled the ardor of the people is the 
rivalry among the officers and the evident sympathy of a large 
portion of them with the rebels. Our armies have been in the 
hands of men who had no heart in the cause and who have 
demoralized the army; and such demoralization has been trans- 
ferred to their friends at home. Hence, if we are to continue 
this war, we must call in the aid of Africans, slaves as well as 
freemen. 

But gentlemen speak boastfully of the power of the white 
men of the North, and that we have a million men in the field, 
and need no other aid. Sir, I have as high an opinion of the 
valor of Northern men as any man can have; but, instead of 
having a million, I do not believe we have now half that num- 
ber of effective soldiers. Sickness, the sword, and absenteeism 
have taken half our troops ; and in four months one-fourth more 
will be taken by the expiration of their time. 

But suppose we could recruit our armies by white volun- 
teers, is that any argument against employing blacks? Why 
should our race be exposed to suffering and disease when the 
African might endure his equal share of it? Is it wise, is it 
humane, to send your kindred to battle and to death, when you 
might put the colored man in the ranks and let him bear a 

VI— 16 



242 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

part of the conflict between the rebel and his enfranchised 
slave f Why should these bloody graves be filled with our rel- 
atives rather Jban with the property of traitors slain by their 
own masters, who, in their turn, would fall by the hands of 
the oppressed? I have but little respect for the Northern man 
who would save the rebels' property at the expense of the life of 
white men. 

We have heard repeated the usual slang of Democrats, so 
freely and falsely used by them to prejudice the minds of the 
people, that Republicans are trying to make the black man equal 
in all things to the white. The distinguicdied gentleman from 
Kentucky [Charles A. Wickliffe] and his allies from Ohio have 
talked of Sambo's commanding white men. Sir, the bill contains 
no such provisions. They are to be employed only as soldiers or 
non-commissioned officers as is provided by the original bill and 
by the amendments as now proposed. I do not expect to live 
to see the day when, in this Christian land, merit shall counter- 
balance the crime of color. True, we propose to give them an 
equal chance to meet death on the battlefield. But even then 
their great achievements, if equal to those of Dessalines, would 
give them no hope of honor. The only place where they can 
find equality is in the grave. There all Gh>d's children are 
equal. 

But it is said that our soldiers would object to their employ- 
ment in arms. It would be a strange taste that would prefer 
themselves to face the death-bearing heights of Fredericksburg, 
and be buried in trenches at the foot of them, than to see it 
done by colored soldiers. I do not believe it. My colleague 
[Hendrick B. Wright] said that he had heard some of our 
officers say that if we thuif used them they would lay down 
their arms and retire from the army. In G^'s name let them 
go. They are rebels in heart, and ought to be in the Confed- 
erate army rather than in ours, to demoralize our soldiers. My 
colleague ought to report their names to the proper department, 
that they may be tried and inexorably shot. 

The gentleman from Kentucky [Mr. Crittenden] objects to 
their emplo3nnent lest it should lead to the freedom of the 
blacks. He says that he fights only for the freedom of his own 
white race. That sentiment is unworthy the high reputation of 
the friend and compeer of the great statesman of the West 
[Henry Clay]. That patriotism that is wholly absorbed by 
one's own country is narrow and selfish. That philan- 
thropy which embraces only one's own race, and leaves 
the other numerous races of mankind to bondage and to 



If 



V- \ 



NEGRO SOLDIERS 243 

misery, is cruel and detestable. But we are not fighting 
for the freedom of the slaves; we are fighting for the 
life of the nation; and, if in the heat of such strife the 
chains of the bondman are melted off, I shall thank Qod all 
the more. The distinguished, and, I would fain believe, the 
learned, gentleman from Kentucky exclaimed, '*when before did 
any civilized country call on slaves to fight their battles f When 
did Sparta, or Athens, or Bomef " I must attribute this inter- 
rogative assertion to lack of memory. 

I ask when did any civilized nation refuse to use their slaves 
in the defence of their country when its exigencies required itt 
Never! All have used them, and uniformly given them their 
freedom for their services. Sparta and Athens on many occa- 
sions armed their Helots. They were always their armor- 
bearers. That I may not be suspected of speaking without au- 
thority I will read a few passages from Roman history. In 
Arnold's '*Rome" it is said: 

"But there is no reason to donbt that Gracchns gained an important 
victory; and it was rendered famous by his giving liberty to the volunteer 
slaves, by whose valor it had mainly b€«n won. The soldiers marched back 
to Beneventum in triumph, and the people poured out to meet them, and en- 
treated Gracchus that they might invite them all to a public entertainment. 
Tables were set out in the streets, and the freed slaves attracted every one's 
notice by their white caps, the well-known sign of their enfranchisement. 
The whole delighted the generous and kind nature of Gracchus; to set free 
the slave and to relieve the poor, appear to have been hereditary virtues in 
his family. ' '—Page 205. 

How different was the heart of the pagan Oracchus from 
the heart of the Christian Eentuckian ! 

But we are told that Kentucky will resist; that our recruit- 
ing officers will be driven pell-mell from the State; that the 
proclamation is unconstitutional ; and that we and the President 
are doing mischief and aggravating the South. Sir, that sounds 
so exactly like what I was accustomed to hear from that side 
of the House some years ago, when those seats were occupied by 
those who are now officers in the rebel army, that I am fain to 
inquire whether their spirit has not been left behind them. 

Two years ago, when I had occasion to address this House, 
I declared my conviction that neither Congress, nor the Ad- 
ministration, nor the people, realized the magnitude of the war 
in which we were engaged, and the difficulty of its suppression ; 
that the rebels were as brave as we, and had better generals, 
who were more in earnest than our own; that men who, after 
a deliberation of thirty years, had entered upon so perilous an 



244 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

enterprise, involving property, wife and children, and their 
own lives, would never submit until they were totally exhausted 
and unable to continue the war ; and that that would never be 
done until you took from them their support — ^the slaves. I 
have seen no reason to change my opinion. I have seen two 
years of bloody war elapse with balanced success. I have seen 
our debt accumulate to a grievous amount. I have seen many 
a bleeding heart, many a mother weeping for her slaughtered 
son, tens of thousands of our neighbors gone to an untimely 
grave, and the rebels are not yet subdued. And yet we are told 
that we must not stop the further effusion of white blood by the 
employment of the oppressed slave against his oppressor. Sir, 
to which side do such men belong? Are they with the Republic 
or are they like Cethegus and Lentulus, sitting in the Roman 
senate, while their associate, Catiline, was with the rebel army 
outside the walls? 

But they say this tends to excite servile war. I believe no 
such thing. Disciplined troops under the articles of war do not 
engage in insurrection. But suppose it were so: which is the 
mo^ cruel, which the most to be deprecated — an exterminating 
war between the oppressed and his oppressor or a murderous 
warfare by uninjured citizens against the unoffending (Govern- 
ment which had protected them and was the hope of the free- 
dom of the world? Can servile war produce more inhuman 
scenes than are now enacted by the rebels? 

Here the speaker cited murders of innocent negroes 
committed in cold blood by rebel soldiers. 

If a servile war were the only means to save this Republic, 
I should welcome it as a measure of humanity. 

It is said that colored soldiers are cowardly and unfit for 
battle. But all history contradicts it, from the time of Juba 
and Syphan and the terrible Numidian cavalry down through 
our Revolution and the armies of General Jackson to the pres- 
ent time. I send you living evidence in the letter of General 
Saxton, which the Clerk will please read. 

The Clerk read as follows : 

Beaufort, South Cabolina, Jannary 25, 1863. 
Deab Sib: I have the honor to report that the organization of the first 
regiment of South Carolina volunteers is now completed. In no regiment 
have I ever seen duty performed with so much cheerfulness and alacrity; 
and as sentinels they are peculiarly vigilant. I have never seen, in any 
body of men, such enthusiasm and deep-seated devotion to their officers as 



NEGRO SOLDIERS 245 

exist in this; they will surely go wherever they are led. Every man is a 
volunteer, and seems fully persuaded of the importance of his service to 
his race. 

Alexander S. Diven [N. T.]. — ^Mr. Speaker, in connection 
with the testimony furnished in favor of the emplojnnent of the 
slave I desire to supply the testimony of the most remarkable 
man of modern Italy, who, while an exile from his beloved coun- 
try, with all the ardor of his nature, entered the service of the re- 
publicans of Brazil, who were seeking to extricate themselves 
from the tyranny of the Brazilian emperor. In the description 
of one of the battles between the republican and imperial parties 
I find this passage : 

"The terrible lancers of Canabarro had already made a movement for- 
ward, confusing the right flank of the enemy, which was therefore obliged 
to change front in confusion. The brave freedmen, proud of their force, 
became more firm and resolute, and that incomparable corps presented to 
view a forest of lances, being composed entirely of slaves liberated by the 
republic and chosen from the best horse tamers in the province, and all of 
them blacks, even the superior officers. The enemy had never seen the 
backs of those true sons of liberty. Their lances, which were longer than 
the common measure, their ebony faces and robust limbs, strengthened by 
perennial and laborious exercise, and their {>erfect discipline, struck terror 
into the enemy." 

A Member. — ^What do you read from? 

Mb. Diven. — From the **Life of Garibaldi," by himself, 
page 63. 

Mr. Stevens. — I believe that if the courise which we now pro- 
pose had been adopted eighteen months ago we should now 
have peace and universal liberty on this continent. But the 
timidity of conservatives, the clamor of Democratic demagogues, 
and the insidious counsels of Kentucky prevented our excellent 
and kind-hearted President from making stern resolves and using 
every legitimate means to crush the rebels. Sir, I would not 
have on my conscience the blood of the tens of thousands who 
have thus been sacrificed, and which must rest on the souls of 
its authors, for all the spoils of office, for all the allurements 
of the presidential chair, nor for all the diamonds that ever 
glittered in Golconda. 

The bill was passed on February 2 by a vote of 83 to 
54. The bill then went to the Senate, where it was re- 
ferred to the Committee on Military Affairs. On Febru- 
ary 12 Henry Wilson [Mass.] stated that the committee 



246 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

reported it back to the Senate with the recommendation 
that it do not pass, because the authority intended to be 
given by it to the President was already conferred on 
him by the act of July 17, 1862. 

Bbaveby of Negbo Soldiebs 

President Lincoln from this time on devoted a large 
part of his energy to enlisting negro troops, his old fear 
that the former slaves would make ineflBcient soldiers 
having been outweighed by consideration of the great 
moral force of the policy. To Governor Andrew John- 
son of Tennessee, who was contemplating the raising in 
his State of a negro military force, he wrote on March 
26, 1863: 

In my opinion the country now needs no specific thing so 
much as some man of your ability and position to go to this 
work. When I speak of your position I mean that of an emi- 
nent citizen of a slave State and himself a slaveholder. The 
colored population is the great available and yet unavailed of 
force for restoring the Union. The bare sight of fifty thousand 
armed and drilled black soldiers upon the banks of the Missis- 
sippi would end the rebellion at once ; and who doubts that we 
can present that sight if we but take hold in earnest? If you 
have been thinking of it, please do not dismiss the thought. 

As we have seen. General David Hunter had already 
organized negro troops in his department. From the 
beginning the experiment was an unqualified success. It 
was a pleasure to the President that he could now write 
a letter of congratulation to the Abolitionist general 
whom less than a year before he had been compelled to 
reprimand for biff premature act of emancipation. 

I am glad to see the accounts of your colored force at Jack- 
sonville, Fla. I see the enemy are driving at them fiercely, as 
is to be expected. It is important to the enemy that such a 
force shall not take shape and grow and thrive in the South, 
and in precisely the same proportion it is important to us that 
it shall. Hence the utmost caution and vigilance are necessary 
on our part. The enemy will make extra efforts to destroy 
them, and we should do the same to preserve and increase thenu 



r 
/■ 



NEGRO SOLDIERS 247 

In all their snbsequent battles the negro soldiers ac- 
quitted themselves with such valor that in the war re- 
ports the sentence, **the colored troops fought bravely/' 
became a stock expression. 

On the occasion of their soldierly conduct at the 
assault of Port Hudson late in May, 1863, George Henry 
Boker wrote a poem called **The Black Regiment, '* in 
which he extolled their patriotism and pleaded for their 
recognition as comrades by the white soldiers. 

* ' Freedom ! * * their battlecry, — 
''Freedom! or leave to die!" 

Ah ! and they meant the word, 

Not as with us 'tis heard, 

Not a mere party shout ; 

They gave their spirits out, 

• • • • • 
Hundreds on hundreds fell; 

• • • . • 
Oh, to the living few. 
Soldiers, be just and true, 
Hail them as comrades tried ; 
Fight with them side by side ; 
Never, in field or tent. 
Scorn the black regiment! 

On June 1, 1863, through Senator Charles Sumner 
of Massachusetts, the President made a tentative offer 
to General Fremont to place him in conmiand of all the 
negro troops to be raised. The offer was not accepted. 
Had it been, Fremont at the close of the war would have 
conmianded an army of almost 200,000 men, second in 
number only to Grant's. 

Employment of Neoboes by the Confederates 

As early as June 1, 1861, negroes were employed by 
the secessionists in constructing fortifications at Charles- 
ton, S. C. As soon as Virginia went out of the Union 
free negro volunteers were accepted in that State. 

On June 28, 1861, after the legislature of Tennessee 
had formed a military alliance with the Confederacy, it 



248 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

authorized the governor, Isham G. Harris, "to receive 
into the military service of the State all male free per- 
sons of color, between the ages of 15 and 50," paying 
each $8 per month, with clothing and rations. It was 
further enacted that, if sufficient volunteers did not 
present themselves the sheriflfs should press enough of 
such persons to make up the required number. Early 
in September it was announced in the Memphis Ava- 




"O UAS3A JEFF, UIB SECESH FE^TR WILL KILL DE NIOGEBI " 
From Oil collttUon of On Ntte Yort UiMorical SoeUtu 

lanche that many negroes had volunteered for such 
service, and, armed and equipped with shovels, axes, 
blankets, etc., and under the leadership of white officers, 
were marching through the streets shouting for Jeff. 
Davis and sini[>^ng war songs. In very sinister fashion 
the paper added ; ' ' Their riestination is unknown, but 
it is supposed that they are on their way to the 'other 
side of Jordan.' " 

About this time Alabama organized free negrro vol- 
unteers, one regiment consisting of as many as 3,400. 

In February, 1862, the Confederate legislature of 



NEGRO SOLDIERS 249 

Virginia passed a bill to enroll in the military service 
all the free negroes in the State. 

Retaliation 

In despite of these acts, when President Lincoln's 
preliminary emancipation proclamation appeared on 
September 22, 1862, the Confederate anthorities ex- 
hibited great indignation over what they charged to be 
a deliberate purpose of the Union Government to in- 
cite a servile insurrection in the South. On October 
13 General Pierre G. T. Beauregard wrote to a Con- 
federate congressman at Richmond: 

Has the bill for the execution of abolition prisoners, after 
January next, been passed ? Do it, and England will be stirred 
into action. It is high time to proclaim the black flag after that 
period. Let the execution be with the garrote. 

On December 23 Jefferson Davis, President of the 
Confederacy, proclaimed the outlawry of the Union 
generals who had enlisted negroes as soldiers, and de- 
creed that all slaves and their white oflBcers captured 
in arms be turned over to the State governors to be 
dealt with according to law. In his third annual mes- 
sage to his Congress on January 12, 1863, he stigma- 
tized the final proclamation as a violation of President 
Lincoln's inaugural pledge and the platform on which 
he had been elected. He added: 

It has established a state of things which can lead to but one 
of three possible consequences — ^the extermination of the slaves, 
the exile of the whole white population of the Confederacy, or 
absolute and total separation of these States from the United 
States. This proclamation is also an authentic statement by the 
Government of the United States of its inability to subjugate 
the South by force of arms, and, as such, must be accepted by 
neutral nations, which can no longer find any justification in 
withholding our just claims to formal recognition. It is also, in 
effect, an intimation to the people of the North that they must 
prepare to submit to a separation, now become inevitable; for 
that people are too acute not to understand that a restitution 



250 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

of the Union has been rendered forever impossible by the adop- 
tion of a measure which, from its very nature, neither admits 
of retraction nor can coexist with union. 

But the passage which more especially concerns 
negro soldiers is the following: 

We may well leave it to the instincts of that common hu- 
manity which a beneficent Creator has implanted in the breasts 
of our fellowmen of all countries to pass judgment on a meas- 
ure by which several millions of human beings of an inferior 
race — peaceful and contented laborers in their sphere — are 
doomed to extermination, while at the same time they are en- 
couraged to a general assassination of their masters by the in- 
sidious recommendation to abstain from violence unless in neces- 
sary self-defence. Our own detestation of those who have at- 
tempted the most execrable measures recorded in the history of 
g^ty man is tempered by profound contempt for the impo- 
tent rage which it discloses. So far as regards the action of 
this government on such criminals as may attempt its execu- 
tion, I confine myself to informing you that I shall — unless in 
your wisdom you deem some other course more expedient — 
deliver to the several State authorities all commissioned officers 
of the United States that may hereafter be captured by our 
forces in any of the States embraced in the proclamation, that 
they may be dealt with in accordance with the laws of those 
States providing for the punishment of criminals engaged in 
exciting servile insurrection. The enlisted soldiers I shall con- 
tinue to treat as unwilling instruments in the commission of 
these crimes, and shall direct their discharge and return to 
their homes on the proper and usual parole. 

The Confederate Congress took up the subject soon 
afterward, and, after protracted consideration, ulti- 
mately disposed of it by passing the following resolu- 
tion: 

Sec. 1. That, in the opinion of Congpress, the commissioned 
officers of the enemy ought not to be delivered to the authorities 
of the respective States, as suggested in the said message, but 
all captives taken by the Confederate forces ought to be dealt 
with and disposed of by the Confederate Government. 

Sec. 2. That, in the judgment of Congress, the proclamations 
of the President of the United States and the other measures of 



■ J. 

r.} : 




.'-^^- 



NEGRO SOLDIERS 251 

the Government of the United States and of its authorities, 
commanders, and forces, designed or tending to emancipate 
slaves in the Confederate States, or to abduct such slaves, or 
to incite them to insurrection, or to employ negroes in war 
against the Confederate States, or to overthrow the institu- 
tion of African slavery, and bring on a servile war in these 
States, would, if successful, produce atrocious consequences, and 
that they are inconsistent with the spirit of those usages 
which, in modern warfare, prevail among civilized nations; 
they may, therefore, be properly and lawfully repressed by 
retaliation. 

By Section 3 President Davis was authorized to "cause full 
and ample retaliation to be made for every such violation, in 
such manner and to such extent as he may think proper." 

By Sections 4, 5, and 6 white officers of negro troops in the 
service of the Union, or those inciting the slaves to rise against 
their masters, were, if captured, to be put to death, or be other- 
wise punished at the discretion of the court. 

Sec. 7. All negroes taken in anns against the Confederate 
States or who shall give aid or comfort to the enemies of the 
Confederate States shall, when captured, be delivered to the 
State authorities, to be dealt with according to the present or 
future laws of such State. 

Some of the leading rebel journals, says Horace 
Greeley in his ** American Conflict," on reflection ad- 
mitted that this was unjustifiable — that the Confederacy 
could not prescribe the color of citizens of the free 
States, never in bondage at the South, whom our Gov- 
ernment might justifiably employ as soldiers. But the 
resolve nevertheless stood for years, if not to the last, 
unrepealed and unmodified, and was the primary, fun- 
damental impediment whereby the exchange of prisoners 
between the belligerents was first interrupted; so that 
tens of thousands languished for weary months in 
prison-camps, where many thousands died of exposure 
and starvation. 

Secretary Stanton, having learned that three Union 
black soldiers captured with the gunboat Isaac Smith 
at Stone River had been placed in close confinement, 
ordered three South Carolinian prisoners to be treated 
likewise, and the fact to be communicated to the Con- 



252 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

federate leaders. The Richmond Examiner, comment- 
ing on this resolution, said: 

It ifl not merely the pretention of a regular government 
affecting to deal with rebels, but it is a deadly stab which they 
are aiming at our institutions themselves — ^because they know 
that, if we were insane enough to yield this point, to treat black 
men as the equals of white, and insurgent slaves as equivalent 
to our brave soldiers, the very foundation of slavery would be 
fatally wounded. 

After one of the conflicts before Charleston an im- 
mediate exchange of prisoners was agreed on, but when 
the Union prisoners came to be received only whites 
made their appearance. A remonstrance against this 
breach of faith was met by a plea of want of power to 
surrender blacks taken in arms because of the resolve 
of the Confederate Congress just quoted. This caused 
President Lincoln, on July 30, 1863, to issue a general 
order : 

**It is the duty of every government to give protection to its 
citizens, of whatever class, color, or condition, and especially to 
those who are duly organized as soldiers in the public service. 
The law of nations and the usages and customs of war, as car- 
ried on by civilized powers, permit no distinction as to color in 
the treatment of prisoners of war as public enemies. To sell or 
enslave any captured person on account of his color, and for 
no offence against the laws of war, is a relapse into barbarism, 
and a crime against the civilization of the age. 

**The Government of the United States will give the same 
protection to all its soldiers; and, if the enemy shall sell or 
enslave anyone because of his color, the offence shall be pun- 
islied by retaliation upon the enemy's prisoners in our pos- 
session. 

**It is therefore ordered that, for every soldier of the United 
States killed in violation of the laws of war, a rebel soldier shall 
be executed; and for every one enslaved by the enemy or sold 
into slavery, a rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor on 
public works, and continued at such labor until the other shall 
be released and receive the treatment due to a prisoner of war." 

Either the threat of tlie Confederates was an idle 
one, or Lincoln's order deterred them from putting it 



NEGRG 50LDIERS 253 

into execution, for with but one important exception 
they gave negroes captured in battle the same treat- 
ment that was accorded white prisoners. At the storm- 
ing of Fort Pillow, Tennessee, on April 12, 1863, the 
Confederate General Forrest massacred at least three 
hundred of the garrison, most of them negroes and their 
white oflScers, after these soldiers had thrown down their 
arms. 

A rumor of this act came to the President just be- 
fore he delivered an address at a sanitary fair in Balti- 
more on April 18, 1864, and in his speech he solemnly 
promised that if the charge against Forrest proved 
upon investigation to be true retribution would be surely 
executed. He said: 

There seems to be some anxiety in the public mind whether 
the Government is doing its duty to the colored soldier, and to 
the service, at this point. At the beginning of the war and for 
some time the use of colored troops was not contemplated ; and 
how the change of purpose was wrought I will not now take 
time to explain. Upon a clear conviction of duty I resolved to 
turn that element of strength to account ; and I am responsible 
for it to the American people, to the Christian world, to history, 
and in my final account to God. Having determined to use the 
negro as a soldier, there is no way but to give him all the pro- 
tection given to any other soldier. ... If, after all that has 
been said it shall turn out that there has been no massacre at 
Port Pillow, it will be almost safe to say there has been none, 
and will be none, elsewhere. If there has been the massacre of 
three hundred there, or even the tenth part of three hundred, it 
will be conclusively proved; and, being so proved, the retribu- 
tion shall as surely come. It will be a matter of grave considera- 
tion in what exact course to apply the retribution; but in the 
supposed case it must come. 

A congressional investigation found that the inmior 
was true, and had not been exaggerated. Yet the bru- 
tality revealed was so monstrous that the tender- 
hearted President refrained, in spite of his promise, 
from a retribution which, to be effective, would have 
to be coextensive with the offence, and, because visited 
in cold blood upon innocent prisoners, would be even 



254 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

more brutal than the massacre, which was perpetrated in 
the blood-lust of conquest. 

Accordingly, the public interest being concentrated 
at the time on the bloody Wilderness campaign of Grant 
in Virginia, the Fort Pillow incident was allowed by the 
Government to pass without action upon it. 

Toward the end of the war, when the collapse of 
the rebellion was in plain sight, the Confederate Gov- 
ernment debated the question of arming the slaves ; the 
measure failed by one vote. Mr. Lincoln expressed his 
sentiments upon this unique phase of the conflict begun 
in defence of slavery in a speech on the occasion of 
a presentation of a captured rebel flag to Governor 
Morton of Indiana. 

While I have often said that all men ought to be free, yet 
would I allow those colored persons to be slaves who want to be, 
and next to them those white people who argue in favor of mak- 
ing other people slaves. I am in favor of giving an appoint- 
ment to such white men to try it on for these slaves. I will 
say one thing in regard to the negro being employed to fight 
for them. I do know he cannot light and stay at home and 
make bread too. And, as one is about as important as the other 
to them, I don't care which they do. I am rather in favor of 
having them try them as soldiers. They lack one vote of doing 
that, and I wish I could send my vote over the river so that I 
might cast it in favor of allowing the negro to fight. But they 
cannot fight and work both. We now see the bottom of the 
enemy's resources. 



CHAPTER X 
*'Thb Wab Is a Failubb*' 

Clement L. Vallandigham [O.] Speaks in the House on the Failure of the 
War, and Demands Armistice with the Confederacy to Arrange Terms 
of Peace — Reply by John A. Bingham [O.] Declaring the Union Is 
Worth th^ Costliest Sacrifice of Blood and Treasure to Maintain It — 
Lincoln's Gettysburg Speech: "These Dead Shall Not Have Died in 
Vain" — Second Election of Lincoln — His Inaugural Address on the 
Prosecution of the War: ''The Almighty Has His Purposes." 

THE Union disaster at Fredericksburg (December 
11-12, 1862) and the strong resistance of the Con- 
federates at Vicksburg, overweighing in popular 
opinion the costly Union victory at Stone River (Decem- 
ber 30, 1862-January 4, 1863), caused the Opposition in 
Congress to inaugurate its peace policy — the view that 
the **war is a failure,*' *Hhe South cannot be con- 
quered,*' and therefore that the Government should 
speedily make the best terms it could with the enemy. 

On January 14, 1863, Clement L. Vallandigham [0.] 
spoke as follows in the House : 

Peace and Reunion 

Clement L. Vallandigham, M. C. 

Sir, twenty months have elapsed, but the rebellion is not 
crushed out ; its military power has not been broken ; the insur- 
gents have not dispersed. The Union is not restored; nor the 
Constitution maintained; nor the laws enforced. A thousand 
millions have been expended and three hundred thousand lives 
lost or bodies mangled ; and to-day the Confederate flag is still 
near the Potomac and the Ohio, and the Confederate Govern- 
ment stronger, many times, than at the beginning. Not a State 
has been restored, not any part of any State has voluntarily re- 

255 



256 GREAT AMERICAN DEBA'.?ES 

turned to the Union. And has anything been wanting that 
Congress, or the States, or the people in their most generous 
enthusiasm, their most impassioned patriotism, could bestow f 
Was it power! And did not the party of the Executive control 
the entire Federal (Jovemment, every State government, every 
county, every city, town, and village in the North and West? 
Was it patronage ? All belonged to it. Was it influence ? What 
more? Did not the school, the college, the church, the press, 
the secret orders, the municipality, the corporation (railroads, 
telegraphs, express companies) , the voluntary association, all, all 
yield it to the utmost ? Was it unanimity ? Never was an Ad- 
ministration so supported in England or America. Five men 
and half a score of newspapers made up the opposition. Was it 
enthusiasm? The enthusiasm was fanatical. There has been 
nothing like it since the Crusades. Was it confidence? Sir, the 
faith of the people exceeded that of the patriarch. They gave 
up Constitution, law, right, liberty, all at your demand for 
arbitrary power that the rebellion might, as you promised, be 
crushed out in three months and the Union restored. Was credit 
needed? You took control of a country, young, vigorous, and 
inexhaustible in wealth and resources, and a Government al- 
most free from public debt, and whose good faith had never 
been tarnished. Your great national loan bubble failed miser- 
ably, as it deserved to fail ; but the bankers and merchants of 
Philadelphia, New York, and Boston lent you more than their 
entire banking capital. And when that failed, too, you forced 
credit by declaring your paper promises to pay a legal tender 
for all debts. Was money wanted? You had all the revenues 
of the United States, diminished, indeed, but still in gold. The 
whole wealth of the country, to the last dollar, lay at your feet. 
Private individuals, municipal corporations, the State govern- 
ments, all in their frenzy gave you money or means with reck- 
less prodigality. The great Eastern cities lent you $150,000,000. 
Congress voted first $250,000,000 and next $500,000,000 more in 
loans; and then first $50,000,000, then $10,000,000; next $90,000,- 
000, and in July last $150,000,000 in treasury notes; and the 
Secretary has issued also a paper * * postage currency, ' ' in sums as 
low as five cents, limited in amount only by liis discretion. Nay, 
more: already since the 4th of July, 1861, this House has ap- 
propriated $2,017,864,000, almost every dollar without debate 
and without a recorded vote. A thousand millions have been 
expended since the 15th of April, 1861; and a public debt or 
liability of $1,500,000,0(X) already incurred. And to support all 
this stupendous outlay and indebtedness a system of taxation, 



THE WAR IS A FAILURE 257 

direct and indirect, has been inaugurated, the most onerous 
and unjust ever imposed upon any but a conquered people. 

Money and credit, then, you have had in prodigal profusion. 
And were men wanted? More than a million rushed to arms! 
Seventy-five thousand first (and the country stood aghast at the 
multitude), then eighty-three thousand more were demanded; 
and three hundred and ten thousand responded to the call. The 
President next asked for four hundred thousand, and Congress, 
in its generous confidence, gave him five hundred thousand ; and, 
not to be outdone, he took six hundred and thirty-seven thou- 
sand. Half of these melted away in their first campaign ; and 
the President demanded three hundred thousand more for the 
war, and then drafted yet another three hundred thousand for 
nine months. The fabled hosts of Xerxes have been outniun- 
bered. And yet victory strangely follows the standards of the 
foe. From Great Bethel to Vicksburg, the battle has not been 
to the strong. Yet every disaster, except the last, has been fol- 
lowed by a call for more troops, and every time so far they 
have been promptly furnished. From the beginning the war 
has been conducted like a political campaign, and it has been 
the folly of the party in power that they have assumed that 
numbers alone would win the field in a contest not with ballots 
but with musket and sword. Yet after nearly two yeara of 
more vigorous prosecution of war than ever recorded in his- 
tory; after more skirmishes, combats, and battles than Alex- 
ander, CoMsar, or the first Napoleon ever fought in any five years 
of their military career, you have utterly, signally, disastrously 
— I will not say ignominiously — failed to subdue ten millions of 
** rebels," whom you had taught the people of the North and 
West not only to hate but to despise. Rebels, did I say 1 Yes, 
your fathers were rebels, or your grandfathers. He who now 
before me on canvas looks down so sadly upon us, the false, 
degenerate, and imbecile guardians of the great Republic which 
he founded, was a rebel. And yet we, cradled ourselves in re- 
bellion, and who have fostered and fraternized with every insur- 
rection in the nineteenth century everywhere throughout the 
globe, would now, forsooth, make the word ** rebel" a reproach. 
Rebels certainly they are ; but all the persistent and stupendous 
efforts of the most gigantic warfare of modern times have, 
through your incompetency and folly, availed nothing to crusli 
them out, cut off though they have been by your blockade from 
all the world, and dependent only upon their own courage and 
resources. And yet they were to be utterly conquered and sub- 
dued in six weeks or three months! Sir, my judgment was 

VI— 17 ' 



258 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

made up and expressed from the first. I learned it from 
Chatham: '' My lords, you cannot conquer America. " And you 
have not conquered the South. You never will. It is not in the 
nature of things possible; much less under your auspices. But 
money you have expended without limit, and blood poured out 
like water. Defeat, debt, taxation, sepulchers, these are your 
trophies. In vain the people gave you treasure and the soldier 
yielded up his life. ** Fight, tax, emancipate, let these," said the 
gentleman from Maine [Frederick A. Pike] at the last session, 
'*be the trinity of our salvation." Sir, they have become the 
trinity of your deep damnation. The war for the Union is, in 
your hands, a most bloody and costly failure. The President 
confessed it on the 22d of September, solemnly, officially, and 
under the broad seal of the United States. And he has now 
repeated the confession. The priests and rabbis of abolition 
taught him that God would not prosper such a cause. War for 
ihe Union was abandoned ; war for the negro openly begun, and 
with stronger battalions than before. With what success? Let 
the dead at Fredericksburg and Vicksburg answer. 

And now, sir, can this war continue ? Whence the money to 
carry it onf Where the men? Can you borrow? From whom? 
Can you tax more? Will the people bear it? Wait till you 
have collected what is already levied. How many millions more 
of ** legal tender" — to-day forty-seven per cent, below the par 
of gold — can you float ? Will men enlist now at any price ? Ah, 
sir, it is easier to die at home. I beg pardon ; but I trust I am 
not ''discouraging enlistments." If I am, then first arrest Lin- 
coln, Stanton, and Halleck, and some of your other generals ; and 
I will retract; yes, I will recant. But can you draft again? 
Ask New England — New York. Ask Massachusetts. Where are 
the nine hundred thousand ? Ask not Ohio — ^the Northwest. She 
thought you were in earnest, and gave you all, all — ^more than 
you demanded. 

"The wife whose babe first smiled that day, 

The fair, fond bride of yester eve, 
And aged sire and matron gray, 
Saw the loved warriors haste away, 

And deemed it sin to grieve." 

Sir, in blood she has atoned for her credulity; and now 
there is mourning in every house and distress and sadness in 
every heart. Shall she give you any more? 

But ought this war to continue? I answer, no — not a day, 
not an hour. What then ? Shall we separate ? A -^ain I answer, 



THE WAR IS A FAILURE 259 

no, no, no! What thent And now, sir, I come to the grandest 
and most solemn problem of statesmanship from the beginning 
of time; and to the Qod of Heaven, lUuminer of hearts and 
minds, I would humbly appeal for some measure, at least, of 
light and wisdom and strength to explore and reveal the dark 
but possible future of this land. 

CAN THE UNION OF THESE STATES BE RESTORED? HOW SHALL IT 

BE DONE? 

And why nott Is it historically impossible? Sir, the fre- 
quent civil wars and conflicts between the states of Greece did 
not prevent their cordial union to resist the Persian invasion; 
nor did even the thirty years' Peloponnesian war, springing in 
part, from the abduction of slaves, and embittered and disas- 
trous as it was — let Thucydides speak — wholly destroy the fel- 
lowship of those states. The wise Romans ended the three 
years' social war after many bloody battles and much atrocity 
by admitting the states of Italy to all the rights and privileges 
of Roman citizenship— the very object to secure which these 
States had taken up arms. The border wars between Scotland 
and England, running through centuries, did not prevent the 
final union, in peace and by adjustment, of the two kingdoms 
under one monarch. Compromise did at last what ages of 
coercion and attempted conquest had failed to effect. England 
kept the crown, while Scotland gave the king to wear it; and 
the memories of Wallace and the Bruce of Bannockburn be- 
came part of the glories of British history. I pass by the union 
of Ireland with England — a union of force, which Qod and 
just men abhor; and yet precisely ''the Union as it should be" 
of the abolitionists of America. Sir, the rivalries of the houses 
of York and Lancaster filled all England with cruelty and 
slaughter; yet compromise and intermarriage ended the strife 
at last, and the white rose and the red were blended in one. 
Who dreamed a month before the death of Cromwell that in 
two years the people of England, after twenty years of civil war 
and usurpation, would, with great unanimity, restore the house 
of Stuart in the person of its most worthless prince, whose 
father but eleven years before they had beheaded? And who 
could have foretold in the beginning of 1812 that within some 
three years Napoleon would be in exile upon a desert island and 
the Bourbons restored 1 Armed foreign intervention did it ; but 
it is a strange history. Or who, then, expected to see a nephew 
of Napoleon, thirty-five years later, with the consent of the peo- 



260 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

pie, supplant the Bourbon and reign Emperor of France f Sir, 
many states and people, once separate, have become united in 
the course of ages through natural causes and without conquest, 
but I remember a single instance only in history of states or 
people once united, and speaking the same language, who have 
been forced permanently asunder by civil strife or war, unless 
they were separated by distance or vast natural boundaries. The 
secession of the Ten Tribes is the exception : these parted with- 
out actual war ; and their subsequent history is not encouraging 
to secession. But when Moses, the greatest of all statesmen, 
would secure a distinct nationality and government to the He- 
brews, he left Egypt and established^ his people in a distant 
country. In modern times the Netherlands, three centuries ago, 
won their independence by the sword ; but France and the Eng- 
lish Channel separated them from Spain. So did our Thirteen 
Colonies; but the Atlantic Ocean divorced us from England. 
So did Mexico and other Spanish colonies in America; but the 
same ocean divided them from Spain. Cuba and the Canadas 
still adhere to the parent government. And who now. North or 
South, in Europe or America, looking into history, shall pre- 
sumptiously say that because of civil war the reunion of these 
States is impossible? War, indeed, while it lasts, is disunion, 
and, if it lasts long enough, will be final, eternal separation first 
and anarchy and despotism afterward. Hence I would hasten 
peace now, to-day, by every honorable appliance. 

Are there physical causes which render reunion imprac- 
ticable 1 None. Where other causes do not control, rivers unite ; 
but mountains, deserts, and great bodies of water — oceani dis' 
sociabiles^ — ^separate a people. Vast forests originally and the 
lakes now also divide us — not very widely or wholly — from the 
Canadas, though we speak the same language and are similar in 
manners, laws, and institutions. Our chief navigable rivers run 
from north to south. Most of our bays and arms of the sea 
take the same direction. So do our ranges of mountains. Natu- 
ral causes all tend to Union, except as between the Pacific Coast 
and the country east of the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic. 
It is *' manifest destiny.'' Union is empire. Hence, hitherto we 
have continually extended our territory, and the Union with it, 
south and west. The Louisiana purchase, Florida, and Texas all 
attest it. We passed desert and forest, and scaled even the 
Rocky Mountains, to extend the Union to the Pacific. Sir, there 
is no natural boundary between the North and the South, and 
no line of latitude upon which to separate; and if ever a line 

^ '* Friendship-barring oceans." 



THE WAR IS A FAILURE 261 

of longititude shall be established it will be east of the Missis- 
sippi valley. The Alleghanies are no longer a barrier. High- 
ways ascend them everywhere, and the railroad now climbs their 
summits and spans their chasms, or penetrates their rockiest 
sides. The electric telegraph follows, and, stretching its con- 
necting wires along the clouds, there mingles its vocal lightnings 
with the fires of heaven. 

And now, sir, is there any difference of race here so radical 
as to forbid reunion? I do not refer to the negro race, styled 
now, in unctuous official phrase by the President, ''Americans 
of African descent." Certainly, sir, there are two white races 
in the United States, both from the same common stock, and 
yet so distinct — one of them so peculiar — ^that they develop dif- 
ferent forms of civilization, and might belong, almost, to dif- 
ferent types of mankind. But the boundary of these two races 
is not at all marked by the line 'which divides the slaveholding 
from the non-slaveholding States. If race is to be the geograph- 
ical limit of disunion, then Mason and Dixon's can never be the 
line. 

Speaking of the natural causes which had formed the 
Union, Mr. Vallandigham said: 

And now, sir, what one of them is wanting? What one 
diminished? On the contrary, many of them are stronger to- 
day than in the beginning. Migration and intermarriage have 
strengthened the ties of consanguinity. Commerce, trade, and 
production have immensely multiplied. Cotton, almost unknown 
here in 1787, is now the chief product and export of the country. 
It has set in motion three- fourths of the spindles of New Eng- 
land, and given employment, directly or remotely, to full half 
the shipping, trade, and commerce of the United States. More 
than that: cotton has kept the peace between England and 
America for thirty years; and, had the people of the North been 
as wise and practical as the statesmen of Oreat Britain, it 
would have maintained Union and peace here. But we are being 
taught in our first century and at our own cost the lessons 
which England learned through the long and bloody experience 
of eight hundred years. We shall be wiser next time. Let 
not cotton be king, but peacemaker, and inherit the blessing. 

A common interest, then, still remains to us. And union 
for the common defence, at the end of this war, taxed, indebted, 
impoverished, exhausted, as both sections must be, and with 
foreign fleets and armies around us, will be fifty-fold more essen- 



2(52 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

tial than ever before. And finally, sir, without union, our do- 
mestic tranquility must forever remain unsettled. If it cannot 
be maintained within the Union, how, then, outside of it, with- 
out an exodus or colonization of the i)eople of the one section 
or the other to a distant country t Sir, I repeat that two gov- 
ernments so interlinked and bound together every way by physi- 
cal and social ligaments cannot exist in peace without a com- 
mon arbiter. Will treaties bind ust What better treaty than 
the Constitution t What more solemn, more durable t Shall 
we settle our disputes, then, by arbitration and compromise t 
Sir, let us arbitrate and compromise now, inside of the Union. 
Certainly it will be quite as easy. 

And now, sir, to all these original causes and motives which 
impelled to union at first must be added certain artificial liga- 
ments which eighty years of association under a common Gk>v- 
emment have most fully developed. Chief among these are 
canals, steam navigation, railroads, express companies, the post- 
ofSce, the newspaper press, and that terrible agent of good and 
evil mixed — ** spirit of health, and yet goblin damned" — ^if free, 
the gentlest minister of truth and liberty; when enslaved, the 
supplest instrument of falsehood and tyranny — ^the magnetic tele- 
graph. All these have multiplied the speed or the quantity of 
trade, travel, communication, migration, and intercourse of all 
kinds between the different States and sections; and thus, so 
long as a healthy condition of the body-politic continued, they 
became powerful cementing agencies of union. The numerous 
voluntary associations, artistic, literary, charitable, social, and 
scientific, until corrupted and made fanatical ; the various eccle- 
siastical organizations, until they divided; and the political 
parties, so long as they remained all national and not sectional, 
were also among the strong ties which bound us together. And 
yet all of these, perverted and abused for some years in the 
hands of bad or fanatical m^i, became still more powerful in- 
strumentalities in the fatal work of disunion ; just as the veins 
and arteries of the human body, designed to convey the vitaliz- 
ing fluid through every part of it, will carry also, and with 
increased rapidity, it may be, the subtle poison which takes life 
away. 

Nor is this all. It was through their agency that the im- 
prisoned winds of civil war were all let loose at first with 
such sudden and appalling fury ; and, kept in motion by political 
power, they have ministered to that fury ever since. But, potent 
alike for good and evil, they may yet, under the control of the 
people, and in the hands of wise, good, and patriotic men, be 



THE WAR IS A FAILURE 263 

made the most efFective agencies, under Providence, in the re- 
union of these States. 

Other ties also, less material in their nature, but hardly less 
persuasive in their influence, have grown up under the Union. 
Long association, a common history, national reputation, treaties 
and diplomatic intercourse abroad, admission of new States, a 
common jurisprudence, great men whose names and fame are 
the patrimony of the whole country, patriotic music and songs, 
common battlefields, and glory won under the same flag. These 
make up the poetry of union ; and yet, as in the marriage rela- 
tion and the family with similar influences, they are stronger 
than hooks of steel. He was a wise statesman, though he may 
never have held an office, who said, ''Let me write the songs of 
a people and I care not who makes their laws." Why is the 
** Marseillaise" prohibited in France t Sir, "Hail Columbia" 
and the ''Star Spangled Banner" — ^Pennsylvania gave us one 
and Maryland the other — ^have done more for the Union than 
all the legislation and all the debates in this Capitol for forty 
years; and they will do more yet again than all your armies, 
though you call out another million men into the field. Sir, I 
would add "Yankee Doodle"; but first let me be assured that 
Yankee Doodle loves the Union more than he hates the slave- 
holder.^ 

What, then, I ask, is the immediate, direct cause of dis- 
union and this civil wart Slavery, it is answered. Sir, that is 
the philosophy of the rustic in the play — ^"that a great cause of 
the night is lack of the sun." Certainly slavery was in one 
sense — very obscure indeed — ^the cause of the war. Had there 
been no slavery here, this particular war about slavery would 
never have been waged. But far better say that the negro is 
the cause of the war ; for, had there been no negro here, there 
would be no war just now. What thent Exterminate himt 
Who demands it t Colonize himt Howt Where t Whent At 
whose cost t Sir, let us have an end of this folly. 

But slavery is the cause of the war. Whyt Because the 
South obstinately and wickedly refused to restrict or abolish 
it at the demand of the philosophers or fanatics and demagogues 
of the North and West. Then, sir, it was abolition, the purpose 
to abolish or interfere with and hem in slavery, which caused 
disunion and war. Slavery is only the subject, but abolition the 
cause, of this civil war. I will not be stopped by that cry of 
mingled fanaticism and hypocriqr about the sin and barbarism 

^ In trnth, the Bong was written in derision, bj a Britisli offieer, and ngt 
by an American, 



264 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

of African slavery. Sir, I see more of barbarism and sin, a 
thousand times, in the continuance of this war, the dissolution 
of the Union, the breaking up of this Oovemment, and the en- 
slavement of the white race by debt and taxes and arbitrary 
power. The day of fanatics and sophists and enthusiasts, thank 
Ood, is gone at last ; and though the age of chivalry may not, 
the age of practical statesmanship is about to return. Sir, there 
is fifty-fold less of anti-slavery sentiment to-day in the West 
than there was two years ago; and, if this war be continued, 
there will be still less a year hence. The people there begin, at 
last, to comprehend that domestic slavery in the South is a 
question, not of morals, or religion, or humanity, but a form of 
labor, perfectly compatible with the dignity of free white labor 
in the same community, and with national vigor, power, and 
prosperity, and especially with military strength. They have 
learned, or begin to learn, that the evils of the system affect 
the master alone, or the community and State in which it exists; 
and that we of the free States partake of all the material bene- 
fits of the institution, unmixed with any part of its mischiefs. 
They believe also in the subordination of the negro race to the 
white where they both exist together, and that the condition of 
subordination, as established in the South, is far better every 
way for the negro than the hard servitude of poverty, degrada- 
tion, and crime to which he is subjected in the free States. All 
this, sir, may be **pro-slaveryism," if there be such a word. 
Perhaps it is; but the people of the West begin now to think 
it wisdom and good sense. We will not establish slavery in our 
own midst ; neither will we abolish or interfere with it outside 
of our own limits. 

Sir, you cannot abolish slavery by the sword; still less by 
proclamations, though the President were to ** proclaim" every 
month. Of what possible avail was his proclamation of Sep- 
tember ? Did the South submit ? Was she even alarmed ? And 
yet he has now fulmined another **bull against the comet" — 
brutum fulmen — and, threatening servile insurrection with all 
its horrors, has yet coolly appealed to the judgment of mankind, 
and invoked the blessing of the (Jod of peace and love! But 
declaring it a military necessity, an essential measure of war to 
subdue the rebels, yet, with admirable wisdom, he expressly 
exempts from its operation the only States and parts of States 
in the South where he has the military power to execute it. 

Neither, sir, can you abolish slavery by argument. As well 
attempt to abolish marriage or the relation of paternity. The 
South is resolved to maintain it at every hazard and by every 



THE WAR IS A FAILURE 265 

sacrifice ; and if ' ' this Union cannot endure part slave and part 
free/' then it is already and finally dissolved. Talk not to me 
of **West Virginia.'' Tell me not of Missouri, trampled under 
the feet of your soldiery. As well talk to me of Ireland. Sir, 
the destiny of those States must abide the issue of the war. 
But Kentucky you may find tougher. And Maryland — 

''E'en in her ashes live their wonted itreB.*' 

Nor will Delaware be found wanting in the day of trial. 

But I deny the doctrine. It is full of disunion and civil 
war. It is disunion itself. Whoever first taught it ought to be 
dealt with as not only hostile to the Union, but an enemy of 
the human race. Sir, the fundamental idea of the Constitu- 
tion is the perfect and eternal compatibility of a union of States 
**part slave and part free"; else the Constitution never would 
have been framed nor the Union founded ; and seventy years of 
successful experiment have approved the wisdom of the plan. 
In my deliberate judgment a confederacy made up of slave- 
holding and non-slaveholding States is, in the nature of things, 
the strongest of all popular governments. African slavery has 
been, and is, eminently conservative. It makes the absolute 
political equality of the white race everywhere practicable. It 
dispenses with the English order of nobility, and leaves every 
white man, North and South, owning slaves or owning none, the 
equal of every other white man. It has reconciled universal 
suffrage throughout the free States with the stability of govern- 
ment. 

What, then, sir, with so many causes impelling to reunion, 
keeps us apart to-day T Hate, passion, antagonism, revenge, all 
heated seven times hotter by war. Sir, these, while they last, 
are the most powerful of all motives with a people, and with 
the individual man; but fortunately they are least durable. 
They hold a divided sway in the same bosoms with the nobler 
qualities of love, justice, reason, placability ; and, except when at 
their height^ are weaker than the sense of interest, and always, 
in States at least, give way to it at last. No statesman who 
yields himself up to them can govern wisely or well; and no 
State whose policy is controlled by them can either prosper or 
endure. But war is both their offspring and their ailment, and 
while it lasts all other motives are subordinate. The virtues of 
peace cannot flourish, cannot even find development in the midst 
of fighting; and this civil war keeps in motion the centrifugal 
forces of the Union, and gives to them increased strength and 



266 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

activity every day. But such, and so many and powerful, in my 
judgment, are the cementing or centripetal agencies impelling 
us together that nothing but perpetual war and strife can keep 
us always divided. 

And now, sir, if it be the will of all sections to unite, then 
upon what terms? Sir, between the South and most of the 
States of the North, and all of the West, there is but one subject 
in controversy — slavery. It is the only question, said Mr. Cal- 
houn twenty-five years ago, of sufficient magnitude and potency 
to divide this Union; and divide it it will, he added, or drench 
the country in blood if not arrested. It has done both. But 
settle it on the original basis of the Constitution, and give to 
each section the power to protect itself within the Union, and 
now, after the terrible lessons of the past two years, the Union 
will be stronger than before, and, indeed, endure for ages. Woe 
to the man, North or South, who, to the third or fourth genera- 
tion, should teach men disunion. 

And now the way to reunion: what so easyt Behold to- 
day two separate governments in one country, and without a 
natural dividing line; with two presidents and cabinets, and a 
double congress; and yet each under a constitution so exactly 
similar, the one to the other, that a stranger could scarce dis- 
cern the difference. Was ever folly and madness like thist 
Sir, it is not in the nature of things that it should so continue 
long. 

But why speak of ways or terms of reunion now t The will 
is yet wanting in both sections. Union is consent and good will 
and fraternal affection. War is force, hate, revenge. Is the 
country tired at last of war? Has the experiment been tried 
long enough T Has sufficient blood been shed, treasure expended, 
and misery inflicted in both the North and the South? What 
then? Stop fighting. Make an armistice — ^no formal treaty. 
Withdraw your army from the seceded States. Reduce 
both armies to a fair and sufficient peace establishment. 
Declare absolute free trade between the North and South. Buy 
and sell. Agree upon a zollverein. Recall your fleets. Break 
up your blockade. Reduce your navy. Restore travel. Open 
up railroads. Reestablish the telegraph. Reunite your express 
companies. No more Monitors and ironclads, but set your 
friendly steamers and steam ships again in motion. Visit the 
North and West. Visit the South. Exchange newspapers. Mi- 
grate. Intermarry. Let slavery alone. Hold elections at the 
appointed times. Let us choose a new President in sixty-four. 
Alid when the gospel of peace shall have descended again from 



THE WAR IS A FAILURE 267 

Heaven into their hearts, and the gospel of abolition and of 
hate been expelled, let your clergy and the churches meet again 
in Christian intercourse, North and South. Let the secret or- 
ders and voluntary associations everywhere reunite as brethren 
once more. In short, give to all the natural and all the artificial 
causes which impel us together their fullest sway. Let time do 
his office — drying tears, dispelling sorrows, mellowing passion, 
and making herb and grass and tree to grow again upon the 
hundred battlefields of this terrible war. 

''But this is recognition." It is not formal recognition, to 
which I will not consent. Recognition now, and attempted per- 
manent treaties about boundary, travel, and trade, and parti- 
tion of Territories, would end in a war fiercer and more disas- 
trous than before. Recognition is absolute disunion; and not 
between the slave and the free States, but with Delaware and 
Maryland as part of the North and Kentucky and Missouri part 
of the West. But wherever the actual line, every evil and mis- 
chief of disunion is implied in it. And for similar reasons, sir, 
I would not at this time press hastily a convention of the States. 
The men who now would hold seats in such a convention would, 
upon both sides, if both agreed to attend, come together full 
of the hate and bitterness inseparable from a civil war. No, sir ; 
let passion have time to cool and reason to resume its sway. It 
cost thirty years of desperate and most wicked patience and 
industry to destroy or impair the magnificent temple of this 
Union. Let us be content if within three years we shall be able 
to restore it. 

But certainly what I propose is informal, practical recog- 
nition. And that is precisely what exists to-day, and has 
existed, more or less defined, from the first. Flags of truce, 
exchange of prisoners, and all your other observances of the 
laws, forms, and courtesies of war are acts of recognition. Sir, 
does any man doubt to-day that there is a Confederate Oovern- 
ment at Richmond, and that it is a '' belligerent "t Even the 
Secretary of State has discovered it at last, though he has writ- 
ten ponderous folios of polished rhetoric to prove that it is not. 
Will continual war, then, without extended and substantial suc- 
cess, make the Confederate States any the less a government in 
fact? 

''But it confesses disunion." Yes, just as the surgeon who 
sets your fractured limb in splints, in order that it may be 
healed, admits that it is broken. "But the Government will have 
failed to 'crush out the rebellion.' " Sir, it has failed. You 
went to war to prove that we had a Government. With what 



268 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

result? To the people of the loyal States it has, in your hands, 
been the Oovemment of King Stork, but to the Confederate 
States, of King Log. ''But the rebellion will have triumphed." 
Better triumph to-day than ten years hence. But I deny it. 
The rebellion will at last be crushed out in the only way in 
which it ever was possible. ''But no one will be hung at the 
end of war.*' Neither will there be, though the war should last 
half a century, except by the mob or the hand of arbitrary 
power. But really, sir, if there is to be no hanging, let this 
Administration, and all who have done its bidding everywhere, 
rejoice and be exceeding glad. 

And now, sir, allow me a word upon a subject of very great 
interest at this moment, and most important it may be in its 
influence upon the future — foreicin medution. I speak not of 
armed and hostile intervention, which I would resist as long as 
but one man was left to strike a blow at the invader. But 
friendly mediation — the kindly offer of an impartial power to 
stand as a daysman between the contending parties in this most 
bloody and exhausting strife— ought to be met in a spirit as 
cordial and ready as that in which it is proffered. It would 
be churlish to refuse. Certainly it is not consistent with the 
former dignity of this Government to ask for mediation ; neither, 
sir,,would it befit its ancient magnanimity to reject it. As pro- 
posed by the Emperor of France,* I would accept it at once. 
Now is the auspicious moment. It is the speediest, easiest, most 
graceful mode of suspending hostilities. Let us hear no more 
of the mediation of cannon and the sword. The day for all 
that has gone by. Let us be statesmen at last. 

Very grand, indeed, would be the tribunal before which the 
great question of the union of these States and the final destiny 
of this continent for ages should be heard, and historic through 
all time the embassadors who should argue it. And, if both bel- 
ligerents consent, let the subjects in controvewry be referred to 
Switzerland, or Russia, or any other impartial and incorruptible 
power or state in Europe. But at last, sir, the people of these 
several States here, at home, must be the final arbiter of this 
great quarrel in America; and the people and States of the 
Northwest, the mediators who shall stand, like the prophet, be- 
twixt the living and the dead, that the plague of disunion may 
be stayed. 

The speech of Mr. Vallandigham was replied to by 
John A. Bingham [0.]. 

1 Napoleon IIL 



THE WAR IS A FAILURE 269 

The Union Worth the Costliest Sacrifice 

John A. Bingham, M. C. 

My colleague tells us that the war ought to stop; that it 
should not continue a day nor an hour. He is for the Union, 
he tells us, and against the employment of the only means by 
which the Union can be this day maintained, the armed power 
of the people themselves. There can be no Union as it was, 
unless by arms you sustain, over all the Republic, the Constitu- 
tion as the supreme law of the land ; and yet the gentleman says 
the war ought to stop ; that it should not continue a day nor an 
hour. Half of his speech is devoted to the task of satisfying 
the people that he is for the Constitution as it is and the Union 
as it was. Let us see. He tells us frankly that he voted neither 
men nor money to carry on the war. Suppose all the representa- 
tives in this hall had followed his example, had acted as he de- 
clares he has acted in the cause of the Union, what would have 
been the result? No bill authorizing the enlistment of volim- 
teers in defence of your flag, no appropriation of money for 
arming, equipping, and keeping in the field six hundred thou- 
sand defenders of the Union, no arm lifted to support the tot- 
tering pillars of the Republic, shaking in this wild storm of re- 
bellion. All would have been abandoned. The gentleman who 
says he is for the Union as it was would have abandoned all to 
the tender mercies of this armed rebellion, which has multiplied 
those graves all over the land to which the gentleman refers with 
so much tenderness, and so much regret for those who fill them ; 
fallen, as he says, by reason of this unconstitutional war. The 
gentleman could not find it in his heart to denounce the re- 
bellion as unconstitutional, but only the war on the part of the 
Government for the suppression of that rebellion is unconstitu- 
tional. 

This is the last phase of that democracy which has brought 
this ruin upon the country. I do not say that everybody of the 
party to which the gentleman belongs was of his mind ; but I do 
say, and I challenge contradiction in saying it, that, but for the 
aid and comfort which that gentleman and his party have given 
to this rebellion from its inception to this hour, this ruin, to 
which he points so significantly to-day, wrought by this terrible 
conflict of arms, and which has reached almost every hearthstone 
in the land, never had been. In my judgment, the gentleman, 
and those of his party who have agreed and cooperated with 
him, are not clear of the blood shed in this war. I am as toler- 



270 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

ant of conflicting opinions as the gentleman or any other man; 
but I cannot be expected to be tolerant of the charge made by 
the gentleman this day, that those who stand by the country and 
by the Constitution, by reason of their fidelity to duty, violate 
the Constitution ; nor can I be tolerant of the demand that the 
only means by which the Government can be maintained shall 
be withdrawn from its support, and the country left naked to its 
enemies. That is the point I make with the gentleman to-day. 
He seems to assume that there is no difficulty in the way to a 
restoration, a speedy restoration of peace and of the Union, if 
your armies are disbanded, if the war for the Union only ceases, 
and ceases at once. There is not a word of denunciation from 
the gentleman's lips against this rebellion, and he assumes and 
takes it for granted that secession is a constitutional right ; and 
by way of glorifying these infernal architects of our country's 
ruin inquires, were not our fathers rebels like unto them ? I thank 
him for his candor in so plainly announcing his opinion, though 
constrained to differ with him in his opinions and his conclu- 
sions. 

My colleague, who talks to-day about the Union as it was, 
is the same gentleman who introduced, in February, 1861, in aid 
of this rebellion, the proposition to ** divide the United States into 
four sections," and to arm, by an amendment to the Constitu- 
tion, the rebellious section of country — ^the fifteen slave States — 
with the power to legalize secession, in utter disregard of every 
free State in the Union, and without the consent of any of 
them. I do not think that a gentleman occup3ring that position 
upon the records of the country has a right to denounce any- 
body as opponents of the Constitution and the Union; much 
less do I suppose it becomes him to assume that he is the spe- 
cial guardian of the ''Constitution as it is and the Union as 
it was." 

The gentleman was very correct in remarking that it would 
be a most singular spectacle, indeed, to have two separate gov- 
ernments within the limits of territory which God and nature 
had designed should be under one government, and be the com- 
mon heritage of one people. I agree with him ; and yet the gen- 
tleman managed and contrived a device by which the American 
people, if they had accepted the proposition, would have con- 
sented that that very result might be accomplished. 

And yet the gentleman is for **the Union as it was." The 
gentleman seems to be horrified by the thought of two separate 
governments existing upon this common heritage of one people, 
which God, by its mountains, and its lakes, and its magnificent 



THE WAR IS A FAILURE 271 

rivers, has declared shall never be partitioned. His premises 
and his conclusions are strangely at fault with each other. The 
gentleman is for the Union, and at the same moment for dis- 
union. Disband your armies, and let the war for the Union 
cease, says the gentleman. 

What then ? The South would be independent of the North, 
and the South would be triumphant over your violated Consti- 
tution and shattered Union. The gentleman so assumed, and 
hence his resolutions of this session contemplate and speak of 
'*a final treaty of peace" with these rebels as a foreign and in- 
dependent power. The gentleman further assumes — and I 
would like to know by what authority — ^that if we withdraw 
our armies, if we lay down our arms, if we cease to make war 
upon the rebels, they will come back into the Union under a 
treaty of peace. I would like to know by what authority he 
says so. If he knows it, he ought to give the House the benefit 
of his information. If it is a mere matter of speculation with 
him, why, of course, he has a right to indulge in his specula- 
tions, but we may be pardoned if we question the correctness 
of them. Has he any definite information T The gentleman is 
silent upon that subject. 

Mr. Vallandigham. — ^Will you allow me time to finish my 
speech ? 

Mr. Bingham. — That is an unreasonable request. 

Mr. Vallandigham. — Then I have said all I desire to say 
to the gentleman. 

Mr. Bingham. — I supposed the gentleman had. I have this 
to say in reply to the gentleman, that I doubt very much 
whether the gentleman is authorized to speak for these rebels 
to that extent. To whatever extent he may be their mouthpiece, 
I venture to doubt his authority to say for them that if we lay 
down our arms and surrender to them, and allow them to pro- 
claim their independence and their triumph over us and over 
our common (Jovernment, they will then consent to come back 
and be governed by the Constitution and the laws. I have no 
doubt that the gentleman may say many things by their au- 
thority, but that is one thing I do not think he is allowed to say 
by his master, Jefferson Davis, yet. 

Here the speaker discussed the conduct of President 
Buchanan's Administration as based on the policy pro- 
posed by Mr. Vallandigham, and charged that this con- 
duct had brought on the war. 



272 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

And with such a role as was thus played in the capital of the 
nation by that Democratic cabinet council, this gentleman who 
helped to put them there has the effrontery to come here and 
arraign men for making war on these innocent, unoffending 
rebels. According to his logic we should have sat silent, and 
allowed those gentlemen to plunder the i)eople of the money in 
their treasury on the one hand, and to rob them of the means 
of self-defence and self-preservation on the other. The sugges- 
tion of the gentleman is in perfect keeping with the conduct of 
that Cabinet. Disband your army, he says. Leave the field to 
these rebels. Allow them to proclaim themselves to all the 
world independent of your authority. Allow the Union to be 
dissevered, and thereupon go to work and settle the difficulty, 
in the language of the gentleman's resolution, by '*a final treaty 
of peace." That would be a spectacle for gods and men to look 
on with wonder — the Government of the United States engaged 
in a final treaty of peace with Robert Toombs and Jefferson 
Davis, and John B. Floyd and John Letcher of Virginia, and 
John Slidell and James Mason, with the gentleman from Ohio 
chief in their counsel. 

But the gentleman, not content with simply making this 
suggestion, comes here to-day to discredit the Government in 
the face of the world, and says, with an air of triumph, **how 
can you carry on the war? Can it continue? Can you borrow 
more money T Can you obtain any more revenue by taxation ? * * 
And he undertakes to answer, for all the loyal people of this 
great country, **no." I ask him again for his authority. I 
deny the correctness of his conclusion. I would despair of the 
Republic if I thought that the millions who people all this broad 
land of ours, from the rock-bound coast of New England to 
the golden gates of the Pacific, were, like the gentleman from 
Ohio, ready to lay their hands upon their mouths, and their 
mouths in the dust,* crying before these armed rebels and 
thieves, ** unclean, unclean, unclean." The i)eople, sir, occupy 
no such position, thank God, and I trust they never will; be- 
cause I believe that the spirit of the Puritans, at which the gen- 
tleman affects to sneer to-day, runs through their veins. ** Ah,'* 
says my colleague, **you can borrow no more money; you can 
raise no more revenue by taxation." I take it that, in this in- 
stance, the wish of my colleague is father to the thought. He 
would, if he could, have those who hold the purse-strings in this 
land withhold from the Government the means of support. I 
have the right to infer, from his words, that he would, if he 

1 See speech of Geo. E. Pugh, Vol. V, page 242. 



THE WAR IS A FAILURE 273 

could, induce the loyal people of the land to withhold the pay- 
ment of taxes in support of their own Government. And yet 
he is for the Union as it was and for the Constitution as it is ! 

The gentleman refers to Washington, whose bones, he says, 
are disturbed by this unconstitutional war for the Union. Has 
the gentleman, when he talks thus — suggesting to the people a 
disregard of law, a withholding of taxes, a refusal to support 
their Government — ^forgotten those grand words of Washington, 
which ought to be written to-day over the lintel of every door 
in the land: ''the Constitution which at any time exists is sa- 
credly obligatory on all until changed by the act of the whole 
people"! I think that admonition of Washington a sufScient 
response to the suggestions of the gentleman to the good people 
of this land to pay no more taxes, not to submit to their own 
laws, to allow the Union to be dismembered, and the heritage, 
which God himself has declared should be the common heritage 
of one people, to be divided. And for what purpose? Why, 
that it may be united again. I suppose the gentleman 's philoso- 
phy is that the best way to preserve a man's life is to kill him, 
in the first place, merely for the purpose of showing his skill 
in restoring him to life again. He would destroy the Union 
to-day by disbanding the army; he would destroy the Union 
to-day by destroying the public confidence in the Government; 
he would destroy it by withholding from the Government the 
revenues necessary to carry on the war. And after that is done, 
he would restore it by some strange machinery, by some curious 
power of enchantment which he possesses. I warn the gentle- 
man to lay no such flattering unction to his soul. He who 
would put out the light now burning on your altars had better 
be careful, before he does that work, to inquire what earthly 
power shall that light relume. 

My colleague would consent that the pillars of the temple of 
our liberties should be shaken down, in the vain belief that he 
has the power to rear them again in all their just and beautiful 
proportions. I trust in (Jod that my colleague's day-dream is 
not to be realized. I feel the conviction that those who reared 
the proportions of this beautiful fabric of American empire 
were mighty men, whom God taught to build for glory and for 
beauty. They were men who are cot seen in every generation, 
or in every century. They were men of that large discourse 
that looks before and after. They were men fitted of (Jod to 
accomplish the great work of laying the foundations of a great 
and free commonwealth. 

In this hour of peril my colleague tells us to follow the ex- 

VI— 18 



274 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

ample of Moses. He said he was one of the greatest statesmen 
that ever lived. I think it most likely. He wants us to follow 
the example of Moses; but what he meant by the suggestion I 
am not sure that I fully comprehend. 

Owen Lovejoy [111.]. — To lead the slaves out of the house 
of bondage. 

Mr. Bingham. — He informed us that Moses, when he wanted 
to do justice to his people, when he wanted to restore the au- 
thority of good government, took care to leave the land of 
Egypt, and lead them out of that country. Does the gentleman 
mean by that suggestion that we ought to follow the lead of 
some Moses — himself for example — get up and leave this goodly 
heritage of ours to be occupied exclusively by those rebels in 
arms, who have sworn that they will not have this Gk)vemment 
of the people to rule over them ? I cannot infer an3rthing else. 
And if that be what he means, then I have this to say to him : 
that the right of expatriation is a right secured under the Con- 
stitution and laws of the United States to all its citizens ; and if 
it be according to his mind to gather up his bundle under his 
arm, and to go into distant parts in order to accommodate these 
rebels, he has a perfect right to exercise his privilege. But I 
beg leave to suggest that those of us who think otherwise shall 
be permitted to stand by the old flag, and to remain on our 
native heath undisturbed, so long as it shall please God to let 
us live. 

If he meant anything else than this bright suggestion, 
I would like to know what he did mean ? My friend on my left 
suggests that he meant to lead the people out of their bondage 
into the land of their liberty. [Laughter.] 

I hope the gentleman will not repudiate the law of his great 
law-giver — and he is also my great law-giver and model states- 
man. If we have any respect for Moses's law, in my belief .the 
first act to be done by the nation should be to proclaim to these 
rebels, in the words uttered by this great law-giver, which he 
received from the Almighty himself in the midst of the darkness 
and earthquake of the mountain: **Thou shalt not steal." 
[Laughter.] They are attempting to steal your country and 
mine; they are attempting to steal your property and mire; 
they are attempting to steal the heritage of your children and 
mine. I ask my colleague whether he will consent that they 
shall steal any portion of this conunon territory of our country 
or not? 

Mr. Vallandiqham. — I will consent that my colleague may 
volunteer to prevent it, if he wishes. 



THE WAR IS A FAILURE 275 

Mb. Btnoham. — ^Will my colleague really consent that I may 
volunteer ? [ Laughter. ] 

Mb. Vallandigham. — ^Yes, sir. My colleague and myself 
will be in the same category, at leisure after the 4th of March, 
and perhaps we may volunteer together. 

Mb. Bingham. — I take courage from that, for the inference 
to be drawn, both from the spoken arguments of my colleague 
and his official conduct in this House, is that he would permit 
nobody to volunteer. [Applause in the gallery.] 

The gentleman would disband your army, withhold all sup- 
plies, and permit me alone to volunteer against all these rebels 
in arms. That is magnanimity. Talk about volunteering, 
sneeringly, when you, who have sworn to support the Constitu- 
tion of the United States, stand by and see it torn and rent in 
tatters, and deny the right to maintain it by arms. When vio- 
lent hands are laid upon the old flag of the Union, stained, as 
it is, all over with the blood of its defenders, shed by their 
assassins and murderers, you deny the right to uphold it, and 
refuse to vote supplies to your citizen soldiery, who peril all 
things earthly for the majesty of the law and in defence of 
their own institutions. You talk about volunteering! [Ap- 
plause in the galleries.] 

My colleague said that you cannot maintain this Union, or 
the authority of this Government, by force of arms; that you 
must do it by compromise ; and he undertakes to make this good 
by some carefully considered references to history. There 
is one thing in the history of the world which he has over- 
looked, and that is this great fact, that there is not a single 
well-authenticated instance upon record of a great government, 
assailed by internal dissensions and armed rebellion, which sub- 
mitted and surrendered to the rebellion and survived — ^not one. 
Yet the gentleman would have us, in the light of that great 
warning, lay down our arms, disband our armies, submit to 
the rebellion for the time being, and undertake to settle this 
great controversy afterward in favor of republican institutions 
by compromise! No government can survive a base surrender 
of its own authority to armed rebels. The rebels in that event 
become the government. 

Mr. Speaker, I know the effect of such an appeal to the peo- 
ple of the country. I know that the good people of this land, 
who have given the first bom of their homes for the defence of 
the Union and the Constitution and the suppression of the re- 
bellion, love their noble sons and cherish them as they do the 
apple of their eye. I know that after their day's work is done, 



276 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

in the quiet twilight of the evening they mourn over their ab- 
sence and the broken circle of their homes. I beg them to re- 
member that, though by disbanding your army they may for 
the moment make whole again the golden circle of their homes, 
they may thereby lose to themselves and their children a coun- 
try. I ask them to remember that beautiful utterance, than 
which none more beautiful ever fell from human lips, of one of 
the dying Fathers of the Republic, * * I commit my spirit to God 
and my daughter to my country." How could he, how could 
any man, die in peace while leaving his child without a coun- 
try and a government to shelter and protect it when he was 
gone! 

No, sir, there is something more important to be considered 
here to-day than the question whether this life or that life, even 
though it be the noblest and the most promising in the land, 
shall survive this war, and that question is, shall the Republic 
live immortal among the nations, and cover with the aegis of its 
protection your children and mine, and all the children of this 
land, when we ourselves shall be no more upon the earth T Yes, 
sir, the great question of to-day is, shall the Republic livet 
Any sacrifice of blood, any present loss to us of ''this intel- 
lectual being/' is not too great to be made, if thereby we may 
maintain intact that Constitution which our fathers gave us. 



The theme of Mr. Bingham's speech received sim- 
pler and briefer but even more effective treatment by the 
President a few months later. 

On November 19, 1863, the National Cemetery of 
soldiers killed at the battle of Gettysburg was dedicated 
in the presence of a vast array of people assembled 
from all parts of the Union upon the battlefield. The 
orator of the day was Edward Everett. At the close 
of his long address, composed in the finished periods 
of that ** classic'' order of American oratory of which 
he was the greatest living master, when the thunder 
of applause that it evoked had ceased, President Lin- 
coln rose and spoke a few heart-felt words which so 
moved the deeps of emotion in his hearers that many 
sat spell-bound and silent after the speaker had finished. 
As the President's letter to Mr. Everett, written on the 
following day, indicates Mr. Lincoln inferred from this 



THE WAR IS A FAILURE 277 

reception that the speech was a ''failure, *' but he was 
quickly disabused of that idea by evidences coming from 
every part of the Union of the deep impression it had 
made on the hearts of his countrymen. 

>* These Dead Shall Not Have Died in Vain'' 
Speech of President Lincoln at Getttsbub« 

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on 
this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated 
to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether 
that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can 
long endure: We are met on a great battlefield of that war. 
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final rest- 
ing-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation 
might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should 
do this. 

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — ^we cannot con- 
secrate — ^we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, liv- 
ing and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above 
our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note 
nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget 
what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedi- 
cated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here 
have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here 
dedicated to the great task remaining before us — ^that from 
these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause 
for which they gave the last full measure of devotion ; that we 
here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain ; 
that this nation, under Qod, shall have a new birth of freedom ; 
and that government of the people, by the people, for the peo- 
ple, shall not perish from the earth. 

The declaration that "the war is a failure" was em- 
bodied in the next national platform of the Democracy 
[1864], but the party's candidate for President, General 
George B. McClellan, virtually repudiated it. Lincoln 
was triumphantly reelected, and in his second inaugural 
address, on March 4, 1865, justifiied the prosecution of 
the war until slavery, the curse from which it sprang, 
should forever be abolished. 



GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 



"Thb Almiohtt Has Hib Pubposeb" 

Second Inaugural or pBEsmsNT LiNcoiiN 

Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the da< 
ration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that 
the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the 
conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, 
and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the 




.LITTLE 1£AC. IN 



FmrnOuceatctiOH^OuNtiB York Hltlerltal Soclttt 

same Bible, and pray to the same Qod ; and each invokes his 
aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men 
should dare to ask a just Qod's assistance in wringing their 
bread from the sweat of other men's faces; hut let us judge 
not, that we may be not judged. The prayers of both could not 
be answered — that of neither has been answered fully. 

The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the world 
because of offences! for it must needs he that offences come, but 
woe to that man by whom the offence cometh." If we shall 
suppose that American slavery is one of those offences which, 
in the providence of Qod, must needs come, but which, having 
continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove. 



THE WAR IS A FAILURE 279 

and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war, 
as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we dis- 
cern therein any departure from those divine attributes which 
the believers in a living Gkxl always ascribe to him f Fondly do 
we hope — fervently do we pray — ^that this mighty scourge of 
war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue 
until all the wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and 
fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every 
drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another 
drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, 
so still it must be said, ''The judgments of the Lord are true 
and righteous altogether." 

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firm- 
ness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive 
on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; 
to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his 
widow, and his orphan — ^to do all which may achieve and cher- 
ish a just and lasting peace among ourselveSy and with all na- 
tions. 



CHAPTER XI 

CONSCBIPTION 

Henry Wilson [Mass.] Proposes in the Senate Bill to Draft Soldiers — His 
Speech on the Bill — It Is Passed — Debate in the House on the Bill: 
in Favor, William M. Davis [Pa.], James H. Campbell [Pa.], John H. 
Bingham [O.j; Opposed, Charles J. Biddle [Pa.], Chilton A. White 
[O.], Clement L. Vallandigham [O.], James 0. Robinson [UL], Samuel 
8. Cox [O.], Daniel W. Voorheet [Ind.]— Bill Is Passed— Conscription 
by the South. 

ON February 16, 1863, Henry Wilson [Mass.] 
brought before the Senate a bill for a draft of 
soldiers between the ages of twenty and forty- 
five to prosecute the war. 

It was passed upon the same day after considerable 
debate and amendment. After a long and heated dis- 
cussion in the House it was passed by that body, with 
various amendments, on February 25. The House 
amendments were accepted by the Senate on March 2, 
and the bill was approved by President Lincoln on 
March 3. 

In its final form its preamble read as follows : 

Whereas there now exist in the United States an insurrection 
and rebellion against the authority thereof, and it is, under the 
Constitution of the United States, the duty of the Qovemment 
to suppress insurrection and rebellion, to guarantee to each State 
a republican form of government, and to preserve the public 
tranquillity; and, whereas, for these high purposes, a military 
force is indispensable, to raise and support which all persons 
ought willingly to contribute; and, whereas, no service can be 
more praiseworthy and honorable than that which is rendered 
for the maintenance of the Constitution and Union, and the con- 
sequent preservation of free government ; be it enacted, etc. 

280 



CONSCRIPTION 281 

The Conscbiption Act 
conabess, fsbbuabt 16-25, 1863 

Senator Wilson. — The needs of the nation demand that we 
riiould fill the regiments now in the field, worn and wasted by 
disease and death, by enrolling and drafting the population of 
the country under the constitutional authority ''to raise and 
support armies." 

That grant of power carries with it, in the language of ''The 
Federalist," "all the powers requisite to the complete execution 
of its trust. ' ' 

Sir, this grant to Congress of power "to raise and support 
armies" carries with it the right to do it by voluntary enlist- 
ment or by compulsory process. If men cannot be raised by vol- 
untary enlistment then the Government must raise men by in- 
voluntary means, or the power to raise and support armies for 
the public defence is a nullity. James Monroe said, in a letter to 
the chairman of the Military Committee of the House of Repre- 
sentatives, in 1814, that — 

"Tt would be absurd to suppose that Congress could not carry this 
power into effect otherwise than by accepting the voluntary service of indi- 
viduals. It might happen that an army could not be raised in that mode, 
whence the power would have been grajited in vain." 

It is a high and sacred duty, resting alike upon all the citi- 
zens of the Republic, upon the sons of toil and misfortune and 
the more favored few, to labor, to suffer, ay, to die, if need be, 
for their country. Never since the dawn of creation have the 
men of any age been summoned to the performance of a higher 
or nobler duty than are the men of this generation in America. 
The passage of this great measure will clothe the President with 
ample authority to summon forth the sons of the Republic to the 
performance of the high and sacred duty of saving their coun- 
try, now menaced, and the periled cause of civilization and free- 
dom in America, and of winning the lasting gratitude of coming 
ages, and that enduring renown which follows every duty nobly 
and bravely done. The enactment of this bill will give confidence 
to the Government, strength to the country, and joy to the worn 
and weary soldiers of the Republic around their camp fires in 
the land of the rebellion. 

There was unanimous acceptance by the Senate of 
the principles of the bill, the discussion being upon its 



282 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

• 

details. In the House, however, the principle was 
strenuously opposed, chiefly by the Northern ** Peace'* 
Democrats, when the bill came up for discussion on 
February 23. A provision to punish by fine or im- 
prisonment any one who should violently resist the 
draft or who should counsel or aid any person to re- 
sist it was the particular object of attack. 

Charles J. Biddle [Pa.] objected to the bill. He said 
the effect of it was to turn the militia, the constitutional 
defence of the people against any aggression of their 
rights, into a regular army, the unquestioning instru- 
ment of the Government 

The Executive, empowered, as the very word shows, only to 
execute known laws, establishes ''martial law," that is, ''the will 
of a conqueror, " over all the people of the North. I feel a per- 
sonal interest, an interest as a citizen, that things should not go 
on thus ; for I believe it is at the constant risk of lighting up the 
flame of social revolution around your hearthstones and mine. 
Let us be warned in time. Have you noted the significant cir- 
cumstance of men fresh from unjust imprisonment in Federal 
dungeons being received with high public honors and elevated 
to high positions? 

Wn.LiAM M. Davis [Pa.]. — ^Will the gentleman inform the 
House who it is that will inaugurate a revolution in the North — 
the Bepublican party or the party with which the gentleman 
actsT 

Mb. BmoLE. — I think, sir, it will be an outraged people, with- 
out respect to party. I believe that the spirit which animated 
Hampden and the men of the English Revolution is not extinct 
in the age in which we live. That flame was brightened by the 
great example of the men of our own Revolution. 

James H. Campbell [Pa.] replied to his colleague 
(Mr. Biddle). 

Mr. Speaker, in the early stages of this rebellion it became 
necessary to exercise an extreme power to arrest the traitors who 
were circulating through the Northern States hatching treason 
and poisoning the minds of the people, because at that time the 
life of this nation was in daily and hourly peril; no man knew 
the extent of the conspiracy against the Union; we were sur- 
rounded by spies and traitors everywhere. They were in the 



CONSCRIPTION 283 

legislative bodies of the countiy; they were with the armies in 
the field; they were in every town, village, and hamlet of the 
North ; and I commend the President and War Department for 
the vigor with which they caused traitors to be arrested and 
incarcerated, until it could be ascertained where the country 
stood, and proper measures could be perfected for their trial 
and conviction. 

Sir, in all ages and under all civilized governments there 
have been instances of the exercise of extreme power whenever 
the life of the nation has been in peril. Extreme peril makes 
extreme necessity; and nations, like individuals, must act ac- 
cordingly. When the assassin enters your house at night you do 
not pause to take the ordinary measures that might be resorted to 
in broad daylight and under ordinary circumstances. Tou first 
defend the Uf e of your family, and afterward take the necessary 
measures to convict and punish the culprit. 

Let me tell gentlemen on the other side that, so far from con- 
demning these arrests, it would be better for them if they could 
read the writing on the wall, and make their peace with liberty 
and their country while there is yet time. If they cannot see 
the evidence of a healthy reaction among the masses they are 
blind to the signs of the times. The error of the Oovernment 
has been leniency. If it had given to traitors a drum-head court- 
martial and hempen cord, it would better have pleased the loyal 
men in the United States. [Applause in the galleries.] If I mis- 
take not, the day is not far distant when the people will be so 
aroused against rebellion that traitors, their aiders and abettors, 
will call upon the rocks and mountains to cover them. 

Now, sir, there was an intimation thrown out by my colleague 
—often repeated from that side of the House — ^that if we pro- 
ceed with proper measures — ^measures which they are pleased to 
call unconstitutional — ^to make arrests and put down the rebel- 
lion, we will stir up revolution at the North. I am not afraid of 
any social or political revolution in the free States. If gentle- 
men see proper to inaugurate social or political armed revolution 
at the North, I hope they will do it at once ; the sooner the trai- 
torous effort is made the better. There is loyalty enough in the 
North to take care of any treason that can be found among the 
free States. Our soldiers in the army can take care of the rebels 
in front, and loyal men enough will rise up in the free States to 
dispose of the rebels within their limits. [Applause in the gal- 
leries.] 

Until the last traitor is compelled to submit to lawful au- 
thority, to the Constitution and laws, we can have no peace ; till 



284 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

that is done peace is infamy, peace is anarchy, peace is destruc- 
tion, and no loyal and judicious man will advocate it. The rebels 
scout and scorn all propositions of peace, even if we were dis- 
posed to listen to them. There is no alternative but to conquer 
or be conquered ; to live freemen or die slaves. And I am one of 
those who are ready to vote the last man and the last dollar for 
the accomplishment of the great object before us. I am ready 
to fight it out by land and by sea, as long as may be necessary to 
crush out the rebels themselves, and all their sympathizers at 
home and abroad. [Applause in the galleries.] 

Chilton A. White [O.] followed Mr. Campbell in 
a speech against the bill. 

This bill provides for the appointment of a provost marshal 
in every congressional district in the United States. It provides 
for the appointment of persons for taking the census of those 
who are subject to military duty. It provides for the appoint- 
ment of draft commissioners. All these officers will be appointed 
by the executive officer of the United States, and they will be 
violent political partisans, holding the personal liberty and the 
personal security of every citizen within the congressional dis- 
tricts of the United States, as it were, in the hollow of their 
hands. These provost marshals are armed with the power to 
arrest for treasonable practices. In God 's name, what does that 
mean f This is the most singular definition of crime I have ever 
seen embodied into any statutory enactment of this or any other 
country. What are treasonable practices? Who are to deter- 
mine what they are 1 Are these provost marshals, many of them 
unskilled in the law, to determine that question T Why, it will 
have as many definitions and as many meanings as there are 
provost marshals to construe the statute. If a man gets up and 
argues upon the stump against this wicked, this corrupt, and this 
usurping Administration, he will be denounced as engaged in 
treasonable practices, according to the view of these political 
partisans, who are made the judges of the loyalty of every man 
in this country. 

Why, sir, if the devil himself were to tax his ingenuity he 
could not invent a more complete device for destroying the lib- 
erty and happiness of the people than this bill, as illustrated in 
the light of the history of this country for the past eighteen 
months. 

Treasonable practices ! Why, sir, in the opinion of many of 
those gentlemen upon this floor who assume to be the especial 



CONSCRIPTION 285 

guardians of the loyalty of the country, I have no doubt I would 
be considered as engaged in treasonable practices while denounc- 
ing this measure and this scheme, as I do denounce it here and 
now. 

Oh, but it is said that these men are only to be arrested and 
detained for a short period of time, and for a temporary pur- 
pose, which will pass away with the occasion, and that after the 
draft is all over they are to be delivered over to the judicial 
tribunals of the country. Delivered over! what fort Is there 
any man here who ever expects that anybody will ever be tried 
for treasonable practices? No, sir; it is a device; it is a catch; 
it is an excuse ; it is an apology, to afford some justification for 
this monstrous and outrageous provision. No trial is intended, 
and no judicial tribunal will ever hear of any of these treason- 
able practices. This clause is incorporated here to afford an 
apology for illegal arrests. Men will be arrested without oath, 
and without show of probable cause. They will be detained with- 
out the benefit of a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury 
of the country. It is but the renewal of that reign of terror 
which we passed through but a few days before our election last 
fall. 

But another new kind of trial is established and invented by 
this bill. If any person shall dissuade another from the per- 
formance of military duty he is to be considered as guilty of 
crime and subject to summary arrest and trial. What does that 
mean 1 Does it mean that if a man denounces the policy of this 
Administration as wicked, corrupt, and dangerous to the liberties 
of the people ; if he denounces the acts of usurpation of which 
it has been guilty; if he denounces the monstrous policy upon 
which it at present conducts the war in open and flagrant viola- 
tion of the Constitution, and in derogation of the rights and es- 
tablished institutions of the States, is he to be taken and held 
as discouraging persons from the performance of military duty T 
If so, then I suppose he would be held guilty, and would be sub- 
ject to military arrest. 

We all know what construction will be placed upon this pro- 
vision. They are unjust and ingenious devices by which the 
people are to be deprived of this last vestige of liberty. All this 
might be borne if the injured citizen could appeal to the local 
State judicial tribunals for the redress of injuries thus inflicted 
upon him ; but by your indemnity bill provision is made for tak- 
ing all this class of cases, by a novel and unusual mode of ap- 
peal, to the United States courts; and when thus appealed you 
have provided that under the plea of the general issue evidence 



286 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

may be offered to show that the wrong was committed upon 
probable cause, or under color of authority derived from the 
President or a law of Congress, and such proof shall constitute 
a good and valid defence to the action, and the court shall so 
charge the jury, and the jury shall so find. Thus you declare by 
law what shall be a defence; you put the charge to the jury in 
the mouth of the court, and compel the jury to find accordingly. 
What more effectual immunity could be granted for the commis- 
sion of these wrongs upon the rights and the liberties of the 
citizen than are here given 1 Not only the independence, but the 
very existence of the local State judicial tribunals is struck 
down so far as this class of cases is concerned, and it is sought 
to dog him into submission to these wrongs by compelling him to 
seek redress in distant courts, under circumstances of great in* 
convenience and at great cost ; and as a further penalty for seek- 
ing redress it is provided that if he is non-suited, or fails in the 
action, he shall pay double costs. 

When you have overthrown the constitutions of the States; 
when you have overthrown the judicial authorities of the States; 
when you have removed from the citizens every possible means 
for the protection of their personal liberty and property; when 
you have done all this, the only refuge which is left, the only 
appeal which the injured and outraged citizen can make, is to 
the God of justice and the God of right. And if these outrages 
are carried to the extent I apprehend they will be, that appeal, 
as God reigns in heaven, will be made. I tell you that in my sec- 
tion of the State of Ohio the spirit of our citizens will no longer 
tolerate these things. They will defend the rights of the citizen ; 
and, if you close all the judicial tribunals and every mode of 
legal redress to them, they will plant themselves upon the consti- 
tution of their States and of the United States, and defend 
themselves in the possession of the rights and liberties guaran- 
teed to them by those instruments, with and by all the means 
which God and nature have placed in their possession. They 
have already borne too much, and I tell you they will not bear 
more. 

^^7) gentlemen upon the other side of the House say there 
has not been enough of this thing; that there have not been as 
many political arrests as should have been made. And they talk 
about liberty, about free government, and about republican in- 
stitutions. My God! what ideas of republican institutions, of 
free government, and of liberty must such men have! What 
do they mean by these words T Is it that kind of license which 
permits one party, because they have the power, to seize, with- 



CONSCRIPTION 287 

out authority of law, condemn without trial, and imprison with- 
out process the partisans of another party 1 Is that the kind of 
free government they wantT Is that the kind of republican in- 
stitutions which it is desired to perpetuate in this country? Is 
that the liberty of which you boast so much 1 Sir, I want liberty, 
but I want it regulated by law, not by license, not subject to the 
capricious will of any one man. This bill strikes at the very 
roots of every immunity that belongs to the citizen. It not only 
affects his personal liberty, but it even affects the freedom of his 
speech ; it puts a gag in his mouth and will subject him to ar- 
rest and imprisonment for words spoken. Why, sir, the theory 
of our Government is that even error of opinion may be toler- 
ated so long as reason is left free to combat it, or until it seeks 
to perpetuate itself by force. 

We are willing to extend to you, without let or hindrance on 
our part, all the rights we claim for ourselves. We invite you 
into the arena before the people, to a full, fair, and unrestrained 
discussion of the questions at issue between us. Bring to your 
aid every argument and every reason you can to support your 
sinking cause; and let it be understood that these same rights 
which we concede to you we claim and intend to exercise for 
ourselves, and no earthly power shall prevent us from doing so. 
Ood, by a law of His own making, made thought free and left 
each individual free to select his own form and mode for its ex- 
pression ; and it is not for you, gentlemen, to ascend the throne 
of the Almighty and attempt to set boundaries to the range of 
opinion or prescribe the forms of speech in which it shall be ex- 
pressed, and to denounce your judgments upon men who do not 
think and speak according to prescribed forms. When Qod 
made man in His own image, the noblest of all sublunary beings, 
a creature endowed with reason and free will, an intellectual 
being, it became his high prerogative, each one for himself and 
not one for another, to exercise these faculties; not as he must 
answer to you, but as he must answer to his Creator, for him- 
self, so he must use and improve his talents for himself ; and it 
is only when opinion seeks to perpetuate itself by force, and not 
by argument and consent, that it may be met with force. In 
these respects our Government is but a reflex of the divine mind, 
and while we on our side support our cause by the persuasive 
influences of truth, reason, and argument, you on your side have 
no right to resort to coercive measures against us. If you do, I 
warn you that an eye for an eye and tooth for tooth will be the 
law. We intend to walk in the light of our own reason, forming 
our own judgments and pursuing our own conclusions, support- 



288 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

ing them by the inherent power of truth, illastrated by saeh 
reason and argument as we can bring to bear. Were we, on all 
fitting and proper occasions, to refuse to do so, we would violate 
a trust reposed in us by God himself, and prove ourselves un- 
worthy of our divine Master, fit subjects for degradation and 
slavery. 

Now, sir, I wish to say that I believe this to be a bill that 
would strike down the rights of the States and the liberties of 
the citizen, and that, if attempted to be enforced and executed, 
it will lead to results and calamities in this country which will 
sadden all our hearts and the hearts of right-minded men every- 
where. The time has passed when the people of this country 
will submit longer to the state of things which has been inaugu- 
rated by the party now in power. They know their rights, and, 
knowing them, they are bent and determined upon maintaining 
them at all costs and at all hazards. Gentlemen on the other 
side may take all the comfort they can from any apparent re- 
action they see going on in the country. We have suffered im- 
prisonment ; we have suffered wrongs, and insults, and indigni- 
ties ; our motives of patriotism have been impugned ; thousands 
of our citizens are to-day languishing in your prisons and bas- 
tiles, snuffing the damp vapors of solitary dungeons, separated 
from their families, their business, and all the associations and 
endearments that cluster around home ; and all, sir, for no other 
crime or offence than that their views and opinions do not ex- 
actly correspond with your own; men whose ruling passions 
are an uncompromising devotion to the Constitution and the 
Union, but differ with you as to the best means to be employed 
for their maintenance and support. 

Clement L. Vallandigham [0.] followed his colleague 
in opposing the bill. 

Mr. Speaker, I do not propose to discuss this bill at any 
great length in this House. I am satisfied that there is a settled 
purpose to enact it into a law, so far as it is possible for the 
action of the Senate and House and the Prudent to make it 
such. I appeal, therefore, from you, from them, directly to the 
country; to a forum where there is no military committee, no 
previous question, no hour rule, and where the people them- 
selves are the masters. I commend the spirit in which this dis- 
cussion was commenced by the chairman of the Military Com- 
mittee [Abraham B. Olin, of New York]. Only let me caution 
him that he cannot dictate to the minority here what course 



CONSCRIPTION 289 

th^ shall pursue. But, sir, I regret that I cannot extend the 
commendation to the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Camp- 
bell] who addressed the House a little while ago. If he or any 
other gentleman of the majority imagines that any one here 
is to be deterred by threats from the expression of his opinions, 
or from giving such votes as he may see fit to give, he has utterly 
misapprehended the temper and determination of those who 
sit on this side of the chamber. His threat I hurl back with 
defiance into his teeth. I spurn it. I spit upon it. That is 
not the argument to be addressed to equals here; and I there- 
fore most respectfully suggest that hereafter we shall be spared 
personal denunciation and insinuations against the loyalty of 
men who sit with me here ; men whose devotion to the Constitu- 
tion and attachment to the Union of these States are as ardent 
and immovable as yours, and who only differ from you as to 
the mode of securing the great object nearest their hearts. 

Mr. Campbell. — ^The gentleman will allow me 

Mb. Vallandigham. — I yield for explanation. 

Mr. Campbell. — Mr. Speaker, it is a significant fact that 
the gentleman from Ohio has applied my remarks to himself 
and others on his side of the House. Why was this donet I 
was denouncing traitors here, and I will denounce them while 
I have a place upon this floor. It is my duty and my privilege 
to do so. And, if the gentleman from Ohio chooses to give my 
remarks a personal application, he can so apply them. 

Mr. Vallandigham. — That is enough. 

Mr. Campbell. — One moment. 

Mr. Vallandigham. — Not another moment after that. I 
yielded the floor in the spirit of a gentleman, and not to be 
met in the manner of a blackguard. [Applause and hisses in 
the galleries.] 

Mr. Campbell. — ^The member from Ohio is a blackguard. 
[Benewed hisses and applause in the galleries.] 

James C. Robinson. [111.]. — I rise to a question of order. I 
demand that the galleries be cleared. We have been insulted 
time and again by contractors and plunderers of the Oovem- 
ment in these galleries, and I ask that they be now cleared. 

Samuel S. Cox [O.]. — ^I hope my friend from Illinois will 
not insist on that. Only a very small portion of those in the 
galleries take part in these disturbances. The fool-killer will 
take care of them. 

Mr. Vallandigham. — ^I have already said that it is not my 
purpose to debate the general merits of this bill at large, and 
for the reason that I am satisfied that argument is of no avail 

VI— 19 



290 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

here. I appeal, therefore, to the people. Before them I pro- 
pose to try this great question — ^the question of constitutional 
power, and of the unwise and injudicious exercise of it in this 
bill. We have been compelled, repeatedly, since the 4th of 
March, 1861, to appeal to the same tribunal. We appealed to 
it at the recent election. And the people did pronounce judg- 
ment upon our appeal. 

Talk to me, indeed, of the leniency of the Executive ! too few 
arrests ! too much forbearance by those in power ! Sir, it is the 
people who have been too lenient. They have submitted to your 
oppressions and wrongs as no free people ought ever to submit. 
But the day of patient endurance has gone by at last. Mistake 
them not. They will be lenient no longer. Abide by the Consti- 
tution, stand by the laws, restore the Union if you can restore 
it — ^not by force ; you have tried that and failed — Try some other 
method now — ^the ancient, the approved, the reasonable way — 
the way in which the Union was first made. Surrender it not 
now — ^not yet — ^never. But unity is not union ; and attempt not, 
at your peril — I warn you — ^to coerce unity by the utter destruc- 
tion of the Constitution and of the rights of the States and the 
liberties of the people. Union is liberty and consent : unity is 
despotism and force. For what was the Union ordained? As 
a splendid edifice to attract the gaze and admiration of the 
world? As a magnificent temple — a stupendous superstructure 
of marble and iron, like this Capitol, upon whose lofty dome the 
bronzed image — hollow and inanimate — of freedom is soon to 
stand erect in colossal mockery, while the true spirit, the living 
goddess of liberty, veils her eyes and turns away her face in 
sorrow, because, upon the altar established here and dedicated 
by our fathers to her worship, you, a false and most disloyal 
priesthood, offer up, night and morning, the mingled sacrifices of 
servitude and despotism? No, sir. It was for the sake of the 
altar, the service, the religion, the devotees that the temple of 
the Union was first erected ; and, when these are all gone, let the 
edifice itself perish. Never — never — ^never will the people con- 
sent to lose their own personal and political rights and liberties 
to the end that you may delude and mock them with the splendid 
unity of despotism. 

Sir, what are the bills which have passed, or are still before, 
the House ? The bill to give the President entire control of the 
currency — ^the purse — of the country. A tax bill to clothe him 
with power over the whole property of the country. A bill to 
put all power in his hands over the personal liberties of the peo- 
ple. A bill to indemnify him, and all under him, for every act 



CONSCRIPTION 291 

of oppression and outrage already consummated. A bill to 
enable him to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in order to 
justify or protect him, and every minion of his, in the arrests 
which he or they may choose to make — arrests, too, for mere 
opinions' sake. Sir, some two hundred years ago men were 
burned at the stake, subjected to the horrors of the Inquisition, 
to all the tortures that the devilish ingenuity of man could in- 
vent — for whatT For opinions on questions of religion — of 
man's duty and relation to his Ood. And now, to-day, for opin- 
ions on questions political, under a free (Government, in a coun- 
try whose liberties were purchased by our fathers by seven 
years' outpouring of blood and expenditure of treasure — ^we 
have lived to see men, the born heirs of this precious inheritance, 
subjected to arrest and cruel imprisonment at the caprice of a 
President, or a Secretary, or a constable. And, as if that were 
not enough, a bill is introduced here to-day, and pressed forward 
to a vote, with the right of debate, indeed — extorted from you 
by the minority — but without the right to amend, with no 
more than the mere privilege of protest — a bill which enables 
the President to bring under his power, as Commander-in-Chief, 
every man in the United States between the ages of twenty and 
forty-five — three millions of men. And, as if not satisfied with 
that, this bill provides, further, that every other citizen, man, 
woman, and child, under twenty years of age and over forty-five, 
including those that may be exempt between these ages, shall 
be also at the mercy — so far as his personal liberty is concerned 
—of some miserable ''provost marshal" with the rank of a cap- 
tain of cavalry who is never to see service in the field; and 
every congressional district in the United States is to be gov- 
erned — ^yes, governed — ^by this petty satrap— this military 
eunuch — this Baba — and he even may be black — ^who is to do 
the bidding of your Sultan, of his Grand Vizier. Sir, you have 
but one step further to go— give him the i^jrmbols of his o£Bce — 
the Turkish bow-string and the sack. 

What is it, sir, but a bill to abrogate the Constitution, to 
repeal all existing laws, to destroy all rights, to strike down the 
judiciary and erect upon the ruins of civil and political liberty 
a stupendous superstructure of despotism. And for whatT To 
enforce lawT No, sir. It is admitted now by the legislation 
of Congress, and by the two proclamations of the President, it 
is admitted by common consent that the war is for the abolition 
of negro slavery, to secure freedom to the black man. You tell 
me, some of you, I know, that it is so prosecuted because this is 
the only way to restore the Union; but others openly and can- 



292 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

didly confess that the purpose of the prosecution of the war 
is to abolish slavery. And thus, sir, it is that the freedom of 
the negro is to be purchased, under this bill, at the sacrifice of 
every right of the white men of the United States. 

Sir, I am opposed, earnestly, inexorably opposed, to this 
measure. If there were not another man in this House to vote 
against it, if there were none to raise his voice against it, I, at 
least, dare stand here alone in my place, as a Representative, 
undismayed, unseduced, unterrified, and heedless of the mis- 
erable cry of ''disloyalty," of i^srmpathy with the rebellion and 
with rebels, to denounce it as the very consummation of the 
conspiracy against the Constitution and the liberties of my 
country. 

Where, now, are your taunts and denunciations, heaped upon 
the Confederate Gk>vernment for its conscription, when you, 
yourselves, become the humble imitators of that government and 
bring in here a conscription act more odious even than that 
passed by the Confederate Congress at Richmond t What is 
this bill? A confession that the people are no longer ready to 
enlist ; that they are not willing to carry on this war longer, until 
some effort has been made to settle this great controver&fy in 
some other way than by the sword. And yet, in addition to the 
one million two hundred and thirty-seven thousand men who^ 
have voluntarily enlisted, you propose now to force the entire 
body of the people, between the ages of twenty and forty-five, 
under military law and within the control of the President sa 
Commander-in-Chief of the army for three years, or during the 
war — ^which is to say ''for life'*; aye, sir, for life, and half 
your army has abeady found, or will yet find, that their enlist^ 
ment was for life, too. 

Sir, what does all this mean 1 You were a majority at first ; 
the people were almost unanimously with you, and they were 
generous and enthusiastic in your support. You abused your 
power and your trust, and you failed to do the work which you 
promised. You have lost the confidence, lost the hearts of the 
people. You are now in a minority at home. And yet what a 
spectacle is exhibited here to-night ! You, an accidental, tempo- 
rary majority, condemned and repudiated by the people, are 
exhausting the few remaining hours of your political life in at- 
tempting to defeat the popular will, and to compel, by the most 
desperate and despotic of expedients ever resorted to, the 
submission of the majority of the people, at home, to the min- 
ority, their servants here. Sir, this experiment has been tried 
before in other ages and countries wd its issue always, among 



CONSCRIPTION 293 

a people born free or fit to be free, has been expulsion or death, 
to the conspirators and tyrants. 

Have a care, have a care, I entreat you, that you do not press 
these measures too far. I shall do nothing to stir up an already 
excited people — ^not because of any fear of your contemptible 
petty provost marshals, but because I desire to see no violence 
or revolution in the North or West. But I warn you now, that 
whenever, against the will of the people, and to perpetuate power 
and office in a popular Government which they have taken from 
you, you undertake to enforce this bill, and, like the destroying 
angel in Egypt, enter every house for the first-bom sons of the 
people — remember Poland. You cannot and will not be per- 
mitted to establish a military despotism. 

What do you propose to make the duty of each provost mar- 
shal in carrying out the draft? Among other things, that he 
shall ''inquire into and report to the provost marshal-general" 
— ^what? Treason No. Felony? No. Breach of the peace, or 
violation of law of any kind ? No ; but ' ' treasonable practices' ' ; 
yes, treasonable practices. What mean you by these strange, 
ominous words? Whence come they? Sir, they are no more new 
or original than any other of the cast-off rags filched by this 
Administration from the lumber-house of other and more anti- 
quated despotisms. The history of European tyranny has taught 
US somewhat of this doctrine of constructive treason. Treason- 
able practices! Sir, the very language is borrowed from the 
old proclamations of the British monarchs some hundreds of 
years ago. It was this that called forth that English act of 
Parliament of twenty-fifth Edward III, from which we have 
borrowed the noble provision against constructive treason in 
the Constitution of the United States. Arbitrary arrests for 
no crime known, defined, or limited by law, but for pretended 
offences, herded together under the general and most compre- 
hensive name of ''treasonable practices," had been so frequent 
in the worst periods of English history, that in the language of 
the act of Henry IV, "no man knew how to behave himself or 
what to do or say for doubt of the pains of treason." The 
statute of Edward III had cut all these fungous, toadstool trea^ 
sons up by the root; and yet, so prompt is arbitrary power to 
denounce all opposition to it as treasonable that, as Lord Hale 
observes — 

"Things were so carried by parties and factions in the succeeding 
reign of Richard II, that this statnte was but little observed but as this 
or that party got the better. Bo ... it came to pass that almost every 
offence that was or aeemed to he a breach of the faith and allegiance due 



294 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

to the Idng was, by cotutruetion, eonaequenee, and interpretation, railed 
into tlie offence of high treason." 

But steadily, in better times, the people and the Parliament 
of England returned to the spirit and letter of the act of Ed- 
ward III, passed by a Parliament which now, for five hundred 
years, has been known and honored as Parliamentum benedictum, 
the ''blessed Parliament" — ^jnst as this Congress will be known, 
for ages to come, as ''the accursed Congress." Among many 
other acts, it was declared by a statute, in the first year of the 
fourth Henry's reign, that **in no time to come any treason be 
judged, otherwise than as ordained by the statute of King Ed- 
ward III." And for nearly two hundred years it has been the 
aim of the lawyers and judges of England to adhere to the plain 
letter, spirit, and intent of that act, "to be extended," in the 
language of Erskine in his noble defence of Hardy, "by no new 
or occasional constructions — to be strained by no fancied analo- 
gies — to be measured by no rules of political expediency — ^to be 
judged of by no theory — ^to be determined by the wisdom of 
no individual, however wise — ^but to be expounded by the simple, 
genuine letter of the law." 

Such, sir, is the law of treason in England to-day ; and so 
much of the just and admirable statute of Edward as is applic- 
able to our form of government was embodied in the Constitution 
of the United States. And yet what have we lived to hear in 
America daily, not- in political harangues or the press only, but 
in official proclamations and in bills in Congress! Yes, your 
high officials talk now of "treasonable practices" as glibly "as 
girls of thirteen do of puppy dogs." Treasonable practices! 
Disloyalty ! Who imported these precious phrases and gave them 
a legal settlement heret Your Secretary of War. He it was 
who by command of our most noble President authorized every 
marshal, every sheriff, every township constable, or city police- 
man in every State in the Union to fix, in his own imagination, 
what he might choose to call a treasonable or disloyal practice, 
and then to arrest any citizen at his discretion, without any 
accusing oath and without due process or any process of law. 
And now, sir, all this monstrous tyranny, against the whole 
spirit and the very letter of the Constitution, is to be deliber- 
ately embodied in an act of Congress ! Your petty provost mar- 
shals are to determine what treasonable practices are and "in- 
quire into, ' ' detect, spy out, eavesdrop, insnare, and then inform, 
report to the chief spy at Washington. These, sir, are now to 
be our American liberties under your Administration. There is 
not a crowned head in Europe who dare venture on such an 



CONSCRIPTION 295 

experiment. How long, think you, this people will submit t But 
words, too — conservation or public speech — are to be adjudged 
** treasonable practices." Men, women, and children are to be 
haled to prison for free speech. Whoever shall denounce or 
oppose this Administration; whoever may affirm that war will 
not restore the Union, and teach men the gospel of peace, may 
be reported and arrested upon some old grudge, and by some 
ancient enemy, it may be, and imprisoned as guilty of a treason- 
able practice. 

Sir, there can be but one treasonable practice under the Con- 
stitution in the United States. ''Treason against the United 
States,*' says the Constitution, ''shall consist only in levying 
war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them 
aid and comfort.'* [Here a Republican member nodded several 
times and smiled.] Ah, sir, I understand you. But was Lord 
Chatham guilty of legal treason, treasonable aid and comfort, 
when he denounced the war against the colonies and rejoiced 
that America had resisted 1 Was Burke, or Fox, or Barr6 guilty 
when defending the Americans in the British Parliament and 
demanding conciliation and peace? Were even the Federalists 
guilty of treason, as defined in the Constitution, for "giving 
aid and comfort" to the enemy in the war of 1812? Were 
the Whigs in 1846 ? Was the Ohio Senator liable to punishment, 
under the Constitution, and by law, who said, sixteen years ago, 
in the Senate chamber, when we were at war in Mexico: "If 
I were a Mexican as I am an American, I would greet your vol- 
unteers with bloody hands and welcome them to hospitable 
graves?" Was Abraham Lincoln guilty because he denounced 
that same war while a Representative on the floor of this House ? 
Was all this "adhering to the enemy, giving him aid and com- 
fort'' within the meaning of this provision? 

A Member. — The Democratic papers said so. 

Mb. Vallandigham. — Sir, I am speaking now as a lawyer and 
as a legislator to legislators and lawyers acting under oath and 
the other special and solemn sanctions of this chamber, and 
not in the loose language of the political canvass. 

The speaker here denounced the treatment accorded 
those who had been arrested by the Government. 

Newspapers, the Bible, letters from home, except under sur- 
veillance, a breath of air, a sight of the waves of the sea, or 
of the mild blue sky, the song of birds, whatever was denied 
to the prisoner of Chillon, and more, too; yes, even a solitary 



296 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

lamp in the casemate, where a dying prisoner straggled with 
death, all have been refused to the American citizen accused 
of disloyal speech or opinions by this most just and merciful 
Administration. 

Says the Constitution: 

"The aeeoBed shall enjoy the right to have the aurirtanee of eooiiBel 
for hie defence.'' 

And yet your Secretary of State, the ''conservative" Seward 
— ^the confederate of Thurlow Weed, that treacherous, dissem- 
bling foe to constitutional liberty and the true interests of his 
country — forbade his prisoners to employ counsel, under penalty 
of prolonged imprisonment. 

And here is another order to the same effect, signed by 
William H. Seward himself, and read to the prisoners at Fort 
Warren on the 29th of November, 1861 : 

' ' Diflconntenancing and repudiating all eneh practices ''^- 

The disloyal practice, forsooth, of employing counsel — 

''the Secretary of State desires that all the State prisoners may understand 
that they are expected to revoke all 9%ich engagements now existing and 
avoid any hereafter, as they can only lead to new complications and embar- 
rassments to the cases of prisoners on whose behalf the Qavemment might 
"be disposed to act vnth liberality." 

Most magnanimous Secretary I Liberality toward men guilty 
of no crime, but who, though they had been murderers or pirates, 
were entitled by the plain letter of the Constitution to have 
' ' the assistance of counsel for their defence. * ' Sir, there was but 
one step further possible, and that short step was taken some 
months later when the prisoners of state were required to make 
oath, as the condition of their discharge, that they would not 
seek their constitutional and legal remedy in court for the 
wrongs and outrages inflicted upon them. 

Sir, incredible as all this will seem some years hence, it has 
happened, all of it, and more yet untold, within the last twenty 
months in the United States. Under executive usurpation and 
by virtue of presidential proclamations and cabinet orders it 
has been done without law and against Constitution; and now 
it is proposed to sanction and authorize it all by an equally un- 
constitutional and void act of Congress. It is a vain thing to 
seek to cloak all this under the false semblance of law. Liberty 
is no more guarded or secured and arbitrary power no more 



CONSCRIPTION 297 

hedged in and limited here than under the executive orders of 
last summer. We know what has already been done, and we 
will submit to it no longer. Away, then, with your vain clamor 
about disloyalty, your miserable mockery of treasonable prac- 
tices. We have read with virtuous indignation in history ages 
ago of an Englishman whose favorite buck the king had killed 
and who suffered death as a traitor for wishing, in a fit of vexa- 
tion, that the buck, horns and all, were emboweled in the body of 
the king. But what have we not lived to see in our own time? 
Sir, not many months ago this Administration, in its great and 
tender mercy toward the six hundred and forty prisoners of 
state, confined for treasonable practices at Camp Chase near the 
capital of Ohio, appointed a commissioner, an extra-judicial 
functionary, unknown to the Constitution and laws, to hear and 
determine the cases of the several parties accused and with power 
to discharge at his discretion or to banish to Bull's Island in 
Lake Erie. Among the political prisoners called before him 
was a lad of fifteen, a newsboy upon the Ohio River, whose only 
offence proved, upon inquiry, to be that he owed fifteen cents — 
the unpaid balance of a debt due to his washer-woman — possibly 
a woman of color — who had him arrested by the provost marshal 
as guilty of ** disloyal practices.*' For four weary months the 
lad had lain in that foul and most loathsome prison, under mili- 
tary charge, lest, peradventure, he should overturn the Govern- 
ment of the United States; or, at least, the administration of 
Abraham Lincoln! 

And yet. Senators and Representatives, catching up the 
brutal cry of a bloodthirsty but infatuated partisan press, ex- 
claim ''the Gx)vemment has been too lenient, there ought to have 
been more arrests!" 

Well did Hamilton remark that ''arbitrary imprisonments 
have been in all ages the favorite and most formidable instru- 
ments of tyranny"; and, not less truly, Blackstone declares that 
they are "a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more 
dangerous engine of arbitrary government" than executions 
upon the scaffold. And yet, to-night, you seek here, under the 
cloak of an act of Congress, to authorize these arrests and im- 
prisonments, and thus to renew again that reign of terror which 
smote the hearts of the stoutest among us, last summer, as "the 
pestilence which walketh in darkness." 

Sir, if your objects are constitutional, you have power abun- 
dantly under the Constitution, without infraction or usurpation. 
The men who framed that instrument made it both for war and 
peace. Nay, more, they expressly provide for the cases of 



298 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

insurrection and rebellion. Ton have ample power to do all 
that of right you ought to do — all that the people, your masters, 
permit under their supreme will — ^the Constitution. Confine, 
then, yourselves within these limits, and the rising storm of 
popular discontent will be hushed. 

Here the speaker denounced arbitrary arrests as 
illegal even under the suspension of habeas corpus. 

The gentleman from Rhode Island [William P. Sheffield] 
said, very justly, that the suspension of the writ of habeas 
corpus does not authorize arrests except upon sworn warrant, 
charging some offence known to the law and dangerous to the 
public safety. He is right. It does not; and this was so ad- 
mitted in the bill which passed the Senate in 1807. The sus- 
pension only denies release upon bail, or a discharge without 
trial, to parties thus arrested. It suspends no other right or 
privilege under the Constitution — certainly not the right to a 
speedy public trial by jury in a civil court. It dispenses with 
no "due process of law," except only that particular writ. It 
does not take away the claim for damages to which a party il- 
legally arrested, or legally arrested, but without probable cause, 
is entitled. 

And yet it has been assumed by the party in power that a 
suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is a suspension of the 
entire Constitution and of all laws, so far as the personal rights 
of the citizen are concerned. Why, then, sir, stop with arbitrary 
arrests and imprisonments? Does any man believe that it 
will end here ? Not so have I learned history. The guillotine ! 
the guillotine! the guillotine follows next. 

Sir, when one of those earliest confined in Fort La Fayette 
— I had it from his own lips — ^made complaint to the Secretary 
of State of the injustice of his arrest and the severity of ther 
treatment to which he had been subjected in the exercise of 
arbitrary power, no offence being alleged against him, "why,'' 
said the Secretary, with a smile of most significant complacency, 
"my dear sir, you ought not to complain; we might have gone 
further." Light flashed upon the mind of the gentleman and 
he replied : " Ah ! that is true, sir; you had just the same right 
to behead as to arrest and imprison me." 

Sir, it is this which makes revolutions. A gentleman upon 
the other side asked this afternoon which party was to rise 
now in revolution. The answer of the able and gallant gentle- 
man from Penniqrlvania [Mr. Biddle] was pertinent and just — 



CONSCRIPTION 299 

*'No party, but an outraged people.*' It is not, let me tell you, 
the leaders of parties who begin revolutions. Never. Did any 
one of the distinguished characters of the Revolution of 1776 
participate in the throwing of the tea into Boston Harbor? 
Who was it 1 Who, to-day, can name the actors in that now his- 
toric scene 1 Good men agitate ; obscure men begin real revolu- 
tions; great men finally direct and control them. And if, 
indeed, we are about to pass through the usual stages of revolu- 
tion, it will not be the leaders of the Democratic party — ^not I, 
not the men with me here to-night — ^but some man among the 
people, now unknown and unnoted, who will hurl your tea into 
the harbor ; and it may even be in Boston once again ; for the 
love of liberty, I would fain believe, lingers still under the 
shadow of the monument on Bunker Hill. But, sir, we seek no 
revolution — except through the ballot-box. The conflict to which 
we challenge you is not of arms but of argument. Do you be- 
lieve in the virtue and intelligence of the people? Do you 
admit their capacity for self -government ? Have they not intelli- 
gence enough to understand the right, and virtue enough to 
pursue it? Come then: meet us through the press, and with 
free speech and before the assemblages of the people and we will 
argue these questions, as we and our fathers have done from the 
beginning of the Government — ^**Are we right or you right, 
we wrong or you wrong?" And by the judgment of the people 
we will, one and all, abide. We have a Constitution yet, and 
laws yet. To them I appeal. Give us our rights ; give us known 
and fixed laws; give us the judiciary; arrest us only upon 
due process of law ; give us presentment or indictment by grand 
juries; speedy and public trial; trial by jury and at home; tell 
us the nature and cause of the accusation; confront us with 
witnesses; allow us witnesses in our behalf, and the assistance 
of counsel for our defence; secure us in our persons, our houses, 
our papers, and our effects; leave us arms, not for resistance to 
law or against rightful authority, but to defend ourselves from 
outrage and violence; give us free speech and a free press; the 
right peaceably to assemble ; and, above all, free and undisturbed 
elections and the ballot; take our sons, take our money, our 
property, take all else ; and we will wait a little, till, at the time 
and in the manner appointed by Constitution and law, we shall 
eject you from the trusts you have abused and the seats of power 
you have dishonored, and other and better men shall reign in 
your stead. 

John A. Bingham [0.] replied to his colleague. 



300 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

The argument to which we have listened to-night, with what 
degree of patience we could, has been characterized by two most 
remarkable assumptions. The one is that the gentleman from 
Ohio, who addressed the House [Mr. Vallandigham] , and those 
whom he is supposed to represent, are the sole guardians of 
the Constitution of the United States of America. And the 
other is that, when he and his especial associates will it, that great 
instrument will perish in the fierce breath of revolution. In my 
judgment, sir, these assumptions are unworthy of my colleague, 
as they are unworthy of any man who has grown to man's estate 
under the shelter of the Constitution of the United States. The 
care of that Constitution is in the hands of the people, the whole 
people, who ordained it for the establishment of justice and 
the security of liberty. That great people the gentleman no 
more represents than I do. When they choose basely to surren- 
der the sacred trust of the Constitution it will fall ; but, so long 
as it pleases them to stand by it, it will be maintained. 

If this be so, how comes it that the gentleman should assume 
that he is sole interpreter and protector of the Constitution, and 
that, by a breath of his mouth, it may be destroyed? Why, sir, 
it is but a few days ago that, upon this floor, in the very spirit 
of the speech which he has made to-night, my colleague under- 
took to demonstrate, by mutilating a letter of the Secretary 
of State, that the Constitution of the United States does not 
allow the American people to protect and maintain by force of 
arms their (Government and their nationality against armed 
treason. 

Mr. Vallandigham. — I have spoken many times here ; I have 
never referred to the gentleman ; yet, since Uie beginning of this 
session, he has felt himself called upon not only to attempt to 
reply to what I have said, but to draw me into a wrangle upon 
this floor, a thing for which he is eminently qualified but for 
which I have the most sovereign contempt and of which I shall 
take no notice whatever. 

Mb. Binohah. — As the gentleman interrupted me for no pur- 
pose of denial or explanation he has no right to interrupt me 
either to question my motives or announce his contempt for all 
who choose to dissent from his arrogant assumptions. I suppose, 
from the tone and temper of my colleague's interruption, that 
he deems me guilty of the great crimen Ubscb majestatis,^ if I 
dare to lisp when his majesty rises in his place here and assumes 
to speak the law of the land. 

He is not clothed, sir, with any such power over either my 

'Crime of contemning majesty. 



CONSCRIPTION 301 

person as a citizen or my right as a Representative. The gentle- 
man makes a virtue of necessity and, after rambling through half 
an hour of his speech to show that we were breaking through the 
intrenchments of the Constitution, that we were trampling upon 
the right of habeas corpus, of freedom of speech, of freedom of 
the press, and of the right of trial by jury; after denouncing 
us in set phrases for all this, he now rises and complains that I 
should venture to strike back, and says that I seek to draw him 
into a wrangle. Why, the gentleman is the last man on this 
footstool that I would want to have any wrangle with. [Laugh- 
ter.] Now, that expression may be a little ambiguous, and the 
gentleman may have the benefit of it. [Laughter.] Perhaps the 
gentleman felt that the world would understand, when he calls 
attention to the fact that I once before in my life, and I be- 
lieve only once, ventured to reply to a speech of his, I thereby 
sought to immortalize myself by coupling my name with so dis- 
tinguished a person as himself! If that is the gentleman's idea, 
I beg him to count me out. [Laughter.] But, sir, whatever 
false motives the gentleman may attribute to me, I wish him to 
understand that I shall not sit silent here when I see a deliberate 
attempt made on this floor to convince this House, on the one 
hand, and the people of this country, on the other, that we have 
no right by law to authorize, and compel, if you please, the em- 
pIo3anent of all the able-bodied men of the country to crush out 
rebellion against the supremacy of the (Government, the Consti- 
tution, and the laws. GK) read those words that the gentleman 
dwelt upon with such emphasis the other day, and feel the blush 
of shame mount to your cheek that any American citizen of this 
Republic should utter such a sentiment. 

Talk about freedom of speech, talk about the right of trial 
by jury, talk about personal liberty, talk about the privilege of 
the writ of habeas corpus, talk about your construction of 25 
Edward III, and then come here and proclaim to this House 
that ^'only an imperial or despotic government could subjugate 
thoroughly disaffected and insurrectionary members of the 
State!" 

The gentleman to-night has sought to justify this remarkable 
utterance. Hence his elaborate argument to show the limitation 
of the provision of the Constitution, that ''treason against the 
United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or 
in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort." 

Mr. Speaker, I do not desire to take up any unnecessary 
time in the discussion of this great and important question ; but, 
as the gentleman has seen fit to attempt to justify his words 



302 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

that the United States Oovemment has not the constitutional 
right to subjugate traitors and suppress armed rebellion by 
force, I deem it my duty to refer the House to the construction 
of the statute of 25 Edward III, which the gentleman says is 
literally the same as the treason clause of the Constitution of 
the United States. Let this construction of the statute of Ed- 
ward go out with the gentleman's argument, in order that the 
antidote may go along with the poison which he attempts to 
infuse into the public mind. The construction of that statute be- 
fore the Constitution was made, and, therefore, before its pro- 
visions were incorporated into the Constitution, was that the 
words '^adhering to the enemy,'' etc., applied to cases only of 
adherence to a foreign^ not a domestic, enemy. What then? 
Whoever adheres to a domestic enemy engaged in rebellion is, 
according to the legal construction of that great statute, instead 
of being indictable under the second clause thereof, indictable 
under the first clause, and to be held chargeable with levying 
war. That is all there is of it. 

For the sake of the argument, grant it that words encourag- 
ing treason and inciting to treason do not constitute the crime 
of treason, does it result that such utterances are not a crime, 
and, as such, to be so declared and punished under the Con- 
stitution of the United States? I know, sir, that by a high 
authority it is said: ''It seems clearly to be agreed that, by the 
common law and the statute of Edward III, words spoken 
amount only to a high misdemeanor and no treason. " Orant this 
to be the true construction of the statute of Edward III, as the 
same stand incorporated in the treason clause of our Consti- 
tution, what comfort can my colleague derive from that con- 
struction in support of his argument against the bill now under 
discussion, that you may not provide, as in this bill is provided, 
to punish, not as treason but as ''a high misdemeanor," the ut- 
terance of words spoken, written, or printed, with intent to 
counsel and advise resistance to the laws, or to dissuade drafted 
soldiers from the performance of their duty? 

I suppose that the reference of my colleague to the provision 
of the statute of 25 Edward III, defining treason, was to pro- 
claim in advance that all of this legislation which provides for 
punishing as a crime those who, in any way, aid in encouraging 
desertion or forcible resistance to the laws is unconstitutional; 
that you cannot punish persons who favor this rebellion, except 
those who actually take up arms and levy war against the Re- 
public. I do not believe it. I wish to say, in addition, that, 
notwithstanding his suggestion that the Supreme Court would 



CONSCRIPTION 303 

declare this law unconstitutional and deny the power of the 
Government to punish and restrain the ^treasonable practices" 
defined in and prohibited by this bill, in my opinion that court 
will never so decide; never, sir. The gentleman says that, if 
you pass this and kindred bills for the suppression of this rebel- 
lion, then we must have revolution.* The people only can make 
revolution. I rather think that my colleague is not well in- 
formed about the purposes of the people to say that they will 
rush into revolution. He may be ready for revolution, and, 
doubtless, he may wish to lead that revolution; but are the 
people ready to assent to that ? So long as the people are faith- 
ful to the great trust of maintaining free representative govern- 
ment they will take care of a revolution either inaugurated by 
him or any of his associates who howl against the Executive for 
protecting and defending that Government against armed rebel- 
lion. 

What is the gentleman's argument against this bill? One 
objection by him urged is that the bill provides for what he 
is pleased to call arbitrary arrests. What is the provision? 
Simply that whoever shall resist any draft of men enrolled under 
this act, or counsel or aid any person to resist such draft, or 
assault any officer in making such draft, shall, for the time be- 
ing, be subject to summary arrest by the provost marshal, and 
shall be delivered to the civil authorities, and, upon trial and 
conviction, be subject to fine and imprisonment. That is what 
my colleague calls arbitrary arrests. His logic, I suppose, is 
that men may resist a lawful draft, may aid resistance thereto, 
may brutally assault drafting officers, but shall not be inter- 
rupted in their crime until affidavit is made before and warrant 
obtained from some United States commissioner or judge, re- 
mote, it may be, hundreds of miles. He would not allow the 
marshals of the United States to be the conservators of the public 
peace, nor even the judges of the United States to be conserva- 
tors of the peace, though the steps of the temple of justice and 
the laws may be stained by the blood of the citizen shed by 
lawless violence in their presence, and in forbidden resistance 
to the laws which they are sworn to support and execute. The 
gentleman's argument means, though he has not the candor 
plainly to declare it, that traitors and all their aiders have 
the right to go on with their crime and murder until legally 
arrested upon complaint and warrant in due form of law, and 
only after such legal arrest to be made to answer for their crimes 
upon the verdict of an impartial jury of the State and district 
in which they may have committed their offences. 



304 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

We are not to arrest them summarilj, for that is arbitrary, 
he argues, but we are to proceed literally according to the pro- 
visions of the Constitution. 

If the argument is good for such aiders of the rebellion it is 
of equal force as to the rebels, for they are persons as well as 
their aiders, and, like them, are included in the provisions of the 
Constitution cited. What sort of logic and reason is this upon 
a question of this sort when three hundred thousand rebels are 
in armsf Does not the gentleman himself see that there is a 
hiatus in his logic wide enough to drive a coach and six through t 

Now, let us see how this rule, as stated by him, would work 
practically. Jefferson Davis has three hundred thousand rebels 
drawn up in line of battle before the capital of the United 
States, and you are mustering your forces under this conscrip- 
tion act to beat back this rebel host. While this is going on, 
the gentleman from Ohio stands with the Constitution in hand 
and calls out to the people all over the North to refuse to come 
to the rescue of their imperiled capital and violated Constitu- 
tion because the act under which they are summoned is un- 
constitutional. By such utterances would my colleague keep 
back from the field all the loyal people of this land, while traitors 
in arms were seizing their capital, burning their towns, laying 
waste their fields, and setting at defiance and overthrowing their 
Government and laws. While this ruin is being wrought the 
people are to be greeted with the cry of my colleague: "Hold 
back! these rebels are citizens, and, though they may be guilty 
of treason, you must not interfere with them, nor with those 
who aid them, except you act strictly under the warrants and 
indictments known to the law.'' That is the substance of his 
argument. 

The gentleman, not content with his endeavor to fetter the 
Government by requiring the jury rather than the army to 
try traitors, complains that we are interfering with the freedom 
of speech, and again he quotes the Constitution and attempts to 
hold it up as a shield between these men who commit or aid and 
abet this great treason against the Republic, and the right and 
duty of the people to crush them by force under the express 
sanction of law. I understand that the freedom of speech which 
is guaranteed by the Constitution is not that freedom of speech 
which consists in saying that these rebels in arms ''ought to be 
induced to invade the Northern States,'* and rob and bum the 
habitations of Northern people. My colleague is learned in the 
reading of the Constitution, and I would be glad to have him 
point out a single line ever written by an American citizen or 



CONSCRIPTION 305 

uttered by an American jurist whose opinion is entitled to any 
consideration which ever gave any such interpretation as that 
to the ^aranties of the Constitution of the United States. No, 
sir; freedom of speech is the inborn right of every man, whether 
citizen or stranger, but it is a right which he may not exercise to 
the detriment of the commonwealth, and, therefore, for its abuse 
he is to be held responsible, as he is to be held responsible for 
the abuse of any other element of his personal liberty. The 
right of locomotion is as sacredly guarded under your Consti- 
tution as is the right of freedom of speech ; but, if a citizen, in 
the exercise of his right of locomotion, sees fit to creep burglar- 
iously into the habitation of his neighbor and thereby commit 
felony it is in vain that he holds up the Constitution as a shield 
and tells us that that secures him the right of liberty and prop- 
erty. He has the right to play the honest man and loyal citizen, 
but he has not the liberty to play the part of a common thief or 
a burglar. 

So it is with this guaranteed freedom of speech. I say it is 
the right of the people to punish and imprison every man in 
this land who, either by oral, written, or printed words, urges 
or advises any portion of the American people to quench in 
blood this last, great experiment of republican government. If 
there is any man here now who has the effrontery to deny that 
proposition, I should like to hear him. 

The gentleman says that habeas corpus can only be suspended 
within the limits of the rebellion. That is a remarkable sug- 
gestion. I suppose, according to that doctrine, that when this 
rebellion was confined to the corporate limits of Charleston and 
Sullivan's Island, it would have been highly improper to have 
suspended the privilege at Columbia or Georgetown in South 
Carolina, where they were beating up recruits to swell their 
cowardly cohorts to ten thousand strong, designed to do mur- 
der on the seventy brave men within the walls of Port Sumter. 
Who ever heard before of such an interpretation as that being 
put upon your Constitution? I say here, and I challenge con- 
tradiction, that the fair construction of that provision is this, 
that the people, through their representatives, are the sole 
judges of the extent to which the privilege of the writ may be 
suspended in time of rebellion or invasion; and if, in their 
opinion, the public safety in time of such rebellion or invasion 
requires a suspension of the privilege of the writ in all cases 
throughout the limits of the Republic, it is their right to declare 
it and their duty to execute it. 

Well, sir, the gentleman says that the suspension of the priv- 

VI— 20 



306 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

ilege of the writ does not confer the power of arrest. I answer 
that the power to suspend the privilege of the writ for the public 
safety necessarily implies the power of arrest and detention. But 
the gentleman says you must give all persons charged with con- 
spiracy a speedy trial. Does not he know that by the provision 
of the Constitution, if a citizen commit treason or other crime 
against the United States, in South Carolina or North Carolina, 
he must be tried within the State and district in which he com- 
mits the offence t Meantime you have no courts there to try 
such offenders, and, according to the gentleman's argument, you 
must not restrain them of their liberty by summary arrest, but 
allow them to go at large and practice their treason and con- 
spiracy, and give aid and comfort to the enemy, until such time 
as your civil process and courts are again restored and the su- 
premacy of your laws acknowledged or enforced within the 
limits of such jurisdiction ! Does any man fail to see that such 
objections to this needful legislation are, after all, disguise it as 
you may under professions of love for the Constitution and the 
rights of the people guaranteed under the Constitution, but an- 
other attempt to aid this rebellion and secure to it an easy 
triumph over the Constitution and laws? 

Ah, but, says the gentleman, your bastiles are open to receive 
these victims of executive despotism. I should have been glad if 
the gentleman had particularized who these persons are that 
have such a claim upon his Efympathy. There was a man arrested 
for inciting the mob at Baltimore. The gentleman was careful 
not to name him. It is a name that is in bad association. It is 
the name by which was designated the first of murderers, on 
whose brow was set the damning blotch of fratricide. This man 
was arrested and sent to the ''bastile"; and my colleague arises 
in his place and cries out: ''A violation of the Constitution." 
According to his logic, Kane should have been left at large to 
incite men to cast iron bars from the tops of their houses in 
Baltimore upon the heads of our citizen soldiery. 

There was another arrest made, to which I suppose the 
gentleman refers, although he was not pleased to name the 
party, in our own State. I remember well, Mr. Speaker — who 
does not remember? — ^that, about the time that arrest was made 
in Ohio, for seven long days a battle raged before Richmond. 
During that protracted struggle, while that field of conflict 
was covered with the thick darkness of battle and the shadow 
of death, and in all the loyal homes of our people hands were 
raised in silent prayer for the Republic and its defenders, a 
cry came up from the banks of the York and the James Rivers: 



CONSCRIPTION 307 

Help ! help ! help ! brothers of the free North and West, or we 
perish, and our banner of glory and of beauty goes down before 
the armed legions of treason. In response to that call the people 
rushed to the conflict from the hills of New England to the 
golden sands of California, filling the continent with their 
shout — 

"We are coming, we are coming, 
Six hundred thousand more.'' 

• 

It was in the presence of this sublime uprising of the free- 
men of this land for the defence of their homes and country, 
and the rescue from an unequal struggle of your gallant army, 
that a partisan in Ohio, it is said, dared to outrage and disgrace 
humanity by saying to his neighbors: **Stop, brother Democrats, 
stay at home and vote; and let the army of the Union perish." 
It is said that man was arrested by order of the President. 

Several Members. — ^Who was heT 

Mb. Bingham. — I prefer to let history, the avenger, name 
him. 

Samuel S. Cox [0.]. — ^Will my colleague yield to me for a 
moment? 

Mb. Bingham. — I do not yield. 

Mr. Cox. — I know my colleague will oblige me. 

Mb. Bingham. — This does not affect my colleague. 

Mb. Cox. — It affects one of my constituents. 

Mb. Bingham. — I have said, Mr. Speaker, that such an utter- 
ance is said to have been made and published, and that the 
author of it was arrested. 

Mb. Cox. — ^Why was he not tried T 

Mb. Bingham. — ^I now submit to the country that, if there 
were any such utterance made, the author of it should not only 
be arrested and imprisoned, but that the man who, in such an 
hour of peril, would attempt to keep back citizens from the 
defence of their homes and the relief of their brothers in arms, 
should not only be imprisoned, but should be hung by the neck, 
without judge or jury, till he be dead. [Applause.] 

Daniel W. Voorhees [Ind.] closed the debate. 

Mr. Speaker, it is either my good fortune or my bad fortune 
never to have been a member of a legislative body until I took 
my seat in this Congress. Consequently, I may not be so fa- 
miliar with the rules of propriety that obtain among members 
of deliberative bodies as others who have had more experience. 
But, I must confess, Mr. Speaker, that, with my limited experi- 



308 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

ence, I have observed the course of this debate with amazement, 
and with some degree of honest indignation. 

This debate was opened by the gentleman from New York 
[Mr. Olin] with a lecture to this side of the House, informing 
us how he desired we should discuss this question. We were 
desired to behave ourselves and to pursue a certain line of con- 
duct marked out for us in advance by his magisterial authority. 
The air of a testy, domineering pedagogue pervaded the style 
and substance of all his remarks. 

After him comes the strap-and-button gentleman from Penn- 
sylvania [Mr. Campbell], who howled forth his threats on this 
floor like some angry animal in pursuit of prey. Possibly it has 
affected somebody's nerves. Doubtless it did affect his own. 
I must say, however, that it did not affect mine at all, except as a 
gust of harsh and discordant sound is always more or less jarring 
to my nervous system. It passed by this side ofi the House as 
mere wind, somewhat unpleasant and disgusting, but entirely 
harmless. I submit that the military and malicious gentleman 
from Pennsylvania has no right thus to afQict and annoy the 
persecuted minority in this hall. 

After him, in the order of debate, on the other side, comes 
that strange and eccentric gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Bingham] 
who so often holds this House and these galleries in listening 
and wondering suspense and attention. In his private inter- 
course he is one of the kindest and most amiable gentleman 
whom I ever had the good fortune to meet ; but on this floor a 
stranger would take him to be, not merely Cato the Censor, for 
I believe Cato was very dignified, and certainly the gentleman 
from Ohio hardly ever is [laughter], but some furious actor in 
a play, whose part required him to scold and rave at every hu- 
man being who was so unfortunate as to fall beneath his dreadful 
scowl. He is stormy and terrible to those who know him not, but 
to those who know him well gentle as summer and as tender as 
the dove who woos his mate. I am apologizing for his manner 
to those who do not understand him. His terrific outbreaks 
here against the minority may be regarded as a sort of pleasant 
episode to the grave proceedings of this House, a little ridiculous, 
but perfectly innocent. It is only his manner that is severe, not 
his matter. He starts out by telling us that the language of the 
distinguished gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Vallandigham], who 
held spell-bound this House from the position in which I st^nd, 
with one of the ablest arguments I ever heard, was all unworthy 
of a member of this body. Who constituted him a judge of his 
colleagues? Where does he find the authority to arraign his 



CONSCRIPTION 309 

peers on this floor! Sir, there Is but one reply to language and 
conduct like this. We reject with scorn your unasked advice; 
we spurn your offensive lectures ; we despise your puerile threats ; 
we defy the malice which actuates them ; we hold you and your 
outrageous insolence in sovereign and most unmitigated contempt. 

Sir, it ill becomes gentlemen who have met with repudiation 
at the hands of their people ; who, for their policy and conduct 
on this floor, have 'been rejected by their own constituents, and 
who stand condemned before the country, to come here and lec- 
ture Democratic members. In common decency you ought to 
keep silent, as mere cumberers of the ground whose days are 
numbered. Popular majorities have been piled up against you 
by thousands and tens of thousands. Loyal people have spoken 
your knell ; the funeral bell has been tolled over your political 
graves by patriotic hands ; the grass is growing green on the sod 
which covers you. And yet you dare come here to lecture living 
men ! We bear in our bodies political vitality ; you are political 
ghosts, specters from political graveyards, where the people 
buried you last fall, and wrote on your tombstones: **No resur- 
rection." How dare you lecture the living, who yet stand on 
the shores of time, and who have something to do with earthly 
affairs? [Laughter.] I invoke the spell of decency and of re- 
gard for propriety, and, in the name of that spell, I exorcise 
these spirits, and tell them **down, down, to whence you came." 
[Laughter.] 

You talk about what is worthy and unworthy. Shall I ac- 
cept gibbering and squeaking political ghosts, who will troop 
home on the 4th of March to the vast charnel-house of repudiated 
politicians, as my masters? I own but one master in this Gov- 
ernment — it is the sovereign people. 

The days of this Congress are drawing to a close and we 
may as well have a plain talk among ourselves before we part. 
If you propose at this time, with Government credit at sixty 
per cent, below par; if you propose, with $2,500,000,000 of in- 
debtedness; if you propose, with a distracted country, with the 
agricultural pursuits depressed, and the whole land groaning 
from the effects of this war ; if you propose, in full view of all 
these things, to tax the people, in addition to what is necessary to 
sustain the Government, to an unlimited extent — ^perhaps hun- 
dreds of millions — for the purpose of accomplishing compen- 
sated emancipation, for the purpose of flooding the free States 
with free negroes, then you may make up your minds for trouble. 
The money will not be paid, and you cannot compel it. You will 
find at last who owns and controls this Government. The people 



310 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

will assert the original divine right of the oppressed and out- 
raged. They will say to you, in the language of the Constitu- 
tion: **Wej the people, made this Government; you are not our 
masters, but our servants." 

A strange error has crept into the public mind. Men talk 
as if they could force and coerce public sentiment. The very 
theory of our Government forbids it. The theory of our Gov- 
ernment is that, not Abraham Lincoln, not his Cabinet, not you 
men whose lingering footsteps are just departing from these 
places forever, constitute this Government, but that the people 
made it all, and constitute all its parts. They made it and they 
will uphold it in the mode which satisfies themselves. But not 
only that ; they will make you obey the Constitution in its spirit, 
which ia the concentrated will of the people. 

For the purpose of uniting public sentiment and of prosecut- 
ing the war with unity of purpose I presume comes the procla- 
mation of the President of September. Ten days before he is- 
sued it he said, himself, to the Chicago ministers that he had 
not the power to promulgate such a document and that it would 
do no good if he did. In that he was right, for once. But I 
suppose he gave way to pressure. He was pressed. By whomT 
By Horace Greeley, that political harlot, who appeared in a 
praying attitude in behalf of twenty million people. He gave 
way to pressure brought to bear, too, by the Governor of Massa- 
chusetts [John A. Andrew] . He gave way to the pressure and, 
I have no doubt, experienced relief. This was Jacksonian, very. 
It showed what is known as backbone. I have an immense re- 
spect for an Executive who violates his oath under the pressure 
of impertinent meddlers. But the President was told of the 
moral and military effect of such a proclamation, and I presume 
he beliered all he heard was true. But the gentleman from Ohio 
[Mr. Bingham] was unfortunate in his musical recitation of the 
New England song a few minutes ago : 

"We are coming, Father Abraham, 
Six hundred thousand strong." 

for if anybody is on the way here to swell the broken ranks of 
the army under the inspiration of that proclamation he is tarry- 
ing long. His arrival has not been noticed in the papers. 

Lo! the mountain had labored, and the mouse came forth! 
Massachusetts, this hour, instead of crowding the highways and 
bjrways with her sons, has her Senator [Henry Wilson] in the 
other end of the Capitol, the chairman of the Committee on 
Military Affairs, pressing a conscript bill through the Senate, 



CONSCRIPTION 311 

when his own State stands in defiance of the call made ai>on her 
last summer. To-day her quota is not full, and her Gfovemor 
has become an itinerant recruiting sergeant in search of negroes 
to fill up the regiments of Massachusetts troops under the call 
made last fall by the President of the United States. This is 
the response of Massachusetts to the proclamation. 

And the gentleman from New York, the chairman of the 
Committee on Military Affairs of this House [Abraham B. Olin] , 
comes here and has to admit his State is delinquent thirty thou- 
sand troops, under the calls already made upon her. 

Mb. Olin. — And that deficiency is principally owing to a 
deficiency of troops which ought to have been sent from the city 
of New York, where the Democracy of the Five Points has held 
undisputed sway. [Laughter.] 

Mb. Voobhees. — ^You propose to put the black man alongside 
of the loyal white soldier. You propose to buy negroes, steal 
negroes, fight for negroes, obtain negroes in any way, and then 
humiliate and disgrace the white soldier by his presence and 
contact in the ranks. 

You have thus outraged and insulted all classes of citizens, 
but the soldier most of all. Is it strange, then, that no more 
volunteers come to the standard of warT You have betrayed 
the loyal heart of the country, and that betrayal rises up in 
judgment against you; and its offspring, the birth of that be- 
trayal, is this fearful, odious, and despotic conscription bilL 

No conservative general can stand before the consuming 
flames that emanate from the seething caldron, the boiling cess- 
pool of fanaticism which controls this Administration. Aye, sir, 
you struck down McClellan at the head of the army. You struck 
him down because he was in the way of your radical abolition 
schemes. It was another step in the betrayal of the people. Gk> 
with me to the townships in Indiana, Mr. Speaker; go to the 
hamlets, go to the school-houses and meet there the loyal farmers 
who pay their taxes from their well-worn pocketbooks — not your 
flash speculators in stocks on Wall street ; not your i>olitical or 
banking gamblers and swindling contractors, who control this 
Government and who surround this Capitol like jackals and 
unclean beasts, like kites and carrion crows, watching and snuf- 
fing for plunder amid the misfortunes that have befallen the 
country ; not that class of men, but men who are devoted to the 
old Constitution, who worship reverently after the old forms 
of religion, who love their country and maintain their own 
honor — ^go and ask these men, upon whom you have to rely for 
this Government, what they think of the removal of George B. 



312 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

McClellan from the command of their sons. They will tell you 
that their sons love him as no chieftain was ever loved by his 
troops since the days of the great Napoleon. They will tell you 
that, in spite of all jealousies and assailants, he is the only man 
who has ever gained a battle at the head of the army of the 
Potomac; and, as plain people, they will tell you that, in their 
minds, his removal was caused by the machinations, the mis- 
chievous machinations, of the radical element which prevails 
here, and which is now running the Government to destruction 
in this Capitol. This, sir, is the firm belief of the country, and 
you will have to meet it. 

You may call us disloyal if it will ease your hearts any, but 
our opinion upon this side of the House is just as firm, just as 
sharply and clearly made up, that the majority of this House 
has been disloyal in the acts I have enumerated and in the gen- 
eral scope of its conduct to the Constitution of the country as if 
you had been convicted of overt treason, and stood ready to be 
executed according to law. 

But there is another feature in the conduct of this Adminis- 
tration and its supporters that goes as a reason why troops can- 
not now be brought into the field as volunteers, and a despotic 
conscription bill has to be passed. The people of the country 
have seen public economy disregarded. They have seen thieves 
and plunderers in the high places of the (Government not only 
unrebuked, but rewarded by promotion to higher honors in 
place and profit. They have seen fortunes more than mountain 
high made in a single night by political favorites. No, sir ; keep 
still, sir. The gentleman from Pennsylvania [John Covode, who 
made a remark in his seat] can speak feelingly and knowingly 
and understandingly, I have no doubt, upon the subject to 
which I allude. He has his friend, the late Secretary of War, 
the late minister to Russia, the late candidate for United States 
Senator in Pennsylvania, I presume, in his mind. I have no 
doubt it is a delicate point with him. I have by my side, how- 
ever, my very distinguished and reliable friend from Massachu- 
setts [Henry L. Dawes], who always comes to my relief, and, if 
I cannot prove by him that Simon Cameron and some of his 
friends are plunderers and public thieves, I will give up the 
case. [Laughter.] 

These contractors and lobby thieves surrounding this Capitol, 
creating a swell mob in these galleries, the greediest of the 
greedy, the hungriest of all animals that ever infested in droves 
and packs the haunts of political oflfal, are the men who are loud- 
est and most persistent for the continued prosecution of this war. 



CONSCRIPTION 



313 



No abuse can be denounced that we do not hear the ery of trea- 
son from their hungry lips. What does it matter to them that the 
poor soldier lies stifE in the snow upon hia thin blanket T They 
go upon the motto, ' ' Put money in thy purse. ' ' If you think that 




O TIIKIR IDOL 
hy Vallnndighain and Seymour] 
(At coUanan of llu Nra Yart UUMtieal HoeMB 



^ 



314 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

the people are blind to this state of affairs you are mistaken. 
They know that these loathsome cormorants are encamped here 
to eat out their substance. They know that they are the Hessians 
of this war, and that no peace will be permitted to revisit this 
bleeding land so long as villainy can find pay in the coffers of the 
(Jovernment, if this evil brood can prevent it. 

But, sir, I thank God that the hand-writing is on the wall. 
The corrupt and impious feast of Belshazzar, the king, his 
princes, his parasites and concubines, is about over. The fingers 
of the American people are busily engaged in writing a doom 
against those who have turned the temple of our fathers into a 
den of thieves. 

The people have seen other things, however, to discourage 
them in the prosecution of this war. They have seen you take 
advantage of the political condition of the country — ^you men 
who represent the spindles and looms of New England; they 
have seen you coming here and forcing on the agricultural i)or- 
tions of the country a tariff which is a robbery, a direct plunder 
on honest labor; they have seen you develop the most selfish, 
greedy, degrading element of the human heart — the love of 
gain by unfair means — taxing the whole country for the pur- 
pose of carrying out merely personal interests. To-day the 
Western farmer, the Western mechanic, pays three or four times 
the ordinary price for the articles which he has to buy from 
you and which he can buy nowhere else. 

The people understand it well. They know that this increase 
of price does not go into the treasury of their beloved country; 
that it does not go even into the coffers ** where thieves break 
through and steal"; but that it goes directly into the pockets 
of the millionaire, the nabob, the monopolist of the manufactur- 
ing districts. They know all that. It makes them tired of war. 
They are sore at heart and see no hope of success, justice, union, 
or constitutional liberty at your hands. 

Further, I say to you, gentlemen, that, as the Lord (Jod reigns 
in heaven, you cannot go on with your system of provost mar- 
shals and police officials arresting free white men for discharging 
what they conceive to be their duty within the plain provisions of 
the Constitution and maintain peace in the loyal States. Blood 
will flow. You cannot and you shall not forge our fetters on 
our limbs without a struggle for the mastery. 

The great American heart is fired anew with the love of 
liberty, and the people are arousing like the giant after his 
sleep. They have erected their heads and warn you not to lay 
the weight of your finger, of your smallest finger, on one of the 



CONSCRIPTION 



great mmiimraiti of personal freedom which adorn the his- 
tory of the world. If yoa do, it ia at your most deadly periL 



CONSCKIPTION BY THE SoUTH 

Conscription in the Soutliem States, says Alexander 
Johnston in his "American Political History," pre- 
ceded, and, to some extent, compelled, the adoption of 
conscription by the Federal Government. The act of 




80UTIIEBK VOLUNTEERS 
From (fw colltctUm of Hit Nea York BUurital Sceltty 

April 16, 1862, with the amentlment of September 27, 
186^ was rather a levy en masse tlian a conscription. 
It made no provision for draft, but placed all white men 
between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, resident in 
the Confederate States, and not legally exempt, in the 
Confederate service. 

July 18, 1863, by proclamation, President Jefferson 
Davis put the conscription law into operation, and 
directed the enrolment to begin at once. February 17, 
1864, a second conscription law was passed. It added 
to the former conscript ages those between seventeen 
aad eighteen, and between forty-five and fifty, who were 



316 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

to do duty as a garrison and reserve corps. It excepted 
certain classes, such as one editor to each newspaper, 
one apothecary to each drug store, and one farmer to 
each farm employing fifteen able-bodied slaves, and pro- 
vided that all persons who should neglect or refuse to 
be enrolled should be placed in the field service for the 
war. No substitutes were or could be accepted, for 
every person able to do military duty was himself al- 
ready conscripted. 

Very little resistance was made to this sweeping 
levy, for the Government of the Confederate States 
showed little mercy to opposition of any kind. Only 
through the conscription were the Southern armies 
filled for the last two years of the war, and its enforce- 
ment was so rigorous and inquisitorial that toward the 
end of the war the Confederacy generally had more men 
in the field than it could provide with arms. 



CHAPTER Xn 

Civil vs. Militabt Authobity 

Draft Riots in New York City— The President's Controversy with Gov. 
Horatio Seymour [N. Y.] on the Constitutionality of the Draftr-Gen. 
Ambrose E. Bumside Imprisons, by Martial Law, Clement L. Yallan- 
digham [O.] for Inciting Resistance to the Draft — ^The President 
Changes the Sentence to Exile into the Confederacy — Democratic Reso- 
lutions of Protest — The President Replies Justifying Military Arrests — 
Vallandigham, in Exile in Canada, Is Nominated by Ohio Democrats as 
Governor — ^Reply of the President to Committee of Ohio Democrats — 
Speeches against the Administration by Franklin Pierce and Gov. 
Horatio Seymour [N. Y.] — ^Vallandigham Is Overwhelmingly Defeated 
by Aid of the National Administration — Republican Victories in State 
Elections — Address of the President to Illinois Voters Justifying His 
Acts — His Replies to Mayor Fernando Wood, of New York City, and 
Others Volunteering to Mediate with the South — His Refusal to Accept 
Alexander H. Stephens [Ga.] as Envoy of the Confederacy. 

THE draft ordered by the conscription met with 
little resistance outside of New York City and 
a few Democratic counties in Ohio. 
In New York the law was put into operation on 
July 11, 1863. On the following Monday a mob broke 
into the office of the provost marshal, destroyed the 
wheel which contained the names of possible conscripts, 
and, setting fire to the building and preventing the fire- 
men from extinguishing the flames, caused it to be 
burned to the ground. On the Superintendent of Police 
endeavoring to enforce order, he was set upon and 
barely escaped with his life. The police being unable 
to cope with the disorder, New York City regiments 
at the front were telegraphed for; they were unable 
to arrive for four days, and during this time the mob, 
increasing in number, committed many outrages, hang- 
ing negroes, and, after driving the little inmates into 
the street, pillaging and burning a colored orphan 

317 



318 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

asylum. Collecting in Printing House Square on Mon- 
day they were about to destroy the oflSces of the news- 
papers which supported the Administration — particu- 
larly the Tribune — when Governor Horatio Seymour 
caused them to desist temporarily from executing their 
design by speaking to them from the steps of the City 
Hall. On Tuesday he issued a proclamation against 
rioting, but this had no effect. On the return of the 
troops the mob dispersed. 

The draft, however, was not enforced in the city 
for some time. On August 3 Governor Seymour ap- 
pealed to the President to suspend execution of the 
law until the courts could decide on its constitutionality, 
which had been questioned. The President replied that 
the draft must go on, leaving the question of constitu- 
tionality to be decided later. 

My purpose is to be in my action just and constitutional, and 
yet practical, in performing the important duty with which 
I am charged : of maintaining the unity and the free principles 
cf our common country. 

The draft was resumed on August 19, and was con- 
cluded in an orderly fashion. 

Arbest of Vallandigham 

A less tragic yet politically more important develop- 
ment of Northern resistance to military authority oc- 
curred in Ohio during the summer and fall of 1863. 
General Ambrose E. Burnside in his new department 
(headquarters Cincinnati) issued an edict known as 
*' General Order No. 38,'' forbidding acts committed 
for the benefit of the enemy, and stating that persons 
conamitting such offences would be tried as spies or 
traitors, or sent over into the lines of their friends, the 
rebels. 

Clement L. Vallandigham, whose term in Congress 
had expired in March, and who had been defeated for 
reelection, repeated in various public speeches the sen- 
timents he had uttered in the House of Representatives, 



MILITARY ARRESTS 319 

assailing such acts of the Administration as the con- 
scription law as unconstitutional and despotic. 

On May 4 General Burnside arrested Mr. Vallan- 
digham at his home in Dayton, and brought him to 
headquarters at Cincinnati for trial by court-martial. 
His counsel, ex-Senator George E. Pugh, applied for a 
writ of habeas corpus, which the judge refused, on the 
ground that the action of General Burnside was in the 
interest of public safety. Mr. Vallandigham was tried 
on the 6th, found guilty, and sentenced to imprison- 
ment in a Federal fortress. General Burnside desig- 
nated Fort Warren in Boston Harbor as the place of 
incarceration. The President, however, changed this 
sentence into the alternative presented by Order No. 
38, and sent the prisoner over into the Confederate 
lines. From the South Mr. Vallandigham ran through 
the blockade, finally arriving in Canada. 

Public meetings were held all over the country to 
denounce the Administration for its despotic act. Gen- 
eral Burnside, fearing that he had been unwise in bring- 
ing this storm of criticism upon the Government, offered 
his resignation. In reply the President telegraphed 
him on May 29 as follows: 

When I shall wish to supersede you I will let you know. 
All the Cabinet regretted the necessity of arresting, for instance, 
Vallandigham, some perhaps doubtiag there was a real neces- 
sity for it; but, being done, all were for seeing you through 
with it. 

The brunt of seeing Burnside through, however, fell 
on the President, and ably did he fulfil the difficult task. 
Opposed to him were some of the shrewdest constitu- 
tional lawyers in the country. At their instigation able 
resolutions in denunciation of Vallandigham 's arrest 
as unconstitutional were passed at various public meet- 
ings. The President chose to reply to the resolutions 
passed at Albany, N. Y., on May 19. To this Governor 
Seymour had sent an address, in which he said: *'If 
this proceeding is approved by the Government, and 
sanctioned by the people, it is not merely a step to- 



320 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

ward revolution — it is revolution; it will not only lead 
to military despotism — it establishes military despo- 
tisnL" The resolutions closed with a denunciation of 
**the blow struck at a citizen of Ohio'* as ** aimed at 
every citizen of the North,*' and ** against the spirit of 
our laws and Constitution.'* They earnestly called on 
the President **to reverse the action of the military 
tribunal which has passed a cruel and unusual punish- 
ment upon the party arrested, prohibited in terms by the 
Constitution,'' and to restore him to liberty. 

The President took his time in preparing a reply, 
with the result that the letter, when it was finished on 
June 12, proved to be one of his notable papers, com- 
parable for its cogent argument to his Cooper Union 
address. 

MiLITABT ArBESTS JUSTIFIABLE 

President Lincoln 

He began by analyzing the resolutions of the meet- 
ing and showing that their movers and himself had a 
common purpose, the maintenance of the nation, dif- 
fering only in the choice of measures for effecting that 
object. **The meeting, by their resolutions, assert and 
argue that certain military arrests, . . . for which 
I am ultimately responsible, are unconstitutional. I 
think they are not. ' ' He then argued that these arrests 
were not made for ** treason," as charged, but on 
*' totally different grounds," t. e., for purely military 
reasons. He narrated the manner in which the enemy 
with which the country was in open war had, under cover 
of ''liberty of speech," ''liberty of the press," and 
'^ habeas, cor pus," kept a corps of spies in the North, 
which had aided the secessionist cause in a thousand 
ways. "Yet," said the President, "thoroughly imbued 
with a reverence for the guaranteed rights of individ- 
uals, I was slow to adopt the strong measures which 
by degrees I had been forced to regard as being within 
the exceptions of the Constitution, and as indispensable 
to the public safety." But the evil had to be dealt 



MILITARY ARRESTS 321 

with, and by more effective means than afforded by the 
civil courts, on whose juries sympathizers with the ac- 
cused were apt to sit, ^'more ready to hang the panel 
than to hang the traitor. '^ And again, said Lincoln, 
there are crimes against the country which may be so 
conducted as to evade the cognizance of a civil court, 
such as dissuading a man from volunteering or induc- 
ing a soldier to desert. These are cases clearly coming 
under that clause of the Constitution which permits sus- 
pension of the writ of habeas corpus ''when, in cases 
of rebellion or invasion, public safety may require it." 
The President then proceeded to draw a distinc- 
tion between civil and military law. He said: 

The former is directed at the small percentage of ordinary 
and continuous perpetration of crime, while the latter is di- 
rected at sudden and extensive uprisings against the Govern- 
ment, which, at most, will succeed or fail in no great length of 
time. Li the latter case arrests are made not so much for what 
has been done, as for what probably would be done. The latter 
is more for the preventive and less for the vindictive than the 
former. In such cases the purposes of men are much more easily 
understood than in cases of ordinary crime. The man who 
stands by and says nothing when the peril of his Government is 
discussed cannot be misunderstood. If not hindered, he is sure 
to help the enemy; much more if he talks ambiguously — ^talks 
for his country with **but8," and '*ifs," and **ands." 

The President showed how greatly the country had 
suffered through deferring arrests for treason, by cit- 
ing the cases of John C. Breckinridge, Bobert E. Lee, 
Joseph E. Johnston, and other connnanders in the Con- 
federate service who had all been vdthin the power of 
the Government after the outbreak of the war, and 
who were well known to be traitors at the time. Said 
the President: 

In view of these and similar cases, I think the time not un- 
likely to come when I shall be blamed for having made too 
few arrests rather than too many. 

Mr. Lincoln then examined the contention of the 
committee that even during a war military arrestc were 

VI— 21 



322 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

unconstitutional outside of the region of hostilities. To 
this the President replied: 

Inasmuch, however, as the Constitution itself makes no such 
distinction, I am unable to believe that there is any such con- 
stitutional distinction. I concede that the class of arrests com- 
plained of can be constitutional only when, in cases of rebellion 
or invasion, the public safety may require them ; and I insist that 
in such cases they are constitutional wherever the public safety 
does require them, as well in places to which they may prevent 
the rebellion extending as in those where it may be already pre- 
vailing; as well where they may restrain mischievous interfer- 
ence with the raising and supplying of armies to suppress the 
rebellion, as where the rebellion may actually be ; as well where 
they may restrain the enticing men out of the army, as where 
they would prevent mutiny in the army. . . . 

Mr. Vallandigham 's arrest was made because he was labor- 
ing, with some effect, to prevent the raising of troops, to en- 
courage desertions from the army, and to leave the rebellion 
without an adequate military force to suppress it. He was not 
arrested because he was damaging the political prospects of 
the Administration or the personal interests of the commanding 
general, but because he was damaging the army, upon the exist- 
ence and vigor of which the life of the nation depends. He was 
warring upon the military, and this gave the military constitu- 
tional jurisdiction to lay hands upon him. If Mr. Vallandigham 
was not damaging the military power of the country, then his 
arrest was made on mistake of fact, which I would be glad to cor- 
rect on reasonably satisfactory evidence. 

With an argument appealing even more to the hearts 
than the heads of his critics, Mr. Lincoln continued : 

I understand the meeting whose resolutions I am considering 
to be in favor of suppressing the rebellion by military force — 
by armies. Long experience has shown that armies cannot be 
maintained unless desertion shall be punished by the severe pen- 
alty of death. The case requires, and the law and the Constitu- 
tion sanction, this punishment. Must I shoot a simple-minded 
soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wily 
agitator who induces him to desert t ... I think that, in 
such a case, to silence the agitator and save the boy is not only 
constitutional, but a great mercy. 



MILITARY ARRESTS 323 

In fine, said the President : 

I can no more be persuaded that the Gk>yemment can consti- 
tutionally take no strong measures in time of rebellion, because 
it can be shown that the same could not be lawfully taken in 
time of peace, than I can be persuaded that a particular drug 
is not good medicine for a sick man because it can be shown 
not to be good food for a well one. Nor am I able to appreciate 
the danger apprehended by the meeting, that the American 
people will by means of military arrests during the rebellion 
lose the right of public discussion, the liberty of speech and 
the press, the law of evidence, trial by jury, and habeas corpus 
throughout the indefinite peaceful future which I trust lies be- 
fore them, any more than I am able to believe that a man 
could contract so strong an appetite for emetics during tempo- 
rary illness as to persist in feeding upon them during the re- 
mainder of his healthful life. 

The President gently rebuked the memorialists for 
introducing partisan politics into the affair by desig- 
nating themselves as ''Democrats'* rather than ''Amer- 
ican citizens." Nevertheless he accepted the challenge, 
and showed that Andrew Jackson, the idol of the Demo- 
cratic party, had made a military arrest of the author 
of a denunciatory newspaper article, and refused the 
service upon himself of a writ of habeas corpus, being 
fined for so doing; thirty years later, after a full dis- 
cussion of the constitutional aspects of the case, a Demo- 
cratic Congress refunded him principal and interest of 
the fine. 

At the conclusion of his letter the President stated 
that he had been pained when he learned of Mr. 
Vallandigham's arrest, and he promised to release him 
with pleasure when he felt assured that the public 
safety would not suffer by it 

Treason Made Odious 

On June 11 the Ohio Democratic convention nomi- 
nated Vallandigham for governor of the State upon a 
platform which protested against the emancipation 
proclamation, military arrests in loyal States, and, in 



324 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

particular, the banishment of Vallandigham. A com- 
mittee presented these resolutions to the President, and 
on June 29 he replied to them in the tenor of his letter 
to the Albany meeting, elaborating the constitutional 
argument, and closing with the following proposition: 

Your nominee for governor ... is known ... to 
declare against the use of an army to suppress the rebellion. 
Your own attitude, therefore, encourages desertion, resistance 
to the draft, and the like, because it teaches those who incline 
to desert and to escape the draft to believe it is your purpose to 
protect them and to hope that you will become strong enough to 
do so. . . . 

I cannot say I think you desire this effect to follow your 
attitude; but I assure you that both friends and enemies of 
the Union look upon it in this light. It is a substantial hope, 
and, by consequence, a real strength to the enemy. If it is a 
false hope, and one which you would willingly dispel, I will 
make the way exceedingly easy. I send you duplicates of this 
letter, in order that you, or a majority, may, if you choose, in- 
dorse your names upon one of them, and return it thus indorsed 
to me, with the understanding that those signing are thereby 
committed to the following propositions, and to nothing else : — 

1. That there is now rebellion in the United States, the 
object and tendency of which is to destroy the national Union ; 
and that, in your opinion, an army and navy are constitutional 
means for suppressing that rebellion. 

2. That no one of you will do anything which, in his own 
judgment, will tend to hinder the increase, or favor the de- 
crease, or lessen the eflSciency of the army and navy, while en- 
gaged in the effort to suppress that rebellion; and, — 

3. That each of you will, in his sphere, do all he can to 
have the ofiScers, soldiers, and seamen of the army and navy, 
while engaged in the effort to suppress the rebellion, paid, fed, 
clad, and otherwise well provided for and supported. 

And with the further understanding that upon receiving 
the letter and names thus indorsed I will cause them to be pub- 
lished, which publication shall be, within itself, a revocation of 
the order in relation to Mr. Vallandigham. 

The conamittee, put upon the defensive by this 
clever device of the President, took the only attitude 
which was possible short of capitulation, and rejected 
the proposition as an insult to their loyalty. 



MILITARY ARRESTS 325 

Distinguished members of the Democratic party in 
other States took the same position as the Ohio com- 
mittee. Ex-President Franklin Pierce delivered a care- 
fully prepared oration at a great Democratic meeting 
held in Concord, N. H., in midsunmier. He said: 

**MoBAL Force, Not Abms, Will Save the Union'* 

Franklin Pierce 

Do we not all know that the cause of our calamities is the 
vicious intermeddling of too many of the citizens of the North- 
em States with the constitutional rights of the Southern States, 
cooperating with the discontents of the people of those States t 
And now, war! war, in its direst shape — war, such as it makes 
the blood run cold to read of in the history of other nations 
and of other times — war, on a scale of a million of men in arms 
— ^war, horrid as that of barbaric ages, rages in several of the 
States of the Union, as its more immediate field, and casts the 
lurid shadow of its death and lamentation athwart the whole 
expanse, and into every nook and corner of our vast domain. 
Nor is that all; for in those of the States which are exempt 
from the actual ravages of war, in which the roar of the cannon, 
and the rattle of the musketry, and the groans of the dying are 
heard but as a faint echo of terror from other lands, even here 
in the loyal States, the mailed hand of military usurpation 
strikes down the liberties of the people and its foot tramples on 
a desecrated Constitution. Aye, in this land of free thought, 
free speech, and free writing — ^in this Republic of free suffrage, 
with liberty of thought and expression as th^ very essence of 
republican institutions — even here, in these free States, it is 
made criminal . . . for that noble martyr of free speech, 
Mr. Vallandigham, to discuss public affairs in Ohio — aye, even 
here, the temporary agents of the sovereign people, the transitory 
administrators of the government, tell us that in time of war 
the mere arbitrary will of the President takes the place of the 
Constitution, and the President himself announces to us that 
it is treasonable to speak or to write otherwise than as he may 
prescribe ; nay, that it is treasonable even to be silent, though we 
be struck dumb by the shock of the calamities with which evil 
counsels, incompetency, and corruption, have overwhelmed our 
country. 

This fearful, fruitless, fatal civil war has exhibited our 
amazing resources and vast military power. It has shown that, 



326 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

united, even in carrying out, in its widest interpretation, the 
Monroe Doctrine, on this continent, we could, with such pro- 
tection as the broad ocean yirhich flows between ourselves and 
European powers affords, have stood against the world in 
arms. I speak of the war as fruitless ; for it is clear that, prose- 
cuted upon the basis of the proclamations of September 22 and 
September 24, 1862, prosecuted, as I must understand those 
proclamations, to say nothing of the kindred brood which has 
followed, upon the theory of emancipation, devastation, subju- 
gation, it cannot fail to be fruitless in everything except the 
harvest of woe which it is ripening for what was once the 
peerless Republic. 

Now, fellow citizens, after having said thus much, it is 
right that you should ask me. What would you do in this fear- 
ful extremity! I reply, Prom the beginning of this struggle 
to the present moment my hope has been in moral power. 
There it reposes still. When, in the spring of 1861, I had 
occasion to address my fellow citizens of this city, from the 
balcony of the hotel before us, I then said I had not believed, 
and did not then believe, aggression by arms was either a suit- 
able or possible remedy for existing evils. All that has oc- 
curred since then has but strengthened and confirmed my con- 
victions in this regard. I repeat, then, my judgment impels 
me to rely upon moral force, and not upon any of the coercive 
instrumentalities of military power. We have seen, in the ex- 
perience of the last two years, how futile are all our efforts to 
maintain the Union by force of arms; but, even had war been 
carried on by us successfully, the ruinous result would exhibit 
its utter impracticability for the attainment of the desired end. 
Through peaceful agencies, and through such agencies alone, 
can we hope to 'form a more perfect Union, establish justice, 
insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, 
promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty 
to ourselves and our posterity': the great objects for which, 
and for which alone, the Constitution was formed. If you turn 
round and ask me. What if these agencies fail, what if the 
passionate anger of both sections forbids, what if the ballot- 
box is sealed 1 Then, all efforts, whether of war or peace, hav- 
ing failed, my reply is. You will take care of yourselves; with 
or without arms, with or without leaders, we will, at least, in 
the effort to defend our rights as a free people, build up a 
great mausoleum of hearts, to which men who yearn for liberty 
will, in after years, with bowed heads and reverently, resort, 
as Christian pilgrims to the sacred shrines of the Holy Land. 



MILITARY ARRESTS 327 

Governor Horatio Seymour [N. Y.] addressed a 
large gathering in New York City about the same time. 
He said: 

The Revolutionary Dogtbinb op Public Necessity 

Governor Seymour 

A few years ago we stood before this community to warn 
them of the dangers of sectional strife; but our fears were 
laughed at. At a later day, when the clouds of war overhung 
our country, we implored those in authority to compromise 
that diiSculty: for we had been told by that great orator and 
statesman, Burke, that there never yet was a revolution that 
might not have been prevented by a compromise opportunely 
and graciously made. [Great applause.] Our prayers were 
unheeded. Again, when the contest was opened, we invoked 
those who had the conduct of affairs not to underrate the power 
of the adversary — ^not to underrate the courage, and resources, 
and endurance of our own sister States. This warning was 
treated as sympathy with treason. You have the results of 
these unheeded warnings and unheeded prayers; they have 
stained our soil with blood; they have carried mourning into 
thousands of homes ; and to-day they have brought our country 
to the very verge of destruction. Once more I come before you 
to offer again an earnest prayer, and beg you to listen to a 
warning. Our country is not only at this time torn by one of 
the bloodiest wars that has ever ravaged the face of the earth, 
but, if we turn our faces to our own loyal States, how is it 
there t You find the community divided into political parties, 
strongly arrayed, and using with regard to each other terms of 
reproach and defiance. It is said by those who support more 
particularly the Administration that we, who differ honestly, 
patriotically, sincerely, from them with regard to the line of 
duty, are men of treasonable purposes and enemies to our coun- 
try. ['*Hear, hear."] On the other hand, the Democratic or- 
ganization look upon this Administration as hostile to their 
rights and liberties; they look upon their opponents as men 
who would do them wrong in regard to their most sacred fran- 
chises. I need not call your attention to the tone of the press, 
or to the tone of public feeling, to show you how, at this mo- 
ment, parties are thus exasperated, and stand in defiant atti- 
tudes to each other. A few years ago we were told that sec- 
tional strife, waged in words like these, would do no harm to 



328 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

our country; but you have seen the sad and bloody results. 
Let us be admonished now in time, and take care that this 
irritation, this feeling which is growing up in our midst, shall 
not also ripen into civil troubles that shall carry the evils of 
war into our own homes. 

Upon one point all are agreed, and that is this: Until 
we have a united North we can have no successful war. Until 
we have a united, harmonious North we can have no beneficent 
peace. How shall we gain harmony t How shall the unity of 
all be obtained t Is it to be coerced t I appeal to you, my 
Sepublican friends, when you say to us that the nation's life 
and existence hang upon harmony and concord here, if you 
yourselves, in your serious moments, believe that this is to be 
produced by seizing our persons, by infringing upon our rights, 
by insulting our homes, and by depriving us of those cherished 
principles for which our fathers fought, and to which we have 
always sworn allegiance. [Oreat applause.] 

We only ask that you shall give to us that which yon claim 
for yourselves, and that which every freeman, and every man 
who respects himself, will have — freedom of speech, the right 
to exercise all the franchises conferred by the Constitution ui>on 
American citizens. [Oreat applause.] Can you safely deny 
us these t Will you not trample upon your own rights if you 
refuse to listen t Do you not create revolution when you say 
that our persons may be rightfully seized, our property con- 
fiscated, our homes entered t .Are you not exposing yourselves, 
your own interests, to as great a peril as that with which you 
threaten ust Remember this, that the bloody, and treasonable, 
and revolutionary doctrine of public necessity can be pro- 
claimed by a mob as well as by a government. [Applause.] 

To-day the great masses of conservatives who still battle 
for time-honored principles of government, amid denunciation, 
contumely, and abuse, are the only barriers that stand between 
this Government and its own destruction. If we should ac- 
quiesce in the doctrine that, in times of war, constitutions are 
suspended, and laws have lost their force, then we should ac- 
cept a doctrine that the very right by which this Government 
administers its power has lost its virtue, and we would be 
brought down to the level of rebellion itself, having an exist- 
ence only by virtue of material power. When men accept des- 
potism they may have a choice as to who the despot shall be. 
The struggle then will not be, Shall we have constitutional 
liberty? But, having accepted the doctrine that the Constitu- 
tion has lost its force, every instinct of personal ambition, every 



MILITARY ARRESTS 329 

instinct of personal security, will lead men to put themselves 
under the protection of that power which they suppose most 
competent to guard their persons. 

In condnsion he said: 

We stand to-day amid new-made graves, in a land filled 
with mourning; upon a soil saturated with the blood of the 
fiercest conflict of which history gives us an account. We can, 
if we will, avert all these calamities and evoke a blessing. If 
we will do whatt Hold that Constitution, and liberties, and 
laws are suspended t — shrink back from the assertion of right? 
Will that restore themt Or shall we do as our fathers did, 
under circumstances of like trial, when they combated against 
the powers of a crown t They did not say that liberty was 
suspended ; that men might be deprived of the right of trial by 
jury; that they might be torn from their homes by midnight 
intruders t [Tremendous and continued applause.] If you 
would save your country and your liberties, begin right ; begin 
at the hearthstones, which are ever meant to be the foundations 
of American institutions; begin in your family circle; declare 
that your privileges shall be held sacred; and, having once 
proclaimed your own rights, take care that you do not invade 
those of your neighbor. [Applause.] 

The Ohio Democrats went into the campaign fore- 
doomed to defeat The Republican party determined 
to ''make treason odious'* by piKng up an enormous 
majority of votes against him. They nominated John 
Brough, a '*War Democrat," to make the issue as clear 
as possible. By a State law the soldiers in the field 
were permitted to vote, and they, as well as the citizens 
at home, cast their ballots under conditions which would 
be far from satisfactory to a ballot reformer of the 
present day. Brough won the election with over 100,000 
votes to spare. Soon after his defeat, Vallandigham re- 
turned openly to Ohio, evidently daring the Government 
to arrest him again. The President, however, realizing 
that Vallandigham *8 power to injure the draft was 
broken, ignored his presence in the country. Undoubt- 
edly he would have taken a similar course from the be- 
ginning, had not Bumside's action in arresting Vallan- 



330 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

digham forced him to carry out an autocratic policy. 
For Lincoln did not approve of supplying martyrs to 
the opposition, and, therefore, when forced to do so, 
he contrived to make them as unheroic, and even 
ridiculous, as possible. Brilliant orator though he was, 
Clement L. Vallandigham 's connection with his party 
became a positive detriment to it, and he soon retired 
from politics to devote himself to law, in the practice 
of which he met his death in a strange and tragic 
fashion. In defending a man accused of murder he 
shot himself, as he was illustrating the manner in which 
his client might have discharged his pistol by accident 
while drawing it from his pocket. 

The political campaign of 1863 in other States as 
well as in Ohio was waged along the lines laid down by 
the President, with the result of sweeping guberna- 
torial victories for the Administration. 

The President not only sounded the keynote of the 
campaign, and formulated the Administration's plat- 
form, but wrote, as it were, the campaign text-book of 
his party, reviewing the acts of the Administration and 
supporting its policies so completely and cogently that 
nothing essential could be added. All this he did in 
an address which he sent to a mass-meeting of ** un- 
conditional Union men" at Springfield, 111., and which 
was there read on September 3 amid the greatest en- 
thusiasm. 

Justification op His Administration 

President Lincoln 

After tendering the nation's gratitude to those 
*' noble men whom no partisan malice or partisan hope 
can make false to the nation's life," the President 
plunged at once into a justification of his course. 

There are those who are dissatisfied with me. To such I 
would say: You desire peace, and you blame me that we do 
not have it. But how can we attain it! There are but three 
conceivable ways: First, to suppress the rebellion by force of 
arms. This I am trying to do. Are you for itt If you are, 



MILITARY ARRESTS 331 

80 far we are agreed. If you are not for it, a second way is 
to. give up the Union. I am against this. Are you for itf 
If you are, you should say so plainly. If you are not for force, 
nor yet for dissolution, there only remains some imaginable 
compromise. I do not believe any compromise embracing the 
maintenance of the Union is now possible. All I learn leads to 
a directly opposite belief. The strength of the rebellion is its 
military, its army. That army dominates all the country and 
all the people within its range. Any offer of terms made by 
any man or men within that range, in opposition to that army, 
is simply nothing for the present, because such man or men 
have no power whatever to enforce their side of a compromise, 
if one were made with them. 

To illustrate. Suppose refugees from the South and peace 
men of the North get together in convention and frame and 
proclaim a compromise embracing a restoration of the Union. 
In what way can that compromise be used to keep Lee's army 
out of Penni^lvania f Meade's army can keep Lee's army out 
of Penni^lvania, and, I think, can ultimately drive it out of 
existence. But no paper compromise to which the controllers 
of Lee's army are not agreed can at all affect that army. In 
an effort at such compromise we should waste time which the 
enemy would improve to our disadvantage; and that would be 
all. A compromise, to be effective, must be made either with 
those who control the rebel army, or with the people first lib- 
erated from the domination of that army by the success of our 
own army. Now, allow me to assure you that no word or in- 
timation from that rebel army, or from any of the men con- 
trolling it, in relation to any peace compromise, has ever come 
to my knowledge or belief. All charges and insinuations to the 
contrary are deceptive and groundless. And I promise you 
that, if any such proposition shall hereafter come, it shall not 
be rejected and kept a secret from you. I freely acknowledge 
myself the servant of the people, according to the bond of serv- 
ice — the United States Constitution — and that, as such, I am 
responsible to them. 

But to be plain. Yon are dissatisfied with me about the 
negro. Quite likely there is a difference of opinion between 
you and myself upon that subject. I certainly wish that all 
men could be free, while I suppose you do not. Yet I have 
neither adopted nor proposed any measure which is not con- 
sistent with even your view, provided you are for the Union. 
I suggested compensated emancipation, to which you replied 
you wished not to be taxed to buy negroes. But I had not 



332 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

asked you to be taxed to buy negroes, except in such way as 
to save you from greater taxation to save the Union exclusively 
by other means. 

You dislike the emancipation proclamation, and perhaps 
would have it retracted. Tou say it is unconstitutional. I 
think differently. I think the Constitution invests its com- 
mander-in-chief with the law of war in time of war. The most 
that can be said — if so much — is that slaves are property. Is 
there — ^has there ever been — any question that, by the law of 
war, property, both of enemies and friends, may be taken when 
needed ? And is it not needed whenever taking it helps us, or 
hurts the enemy t Armies, the world over, destroy enemies' 
property when they cannot use it; and even destroy their own 
to keep it from the enemy. Civilized belligerents do all in their 
power to help themselves or hurt the enemy, except a few things 
regarded as barbarous or cruel. Among the exceptions are the 
massacre of vanquished foes and non-combatants, male and fe- 
male. 

But the proclamation, as law, either is valid or is not valid. 
If it is not valid it needs no retraction. If it is valid it cannot 
be retracted, any more than the dead can be brought to life. 
Some of you profess to think its retraction would operate fa- 
vorably for the Union. Why better after the retraction than 
before the issue? There was more than a year and a half of 
trial to suppress the rebellion before the proclamation was is- 
sued, the last one hundred days of which passed under an ex- 
plicit notice that it was coming, unless averted by those in re- 
volt returning to their allegiance. The war has certainly pro- 
gressed as favorably for us since the issue of the proclamation 
as before. 

I know as fully as one can know the opinions of others that 
some of the commanders of our armies in the field, who have 
given us our most important victories, believe the emancipation 
policy and the use of colored troops constitute the heaviest 
blows yet dealt to the rebellion, and that at least one of those 
important successes could not have been achieved when it was 
but for the aid of black soldiers. 

Among the commanders who hold these views are some who 
have never had any affinity with what is called ''abolitionism," 
or with ** Republican party politics," but who hold them purely 
as military opinions. I submit their opinions as entitled to 
some weight against the objections often urged that emanci- 
pation and arming the blacks are unwise as military measures, 
and were not adopted as such in good faith. 




MILITARY ARRESTS 

You say that you will not fight to free negroes. Some of 
them seem willing to fight for you; hut no matter. Fight you, 
then exclusively, to save the Union. I issued the proclamation 
on purpose to aid you in saving the Union. Whenever you 
shall have conquered all resistance to the Union, if I shall urge 
you to continue fighting, it will be an apt time then for you 
to declare you will not fight to free negroes. I thought that in 
your struggle for the Union, to whatever extent the negroes 
should cease helping the enemy, to that extent it weakened the 
enemy in his resistance to you. Do you think differently t I 
thought that whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers 
leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do in saving the 
Union. Does it appear otherwise to you? But negroes, like 
other people, act upon motives. Why should they do anything 
for us if we will do nothing for themt If they stake their 
lives for us they must be prompted by the strongest motive, 
even the promise of freedom. And the promise, being made, 
must be kept. 

The letter closed with a glowing exordium, such as 
those which, in the days of the fight for free territory, 
had roused his auditors to a frenzy of enthusiasnL 
In classic phrase it pictured the soldiers and sailors 
of the Union marching on to certain Victory. It paid 
tribute to the courage of the negro troops, and with 
Cromwellian ire contrasted their patriotism with the 
hypocritical pretensions of the * * malignants " of the 
peace party. Yet its oratorical fever was restrained 
from soaring into bombast by a ballast of conmion 
sense, and its tense feeling was relieved by a touch of 
grotesque humor, to which, as President even more than 
as citizen, Lincoln was wont to give loose in his most 
serious moments. Virtually his ''last stump-speech,'' 
it was unquestionably his most characteristic and best 
one. 

The signs look better. The Father of Waters again goes un- 
vexed to the sea. Thanks to the great Northwest for it ; nor yet 
wholly to them. Three hundred miles up they met New Eng- 
land, Empire, Keystone, and Jersey, hewing their way right 
and left. The sunny South, too, in more colors than one, also 
lent a helping hand. On the spot, their part of the history 
was jotted down in black and white. The job was a great na- 



334 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

tional one, and let none be slighted who bore an honorable part 
in it. And, while those who have cleared the great river may 
well be proud, even that is not all. It is hard to say that any- 
thing has been more bravely and well done than at Antietam, 
Murfreesboro, Gettysburg, and on many fields of less note. Nor 
must Uncle Sam's web feet be forgotten. At all the watery 
margins they have been present. Not only on the deep sea, the 
broad bay, and the rapid river, but also up the narrow, muddy 
bayou, and wherever the ground was a little damp, they have 
been and made their tracks. Thanks to all: for the great re- 
public — for the principle it lives by and keeps alive — ^f or man 's 
vast future — ^thanks to all. 

Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will 
come soon, and come to stay, and so come as to be worth the 
keeping in all future time. It will then have been proved that 
among free men there can be no successful appeal from the bal- 
lot to the bullet, and that they who take such appeal are sure 
to lose their case and pay the cost. And then there will be 
some black men who can remember that with silent tongue, and 
clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-jwised bayonet, they 
have helped mankind on to this great consummation, while I 
fear there will be some white ones unable to forget that with 
malignant heart and deceitful speech they strove to hinder it. 

Still, let us not be over-sanguine of a speedy final triumph. 
Let us be quite sober. Let us diligently apply the means, never 
doubting that a just Ood, in his own good time, will give us 
the rightful result. 

That reference in the address to oflfers of compro- 
mise made by representatives of the Confederacy was 
evoked by various propositions made for self-advertise- 
ment by irresponsible parties such as Fernando Wood, 
a Democratic politician of New York, who boldly con- 
fessed his sympathy with the South and virtually of- 
fered himself as a mediator. To him Lincoln had re- 
plied (on December 12, 1862) : 

Understanding your phrase, '*The Southern States would 
send representatives to the next Congress," to be substantially 
the same as that "the people of the Southern States would 
cease resistance, and would reinaugurate, submit to, and main- 
tain the national authority within the limits of such States, 
under the Constitution of the United States," I say that in 



MILITARY ARRESTS 335 

such case the war would cease on the part of the United States, 
and that if, within a reasonable time, ''a full and general 
amnesty" were necessary to such end, it would not be withheld. 
I do not think it would be proper now for me to communicate 
this formally or informally to the people of the Southern 
States. My belief is that they already know it ; and when they 
choose, if ever, they can communicate with me unequivocally. 
Nor do I think it proper now to suspend military operations to 
try any experiment of negotiation. 

It is true, however, that a no less responsible party 
than Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-President of the Con- 
federacy, had presented to the Navy Department on 
July 4, 1863, a request that he be permitted to come 
to Washington bearing ''a conmiunication in writing 
from Jeflferson Davis, Conmiander-in-Chief of the land 
and naval forces of the Confederate States, to Abraham 
Lincoln, Commander-in-Chief of the land and naval 
forces of the United States,'* but there was no state- 
ment of the nature of the conmiunication. As the re- 
quest studiously avoided recognition of the President in 
other than the military capacity of that office, Mr. Lin- 
coln very wisely and properly ordered the Secretary 
of the Navy [Gideon Welles] to reply: 

The request of A. H. Stephens is inadmissible. The cus- 
tomary agents and channels are adequate for all needful com- 
munication and conference between the United States forces and 
the insurgents. 



CHAPTEE Xm 
^^ Bayonets at thb Polls'' 

Lazarus W. Powell [K7.] Introduces Bill in Senate to Prevent Military 
Interference with Elections — Debate: in Favor of Bill, Senator Powell , 
James A. McDougall [Cal.], Beverdy Johnson [Md.]; Opposed, Jacob 
M. Howard [Mich.], James Harlan [la.]. 

OWING to charges that there had been military 
interference by the order of the President with 
elections held in the border States during the 
summer and autumn of 1863, Lazarus W. Powell [Ky.] 
introduced in the Senate on January 5, 1864, a bill to 
prevent officers of the army and navy from interfering 
in elections in the States. This was finally referred 
to the Committee on Military Affairs, which reported 
against it, and presented an elaborate report justifying 
the action of the President On March 3 Senator 
Powell's bill was brought before the Senate as in Com- 
mittee of the Whole. 



Mtt.ttarv InTEBFEBENCE WITH ELECTIONS 

Senate, March 3-5, 1864 

On March 3 and 4 Senator Powell spoke in favor of 
the bUl. 

It cannot be doubted that upon the keeping of the elective 
franchise absolutely free depends the very existence of our form 
of government and our republican institutions. Free States in 
all ages have regarded the purity of the elective franchise as of 
the greatest and most vital importance, and have enacted se- 
vere penal laws for the punishment of those who interfered by 
force or fraud to prevent free elections. I believe there is no 
government on the face of the earth in which elections have 
been carried on for the purpose of appointing any of the offi- 
cers of the government, save and except the United States of 

336 



"BAYONETS AT THE POLLS" 337 

America, that has not had laws to punish, and severely punish, 
those who should interfere with the freedom of the elective 
franchise. All the republics of antiquity had the severest laws 
punishing those who interfered with the freedom of their elec- 
tions. 

By the laws of Great Britain persons convicted of bribery, 
force, or fraud at elections are punished severely. At the com- 
mon law bribery and kindred offences were crimes, and the Brit- 
ish statutes punished persons guilty of such offences on convic- 
tion with fines of £500, and deprived them of the privilege ever 
after of voting or holding any office of trust or honor under 
that government. One section of this bill provides that the 
soldiers of the army of the United States shall not be permitted 
to be kept within one mile of any poll where an election is going 
on, on the day of election. I find similar provisions in the Eng- 
lish law. 

Mr. Tucker, in his notes to Blackstone's Commentaries, in 
reference to the British law requiring soldiers to be removed 
from the place of voting, says, ''A similar regulation in the 
election of Representatives to Congress seems highly proper and 
necessary." It is strange to me that we have never had such 
a law on our statute book. I suppose the only reason for the 
absence of such a law is that our elections have been regulated 
heretofore by officers appointed by the States, and it is only 
very recently that the armies of the United States have at- 
tempted to interfere in our elections. 

By the spirit of the Constitution of the United States, and 
by the constitution of every State in the Union, the military is 
to be kept in strict subordination to the civil power ; and I sup- 
pose that those who went before us never thought we should 
have rulers so wicked and corrupt as to use the machinery of 
the Federal Government for the purpose of prostrating the free- 
dom of elections in the States; otherwise, I am sure that such 
laws as the one before us would have been enacted long before 
this. I find upon examination that seven of the States of the 
Union have enacted statutes to prevent soldiers making their 
appearance on election day at the places where the elections are 
held — Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Penn^l- 
vania, Maine, and Massachusetts. The constitution of the State 
of Maryland provides that, upon conviction for the offence of 
giving or receiving bribes or influencing any man to give an il- 
legal vote, not only the man giving the bribe, but the man giving 
the illegal vote shall forever after be disqualified from voting 
and from holding any office of trust, honor, or profit under the 

VI— 22 



338 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

State govenmient. Every State in the Union has severe penal 
lawSy providing for the punishment of all who in any way inter- 
fere to prevent free elections. 

With ns, Mr. President, sovereignty resides in the people, 
and the people by the exercise of free suffrage declare their 
will and appoint their agencies to carry on the government. 
He who attempts to interfere with this most inestimable right, 
whether he be President, major general, or citizen, is an enemy 
to the Bepublic and deserves the harshest punishment. In or- 
der to have free elections, there must be free speech and a free 
press; the sovereign people must have an opportunity of forming 
an enlightened public opinion upon the questions at issue, which 
can only be done after full and free discussion. Free speech 
and a free press in a government like ours are the soul of re- 
publican institutions; free suffrage is the very heart-strings of 
civil liberty. To be free, the elections must be conducted in ac- 
cordance with laws so framed as to prevent fraud, force, in- 
timidation, corruption, and venality, superintended by election 
judges and officers independent of the executive or any other 
power of the Government; the military must not interfere, but 
be kept in strict subordination to the liaw, which should be so 
framed as to prevent absolutely such interference. The only 
duty of the Executive is to see that the law is faithfully exe- 
cuted. The Executive must not use the power intrusted to him 
to prevent free elections. 

It is certainly a subversion of the very foundation of the 
Gh)vemment for the Executive to use the force and the power 
that the Oovemment has placed in his hands for defensive pur- 
poses to overthrow the free suffrages of the people and to ai>- 
point those to power who will be his truckling menials, his sub- 
servient agents to carry out his will, to aid him it may be to 
overthrow the liberties of the people whom they should repre- 
sent, betray the Constitution that they should preserve and pro- 
tect, destroy everything that makes the Government desirable 
and worthy of the support of an honest and free people. Yet, 
sir, such things have been done, and I regret to say that there 
are those in the Senate chamber who not only do not denounce, 
but who approve these usurpations, these plain, palpable viola- 
tions of the Constitution of their country. 

Mr. President, let us for a moment see what are the powers 
of the President of the United States. From whence does he 
derive this power to regulate elections and to appoint repre- 
sentatives of the people Y for when stripped of its verbiage that 
is really what has been done in many parts of the States of 



•^BAYONETS AT THE POLLS'' 339 

Maryland, Missouri, Kentucky, and Delaware. Where, I ask, 
does the Executive of the United States derive such power? He 
certainly does not derive it from the Constitution. 

He is commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States, 
and under that clause I suppose those who oppose the bill claim 
that the President can rightfully exercise the power that he has 
exercised in overthrowing the freedom of elections in Maryland 
and other States. They claim it under the war power, which I 
will notice in another part of my remarks. The President is to 
"take care that the laws be faithfully executed." What laws 
are they that the President shall see faithfully executed? The 
Constitution declares that — 

"This Constitution and the laws of the United States which shall be 
made in pursaance thereof, and all treaties made or which shall be made 
under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the 
land." 

These are the laws that the President is to see faithfully 
executed. Whenever he goes beyond that he is a usurper. The 
President, under the Constitution, can exercise no implied 
power. AH the implied powers that can be exercised under our 
Qovemment must be exercised by another and a different body 
of magistracy, to wit, the legislative; and that is the express 
language of the Constitution. 

In the States to which I have alluded, the President, or those 
acting under his orders, have prescribed the qualifications of 
voters and the qualifications of candidates for ofSce, and that, 
too, in, direct violation of the Constitution of the United States. 
This is a grave charge, but it is one that I will make good by 
testimony that none can doubt. Let us see who it is that has 
the right to prescribe the qualifications of voters. I suppose 
that no Senator will deny that as to all State offices the States 
have the power to prescribe the qualifications of the officer as 
well as of the voter. That power not having been delegated by 
the Constitution to the general Qovemment, the States neces- 
sarily retain it. But there is an express provision of the Consti- 
tution. The tenth amendment, which declares ''The powers not 
delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor pro- 
hibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively 
or to the people,*' and the Constitution very clearly indicate 
who are qualified voters for members of Congress. The second 
section of the first article of the Constitution declares who shall 
be qualified electors for members of Congress. It fixes the 
qualification as the one ordained by the State government for 



340 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

the members of the most numerous branch of their legislature. 
That is the fundamental law of the land; but in violation of 
that provision of the Constitution the military have seen fit, by 
military orders, to fix the qualifications of voters in the States. 
They have gone further, and fixed the qualifications for office. 
Not only the military have done this, but the President of the 
United States himself has done it. I am not going to waste all 
my time upon those who do the chief magistrate's bidding, but 
it is my purpose to-day to expose his atrocious violations of the 
Constitution. I trust that I shall speak of the President in a 
manner that is courteous, but I certainly shall do it in very 
plain language. The charges that I have to make I trust will 
not be misunderstood by anyone. I will not deal in innuendo, 
insinuation, or hint, but I will make the charge directly, and I 
have the proof to sustain it. 

The Committee on Military Affairs, who made a very elab- 
orate report, which I have before me, and which I shall pres- 
ently review, justify the military in all they have done in con- 
trolling elections. The sole object of the committee in their 
report seems to be the justification and vindication of the 
military authorities for their atrocious assault on the rights 
of the States and the liberties of the people and their wicked 
and illegal interference in elections; and they assault every per- 
son who says or does anything tending to prove that the military 
have usurped powers that belong to the civil officers of the 
States and to the people. The committee justify the President 
and the military authorities for this interference in elections 
upon the ground that it was right and proper that the military 
arm should have been so used to protect the voters, ''the loyid 
voters," as they are called in the report. The Constitution 
prescribes the duty of the chief magistrate on this subject in 
article four: 

The President of the United States has no anthoritj or power to send 
his military into one of the adhering States for the purpose of preventing 
domestic violence at the polls unless he has been invited to do so I7 the 
State authorities. 

But for this provision of the Constitution a corrupt, venal, 
or ambitious President could by means of the military force, 
under some imaginary plea of domestic violence, invade any 
State in this Union on the eve of an election, and dictate the 
persons who should be returned as members of the other House 
of Congress, who should be returned as members of the legisla- 
ture, who should be returned as governors of the States. In a 



**BAYONETS AT THE POLLS" 341 

word, if you allow him to use the army in this way without the 
invitation of the State authorities, a wicked and corrupt man 
would have it in his power to prostrate every State government 
in the Union, and to elect officers who would do his bidding, and 
thus overthrow the liberties of the people, and establish a con- 
solidated despotism of which he would be the master. 

The speaker referred in particular to military in- 
terference in the gubernatorial election in Kentucky, 
where Charles A. Wickliffe was the Democratic can^- 
date. 

The committee say that Mr. Wickliffe and the gentlemen 
who invited him to become a candidate desired rebels to vote. 

The committee say that they invited those whose hands were 
red with the blood of Unionists, and who were loaded with the 
spoils of the plundered friends of the Union, to come to the 
polls. The committee were drawing upon their fancy for their 
facts in making such a statement, and a most distempered fancy 
it must have been. They could not have been deluded by the 
words ''Southern rights," because this address states distinctly 
that the Southern rights men were not secessionists, and were 
not implicated in the rebellion. 

The organization that put Mr. Wickliffe forward as a can- 
didate was the Democratic party under its old name and under 
its old flag. 

In this report the committee impugn the loyalty of Mr. 
Wickliffe; and upon what ground? Mr. Wickliffe was one of 
the first and stanchest Union men in the State of Kentucky. In 
the other end of this Capitol he voted men and money to carry 
on the war ; and he never failed to do so until the last session, 
when he voted against an appropriation bill because the House 
would not insert a clause in it that the money should not be 
used for the purx)ose of freeing negroes and reducing States to 
provinces. It is well known that Mr. Wickliffe was a strong 
and warm friend of the war up to that time, until he thought 
the radical policy of the President was such as would destroy 
every hope of the restoration of the Union. 

Well, sir, that sterling old patriot became the candidate of 
a party that were prevented from exercising the right of suf- 
frage in Kentucky; and in order to justify that outrage and 
the striking of his name from the polls by the ruthless hand of 
the military, this committee say he is disloyaL I have no doubt 
if an angel of the Lord had appeared before the Committee on 



342 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

Military Affairs and told them there had been military inter- 
ference in the elections in Maryland and Kentucky, that it was 
seen and known by all who were present at the polls, the writer 
of the report of the conmiittee would have asserted that the 
angel was disloyal. Every man — I do not care how elevated 
his position or upright his standing in society, or how devoted 
he may have been in the past or the present to the Union — ^who 
asserts that there was interference in the elections, the coi&mit- 
tee say is disloyal, or they impute some unworthy motive to 
him. 

(General Bumside, on the 31st of July, issued an order 
placing Kentucky under martial law, declaring that it was to 
prevent the rebel troops interfering in the election. There was 
no necessity for that order. At the time it was issued there 
were not in Kentucky more than about a thousand rebel sol- 
diers, and they were cavalry in one portion of the State in 
rapid retreat; and on the day of election there were no Con- 
federate soldiers in the State. 

I will not now discuss the question as to whether Gteneral 
Bumside had the power to declare martial law. It is well 
known to the Senate that I hold there is no power in the (Gov- 
ernment, in the President, or any of his commanders, to declare 
martial law ; but if it did exist it should be confined to besieged 
cities and localities occupied by the army. But certainly there 
is no power to declare martial law in the adhering States, when 
they are not occupied by the forces of the enemy. 

General Burnside plainly and palpably violated the Consti- 
tution of his country when he issued that order interfering with 
elections. Let me ask, did Kentucky invite General Bumside 
to bring his forces there to protect the election? No, sir. The 
legislature did not do it; the governor, in the language of the 
day a loyal man, never invited him to do it. 

What did General Burnside do? What were the orders i&- 
sued by his subordinates Y Here is an extract from one of 
them: 

"Judges and derka so appointed are hereby directed not to place the 
name of any person on the poll books to be voted for at said election who 
is not a Union man, or who may be opposed to furnishing men and money 
for a vigorous prosecution of the war." 

There is appended to that order an oath which varies from 
the oath prescribed by the law of Kentucky. The constitution 
and laws of Kentucky do not require that a man shall be in 



"BAYONETS AT THE POLLS" 



343 



favor of fumiBhing men and money for a vigoroos prosecation 
of the war to qualify him to hold ofiSce. 

In many of the counties the name of the whole Democratic 
ticket was stricken from the poll book by the military authori- 
ties. In many voting places and in entire counties of Kentucky 
DO man was cjlowed to vote for that ticket. 

In many places the candidates were arrested. In the first 
congressional district Judge Trimble, the candidate for Con- 




"batonbtb at thk pollb" 

rtoni tt< eallKHtn or »• JVm rork BbKrkal SocMv ' 

gress, as loyal a man and as true to the Constitution and Union 
of his fathers as lives in the Union, was arrested by military 
authority. He was brought to the city of Henderson, a town 
just without his district, and there he was kept in military con- 
finement near a month, until after the election was over. They 
told him that, if he would decline being a candidate for Con- 
gress, they would release him. He would not so degrade his 
manhood as to decline the canvass at the bidding of military 
tyrants and usurpers, and he was kept in prison. They found 
that he would be elected by a large majority notwithstanding 
bis imprisonment, and then they sent the military over his dis- 
trict and bad his name stricken from the polls in almost every 
voting precinct in the district. The genUeman who beat bim 



344 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

got some four thousand votes in a district that poUa about 
twenty thousand. 

Mr. Anderson, who now occupies the seat in Congress from 
the first district in Kentucky, frankly acknowledges that he was 
elected by the bayonets. 

Such were the terrorism and interference by the military that^ 
Mr. Wickliffe, the Democratic candidate for governor, in some 
six or seven of the strongest Democratic counties in the State, 
did not get a single vote, and in many other strong Democratic 
counties he received very few votes. 

In the case of the Maryland election the speaker 
afforded proof that the President was directly respon- 
sible for military interference at the polls. 

The Athenians were so watchful and so jealous of the right 
of free suffrage that a stranger who interfered in the assem- 
blies of the i)eople was regarded as a traitor, and was punished 
by their laws with death. Had President Lincoln and General 
Schenck lived in the time of the free commonwealth of Athens, 
and interfered with the assemblies of the people as they did 
with the right of free suffrage in Maryland, they would have 
been executed as traitors and felons, and would have justly de- 
served their fate. 

The doctrine of those gentlemen who desire to clothe the 
Executive with this supreme power, with this absolute power, 
with this more than dictatorial power, places this great Re- 
public in that humiliating attitude. I do not think that a citi- 
zen in a country governed by law was ever driven to the neces- 
sity of appealing to one man for protection. Sir, the citizen 
who for the time being fills the chief executive office is bound 
to see that the laws are faithfully executed: that is his sworn 
duty. There is no liberty save in the supremacy of the law. 
In all free govemmenta the citizen appeals to the law for pro- 
tection. 

Mr. President, all usurpers and all tyrants that have gone 
before us, those who have overthrown the liberties of every peo- 
ple who have lost their liberties, claim their powers under this 
plea of necessity. Caesar, when he led his army from Gaul, 
crossed the Rubicon, and overthrew the liberties of his country, 
did it upon the plea of necessity, and tyrants the world over 
have done the same thing. The President seems to me to follow 
in the footsteps of Caesar, Pompey, and Cromwell. The Chief 
Magistrate, I regret to say, seems to copy all the faults, while 



"BAYONETS AT THE POLLS" 345 

he has exhibited none of the virtues of those distinguished men. 
Speaking of Caesar Montesquieu says: 

"He raised tronblee in the eity by his emissaries; he made himself 
master of all elections; and consuls, pmtors, and tribunes purchased their 
promotions at their own price." 

''He made himself master of all elections." That is what 
is being done here. 

Mr. President, from the authorities I have read it seems 
that we are following in the footsteps of nations whose liberties 
have been overthrown and trampled down beneath the iron heel 
of military despotism. 

AUow me to tell you, Senators, that one reason why the peo- 
ple have submitted so quietly, so uncomplainingly, to the many 
usurpations of the Executive is that they hoped in a short time 
to have the privilege of relieving themselves of the President 
by means of free suffrage ; but if you allow the military to pre- 
vent free elections you not only stab the Republic in its very 
vitals, but you will by that means cause many persons who 
think that these usurpations of power ought to be resisted only 
at the ballot box to look about for other means to redress their 
grievances. If you do not wish blood to flow in this land, if 
you wish to preserve our institutions, allow the people the privi- 
lege of turning out every four years their President if they de- 
sire to do so. 

Sir, the President and his satraps had better beware. A 
brave people will not stand these things always. A day of 
reckoning will come, and an awful day it will be to those guilty 
men who have overthrown and trodden under foot the Constitu- 
tion and laws of their country, and unlawfully deprived the 
people of their dearest rights. 

It is pleasant when we see that a gleam of light has broken 
in upon persons from whom we expected little good. I hold in 
my hand an extract from a speech of the most distinguished 
radical in America — a man of learning, a man of eloquence, in- 
deed of rare elocution. I had thought that his whole soul was 
fully absorbed in this negro question, and that he could not 
talk without bringing it in. I mean Wendell Phillips. But 
while I think him a fanatic of the deepest dye, he differs from 
others of his party; he sometimes has lucid intervals. Allow 
me to read an extract from a speech of that eloquent man on 
this very point : 

"But let me remind you of another tendency of the time. Tou know, 
for instance, that the writ of habeas corpus, by which so^o^nient is bound 



346 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

to render a reason to the judiciary before it lays its hands upon a eitisen, 
has been called the high-water mark of English liberty. The present 
Napoleon, in his treatise on the English Constitution, calls it the germ of 
English institutions. Lieber says that that, with free meetings like this, 
and a free press, are the three elements which distinguish liberty from 
despotism, and all that Saxon blood has gained in the battles and toils of 
two hundred years are these three things. Now, to-day, every one of 
these — hdbeM corpus, the right of free meeting, and free presa — ia annihi- 
lated in every square mile of the Bepublie. We live to-day, every one of 
us, under martial law or mob law. The Secretary of State puts into hia 
bastile, with a warrant as irresponsible as that of Louis, any man whom 
he pleases; and you know that neither press nor lips may venture to 
, arraign the government without being silenced. 

"We are tending with rapid strides — ^you say, inevitable; I don't deny 
it, necessarily; I don't question it; we are tending to that strong govern- 
ment which frightened Jefferson; toward that unlimited debt, that endleaa 
army. We have already those alien and sedition laws which, in 1798, 
wrecked the Federal party and summoned the Democratic into existence. 
For the first time on the continent we have passports, which even Louis 
Bonaparte pronounced useless and odious. For the first time in our history, 
government spies frequent our great cities." 

That, sir, is a very graphic and truly eloquent picture of 
the times in which we are, and I hope the country will take 
warning. We seem to have yielded everything to the military 
power, and I regret to say with a tameness and submission 
which, in my judgment, are unbecoming members of an Amer- 
ican Congress. 

A military republic we have, and we have a republic but in 
name — ^the animating principle, the security of the citizen in 
life, liberty, and property is gone. 

There never was a time, it does not exist now, and has not 
existed since this unfortunate civil war commenced, in which 
it was necessary for the President to overthrow the Constitu- 
tion and elevate the military above the civil power. There is 
power enough .inHJ^ Constitution to furnish the President every 
dollar and eveQr maiL needed for this war. Congress can give 
him the sword^iuid ub purse. What more can you confer? 
Nothing. Whene) then, the necessity and the excuse for these 
wanton violations of the Coitstltution, this reckless overthrow of 
the liberties of the people, thillssetting at naught the laws and 
the cons;);itutions of the States, this regulating of elections by 
. the sword 1 None. ' None. The genius of our Government is 
founded upon the principle that the military shall be kept in 
strict subordination to the civil power. But the friends of the 
President claim it as a matter of necessity to save the life of 
^ the nation, when they must see that the President is trampling 
' / V, under his feet the Constitution, and crushing out the liberties 

i' • 



"BAYONETS AT THE POLLS'* 347 

of the people, and destroying every vital principle that gives 
value to free government. 

But, sir, we have had other great chieftains before. There 
was a man who lived in this Republic that I suppose was 
thought by all wise and good men to be almost as great as Abra- 
ham Lincoln is thought to be by his cringing, truckling, and 
obsequious followers; that man was George Washington. He 
led our armies through a seven years' war in most trying times, 
when the organization of the civil authority was very defective ; 
when there was great difSculty in procuring men for the army 
and money to defray the necessary expenses of the (Govern- 
ment, many of the States failing to furnish their quotas of men 
and money. Did Washington, during that long and arduous 
struggle, ever think it necessary to subordinate the civil to the 
military authority? No, sir; no. In 1783, when he resigned his 
commission at Annapolis, Thomas MifSin, President of the Con- 
tinental Congress, addressed him as follows: 

"Yon have eondncted the great military contest with wiadom and forti- 
tude, invariably regarding the rights of the eivil power through all disasters 
and dangers." 

This I regard as the highest and most deserved compliment 
that was ever bestowed upon mortal man. 

Sir, I would that this vacillating, dissembling, weak, and I 
fear wicked and corrupt man in the White House had been in- 
fused with the wisdom, virtue, and patriotism that animated the 
soul and prompted the actions of the great Washington in our 
revolutionary struggle. Washington and his compatriots were 
engaged in a struggle for civil liberty ; the sword was used only 
to resist the encroachment of tyrants, and was subordinated to 
the civil power. The resistance was successful. They then laid 
broad, deep, and strong the foundation of civil and religious 
liberty. They proclaimed the Constitution as the fundamental 
law, and threw it as a strong and impenetrable shield around 
the rights of the States and the liberties of the people. The 
Executive is now using the sword which should only be directed 
against the armed enemies of the Republic for the sacrilegious 
purpose of suppressing free speech, free press, and free suffrage, 
and the overthrow of the Constitution, the rights of the States, 
and the liberties of the people of the adhering States. 

On March 23 Jacob M. Howard [Mick] spoke against 
the bill. 



348 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

This measure is brought forward at an unpropitious time, at 
a time when the country is engaged in a struggle against an im- 
mense armed rebellion which calls for the exertion of all the 
faculties, all the power of the (Jovemment, all its means, and 
for the exercise of every patriotic quality which belongs to 
American freemen. In the strictest sense of the law of nations 
it is a civil war, it has been so adjudged to be by the Supreme 
Court of the United States. 

The two governments being, in respect to each other, not 
foreign and independent, but their citizens being citizens of 
the same common government, and in law subject to the same 
authority, there cannot be drawn between them that exact line 
of distinction which exists between the subjects of two belliger- 
ent foreign governments at war with one another ,* yet there is, 
because there must be somewhere, a test, recognized by the law 
of war, which is to determine the treatment that one party may 
exercise toward the subjects of the other, and by which one 
party may be known from the other. It is that line of de- 
marcation which divides the loyal from the disloyal. It is the 
test and touchstone by which the heart of every citizen is 
to be tried and by which it is to be determined whether 
he is in favor of the old Government or whether he is opposed 
to it. All those who in their hearts are friendly to the old Gov- 
ernment, who are willing to support and uphold it, are loyal — 
they have the rights of loyal belligerents; while all those who 
in their hearts are opposed to the old (Government, or even in- 
different to its preservation, who are willing to destroy and 
overthrow it, or to see it destroyed or overthrown, and espe- 
cially those who directly or indirectly give actual aid and com- 
fort to the rebellion, are disloyal, and are to be treated as ene- 
mies. I know of no other rule by which a distinction can be 
established between the two classes, those who are loyal and those 
who are disloyal. 

In the midst of this clash of arms, while the whole hemi- 
sphere is lighted up by the lurid flames of war, extending from 
the Atlantic Ocean far west to the Rocky Mountains, while 
every loyal man is filled with anxiety for the final result of the 
contest, while along this frontier, marked by a line of bristling 
bayonets for more than fifteen hundred miles, the war is wag- 
ing with fury, and the line itself constantly fluctuating, the 
Senator from Kentucky brings forward a bill prohibiting the 
military authorities, in any case, in any manner, to interfere 
with what he calls the freedom of election in the States, se- 
verely punishing military men for fighting battles, in certain 



"BAYONETS AT THE POLLS'' 349 

cases, as well as for preventing the enemy liimself from partici- 
pating in State elections! 

That honorable Senator will admit that for a measure so 
novel in its provisions, so extraordinary in the results which it 
aims to accomplish, there should be evidence of some great and 
intolerable evil which may be cured by such a measure. It is 
not sufScient that there may be a few trifling instances of 
wrong and misuse of military power; the evil should be so 
enormous as to address itself to the conscience of every mem- 
ber of the Senate, and the evidence of it so clear and over- 
whelming as to leave no doubt or hesitation in the mind. I 
shall show, I think, before I conclude my remarks, that there is 
no such evil ; and that, if there be any evil of even considerable 
magnitude, the evidence of its existence has not been presented 
to us by the honorable Senator from Kentucky or any other 
member in such form as to deserve our serious attention. 

And, sir, in Umine, I have to say, in respect to this bill, that 
it contains a provision which, in my judgment, is utterly un- 
supported by any clause of the Constitution of the United 
States, and is as clearly obnoxious to the objection of unconsti- 
tutionality as any bill which has ever been presented to the 
Senate. 

I beg to know from what provision of the Constitution it is 
that the Senator from Kentucky derives the power of employing 
the courts or other authorities of the United States to punish 
persons who may violate a State law regulating elections or de- 
fining the qualifications of State voters? Whence does he de- 
rive the power to punish by Federal sentences in Federal courts 
violations of a law >¥hich it is competent for a State and a 
State only to enact? 

Will ite Senator tell me in reply that Congress have a right 
to inflict this punishment upon a man because he is in the mili- 
tary or naval service of the United States? Such a proposi- 
tion is not capable of argument. Men are placed in the mili- 
tary service of the United States for the purpose of acting in 
that capacity; and the power of Congress in such cases only 
goes to the extent of controlling and regulating their conduct 
according to the code of war; and there it stops. It cannot be 
pretended that because a man is a soldier in the army and goes 
home and commits a murder in the State to which he belongs 
Congress therefore may declare by a law that he shall be tried 
and punished for the murder in a Federal court. The crime in 
such a case is committed against the peace and dignity of the 
State, not against the peace and dignity of the United States; 



350 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

and, although if committed by him while in actual service and 
in the ranks, he might be punished by court-martial, yet the 
offence would be against the code of war and not the laws of 
the State. 

Let us, then, sir, hear something less, if the Senator pleases, 
of these continued, bitter denunciations against the majority of 
this body for violations of the Constitution. For one, sir, I say 
to that Senator, I do not acknowledge him as a safe teacher. 
*'Non tali auxiUo, nee defensoribiis isiis." Give us no such 
aid, no such defenders. 

Mr. President, we are told by the Senator from Kentucky 
that the Government of the United States have no power to 
restrain persons who are rebels, or who are suspected to be 
rebels, from voting in the States. I do not agree with the Sen- 
ator as to the power of the (Government to prevent disloyal men 
voting at a State poll. In the present state of things every man 
who is not for us is against us. Every man, as I said before, 
who is not friendly to the (Government of the United States 
in his heart is opposed to it. Every man who is not willing to 
use reasonable and ordinary means, military means, for de* 
fending and upholding it at such a moment as this, is an enemy 
of the United States, and deserves to be treated as an enemy. 

Sir, I stand by the doctrine laid down in the report of the 
Committee on Military Affairs. I hold that these persons 
whose hearts are against their Government, who are willing that 
the (Government should be destroyed — and I go as far as to de- 
clare that those who are unwilling in such a crisis as this to 
come to the support of the (Government and render it their aid, 
and even those who affect to occupy a position of mere indiffer- 
ence toward it, are also within the category of enemies of their 
country — ought not, in justice, to be suffered to go to the polls. 
There must be a distinction somewhere, in this war, between 
enemies and friends. A friend is the man whose heart is at- 
tached to the (Government and who is willing, according to his 
means, to do something to uphold it. He is not the only enemy 
who takes up arms or furnishes supplies to those in arms, but 
who looks upon this struggle with indifference, whose heart has 
no pulsation in favor of the cause, but who is ready whenever 
an occasion presents itself to go over and join the rebels, or to 
welcome them when they come as invaders into our midst. 

The Senator tells us that the military authorities have no 
right whatever to interfere in a State election ; and if I under- 
stood him rightly he went so far as to declare that every per- 
son who is not prohibited by the laws of the State itself from 



"BAYONETS AT THE POLLS'' 351 

voting has a right to vote, and that the United States have no 
authority to intervene for the purpose of preventing it, al- 
though he may be a rebel, stained from the crown of his head 
to the soles of his feet with the blood of loyal men. I am about 
to quote an authority which will perhaps have some weight with 
that Senator. I believe the first example of such interference 
in a State election was set by General McClellan while com- 
mander of the army of the Potomac. In response to a letter of 
request, addressed to him by (Governor Hicks of Maryland, 
dated October 26, 1861, he issued the following order, dated 
October 29, 1861, to General N. P. Banks: 

Genebal: There is an apprehension among Union citizenB in many 
parts of Maryland of an attempt at interference with their rights of 
suffrage by disunion citizens on the occasion of the election to take place 
on the 6th of November next. 

In order to prevent this the major-general commanding directs that you 
send detachments of a sufficient number of men to the different points in 
your vicinity where the elections are to be held to protect the Union voters, 
and to see that no disunionists are allowed to intimidate them, or in any 
way to interfere with their rights. 

He also desires you to arrest and hold in confinement until after the 
election all disunionists who are known to have returned from Virginia re- 
cently, and who show themselves at the polls, and to guard effectually 
against any invasion of the peace and order of the election. For the pur- 
pose of carrying out these instructions you are authorised to suspend the 
habeas corpus. 

If this power exists in the (Jovemment of the United States 
in any of its departments, in time of war, then no State can 
interfere with its exercise, but the citizens of the State must 
submit it as to the exercise of any other Federal power, because 
it acts upon those citizens as individuals. In short, if the (Gov- 
ernment have this tutelary authority, if they have the right to 
treat rebels or rebel sympathizers, or those who aid and abet the 
rebellion, as enemies, as they undoubtedly have, then they may 
use it through the military arm or any other instrumentality to 
which they see fit to resort. They may thus prevent those 
enemies from exercising any of the rights of citizens in the 
State. For this we have at least the sanction of General Mc- 
Clellan — certainly, with a certain portion of the members of 
this body, a high authority ; and I am very happy to be able for 
once to concur fully in the opinions of the general. The power 
is thus, as we see, sanctioned by that distinguished military 
leader, the heir-apparent of the Democratic party to the next 
Presidency, and the promising help and support, I suppose, of 
the cause of the Union as they would restore it. At all events. 



352 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

it is sufficient for my purpose that I have his complete sanction 
of the principle that it is the right of the military arm to inter- 
fere in State elections so far as to prevent traitors from voting, 
although they may happen to possess the formal qualifications 
of electors of the State. I think he was entirely right, and I 
am free to give him that praise. 

If we have that power, as General McClellan agrees we have, 
then it belongs to us exclusively, and the States have nothing to 
do but to permit its exercise. It is a power peculiarly pertain- 
ing to the United States, and as much to be respected and 
obeyed as the judicial power of the (Government. The two 
jurisdictions are here as separate and distinct as in any other 
case. The States have just as much right to trespass on any 
other constitutional power belonging to the (Government as upon 

Sir, in my judgment, the case comes clearly and distinctly 
within the principle laid down by the Supreme Court of the 
United States in the case of Booth, in which the decision of 
the court was delivered by the present chief justice [Soger B. 
Taney] . (See 21 Howard 's Reports, p. 524.) 

Ajid I say here that, whenever a military officer has issued 
an order for the purpose of keeping traitors away from the 
polls, and the order is regular in form, no State has in a time 
of rebellion or civil war any right to dispute or obstruct its 
operation; and whenever the governor of a State, a judge of 
election, or other State magistrate, undertakes to resist such 
an order, he brings himself within the principle laid down by 
the Supreme Court, asserting that such interference may be 
resisted even by violence. It is nothing more nor less than this, 
that the authority of the United States is supreme ; and it rests 
with the Senator from Kentucky, and those who entertain his 
views, to establish the principle that the Government of the 
United States is not supreme in the treatment of its enemies. 
The Senator has not argued that question. He has assumed 
that it is not. It is with him a mere petitio principii, the as- 
sumption of the truth of a proposition that remains to be 
proved. Let him by fair and candid argument, by reference 
to the books of authority, show, if he can, that the Government 
of the United States in the prosecution of a war is not supreme 
and has no right to define and declare who are enemies of the 
United States and who are friends. He will find it a vain task ; 
and I indulge the fancy that he will not be swift to under- 
take it. 

Sir, the rebels on this subject have been our instructors. 



"BAYONETS AT THE POLLS'^ 353 

They have found no constitutional difficulty in treating persons 
within their limits attached to the Government of the United 
States, and acknowledging their allegiance to it as enemies. 
Without scruple or hesitation they proceeded at an early day 
to enact a statute, now in force among them, by which every 
Union man born in a State still adhering to the Union is pro- 
scribed and expelled from their territorial limits.^ 

But, sir, the Senator from Kentucky has made another novel 
discovery in the field of constitutional law, to which I must be 
indulged in paying some slight attention. He tells the Senate 
in his speech on this bill that the Government of the United 
States has no right whatever to send troops into any State un- 
less it be at the request of the legislature while in session, or of 
the Executive when the legislature cannot be convened ; and he 
is extremely earnest and confident on this point. He flatters 
himself that he has at length discovered the great touchstone by 
which this whole war is proved to be unconstitutional, and ** co- 
ercion" a tyranny and an outrage. This is the first time in 
my professional life that I ever heard it asserted by a gentle- 
man professing to be a judge of the principles of the Constitu- 
tion, and a good lawyer, that the right of the Government of 
the United States to employ military force to put down an in- 
surrection was derived from and is solely dependent upon that 
clause of the Constitution to which he refers. The clause de- 
clares that the Government of the United States shall protect 
each State against domestic violence when called upon by the 
State. The very language itself shows that the violence against 
which the State is to be protected is violence not against the 
authority of the United States, but against the authority of the 
State, and of the State only. 

Domestic violence in a State is violence against the author- 
ity of the State, and that violence may be in perfect consist- 
ency with the loyalty of the persons who commit it to the Gov- 
ernment of the United States. 

It is merely local violence against the regular government 
of the State, and does not embrace an insurrection or rebellion 
against the Federal Government. And such is the meaning 
given to the clause in '*The Federalist,'' if the Senator will see 
fit to consult it. It may be entirely consistent with the authority 
of the United States, like the Dorr rebellion, in Rhode Island, 
or the more ancient insurrection of Shay, in Massachusetts. The 
present war is a rebellion against the authority of the United 
States, not that of any one particular State, and is not there- 

''An act respecting alien enemies," approved Aagost 8^ 186L 
VI— 23 



354 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

fore a case of mere domestic violence as mentioned in the clause 
on which the Senator relies. 

This, however, is the Senator's logic: the States in rebellion 
are agitated by domestic violence; in such cases the Govern- 
ment of the United States cannot interiKise, except upon the re- 
quest of the legislature of the State when in session, or of the 
Executive when the legislature cannot be convened; and be- 
cause the legislature and Executive of all the seceded States 
have omitted to apply to the Government of the United States 
for aid to put down this violence ; ergo, the Government of the 
United States has no right to march its troops into those 
States; ergo, the whole war is unconstitutional, and we who 
are engaged in prosecuting this war within the limits of these 
seceded States are guilty of a perpetual violation of our oaths 
and of the Constitution of our country. Such is the Senator's 
logic. 

The Senator seemed to forget that, aside from this particu- 
lar clause, there is given to Congress in express terms power to 
suppress rebellion and insurrection against the Federal Gov- 
ernment itself. We are now acting under this broader and gen- 
eral power. We are acting under a power by no means neces- 
sary to have been incorporated in the Constitution-^the power 
to suppress rebellion and insurrection — because from the very 
nature of Government itself, from the very necessity of its be- 
ing, the Federal Government, like every other government, 
must be held to have the right of self-defence, the right to put 
down resistance to its authority, the right to enforce its own 
laws, for that cannot be called a government which has no 
power to carry its own enactments into execution. It is of the 
very essence of all governments to command, and if a govern- 
ment may command, it is the duty of those who are commanded 
to obey ; so that even without the clause expressly giving to Con- 
gress the power to put down an insurrection they would have 
plenary power so to do. 

But the framers of the instrument saw fit to grant the power 
in express terms, as if in anticipation of this ''State rights" 
objection. (See **The Federalist," 43.) 

My conscience will not be troubled by the fanciful consti- 
tutional objection that the Government of the United States 
have no right to ''sub jugate. a State." We have, sir, the same 
right to subjugate a State in insurrection as to subjugate a 
foreign country with which we are at war; and the Senator 
from Kentucky will find it impossible, I apprehend, to draw 
anything like a sensible distinction between the two cases. 



"BAYONETS AT THE POLLS'' 355 

The report of the committee alleges that at the date of a cer- 
tain letter, which is included in the pamphlet, addressed to Mr. 
Wickliffe, of Kentucky, and dated June 13, 1863, the business 
of recruiting blacks was in active progress. It is against that 
policy that the letter is particularly denunciatory. The writers 
of the letter used the following language : 

^^We hold this rebellion utterly unjustifiable in its inception, and a 
dissolution of the Union the greatest of calamities. 

''We would use all just and constitutional means adapted to the sup- 
pression of the one and the restoration of the other.'' 

Again they say: 

''It is now obvious that the fixed purpose of the administration is to 
arm the negroes of the South to make war upon the whites, and we hold 
it to be the duty of the people of Kentucky to enter against such a policy 
a solemn and most emphatic protest." 

What is the plain implication from this language addressed 
to Mr. Wickliffe, that the writers hold the rebellion unjustifiable 
''in its inception"? Is it not tantamount to a declaration that, 
although in its inception the rebellion was utterly unjustifiable, 
it had, nevertheless, become otherwise in consequence of the 
acts of the Administration, and particularly the act authorizing 
the recruiting of black troops f 

And the Senator says that, at the very time this solemn pro- 
test was entered by these leading gentlemen of Kentucky, there 
was no such thing in Kentucky as the recruiting of black 
troops. 

What, then, is the pith and point of the declaration that 
the rebellion had become justifiable, although unjustifiable in its 
inception? Not because recruiting of black troops was going 
on in Kentucky, but because it was going on somewhere else, 
and because these troops were to be used as aids in suppressing 
the rebellion. Sir, this is an audacious presumption on the 
part of Kentucky. No, sir, I will not say Kentucky; I do not 
mean the people of Kentucky ; I mean the demagogues who as- 
sume to be the leaders of the people of Kentucky. What right 
have they to dictate to the United States what troops they shall 
raise, or where they shall raise them, or how employ them, so 
long as the people of Kentucky are not affected by the proceed- 
ing? 

Mr. President, if there ever was a necessity for the vigor- 
ous interposition of military authority to guard the polls 
against the intrusion of rebels, if there was ever a case in the 



356 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

history of the United States in which the strong arm of military 
power was invoked by every interest of community, it was the 
case of Kentucky; and I undertake to say that, without this 
interference, Kentucky, in all human probability, would to-day 
have been regularly installed as a member of the rebel confed- 
eration. Nothing but the loyal hearts and strong arms of 
Northern men who hurried from their homes has prevented that 
State, with all its glorious memories, going over to the rebellion. 

I do not stand here to pretend, and I will not assert, that 
there may not have been abuses in the execution of some of the 
orders. But you may say the same of the execution of any law. 
Every power, every law is liable to be abused; but this is no 
reason for denying or extinguishing the power itself, for re- 
pealing it or for repealing the law. 

The leader of the Democratic party, Mr. WickliBfe, was 
plainly unfriendly to the Government of the United States. He 
was their candidate for governor. The letter inviting him to 
stand as such declares that the writers ''hold this rebellion ut- 
terly unjustifiable in its inception," plainly, as I have already 
remarked, intimating that it had become justifiable. The writ- 
ers of the pamphlet observe: '*Mr. Wickliflfe, in accepting the 
nomination which had thus been tendered him, expressed 
his hearty concurrence in our view"; that is, his hearty 
concurrence in the statement that the rebellion had be- 
come no longer unjustifiable. I submit, sir, that a man who, at 
such a time, can so far forget what is due to his country as to 
intimate that this rebellion had become a justifiable one was not 
a fit person to be voted for at the polls. And I say boldly that 
I think the military authorities in Kentucky did exactly right 
when they instructed the judges of election not to permit Mr. 
Wickliffe's name to appear on the poll list as a candidate for 
governor, although, notwithstanding several orders of that kind, 
he received a very considerable vote in Kentucky. 

But, sir, there is no allegation, even in the pamphlet itself, 
that any one single individual known to be a true and loyal man 
was hindered from voting at the election in Kentucky on the 
3d of August, 1863. It is very true, as the writers of the pam- 
phlet remark, that the aggregate vote at that election compared 
with the number of male persons over twenty-one years old in 
1862 was small. But the smallness of the vote shows not so 
much that voters were excluded from the polls as that multi- 
tudes kept away because of their own disloyal proclivities, while 
thousands upon thousands had emigrated or gone into the rebd 
army or into the Union army. 



"BAYONETS AT THE POLLS'* 357 

The declarations of the authors of the pamphlet show a dif- 
ferent kind of loyalty from mine. It is the loyalty of neutral- 
ity, which is no loyalty, and just as inconsistent with the duty 
which a State and its people owe to the Government of the 
United States as open rebellion. 

Neutrality, sir, Kentucky neutrality, what is it in law, and 
what would it be if practically carried out there or elsewhere? 
If the agreement said to have been made by General McClellan 
with Buckner recognizing the neutrality of the State had been 
carried into execution practically Kentucky would have been as 
eflfectually out of this Union as is now the State of South Caro- 
lina. Neutrality, let me say to the Senator, is an attribute be- 
longing exclusively to a sovereign power, an independent na- 
tion. You cannot predicate neutrality of any community that 
does not possess the right of sovereignty as an independent na- 
tion, for there are certain rights and duties pertaining to neu- 
trality which can be exercised only by an independent nation, 
and with which any subordinate or dependent condition is 
totally incompatible. 

Sir, let us contemplate for a moment the condition that Ken- 
tucky would have been in if she had carried out eflfectually her 
idea of neutrality. The Government of the United States would 
have been disabled from recruiting a single man within her 
limits, such recruiting being forbidden by the laws of war and 
nations within neutral territory. Again, the United States 
could not have marched a single platoon across the border of 
Kentucky, although the enemy had been in her midst. The 
Ohio and the IMississippi would have been sealed up against the 
navigation of the United States. Kentucky would have been 
flourishing in all the peace and comfort of neutrality, keeping 
the Union forces away upon the one side and possibly inviting 
the rebels upon the other, while at the same time she would 
have been at complete liberty to carry on trade and commerce 
in everything not contraband of war with both the belligerent 
parties. 

In short, she would have been enjoying a harvest of profits 
in her trade with the rebels, and a like harvest in her trade 
with the Union armies, and at the same time feeling none of 
the inconveniences of the war. Such, sir, was manifestly the 
idea at the bottom of Kentucky neutrality. 

Is it founded upon the Constitution? Will the gentleman 
say that under that instrument it is the right of any one of the 
States to set up to be neutral in a war, whether a civil or a for- 
eign war? No, sir. It is as plainly prohibited as open re- 



358 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

bellion, and the claim is as incompatible with fidelity to the Gov- 
ernment as the claim of nullification or secession. 

Sir, it is amazing that a gentleman who has so much to say 
about the violation of the Constitution of the United States, a 
gentleman who has not hesitated to say upon this floor that if 
justice had been done to Abraham Lincoln for his imputed un- 
constitutional interference in State elections he would have 
been hanged like those who were denounced as traitors by the 
laws of Greece for voting at elections where they had no right — 
it is amazing that such a Senator can stand up here and advo- 
cate in the same breath the right of a State to assume the con- 
dition of neutrality in a war. It is nothing more nor less than 
actual secession, because it implies an utter repudiation of the 
obligations of the State to the general Government. Sir, I 
thank Heaven that the President of the United States at an 
early day rebuked this pretension. 

The speaker then turned to the Maryland election. 
Referring to the proclamation of Governor Bradford 
he said: 

This proclamation was a direct invitation to the judges of 
election and the people of Maryland to disregard the order 
[of Gen. Schenck], and, if need be, to resort to violence in re- 
sisting it. It was a threat to produce an insurrection, and to 
drive out the United States troops by force. The report of the 
Military Committee holds that the governor had no right to 
issue it, or to instruct the judges in this manner. The Senator 
from Kentucky, in his emphatic reply to this part of the report, 
tells us that the Governor of Maryland had ''a right to issue 
a proclamation concerning elections." Who denies it? The 
Senator was combating a proposition the committee had not 
made. 

Undoubtedly, sir, the (Jovernor of Maryland, like any other 
governor, has a right to issue a proclamation on any subject 
connected with his duties; but neither the Governor of Mary- 
land nor any other governor has the right to say to the judges 
of elections, ''Your duties are such and such, and you must do 
so and so." The law, not the governor's proclamation, regu- 
lates their duties. And whatever may be that law, whether in 
the shape of a State statute or the order of a military man for 
the protection of the polls, such as that of Ckneral Schenck, 
it is nevertheless law, and Governor Bradford had no more 
right to say to the judges that they were not to obey General 



"BAYONETS AT THE POLLS'' 359 

Schenck's order than to tell them they were not to obey a stat- 
ute of the United States. It did not lie in the mouth of the 
Governor of Maryland to dispense them from that obligation. 

Sir, if the judges of election had been as hasty as the gov- 
ernor, if they had resorted to the power of the county or other 
force for the purpose of resisting the execution of this order, it 
is easy to see that before the sun of the 3d of November went 
down below the western horizon the soil of ancient Maryland 
would have been stained with fraternal blood, and hundreds, 
perhaps thousands, of her sons would have been weltering in 
their gore; for it would inevitably have led to a violent col- 
lision between the troops of the United States and the people 
of Maryland. 

The Senator alleges that the judges were prevented from 
executing the laws. In many cases, he says, they were impris- 
oned. Let me say, with the utmost personal respect for that 
Senator, that I have discovered no case, from the beginning to 
the end of this vast amount of written testimony, which shows 
or conduces to show that the judges of election were prevented 
in any case from executing the laws. If there be any such case, 
I hope the honorable Senator will be able to lay it before the 
Senate. There are but two cases in which the judges of elec- 
tion were arrested; the one the case in Kentucky, where the 
judges of election openly and contemptuously refused to recog- 
nize the military authority and to execute the orders, and were 
therefore placed under arrest; the other in Maryland, where 
an investigation ordered by the President showed that the per- 
sons arrested were not judges, but citizens, who had abandoned 
their posts as officers. 

As I said in the beginning, Mr. President, in order to justify 
Congress in passing this bill, the proof of existing evils should 
be plain, indubitable, and irresistible. The times especially re- 
quire it. Were it a time of peace, I admit the military authori- 
ties of the United States would have no power to interfere with 
State elections; but it is not a time of peace, but of war; a 
time in which the feelings of every man in the nation are tak- 
ing a fixed direction, either in favor of the Government or 
against it ; a time when it is absolutely necessary for the preser- 
vation not only of the Federal Government, but of the State 
governments, that a line of demarcation should be drawn be- 
tween the loyal and the disloyal, between men who are friendly 
and men who are unfriendly ; and I insist that, in view of the 
evidence before us, there is no sufficient reason for the passage 
of this bill had we even the power to pass it. 



360 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

The bill was debated at varions times until June 22, 
when, through the persistent efforts of Senator Powell, 
it was finally brought to a vote. Several amendments, 
however, were first offered by the Senator himself; the 
most important of which was one providing that soldiers 
may be stationed at the polls if *4t shall be necessary 
to repel the armed enemies of the United States. ' ' This 
and other amendments were adopted. 

Samuel C. Pomeroy [Kan.] then moved to add to Sen- 
ator Powell's amendment the words: **or to keep the 
peace at the polls. ' ' 

Senator Powell, James A. McDougall [Cal.] and 
others objectea to this amendment as destroying the 
effect of the bill. It expressed, they declared, the very 
pretext upon which the recent outrage against the free 
ballot had been committed. This amendment, however, 
was adopted by a vote of 16 to 15. The bill was then 
passed by a vote of 19 to 13. 

James Harlan [la.] moved to reconsider the passage 
of the bill. The motion was entered. 

On June 23 Senator Howard spoke in favor of recon- 
sidering the measure. 

This bill gives permission for the employment of the mili- 
tary forces of the United States at elections only where there 
shall be armed enemies of the Federal Government at the polls, 
or where it shall be necessary to employ a military force to 
keep the peace. It therefore leaves the implication perfectly 
irresistible that in all other cases it shall not be lawful for the 
military authorities to employ their forces, although there 
might be thronging around the polls rebels who had just left 
the field of battle, and whose hands were crimsoned with the 
blood of loyal men. This bill allows notorious rebels to come 
to the polls and cast their ballots without the slightest fear of 
interference on the part of the military authorities. 

It is said, Mr. President, that it is the exclusive privilege of 
the States to protect their own polls. But this is true only in a 
time of peace. For in a time of war a State government is not 
competent to extend to a person who is a public enemy of the 
National Gk)vemment, and against whom and against whose 
class or coipununity the United States as a nation is waging 
war, any political right or privilege whatever ; and I do assert 



"BAYONETS AT THE POLLS" 361 

that such a person is in all respects and at all times subject 
to the laws of the Federal Oovemment relating to him as a 
public enemy, and subject to those laws in exclusion of any 
conflicting law of a State. For a State cannot legally be en- 
gaged in war ; the whole of the war power pertains exclusively 
to the Federal Government. 

Eeverdy Johnson [Md.] replied to Senator Howard. 

Who is to ascertain what men are public enemies of the 
United States? Shall a citizen of Maryland, for instance, de- 
cide that I am not entitled to vote at an election in my own 
State? There is but one subject upon which the Federal Gov- 
ernment has any authority to interfere with elections. Over 
the times, the places, and the manner, the Constitution gives 
to the several States the exclusive authority with two excep- 
tions, which have nothing in the world to do with the manner 
in which the franchise is to be exercised or with the parties 
who are to exercise it. Upon all other subjects, therefore, than 
of time and manner, the jurisdiction of the States is just as 
paramount and exclusive as it was before the Constitution was 
adopted. 

Mr. President, we hold our rights under the Constitution 
consecrated by the blood of our ancestors. We have proved 
ourselves worthy to enjoy them by meeting the enemies of our 
country upon the field and the ocean, and we are doing it now. 
Oh, save us, save us in the name of freedom, from the rule of 
military despotism! 

On June 28 the motion to reconsider the vote on the 
bill was defeated by a vote of 19 to 23. 



CHAPTER XIV 

The Thibteenth Amendment 

[constitutional abolition op slavery] 

Lyman Trambull [HI.] Moves in the Senate a Constitutional Amendment 
Abolishing Slavery — Debate: in Favor, Sen. Trumbull^ Henry Wilson 
[Mass.], Daniel Clark [N. H.], Timothy O. Howe [Wis.], Beverdy 
Johnson [Md.], John P. Hale [N. H.], Charles Sumner; Opposed, Gar- 
rett Davis [Ky.], Willard Saulsbury [Del.], James A. McDougall 
[Cal.] — Resolution Is Carried in the Senate, and Defeated in the 
House — It Is Passed at the Next Session. 

ON March 28, 1864, Lyman Trumbull [111.] intro- 
duced in the Senate, from the Committee on 
the Judiciary, the following proposed amend- 
ment to the Constitution: 



ABTiCLE zm 

Sec. 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as 
a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly 
convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place 
subject to their jurisdiction. 

Sec. 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this artide by 
appropriate legislation. 

Abolition of Slaveby 

Senate, Mabch 28- April 8, 1864 

Senator Trumbull. — ^Without stoppiag to inqtdre into all 
the causes of our troubles, and of the distress, desolation, and 
death which have grown out of this atrocious rebellion, I sui>- 
pose it will be generally admitted that they sprung from slav- 
ery. If a large political party in the North attribute these 
troubles to the impertinent interference of Northern philan- 

362 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 363 

tbropists and fanatics with an institution in the Southern 
States with which they had no right to interfere, I reply, if 
there had been no such institution there could have been no 
such alleged impertinent interference; if there had been no 
slavery in the South, there could have been no Abolitionists in 
the North to interfere with it. If, upon the other hand, it be 
said that this rebellion grows out of the attempt on the part of 
those in the interest of slavery to govern this country so as to 
perpetuate and increase the slaveholding power, and failing in 
this that they have endeavored to overthrow the Government 
and set up an empire of their own, founded upon slavery as its 
chief corner-stone, I reply, if there had been no slavery there 
could have been no such foundation on which to build. If the 
freedom of speech and of the press, so dear to freemen every- 
where, and especially cherished in this time of war by a large 
party in the North who are now opposed to interfering with 
slavery, has been denied us all our lives in one-half the States 
of the Union, it was by reason of slavery. If these halls have 
resounded from our earliest recollections with the strifes and 
contests of sections, ending sometimes in blood, it was slavery 
which almost always occasioned them. 

Senator Trumbull here reviewed the acts of the 
President and Congress relating to negroes, previously 
to the Emancipation Proclamation. 

But, sir, had these laws, all of them, been efficiently exe- 
cuted they would not wholly have extirpated slavery. They 
were aimed only at the slaves of rebels. Congress never under- 
took to free the slaves of loyal men; no act has ever passed for 
that purpose. 

At a later period, the President by proclamation undertook 
to free the slaves in certain localities. Notice of this proclama^ 
tion was given in September, 1862, and it was to become effec- 
tive in January, 1863. Unlike the acts of Congress, which un- 
dertook to free the slaves of rebels only, and of such as came 
under our control, the President's proclamation excepted &om 
its provisions the regions of country subject to our authority, 
and declared free the slaves only who were in regions of coun- 
try from which the authority of the United States was expelled, 
enjoining upon the persons proposed to be made &ee to abstain 
from all violence unless in necessary self-defence, and recom- 
mending them in all cases, when allowed, to labor faithfully for 
reasonable wages. 






364 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

The force and effect of this proclamation are understood 
very differently by its advocates and opponents. The former 
insist that it is and was within the constitutional power of the 
President, as commander-in-chief, to issue such a proclama- 
tion ; that it is the noblest act of his life or the age ; and that 
by virtue of its provisions all slaves within the localities desig- 
nated become ipso facto free; while others declare that it was 
issued without competent authority, and has not and cannot 
effect the emancipation of a single slave. These latter insist 
that the most the President could do, as commander of the 
armies of the United States, would be, in the absence of legis- 
lation, to seize and free the slaves which came within the con- 
trol of the army ; that the power exercised by a commander-in- 
chief, as such, must be a power exercised in fact, and that be- 
yond his lines where his armies cannot go his orders are mere 
hrutum fulmen,^ and can work neither a forfeiture of property 
nor freedom of slaves ; that the power of Fremont and Hunter, 
commanders-in-chief for a certain time in their departments, 
who assumed to free the slaves within their respective com- 
mands, was just as effective within the boundaries of their com- 
mands as that of the commander-in-chief of all the departments, 
who as commander could not draw to himself any of his presi- 
dential powers; and that neither had or could have any force 
except within the lines and where the army actually had the 
power to execute the order; that to that extent the previous 
acts of Congress would free the slaves of rebels, and if the 
President 's proclamation had any effect it would be only to free 
the slaves of loyal men, for which the laws of the land did not 
provide. 

I will not undertake to say which of these opinions is 
correct, nor is it necessary for my purposes to decide. It is 
enough for me to show that any and all these laws and procla- 
mations, giving to each the largest effect claimed by its friends, 
are ineffectual to the destruction of slavery. The laws of Con- 
gress if faithfully executed would leave remaining the slaves 
belonging to loyal masters, which, considering how many are 
held by children and females not engaged in the rebellion, 
would be no inconsiderable number, and the President's procla- 
mation excepts from its provisions all of Delaware, Maryland, 
Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and a good portion of Louisi- 
ana and Virginia — almost half the slave States. 

If then we are to get rid of the institution, we must have 
some more efScient way of doing it than by the proclamations 

'Idle thunder. 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 365 

that have been issued or the acts of Congress which have been 
passed. 

Some, however, say that we may pass an act of Congress to 
abolish slavery altogether, and petitions are sent to Congress 
asking it to pass such a law. I am as anxious to get rid of 
slavery as any person; but has Congress authority to pass a 
law abolishing slavery everywhere, freeing the slaves of the 
loyal, the slaves of the friends of the Oovernment as well as 
the slaves of the disloyal and of the enemies of the (Govern- 
ment ? Why, sir, it has been an admitted axiom from the foun- 
dation of this Government, among all parties, that Congress had 
no authority to interfere with slavery in the States where it 
existed. But it is said this was in a time of peace, and we are 
now at war, and Congress has authority to carry on war, and 
in carrying on war we may free the slaves. Why so ? Because 
it is necessary ; for no other reason. If we can do it by act of 
Congress it must be because it is a necessity to the prosecution 
of the war. We have authority to put down the enemies of the 
country ; we have the right to slay them in battle ; we have au- 
thority to confiscate their property; but, mark you, does that 
give any authority to slay the friends of the country, to con- 
fiscate the property of the friends of the country, or to free 
the slaves of the friends of the country 1 

But it said that freeing slaves would aid us in raising 
troops; that slaves are unwilling to volunteer and enter the 
public service unless other slaves are made free, and that we 
could raise troops better, sooner, and have a more eflScient army 
if slavery were declared abolished. Suppose that were so, is 
it a necessity? Can we not raise an army without doing thisf 
Has not the Congress of the United States unlimited authority 
to provide for the raising of armies by draft, by force to put 
any and every man capable of bearing arms into its service? 
Have we not already passed a law compelling men to enter the 
service of the Government in its defence and for the putting 
down this rebellion? Then there is no necessity to free the 
slaves in order to raise an army. 

But it is a convenience, perhaps some wiU say. Sir, it is not 
because a measure would be convenient that Congress has au- 
thority to adopt it. The measure must be appropriate and 
needful to carry into effect some granted power, or we have no 
authority to adopt it. I can imagine a thousand things that 
would aid us to raise troops, which no one would contend Con- 
gress had authority to do. We now find that it is costing us a 
large sum of money to carry on this war. There are apprehen- 



366 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

sions in some quarters that the finances of the country will not 
be sufficient to prosecute it to the end. A measure that would 
enable us to carry on the war cheaper would certainly be one 
in aid of this war power. In consequence of the prosperity 
which prevails in the country, wages at this time are very high. 
Men are unwilling to enlist without large bounties and large 
pay, because they get high wages at home. Suppose we intro- 
duce a bill that no man shall be paid in any manufacturing 
establishment, at any mechanic art, or for his daily labor, more 
than ten cents a day, and we visit with penalties and punish- 
ment any man who shall give to his employee more than that 
sum; do you not think that would hold out an additional in- 
ducement to volunteer? But who would contend that Con- 
gress had any such authority 1 Manifestly it has not. Nor can 
I find the constitutional authority to abolLsh slavery everywhere 
by act of Congress as a necessity to prosecuting the war. 

Then, sir, in my judgment, the only eflfectual way of rid- 
ding the country of slavery, and so that it cannot be resusci- 
tated, is by an amendment of the Constitution forever prohibit- 
ing it within the jurisdiction of the United States. This amend- 
ment adopted, not only does slavery cease, but it can never be 
reestablished by State authority, or in any other way than by 
again amending the Constitution. Whereas, if slavery should 
now be abolished by act of Congress or proclamation of the 
President, assuming that either has the power to do it, there is 
nothing in the Constitution to prevent any State from reestab- 
lishing it. This change of the Constitution will also relieve us 
of all difficulty in the restoration to the Union of the rebel 
States when our brave soldiers shall have reduced them to 
obedience to the laws. 

Henry Wilson [Mass.] followed in a speech, enti- 
tled ''The Death of Slavery Is the Life of the Nation.** 

I think it is reasonable to suppose that if this proposed 
amendment passes Congress it will within a year receive the 
ratification of the requisite number of States to make it a part 
of the Constitution. That accomplished, and we are forever 
freed of this troublesome question. We relieve Congress of sec- 
tional strifes, and, what is better than all, we restore to a whole 
race that freedom which is theirs by the gift of God, but which 
we for generations have wickedly denied them. 

Slavery is the conspirator that conceived and organized this 
mighty conspiracy against the unity and existence of the Re- 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 367 

public. Slavery is the traitor that madly plunged the nation 
into the fire and blood and darkness of civil war. Slavery is 
the criminal whose hands are dripping with the blood of our 
murdered sons. Yes, slavery is the conspirator, the traitor, the 
criminal that is reddening the sods of Christian America with 
the blood of fathers and husbands, sons and brothers, and bath- 
ing them with the bitter tears of mothers, wives, and sisters. 

Sir, slavery — ^bold, proud, domineering, with hate in its 
heart, scorn in its eye, defiance in its mien — ^has pronounced 
against the existence of republican institutions in America, 
against the supremacy of the Gtovemment, the unity and life 
of the nation. Slavery, hating the cherished institutions that 
tend to secure the rights and enlarge the privileges of mankind ; 
despising the toiling masses as mudsills and white slaves; de- 
fying the Government, its Constitution and its laws, has openly 
pronounced itself the mortal and unappeasable enemy of the 
Republic. Slavery stands to-day the only clearly pronounced 
foe our country has on the globe. Therefore, every word 
spoken, every line written, every act performed, that keeps 
the breath of life in slavery for a moment, is against the exist- 
ence of democratic institutions, against the dignity of the toil- 
ing millions, against the liberty, the peace, the honor, the re- 
nown, and the life of the nation. In the lights of to-day that 
flash upon us from camp and battlefield, the loyal eye, heart, 
and brain of America sees and feels and realizes that the death 
of slavery is the life of the nation ! The loyal voice of patriot- 
ism pronounces, in clear accents, that American slavery must 
die that the American Republic may live! 

Sir, under the Constitution, framed to secure the blessings 
of liberty, slavery strode into the chambers of legislation, the 
halls of justice, the mansions of the Executive, and, with 
menaces in the one hand and bribes in the other, it awed the 
timid and seduced the weak. Marching on from conquest to 
conquest, crushing where it could not awe, seduce, or corrupt, 
slavery saw institutions of learning, benevolence, and religion, 
political organizations and public men, aye, and the people, 
too, bend before it and acknowledge its iron rule. Seizing on 
the needed acquisitions of Louisiana and of Florida to extend 
its boundaries, consolidate its power, and enlarge its sway, 
slavery crossed the Mississippi and there established its bar- 
barous dominion against the too feeble resistance of a not yet 
conquered people. Controlling absolutely the policy of the 
South, swaying the policy of the nation, impressing itself upon 
the legislation, the sentiments, and opinions of the North, 



368 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

slavery moved on to assured dominion. Under its aggressive 
advances emancipation societies, organized by the men of the 
revolutionary era in the first bright ardor of secured liberty, 
one by one disappeared ; presses and churches forgot to remem- 
ber those in bonds as bound with them, and recreant sons dis- 
owned the sentiments, opinions, and principles of a glorious 
ancestry. And slavery, in the pride of power, proclaimed it- 
self in the halls of Congress, through its apostles and cham- 
pions, its Calhouns and McDufiies, **a positive good," **the only 
stable basis of republican institutions," 'Hhe corner-stone of 
the republican edifice." 

But amid this general defection from the faith of the states- 
men and heroes of the revolutionary age, a fearless and faith- 
ful few clung to the teachings of Washington and Franklin, 
Jefferson and Jay, and their illustrious compeers. Unawed by 
its power, unseduced by its blandishments, they opposed to the 
aggressions of slavery — aye, to slavery itself — a stem and un- 
yielding resistance. They proclaimed emancipation to be the 
duty of the master and the right of the slave. To advance the 
cause of emancipation and to improve the condition of free peo- 
ple of color they avowed their readiness to use **all means sanc- 
tioned by law, humanity, and religion." Slavery marked and 
branded these heroic men as political and social outlaws; com- 
pelling them, in the words of John G. Whittier, **to hold prop- 
erty, liberty, and life itself at the mercy of lawless mobs." 
Slavery cast its malign influence over all the land, maddening 
the brain and firing the heart of a deluded people against the 
fearless few who opposed its aggressions and pitied its hapless 
victims. Passion — ^blind, unreasoning passion — ^ruled the hour. 
Cities were lighted by the sacked and burning dwellings of a 
proscribed and hated race. Churches, institutions of learning, 
and presses were often forcibly closed or destroyed at the bid- 
ding of slavery by the lawless violence of "gentlemen of prop- 
erty and standing." 

Slaves were held in the District of Columbia, and slave pens 
and the slave trade polluted and dishonored the national cap- 
ital under the color of laws for which the people of America 
were responsible in the forum of nations and before the throne 
of Almighty God. Christian men and women, oppressed with 
the sin and shame, humbly petitioned Congress to relieve them 
from that sin and shame by making the national capital free. 
Slavery bade its tools — ^its Fattens, its Pinckneys, and its Ather- 
tons — violate the constitutional right of petition, and willing 
majorities hastened to register its decree. Slavery arraigned 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 369 

before the bar of the House of Representatives John Quiney 
Adams, the illustrious champion of the right of petition and 
the freedom of speech, and it expelled the fearless and faithful 
Giddings for the offence of daring to construe the Constitution 
of his country and interpret the law of nations. Slavery stepped 
upon the decks of Miassachusetts ships in the harbor of Charles- 
ton, seized colored seamen, citizens of the commonwealth, and 
consigned them to prisons, to be fined, to be lashed, and to be 
sold into perpetual bondage. Massachusetts, mindful of the 
rights of all her citizens, sent Samuel Hoar, one of her most 
honored sons, to test the constitutional rights of her impris- 
oned citizens in the judicial tribunals. Slavery cast him vio- 
lently from South Carolina, and enacted that whoever should 
attempt to defend the rights of colored seamen in the courts 
of that commonwealth should suffer the ignominy of imprison- 
ment. 

Slavery cast its devouring eye upon the broad, rich fields of 
Texas, and sent its pioneers to wrench them from the feeble 
grasp of the Mexican republic. By the pen of Calhoun, its 
great champion, slavery in the name of the nation demanded, 
in the face of Europe, the annexation of that slaveholding re- 
public, to defeat ultimate emancipation there, and to tighten the 
fetters of the bondmen here. In obedience to the humiliating 
demand of slavery, Texas was forced into the Union by an 
unconstitutional joint resolution, and the nation plunged into a 
war with Mexico. When peace returned, it brought with it 
half a million square miles of free territory. The North, the 
humiliated North, timidly asked that this territory, made for- 
ever free by Mexican law, should be forever consecrated to free- 
dom by national legislation ; but slavery demanded the right to 
extend itself over these free Territories, and threatened the dis- 
memberment of the Union if that claim was denied. California 
framed a constitution and asked admission as a free common* 
wealth, but slavery resisted her admission with menaces of dis- 
union and civil war. To appease slavery, a pliant Congress or- 
ganized Utah and New Mexico, so that slave masters could 
range over them with their fettered bondmen, gave fifteen thou- 
sand square miles of the free soil of New Mexico to slavehold- 
ing Texas, and with them $10,000,000, and enacted the uncon- 
stitutional, inhuman, and unchristian Fugitive Slave Act, that 
has dishonored and humiliated the nation before earth and 
heaven. Slavery then, in its hour of complete triumph, inso- 
lently demanded that the two great political parties, who had 
shrunk appalled before its menaces of disunion and civil war. 



370 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

who had betrayed the cause of freedom, humanity, and civili- 
zation in America, should now declare these its acts ''finali- 
ties,'* and bid the people forever cease ** agitation." 

Having forced these parties to pronounce its legislation of 
1850 a ''finality in principle and substance," slavery strode like 
an imperial despot into these chambers and demanded the re- 
peal of the Missouri prohibition of the 6th of March, 1820, and 
a faithless Congress and a subservient Executive hastened to 
open half a million square miles, in the central regions of the 
Republic, consecrated forever to freedom and free labor, to the 
footsteps of the bondman. Northern freemen went to that mag- 
nificent Territory to found there the institutions of freedom. 
Slavery made its brutal tools invade Kansas, seize the ballot 
box, elect a territorial legislature, enact inhuman and unchris- 
tian laws, bathe the virgin soil of that beautiful region with the 
blood of civil war, frame a slave constitution by fraud, and 
force it upon a free people. Faithfully did the propagandists of 
slavery labor in Kansas and in Congress, and in the executive 
departments of the Government, to execute its decrees. They 
invaded the Territory, they usurped the government, they en- 
acted slave statutes, they robbed and burned, they murdered 
brave men contending for their lawful rights. In Congress, the 
champions of slavery were hardly less brutal than in the wilds 
of distant Kansas. My colleague [Mr. Sumner] portrayed the 
crimes of slavery against Kansas, and he was smitten down 
upon the floor of the Senate by "a brutal, murderous, and cow- 
ardly assault." The propagandists of slavery framed a slave 
constitution, sustained it by fraud and violence, and the weak 
and wicked administration of James Buchanan, in obedience to 
the imperative demands of slavery, attempted to force it by cor- 
ruption through Congress upon an unwilling people, but for the 
first time slavery was baffled, defeated, dishonored. Freemen 
triumphed ; Kansas came into the Union radiant with liberty. 

Sir, slavery saw its waning power ; it saw, too, that its crim- 
inal victories of the past were but barren and fruitless tri- 
umphs that turned to ashes on the lip. It then wrung from 
the Supreme Court the Dred Scott decision, by which it hoped 
to control the vast Territories of the Republic, even against the 
will of the actual settlers. It bade the legislature of New Mex- 
ico enact a slave code, and also a code for the enslavement of 
white laboring men. It sent Walker and his filibusters to Cen- 
tral America to win slave territory. It sighed for Cuba, which 
it could not clutch. It mobbed, flogged, expelled, and some- 
times murdered Christian men and women in the South for no 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 371 

offence against law, humanity, or religion. It maddened the 
Southern brain and fired the Southern heart. It turned large 
masses of the people of the South against the institutions and 
the people of the North, against the Constitution and the old 
flag of their country. It came into the Thirty-sixth Congress 
threatening to dismember this Union of constellated common- 
wealths if the people of America should elect a President op- 
posed to its admission into the Territories. It rushed into the 
Democratic national convention, and, as the first step toward 
disunion, severed the Democratic party. It then went into the 
presidential election, seeking defeat, yet threatening the ven- 
geance of disunion and civil war if defeated. Regardless, how- 
ever, of its treasonable menaces, the people went to the ballot 
boxes and made Abraham Lincoln President of the United 
States. Slavery instantly raised the banner of treason, dragged 
South Carolina with headlong haste into open rebellion, and 
forced other States swiftly to follow her example. Slavery or- 
ganized conspiracies in the cabinet, conspiracies in Congress, 
conspiracies in the States, conspiracies in the army, conspiracies 
in the navy, conspiracies everywhere for the overthrow of the 
Government and the disruption of the Republic. At the bid- 
ding of slavery the oft-vaunted Southern Confederacy, the 
dream of slaveholding traitors for thirty years, rose upon the 
recognized basis that bondage was the normal condition of all 
men of the African race. Slavery bade those of its champions 
who were in the service of the nation leave cabinets and Sen- 
ates, military posts and naval stations, for the service of the 
rebellion ; and, at the bidding of slavery, Floyd, its truest expo- 
nent, left the cabinet when there seemed nothing more for him 
to steal ; and Davis and Toombs, Slidell and Mason, Hunter and 
Benjamin, and their guilty compeers in treason, in solemn 
mockery left the chambers of Congress when the plots, con- 
spiracies, treacheries, and perjuries imposed upon them by the 
great architect of ruin seemed accomplished. 

Sir, not content with seizing forts, arsenals, arms, and pub- 
lic property everywhere within the rebel States, slavery bade 
the frowning batteries menacing Sumter fire upon the Star of 
the West sailing under the protecting folds of the national flag, 
and freighted with bread for starving soldiers; and when that 
act of armed treason failed to arouse to action an insulted but 
patient and forbearing country, slavery bade those rebel bat- 
teries open their fire on Sumter and its few starving but heroic 
defenders; and those consuming batteries, in obedience to its 
command, burled shot a^d shell upon that devoted fortress till 



372 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

the glorious old flag of united America came down, and the 
rebel banner waved over the smoking ruins. And thus slavery, 
after an aggressive warfare of two generations upon the vital 
and animating spirit of republican institutions, upon the cher- 
ished and hallowed sentiments of a free and Christian people, 
upon the enduring interests and lasting fame of the nation, or- 
ganizes a treasonable conspiracy, raises the standard of revolt, 
and plunges the nation into a bloody contest for the preserva- 
tion of its menaced life. To the full comprehension of every 
man in America whose heart, brain, and soul have not been 
poisoned by its seductive arts and malign influence slavery is 
the cause, the whole cause, of this foul, wicked, and bloody re- 
bellion. Every loyal American whose reason is unclouded sees 
that slavery is the prolific mother of all these nameless woes — 
these sunless agonies of civil war. He sees that every loyal sol- 
dier upon the cot of sickness, of wounds, and of death was laid 
there by slavery ; that every wounded and maimed soldier hob- 
bling along our streets was wounded and maimed by slavery; 
that the lowly grave of every loyal soldier fallen in defence of 
the country was dug by slavery ; that mourning wives and sor- 
rowing children were made widows and orphans by slavery. 
Before the tribunal of mankind of the present and of coming 
ages, before the bar of the ever-living God, the loyal heart of 
America holds slavery responsible for every dollar sacrificed, 
for every drop of blood shed, for every pang of toil, of agony, 
and of death, for every tear wrung from suffering or affection, 
in this godless rebellion now upon us. For these treasonable 
deeds, for these crimes against freedom, humanity, and the life 
of the nation, slavery should be doomed by the loyal people of 
America to a swift, utter, and ignominious annihilation. 

But slavery, Mr. President, should not only be doomed to an 
ignominious death, to perish utterly from the face of the coun- 
try, for the treasonable crime of levying war upon the (Jovern- 
ment, but the safety if not the existence of the nation demands 
its extermination. The experience of nearly three years of civil 
war has demonstrated to the full comprehension of every loyal 
and intelligent man in America that slavery is the motive 
power, the heart and soul and brain of the rebellion. 

Sir, slavery not only fires the Southern heart, brain, and 
soul, and nerves the Southern arm in council hall and on the 
battlefield with its malignant hate and bitter scorn of Yankee 
laborers and Yankee institutions, its lofty contempt for the 
principles and policy of freedom, its haughty defiance of the 
authority of the national Government, and its gorgeous visions 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 373 

of the future power of the Southern Confederacy, extending its 
imperial sway over Cuba, Mexico, and Central America, and 
commanding the commerce of the world by its tropical produc- 
tions and its millions of slaves, but it uses the bones and sinews 
of more than three millions of the bondmen of rebel masters in 
support of the rebellion. These slaves of rebel masters sow and 
reap, plant and gather the harvests that support rebel masters 
and feed rebel armies. By their ceaseless, unpaid toil, these 
millions of bondmen enable their traitorous masters and the 
poor white men of the rebel States to leave their fields and shops 
and rush to the battlefield to shed the blood of our loyal coun- 
tr3anen, of our neighbors and friends and brothers and sons. 
These bondmen throw up fortifications, dig trenches and rifle 
pits, make roads and bridges, fell forests and build barracks, 
drive teams, and relieve in many ways the toil of rebel soldiers, 
thus making more efficient the rebel armies. The spade and 
hoe of the slaves of rebels support the rifle and bayonet of rebel 
soldiers. Slavery is not only the motive power, the heart and 
soul of the rebellion, but it is the arm also. Therefore the 
preservation of the life of the country, and the lives of our 
brave soldiers battling for national existence, as well as the just 
punishment of conspiracy and treason, demand that the loyal 
men of the Republic shall swear by Him who liveth evermore 
that slavery in America shall die. 

Not only the punishment of its appalling crimes, not only 
the lives of our countrymen and the preservation of the life of 
the nation, demand the utter extermination of slavery, but the 
future repose of the country also demands it. Slavery has 
poisoned the very fountains of existence in the South; it has 
entered into the blood and bone and marrow and the soul of 
our Southern countrymen. It has filled their bosoms with bit- 
ter, fierce, unreasoning hate toward their countrymen of the 
North, and the institutions, the Government, and the flag of 
their country. So long as slavery shall live, it will infuse its 
deadly and fatal poison into the Southern brain, heart, and 
soul. Then let slavery die a felon's death, and sink into a 
traitor's grave, amid the curses of a loyal nation. Then, when 
slavery shall sleep the sleep that knows no waking, in the grave 
of dishonor and infamy, reason will assume its mild sway again 
over our now maddened, poisoned, and intoxicated countrymen 
of the South. Take the maddening cup from the trembling 
hand of the drunkard, who, in his wild delirium, hates the 
mother who bore him, the wife of his bosom, and the children 
of his love, and that drunkard will be a man again, and love. 



n> 



374 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

cherish, and protect the mother, wife, and children he would 
smite down in his madness. Smite down slavery, strike the fet- 
ters from the limbs of its hapless victims, and slave masters 
will become loyal again, ready to pour out their blood for the 
Government they now hate and the country they now assail. 
They will recur to the recollections of the early days of the Re- 
public with gratitude and patriotic pride, they will look for- 
ward with undoubting confidence in the future of their coun- 
try. Their hearts will again throb with kindly regard for their 
countrymen of the North, and they will hail once more the 
beneficent institutions of a united country. The old flag, un- 
der which the men of the North and of the South fought and 
bled, side by side, on land and wave, will again be an object 
of affection and pride; its stars, now obscured to their vision, 
will gleam again with brighter luster and more radiant beauty. 

Congress, not by the consent of the loyal States or loyal 
masters, but by the will and power of the nation, has made free 
at once and forever every slave who enlists into the military 
service. The Attorney-General pronounces the black man, who 
was said to have no rights that white men were bound to re- 
spect, a citizen of the United States. The Secretary of State 
gives the black man the passport of citizenship, which in every 
quarter of the globe is evidence that the bearer is a citizen of 
the North American Republic. The Secretary of War com- 
missions a black man to be a surgeon in the military service of 
the United States, and the President organizes a hundred and 
twenty regiments, of eighty thousand black men, who are bear- 
ing upon their flashing bayonets the unity of the Republic and 
the destinies of their race. 

Sir, slavery in America, though upheld by interests, cus- 
toms, and usages, trenched about by inhuman statutes, and 
hedged around by passionate, vehement, and unreasoning preju- 
dices, is fast crumbling to atoms beneath the blows rained upon 
it by a liberty-loving and patriotic people. But let anti-slavery 
men listen to no truce, to no compromise, to no cry for mercy. 
Let them now be as inflexible as justice, as inexorable as des- 
tiny. Whenever and wherever a blow can be dealt at the vitals 
of the retreating fiend, let that blow be struck in the name of 
the bleeding nation, and of the ''dumb, toiling millions bound 
and sold." A truce with slavery is a defeat for the nation. A 
compromise with slavery is a present of disaster and dishonor 
and a future of anarchy and blood. Mercy to slavery is a crime 
against liberty. The death of slavery is the annihilation of the 
rebellion, the unity of the Republic, the life of the nation, the 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 375 

harmonious development of republican institutions, the repose, 
culture, and renown of the people. 

The hideous Fugitive Slave Act still blackens the statutes of 
this Christian land, reminding us of the degradation and hu- 
miliation of our country when the heel of that master was on 
its neck. Justice and humanity, self-respect and decency, all 
demand that the lingering infamy shall be obliterated from the 
page it blackens. 

If this amendment shall be incorporated by the will of the 
nation into the Constitution of the United States, it will ob- 
literate the last lingering vestiges of the slave system. 

Our country is now floating on the stormy waves of civil 
war. Darkness lowers and tempests threaten. The waves are 
rising and foaming and breaking around us and over us with 
ingulfing fury. But amid the thick gloom, the star of duty 
casts its clear radiance over the dark and troubled waters, mak- 
ing luminous our pathway. That duty is, with every concep- 
tion of the brain, every throb of the heart, every aspiration of 
the soul, by thought, by word, and by deed to feel, to think, 
to speak, to act so as to obliterate the last vestiges of slavery 
in America, subjugate rebel slave masters to the authority of 
the nation, hold up the weary arm of our struggling Govern- 
ment, crowd with heroic manhood the ranks of our armies that 
are bearing the destinies of the country on the points of their 
glittering bayonets, and thus forever blast the last hope of the 
rebel chiefs. 

Then shall the waning star of the rebellion go down 
in eternal night, and the star of peace shall ascend the heavens, 
casting its mild radiance over fields now darkened by the 
storms of this fratricidal war. Then, when *'the war drums 
throb no longer and the battle flags are furled," our absent 
sons, with the laurels of victory on their brows, will come back 
to gladden our households and fill the vacant chairs around our 
hearthstones. Then the star of United America, now obscured, 
will reappear, radiant with splendor on the forehead of the 
skies, to illume the pathway and gladden the heart of strug- 
gling humanity. 

On March 30 Garrett Davis [Ky.] spoke against the 
proposed amendment. 

I am opposed to the pending proposition to amend the Con- 
stitution of the United States for several reasons intrinsic to 
the subject. In the first place, it strikes at one of the most 



376 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

essential principles of our commingled system of national and 
of State governments. 

To maintain the Union, to hold it in its harmonious and per- 
fect action, it is as essential that the existence of the authority 
and powers of the States within their reserved sovereignty 
should be upheld, maintained, and preserved as it is that the 
limited and delegated powers and sovereignty of the general 
Government should exist, be supported, defended, and exer- 
cised. 

The absorption of the sovereignty not delegated by the Con- 
stitution to the general Government, and consequently reserved 
to the States, or any portion of it, by the President or Con- 
gress, would be revolutionary and destructive of our system, as 
would be the absorption by the States of the sovereignty, or any 
portion of it, delegated to the Government of the United States. 
The encroachment of either upon the other is equally unauthor- 
ized and criminal, and the persons engaged in making it are 
punishable for parallel offences by their respective judicial 
tribunals. Mr. President [Mr. Powell in the chair], it is clearly 
and imperatively the duty of you and myself to defend the re- 
served rights and sovereignty of Kentucky against the en- 
croachments of Abraham Lincoln and his party, as it is to de- 
fend the limited sovereignty of the United States against the 
assaults of the rebels. To fail in either would be equally delin- 
quent and criminal. Whoever, and by whatever command, has 
resisted by an array of force the execution of the laws of Ken- 
tucky has committed the offence of treason against that State, 
and should suffer the penalty denounced against the crime. The 
President of the United States, the Secretary of War, and gen- 
erals high in command have moved armed bodies of men into 
Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri, to resist and de- 
feat the execution of the election laws of those States, and have 
themselves, by the power of the sword, driven their free citi- 
zens from their own polls, and themselves virtually appointed 
the minions of executive power to seats in the House of Repre- 
sentatives of Congress and to State offices. Those high func- 
tionaries thereby committed treason against those States, and 
the most important and imperative duty of their authorities 
and people is to have those great delinquents arraigned and pun- 
ished for their crimes by the judgment of the courts of the 
States against which they were committed. The punishment of 
Federal officers so high in authority for the commission of trea- 
son against the States, by the just and firm execution of the 
law in their civil courts, would be an example of the most salu- 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 377 

tary influence. To suppress the rebellion by force of arms, and 
to punish by the due administration of the law its most guilty 
authors, and also the great violators of the Constitution of the 
United States, who profess to be acting under its authority, and 
who have committed treason against States, would effect more 
in the support and preservation of constitutional liberty, and 
to vindicate the capacity of the people for self-government than 
the performance of any other duty or work. 

But to the objection that the proposed amendment of the 
Constitution would infringe the right of the States to manage 
their local and domestic affairs, it may also be answered that 
slavery concerns all the States as well as those in which it ex- 
ists. If there be truth in this position, it may be replied that 
there is no important property interest, pursuit, or institution 
in any State that does not, directly or indirectly, concern the 
people of every other State; and that argument would require 
the Constitution of the United States to be so amended as to 
give the Federal Government power over all of them, which 
would establish a perfectly consolidated Government and vir- 
tually annihilate the States. 

There are many matters, the control of which is left by our 
Government wholly and exclusively with the States, and over 
which the people would not have confided to Congress and the 
President a particle of power when the Constitution was 
formed, that much more closely and momentously concern all 
the States than the continuance of slavery in some of them. Re- 
ligious faith is one. The Federal Government has no power to 
interfere in any way with the subject of religion. The entail- 
ment of real and personal property, the principle of primogenp- 
ture, a system of railroads and other internal improvements in 
the several States connecting with the systems of other States — 
all these are subjects of domestic and local concern within 
every State, of which it has the exclusive management ; and yet 
each one more nearly, and with larger interest and greater 
sympathy, would concern the people of all the other States 
than does slavery in the slave States the people of the free 
States. 

Slavery, in this day and generation, has for the people of 
the United States a factitious but an absorbing interest ; in the 
future, under altered circumstances, the others, and especially 
religion, may still more strongly possess them. If this proposed 
alteration of the Constitution be accepted it will be a precedent, 
and may establish a principle that may carry those other do- 
mestic concerns, and still others not now thought of, into the 



878 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

domain of an encroaching and centralized despotism, and which 
would be a very great stride. 

If it were conceded that the power to amend the Constitu- 
tion, as established and regulated by the fifth article, would by 
its terms and letter authorize the proposed change, it would be 
in fatal conflict with its intent and spirit, and, therefore, ac- 
cording to a universal rule of construction, void and of no ef- 
fect. It never was the purpose of those who made it to subject 
many of its great principles to be expunged by the exercise of 
this power of amendment. The power to amend is but the 
power to improve, and any alteration to be legitimate should 
be an amendment. To this it may be said that as there is no 
certain test by which this question of amendment can be tried 
it is necessarily decided by the amending power. Granting 
this argument to be sound, still there is another and very im- 
portant question connected with this power of amendment. 
Does it import the power of revolution? Of making such es- 
sential change in the nature, form, powers, and limitations of 
the Government as would be revolutionary of it— of its impor- 
tant structure, of its characteristic principles, of the great and 
essential rights and liberties assured by it to the citizen? The 
true and precise question is, does the proposed change, or 
amendment, carry a revolutionary principle and power? I 
hold that the framers of the Constitution did not intend it to 
be, and that it is not, in its nature or in fact, a revolutionary 
power; that there is a boundary between the power of revolu- 
tion and the power of amendment, which the latter, as estab- 
lished in our Constitution, cannot pass; and that if the pro- 
posed change is revolutionary it would be null and void, not- 
withstanding it might be formally adopted. It would not be a 
part of the Constitution, and would consequently have no effect. 
An amendment proposing to abolish all the popular elective 
features of our Government, or that Representatives should 
hold their offices for life; that the place of Senator should be 
hereditary, coupled with a title and the privileges of nobility ; 
that the President should be a king, and transmit his crown 
and throne as in England, would be revolutionary, and out of 
the power of the pale of amendment. Neither the legislative, 
executive, nor judicial branch of the Government could be swept 
away under the guise of the exercise of this power of amend- 
ment. The States and their governments are as essential and 
indispensable parts of our compound system of government as 
the United States and the Federal Government, and could not 
be expunged by this power of amendment. The retention by 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 379 

the States of their exclusive rights, and the right to ordain, 
manage, and control them, independent of all control or inter- 
ference by the United States Government any more than of a 
foreign power, is a great and essential feature of our system, 
and it cannot be revolutionized, destroyed, by this power of 
amendment. If it can take cognizance of slavery, it may of 
every other local and domestic concern of the States. That 
would be revolutionary, and is therefore out of the domain of 
amendment. The power of amendment can only be made to em- 
brace the forms and the provisions and principles of secondary 
importance. 

If the principle involved by the proposed amendment be 
sound, and, it, if formally adopted, would be valid and obliga- 
tory, then in the same mode the terms of the members of the 
House could be extended for seven years; Senators could be 
metamorphosed into hereditary nobles, with titles, and the 
President into a monarch ; and any other changes, utterly revo- 
lutionary and destructive of our Qovernment and the popular 
freedom it establishes, could be made. No, sir, this power of 
amendment does not carry the power of revolution, in whole or 
in part, to be executed in solido or in detail, to burst forth at 
once in full-grown proportions, or to be cautiously developed 
from time to time and by gradual accumulation, l^e Mr. Lin- 
coln's war policy, untU the whole work is consummated. 
Neither the subversion of our free and popular Government, 
nor any of its great distinctive and essential features, or of those 
preexisting and vital rights and liberties to secure and perpetu- 
ate which to the people were its object and its mission, is within 
the legitimate scope and operation of the power of amendment. 
That would be in both aspects, not amendment, but destruc- 
tion and revolution. 

Nor, sir, is the present condition of the country and the peo- 
ple at all propitious or fit to enter upon the most grave and 
important work of amending, altering the Constitution of our 
Government, the paramount law which regulates and controls 
within its orbit the constitutions, laws, and administrations of all 
the States and every official act of Congress, of the President, 
and of every other officer of the United States. The revision of 
the work of the preeminently great and patriotic men who put 
together that wonderful political structure, so admirably ad- 
justed and balanced, so novel yet so complete, so free and yet 
possessed of all the necessary and proper powers and vigor, is 
one of the most delicate and important tasks which those who are 
to perform it can possibly undertake. They ought to be free 



380 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

from all sectional prejudice and excitement, and bring to it 
calm and unperturbed reason and broad and true patriotism 
and statesmanship. The condition of the country should be 
fixed, that of settled and stable repose, that any changes and 
modifications might be safely and wisely adapted to its perma- 
nent relations, interests, and tranquillity. 

There is every probability that when the war is closed mod- 
ifications of the Constitution will then be highly necessary and 
proper; but their nature, extent, and the features and powers 
of the Government in which they may be required cannot be 
possibly divined. Now to make any might mar rather than 
improve. 

But when to this consideration, the unsettled condition of 
the country, is added the present state of the mind and pas- 
sions of the people, nationally, sectionally, and individually, the 
position that now is not the proper time to intermeddle with 
the Constitution cannot, with any reason, be controverted. No 
man is free from apprehension and excitement, and with vast 
numbers it approximates frenzy, mania. Sectional opinions and 
prejudices were never before so rife and extreme. Hatred to 
slavery and slave owners by the members of the Republican 
party generally has demented them. They are wholly incapable 
of any fair and just consideration of the rights of slaveholders, 
in relation not only to that property, but all their other rights 
individually and collectively as slaveholding States. Extreme 
aversion and prejudice with both of those classes of the people 
have usurped the place of reason and truth. Neither enter- 
tains for the other any sentiments of kindness, fraternity, char- 
ity, or justice. I have no belief that there is in either House 
of the present Congress, or that there would be in the legisla- 
ture or convention of any one of the States, a single member 
whose mind and passions are so little affected by the present 
condition of public affairs as not to be disqualified for the deli- 
cate and difficult work of revising and altering the common 
government of all the States and all the people of the United 
States. I believe with the most of them that unfitness would 
exist to such an extent as to make it impossible for them to de- 
liberate and act, not only impartially and justly for their ad- 
versaries in politics and their sections, but also wisely and safely 
for themselves and their own States. 

Another objection of overruling weight is that no revision 
of the Constitution in any form ought to be undertaken under 
the auspices of the party in power. Its leaders have always 
been hostile to the compromises on the subject of slavery, and 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 381 

the protection which it gaarantees to the owners of that prop- 
erty. From a much earlier day than secession was thought of 
in the South, those leaders had determined on the destruction of 
slavery; and, if they could not succeed by any other means, even 
to revolutionize the (Government to effect it. They did not 
bring on a general war to that end, though they had long as- 
saulted it in every other form; and as soon as the rebellion 
broke forth they quietly decided, if possible, to make it the 
occasion and to furnish the means of the overthrow of slavery. 
Mr. Lincoln had been an extreme abolitionist from early life; 
and it was that consideration that procured him the nomination 
cf the Chicago convention. When he and the chiefis of his 
party in Congress, at the commencement of the war, unani- 
mously declared that their purpose and policy were not to at- 
tack slavery, or any other rights or institutions of the insurgent 
States, but only to vindicate the authority and laws of the 
United States over the rebels, they were di^embling, and then 
lying in wait to make an onset on slavery. They knew that 
their purpose could be effected only by breaking over constitu- 
tional guaranties, and by the power of the army to subdue all 
opposition to their scheme. There is no right of person or 
property that the President and Congress have not outrageously 
infracted and trampled out, under and by the agency of the 
iron heel of military despotism, to subjugate or awe every per- 
son disposed to offer even legal and peaceful resistance to their 
flagrant abuses and usurpations of power. As they progressed, 
and met with impunity in their nefarious work, their objects 
were enlarged. They determined not only to consummate the 
destruction of slavery, so that it could never be restored, but 
also to continue themselves and their party in place and power. 
The first they consider substantially as an accomplished fact; 
and they are, and have been for more than a year, moving with 
increasing energy and boldness toward the other as their now 
paramount object. They affect to adhere to the forms of the 
Constitution, while they utterly disregard not only its spirit, 
but also its express provisions and all the liberty and protec- 
tion which it assures to the citizen. They have devised the 
boldest and most revolutionary measures under the guise of law 
and executive administration as the machinery of their opera- 
tions. The first in time was the erection of West Virginia into 
a new State, and her admission into the Union in palpable vio- 
lation of the Constitution, so admitted and avowed by many of 
their leaders both in and out of Congress; and attempted to be 
justified by them on the ground that the country was in a state 



382 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

of rebellion and revolution, and the Constitution of no obliga- 
tion whatever. The President took the ofScial opinion of the 
Attorney-General, which was that the measure was without 
constitutional authority, and yet he approved it. 

After the congressional elections in the fall of 1862 it was 
apparent that, if those which were to take place in the other 
States in 1863 were to be decided by the free suffrages of their 
people, Mr. Lincoln and his party would be in a minority in the 
present House. The success of their projects and the retention 
of power by them made it necessary that they should have the 
majority in the House as well as in the Senate. He therefore 
ordered the military authorities to interfere and overthrow 
the freedom of elections, and to depose the State laws and 
officers for conducting them in Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, 
and Delaware, to the extent of securing a majority for him in 
the House. To that extent he was equally a usurper with 
Cffisar, Cromwell, and Bonaparte. 

But Mr. Lincoln has long since imbibed other views and 
projects of personal ambition. A desire for reelection has 
seized upon him. It now possesses all the mind and heart and 
soul that he has. He is no statesman, but a mere political 
charlatan. He has inordinate vanity and conceit. He is a 
consummate dissembler, and an adroit and sagacious dema- 
gog. He has the illusion of making a great historical name 
for himself in connection with the total abolition of slavery in 
the United States. He also loves power and money. He has 
long foreseen that in his desire for reelection he would have 
several competitors from his own party. He is not fierce or 
revengeful, or even boldly audacious and radical; and, though 
not marked by any sense of benevolence, humanity, or justice, 
he does not possess positively the opposite qualities, and, though 
a radical, is not reckless or rash. He is, and always has been, 
as uncompromisingly opposed to slavery as the most ultra rad- 
ical, but preferred to overthrow it with some show of legal 
and constitutional authority; and that it should be effected 
gradually, and not by sudden and violent change. Such were 
his first and individual views and policy in relation to slavery ; 
but, being rather of flexible but still obstinate nature, the 
pressure of the bold and more energetic radicals has pushed 
him pretty well nigh to their extreme position. As this "mar- 
shaled him the way he was going," he is well disposed to 
accept it, and, if it promised to aid him materially in his pur- 
pose of a reelection, he would not hesitate to take it with 
alacrity. But he understands that most of the radicals prefer 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 383 

other men to himself, and, while he must manage to satisfy and 
win them if possible, and especially as their second choice, he 
must hold on to all the moderate men of the Republican party, 
and by some show of conservatism win others outside. This 
keeps him very bu^ at his favorite game of ''playing for all 
the pockets." 

But he regards, and with much truth, that his personal, 
ofScial, and distinctive party consists of the officeholders and 
seekers, contractors and those seeking contracts, whose num- 
bers are greater than our armies in the field. To those pr»tor- 
ian, not cohorts, but legions, he was determined to add others 
in his own especial interests. Hence he issued another edict, 
the effect of which was to demolish all the constitutions and 
governments of the rebel States, and among them Tennessee 
and Arkansas and other States whose constitutions have not 
been changed in a particle within many years before the re- 
bellion ; and to authorize one-tenth of as many people as voted 
in them at the last presidential election to reconstruct and to 
carry on their State governments. But he prescribed as the 
indispensable condition that all men who took part in the recon- 
struction must renounce their negro property and take an oath 
to support his war policy as embodied in all his proclamations 
and the laws of Congress passed by his party. He pledged his 
faith to support and defend these spurious State governments 
by the power of the United States armies and navies. All their 
elections were to be under the surveillance of the President's 
military subordinates; and consequently none but his minions 
and tools could vote or hold office. The reorganization of those 
States is to be virtually by him and for all his purposes. They 
were designed to be dependencies and he the autocrat. The 
world never witnessed a more lawless and daring political enter- 
prise, and, except in the feature of blood, it comes up to the 
measure of the greatest usurpations. The people of the States 
are the only legitimate power to construct or reconstruct their 
civil governments; and Congress, and not the President, is the, 
authority to admit them primarily, or secondarily, into the 
Union, and to guarantee to them republican forms of govern^ 
ment, Mr. Lincoln seizes upon all this power. Under this presi- 
dential autocracy, old, or Eastern, as well as West Virginia, 
Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and other rebel States have 
been or are to be readmitted into the Union, and to take part 
with the other States in its government. By the present ratio 
all Virginia, east, west, and rebel, would be entitled to eleven 
Representatives in Congress. The new State has three, and it 



384 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

is a question what portion of the residue the few counties of 
the other division of the State within our military lines can 
rightfully have, and, a yet more difficult one, what number of 
electoral votes in the presidential election will be the right of 
those few counties. The new State having but three for her 
Representatives and two for her Senators, if those few counties 
can elect the residue for the whole of the remaining State, and 
also for its two Senators, the new State and a small fractional 
part of the remainder of the State would cast together fifteen 
electoral votes. That vote by those counties would give them 
a very undue and unconstitutional weight over the people of 
the other States in the presidential election. If that will be 
permitted may depend, I presume, upon the problem whether 
it would be necessary to reelect Mr. Lincoln. To effect that 
object I believe a separate State could and would be organ- 
ized out of East Tennessee, and two in Maryland, one upon 
the eastern and the other upon the western shore, without the 
least regard to constitutional difficulties. When Louisiana is 
readmitted she will be entitled to seven electoral votes, Ten- 
nessee to ten, Arkansas to five, and all Virginia to fifteen. So 
that by the organization of these four ''rottenborough" and 
unauthorized States there would be secured to Mr. Lincoln not 
only thirty-seven electoral votes in the presidential election, 
but, what may be even of more importance, that number in the 
Republican nominating convention at Baltimore. I take it for 
true that these illegitimate States, being the progeny of Mr. 
Lincoln, will support him when and where and anyhow they 
can. They will also be ready to vote for this proposed amend- 
ment of the Constitution. 

But Mr. Lincoln is a cautious and farseeing man. He has 
had still another provision made, first and mainly for his own 
personal success, subordinately for that of his party. The 
Territories of Colorado and Nevada have already, at the present 
session, been admitted as new States into the Union; and the 
chairman of the Committee on Territories has told us, and no 
doubt truly, that Nebraska will also be admitted. Thus there 
will be admitted three more new States, each with one Repre- 
sentative and two Senators, having an aggregate of eleven elec- 
toral votes and an equal strength in the Baltimore convention. 
I believe, both on principle and policy, that no Territory ought 
to be admitted as a State until it has a population equal to 
the ratio of representation. That ratio is now 127,000. By the 
census of I860, Colorado had a population of 34,277 ; Nebraska, 
28,841; and Nevada, 6,857. 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 385 

Thus by military interference at elections, the destruction 
and reorganization of States, the admission of new States with 
but a small fraction of the ratio of population, all by infrac- 
tion of the Constitution, and in opposition to right, justice, and 
policy, and chiefly by the power and under the supervision of 
Mr. Lincoln, a great and dangerous strength has been accumu- 
lated to him as President to be exercised to promote his own 
selfish and ambitious views in the first place; and, secondly, 
to continue his party in power to enable it to protract the 
aggrandizement of its leaders, the pecuniary advantages of its 
masses, and the complete consummation of its most wicked and 
destructive policy and measures. 

Our own Government has become so abused and perverted, 
so unjust and oppressive to all who will not bow to those who 
administer it in unquestioning submission, so fruitful and gen- 
eral a source of evil and practical despotism, that hundreds of 
thousands and millions of the most loyal people of the United 
States are in doubt whether it, as administered, or the rebellion 
is the greatest national scourge. The assaults, wrongs, and op- 
pressions of both on the border slave States is such as to be 
passing them, as it were, between the upper and nether mill- 
stone. The greatest good that could now fall to the lot of the 
people of those States would be the speediest suppression of 
the rebellion by all constitutional measures and means, and by 
the expulsion from power of the party that has possession of 
the Government and is ruling the country and so recklessly 
rushing both upon ruin. I look for the consummation of the 
first to the continued eflPorts of our brave and numerous sol- 
diery and the submission of the rebels. For the second I still 
rely upon the peaceful remedy of the ballot-box, applied by 
the sovereign power of the United States; and, if it were 
applied so as to produce that great change, I believe that the 
cessation of the war, the submission and reconciliation of the 
rebels, the reconstruction of the Union, and the vindication of 
the laws and Constitution, with renewed guaranties and 
strength, would all speedily ensue. But if the dominant party 
can continue their power and rule, either by the will or acqui- 
escence of the people or the exercise of the formidable powers 
which it has usurped, I am not able to see any termination of 
the present and still growing ills short of the ordeal of general 
and bloody anarchy. 

On March 31 Willard Saulsbury [Del.] replied to 
Senator Trumbull. 

VI— 25 



386 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

Mr. President, we are told that the reason why this amend- 
ment should be made is that slavery has caused the present 
national difficulties; that if it had not been for the existence 
of slavery there would be no war. The honorable chairman of 
the Judiciary Committee tells us that even if the present 
troubles have been brought on by the interference of Northern 
fanatics with the institution of slavery, then if slavery had not 
existed there would have been nothing for them to interfere 
with, and the rebellion would not have taken place; that if it 
was brought on by the desire of the people of the South to 
strengthen and encourage the institution, then if it had not 
existed the rebellion would not have taken place ; and he seems 
to think that to it we owe the loss of freedom of speech, free- 
dom of the press, and most of the ills under which we are now 
suffering. He therefore proposes as the great remedy, — I pre- 
sume not only to heal our present troubles, but as a bond of 
peace in the future — that the institution of slavery shall be 
wiped out by a change of the Constitution. 

If there had been no fire, so large a portion of the city of 
New York as was burned down in 1835 would not have been 
burned down. If there was no water, there would be no over- 
flowing foods. If there was no sun in the heavens, no man 
would fall prostrate to the earth and die from the heat of that 
sun. Let the Senator correct all the ills of life. Let him 
quench the fire that warms all the human race, and no incen- 
diary then could burn our dwellings; let him dry up the foun- 
tains of the deep and close the windows of heaven, that there 
shall be no more water; let him pluck the sun from on high, 
that his heat shall no more cause death. 

But, sir, I hold that if you adopt this amendment, and you 
could get three-fourths of the States to ratify it, it would not 
be obligatory upon the others for another reason; and that is 
that you cannot propose this amendment to all the States, as 
contemplated by the Constitution of the United States. There 
are confessedly some eight or nine of these States now out of 
the Union, over which the Federal Government does not pre- 
tend to exercise control. What is the meaning of the clause 
that the Congress of the United States may propose amend- 
ments which, when ratified by three-fourths of the States, shall 
become a part of the Constitution! It means that you shall 
propose those amendments, not to a portion of the States, but 
to all the States, so that all the States may have the power to 
act upon them. 

The Constitution of the United States is the same as any 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 387 

other contract. It is a contract between the States, who, in the 
language of Mr. Madison, are parties to it, and the plain, evi- 
dent, honest import of this clause of the Constitution giving 
the power of ratification to three-fourths of the States is and 
must be so understood by all right-thinking men, that all the 
States shall have the power of passing upon that proposed 
amendment, of ratifying or rejecting it, and that, if that privi- 
lege is denied any State, if your amendment is not proposed 
to any State, it cannot operate upon that State, because it 
would be in violation of the just terms and fair interpreta- 
tion of the Constitution. 

If you wish to make an amendment to the Constitution of 
the United States which shall be binding and obligatory in all 
future time upon the parties to that Constitution, why not 
wait till peace is restored ; why not wait till passion ceases to 
inflame the breast and madness to warp the judgment and 
craze the brain of men ? The fundamental law of a great people 
should never be changed amid the shock of arms. Reason 
should sit calmly on her throne; judgment should be brought 
to the ''line" before acting on such a question. 

But, sir, I oppose this proposed amendment on another 
ground. It is impossible for it to be ratified by a vote of three- 
fourths of the States. The Senator from Illinois,^ the chair- 
man of the Committee on the Judiciary, said it would require 
twenty-eight States, and he named the States which he sup- 
posed would vote to ratify it. He included all the adhering 
States with the exception of my own, and he thought she 
could not stand against it Let me tell the honorable Senator 
that, if the resolution is passed, I do not suppose my State 
will be in the way of it; not because she will approve of it; 
not because the majority of her people will not be honestly 
opposed to it and would not vote against it, but because you 
do not intend that they shall ever act upon it. The Senator 
said that Maryland had inaugurated this policy, and she would 
be in favor of it. I have some acquaintance with the people 
of that State. She will agree to it, just as the Senator, if 
met by a highwayman, solitary, alone, and unarmed, presenting 
a pistol at his head and demanding his purse, would agree to 
give it up. 

But he expects to receive accessions from Arkansas, Ten- 
nessee, North Carolina, and Louisiana in favor of this pro- 
posed amendment. Does the Senator believe that, if the people 
of those States were free to act, and could pass upon his 

I LTman Tnimball. 



388 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

proposed amendment according to their wish or judgment, there 
would be one man in ten who would vote to ratify it? 

What is your government in Arkansas, in Louisiana, and in 
Tennessee? Take away your soldiers, and there would be 
scarcely one man in fifty in either of those States that would 
either approve your amendment or recognize your authority. 
And yet the Senator would aflPect the rights of nearly one-half 
of what was once this Union by going through — ^I say it in no 
disrespect to the honorable Senator, but I say it because I 
believe it and think it — going through the farce of an election 
under military control and restraint, and then come in the 
presence of the Senate of the United States and before the 
people of the country and of the world, and proclaim that the 
people of three:fourths of the States of the Union, in the spirit 
which their fathers intended them to act and in the free exer- 
cise of their judgments and their opinions as guaranteed to 
them by their fathers, have agreed to amend their Constitu- 
tion and forever hereafter wipe out the foul blot of slavery ! 

Mr. President, nothing is to be gained by this except one 
thing, and that you may accomplish. You may succeed by 
such an amendment as this, by an election — no, not by an elec- 
tion, but by a farce enacted in the border States and by a 
worse farce enacted in some of the seceded States — ^you may 
succeed in abolishing slavery in the States of Delaware, Mary- 
land, Kentucky, and Missouri. That is what you can do. Tou 
can succeed in injuring those who never tried to injure you; 
but, unless you conquer the South, unless you make them pass 
under the yoke as you avow your purpose to do, unless you take 
bodily hold of their slaves and draw them within your lines 
and keep them there, you have accomplished nothing. You have 
regarded them as belligerents, and consequently the slave you 
take to-day from them and put your uniform upon, if he is 
recaptured by them, is not free, though proclamations and 
legislative enactments may so declare, but is a slave still, and 
not only a slave by reason of the fact that he is in possession 
of his original master, but, by a sound principle of the law 
of nations, the jus postliminii, he reverts to his original owner. 

Daniel Clark [iN. H.] rebutted the argument that the 
time was not ripe for the amendment. 

I am told that this is not the time for such an amendment 
of the Constitution. Pray when, sir, will it come? Will it be 
when the President has issued more and more calls for two or 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 389 

three hundred thousand men of the country's bravest and bestt 
Will it be when more fathers and husbands and sons have 
fallen, and their graves are thicker by the banks of the rivers 
and streamlets and hillsides? Will it be when there are more 
scenes like this I hold in my hand, of a quiet spot by the side 
of a river, with the moon shining upon the water and a lonely 
sentinel keeping guard, and here in the open space the head- 
boards marking the burial places of many a soldier boy, and an 
open grave to receive another inmate, and underneath the 
words, **A11 quiet on the Potomac"? [Exhibiting a photograph 
to the Senate.] Will it be when such scenes of quiet are more 
numerous, not only along the Potomac but by the Rapidan, the 
Chickahominy, the Stone, the Tennessee, the Cumberland, the 
Big Black, and the Red? Sir, nowj in my judgment, is the 
time, and the fitting time. Never until now could this amend- 
ment have been carried, and now I hope and believe that it can 
be carried. ''Whom the gods would destroy they first make 
mad." 

Slavery's strongest and safest guaranties were in the Con- 
stitution, and its supporters were made when they cast away 
and threw off those guaranties. Remaining in the Union, no 
one would probably have moved for an amendment of the Con- 
stitution. Loyal to the Government, hostile armies would not 
have set free their slaves, nor laws now necessary and expe- 
dient have authorized their employment against their masters 
in arms. 

But now, sir, every free State will gladly, it is hoped and 
believed, vote for the proposed amendment. Most would re- 
joice to do it; while numbers of the slave States, aghast at the 
miseries of secession and the horrors of this cruel Civil War, 
recognizing slavery as the cause of all this disturbance and all 
these woes, would be among the foremost to sweep it forever 
away. 

Now, sir, is the time to do it. And not only is now the 
time, but the necessity and the duty of doing it are upon us. 
We can have no permanent peace nor restored Union until it 
is done. 

There are those who cry, "The Union as it was and the 
Constitution as it is!" But I am free and bold to confess 
that I am for a Union without slavery, and an amended Con- 
stitution making it forever impossible. This revolt was to pre- 
serve slavery, and we shall fail of our whole duty if we do 
not remove the inciting cause. To restore this Union with slav- 
ery in it when we have subdued the rebel armies would be 



,^- 



390 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

again to build your house on its smoking ruins when you had 
not put out the fire which burned it down. 

If the dire calamities now befalling us be the ''retributions 
of Providence upon a stupendous crime," what mad folly to 
hug that crime, and seek to avoid its future punishment! "Let 
my people go." But Pharaoh would not let them go; and 
then came sufferings, and plagues, and the smiting of the first- 
born. Oh! how many of our first-born have been smitten and 
fallen. Let us be wise and heed the teaching. There is a Provi- 
dence in the great events now transpiring. The people see the 
hand. It points the way. They are filled with hope and faith. 
They follow the pillar and the cloud, and will struggle and 
endure. 

I know, Mr. President, that the suppression of the rebel- 
lion will necessarily wound and maim slavery. I know that 
every victory over the rebels is a victory also over the cause 
of the rebellion, and I know, too, that the arming of the slaves 
will make the future enslaving of these men and their kindred 
well-nigh impossible; but slavery will still exist, not in much 
vigor or strength, but in the root and principle. This amend- 
ment will dig out the root and repudiate the principle. 

Mr. President, in a quiet churchyard, near his home, is the 
grave of a soldier who returned to die. At the head of his 
grave is a marble slab, and on it these few but expressive 
words, ** Mustered out." Let both Houses of Congress, by a 
two-thirds vote, recommend this amendment abolishing slavery, 
and let three-fourths of the States, burying slavery by their 
ratification, come and write its epitaph on the Constitution, 
** Mustered out." 

The soldier was ** mustered out," we trust, to enlist again 
in the shining cohorts in advance of earth's extreme picket line, 
but let this be ''mustered out" to go, like Judas, to its own 
place. 

On April 4 Timothy 0. Howe [Wis.] spoke upon the 
likelihood of the border States accepting the amend- 
ment and upon the status of the seceded States. 

The State of Delaware will adopt this amendment; her 
people will adopt it in the exercise of their free judgment. 
The Senator from Delaware [Mr. Saulsbury] shakes his head. 
I do not know but that he will oppose the amendment ; that he 
will advise the people of Delaware not to adopt it; but his 
advice will not prevail, I humbly trust and I humbly believe. 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 391 

Undertake to persuade that little State of Delaware not to 
enfranchise her few slaves when all the rest of the Union are 
crying for it! Dame Partington, Mr. President, standing on 
the beach of the Atlantic, trying to put back its waves with 
her mop, would be a model of practical sagacity compared 
with the Senator from Delaware if he should stand on the 
borders of that little State and undertake to persuade her not 
to let the deluge of freedom, which God has commanded to 
sweep the continent, flow over that little patch of His pasture. 
Delaware will adopt the amendment, and so will Kentucky. 
Sir, Henry Clay sleeps in Kentucky. Let her people reject 
this proposition to amend the Constitution under the pressure 
of this great national necessity, and they would see the bones 
of the great hero rise from his grave and stalk indignantly 
from the borders; they would not rest there any longer. Ken- 
tucky will adopt this amendment. Every State will adopt it. 
I know that there are eleven States which have declared them- 
selves independent of this Constitution and of all amendments 
to it. What are you going to do with them? There are those 
communities of people. They are States or they are not. It 
is a question that you ought to settle. In my judgment, there 
are no American States there. Decide the matter as you will : 
if they are States, they are going to vote upon this amend- 
ment, and they are going to vote for it; every man who votes 
at all upon it will vote to adopt the amendment. If they are 
not States, they are not to vote upon it, and their votes are 
not to be counted, and you still have a unanimous verdict from 
the States of the American Union in favor of this amendment 
to the Constitution. 

On April 5 Eeverdy Johnson [Md.] spoke in favor 
of the amendment. 

To manumit at once nearly four million slaves who have 
been in bondage by hereditary descent during their whole lives, 
and who, because they were in bondage, and as one of the 
consequences of the condition in which they were placed, have 
been kept in a state of almost absolute ignorance, is an event 
of which the world's history furnishes no parallel. Whether 
if it succeeds it will be attended by weal or by woe the future 
must decide. That it will not be followed by unmixed good 
or by unmixed evil is perhaps almost certain; and the only 
question in my view that presents itself to statesmen is, first, 
whether the measure itself be right, independent of its conse- 



392 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

quences; and, secondly, whether those consequences may be 
such as render it inexpedient, because inhuman in other par- 
ticulars, to do what is right. 

There was a period in our own time when there was but 
one opinion upon the question of right. The men who fought 
through the Revolution, those who survived its peril and shared 
in its glory, and who were called to the convention by which 
the Constitution of the United States was drafted and recom- 
mended to the adoption of the American people, almost without 
exception thought that slavery was not only an evil to any 
people among whom it might exist, but that it was an evil of 
the highest character, which it was the duty of all Christian 
people, if possible, to remove, because it was a sin as well as 
an evil. 

Its recognition in the Constitution (for it is idle, as I 
think, to deny that it is there recognized), the authority given 
by implication to a trade which might lead to its increase by 
immigration, was not because a large majority of the members 
of the convention, and a large majority of the people of the 
United States in the mass favored the institution, but because 
they believed that without provisions of that description it 
would be diflScult to have a Union adopted. Whether they were 
right or wrong it is now useless to inquire. Judging by what 
was occurring at the time, it is possible, and perhaps even 
more than probable, that they were right; but, if they made 
a mistake as to that fact, if the Union could have been adopted 
without the recognition of the institution in the government 
which formed it, if its gradual extirpation could have been 
provided for, no one who is a spectator of the scenes around 
us will now fail to regret that it had not been done. 

My private opinion has ever been that slavery is an evil. 
But in the public situation in which I now stand I have deemed 
it my duty to recognize the binding and paramount authority 
of the Constitution, to yield my moral convictions to the obli- 
gation of that instrument, and not to esteem myself as excus- 
able or justified in construing it by any views of morality 
which I might entertain, or in construing out of it any pro- 
visions that might be found in it inconsistent with such views. 
With these views, I appeal to the authority of the Constitution 
itself as a justification for the vote which I shall give upon 
this measure. 

I shall not stop to inquire whether slavery produced the 
war or not. One thing, in my judgment, is perfectly clear, 
^ow that that war is upon us, that a prosperous and perma^ 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 393 

nent peace can never be secured if the institution is permitted 
to survive; and will it not survive unless a measure like that 
upon your table shall receive the sanction which the Constitu- 
tion requires? That brings me to inquire into the legality and 
the effect of the other means by which it is proposed to get 
rid of it. 

First, can it be accomplished by the President Y He does not 
claim for himself — ^he has not gone to that extent — ^the author- 
ity to abolish slavery except as an incident of the military 
power with which in the state of civil war in which we are 
engaged he is vested as Commander-in-chief of the army. The 
Supreme Court has asserted, what cannot be denied, because 
your own legislation had recognized its existence, and because 
the fact, independent of that recognition, was apparent, that 
a state of war did exist. But in so saying, and in meeting 
the objection that, although in one sense it was a war, yet in 
another sense it was a mere rebellion in which each one of 
the parties concerned in the seceded States was committing 
from day to day, and as often as he denied the authority of 
the United States and attempted to maintain his denial by 
force of arms, treason, they said that these parties were not 
the less to be considered as enemies because they were traitors. 

The Supreme Court never pretended and never intimated, 
as I read their opinion, that the existence of that belligerent 
relation terminated all the civil obligations which the citizens 
of the seceded States were under to the Government of the 
United States; but, on the contrary, announced it as the in- 
evitable inference, from the statement which I have just made, 
that in their view they were enemies although traitors; that, 
although they were enemies ; they were not less so because they 
were traitors; that in point of fact, as the parties then stood, 
there was due from each one of the citizens or inhabitants of 
the seceded States an allegiance and an obligation to fulfill it, 
and of course to observe the laws and jrield to the authority 
of the United States, which, at the end of the war, if that 
end should be so successful as to reinstate the Government of 
the United States in authority, might proceed against them 
under the laws of the land as traitors, and in the sense of the 
Constitution which defined the crime of treason. 

It would be monstrous, Mr. President, as I think, if it were 
otherwise. There are now — I think the number has been less- 
ened, and it is due to truth, as I think, so to state, by the policy 
which has been adopted in the prosecution of the war — ^but 
there are now in the rebellious States hundreds and thousands 



394 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

of citizens just as devoted to the Union as any member of the 
Senate, and just as anxious to see its authority restored as any 
member of this body. These are entitled, therefore, to the pro- 
tection of the Government. Their obedience in point of fact 
and their ostensible obedience to the eye of the power which is 
around them, in itself a government de factOf is an obedience 
which they have no power to resist, and upon the well-estab- 
lished principles of the laws of nations is an obedience in which 
there is no crime. 

If it be true that it is a legal exercise of a belligerent right 
to manumit the slaves of the enemy, one thing is perfectly 
certain as a proposition equally applicable to a civil war, which 
in this aspect, with reference to the power which it confers 
on the President, stands precisely in the condition in which his 
power stands in the case of an international war, that he has 
no practical power to effect the manumission of slaves belong- 
ing to the enemy where he has not the physical power to attain 
that result. The President never uttered a truth more abso- 
lutely sound than when he stated that a proclamation of manu- 
mission or of freedom could have just as much effect upon 
the slaves of the enemy as a popish bull would have upon 
the course of a comet. All, therefore, in my view, that can be 
accomplished by means of presidential power derived from his 
being by the Constitution placed at the head of the armies of 
the United States in this war is that, if he can get the slave 
under the control of the Union, he can manumit him. 

If these slaves come to the standard of the United States, 
or if that standard is carried within the territorial limits of 
the foe and the slaves are there within its control, discharged 
actually from the domination of their masters, the proclamation 
which declares them free may, and I am inclined to think will, 
have that effect. But just as sure as anything in the future 
can be said to be sure is it, in my judgment, that, if the war 
was to terminate without any provision being made for the 
condition of the slaves who have not come within the actual 
control of the military authority of the United States, they 
will be decided by the courts of the United States to be slaves 
still. 

It is evident that the tendency of the President 's own mind 
led to that result. In his proclamation of amnesty he says, in 
effect: When I offer to you an amnesty, coupled with the 
condition not only that you are to support the Constitution of 
the United States and the laws made in pursuance of the 
Constitution by Congress, but that you are to support any 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 395 

proclamations that may have been or may hereafter be issued 
by the Executive from time to time, I am willing that you 
shall take that oath subject to the right of having that question 
decided judicially in the future. 

Second, can emancipation be accomplished by the legislative 
power? It is true that the Congress of the United States by 
the Constitution is clothed with an authority to declare war; 
and it is maintained that, under the authority to declare war, 
slaves may be emancipated. That may be true ; but it may not 
be true so as to do away with the necessity of the measure 
upon your table. They may be emancipated, quo modoP The 
power, like whatever emancipating power the President may be 
clothed with under his authority as Commander-in-chief ex- 
ecuting the war power, is limited by the practical exercise of 
that war power. How far do your troops go? Against whom 
are they fighting? Get the slaves under the protection of your 
standard, and, if you think proper then is the time (and 
before then you are impotent to accomplish it), make them 
free; but until then the effort to accomplish it by the mere 
exercise of legislative authority, in my judgment, is just as 
futile as the effort to accomplish it by the mere exercise of 
executive authority. 

That is not all. In order to gain the end which, in com- 
mon with a majority of the Senate, I have at heart, the aboli- 
tion of slavery by means of the exercise of this legislative war 
power must go a step further and show that it is a power 
which may be exerted over the loyal as well as the disloyal 
States. Will that proposition bear examination? The Con- 
stitution of the United States, as we all know, in a state of 
peace gives no power to any branch of the Government of the 
United States to interfere with slavery in the States. A few 
wild men, carried away by some loose and undefined notions 
of human liberty with which the Constitution does not deal, 
think that they find, in the principles of the Declaration of 
Independence and in the great principles which were the object 
for establishing the Constitution of the United States, prin- 
ciples so inconsistent with human slavery that the Constitu- 
tion not only does authorize the legislative department of the 
Government to put an end to it, but makes that the duty of 
the Government; or rather that it is so inconsistent with the 
principles upon which the Government is founded that the 
judiciary, if called upon to decide, will decide that there can 
be no human slavery. I will not stop to examine that. I as- 

^"In what mannerf' 



396 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

sume what, with the exception of a few persons to whom I 
have just alluded, has been the universal opinion — ^the opinion 
pronounced by the convention which nominated the present 
incumbent of the presidential chair, over and over again an- 
nounced on the floor of Congress, announced upon the floor of 
Congress by overwhelming majorities since this rebellion com- 
menced — ^that with the existence of human slavery in the States 
the Constitution of the United States in a time of peace has 
nothing whatever to do. If in time of war, the (Government 
of the United States may in a certain condition of things effect 
the object of freeing slaves, putting an end to the institution 
under the military power, it can only be in those cases and 
against those people against whom they have a right to exert 
their power. Because one or more States have seceded and 
have carried their secession to an extent that they have become 
belligerents in a certain sense toward the United States, what 
right have the United States, in the exercise of the power which 
they are authorized to wield for the purpose of putting down 
the rebellion and reinstating the authority of the (Government, 
to interfere with the loyal States of Maryland, or Kentucky, or 
Missouri ? Have they any right to declare war upon Maryland, 
or upon either of the other States that I have named t Cer- 
tainly not; and, if so far from having the authority to carry 
on war against a loyal State they are carrying on the war 
against the disloyal States by means of the power of the 
loyal States, including Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, 
it is a contradiction in terms that in the exercise of that war 
power they can, as against themselves, against the loyal States, 
exert an authority incident alone to the war power, when the 
war power itself is applicable alone to a state of war. 

There remains a third method of emancipation — ^by an amend- 
ment to the Constitution. Now it is said it cannot be done in 
that mode. The honorable member from Kentucky [Mr. Davis], 
if I understand him correctly, in the very elaborate speech 
which he delivered upon the subject a few days since, full of 
all the learning which belongs to the question and pregnant 
with a very ingenious application of that learning, seems to 
think that there is something in the admitted sovereignty of 
the States which is inconsistent with the authority of the people 
of the United States to amend the Constitution so as to trench 
at all upon the existing authority of the States. The honor- 
able member from Delaware [Mr. Saulsbury] takes another 
ground, and that is that, as slaves are made property by the 
laws of the States, that property, like every other description 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 897 

of property, is not the subject of government interference, ex- 
cept as that interference may be necessary for its protection. 
Now, a word or two upon each objection. 

The honorable member from Kentucky is right in saying 
that in a certain sense the States are sovereign; but, if he 
means by that to say that the United States in another sense 
are not equally sovereign, he is mistaken. The school of which 
Mr. Calhoun was the head, and the antecedent school by whose 
teachings he professed to be governed, that which had for its 
head Mr. Madison, seemed to have been under the impression, 
and unfortunately succeeded in inculcating it upon the public 
mind too strongly for the peace of the country, the safety and 
prosperity of his own section, that the only sovereignty was 
that which belonged to the States. There never was a greater 
political heresy. The States, in the first place, were never 
disunited. As one they declared independence. As one they 
fought and conquered the independence so declared. As one, 
in order to make that independence fruitful of all the blessings 
which they anticipated from it, they made the Constitution 
of the United States. They met in convention, they adopted 
the Constitution in convention, and recommended it not to the 
States in the capacity of States, not to the governments of 
the States as governments, but to the people of the States for 
their adoption; and they could have submitted it in no other 
way. Any other mode of laying it before the country would 
have been inconsistent with the preamble to the instrument, 
which states that :'*: is the work of the people as contradistin- 
guished from the States. How the people were to assemble, 
where they were to assemble, what influences were to govern 
them in deciding for or against the Constitution is immaterial 
When they once decided in its favor, the people of each State 
agreed as a people with the people of every other State that 
that should be the form of government. They consented in 
adopting the Constitution as a people that the Constitution, if 
adopted by the people of nine States, should be the Constitu- 
tion of the people of those States in the aggregate. 

So said the Supreme Court of the United States in the case 
of McCulloch vs. The State of Maryland in the opinion given 
by Mr. Chief Justice Marshall. So said the same court in the 
opion given, and it was the unanimous opinion, in the case of 
Booth V8. The United States by the present Chief Justice. 
They both announced as the clear operation of the Constitution, 
and as a fact ever to be borne in mind in construing the Con- 
stitution of the United States, that it was the adoption of the 



398 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

people of the United States, and that the sovereignty of the 
United States to the extent of the powers conferred upon the 
Government of the United States, and the sovereignty conferred 
upon the governments of the States by the people of the States 
respectively, was precisely the same and no more than it would 
have been if they had been framed and adopted at the same 
time. That is to say, each State, except so far as the people 
as a people had gone with other people in depriving themselves 
of the powers with which they were antecedently clothed, had 
no authority, as long as that other Constitution remained, to 
take any step inconsistent with the powers conferred by that 
Constitution ; or, in the language of the court, that each, within 
the sphere of the authority with which it was clothed, was 
supreme. There was no absolute sovereignty; that is to say, 
there was no sovereignty coextensive with the whole scope of 
political power belonging to the government of either; but 
each was invested with a portion of the sovereignty which the 
people might create, and each therefore within the extent of 
the portion allowed it was to the extent of that portion supreme. 
Now a word or two in answer to the honorable member 
from Delaware. He says that, vnth reference to the Constitu- 
tion of the United States, the institution of slavery is not 
within the amendatory clause, because, with reference to the 
Government of the United States, it is not a subject for polit- 
ical interference. Let me ask the honorable member, and he 
can answer it hereafter if he thinks proper, could human slav- 
ery have been abolished by the Constitution originally ? I sup- 
pose no one will doubt that. Then why is it that it cannot be 
done now under the clause which gives to the people of the 
United States the authority to amend the Constitution? It 
can only be that it has been taken entirely out of the scope 
of governmental power, the scope of the political power of the 
people, because it was not abolished by the Constitution. Why, 
Mr. President, what says the preamble to the Constitution? 
That justice itight be established; that tranquillity might be 
preserved ; that the common defence and general welfare might 
be maintained; and, last and, chief of all, that liberty might 
be secured. Is there no justice in putting an end to human 
slavery ? Is there no danger to the tranquillity of the country 
in its existence? May it not interfere with the common de- 
fence and general welfare? And, above all, is it consistent 
with any notion which the mind of man can conceive of human 
liberty? The very clause under which we seek to put an end 
to the institution, the amendatory clause, may have been, and 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 399 

in all probability was, inserted into the instrument from a 
conviction that the time would come when justice would call 
so loudly for the extinction of the institution that her call 
could not be disobeyed, when the peace and tranquillity of the 
land would demand in thunder tones the destruction of the 
institution as inconsistent with such peace and tranquillity ; and 
when the sentiment of the world would become shocked with 
the existence of a condition of things in the only free govern- 
ment upon the face of the globe as far as the white man is 
concerned, and founded upon principles utterly inconsistent 
with any other form of government than a government which 
secures freedom. 

On the following day Senator Saulsbury replied to 
Senator Johnson's argument based on the preamble of 
the Constitution. He said that a preamble to any in- 
strimient was effective in constniing the meaning of the 
body of the instrimient only when the latter was doubt- 
ful, and that the body of the Constitution was clear and 
plain upon the relative powers of the Federal Govern- 
ment and the States. But, accepting Senator Johnson's 
view of the bearing of the preamble of the Constitution 
upon the license allowed in the emendation of that in- 
strument, he said: 

That, because this Constitution was ordained ''to form a 
more perfect Union, to establish justice, insure domestic tran- 
quillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general 
welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty," it does not follow 
that any such amendment as this can be made, because the 
instrument itself shows for whom these blessings were intended 
to be preserved — ^to us and to our posterity. What connection 
had the slave population of the United States with the formar 
tion of this Constitution? Did they constitute any part of "us 
and our posterity" in the contemplation of the framers of this 
instrument T Not at all. Without elaborating this idea, I sub- 
mit that no just or legitimate argument can be drawn from 
the preamble of the Constitution that the Congress of the 
United States have authority to propose this amendment, or 
that it would become binding in consideration of the ratification 
of three-fourths of the States. 

John P. Hale [N. H.] followed Senator Saulsbury. 



400 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

Our friends who oppose this resolution die hard, very hard. 
I remember reading that when the British Parliament sat in 
judgment upon Charles I, and sentenced him to lose his head, 
they were apprehensive that when it came to the last, and he 
was actually required to bow down and put his head under the 
axe, he might resist, and the Commons, with great prudence and 
prescience, had prepared pulleys and machinery by which, if 
he resisted, he should actually be drawn under the axe and his 
head severed from his body. That is history that I think is 
not without its teaching in the present day. I think that the 
judgment has gone forth that slavery must die. The commons 
have passed that sentence; and I tell you, sir, that, if slav- 
ery is refractory, and does not quietly submit, the Commons 
will prepare pulleys by which to bring the victim under the 
axe. 

Mr. President, permit me to say that this is a day when 
the nation is to commence its real life, a day when the nation 
is to be disembarrassed of the inconsistencies which have marked 
its history and its career. 

Sir, what is the truth t We have had upon the pages of 
our public history, our public documents, and our public rec- 
ords some of the sublimest truths that ever fell from human 
lips; and there never has been in the history of the world a 
more striking contrast than we have presented to heaven and 
earth between the grandeur and the sublimity of our profes- 
sions and the degradation and infamy of our practice. That 
day is to pass away, and to pass away, I trust, right speedily. 

But I desire to say a word, in all sincerity and in all kind- 
ness, to those gentlemen who still linger here, the representa- 
tives, or rather the administrators de bonis non,^ of what was 
once the old Democratic party. [Laughter.] They pretend to 
think — and I am not the man to stand here and say they do not 
believe what they pretend to believe — ^that it is in their power, 
if they had the control, to save the country and restore the 
Union. I am willing to concede, for the purposes of all that 
I have to say, that they actually believe it; that that is their 
faith; and I apprehend, from some things that have fallen 
from some gentlemen even in this neighborhood, that my hon- 
orable and venerable friend from Kentucky [Mr. Davis] is 
not far from entertaining similar opinions, that the Democratic 
party might, by some possibility, save the country and save 
the Union; and, what is more than all that, save themselves, 
too. Sir, it is a delusion, an utter delusion. Let me ask their 

*"0f no goods.'' 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 401 

attention for a moment or two to some considerations which 
induce me to believe that it is an utter delusion. 

How can they do it? Patrick Henry, the great orator of 
the Revolution — ^no offence to Massachusetts [laughter] — said 
that he knew of no other lamp to guide his feet but the light 
of experience. Taking that as a maxim or as a text, let me 
ask what there is in the history of this Democratic party that 
gives countenance to the idea that by any possibility, even if 
they had everything their own way, they could save the country 
and save the Union? This rebellion, revolution, or whatever 
you please to call it — I believe it has been judicially decided 
that we are not at war — commenced under James Buchanan, a 
Democratic President. They had a Democratic Senate, a Demo- 
cratic House of Representatives, a super-Democratic Supreme 
Court of the United States, and a large majority of all the 
officers of every organization, moral and physical, in the coun- 
try, including the army and navy and ministers. They could 
not keep the peace with all that. They lost it. Nay, more than 
that, they had a little love feast of their own down at Charles- 
ton; there was no Abolitionist, no Federalist there to vex and 
plague them; and they could not keep family peace. They 
could not keep national peace, and they could not keep family 
peace, but split, broke, went asunder, every man his own way, 
and the present is the result of it. 

How are they going to do any better now than they did 
then? They lost eleven States at one slide that they had 
then. They are all gone ; and I say it with great respect and great 
kindness to them they have lost, besides, pretty nearly every 
respectable man they had in the free States that gave charac- 
ter and stability to their party. I need not go out of the 
Senate chamber to prove that. Well, sir, they have lost all 
that; and now, in the days of their dissolution and weakness, 
when their preaching here sounds in one respect something 
similar to that of John the Baptist — ^''the voice of one crying 
in the wilderness'' [laughter] ; for there is only here and there 
one of them — ^they are still impressed with that insane delusion 
that if they had the power they could save the country and 
save the Union and save themselves. 

It is said to be a hard thing for an individual to find out 
when his mental faculties begin to fail him. It is not difficult 
for him to find out when his physical strength fails him, but it 
is very rare that a man finds out when his mental vigor begins 
to fail him. I suppose what is true of individuals is true of 
parties and of collections of men. But let me ask my friendSi 

VI— M 



402 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

do they not feel in their own experience that the day of the 
strength of the Democracy has departed, that it has gone or 
is going? It seems to me that they must. I appeal, then, to 
all who hear me, is it not the part of wisdom to submit 
to what is inevitable? Charles I did not compel the Commons 
to put the pulleys on to haul him under the axe; but when 
he found the axe was up and that the Commons had decreed 
that his head should go under it and the axe should come 
down, like a sensible and well-bred gentleman as he was, he 
put his head under. 

Mr. President, what is to be cannot be avoided ; and if there 
is any one thing which, it seems to me, the indications from 
every side everywhere teach us, it is that the day of this power is 
over ; and there is no indication more conclusive of it than the 
Christian and statesmanlike effort made by the honorable Sena- 
tor from Maryland yesterday. I ask everybody who hears me, do 
you not rejoice that the day has come ? Are you not glad that this 
nation, blind and deaf so long to the teachings of history and 
the commands of Ood, has at length aroused itself from its 
lethargy, listened to the voices which heaven and earth, (Jod 
and nature, are proclaiming, and is preparing to put itself in 
alliance with the Power which cannot be resisted and whose 
fiat will most surely be executed. 

Whenever, unconditionally and without equivocation, we 
come up to the mark and place ourselves on the high standard 
of Christian duty, and resolve that, despite of all extraneous 
circumstances, of all doubtful contingencies, of all questions of 
expediency, we will place ourselves firmly upon the everlasting 
rock of duty and our action shall be in accordance with our 
conscientious convictions, then, and not till then, will that pil- 
lar of cloud by day and of fire by night which led the chosen 
people from the house of bondage to the land of promise be 
ours. Then we shall indeed and in truth be worthy of our 
genealogy and our history. Then the sublime teachings of the 
Pilgrim Fathers, who left everything behind them that they 
might come hither and plant in this wilderness a temple of 
liberty and throw wide open its doors for the oppressed of 
earth to enter and be at rest — ^then will all that be realized. 
Then without shame, without reproach, and without apology, 
we can stand in this nineteenth century, soldiers of the new 
civilization and of an old Christianity, going forth to battle 
with every impulse of our hearts and every purpose that we 
entertain in full accordance with the best wishes and hopes of 
the good on earth and of the God in heaven; when we take 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 403 

this position and take it firmly and ably, then and not until 
then shall we triumph; then and not till then shall we see the 
beginning of the end. 

Mr. President, let me say one word more. When the Savior 
of man, with the ^3rmpathy and pathos with which He loved 
the chief city of His native land, wept over Jerusalem His 
lamentation was, ''If thou hadst known in this thy day the 
things that belong to thy peace!" Sir, that is what this nation 
ought to know; that is what the nation ought to understand. 
It is what I believe; and by a vigorous prosecution of this 
measure we shall evidence to heaven and earth that we do 
understand and mean to perform the things which belong to 
our nation's peace. 

On April 8 Charles Sumner [Mass.] closed the 
debate in a long and brilliant speech in favor of the 
amendment. 

Under the influences of the present struggle for national 
life, and in obedience to its incessant exigencies, the people 
have already changed, and in nothing so much as slavery. Old 
opinions and prejudices have dissolved, and that traditional 
foothold which slavery once possessed has been gradually weak- 
ened until now it scarcely exists. Naturally this change must 
sooner or later show itself in the interpretation of the Con- 
stitution. But it is already visible even there, in the conces- 
sion of powers over slavery which were formerly denied. The 
time, then, has come when the Constitution, which has been so 
long interpreted for slavery, may be interpreted for freedom. 
This is one stage of triumph. Universal emancipation, which 
is at hand, can be won only by complete emancipation of the 
Constitution itself, which has been degraded to wear chains so 
long that its real character is scarcely known. 

Sometimes the concession is made on the ground of militiiry 
necessity. * The capacious war powers of the Constitution are 
invoked, and it is said that in their legitimate exercise slavery 
may be destroyed. There is much in this concession ; more even 
than is imagined by many from whom it proceeds. It is war, 
say they, which puts these powers in motion; but they forget 
that wherever slavery exists there is perpetual war — ^that slav- 
ery itself is a state of war between two races, where one is for 
the moment victor — pictured accurately by Jefferson when he 
described it as ''permitting one-half of the citizens to trample 
on the rights of the other, transforming those into enemies and 



404 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

these into despots." Therefore, wherever slavery exists, even 
in seeming peace, the war power may be invoked to pat an 
end to a condition which is internecine, and to overthrow pre- 
tensions which are hostile to every attribute of the Almighty. 
But it is not on military necessity alone that the concession 
is made. There are many who, as they read the Constitution 
now, see its powers over davery more clearly than before. The 
old superstition is abandoned; and they join with Patrick 
Henry when, in the Virginia convention, he declared that the 
power of manumission was given to Congress, (1) in the '' gen- 
eral welfare" clause. He did not hesitate to argue against the 
adoption of the Constitution because it gave this power. And 
shall we be less perspicacious for freedom than this Virginia 
statesman was for slavery T Discerning this power, he confessed 
his dismay; but let us confess our joy. 

2. Next comes the clause, ''Congress shall have power to 
declare war, to raise and support armies, to provide and main- 
tain a navy." A power like this is from its very nature un- 
limited. In raising and supporting an army, in providing and 
maintaining a navy. Congress is not restrained to any par- 
ticular class or color. It may call upon all and authorize that 
contract which the Government makes with an enlisted soldier. 
But such a contract would be in itself an act of manumission; 
for a slave cannot make a contract. And if the contract be 
followed by actual service, who can deny its completest eflScacy 
in enfranchising the soldier-slave and his whole family T Shake- 
speare, immortal teacher, gives expression to an instinctive 
sentiment when he makes Henry V, on the eve of the battle of 
Agincourt, encourage his men by promising, 

''For he to-day that sheds his blood with me 
Shall be mj brother; he he ne'er so vHe 
This day shall gentle his condition,*^ 

3. There is still another clause: ''The United States shall 
guarantee to every State in this Union a repubUcan form of 
governments* But the question recurs. What is a republican 
form of government? John Ad-^ms, in the correspondence of 
his old age, says: 

"The customarj meanings of the words republic and commonwealth 
have been infinite. Thej have been applied to every government under 
heaven; that of Turkey and that of Spain, as well as that of Athens and 
of Rome, of Geneva and San Marino.'' — John Adams's Works, VoL 10, 
p. 378. 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 405 

But the guaranty of a republican form of government must 
have a meaning congenial with the purposes of the Constitu- 
tion. Evidently it must be construed so as to uphold the Con- 
stitution according to all the promises of its preamble, and Mr. 
Madison has left a record showing that this clause was originally 
suggested in part by the fear of slavery. But no American 
need be at a loss to designate some of the distinctive elements 
of a republic according to the idea of American institutions. 
These will be found first in the Declaration of Independence, by 
which it is solemnly announced "that all men are endowed by 
their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these 
are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." And they will 
be found, secondly, in that other guaranty and prohibition of 
the Constitution, in harmony with the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence; *'no person shall be deprived of life, liberty , or prop- 
erty without due process of law.** Such are some of the essen- 
tial elements of a "republican form of government," which 
cannot be disowned by us without disowning the very muni- 
ments of our liberties; and it is these which the United States 
are bound to guarantee. But all these make slavery impossible. 
It is idle to say that this result was not anticipated. It would 
be, then, only another illustration that our fathers "builded 
wiser than they knew." 

4. But, independent of the clause of guaranty, there is the 
clause just quoted, which in itself is a source of power; "no 
person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without 
due process of law." This was a part of the amendments to 
the Constitution proposed by the first Congress, under the 
popular demand for a Bill of Rights. Brief as it is, it is in 
itself alone a whole Bill of Rights. Liberty can be lost only 
by "due process of law," words borrowed from the old liberty- 
loving common law. 

Such is the protection which is thrown by the Constitution 
over every "person," without distinction of race or color, class 
or condition. There can be no doubt about the universality 
of this protection. Its natural meaning is plain; but there is 
an incident of history which makes it plainer still, excluding 
all possibility of misconception. A clause of this character was 
originally recommended as an amendment by two slave States 
— North Carolina and Virginia — ^but it was restrained by them 
to freemen, thus: "No freeman ought to be deprived of his 
life, liberty, or property but by the law of the land.** But 
when the recommendation came before Congress the word "per- 
son" was substituted for "freeman," and the more searching 



406 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

phrase, "due process of law," was substituted for *'the law of 
the land." In making this change, rejecting the recommenda- 
tion of two slave States, the authors of this amendment re- 
vealed their purpose, that no person wearing the human form 
should be deprived of Uberty without due process of law ; and 
the proposition was adopted by the votes of Congress and then 
of the States as a part of the Constitution. Clearly on its face 
it is an express guaranty of personal liberty and an express 
prohibition against its invasion anywhere. 

In the face of this guaranty and prohibition — for it is both 
— ^how can any ''person" be held as a slave? But it is some- 
times said that this provision must be restrained to places 
within the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Government.' 
Let me say frankly that such formerly was my own impression, 
often avowed in this Chamber; but I never doubted its com- 
plete efiScacy to render slavery unconstitutional in all such 
places, so that "no person" could be held as a slave at the 
national capital or in any national territory. Constitutionally 
slavery has always been an outlaw wherever that provision 
of the Constitution was applicable. Nobody doubted that it 
was binding on the national courts, and yet it was left unexe- 
cuted — ^a dead letter, killed by the predominant influence of 
slavery, until at last Congress was obliged by legislative act to 
do what the courts had failed to do, and to put an end to 
slavery in the national capital and national Territories. 

But there are no words in this guaranty and prohibition 
by which they are restrained to any exclusive jurisdiction. 
They are broad and general as the Constitution itself ; and since 
they are in support of human rights they cannot be restrained 
by any interpretation. There is no limitation in them, and 
nobody now can supply any such limitation without encounter- 
ing the venerable maxim of law, Impitis ac crudelis qui 
Uhertati non favet — ^''Impious and cruel is he who does not 
favor liberty." Long enough courts and Congress have merited 
this condemnation. The time has come when they should merit 
it no longer. The Constitution should become a living letter 
under the predominant influence of freedom. It is this con- 
viction which has brought petitioners to Congress, during the 
present session, asking that the Constitution shall be simply 
executed against slavery and not altered. Ah ! sir, it would be 
a glad sight to see that Constitution, which we have all sworn 
to support, interpreted generously, nobly, gloriously for free- 
dom, so that everywhere within its influence the chains should 
drop from the slave. If it be said that this was not antici- 



THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT 407 

pated at the adoption of the Constitution, I remind you of 
the words of Patrick Henry at the time when he said, ''the 
paper speaks to the point.*' No doubt. It does speak to the 
point. Cicero preferred to err with Plato rather than to think 
right with other men. And pardon me if, on this occasion, 
when my country is in peril from slavery, and when human 
rights are to be rescued, I prefer to err with Patrick Henry, 
the contemporary of the Constitution, rather than to think 
right with Senators who hesitate against slavery. 

But all these provisions are something more than powers; 
they are duties also. And yet we are constantly and painfully 
reminded in this Chamber that pending measures against slav- 
ery are unconstitutional. Sir, this is an immense mistake. 
Nothing against slavery can be unconstitutiondL It is only 
hesitation which is unconstitutional. 

And yet slavery still exists — in defiance of all these require- 
ments of the Constitution; nay, more, in defiance of reason 
and justice, which can never be disobeyed with impunity — ^it 
exists, the perpetual spoiler of human rights and disturber of 
the public peace, degrading master as well as slave, corrupting 
society, weakening government, impoverishing the very soU it- 
self, and impairing the natural resources of the country. Such 
an outrage, so offensive in every respect, not only to the Con- 
stitution, but also to the whole i^stem of order by which the 
universe is governed, is plainly a national nuisance, which, for 
the general welfare and in the name of justice, ought to be 
abated. But at this moment, when it menaces the national 
life, it will not be enough to treat slavery merely as a nuisance ; 
for it is much more. It is a public enemy and traitor wherever 
it shows itself, to be subdued, in the discharge of solemn guar- 
anties of Government and of personal rights, and in the exer- 
cise of unquestionable and indefeasible rights of self-defence. 
All now admit that in the rebel States it is a public enemy and 
traitor, so that the rebellion may be seen in slavery, and slav- 
ery may be seen in the rebellion. But slavery throughout the 
country, everywhere within the national limits, is a living unit, 
one and indivisible — so that even outside the rebel States it is 
the same public enemy and traitor, lending succor to the rebel- 
lion, and holding out ''blue lights" to encourage and direct its 
operations. But whether regarded as national nuisance or as 
public enemy and traitor, it is obnoxious to the same judgment, 
and must be abolished. 

If, in abolishing slavery, any injury were done to the just 
interests of any human being or to any rights of any kind. 



408 GREAT AMERICAN DEBATES 

there might be something ''to give us pause/' even against 
these irresistible requirements. But nothing of the kind can 
ensue. No just interests and no rights can suffer. It is the 
rare felicity of such an act, as well outside as inside the rebel 
States, that, while striking a blow at the rebellion, and assuring 
future tranquillity, so that the Rep