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the liberty of speech and of the press, the trial
to the Presidents's communication, whichi leply is now by jury, the law of evidence, and the habeas
laid before the public. At the request of the committee,
it was sent to the President by the officers of the meeting, corpus suffered no detriment whatever by the in a letter under their signatures, of which the following conduct of General Jackson, or its subsequent is a copy; approval by the American Congress.
"To His Fxcellency the President of the United States: And yet, let me say that in my own discre
"SIR:--The undersigned, officers of the public meeting tion I do not know whether I would have order
held in this city on the 16th day of May last, to whom
your communication of the 12th of this month, commented the arrest of Mr. Vallandigham. While I ing on the resolutions adopted at that meeting, was adcannot shift the responsibility from myself, I dressed, have the honor to send to your Excellency, a rehold that, as a general rule, the commander in ply to that communication by the committee who reported
the resolutions. The great importance to the people of the field is the better judge of the necessity in
this country of the questions discussed must be our apol. any particular case. Of course, I must prac-ogy, if any be needed, for saying that we fully concur in tice a general directory and revisory power in
this reply, and believe it to bein entire harmony with the
views and sentiments of the meeting referred to. the matter.
"We are, with great respect, truly yours, One of the resolutions expresses the opinion
“ERASTUS CORNING, President. of the meeting that arbitrary arrests will have [This was also signed by the entire Committee.] the effect to divide and distract those who
‘ALBANY, June 30, 1863.' should be united in suppressing the rebellion, To His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLX, President of the and I am specifically called on to discharge
to discharge United States : Mr. Vallandigham. I regard this as, at least, SIR-Your ansver, which has appeared in a fair appeal to me on the expediency of exer- the public prints, to the resolutions adopted at cising a constitutional power which I think ex- a recent meeting in the city of Albany, affirmists. In response to such appeal I have to say ing the personal rights and liberties of the it gave me pain when I learned that Mr. Val- citizens of this country, has been referred to landigham had been arrested-that is, I was the undersigned the committee who prepared pained that there should have
and reporteù those resolutions. The subject to be a necessity for arresting him and will now receive from us further attention, that it will afford me great pleasure to dis- which your answer seems to justify, if not to charge him as soon as I can by any means, be- invite. We hope not to appear wanting in the lieve the public safety will not suffer by it. I respect due to your high position, if we reply farther say that, as the war progresses, it ap- with a freedom and earnestness suggested by pears to me, opinion and action, which were in the infinite gravity and importance of the quesgreat confusion at first, take shape and fall into tion upon which you have thought proper to more regular channels, so that the necessity take issue at the bar of public opinion. for strong dealing with them gradually decreas- You seem to be aware that the constitution
I have every reason to desire that it should of the United States, which you have sworn to cease altogether, and far from the least is my protect and defend, contains the following regard for the opinions and wishes of those guarantees, to which we again ask yonr attenwho, like the meeting at Albany, declare their tion. (1 ) Congress shall make no law abridg- . purpose to sustain the government in every ing the freedom of speech or of the press.constitutional and lawful measure to suppress (2.) The right of the people to be secure in the rebellion. Still I must continue to do so their persons against unreasonable seizures much as may seem to be required by the pub- shall not be violated, and no warrant shall lic safety.
issue but upon probable cause, supported by
oath. (3.) No persons except soldiers and To which the committee replied in the fol- marines in the service of the government shall
be held to answer for a capital or infamous lowing
crime, unless on presentment or indictment of
a grand jury, nor shall any person be deprived Scathing and Conclusive Rejoinder.
of life, liberty or property, without due pro
cess of law. (4.) In all criminal prosecutions, At a public meeting held at the Capitol, in the city of the accused shall enjoy the right of a speedy Albany, on the 16th of May, 1863, to consider the arbitra
and public trial by an impartial jury of the ry arrest of Mr. Vallandigham, certain resolutions were
State or district in which the crime shall have adopted, copies of which were by the direction of the meeting, transmitted by its officers to President Lincoln, been committed, and to be confronted with the who, in a communication dated the 12th of June, 1863, witnesses against him. addressed to the gentlemen referred to, which has ap
You are also, no doubt, aware that, on the peared very generally in the public prints, discussed the resolutions and controverted certain positions which they adoption of the constitution, these invaluable maintained in regard to personal rights and constitutional provisions were proposed by the jealous cau. obligations.
tion of the states, and were inserted as amendOn the receipt of this communication, the Hon. Erastus Corning, chairman of the meeting referred to, addressed
ments for a perpetual assurance of liberty the President, informing him, in substance, that the against the encroachments of power From special duty assigned to the officers of the meeting had your earliest reading of history, you also know been fulfilled by sending the resolutions to his Excellency; that the great principles of liberty and law but adding that, in view of the importance of the principles involved, and the public interest which the matter which underlie these provisions were derived had assumed, he had deemed it proper to submit the Pres- to us from the British constitution. In that ident's letter to the committee who reported the resolutions, for such action as in their judgment it might demand. country they were secured by Magna Charta , The committee, having considered the subject, and
more than six hundred years ago, and they the questions at issue as of the gravest importance, replied I have been confirmed by many and repeated!
statutes of the realni. A single palpable vio- , or lost in time of war, when invasion or rebellation of them in England would not only ion exists. You do not, like many others in arouse the public indignation, but would en- whose minds reason and the love of regulated danger the throne itself. For a persistent liberty seem to be overthrown by the excitedisregard of them Charles the First was de- ments of the hour, attempt to base this concluthroned and beheaded by his rebellious sub- sion upon a supposed military necessity existjects.
ing outside of and transcending tàe constituThe fact has already passed into history that tion,-a military necessity behind which the the sacred rights and immunities which were constitution itself disappears in a total eclipse. designed to be protected by these constitution- We do not find this gigantic and monstrous al guarantees have not been preserved to the heresy put forth in your plea for absolute people during your administration. In viola- power, but we do find another equally subvertion of the first of them, the freedom of the sive of liberty and law, and quite as certainly press has been denied. In repeated instances tending to the establishment of despotism.-newspapers have been suppressed sin the loyal You claim to have found, not outside, but withstates, because they criticised, as constitution in the constitution, a principle or germ of arally they might, those fatal errors of policy bitrary power, which, in time of war, expands which have characterized the conduct of public at once into an absolute sovereignty, wielded affairs since your advent to power. In vioia- | by one man; so that liberty perishes, or is detion of the second of them, hundreds, and we pendent on his will, his discretion, or his capbelieve thousands, of men have been seized rice. This extraordinary doctrine you claim and immured in prisons and bastiles, not only to derive wholly from the clause of the constiwithout warrant upon probable cause, but with- tution which, in case of inyasion or rebellion, out any warrant, and for no other cause than a permits the writ of habeas corpus to be susconstitutional exercise of freedom of speech pended. Upon this ground your whole arguIn violation of all these guarantees, à distin- ment is based. guished citizen of a peaceful and loyal state You must permit us to say to you, with all has been torn from his home at midnight by a due respect, but with the earnestness demandband of soldiers, acting under the order of one ed by the occasion, that the American people of your Generals, tried before a military com- will never acquiesce in this doctrine. In their mission, without judge or jury, convicted, and opinion, the guarantees of the Constitution, sentenced without the suggestion of any offence which secure to them freedom of speech and of known to the constitution or laws of this coun- the press, immunities from arrest for offences try. For all these acts you avow yourself ul- unknown to the laws of the land, and the right timately responsible. In the special case of Mr. of trial by jury before the tribunals provided Vallandighain, the injustice commenced by by those laws, instead of military commissions your subordinate was consummated by a sen- and drum-head courts martial, are living and tence of exile from home pronounced by you. vital principles IN PEACE AND IN WAR, at all That great wrong more than any other which times and under all circumstances. No sophpreceded it, asserts the principles of a supreme istry or argument can shake this conviction, despotism.
nor will the people require its confirmation by These repeated and continued invasions of logical sequences and deductions. It is a conconstitutional liberty and private right have viction deeply interwoven with the instincts, occasioned profound anxiety in the public mind the habits, aud the education of our countryThe apprehension and alarm which they are The right to form opinions upon public calculated io produce have been greatly enhan- measures and men, and to declare those opinced by your attempt to justify them, because in ions by speech or writing, with the utmost latthat attempe you assume to yourself a rightful itude of expression; the right of personal libauthority possessed by no constitutional mon- erty unless forfeited according to established arch on earth. We accept the declaration that laws, and for offences previously defined by you prefer to exercise this authority with a law, the right, when accused of crime, to be moderation not hitherto exhibited. But, be- tried where law is administered and punishlieving as we do, that your forbearance is not ment is pronounced only when the crime is lethe tenure by which liberty is enjoyed in this gally ascertained; all these are rights instantly country, we propose to challenge the grounds perceived, without argument or proof. No reon which your claim of supreme power is based finement of logic can unsettle them in the While yielding to you as a constitutional mag- minds of freemen; no power can annihilate istrate the deference to which you are entitled, them, and no force at the command of any we cannot accord to you the despotic power Chief Magistrate can compel their surrender. you claim, however indulgent and gracious you So far as it is possible for us to understand may promise to be in wielding it.
from your language the mental process which We have carefully considered the grounds has led you to the alarming conclusions indicaon which your pretensions to more than legal ted by your communication, it is this: The authority are claimed to rest; and, if we do habeas corpus is a remedial writ, issued by not misinterpret the misty and clouded forms courts and magistrates to inquire into the cause of expression in which those pretensions are of any imprisonment or restraint of liberty; on set forth, your meaning is, that, while the the return of which and upon due examination rights of the citizens are proteeted by the con- the person imprisoned is discharged if the re stitution in time of peace, they are suspended | straint is unlawful, or admitted to bail if he ap
pears to have been lawfully arrested and held | President to suspend it during the present reto answer a criminal accusation. Inasmuch as bellion. That the suspension is a legislative, this process may be suspended in time of war, and not an executive act, has been held in you seem to think that every remedy for a false every judicial decision ever made in this and unlawful imprisonment is abrogated; and country, and we think it cannot be delegated from this postulate you reach at a single bound to any other branch of the government. But, the conclusion that there is no liberty under passing over that consideration, you have not the constitution which does not depend on the exercised the power which Congress attempted gracious indulgence of the Executive only. to confer upon you, and the writ is not susThis great heresy once established, and by this pended in any part of the country where the mode of induction, there springs at once into civil laws are in force. Now, inasmuch as your existence a brood of crimes or offences unde- doctrine of the arbitrary arrests and imprisonfined by any rule, and hitherto unknown to the ment of innocent men, in admitted violation of laws of this country; and this is followed by in- express constitutional guarantees, is wholly discriminate arrests, midnight seizures, mili- derived from a suspension of the habeas corpus, tary commissions, unheard of modes of trial, the first step to be taken in the ascent to absoand punishment, and all the machinery of ter- lute power ought to be to make it known to the ror and despotism. Your language does not people that the writ is in fact suspended, to the permit us to doubt as to your essential mean- end that they may know what is their condiing, for you tell us that
tion. You have not yet exercised this power, “arrests are not made so much for what has been done, as and, therefore, according to your own constifor what probably would be done."
tutional thesis, your conclusion falls to the And again:
It is one of the provisions of the constitution “The man who stands by and says nothing when the peril of his, government is discussed cannot be misunder- and of the very highest value, that no ex post stood. If not hindered (of course by arrest, ] he is sure to facto law shall be passed, the meaning of which help the enemy, and much more if he talks ambiguously, is, that no act which is not against the law -talks for his country with 'buts,' and 'ifs,' and ands.
when committed can be criminal by subsequent You also tell us that the arrests complained legislation. But your claim is, that when the of have not been made for the treason defined writ of habeas corpus is suspended, you may in the constitution," nor "for any capital or lawfully imprison and punish for the crime of otherwise infamous crimes, nor were the pro- silence, of speech and opinion. But, as these ceedings following in any constitution or legal are not offences against the known and estabsense criminal prosecutions." The very lished law of the land, the constitutional pringround, then, of your justification is, that the cipal to which we now refer plainly requires victims of arbitrary arrest were obedient to that you should, before taking cognisance of every law, were guiltless of any known and such offences, make known the rule of action, defined offense, and therefore were without the in order that the people may be advised in protection of the constitution. The suspension season, so as not to become liable to its penalof the writ of habeas corpus, instead of being ties. Let us turn your attention to the most intended to prevent the enlargement of arrest- glaring and indefensible of all the assaults ed criminals until a legal trial and conviction upon constitutional liberty, which have marked can be had, is designed, according to your doc- the history of your administration. No one trine, to subject innocent men to your supreme has ever pretended that the writ of habeas corwill and pleasure. Silence itself is punishable pus was suspended in the state of Ohio, where according to this extraordinary theory, and the arrest of a citizen at midnight, already restill more so the expression of opinions, how- ferred to, was made, and he placed before a ever loyal, if attended with criticisms upon the court martial for trial and sentence, upon policy of the government. We must respectful- charges and specifications which admitted his ly refuse our assent to this theory of cons-itu- innocence according to the existing laws of tional law. We think that men may be right this country. Upon your own doctrine, then, fully silent if they so choose, while clamorous can you hesitate to redress that monstrous and needy patriots proclaim the praises of those wrong? Powena
But, sir, we cannot acquiesce in your dog"ifs," and the bands,'' these are Saxon words mas that arrests and imprisonment, without and belong to the vocabulary of freemen. warrant or criminal accusation, in their nature
We have already said that the intuition of a lawless and arbitrary, opposed to the very free people instantly rejects these dangerous letter of constitutional guarrantees, can become and anheard of doctrines. It is not our pur- in any sense rightful by reason of a suspension pose to enter upon an elaborate and extended of the writ of habeas corpus . We deny that refutation of them. We submit to you, how the suspension of a single and peculiar remedy ever, one or two considerations, in the hope for such wrongs brings into existence new and that you will review the subject with the ear- unknown classes of offences, or new causes for nest attention which its supreme importance depriving men of their liberty. It is one of demands. We say, then, are you not aware the most material purposes of that writ to enthat the writ of habeas corpus is now suspended large upon bail persons who, upon probable in any of the peaceful and loyal states of the cause, are duly and legally charged with some Union. An act of Congress approved by you known crime, and a suspension of the writ was on the 3d of March, 1863, authorized the l never asked for in England nor in this country
except to prevent such enlargement when the the enlargement of the accused traitor or consupposed offence was against the safety of the spirator, until he shall be legally tried and government. In the year 1807, at the time of convicted or acquitted; but in this we find no Burr's alleged conspiracy, a bill was passed in justification for arrest and imprisonment withthe Senate of the United States, suspending out warrant, without cause, without the accuthe writ of habeas corpus for a limited time, sation or suspicion of crime. It seems to us, in all cases where persons were charged on oath that the sacred right of trial by jury, and in with treason or other high crime or misdemean- courts where the law of the land is the rule of or endangering the peace or safety of the gov- decision, is a right which is never dormant,
But your doctrine undisguisedly is, never suspended, in peaceful and loyal commuthat a suspension of this writ justifies arrests nities and states. Will you, Mr. President, without warrant, without oath, and even with maintain that, because the writ of habeas core out suspicion of treason or other crime. Your pus may be in suspense, you can substitute doctrine denies the freedom of speech and of soldiers and bayonets for the peaceful operathe press. It invades the sacred domain of tion of the laws, military commissions and inopinion and discussion. It denounces the Sifs” quisitorial modes of trial, for the courts and and "buts” of the English language, and even juries prescribed by the constitution itself? the refuge of silence is insecure.
And, if you cannot maintain this, then let us We repeat, a suspension of the writ of habeas ask where the justification is for the monstrous corpus merely dispenses with a single and pe- proceeding in the case of a citizen of Ohio, to culiar remedy against an unlawful imprison- which we have called your attention? We know ment; but, if that remedy had never existed, that a recreant Judge, whose name has dethe right to liberty would be the same, and scended to merited contempt, found the apoloevery invasion of that right would be condemn- gy on the outside of the supreme and fundaed not only by the constitution, but by princi- mental law of the constitution. But this is not ples of far greater. antiquity than the writ it- the foundation on which your superstructure of self. Our common law is not at all indebted power is built. to this writ for its action of false imprisonment, We have mentioned the act of the last Con. and the action would remain to the citizens if gress professing to authorize a suspension of the writ were abolished forever. Again: every the writ of habeas corpus. This act now deman, when his life or liberty is threatened mands your especial attention, because, if we without the warrant of law, may lawfully re- are not greatly in error, its terms and plain sist, and, if necessary in self-defence, may intention are directly opposed to all the argutake the life of the aggressor. Moreover, the ments and conclusions of your communication. people of this country may demand the im- That act, besides providing that the habeas corpeachment of the President himself for the pus may be suspended, expressly commands exercise of arbitrary power. And, when all that the names of all persons theretofore or these remedies shall prove inadequate for the thereafter arrested by authority of the Presiprotection of free institutions, there remains, dent, or his cabinet ministers, being citizens of in the last resort, the supreme right of revo- states in which the administration of the laws lution. You once announced this right with a has continued unimpaired, shall be turned over to latitude of expression which may well be con- the courts of the United States for the district in sidered dangerous in the present crisis of our which such persons reside, or in which their national history. You said:
supposed offenses were committed; and such "Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the
return being made, if the next grand jury atpower, have the right to saise up and shake off the exist-tending the court does not indict the alleged ing government and form a new one that suits them bet- offenders, then the Judges are commanded to ter. Nor is this right confined to cases where the people issue an order for their immediate discharge of an existing government may choose to exercise it.... Any portion of such people that can may revolutionize from imprisonment. Now, we cannot help ask. and make their own of so much of the territory as they ing wheather you have overlooked this law,
More than this, a majority of any portion of which most assuredly you are bound to obsuch people may revolutionize, putting down a minority intermingled with or near about them, who may oppose
serve, or whether it be your intention to distheir movements.”... Volume 19, Congressional Globe,. p.
Its meaning certainly cannot be
mistaken. By it the national legislature has Such were your opinions, and you had a said that the President may suspend the accusconstitutional right to declare them. If a citi- tomed writ of habeas corpus, but at the same zen now should utter sentiments far less dan- time it has commanded that all arrests under gerous in their tendency, your nearest mili- his authority shall be promptly made known to tary commander would consign him to a dun- the courts of justice, and that the accused pargeon, or to the tender mercies of a court mar- ties shall be liberated, unless presented by a tial, and you would approve the proceeding: grand jury according to the constitution, and
In our deliberate judgment, the constitution tried by a jury in the ancient and accustomed is not open to the new interpretation suggested mode. The President may, possibly, so far as by your communication now before us. We Congress can give the right, arrest without lethink every part of that instrument is harmo-gal cause or warrant. We certainly deny that nious and consistent. The possible suspension Congress can confer this right, because it is of the writ of habeas corpus is consistent with forbidden by the higher law of the constitution. freedom of speech and of the press. The sus. But, waiving that consideration, this statute, pension of the remedial process may prevent | by its very terms, promptly removes the pro
THIS COUNTRY WHICH CAN DISPENSE WITH
ceedings in every case into the courts where , military law." This was not so in Ohio, the safeguards of liberty are observed, and where Mr. Vallandigham was arrested. The where the persons detained are to be discharg- administration of the civil law had not been ed, unless indicted for criminal offences against disturbed in that commonwealth. . The courts the established and ascertained laws of the were open, and justice was dispensed with its country
accustomed promptitude. In the case of Judge Upon what foundation, then, permit us to Hall, Gen. Jackson in a few days sent him outask, do you rest the pretension that men who side of the line of his encampments and set are not accused of crime may be seized and him at liberty; but you have undertaken to imprisoned or banished at the will and plea- banish Mr. Vallandigham from his home. You sure of the President or any of his subordi- seem also to have forgotten that Gen. Jackson nates in civil and military positions? Where submitted implicitly to the judgment of the is the warrant for invading the freedom of court which imposed the fine upon him; that he speech and of the press? Where the justifica enjoined his friends to assent, tion for placing the citizen on trial without the “as ho most freely did, to the decision which had just been presentment of a grand jury and before milita- pronounced against him.”' ry commissions? THERE IS NO POWER IN
More than this, you overlook the fact that
the then administration (in the language of a The President is as much bound well-known author) -mildly but decidedly reby them as the humblest individual. We pray buked the proceedings of Gen. Jackson, and you to bear in mind, in order that you may that the President viewed the subject with duly estimate the feeling of the people on this "surprise and solicitude. Unlike President subject, that, for the crime of dispensing with Madison, you, in a case much more unwarranthe laws and statutes of Great Britain, our ancestors brought one monarch to the scaffold ted, approve the proceedings of your subordi
nate officer, and, in addition, justify your and expelled another from his throne. This power which you have erected in theory its support.
course by a carefully considered argument in is of vast and limitable proportions. If we
It is true that, after some thirty years, Conmay trust you to excrcise it mercifully and le
gress, in consideration of the devoted and patniently, your successor, whether immediate or more remote, may wield it with the energy of riotic services of Gen Jackson, refunded the
amount of the fine he had paid. But the long a Cæsar or Napoleon, and with the will of a
delay in doing this proved how reluctant the despot and a tyrant. It is a power without American people were to do anything which boundary or limit, because it procedes upon a could be considered as in any way approving total suspension of all the constitutional and the disregard shown to the majesty of the law, legal safeguards which protect the rights of the
even by one who so eminently enjoyed their citizen. It is a power not inaptly described in
confidence and regard. the language of one of your Secretaries. Said Mr. Seward to the British Minister in Wash-You expressed your regret that our meeting
One object more, and we shall conclude.-ington:
spoke as Democrats;?' and you say that, "I can touch a bell on my right hand and order the ar- Sin this time of national peril, you would have preferrest of a citizen of Ohio. I can touch the bell again, and red to meet us upon a level, one step higher than any parorder the imprisonment of a citizen of New York, and no ty platform, power on earth but that of the President can release them, Can the Queen of England, in her dominions, do as much? You thus compel us to allude to matters
which we should have preferred to pass This is the very language of a perfect des- by. But we cannot omit to notice your potism, and we learn from you, with profound criticism, as it casts, at least an implied reemotion, that this is no idle boast. It is a des- proach upon our motives and our proceedpotism unlimited in principle, because the same ings. We beg to remind you that when the arbitrary and unrestrained will or discretion hour of our country's peril had come, when it which can place men under illegal restraint or was evident that a most gigantic effort was to be banish them can apply the rack or the thumb- made to subvert our institutions and to overscrew, can put to torture or :o death. Not thus throw the government, when it was vitally imhave the people of this country hitherto un portant that party feelings should be laid derstood their constitution. No argurnent can aside, and that all should be called upon to commend to their judgment such interpreta- unite most cordially and vigorously to maintions of the great charter of their liberties. tain the Union; at the time when you were Quick as the lightning's flash, the intuitive sworn into' office as President of the United sense of freemen perceives the sophistry and States, when you should have urged your felrejects the conclusion.
low citizens in the most emphatic manner to Some other matters which your Excellency overlook all past differences and to rally in has presented demand our notice.
defence of their country and its institutions, In justification of your course as to Mr. Val- when you should have enjoined respect for the landigham, you have referred to the arrest of laws and the constitution, so clearly disregardJudge Hall at New Orleans by order of Gen. ed by the South; you chose for the first time, Jackson; but that case differs widely from the under like circumstances, in the history of our case of Mr. Vallandigham. New Orleans was country, to set up a party platform, called "the then, as you truly state, under “martial or Chicago platform" as your creed, to advance