Page images
PDF
EPUB

DIVISION V.

CHAPTER I

EXTRAORDINARY SESSION OF THE FEDERAL CONGRESS. MESSAGE

OF THE PRESIDENT. REPORTS OF THE SECRETARIES OF THE TREASURY, WAR AND NAVY. IMPORTANT LEGISLATION BY CONGRESS.

The President's Mes.

sage.

CONGRESS met in extra- | pied the Senate's attention up to the hour of Meeting of the Two Houses.

ordinary session at Wash- adjournment. The lower House spent the

ington, July 4th, according day in effecting an organization by the electo the Proclamation of April 15th. Both tion of a Speaker and Clerk. The balloting Houses organized at noon. The attendance resulted in the choice of Galusha A. Grow, of was quite full from twenty-four States, in- Pennsylvania, Republican, as Speaker. Emcluding, in the Senate, full delegations from erson Etheridge, Unionist, of Tennessee, was Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, and elected Clerk. one from Tennessee. In the House of Repre- The President's Message sentatives, one hundred and fifty-seven names and accompanying Departanswered the first roll-call. Matters for legis- ment Documents were sent lation were so well matured as to give pro- in on the 5th. The Message read as follows: mise of a brief session-all the most important / Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and bills having been perfected by a number of

House of Representatives : leading members who had been in Washing-- Having been convened on an extraordinary octon for several weeks prior to the 4th. In casion, as authorized by the Constitution, your atthe Senate, after organization, Mr. Wilson, tention is not called to any ordinary subject of

legislation. Chairman of the Committee on Military Af.

At the beginning of the present Presidential fairs, gave notice of the following bills :

term, four months ago, the functions of the Federal 1. A bill to ratify and confirm certain acts Government were found to be generally suspended of the President for the suppression of insur- within the several States of South Carolina, Georgia, rection and rebellion.

Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida, except2. A bill to authorize the employment of ing only those of the Post-office Department. volunteers for enforcing the laws and protect- “ Within these States all the forts, arsenals, dock. ing public property.

yards, custom-houses, and the like, including the 3. A bill to increase the present military movable and stationary property in and about them, establishment of the United States.

had been seized, and were held in open hostility to 4. A bill providing for the better organi- this Government, excepting only Forts Pickens, Tayzation of the military establishment.

lor and Jefferson, on and near the Florida coast, 5. A bill to promote the efficiency of the and Fort Sumter, in Charleston harbor, South Caro

lina. The forts thus seized had been put in imarmy. 6. A bill for organizing a volunteer militia proved condition ; new ones had been built, and

armed forces had been organized, and were organforce, to be called the National Guard of the izing, all avowedly with the same hostile purpose. United States.

“ The forts remaining in the possession of the The reading of these important acts occu- Federal Government in and near these States were

The President's Mes

sage.

either besieged or menaced by could not be thrown into that The President's Mes

warlike preparations, and espe. fort within the time for his relief, sage.

cially Fort Sumter was nearly rendered necessary by the limitsurrounded by well-protected, hostile batteries, with ed supply of provisions, and with a view of holding guns equal in quality to the best of its own, and possession of the same, with a force of less than outnumbering the latter as perhaps ten to one. A twenty thousand good and well-disciplined men. disproportionate share of the Federal muskets and This opinion was concurred in by all the officers of rifles had somehow found their way into these his command, and their memoranda on the subject States, and had been seized to be used against the were made inclosures of Major Anderson's letter. Government. Accumulations of the public reve- The whole was immediately laid before Lieutenantnue, lying within them, had been seized for the General Scott, who at once concurred with Major same object. The Navy was scattered in distant Anderson in opinion. On reflection, however, he seas, leaving but a very small part of it within the took full time, consulting with other officers, both immediate reach of the Government. Officers of of the Army and of the Navy, and, at the end of the Federal Army and Navy had resigned in great four days, came reluctantly, but decidedly, to the numbers; and of those resigning, a large propor

same conclusion as before. He also stated at the tion had taken up arms against the Government. same time that no such sufficient force was then at Simultaneously, and in connection with all this, the the control of the Government, or could be raised purpose to sever the Federal Union was openly and brought to the ground within the time when the avowed. In accordance with this purpose, an or provisions in the fort would be exhausted. In a dinance had been adopted in each of these States, purely military point of view, this reduced the duty declaring the States, respectively, to be separated of the Administration in the case to the mere matter from the National Union. A formula for instituting of getting the garrison safely out of the fort. a combined Government of these States had been “ It was believed, however, that to so abanden promulgated; and this illegal organization, in the that position, under the circumstances, would be character of Confederate States, was already invok utterly ruinous; that the necessity under whieh it ing recognition, aid and intervention from foreign was to be done would not be fully understood ; that powers.

by many it would be construed as a part of a col. * Finding this condition of things, and believing untary policy; that at home it would discourage it to be an imperative duty upon the incoming Exe. the friends of the Union, embolden its adversaries, cutive to prevent, if possible, the consummation and go far to insure to the latter a recognition of such attempt to destroy the Federal Union, a abroad ; that, in fact, it would be our National de choice of means to that end became indispensable. struction consummated. This could not be allowed. This choice was made, and was declared in the In- Starvation was not yet upon the garrison; and ere augural Address. The policy chosen looked to the pit would be reached, Fort Pickens might be reenexhaustion of all peaceful measures, before a resort forced. This last would be a clear indication of to any stronger ones. It sought only to hold the poluy, and would better enable the country to ac. public places and property not already wrested cept the evacuation of Fort Sumter as a military nefrom the Government, and to collect the revenue ; cessity. An order was at once directed to be sent relying for the rest on time, discussion and the bal- for the landing of the troops from the steamship lot-box. It promised a continuance of the mails, Brooklyn into Fort Pickens. This order could not at Government expense, to the very people who go by land, but must take the longer and slower were resisting the Government; and it gave repeat- route by sea. The first return news from the order éd pledges against any disturbance to any of the was received just one week before the fall of Fort people, or any of their rights. Of all that which a Sumter. The news itself was that the officer com. President might constitutionally and justifiably do manding the Sabine, to which vessel the troops had in such a case, everything was forborne, without been transferred from the Brooklyn, acting upon which it was believed possible to keep the Govern- some quasi armistice of the late Administration, (and ment on foot.

of the existence of which the present AdministraOn the 5th of March, (the present incumbent's tion, up to the time the order was dispatched, had first full day in office,) a letter of Major Anderson, only too vague and uncertain rumors to fix attencommanding at Fort Sumter, written on the 28th tion,) had refused to land the troops. To now reenof February, and received at the War Department force Fort Pickens, before a crisis would be reached on the 4th of March, was, by that Department, at Fort Sumter, was impossible, rendered so by the placed in his hands. This letter expressed the pro- near exhaustion of provisions in the latter named fessional opinion of the writer that reenforcements fort. In precaution against such a conjuncture, the

THE PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE.

227

Government had a few days be- | ly of man the question, whether
The President's Meg.

The President's Mes.
fore commenced preparing an a constitutional republic, or de-
sage.

sage. expedition, as well adapted as mocracy- 7-a Government of the might be, to relieve Fort Sumter, which expedition people by the same people--can, or cannot, maintain was intended to be ultimately used or not, according its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes. o circumstances. The strongest anticipated case for It presents the question, whether discontented indiusing it was now presented; and it was resolved to viduals, too few in numbers to control administrasend it forward. As had been intended in this con- tion, according to organic law, in any case, can altingency, it was also resolved to notify the Governor ways, upon the pretenses made in this case, or on of South Carolina that he might expect an attempt any other pretenses, or arbitrarily, without any prewould be made to provision the fort; and that, if tense, break up their Government, and thus practi. the attempt should not be resisted, there would be cally put an end to free government upon the earth. no effort to throw men, arms or ammunition, It forces us to ask : • Is there, in all republics, this without further notice, or in case of an attack upon inherent and fatal weakness!'«Must a governthe fort. This notice was accordingly given; ment, of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of whereupon the fort was attacked and bombarded its own people, or too weak to maintain its own exto its fall, without even awaiting the arrival of the istence ?' provisioning expedition.

“So viewing the issue, no choice was left but to “ It is thus seen that the assault upon and reduc- call out the war power of the Government; and so tion of Fort Sumter was in no sense a matter of to resist force employed for its destruction, by force self-defense on the part of the assailants. They well for its preservation. knew that the garrison in the fort could by no pos- “ The call was made, and the response of the sibility commit aggression upon them. They knew country was most gratifying, surpassing in unani--they were expressly notified—that the giving of mity and spirit the most sanguine expectation. Yet bread to the few brave and hungry men of the gar- none of the States, commonly called slave Slates, rison, was all which would on that occasion be at- except Delaware, gave a regiment through regular tempted, unless themselves, by resisting so much, State organization. A few regiments have been orshould provoke more. They knew that this Govern. ganized within some others of those States, by indiment desired to keep the garrison in the fort, not to vidual enterprise, and received into the Govern. assail them, but merely to maintain visible posses- ment service. Of course, the seceded States, so sion, and thus to preserve the Union from actual and called, (and to which Texas had been joined about immediate dissolution-trusting, as hereinbefore the time of the Inauguration,) gave no troops to stated, to time, discussion and the ballot-box, for the cause of the Union. The border States, so final adjustment; and they assailed and reduced the called, were not uniform in their action ; some fort for precisely the reverse object-to drive out of them being almost for the Union, while in others the visible authority of the Federal Union, and thus Las Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkforce it to immediate dissolution. That this was ansas--the Union sentiment was nearly repressed their object, the Executive well understood; and, and silenced. The course taken in Virginia was the having said to them, in the Inaugural Address, ' you most remarkable, perhaps the most important. A can have no conflict without being yourselves the Convention, elected by the people of that State to aggressors,' he took pains, not only to keep this de consider this very question of disrupting the Fed. claration good, but also to keep the case so free eral Union, was in session at the capital of Virginia from the power of ingenious sophistry that the world when Fort Samter fell. To this body the people should not be able to misunderstand it. By the had chosen a large majority of professed Union affair at Fort Sumter, with its surrounding circum

Almost immediately after the fall of Sumter, stances, that point was reached. Then and thereby many members of that majority went over to the the assailants of the Government began the conflict original disunion minority, and, with them, adopted of arms, without a gun in sight, or in expectancy to an ordinance for withdrawing the State from the return their fire, save only the few in the fort, sent Union. Whether this change was wrought by their to that harbor years before, for their own protec- great approval of the assault upon Sumter, or their tion, and still ready to give that protection in what great resentment at the Government's resistance to ever was lawful. In this act, discarding all else, that assault, is not definitely known. Although they have forced upon the country the distinct issue: they submitted the ordinance for ratification to a • Immediate dissolution or blood.'

[ocr errors]

vote of the people, to be taken on a day then some• And this issue embraces more than the fate of what more than a month distant, the Convention these United States. It presents to the whole fami- , and the Legislature, (which was also in session at the

men.

sage.

same time and place,) with lead. Other calls were made for The President's Meg

The President's Mere ing men of the State, not mem- volunteers to serve three years,

sage bers of either, immediately com- unless sooner discharged, and menced acting as if the State were already out of also for large additions to the regular army and navy. the Union. They pushed military preparations vig. These measures, whether strictly legal or not, were orously forward all over the State. They seized the ventured upon, under what appeared to be a popu. United States armory at Harper's Ferry and the lar demand and a public necessity; trusting then, Navy Yard at Gosport, near Norfolk. They re- as now, that Congress would readily ratify them. ceived-perhaps invited—into their State large It is believed that nothing has been done beyond bodies of troops, with their warlike appointments, the constitutional competency of Congress. from the so-called seceded States. They formally

“Soon after the first call for militia, it was con entered into a treaty of temporary alliance and co- sidered a duty to authorize the Commanding-Gen. operation with the so-called “Confederate States,' eral, in proper cases, according to his discretion, to and sent members to their Congress at Montgom- suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, ery. And finally, they permitted the insurrection- or, in other words, to arrest and detain, without reary Government to be transferred to their capital sort to the ordinary processes and forms of law, at Richmond.

such individuals as he might deem dangerous to the “The people of Virginia have thus allowed this public safety. This authority has purposely been giant insurrection to make its nest within her bor- exercised but very sparingly. Nevertheless, the leders; and this Government has no choice left but gality and propriety of what has been done under to deal with it where it finds it. And it has the less it are questioned, and the attention of the country regret, as the loyal citizens have, in due form, has been called to the proposition that one who is clamed its protection. Those loyal citizens this sworn to take care that the laws be faithfully exe. Government is bound to recognize and protect, as cuted,' should not himself violate them. Of course, being Virginia.

some consideration was given to the questions of “In the Border States, so called-in fact the power and propriety, before this matter was acted Middle States—there are those who favor a policy upon. The whole of the laws which were required to which they call .armed neutrality ;' that is, an arm- be faithfully executed,were being resisted, and failing of these States to prevent the Union forces pass. ing of execution in nearly one-third of the States. ing one way, or the disunion the other, over their Must they be allowed to finally fail of execution, even soil. This would be disunion completed. Figura had it been perfectly clear, that by the use of the tively speaking, it would be the building of an im- means necessary to their execution, some single law, passable wall along the line of separation-and yet, made in such extreme tenderness of the citizen's libnot quite an impassable one ; for, under the guise erty, that practically, it relieves more of the guilty of neutrality, it would tie the hands of the Union than of the innocent, should, to a very limited extent, men, and freely pass supplies from among them to be violated ? To state the question more directly, are the insurrectionists, which it could not do as an

all the laws but one to go unexecuted, and the Gov. open enemy. At a stroke, it would take all the ernment itself to go to pieces, lest that one be viotrouble off the hands of secession, except only what lated ? Even in such a case, would not the official proceeds from the external blockade. would do oath be broken, if the Government should be overfor the disunionists that which, of all things, they thrown, when it was believed that disregarding the most desire-feed them well, and give them dis- single law would tend to preserve it? But it was union without a struggle of their own. It recogni- not believed that this question was presented. It zes no fidelity to the Constitution, no obligation to was not believed that any law was violated. The maintain the Union; and while very many who provision of the Constitution that the privilege of have favored it are, doubtless, loyal citizens, it is, the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unnevertheless, very injurious in effect.

less when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the pub Recurring to the action of the Government, it lic safety may require it,' is equivalent to a provi. may be stated that, at first, a call was made for sev- sion--is a provision-that such privilege may be sus enty-five thousand militia ; and rapidly following pended when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the this, a proclamation was issued for closing the ports public safety does require i'. It was decided that of the insurrectionary districts by proceedings in the we have a case of rebellion, and that the publio nature of blockade. So far all was believed to be safety does require the qualified suspension of the strictly legal. At this point the insurrectionists an- privilege of the writ, which was authorized to be nounced their purpose to enter upon the practice made. Now it is insisted that Congress, and not of privateering.

the Executive, is vested with this power. But the

TIE PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE.

229

sage.

Constitution itself is silent as to ciency. One of the greatest The President's Mes.

The President's Megwhich, or who, is to exercise the perplexities of the Government sage.

power ; and as the provision is to avoid receiving troops fastwas plainly made for a dangerous emergency, it can

er than it can provide for them. In a word, the peonot be believed the framers of the instrument intend ple will save their Government, if the Government ed that, in every case, the danger should run its course itself will do its part only indifferently well. until Congress could be brought together; the very

It might seem, at first thought, to be of little assembling of which might be prevented, as was in difference whether the present movement at the tended in this case, by the rebellion.

South 'be called secession' or 'rebellion. The “No more extended argument is now offered, as

movers, however, well understand the difference. an opinion, at some length, will probably be pre- At the beginning, they knew they could never raise sented by the Attorney-General. Whether there their treason to any respectable magnitude by any shall be any legislation upon the subject, and if

name which implies violation of law. They knew any, what, is submitted entirely to the better judg. their people possessed as much of moral sense, as ment of Congress.

much of devotion to law and order, and as much “ The forbearance of this Government had been pride in and reverence for the history and Govern80 extraordinary, and so long continued, as to lead ment of their common country, as any other civilsome foreign nations to shape their action as if they ized and patriotic people. They knew they could supposed the early destruction of our National Un. make no advancement directly in the teeth of these ion was probable. While this, on discovery, gave strong and noble sentiments. Accordingly they the Executive some concern, he is now happy to commenced by an insidious debauching of the pubsay that the sovereignty and rights of the United lic mind. They invented an ingenious sophism, States are now everywhere practically respected which, if conceded, was followed by perfectly logby foreign Powers; and a general sympathy with ical steps through all the incidents, to the comthe country is manifested throughout the world.

plete destruction of the Union. The sophism itself “ The reports of the Secretaries of the Treasury, is, that any State of the Union may, consistently with War, and the Navy, will give the information in de the National Constitution, and therefore lawfully tail deemed necessary and convenient for your de- and peacefully, withdraw from the Union without liberation and action; while the Executive, and all

the consent of the Union or of any other State. the Departments, will stand ready to supply omis- The little disguise that the supposed right is to be sions, or to communicate new facts, considered im- exercised only for just cause, themselves to be the portant for you to know.

sole judge of its justice, is too thin to merit any no" It is now recommended that you give the legal | tice. means for making this contest a short and decisive “With rebellion thus sugar-coated, they have one ; that you place at the control of the Govern-, been dragging the public mind of their section for ment, for the work, at least four hundred thousand more than thirty years, and until at length they men, and $400,000,000. That number of men is have brought many good men to a willingness to about one-tenth of those of proper ages within the take up arms against the Government the day afler regions where, apparently, all are willing to en- some assemblage of men have enacted the farcical gage ; and the sum is less than a twenty-third part pretense of taking their State out of the Union, who of the money value owned by the men who seem could have been brought to no such thing the day ready to devote the whole. A debt of $600,000,000 before. noro is a less sum per head than was the debt of our “This sophism derives much, perhaps the whole, Revolution when we came out of that struggle; and of its currency from the assumption that there is the money value in the country now bears even a some omnipotent and sacred supremacy pertaining greater proportion to what it was then than does to a State to each State of our Federal Union. Our the population. Surely each man has as strong a States have neither more nor less power than that motive now to preserve our liberties as each had then reserved to them in the Union by the Constitutionto establish them.

no one of them ever having been a State out of the “A right resalt, at this time, will be worth more Union. The original ones passed into the Union to the world than ten times the men and ten times even before they cast off their British colonial dethe money. The evidence reaching us from the pendence; and the new ones each came into the country leaves no doubt that the material for the Union directly from a condition of dependence, exwork is abundant; and that it needs only the hand cepting Texas. And even Texas, in its temporary of legislation to give it legal sanction, and the hand independence, was never designated a State. The of the Executive to give it practical shape and effi- new ones only took the designation of States on

« PreviousContinue »