« PreviousContinue »
the inhabitants thereof and the citizens of other States and other parts of the United States is unlawful, and will remain unlawful until such insurrection shall cease or has been suppressed”; and all goods, chattels, wares, and merchandise, coming from any of the enumerated States and proceeding to any other State by land or water, are made liable to forfeiture. And yet Arkansas, while still under the ban of a Presidential proclamation and a Congressional statute establishing nonintercourse with other States, asks representation in the National Government. Disqualified for trade with other States, it asks to govern them. The old practice is to be reversed. Thus far in history trade has preceded political power; now political power is to precede trade. Arkansas cannot send her merchants into the loyal States to buy and sell. Can she send representatives into this Chamber to vote ? Can she send electors into the Electoral College to choose a President ?
Such, Mr. President, are five distinct reasons, obvious to the most superficial observer, against recognizing any representation from Arkansas at this time: first, because the representation is founded on a minority; secondly, because any such representation, unjust in itself, is especially unjust toward the loyal States; thirdly, because the military occupation of Arkansas, and its exposed condition, are inconsistent with civil government; fourthly, because the present organization of Arkansas is without that legality of origin required by American institutions; and, fifthly, because it is absurd to admit a State to representation which is still, by solemn proclamation, shut out from commercial intercourse with the loyal States.
1 Statutes at Large, Vol. XII. p. 1262.
The argument thus far applies to the present case, without touching that other question, sometimes discussed, whether, in point of fact, Arkansas is still a State of the Union. Evidently, Arkansas may have preserved her place in the Union, and yet not be entitled at this moment to representation. She may be a State, but in a condition of political syncope or suspended animation. Or she may be under such abnormal influences as to render her, for the time being, incompetent to perform the functions of a State.
But if Arkansas, by reason of her Ordinance of Secession, and open participation in the war against us, has lost a place in the Union, it is manifest that the Senate cannot now admit the claimant to a seat as one of its members ; nor can it admit him at all, until Congress, by joint vote, has restored the State to its original position. The power to admit States into this Union, and, by consequence, the power to read mit them, are vested in Congress, to be exerted by joint resolution or act, with the concurrence of both Chambers and the approval of the President. Here I content myself with a statement. For the present I waive all consideration of the status of the seceded States. The argument is complete without it.
It is my desire to present this case on the facts, and not on any theory or hypothesis. I say nothing, therefore, on the question, what constitutes a State government in this Union; whether a State, by a process of suicide, may not cease to exist; whether a State may not by forfeiture lose its rights as a State; or whether, when the loyal government is overthrown, a State does not lapse into the condition of a Territory under Congressional jurisdiction, to be treated like other national
territory. All these questions I put aside. I choose to present the case of Arkansas on facts which nobody can question.
It is enough that the loyal authorities were overthrown, and there were no functionaries holding office under the State government bound by oath to support the Constitution of the United States; and since a State government is necessarily composed of such functionaries thus bound by oath, there was no State government we could recognize. Sir, does any Senator recognize the Rebel governor of Arkansas ? Does any Senator recognize the Rebel functionaries who held the offices of the State ? Of course not. It follows, then, that the offices were empty. And this was the practical conclusion of Andrew Johnson, when he began to reorganize Tennessee, in an address as early as 18th March, 1862. Here are his words :
“I find most, if not all, of the offices, both State and Federal, vacated, either by actual abandonment or by the action of the incumbents, in attempting to subordinate their functions to a power in hostility to the fundamental law of the State and subversive of her national allegiance.” 1
If the offices were vacated, the machine of government could not work. And now the practical question is, how this machine shall be again put in motion. Obviously, not by any power within, but by some power without.
It may be said that the new State organization is authorized by the President's proclamation of amnesty, and that the claimant's case stands good according to the promises of this exceptional paper. A glance is enough to dispel this pretension. True it is that the
1 Speeches, p. 455.
President put forward a plan for reorganizing loyal State governments in the Rebel territory, and he proffered a guaranty to these communities against domestic violence and Rebel invasion ; but he neither proposed nor promised any representation in Congress or in the Electoral College. Nor would such a proposition or promise by him have possessed the slightest validity; because, by the Constitution, "each House is to be the judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its own members.” This provision is inconsistent with any prerogative of the President over this question, even if such prerogative were not controlled by that other provision which reserves to Congress the power to admit new States into the Union.
The Proclamation declared, that, whenever, in any of the States of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina, a number of persons, not less than one tenth in number of the votes cast in such State at the Presidential election of 1860, each having taken the particular oath prescribed by the Proclamation, and not having since violated it, and being a qualified voter by the election law of the State existing immediately before its secession, and excluding all others, should reëstablish a State government which should be republican, and in no wise contravening the Proclamation oath, it should be recognized as the true government of the State, which should receive thereunder the benefits of the constitutional provision that “the United States shall guaranty to every State in this Union a republican form of government." Subsequently, in the same paper, the President declares “that whether members sent to Congress from any State shall be admitted to seats consti
tutionally rests exclusively with the respective Houses, and not to any extent with the Executive.” Nothing is said on the participation of such reorganized State in the approaching Presidential election, and the question seems left open for the judgment of Congress, to which it obviously belongs, to be settled by joint action.
It is plain, therefore, that the reorganization contemplated by the President was in nature provisional. It was not complete or permanent, but evidently looked to the action of the legislative power to determine representation, whether in Congress or in the Electoral College. Loyal governments might be established in the manner indicated for the conservation of local order, and these would be recognized and upheld provisionally by the military power. Considered from this point of view, and in the absence of Congressional action, the President's plan of reconstruction was, to a certain extent, proper, if not necessary, and very little obnoxious to objections sometimes brought against it. A handful of persons keeping their loyalty might justly look to the military power for support against a hostile majority. Such a handful might be allowed to set up a local government for the management of local affairs, and to assist the National Government in the work of restoration. All this is natural. But the limitation is clear. Admitting it right to authorize the establishment of a local government for the benefit of a handful of loyal persons in a Rebel State, it does not by any means follow that such local government can be entitled to representation in the National Government as a loyal unit, on an equality with the loyal States of the Union. The two questions are entirely different, and the latter was wisely left untouched by the Proclamation.