Page images
PDF
EPUB

United States shall guaranty to every State in the Union a republican form of government." If these words stood alone, the case would be clear; but it becomes clearer still, when we revert to the other clause, by which it is provided that “the Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution all powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States.” Now, since the guaranty is vested in the Government of the United States, it follows that Congress has the power for carrying it into execution. In Arkansas a republican government has been overthrown by rebellion. Congress must see that such government is restored ; and to this end it has all needful power. Congress, and not the President, must decide when the restoration has taken place.

5. There is also the President's Proclamation, which, by its very terms, necessarily implies the action of Congress. We have, first, the positive declaration that “whether members sent to Congress from any State shall be admitted to seats constitutionally rests exclusively with the respective Houses, and not to any extent with the Executive." But the language of the Proclamation and of the accompanying message plainly assumes that the Rebel States have lost their original character as States of the Union. Thus in one place the President says that “the loyal State governments of several States have for a long time been subverted." But if subverted, they no longer exist. In another place he proposes to "reinaugurate loyal State governments.” But a proposition to reinaugurate implies a new start. In another place he proposes to "reëstablish a State government which shall be republican.” But we do

[ocr errors]

not reëstablish a government continuing to exist. In another place he proposes to “set up” a State government in the mode prescribed. But whatever requires to be set up is evidently down. In another place he considers how to guaranty and protect "a revived State government.” But we revive only what is dead, or, at least, faint. There is still another place, where the President evidently looks to the possibility of a change of name, boundary, subdivisions, constitution, and general code of laws in the restored State. These are his identical words: “And it is suggested as not improper, that, in constructing a loyal State government in any State, the name of the State, the boundary, the subdivisions, the constitution, and the general code of laws, as before the Rebellion, be maintained.” Thus the President does not insist that even the name and boundary of a State shall be preserved. He contents himself with suggesting that it will not be “ improper” to preserve them “in constructing a loyal State government." Of course this suggestion of what is not improper implies necessarily that in his opinion even these great changes are within the discretion of the revived community.

I have called especial attention to the language of the President, because it constantly assumes, in a succession of phrases, that the Rebel States are in an abnormal condition, from which they are to be recovered or revived ; and since such recovery or revival can be consummated only by action of Congress, it is reasonable to infer that such was his expectation. At all events, the Proclamation, by repeated assumptions with regard to the Rebel States, testifies to the necessity of Congressional action.

We have already seen that Andrew Johnson declared the State of Tennessee "vacated” of all local government which we are bound to respect; and this language obviously harmonizes with that of the President. But Arkansas was in a similar situation.

Such are some of the arguments for the power of Congress. Others might be adduced; but I have said enough. The necessity of the case, reason, the authority of the Supreme Court, the Constitution, and the President's Proclamation, each and all, tend to the same conclusion, even without resorting to those war powers which are all within the reach of Congress. Yet if we glance at the latter, we find the power of Congress declared beyond question. There is nothing the President may do as commander-in-chief which Congress may not direct and govern, according to the authoritative words of Chancellor Kent:

Though the Constitution vests the executive power in the President, and declares him to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, these powers must necessarily be subordinate to the legislative power in Congress.

" 1

And these powers, vast as they are, when called into activity by the exigency of war or rebellion, become as constitutional as if specified precisely in a written text.

Mr. President, there is a saying of Antiquity applicable to this question : Make haste slowly. Do not fail to make haste; but let your haste be governed by wisdom and prudence. In making haste, do not sacrifice

1 Commentaries on Ainerican Law (6th edit.), Vol. I. p. 92, note a.

all safeguards for the future. In haste to welcome Senators from Rebel States, do not forget everything else : do not forget the principles of republican institutions, offended by the rule of a minority; do not forget the principles of justice among the States, shocked by admission of the fraction of a Rebel State to equality of power with loyal States; do not forget the disturbe? condition of the Rebel States, rendering the civil authorities subordinate to the military ; do not forget the necessity of a connecting link of legality between the old and the new; do not forget that commercial intercourse must be restored, and every ban of proclamation or statute removed, before representation can be allowed; and, still further, do not forget that the Rebel States, by their own acts, sustained by bloody war, have voluntarily placed themselves outside the pale of political association, until Congress shall recognize them again entitled to their original equality; but, above all, do not forget that there can be no recognition of a Rebel State, until its permanent tranquillity is assured by irreversible guaranties which no local power can disturb. Keep these things in mind, and then make haste.

Of course, when within the confines of a State the Rebellion is triumphantly subdued, and the great body of the people manifest an unmistakable loyalty,

when local elections are held according to ordinary municipal forms, — when laws, and not arms, prevail, - and when a government, republican in fact as in name, making Slavery forever impossible, under any form or pretence, is permanently established, - then will Congress, by proper legislative action, rejoice to welcome the newly constituted State to its equal share

in the National Government. But such welcome must not be precipitate. It can be offered only after most careful inquiry into the actual condition of things, and the assured conviction that the Rebel State has been newly constituted in fact as in name. And this caution is needed, not only for the good of the Union, but for the good of the State itself, which must be saved from premature responsibilities beyond the measure of its present powers.

Sir, it is much to be a State in full fellowship and equality with other States represented in these two Chambers, with a voice in the election of President and Vice-President, and with a star on the national flag. To be admitted into such prerogatives and privileges, a State must be “above suspicion,” and it must be able to use well all the great powers belonging to the State. But if a State is not yet "above suspicion,” and is not strong enough to stand alone, even against domestic disturbers, it cannot expect immediate recognition. It must wait yet a little longer, until, restored at last in character and in strength, it can do all the duties of a State, and with master-hand grasp that Ulyssean bow which pretenders strive in vain to bend.

Mr. President, I conclude as I began, with my heart's gratitude to those brave citizens who again in Arkansas lift the national banner. Let them not be disheartened. Their country is with them in all their perils and all their efforts, longing to receive them again into ancient fellowship and equality; but the time for this welcome has not yet come. Meanwhile let them remember that “they also serve who only stand and wait."

« PreviousContinue »