« PreviousContinue »
have laughed, I am sure, at the story told by Southey to illustrate this condition, where the traveller, asking how far it was to a place called “The Pan,” was answered directly, “ You be in the Pan now.” It seems to me, that, like the traveller, the doctor, and the butcher, you already have what you desire; so that, even according to your programme, the way is clear for insisting upon those other things embraced under “Security for the Future."
The Constitution of the United States decides that “the Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution,.... which shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States." On these words the simple question arises, What constitutes the quorum?
But the usage of the National Government in analogous cases has determined that the quorum is founded on the States actually participating in the Government. This has been decided in both Houses of Congress. The House of Representatives led the way in fixing its quorum according to actual representation, or, in other words, at “a majority of the members chosen.” 1 The Senate, after careful consideration and protracted debate, followed in establishing a similar rule. The Constitutional Amendment was adopted by both houses organized according to this rule. The national debt has been sanctioned by both houses thus organized. Treaties
1 Thirty-seventh Cong. 1st Sess., July 19, 1861: House Journal, p. 117; Cong. Globe, p. 210.
2 Thirty-eighth Cong. 1st Sess., May 4, 1864: Senate Journal, p. 401; Cong. Globe, p. 2087. See, ante, Vol. VII. pp. 169-175, Speech on the Constitutional Quorum of the Senate.
also with foreign powers have been sanctioned in the Senate thus organized.
Applying this rule, the quorum of States requisite for the ratification of the Constitutional Amendment is plainly three fourths of the States actually participating in the Government, or, in other words, three fourths of the States having “Legislatures.” Where a State has no Legislature, it may be still a State, but it cannot be practically counted in the organization of Congress; and I submit that the same rule must prevail in the ratification of the Constitutional Amendment. The reason of the rule is the same in each case. If you insist upon counting a rebel State, having no Legislature, you make a concession to rebellion. You concede to a mutinous State the power to arrest, it may be, the organization of Congress, or, it may be, amendments to the Constitution important to the general welfare. This is not reasonable. Therefore, on grounds of reason as well as usage, I prefer the accepted rule.
If this conclusion needed the support of authority, it would find it in the declared opinion of one of our best law-writers, who is cited with respect in all the courts of the country. I refer to Mr. Bishop, who, in the third edition of his " Commentaries on the Criminal Law,” published within a few days, discusses this question at length. In the course of his remarks he uses the following language: "If the matter were one relating to any other subject than Slavery, no legal person would ever doubt, that, when there are States with Legislatures and States without Legislatures, and the Constitution submits a question to the determination of
the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States,' the meaning is, three fourths of the States which have
Legislatures. In fact, it does not require either legal wisdom or legal acumen to see this, provided we look at the point disconnected from the peculiar subject of Slavery.”] The learned author then proceeds to illustrate this statement in a manner to which I can see no answer.
To my mind all this seems so plain that I am disposed to ask pardon for arguing it. Of course there is no question whether a State is in the Union or out of the Union. It is enough that it is without a Legislature, and on this point there can be no question. Being without a Legislature, it cannot be counted in determining the quorum.
Therefore, beyond all dispute, the Constitutional Amendment has been already ratified by the requisite number of States ; so that Slavery is now constitutionally abolished twice, - first, by the Proclamation of President Lincoln, under the war powers of the National Constitution; and, secondly, by Constitutional Amendment. It remains that we should provide supplementary safeguards, and complete the good work that has been begun, by taking care that Slavery is abolished in spirit as well as letter, and that the freedmen are protected by further needed guaranties. Without this additional provision, I see sinall prospect of that peace and reconciliation which are the object so near our hearts. I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
CHARLES SUMNER. Boston, 28th September, 1865.
i Vol. I. § 776, note.
SELF-SACRIFICE FOR THE COLORED RACE.
EQUESTRIAN STATUE OF COLONEL SHAW, FIRST COM
MANDER OF MASSACHUSETTS COLORED TROOPS.
ARTICLE IN THE Boston Daily ADVERTISER, OCTOBER 2, 1865.
HE two colored regiments enlisted, equipped, and
sent forth by Massachusetts have returned home and been mustered out. Officers and privates are now dispersed. The last music has died away. Of these two famous regiments, which made such a mark on the times, nothing now remains but the memory. This cannot die ; for it belongs to the history of a race. But all who went have not returned. The youthful hero, so gentle and true, who was selected by the Governor to command the Fifty-Fourth Regiment, fell at the head of his men on the very parapets of the Rebel enemy, and was buried in the sand with his humble companions in arms, - thus in death, as in life, sharing their fortunes. Family, parents, wife, were left to mourn. As was said of “Bonnie George Campbell,” in the beautiful Scotch ballad,
“ Hame cam' his gude horse,
But never cam' he."
Few who were in Boston at the time can forget that pleasant day in May, when this colored regiment, with
Colonel Shaw riding proudly at its head, passed by the State-House, where it had been equipped and inspired. Cheers and the waving of handkerchiefs greeted it. There were tears also. It was a joyous and a sad sight to see this new legion, acquired to the national service, promptly marching to its distant and perilous duty, under a commander who, turning away from the blandishments of life, consecrates himself to his country. Nor was another consecration forgotten. It was to the redemption of a race. Massachusetts had sent forth many brave regiments; but here was the first regiment of colored soldiers marshalled at the North. It was an experiment, destined to be an epoch. By the success of this regiment a whole race was elevated. As he went forth, it became less an incident of war than an act of magnanimity and moral grandeur. Sidney, who refused the cup of cold water, was one of our young hero's predecessors.
Not long after came tidings of the bloody assault on Fort Wagner, when, by an advance without parallel over an open beach, exposed to a storm of shot and shell, these new-made soldiers of a despised color, sleepless, dinnerless, supperless, vindicated their title as bravest of the brave. They had done what no other troops had done during the war. This was their Bunker Hill, and Shaw was their martyred Warren. Though defeated, they were yet victorious. The regiment was driven back; but the cause was advanced. The country learned to know colored troops, and they learned to know themselves. From that day of conflict nobody doubted their capacity or courage as soldiers. There was sorrow in Massachusetts as we were told how many had fallen, and that the beloved officer so