« PreviousContinue »
Elections in Virginia and Tennessee.
Material of the Armies.
in every one of the so-called seceded States. The contrary has not been demonstrated in any one of them. It is ventured to affirm this, even of Virginia and Tennessee, for the result of an election held in military camps, where the bayonets are all on one side of the question voted upon, can scarcely be considered as demonstrating popular sentiment. At such an election all that large class who are at once for the Union and against coercion would be coerced to vote against the Union. It may be affirmed, without extravagance, that the free institutions we enjoy have developed the powers and improved the condition of our whole people beyond any example in the world. Of this we now have a striking and impressive illustration. So large an army as the Government has now on foot was never before known, without a soldier in it but who has taken his place there of his own free choice. But more than this, there are many single regiments whose members, one and another, possess full practical knowledge of all the arts, sciences, professions, and whatever else, whether useful or elegant, is known in the whole world, and there is scarcely one from which there could not be selected a President, a Cabinet, a Congress, and perhaps a Court, abundantly competent to administer the Government itself. Nor do I say this is not true also in the army of our late friends, now adversaries, in this contest. But it is so much better the reason why the Government which has conferred such benefits on both them and us should not be broken up. Whoever in any section proposes to abandon such a Government, would do well to consider in deference to what principle it is that he does it. What better he is likely to get in its stead, whether the substitute will give, or be intended to give so much of good to the people. There are some foreshadowings on this subject. Our adversaries have adopted some declarations of independence in which, unlike our good old one penned by Jefferson, they omit the words, 'all men are created equal.' Why? They have
adopted a temporary National Constitution, in the preamble of which, unlike our good old one signed by Washington, they omit, We, the people,' and substitute, 'We, the deputies of the sovereign and independent States.' Why? Why this deliberate pressing out of view the rights of men and the authority of the people? This is essentially a people's contest. On the side of the Union it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of Government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life, yielding to partial and temporary departures from necessity. This is the leading object of the Government for whose existence we contend.
"I am most happy to believe that the plain people understand and appreciate this. It is worthy of note that while in this, the Government's hour of trial, large numbers of those in the army and navy who have been favored with the offices, have resigned and proved false to the hand which pampered them, not one common soldier or common sailor is known to have deserted his flag. Great honor is due to those officers who remained true despite the example of their treacherous associates, but the greatest honor and the most important fact of all, is the unanimous firmness of the common soldiers and common sailors. To the last man, so far as known, they have successfully resisted the traitorous efforts of those whose commands but an hour before they obeyed as absolute law. This is the patriotic instinct of plain people. They understand without an argument that the destroying the Government which was made by Washington means no good to them. Our popular Government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it our people have settled: the successful establishing and the successful administering of it. One still remains. Its successful maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to
demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an election, can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets, and that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided, there can be no successful appeal except to ballots themselves at succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace, teaching men that what they cannot take by an election, neither can they take by a war, teaching all the folly of being the beginners of
"Lest there should be some uneasiness in the minds of candid men as to what is to be the course of the Government toward the Southern States after the rebellion shall have been suppressed, the Executive deems it proper to say it will be his purpose then, as ever, to be guided by the Constitution and the laws, and that he probably will have no different understanding of the powers and duties of the Federal Government relatively to the rights of the United States and the people under the Constitution than that expressed in the Inaugural Address. He desires to preserve the Government that it may be administered for all, as it was administered by the men who made it. Loyal citizens everywhere have a right to claim this of their Government, and the Government has no right to withhold or neglect it. It is not perceived that in giving it there is any coercion, conquest or subjugation in any sense of these terms.
"The Constitution provided, and all the States have accepted the provision, 'that the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of government,' but if a State may lawfully go out of the Union, having done so, it may also discard the Republican form of Government. So that to prevent its going out is an indispensable means to the end of maintaining the guaranty mentioned; and when an end is lawful and obligatory, the indispensable means to it are also lawful and obligatory.
"It was with the deepest regret that the Executive found
Nature of the Message.
the duty of employing the war power. In defence of the Government forced upon him, he could but perform this duty or surrender the existence of the Government. No compromise by public servants could in this case be a cure, not that compromises are not often proper, but that no popular government can long survive a marked precedent, that those who carry an election can only save the Government from immediate destruction by giving up the main point upon which the people gave the election. The people themselves and not their servants can safely reverse their own deliberate decisions.
The War Power.
"As a private citizen the Executive could not have consented that these institutions shall perish, much less could he, in betrayal of so vast and so sacred a trust as these free people had confided to him. He felt that he had no moral right to shrink, nor even to count the chances of his own life in what might follow.
"In full view of his great responsibility, he has so far done what he has deemed his duty. You will now, according to your own judgment, perform yours. He sincerely hopes that your views and your actions may so accord with his as to assure all faithful citizens who have been disturbed in their rights, of a certain and speedy restoration to them, under the Constitution and laws; and having thus chosen our cause without guile, and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward without fear and with manly hearts. "July 4, 1861. ABRAHAM LINCOLN."
This document, it will be observed, sets forth in temperat language the facts bearing upon the rebellion in its then stage-facts so stated that the common people could readily comprehend the exact situation of affairs Such a message, always in place, was never more needed than at a juncture when-as seemed not altogether impossible to many-an appeal might yet have to be made again and again to the great mass of the people for men and money to maintain the
Action of Congress.
unity of the nation. It may be safely asserted, that the messages of none of our Presidents have been so generally read and so thoroughly mastered by the average mind, as those of Mr. Lincoln, himself the tribune of the people.
Congress granted five hundred millions in money, and directed a call for five hundred thousand volunteers for the army; made provisions for a popular national loan; revised the tariff; passed a direct tax bill; adopted measures, moderate in their scope, for the confiscation of rebel property; legalized the official acts of the President during the emergency in which the country had been placed; and the House of Representatives, with but two dissentients, passed the following resolution :
"Resolved, By the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States, That the present deplorable civil war has been forced upon the country by the disunionists of the Southern States, now in revolt against the Constitutional Government, and in arms around the capital; that in this national emergency Congress, banishing all feeling of mere passion or resentment, will recollect only its duty to the whole country; that this war is not waged on our part in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, nor purpose of authorizing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of the States, but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution, and to preserve the Union, with all the dignities, equality, and rights of the several States unimpaired, and that as soon as hese objects are accomplished the war ought to cease."
On the 21st of July, the Army of the Union, under the direct command of General McDowell, and the general supervision of the veteran Scott-from whose onward movement against the rebels in Virginia so much had been expectedmet with a serious reverse at Bull Run. They went forth, exulting in victory as certain; they came back a panic-stricken mob. For an instant, despondency took possession of every