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MR.

BRECKENRIDGE'S OPPOSITION.

239

sition Views.

“The return of these vessels will add to the forces and one or two others. Their points of ex. for service in the Gulf and on the Atlantic coast ception, and their feelings regarding the coabout two hundred guns and two thousand five ercive course to be pursued towards the inhundred men."

surgent States, may be inferred from this abRegarding resignations in the Navy up stract of remarks made, July 10th, in the to that time (July 4th), the Report pre- Senate, by Mr. Polk: sented a less dishonorable record than the

“ The Senator spoke at some Army lists would show, of desertions and length in opposition to the res

Senator Polk's Oppodismissals from the service. Two hundred olution of justification and enand fifty-nine officers was the number named dorsement of the President, and referred to the moas having “resigned” their commissions or mentous character and preparations for war, which as having been dismissed the service, from are monstrous in character. The President made the 4th day of March.

this war when Congress was the only power which The Report succinctly referred to the vari- could make war. He contended that the President ous necessities of the service; to the steps ta- could not, by proclamation, create insurrection and

be arbiter of whether insurrection existed. The Con. ken in establishing efficiency; to the subject

stitution of iron floating batteries; to the slavers cap- in the matter of revenue, yet the President had

says no preference shall be given to States tured; to the Naval Academy, &c., &c.—the

gone far beyond that, and blockaded the ports of Secretary adding, in conclusion :

several States. Further, the President has increasIn discharging the duties that pertain to this

ed the army, when there was no law for it. The Department, and which have devolved upon it dur- President also suspended a writ of habeas corpus, ing the brief period it has been entrusted to my which even the king of England could not do. He hands, I have shrunk from no responsibilities; and honored the Chief-Justice (Taney) for his opposition if, in some instances, the letter of the law has been

to this assumption of authority. It is justified by transcended, it was because the public necessities the plea of necessity, but no necessity had been required it. To bive declined the exercise of any shown. Necessity is always the tyrant's plea, all powers but such as were clearly authorized and le

the world over. The President had even gone begülly defined, when the Government and the coun. yond that, and proclaimed martial law—a thing not try were assailed and their existence endangered, mentioned in the Constitution ; and the security of wonld have been an inexcusable wrong and a cow.

persons guaranteed by the Constitution had been ardly omission. When, therefore, the Navy was

violated. He could not approve of the acts of the caliel into requisition to assist not only in maintain President in thus violating the Constitution. The ing the Constitution and to help execute the laws, State of Missouri had obstructed no law whatever of but to contribute in upholding the Government it- the United States, and yet that State, under no prest]f against a great conspiracy, I did not hesitate, text of law, had been invaded by United States under your direction, to add to its strength and effi

troops from Iowa and Kansas. Mr. Polk then prociency by chartering, purchasing, building, equipo ceeded to argue that the President had no right to ping, and manning vessels, expanding the organiza invade a State, and no right to give the power to tion and accepting the tender of services from pat-proclaim martial law to a mere Captain. He then riotic individuals, although there may be no specific referred to the acts of Captain Lyon, and in some legal enactment for some of the authority that has detail to the occurrences in the city of St. Louis, been exercised."

which he characterized as illegal and unconstituAmong the early resolu- tional. He also referred adversely to the course of Opposition to the

tions introduced was one General Harney. He was willing to do anything to

covering the procedure of put a stop to this unholy war; he would do nothing the President and his Secretaries in meeting to continue it.” the uncontemplated dangers which had arisen These were, substantial

Mr. Breckenridge's during the interval of the sessions. This at- ly, the points made by oth

Opposition. tempted justification excited the violent op- ers in the two Houses who position in the Senate, of Powell and Breck- opposed the war. Kennedy, of Maryland, enridge, of Kentucky, Kennedy, of Maryland, strenuously regarded the suspension of the Polk, of Missouri; and, in the House, of habeas corpus act as an arbitrary, unconstituBurnett, of Kentucky, Vallandigham and tional, and unjustifiable exercise of ExecuPendleton, of Ohio, Wood, of New York, tive authority. Mr. Breckenridge, in his

President's courso.

speech of July 16th, elabo- enough, refer to the extraMr. Breckenridge's

Mr. Breckenridge's rated the points already ur- ordinary circumstances surOpposition.

Opposition. ged by his colleague (Pow- rounding the Presidentell, )and by the two Missouri Senators, (Johnson to the danger of the total subversion of the and Polk.) He declared against the constitu. Government-to the repudiation of that precious tional right of one branch of the Government to Constitution by those for whom he then claimed indemnify another branch for an unconstitu- its protection: all these did not enter into his tional or doubtful exercise of authority. His technical disquisition. It was enough that argument, on this head, was very strong. He the Constitution did not provide for its own assumed that the powers conferred on the preservation for him to demand that its powGovernment by the people of the States are ers could not be exceeded. His words were: the measure of its authority. These powers “Let Congress approve and ratify these acts, and are confided to different departments, and there may occur a necessity which will justify the their boundaries are determined. The Presi- President in superseding the law in every State in dent has rights and powers conferred, and this Union; and there will not be a vestige of civi the Legislative Department its powers, and authority left to rise against this usurpation of milithe Judicial Department its powers, and he tary power. But I deny this doctrine of necessity. denied that either can encroach on the other, violate the Constitution on the ground of necessity.

I deny that the President of the United States may or indemnify the other for usurpations of the The doctrine is utterly subversive of the Constipower conferred by the Constitution. Con

tution. It substitutes the will of one

man for gress has no more right to make constitu

a written Constitution. The Government of the tional the unconstitutional acts of the Presi- United States, which draws its life from the Condent than the President to make valid the stitution, does not rest upon an implied consent. acts of the Supreme Court encroaching on It rests upon an express and written consent, the Executive power, or the Supreme Court and the Government may exerciso such powers and to make valid an act of the Executive en- such only as are given in this written form of Gov. croaching on the Judicial power. The reso

ernment. The people of these States conferred on

this agent of theirs just such powers as they deemed lution of indemnity substantially declared that Congress may add to the Constitution necessary. All others were retained. The Consti

tution was made for all contingencies--for peace or take from it in a manner not provided by and for war; and they conferred all the power they that instrument; that a bare majority can

deemed necessary, and more cannot be assumed. by resolution make that constitutional which If the powers be not sufficient, still none others were is unconstitutional by the same authority; granted, and none others can be exercised. Will hence, in whatever view, the power granted this be denied? Is the idea to be advanced that all by the resolution was utterly subversive of Constitutional questions are to be made subordinate the Constitution.

entirely to the opinions and ideas that may prevail He proceeded to point out the several acts at the hour with reference to political unity? It has which he regarded as clearly unconstitutional. been held heretofore, and I thought it was axiomatic,

and received by the world, that the terms of the They were: 1st. The blockade.

Constitution of the United States were the measure

of power on the one side, and of obedience on the 20. The enlisting of men for the war.

other. Let us take care how we establish a princi. 34. Increasing the regular (standing) army.ple that, under any presumed stress of circumstan4th. Increasing the navy.

ces, powers not granted may be assumed. Tako 5th. Suspension of the habeas corpus act. care and do not furnish an argument to the world 6th. The promulgation of martial law. and history that it shall not respect that authori.

7th. The suppression of the freedom of ty which no longer respects its own limitations." speech and freedom of the press.

These words served as a

« Constitutional" To the substantiation of his opposition he text for all the treasonable

Rights of Traitors. threw himself entirely upon the constructive declamation afterwards utunconstitutionality of these several acts, and tered in the Northern States; and instances therefore denied the President's right to en- were not rare where this plea of the Consti. force them. The Senator did not, singularly | tutional inability of the Government to pro

THE PRESIDENT

NOT ENDORSED.

241

“ Constitutional”

tect itself were urged in -did not believe the right of suspension of

justification of the revolu- the writ of habeas corpus rested with the PreRights of Traitors.

tionists! Of course Mr. sident, nor that he had the power to increase Breckenridge on the 4th of July, 1861, was the standing army; but, for all that, he (Mr. with the South, heart and soul; and, without S.) thought the President acted for the best. doubt, he visited Washington to cripple legis- Thompson, of New Jersey, took the same view. lation so far as possible, but, more particular- The joint resolution of indemnity was not ly, to create those Constitutionalissues upon pressed to a vote in the Senate. There unwhich the party of which he was the leader might questionably existed a dislike to establish a rally and reorganize as a peace party. We are led precedent for extra-constitutional procedure, to conclude, from the course he soon afterward or for endorsing the arbitrary suspensive acts pursued, and from the revelations that have, of the President. Nevertheless, Congress did from time to time, been made, of the secret not fail to sanction his entire proceedings by proceedings of the conspirators, that Mr. its cheerful endorsement of his policy and Breckenridge's sole object in attending the views, by voting more men and money than extra session was to strike that key-note of he called for, by confirming his appointments, opposition to the Administration which and, finally, by inserting in one of its acts a should create a friendly element—a “Consti- clause which virtually gave the seal of indemtutional party”—for secession and revolution nity to the steps taken by the Executive. in the North. That he succeeded well was Mr. Breckenridge remarked upon the intropainfully apparent in the utterance of sympa- duction of the clause, by amendment, that he thy for the South, upon Constitutional grounds, recognized in it his “old friend”—the act of by certain journals and persons whose reite- indemnity. rated devotion to the Constitution was but a We need not here cite the proceedings of pusillanimous pretext to cover their own that extra session, That they were of a treason.

thoroughly warlike nature and well calcu. Comparatively little reply was made by the lated to meet the great crisis fully, the world friends of the Administration to this speech soon learned. There never was so great unaby the Kentucky Senator. Andrew Johnson, nimity in legislation. Even those of Tennessee, made the most lengthy defense tives" who stood by the Crittenden comproof the President offered. His argument was mise to the last, during the previous session one of loyalty rather than of technical consti- -even Mr. Crittenden himself-forgot all in tutional construction. The Union was in the patriotic purpose of sustaining the Addanger of subversion-treason was besieging ministration. The number of those who the Nation's Capital—the Constitution was sought to cripple war legislation were countcontemned — compromise was scoffed at - ed upon the fingers of the hand. therefore it was right for the President to No Congress legislated upon matters of have pursued the course he did in meeting greater moment. The emergency demanded the danger. It was for the good of the coun- talent of a high order to divert the mighty try, and that was all-sufficient for his defense, energies of the country from a peace to a war if, indeed, any defense were needed.

establishment. That talent was not wanting. Several members believ- Many minds in that Congress were fully ed the President did right qualified for the labors imposed upon it. The

in his forced measures, Treasury, the War and the Navy Depart. rather than that he acted strictly within the ments all were vivified, and sprang at once limits prescribed by the Constitution. Thus, into a vigor gratifying to all loyal heartón Mr. Sherman, of Ohio-a leading Republican discouraging to the disloyal.

conserva

The President not en.

dorsed.

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Taxation,

tion. The Tariff.

LONG-CONTINUED pros- polity, with which to make Opposition to

Opposition to Taxeperity under the benign in- party issues, and to divert

fluences of peace had not the people, in the absence rendered the American people indifferent to of more exciting subjects for the canvass. taxes and public burdens. On the contrary, For two generations prior to the year 1862, with growth in wealth the study of legisla- the people knew little or nothing of national tors has been to impose as few direct assess- taxes save by the slightly enhanced prices of ments as possible; and, at the hustings, he foreign importations; yet these goods, manuwas the most favored candidate who pro- factured by the half-paid labor of English claimed as his “platform” a reduction of taxes and French soil, were supplied to our people, and fiscal economy in the management of even with the tariff duty added, at such public affairs. Most unfortunate was it for prices as rendered them cheap for all. The the political standing of the office-seeker, if woman of 1860 must have been poor, indeed, his name had been associated with any enter- who could not sport her gown of silk and prise which should add, for its consumma- mantle of lace. When, therefore, the quess, tion, to the tax lists of the year.

tion of providing for the enormous expendiIn view of this sensibility on the question tures of war came to be discussed, increase of of direct taxes, our economists have tena- the tariff duty was deemed a feasible mode ciously adhered to the tariff principle, in pro- of securing fifty millions per annum—a sum viding for the expenses of the General Gov- which, if used to pay interest, might repreernment. The amounts annually required sent five hundred millions and a sinking fund were comparatively easy to obtain by this in- for its redemption. But, this representative direct mode of subtraction; whereas, if the sum was only the first conception of our natariff were abrogated and free trade pro- tional wants. While it might do to issue notes claimed, there would be no inconsiderable and bonds basedupon duties, it became a questrouble for the National Government to se- tion if the tariff would produce, under the cure its means of sustenance. In that event, depressing influences of war, sufficient to the expense account of every vessel in the meet the rapidly maturing principal and innavy would be overhauled by the people; terest of the old debt, much less provide for every army ration would pass under their the large semi-annual per centum of new obscrutiny; every Government employee would ligations. And, after awhile, when the rehave his hours of labor and his wages bellion dragged its slow length along, and promptly regulated by the trades' standard; was not suppressed—when five hundred millaccountability would be affixed to every con- ions per year represented the cost of the Untract and contractor; in fact, Government ion, Americans, for the first time in the hiswould be crippled by a system of economy, tory of the Republic, had to meet the dreadwhich, though having its virtues, would soon ed responsibility of a great national debt. restrict the energies and paralyze the pres- The old adage---“misery loveth company" tige so necessary in every commanding —was verified, in this case; for our people and power. The tariff offered all the revenue re- journalists were not long in discovering that, quired, while it encouraged several petty ques- should the debt accumulate at the rate inditions in political, commercial and industrial cated, we still should find other Governments

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The Public Debt.

498
75
20

498 78 20 168

165

8,784

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France

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66

Holland...

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Prussia,

723 682 590 309

Denmark
Greece.....

265

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deeply indebted

Receipts. Expenses.

Spain.. than ourselves, with vast

Portugal.. !y less resources to draw upon than here Greece.. were available. This, though offering a con

Turkey soling thought, did not bring relief from the

7,963 apprehension growing in strength daily, viz.: Multiplying each amount by 200,000, (the number of dollars

in a million of francs,) we have the sum reduced to dollars. that the country must become burdened with

These are current receipts and expendia debt which it would require years of exaction and depression to discharge. This ap- edness of each Government.

tures, not providing for the standing indebt

The same auprehension, though not groundless, still af- thority fixes this indebtedness at these figures : forded no just cause for alarm. Alarmists in

Great Britain...

19,791 millions. 1861-62 consisted of two classes, namely:

10,627 secret sympathizers with the South, and those Russia

6,440

6,000 who, professing loyalty, filled the ears of their Austria.

Spain..

3,874 constituents with exaggerated estimates of

2,269 evils to low from the war, thus repressing Italy

2,195 enthusiasm and, in various ways, giving Gov- Germany (small states)..

2,103

1,047 ernment but a qualified support. It will be

Portugal..
well for us to recur to the question of our Turkey.
ability to sustain a war of magnitude, in or-

Belgium
der to demonstrate the actual strength of the
country, and thus to prove how groundless Sweden
bave been the fears of bankruptcy and ruin Norway
which afforded a sounding theme to the two

Switzerland.
classes named above.

Giving a grand total of fifty-seven thousand
A comparative statement millions of francs, or something like twelve
ForeignGovernments.

of the indebtedness of other thousand millions of dollars !
countries will not be unin-

The financial condition
teresting, while it will offer us the strength of Great Britain alone af-
of the inferential proposition, viz.: that, if fords data for useful esti-
those countries, with their resources, can sus-

mates. In spite of the enormity of her intain their loads of indebtedness, the United debtedness, and her increasing annual exStates, with its almost boundless means, is penditures, that Government is steadily and prepared to carry an equal or greater burden effectually clearing off its old obligations. of debt with less assistance from home and It is being done by taxation, of course; in foreign capital.

the wealth and energies of a people lie all M. Kolb, a German statist, gives us, in his the resources of recuperation. McCullough work on the condition of Europe in 1860, the estimates the amount of burdens imposed following table of the receipts and expenses upon the British people to be so admirably of the several Kingdoms--(the figures repre

levied as to consume one fifth of the income senting millions of francs):

of every inhabitant of the three countries—a Receipts. Expenses. statement which would seem incredible were

1,073 1,703 it not placed beyond question. The secret 1,800

1,800

of the success in obtaining the enormous 1,034

1,114
788 amount yearly required, without exciting the

494 people to revolt, is found in the nicelyGermany (small states)..

635 balanced dissemination of the tax over the Italy.... Switzerland......

field of available wealth. But a small porBelgium

145 tion of the revenue is obtained from assessNetherlands.

168 ments on property. Of the taxes of all kinds

collected for 1860, amounting to £70,809,977, Norway

26 land and assessed taxes produced only

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