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of the national struggle with the rebellion. The passage is too important to be abbreviated:
“It might seem, at first thought, to be of little difference whether the present movement at the South be called "secession," or “rebellion." The movers, however, will understand the difference. At the beginning, they knew they could never raise their treason to any respectable magnitude by any name which implies violation of law. They knew their people possessed as much of moral sense, as much of devotion to law and order, and as much pride in, and reverence for the history and government of their common country, as any other civilized and patriotic people. They knew they could make no advancement directly in the teeth of these strong and noble sentiments. Accordingly, they commenced by an insidious debauching of the public mind. They invented an ingenious sophism, which, if conceded, was followed by perfectly logical steps, through all the incidents, to the complete destruction of the Union. The sophism itself is, that any state of the Union may, consistently with the national Constitution, and therefore lawfully and peacefully, withdraw from the Union without the consent of the Union, or of any other state. The little disguise that the supposed right is to be exercised only for just cause, themselves to be the sole judges of its justice, is too thin to merit any notice.
“With rebellion thus sugar-coated they have been drugging the public mind of their section for more than thirty years, and until at length they have brought many good men to a willingness to take up arms against the government the day after some assemblage of men have enacted the farcical pretence of taking their state out of the Union, who could have been brought to no such thing the day before.
“This sophism derives much, perhaps the whole, of its currency from the assumption that there is some omnipotent and sacred supremacy pertaining to a state—to each state of our Federal Union. Our states have neither more nor less power than that reserved to them in the Union by the Constitution--no one of them ever having been a state out of the Union. The original ones passed into the Union even before they cast off their British colonial dependence; and the new ones each came into the Union directly from a condition of dependence, excepting Texas. And even Texas, in its temporary independence, was never designated a state. The new ones only took the designation of states on coming into the Union, while that name was first adopted by the old ones in and by the Declaration of Independence. Therein the “United Colonies” were declared to be “free and independent states;” but, even then, the object plainly was not to declare their independence of one another, or of the Union, but directly the contrary, as their mutual pledge and their mutual action before, at the time, and afterwards,
abundantly show. The express plighting of faith by each and all of the original thirteen in the Articles of Confederation, two years later, that the Union shall be perpetual, is most conclusive. Having never been states, either in substance or in name, outside of the Union, whence this magical onnipotence of state rights," asserting a claim of power to lawfully destroy the Union itself? Much is said about the "sovereignty” of the states; but the word even is not in the national Constitution; nor, as is believed, in any of the state constitutions. What is “sovereignty” in the political sense of the term ? Would it be far wrong to define it " a political community without a political superior?" Tested by this, no one of our states except Texas, ever was a sovereignty. And even Texas gave up the character on coming into the Union, by which act she acknowledged the Constitution of the United States and the laws and treaties of the United States made in pursuance of the Constitution, to be for her the supreme law of the land. The states have their status in the Union, and they have no other legal
If they break from this, they can only do so against law and by revolution. The Union, and not themselves, separately, procured their independence and their liberty. By conquest or purchase the Union gave each of them whatever of independence or liberty it has. The Union is older than any of the states, and, in fact, it created them as states. Originally some dependent colonies made the Union, and, in turn, the Union threw off their old dependence for them, and made them states, such as they are. Not one of them ever had a state constitution independent of the Union. Of course, it is not forgotten that all the new states framed their constitutions before they entered the Union, nevertheless dependent upon, and preparatory to, coming into the Union.
Unquestionably the states have the powers and rights reserved to them in and by the national Constitution; but among these, surely, are not included all conceivable powers, however mischievous or destructive; but, at most, such only as were known in the world, at the time, as governmental powers; and, certainly, a power to destroy the Government itself had never been known as a governmental--as a merely administrative power.
This relative matter of national power and state rights, as a principle, is no other than the principle of generality and locality. Whatever concerns the whole should be confided to the whole-to the general government; while whatever concerns only the state should be left exclusively to the state. This is all. there is of original principle about it. Whether the national Constitution in defining boundaries between the two has applied the principle with exact accuracy, is not to be questioned. We are all bound by that defining, without question.
What is now combated, is the position that secession is consistent with the Constitution--is lawful and peaceful. It is not contended that there is any express law for it; and nothing should ever be implied as law which leads to unjust or absurd consequences. The nation purchased with money the countries out of which several of these states were formed; is it just that they shall go off without leave and without refunding? The nation paid very large sums (in the aggregate, I believe, nearly a hundred millions) to relieve Florida of the aboriginal tribes; is it just that she shall now be off without consent, or without making any return? The nation is now in debt for money applied to the benefit of these so-called seceding states in common with the rest; is it just either that creditors shall go unpaid, or the remaining states pay the whole? A part of the present national debt was contracted to pay the old debts of Texas; is it just that she shall leave and pay no part of this herself?
“Again, if one state may secede, so may another; and when all shall have seceded, none is left to pay the debts. Is this quite just to creditors ? Did we notify them of this sage view of ours when we borrowed their money? If we now recognize this doctrine by allowing the seceders to go in peace, it is difficult to see what we can do if others choose to go, or to extort terms upon which they will promise to remain.
"The seceders insist that our Constitution admits of secession. They have assumed to make a national constitution of their own, in which, of necessity, they have either discarded or retained the right of secession, as they insist it exists in ours. If they have discarded it, they thereby admit that on principle it ought not to exist in ours; if they have retained it, by their own construction of ours they show that, to be consistent, they must secede from one another whenever they shall find it the easiest way of settling their debts, or effecting any other selfish or unjust object. The principle itself is one of disintegration, and upon which no government can possibly endure.
“If all the states save one should assert the power to drive that one out of the Union, it is presumed the whole class of seceder politicians would at once deny the power, and denounce the act as the greatest outrage upon state rights. But suppose that precisely the same act, instead of being called driving the one out,' should be called “the seceding of the others from that one, it would be exactly what the seceders claim to do, unless, indeed, they make the point that the one, because it is a minority, may rightfully do what the others, because they are a majority, may not rightfully do. These politicians are subtle, and profound on the rights of minorities. They are not partial to that power which made the Constitution, and speaks from the preamble, calling itself. We, the people.""
The popular government of the United States, Mr. Lincoln said, had been called an experiment. Two points of the experiment had already been settled; the government had been established, and it had been administered. One point remained to be established: its successful maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it. It remained to be demonstrated to the world that those who could fairly carry an election could also suppress a rebellion—" that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors to bullets, and that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided, there can be no successful appeal back to bullets--that there can be no successful appeal, except to ballots themselves, at succeeding elections.” Another justification of the war in which he was engaged he found in that article of the Constitution which provides that the United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union a republican form of government."'. If a state might lawfully go out of the Union, it might also, having gone out, discard the republican form of government, “so that to prevent its going out is an indispensable means to the end of maintaining the guarantee mentioned; and when an end is lawful and obligatory, the indispensable means to it are also lawful and obligatory.”
Congress was ready to do all that the President desired, and even more.
Instead of four hundred million dollars, they placed at his disposal five hundred millions, and instead of confining his levy of troops to four hundred thousand, they gave him liberty to call out half a million. They also legalized all the steps he had thus far taken for the suppression of the rebellion, and labored in all ways to strengthen his hands and encourage his heart. These measures were passed in the presence, and against the protest, of secessionists, who still held their places in both houses of Congress. Burnett of Kentucky and Reid and Norton of Missouri, in the House, afterwards proved their treason by engaging directly in the rebellion. Breckinridge and Powell of Kentucky and Polk and Johnson of Missouri, in the Senate, were known at the time to be anything but loyal. And they had sympathizers who, under any other government, would have been arrested and held, if not treated with still greater severity. Vallan
digham of Ohio was afterwards sent into the rebel lines for treason, and it is undoubtedly true that Kennedy of Maryland, Bayard of Delaware, Bright of Indiana, and Ben Wood of New York had personal reason for feeling that he had been very harshly used. Yet it was best that these men should be where they were, to bicker and bite, and illustrate the spirit of that incorporate infamy-a slaveholders' rebellion. Such toleration illustrated alike the strength and moderation of the government. Some of these men were permitted to rise in the places they had justly forfeited, and, with perjured lips, to talk treason—to complain of arbitrary arrests when they were suffered to go and come, and scheme and brawl with perfect liberty, in the streets of the national capital.
There was plenty of treasonable talk in Congress, but no treasonable action. The party friends of the government were in a majority, and they were aided by numbers of loyal democrats. The schemes of finance recommended by Mr. Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury, were adopted essentially as recommended, a moderate confiscation act was passed, and a resolution adopted by the House-introduced by Mr. Crittenden of Kentucky—that the war had been forced upon the country by the disunionists of the southern states, then in revolt against the constitutional government and in arms around the capital: that Congress, banishing all feeling of passion or resentment, would recollect only its duty to the whole country: that the war was not waged on the part of the government in the spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, nor purpose throwing 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 those objects were accomplished, the war ought to cease. During the session, Mr. Trumbull of Illinois introduced a bill in the Senate to emancipate all the slaves in the rebel states. This was a prophecy and a threat of what would come as the reward of rebel contumacy.