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CHAP. XLIII.]

177

strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence ?"

ABSTRACT OF LINCOLN'S MESSAGE.

Under these circumstances, the government was compelled to resist the force employed for its had been compelled destruction by force employed for its pres

The

to resist.

ervation.

The President then proceeded to say that the response The course that Vir- of the country had been most gratifying, yet ginia had taken, that none of the Slave States except Delaware had furnished a regiment. He drew attention to the course that Virginia had taken. A Convention, of whom a large majority were professed Unionists, had been elected by the people of that state for the purpose of considering secession; on the fall of Sumter, many of them went over to the secession party, and undertook to withdraw the state from the Union, but, though they submitted their ordinance for ratification to a vote of the people, to be taken a month subsequently, they, without any delay, commenced warlike operations against the Union. They seized the government armory at Harper's Ferry and the Norfolk navy yard; they received, perhaps invited, large bodies of troops from the other seceding states; they made a treaty with the Confederate States, and sent representatives to their Congress; they permitted the installation of the insurrectionary government at Richmond.

In the other Border Slave States there had been an attempt to assume a position which they called

and the armed neu

States.

trality of the Border armed neutrality. They would permit neither the insurgents nor the government to cross their soil. Under this guise of neutrality they gave protection to and screened the insurgents, securing dis union without a struggle.

He then stated the circumstances under which the gov ernment had called out seventy-five thousand militia, and

ABSTRACT OF LINCOLN'S MESSAGE.

[SECT. VIII.

instituted a blockade of the insurrection

War measures re

ministration.

sorted to by the ad- ary districts, the insurrectionists having announced their purpose of entering on the practice of privateering. Other calls had been made for volunteers, and also for large additions to the regular army and navy. These measures had been ventured upon under what appeared to be a public necessity, and in the trust that Congress would readily ratify them. He had also authorized the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, so that dangerous persons might be arrested or detained. He presented the considerations which had led him to regard this step not only as justifiable, but obligatory.

178

Its recommenda

In view of the existing condition of things, he then called upon Congress to give the legal means tions to Congress. for making this contest short and decisive. He asked for 400,000 men, and $400,000,000.

The President also pointed out the manner in which the people of the Slave States had been beguiled into treason. The leaders of the movement had for more than thirty years been laboring to persuade them that any state of the Union, by virtue of its supremacy or sovereignty as a state, might constitutionally, and therefore peacefully and legally, withdraw at its pleasure from the Union. But, with the exception of Texas, not one of them had ever been a state out of the Union. The original ones passed into the Union before they had cast off British colonial dependence. Not one of the states, save Texas, had ever been sovereign. The Union gave each of them whatever independence and liberty it had. It is older than any of them, and created them as states. Not one of them ever had a state Constitution independent of the Union. Even if they had reserved powers, they certainly had not a power to destroy the government. Recalling the fact

Lincoln's views respecting state soyereignty,

CHAP. XLIII.]

ABSTRACT OF LINCOLN'S MESSAGE.

179

that the nation had purchased with its money several of the seceding states, he asked, Is it just that they should separate without its permission? Florida, for instance, had cost $100,000,000. The nation is actually now in debt for moneys it has thus paid. A part of the existing national debt was contracted to pay the debts of Texas. Is it just that she should secede, and pay no portion of it herself?

and his opinion of

the people.

After showing the constitutional absurdities of secession, and questioning whether in any state, with perhaps the exception of South Carolina, a majority of the voters was in favor of secession, he referred to the the sentiments of great blessings that the nation had derived from free institutions, affirming his belief that the "plain people" understood that this was essentially a people's contest. He drew attention to the fact that, while so many of the officers of the army and navy had proved false, not one common soldier or common sailor was known to have deserted his flag. "This is the patriotic instinct of plain people. They understand, without any argument, that the destruction of the government made by Washington means no good to them."

Alluding to his purposes in the event of the suppres sion of the rebellion, and expressing his deep concern that he had been compelled to resort to the war power, he felt that he had done what he believed to be his duty, knowing that he had no moral right to shrink, or even to count the chances of his own life in what might follow. Commending, therefore, to Congress what he had done under a deep sense of his great responsibilities, he sincerely He invokes the sup- hoped that its views and actions might so port of Congress. accord with his as to assure all faithful citizens who have been disturbed in their rights a speedy restoration of them under the Constitution and the laws.

The points brought into relief in this message are the

180

THE PRESIDENT'S WAR ACTS.

[SECT. VIII.

the message.

The chief points of aggressive character of the insurrection, its leaders having determined to make good their secession by force of arms; the unpatriotic and unfair position in which the Border States were endeavoring to stand, and the war measures to which the government had been compelled to resort.

Official war acts of

These war measures, more explicitly stated, are as follows: 1st. On the 15th of April, Lincoln the President. called upon the several states for 75,000 men. 2d. On the 19th of April he set on foot a blockade of the ports of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. 3d. On the 27th of April he did the same as respects the states of Virginia and North Carolina. 4th. On the 27th of April he authorized the commanding general of the army of the United States to suspend the writ of habeas corpus at any point on or in the vicinity of any military line be tween the city of Philadelphia and the city of Washington. 5th. On the 3d of May he called into the service of the United States 42,034 volunteers, increased the reg ular army by 22,714 men, and the navy by 18,000 seamen. 6th. On the 10th of May he authorized the commander of the United States forces on the coast of Florida to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, if necessary.

slavery.

The silence with which the message treated slavery. Silence respecting showed clearly that, in the President's judg ment, the preservation of the Union was the first thing the relations of the government to slavery a secondary affair. He understood thoroughly that the real point at issue with the leaders of secession was the possession of national power, but that with the people whom they were forcing into their measures it was the retention of their slaves. They had been brought to a unanimity of action by the belief that their domestic institution was in peril.

CHAP. XLIII.]

181

tary of War.

The Secretary of War reported that after the term of Report of the Secre- the three-months' volunteers had expired, there would remain 230,000 men. Volunteering had exceeded the demands. He recommended that the regular army should be increased; that appropriations should be made for the establishment of gov ernment railroads and telegraphs, and provision for a supply of improved arms.

The Secretary of the Navy complained of the neglected Report of the Secre- condition in which he had found his departtary of the Navy. ment. Instead of ninety vessels, carrying 2415 guns, it had dwindled down to forty-two vessels, with 555 guns. The fleet seemed to have been posted with the express design of rendering it useless in the present emergency. Between the 4th of March and the 1st of July, not less than 259 officers had resigned their commissions or had been dismissed. Vessels, however, having been purchased or chartered to meet the public exigency, the government had now in commission eightytwo ships, carrying 1100 guns.

The Secretary of the Treasury asked for $320,000,000, of which 240,000,000 were for war purposes, and 80,000,000 for ordinary demands for

the ensuing year. He proposed to raise $146,000,000, consisting of the above 80,000,000 and 66,000,000 already appropriated, by increased duties on specified articles, by certain internal imposts, and by di rect taxation on real and personal property. To meet the amount for war purposes, he proposed a national loan of not less than $100,000,000 in the form of treasury notes, bearing an annual interest of seven and three tenths per cent. Should this loan prove insufficient, he proposed to issue bonds to an amount not exceeding $100,000,000, redeemable at the option of the government after a period not exceeding thirty years, the interest not to exceed sev

Report of the Secretary of the Treasury.

REPORTS OF THE SECRETARIES.

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