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on a war.
recognition. But Mr. Lincoln, with the sagacity which marked his career as a statesman, determined that so long as there was no recognition of the rebels as a nation, not to bring
“One war at a time," said he. It is kuown that Lord Palmerston, and it is believed that several other of the British Statesmen, desired to fight the United States in regard to the Trent affair. It is known that France would have followed Great Britian in recognizing the Confederacy. A war with France and England, and with the rebels at the same time, would have taxed the power and resolution of the loyal people of the United States to the utmost. But it would have inspired an energy and an earnnestness, that was long wanting in the conduct of the war on our Southern brethren."
The failure of Mr. Buchanan's administration to arrest persons known to be plotting treason, has caused some members of that administration to be regarded as particeps criminis in the civil war which followed. Mr. Lincoln's administration was slow in making such arrests; but as its absolute necessity became clearly apparent, the writ of habeas corpus was suspended, the power was executed,
George P. Kane, Chief of Police of Baltimore, the Mayor and Police Commissioners of that city, the Mayor of Washington, and many others were arrested; but more important than all, was the arrest of the Legislature of Maryland.
The majority of the Legislature of Maryland were secessionists. The Executive, and a majority of people, were for the Union. Several of the insurgent States had been precipitated into hostilities by the Legislature passing acts or ordinances of secession.
In September, 1861, the Secretary of War received information that the insurgents in Maryland, were to procure the passage by the Legislature of that State, of an act of secession, and he issued an order to General McClellan to prevent it, l.y the arrest of all, or any part of the members thereof.
Directions were issued by General McClellan to General Banks, to execute this order. In his instructions, dated September 12th, General McClellan says:
ARREST OF MARYLAND LEGISLATURE.
Some four or five of the chief men in the affair are to be arrested to-day. When they meet on the 17th, you will please have everything prepared to arrest the whole party, and be sure that none escape. * * If successfully carried out, it will go far towards breaking the back-bone of the rebellion. * * I have but one thing to impress upon you; the absolute necessity of secresy and success.
The order was successfully executed; the meeting of the Legislature broken up, and Maryland saved from a civil war among her own citizens. .
This act has been censured as an arbitrary arrest. However arbitrary, it was a necessary measure, and in the propriety of which General McClellan fully coincided.
Governor Hicks, said in the Senate of United States, “I believe that arrests, and arrests alone, saved the State of Maryland from destruction. I approved them then, and I approve them now.”
SECOND SESSION, THIRTY-SEVENTH CONGRESS-CONGRESS OF 1862.
PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE — REPORT OF SECRETARY OF WAR— MODI.
ONGRESS assembled at its regular session, December 2d,
1861, and found the grand drama of rebellion fully opened and developed. Two hundred thousand Union troops on the banks of the Potomac, confronted a rebel army then supposed to be of equal numbers, but now known to have been far less. The magnitude of the American rebellion, and the principles involved, had attracted the attention of the world, which was watching with deep interest the progress of events. The common people, the lovers of liberty and free institutions, were hopeful, yet anxious for the issue. Those who had no faith in man's capacity for self-government, those whose interests were in making firm and permanent old dynasties, were already exulting over the failure of the American Republic, as “another bubble burst,” another fruitless effort at self-government. Meanwhile, the issue between freedom and slavery began to be more sharply defined.
The forbearance of the Government on the subject of slavery, was cited by rebel emissaries in Europe, as evidence
CONDITION OF AFFAIRS DECEMBER, 1861.
that the issue was not freedom against slavery, but empire and subjugation against independence and self-government.
It was obvious that sound statesmanship, as it regarded our cause both at home and abroad, required a more vigorous policy. It became every day more clear that slavery was not only the cause of the war, but, as treated thus far, an element of great strength, and a bond of union to the rebel States. The neglect of the government to strike decisive and fatal blows at this institution, especially to those who did not know and appreciate the condition of affairs in Maryland and Kentucky, was inexplicable, and had encouraged the enemies, and paralyzed the friends of the republic abroad. The friends of the administration impatiently asked, if the time had not arrived for making war directly upon slavery? They insisted that this source of strength to the rebels could be made a source of weakness; that the millions of colored people were the friends of the Republic, and could be made to aid its cause against their masters. The period was criti. cal. Bull Run and Ball's Bluff were unavenged, and the great army under McClellan had as yet done nothing to give confidence to the country. The Confederates were striving to secure recognition abroad, Mason and Slidell, were in Fort Warren as prisoners taken from beneath the folds of the British flag, and England, backed by France, would make the refusal to surrender them, a cause of war.
Such was the condition in which Congress assembled, and received the President's message, in December, 1861.
This message has fewer of the characteristics of Mr. Lincoln, than any other of his State papers. The truth is, he was feeling his way, revolving the slavery question, and was scarcely yet ready to announce a settled policy on that subject. He congratulates Congress that the patriotism of the people had proved equal to the occasion, and that the number of troops tendered, greatly exceeded the force called for.
He calls the attention of Congress to the fact, that Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, neither of which at his first call for troops in April, had promised a single soldier, had, at the date of the message, not less than 40,000 men in the field under the Union flag; and that in West Virginia, the Union men, after a severe struggle, were masters of the country. He announced the retirement of General Scott, and stated that public sentiment and the recommendation of the Lieutenant General, and Executive confidence, had all indicated General McClellan as the man upon whom to place the command.
He said that the insurgents at the beginning, confidently claimed a strong support from North of Mason and Dixon's line, and that the friends of the Union were not free from apprehension on the point. But this was soon settled, the people of the free States were united for the Union. Of the slave States, little Delaware was right from the first. Maryland was made to seem against the Union. The soldiers of the Republic, were assaulted, bridges were burned, and railroads torn up within her limits, and the Government had been at one time, for several days without the ability to bring a single regiment over her soil to the Capital. Now all this was changed. She had already given seven regiments to the Union cause, and none to the enemy. Kentucky, for sometime in doubt, was now, decidedly, and he hoped, unchangeably, on the side of the Union. Missouri was comparatively quiet, and he believed could not be again overcome by the insurrectionists.
Upon the policy on the slavery question, he said, “I have adhered to the act of Congress, confiscating property, and freeing persons held to service, used for insurrectionary purposes.” On the subject of emancipating and arming negroes, he said, “ The Union must be preserved, and all indispensable means must be used, but he deprecated haste in the use of extreme measures, which might reach the loyal, as well as disloyal."
It is worthy of notice as illustrative of his views of the condition of the insurgent States, and the power of Congress over them in time of war, that he recommends the establishment by act of Congress, of courts in the insurgent States, when brought under the control of the National Government, in which civil rights might be adjudicated.
This is his language on that subject: