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"I have been urgently solicited to establish by military power, courts to administer summary justice in such cases. I have thus far declined to do this, because I have been unwilling to go beyond the pressure of necessity in the unusual exercise of power. But the power of Congress I suppose, is equal to the anomalous condition, and therefore I refer the whole matter to Congress with the hope that a plan may be devised for the administration of justice in all such parts of the insurgent States as may be under the control of this Government."
The courts were to be temporary, but the recommendation is conclusive, that he recognized fully, the right of Congress to legislate for the insurgent States, while in a condition of war, and before they were restored to their proper relations to the Union.
He reviewed at some length, the condition of affairs, the advantages of our democratic institutions; and expressed his deep convictions that the fate of free government was involved in the contest. "The struggle," said he, "of to-day, is not altogether for to-day. It is for a vast future also.
Mr. Cameron's report, as Secretary of War, was a very important paper. After reciting the operations of the army, he states that under the call for 75,000 men, made by the President, and under the call for 500,000 volunteers for three years, authorized by act of Congress in July, there had been raised an army of 600,000 men.
His report, as originally prepared, ably discussed and strongly recommended the arming and emancipation of the slaves of the seceding States. This part of the report was not submitted to the President until it was in print. When it was then brought to the knowledge of Mr. Lincoln, he expressed surprise and some displeasure, that a member of his Cabinet should have prepared and printed such a report, without first submitting it to him, and he caused the report to be modified. A portion of this report is here presented as a very clear and able presentation of the great question which was then agitating the public mind:
"It has become a grave question for determination, what shall be done with the slaves abandoned by their owners on the advance of our *Message of December 3d, 1861. McPherson's Political History, p. 132.
troops into Southern territory, as in the Beaufort District of South Carolina. The whole white population therein is six thousand, while the number of negroes exceeds thirty-two thousand. The panic which drove their masters in wild confusion from their homes, leaves them in undisputed possession of the soil. Shall they, armed by their masters, be placed in the field to fight against, or shall their labor be continually employed in producing the means for supporting the armies of the rebellion?
"It was the boast of the leader of the rebellion, while he yet had a seat in the Senate of the United States, that the Southern States would be comparatively safe and free from the burdens of war, if it should be brought on by the contemplated rebellion, and that boast was accompanied by the savage threat that 'Northern towns and cities would become the victims of rapine and military spoil,' and that Northern men should smell Southern gunpowder and feel Southern steel.' No one doubts the disposition of the rebels to carry that threat into execution. The wealth of Northern towns and cities, the produce of Northern farms, Northern workshops and manufactories, would certainly be seized, destroyed, or appropriated as military spoil. No property in the North would be spared from the hands of the rebels, and their rapine would be defended under the laws of war. While the loyal States thus have all their property and possessions at stake, are the insurgent rebels to carry on warfare against the Government in peace and security to their own property?
"Reason, and justice, and self-preservation, forbid that such should be the policy of this Government, but demand, on the contrary, that, being forced by traitors and rebels to the extremity of war, all the rights and powers of war should be exercised to bring it to a speedy end.
"Those who make war against the Government, justly forfeit all rights of property, privilege or security derived from the Constitution and laws against which they are in armed rebellion; and as the labor and service of their slaves constitute the chief property of the rebels, such property should share the common fate of war, to which they have devoted the property of loyal citizens.
"As has been said, the right to deprive the rebels of their property in slaves and slave labor, is as clear and absolute, as the right to take forage from the field, or cotton from the warehouse, or powder and arms from the magazine. To leave the enemy in the possession of such property as forage and cotton, and military stores, and the means of constantly reproducing them, would be madness. It is, therefore, madness to leave them in peaceful and secure possession of slave property,
more valuable and efficient, to them for war, than forage, cotton, and military stores. Such policy would be National suicide. What to do with that species of property, is a question that time and circumstances will solve, and need not be anticipated further than to repeat that they cannot be held by the Government as slaves. It would be useless to keep them as prisoners of war; and self-preservation, the highest duty of a government, or of individuals, demands that they should be disposed of, or employed in the most effective manner, that will tend most speedily to suppress the insurrection, and restore the authority of the Government. If it shall be found that the men who have been held by the rebels as slaves, are capable of bearing arms, and performing efficient military service, it is the right, and may become the duty of the Government to arm and equip them, and employ their services against the rebels, under proper military regulation, discipline and command.
"But in whatever manner they may be used by the Government, it is plain that, once liberated by the rebellious act of their masters, they should never again be restored to bondage. By the master's treason and rebellion, he forfeits all right to the labor and service of his slave; and the slave of the rebellious master, by his service to the Government, becomes justly entitled to freedom and protection.
"The disposition to be made of the slaves of rebels, after the close of the war, can be safely left to the wisdom of Congress. The representatives of the people will unquestionably secure to the loyal slaveholders every right to which they are entitled under the Constitution."
The foregoing gives the substance of Mr. Cameron's argument. By direction of the President, that part of it in regard to emancipation and the arming of freedmen, was so modified as to read as follows:
"It is already a grave question what shall be done with those slaves who were abandoned by their owners on the advance of our troops into Southern territory, as at Beaufort District, in South Carolina. The number left within our control at that point is very considerable, and similar cases will probably occur. What shall be done with them? Can we afford to send them forward to their masters, to be by them armed against us, or used in producing support to sustain the rebellion? Their labor may be useful to us; withheld from the enemy it lessens his military resources, and withholding them has no tendency to induce the horrors of insurrection, even in the rebel communities. They constitute a military resource, and being such, that they should not be
turned over to the enemy, is too plain to discuss. Why deprive him of supplies by a blockade, and voluntarily give him men to produce them?
"The disposition to be made of the slaves of rebels, after the close of the war, can be safely left to the wisdom and patriotism of Congress. The representatives of the people will unquestionably secure to the loyal slaveholders every right to which they are entitled under the Constitution of the country."
On the 14th of January, 1862, Simon Cameron resigned the position of Secretary of War, and Edwin M. Stanton was appointed his successor. This appointment of a man who had held a position in the Cabinet of Buchanan was at first a matter of some surprise to the Republican friends of the President.
The President was recommended to make this appointment by Senator Wade, of Ohio, John A. Bingham, of the House, and other radical members of Congress. The Presi dent himself thought it expedient to give the appointment to a war democrat if a suitable man could be found. It was believed Stanton would be for vigorous fighting. Senator Wade said: "If the democrats think they have gained anything by the appointment of Stanton, as Secretary of War, they will learn their mistake; they will find they have caught 'a tartar.' Stanton (in his own rough phrase) is for fight
The new Secretary soon gave proof of his great energy, his wonderful industry, and his power as an organizer. He was always a belligerent, looking at great ends, not very scrupulous about the means of removing the obstacles which stood in his path, and somewhat careless of the forms and restraints of law. Honest and true, and intensely in earnest: if a thing was right in itself, he would cut through, or break over all formal obstacles which stood in his way. His temper was irritable, but placable. There were many instances of cruel injustice, which the more patient and just Mr. Lincoln was compelled to correct, but he himself was ready to repair a wrong when convinced he had committed one. He acted with the radicals in Congress more, it is believed,
because they were in earnest, than on account of sympathy with their principles. He hated the slaveholding traitors more than he loved liberty.
This, the first regular session of the Thirty-seventh Congress, made large advances towards the entire abolition of slavery. Its measures were justly characterized by a Senator as looking to universal abolition. By its legislation and its grand debates, this Congress prepared the way for the great edict of emancipation issued by Abraham Lincoln. The great anti-slavery measures which will hand down this Congress to immortality, were- First, The abolition of slavery at the National Capitol. Second, The prohibition of slavery in all the Territories. Third, The setting free the slaves of rebels. Fourth, Giving legal authority to employ colored men, as soldiers, thus converting slaves into patriotic Union soldiers. Fifth, The enactment of an additional article of war, prohibiting any officer or person in the military or naval service, under pain of dismissal, from aiding in the arrest of any fugitive slave.
These great measures were carried after long discussion, and able and full debate. The truth of history, and justice to great principles, and those who advocate them, require that the world should know the history of these measures which have changed the character of the republic for all time to come.
The delays and inactivity of the army, and dissatisfaction with its movements, resulted in the creation by Congress, on the 18th and 19th of December, of the Joint Committee on the conduct of the war. This committee was composed of Senators Wade, Chandler, and Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, on the part of the Senate; on Mr. Johnson being appointed Military Governor of Tennessee, Mr. Wright, of Indiana, was appointed in his place; and Messrs. Gooch, Covode, Julian and Odell, of the House.
Many of the army officers had disregarded the act of Congress giving freedom to all slaves employed to aid the rebels. Rebels and rebel officers, under flags of truce, continued to enter the Union lines, and Union officers had been guilty of surrendering to them colored men who had fled to their