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ment, by acknowledging it as speedily as possible, -inasmuch as such a course would enable France the sooner to leave Mexico and the new government to take care of itself. In replying to this request, on the 23d of October Mr. Seward repeated the determination of our government to maintain a position of complete neutrality in the war between France and Mexico, and declared that while they could not anticipate the action of the people of Mexico, they had not “ the least purpose or desire to interfere with their proceedings, or control or interfere with their free choice, or disturb them in the exercise of whatever institutions of government they may, in the exercise of an absolute freedom, establish.” As we did not consider the war yet closed, however, we were not at liberty to consider the question of recognizing the government which, in the further chances of that war, might take the place of the one now existing in Mexico, with which our relations were those of peace and friendship.
The policy of the President, therefore, in regard to the war in Mexico has been that of neutrality; and, although this policy has in some respects contravened the traditional purposes and principles of the government and people of the United States, it is not easy to see what other could have been adopted without inviting hazards which no responsible statesman has a right to incur. The war against Mexico was undertaken ostensibly for objects and purposes which we were compelled to regard as legitimate, and we could not ourselves depart from a strict neutrality without virtually conceding the right, not only of France but of every other nation interested in our downfall, to become party to the war against us.
While we have to a certain extent pledged ourselves to hold the whole continent open to republican institutions, our first duty is clearly to preserve the existence of our own Republic, not only for ourselves, but as the only condition on which republicanism anywhere is possible. The President, therefore, in
holding this country wholly aloof from the war with France, has consulted the ultimate and permanent interests of Democratic institutions not less than the safety and welfare of the United States, and has pursued the only policy at all compatible with the preservation of our Union and the final establishment of the Monroe doctrine. Neither the President nor the people, however, have indicated any purpose to acquiesce in the imposition of a foreign prince upon the Mexican people by foreign armies; and on the 3d of April, 1864, the House of Representatives adopted the following resolution upon the subject, which embodies, beyond all doubt, the settled sentiment of the people of this country.
THE MEXICAN MONARCHY.
Resolved, That the Congress of the United States are unwilling by silence to leave the nations of the world under the impression that they are indifferent spectators of the deplorable events now transpiring in the Republic of Mexico; therefore, they think it fit to declare that it does not accord with the sentiment of the people of the United States to acknowledge a monarchical government erected on the ruins of any republican government in America, under the auspices of any European Power.
No action up to the present time (May 5) has been taken upon this resolution in the Senate.
MOVEMENTS TOWARDS RECONSTRUCTION. THE REBELLION AND
LABOR.THE PRESIDENT ON BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATIONS. ADVANCING ACTION CONCERNING THE NEGRO RACE.
The Proclamation, which accompanied the Annual Message of the President, embodied the first suggestions of the administration on the important subject of reconstructing the governments of those States, which had joined in the secession movement. The matter had been canvassed somewhat extensively by the public press, and by prominent politicians, in anticipation of the overthrow of the rebellion, and the view taken of the subject had been determined, to a very considerable extent, by the sentiments and opinions of the different parties as to the object and purpose of the war.
The supporters of the administration did not all hold precisely the same ground on this subject. As has already been seen, in the de bates of the Congress of 1862–3, a considerable number of the friends of the government, in both houses, maintained that, by the act of secession, the revolted States had put themselves outside the pale of the Constitution, and were henceforth to be regarded and treated, not as members of the Union, but as alien enemies :*—that their State organizations and
* President Lincoln's view of this position is stated in the following note addressed by him to the publishers of the North American Review, which contained an article upon his policy of administration :
“EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, January 16, 1864. "Messrs. CROSBY & NICHOLS:
“Gentlemen :-The number for this month and year of the North American Review was duly received, and for which please accept my thanks. Of course I am not the most impartial judge; yet, with due
State boundaries had been expunged by their own act; and that they were to be re-admitted to the jurisdiction of the Constitution, and to the privileges of the Union, only upon such terms and conditions as the Federal government of the loyal States might prescribe. On the other hand it was held that the acts of secession, passed by the several State governments, were absolutely null and void, and that while the
who passed them, and those who aided in giving them effect, by taking up arms against the United States, had rendered themselves liable individually to the penalties of treason, they had not, in any respect, changed the relations of their States,
allowance for this, I venture to hope that the article entitled 'The President's Policy' will be of value to the country. I fear I am not worthy of all which is therein kindly said of me personally.
“The sentence of twelve lines, commencing at the top of page 252, I could wish to be not exactly what it is. In what is there expressed, the writer has not correctly understood me. I have never had a theory that secession could absolve States or people from their obligations. Precisely the contrary is asserted in the inaugural address; and it was because of my belief in the continuation of those obligations that I was puzzled, for a time, as to denying the legal rights of those citizens who remained individually innocent of treason or rebellion. But I mean no more now than to merely call attention to this point.
The sentence referred to by Mr. Lincoln is as follows:
“Even so long ago as when Mr. Lincoln, not yet convinced of the danger and magnitude of the crisis, was endeavoring to persuade himself of Union majorities at the South, and carry on a war that was half peace, in the hope of a peace that would have been all war, while he was still enforcing the Fugitive Slave law, under some theory that secession, however it might absolve States from their obligations, could not escheat them of their claims under the Constitution, and that slaveholders in rebellion had alone among mortals, the privilege of having their cake and eating it at the same time,—the enemies of free government were striving to persuade the people that the war was an abolition crusade. To rebel without reason was proclaimed as one of the rights of man, while it was carefully kept out of sight that to suppress rebellion is the first duty of government."
as such, to the federal government. The governments of those States had been for a time subverted :—but they might at any time be re-established upon a republican basis, under the authority and protection of the United States. The Proclamation proceeded, in the main, upon the latter theory. The President had the power, under the Constitution, and by specific legislation of Congress, to grant pardons upon such conditions as he might deem expedient. In the exercise of this power, President Lincoln released from legal penalties, and restored to the rights of citizenship all, in each State, with certain specified exceptions, who should take and abide by a prescribed oath ; and then he proclaimed his purpose to recognize them as the citizens of such State, and as alone competent to organize and carry on the local government; and he pledged the power of the general government to protect such republican State governments as they might establish, “ against invasion, and against domestic violence." Ву way of precaution against a usurpation of power by strangers, he insisted on the same qualifications for voting as had been required by the Constitution and laws of the State previous to secession :--and to provide against usurpation of power by an insignificant minority, he also required that the new government should be elected by at least one tenth as many voters as had voted in the State at the Presidential election of 1860. In the oath, which he imposed as essential to citizenship, the President required a pledge to sustain the Constitution of the United States, the laws of Congress and the Executive Proclamations and acts on the subject of slavery, so long and so far as the same should not be declared invalid and of no binding obligation, by the Supreme Court of the United States. These were the foundations of the broad and substantial basis laid by the President for the restoration of the Union, and the re-establishment of loyal republican governments in the several seceded States.