Page images
[ocr errors]

Trumbull's Decla


tion. He was tired of hearing talk of usurpation and injustice in the Territories. Why not make the appeal to the men with arms in their hands against the Government. Then he referred to the trouble in the Territories and the first attempt to break up the Union in 1832; then in 1850 another attempt was made to break up the Union, but after a while peace was secured. Then in 1853 a proposition was made in the Senate which reopened the agitation. But secession would not have triumphed if there had not been complicity with treason in the very Cabinet of the Government. The President received Commissioners, who, under any other Government, would have been hung for treason; and, not untill the last moment, when forced to take sides, and either join the Secessionists and let Major Anderson perish, or to meet the anger of his countrymen, did the President declare for the Union and speak, though feebly, for the United States. But he had allowed the Secessionists to do as they pleased, till they had taken the forts and property of the Government to a great


Trumbull's Decla


ico. If they want to do
anything, go back to the
Missouri Compromise and
stand to that, which will restore peace to
the country. In regard to the House reso-
lutions, he said that all agreed that Congress
had not the right to interfere with Slavery
in the States. He would not interfere, but
he would never, by his vote, make one slave;
and the people of the great North-west would
never consent by their act to establish Slav-
ery anywhere. He was willing, though he
did not think the Constitution needed amend-
ments, to vote for recommending to the
States a proposition for calling a Convention
to consider amendments. But our Southern
friends ask for something to stand on. The
best rock in the world to stand on is the old
Constitution as framed by our fathers, and
not suffer it to be trampled and amended.
States have been arming themselves, and tell
us they will fight against the Government if
we attempt to enforce the laws, which they
call "coercion." He could tell the Senator
from Texas that he was for enforcing the
laws. By this he did not mean marching
an army to coerce a State, but that he want-

ernment. He referred to the fact that Virginia sent an ultimatum, and then armed herself for the purpose of armed intervention between the Government and the States in rebellion, and argued that under such circumstances Senators ought not to present propositions here for our acceptance. contended that the attitude of Virginia was an act of menace.


Wigfall interrupted, wishing to be informed to settle the question if we have a Goved if Mr. Lincoln's Administration would pursue the same policy, or whether it would attempt to recapture the forts and property? Trumbull replied that the Texas Senator would find out his opinion before he got through with his speech, and he (Trumbull) trusted that Wigfall would learn the opinions of the new Administration on the morrow from the eastern steps of the Capitol. He added: "I apprehend the Senator will learn to-morrow that we have a Government, and that it is the beginning of maintaining the Union." Mr. Trumbull continued, after the several interruptions, referring to the action of the Secretaries of War and Navy, sending away the Army and Navy till they had no defences left. Secession would never have reached such a height if we had a Gov-wise in his silence. If Mr. Seward spoke for ernment. He spoke against the compromises which had been offered. He was willing to take the Missouri Compromise, but these were nothing like that. He contended that the effect of these compromises would be to declare Slavery perpetual in New Mex

This speech, coming from a Senator intimate in his relations with the President, was supposed to indicate the new Administration's policy, and therefore attracted much consideration on the floor. It is doubtful, however, if he spake for Mr. Lincoln by authority. The President was notably silent on questions of his future conduct, and was

him, in proposing, as a substitute for the Peace Conference scheme, the calling of a National Convention, he may have acted on the suggestion of the Executive, though it is not probable that he ever committed him. himself thus far; and Mr. Trumbull, if




he did indicate the course afterwards pur- | decision of the Chair, that two-thirds of a sued, did so by no special authorization of quorum complied with the constitutional the President-elect. His views, and those ex-requisition. The Senate sustained the Chair, pressed by Mr. Wade, were simply the Re- by a vote of 33 to 1-that single "nay" bepublican ultimate of the discussions of the ing Wade, of Ohio. winter.

The debate here took a more general turn, from the speaker having referred to Mr. Baker's willingness to compromise. It called up that Senator and Mr. Trumbull alternately. Mr. Baker's closing reply was a most able and earnest appeal for an acceptance of any reasonable terms of settlement, and particularly of the Corwin proposition to amend the Constitution.

Final Struggle for Compromise.

After some further remarks by various parties, a vote was had on the Doolittle amendments to Pugh's amendment, viz. :-to substitute the Crittenden propositions for the Corwin amendment. Lost by 18 to 28. The question then recurred on the substitute, when a running debate occurred between Messrs. Bigler, Clingman, Douglas, Mason, Pugh, Morrill, Wade, Wigfall, Wilson, Doolittle, Johnson, of Arkansas, and others. It was peculiarly sharp and personal-assuming more of the character of charge and counter charge than of a Senatorial discussion. A vote being had, at length, the proposed substitute was rejected-only three voting in the affirmative. Mr. Bingham then proposed as an amendment to the amendment, Mr. Clark's resolution, viz.: - that the Constitution is good enough-only wants | to be obeyed, &c. Lost 13 to 25. The Minority Report proposition of Messrs. Seward and Trumbull was then voted on as an amendment. Lost-14 to 25.

The main question, viz., the adoption of the joint (House) resolution to amend the Constitution, then came up, and received 24 ayes to 12 nays. This vote the Speaker announced, when Mr. Trumbull, of Illinois, interrupted, before the Speaker should declare the result, to interpose the constitutional objecion, that two-thirds of a quorum was not two-thirds of the members of the Senate, and, therefore, that the constitutional amendment was rejected. A discussion followed, and, as Mr. Trumbull wished the question tested, as a precedent, he appealed from the

The Crittenden Plan Rejected.

This vote secured the final passage, by both Houses, of the Corwin Joint Resolution, proposing to the Legislatures of the several States an amendment to the Constitution. Mr. Mason then called up the Crittenden Resolutions, in order to get a direct vote on them. Mr. Clark's Resolutions, it will be remembered, had been offered as a substitute, [see page 184,] when Mr. Bigler offered his propositions as a substitute to the substitute. This was the condition of the question at the moment Mr. Mason called up the matter. Mr. Bigler now withdrew his substitute. The vote on Clark's Resolutions was 14 ayes to 22 nays. were then called up and disposed of, when, the main question being ordered on the joint (Crittenden) resolutions, they were rejected: yeas 19, nays 20. The roll-call was:

Other amendments

"YEAS.-Messrs. Bayard, Bigler, Bright, Critten

den, Douglas, Gwin, Hunter, Johnson, (Tennessee,) Kennedy, Lane, Latham, Mason, Nicholson, Polk, Pugh, Rice, Sebastian, Thomson, and Wigfall-19.

"NAYS.-Messrs. Anthony, Bingham, Chandler, Clark, Dixon, Doolittle, Durkee, Fessenden, Foote, Foster, Grimes, Harlan, King, Morrill, Sumner, Ten Eyck, Trumbull, Wade, Wilkinson, and Wilson-20.

An attempt to go into Executive session failed, and the Senate, after its night session of twelve hours, took (at 7 A. M.) a recess until 10 A. M.

The Closing Scene.

Monday in the House was, as usual with the last hours of a session, very noisy, exciting, and uninteresting, except to those immediately concerned. At the hour of twelve the Speaker, William Pennington, of New Jerssey, delivered his farewell address, gving utterance to his sympathy and hopes for the Union. He cordially approved the report of the Committee of Thirty-three; while his conviction was unchanged, that a National Convention, for the redress of actual or supposed grievances, was the proper and most available remedy. He said: "As a member of the Union, I declare my conviction that no tenable ground has been assigned for a dis

The Closing Scene.

Mr. Hamlin then stepped forward and said:

The Closing Scene.

"SENATORS-The experience of several years in this body has taught me something of the duties of the presiding officer, and with a stern, inflexible purpose to discharge these duties faithfully, relying upon the courtesy and cooperation of Senators, and invoking the aid of Divine Providence, I am now ready to take the oath required by the Constitution, and to enter upon the discharge of the official duties assigned me by the confidence of a generous people."

solution of the ties which bind every American citizen to his country; and impartial history will so decide. My confidence in the American people is such that I believe no just complaint can long exist without a redress at their hands. There is always a remedy in the Union. With this view, I still declare my willingness to join in measures of compromise. I would do so because of the ancient ties that have bound us together, under institutions framed by our fathers, and under a Constitution signed by the immortal Washington. I would do so for the national honor committed to the experiment of free in-port

stitutions. I would do so for the love I bear

my countrymen in all parts of our beloved land, and especially so for the sake of the noble band of patriots in the Border States, who, in the midst of great opposition, have stood as firm as rocks in the wild ocean, for the peace and perpetuity of the Union." The close of his address was a benediction on the country and on the members of the House, with whom he had been so long and so agreeably associated. He concluded by an

nouncing that the House of Representatives of the Thirty-sixth Congress was adjourned

sine die.

The Senate proceedings of Monday morning were interesting and brief. At the hour of noon the Vice-President called the Senate

to order and addressed them:

"SENATORS—In taking final leave of this position,

I shall ask a few moments in which to tender to you

my grateful acknowledgments for the resolution declaring your approval of the manner in which I have discharged my duties, and to express my deep sense of the uniform courtesy which, as the presiding officer, I have received from the members of this body. If I have committed errors your generous forbearance refused to rebuke them, and during the whole period of my service I have never appealed in vain to your justice or charity.

"The memory of these acts will ever be cherished among the most grateful recollections of my life; and for my successor I can express no better wish than that he may enjoy the relations of mutual con

Mr. Hamlin then took the oath, as follows: "I, Hannibal Hamlin, do solemnly swear to sup.

[ocr errors]

the Constitution of the United States." Mr. Breckenridge said: "Having now arrived at the termination of this Congress, I now declare the Senate adjourned without day."

Mr. Hamlin took the chair, and the proc lamation for an extra session was read.

Thus closed the second session of the

XXXVIth Congress of the United States. That it was one of the most anxious ever held, history will not fail to affirm. The fate of a nation hung upon its words--the happiness, prosperity, and destiny of a people depended upon its enactments. That it spoke and legislated wisely is a question for the future to determine.

In reviewing its proceedings, we are first impressed with the radical nature of the differences both of opinion and polity which prevailed, to a great degree, among members. They were not differences of kind, but of absolute antagonisms-such as never could and One party never will exist in harmony. claimed, on principles of right, a positive recognition of Slavery, by the Constitution and by the acknowledgments of the Free States; another party pronounced that assumed right to be unfounded in law, in equity, or in humanity, and therefore not to be conceded under any pretext. A conservative few stood between these antagonisms, holding to the hands of each, in the endeavor

to lock them in the fraternal embrace. But,

though their mediation was passively accepted, hearts and opinions were unchanged -so deep-rooted and ineradicable were their

fidence which so happily have marked our intercourse. Now, gentlemen of the Senate, and officers of the Senate, from whom I have received so many kind offices, accept my gratitude and cordial wishes differences; and the country looked upon the for your prosperity and welfare."

votes given for "compromise" as the merest

[blocks in formation]




"Accompanying the message

The Majority Report.

of the President referred to this
Committee, is a copy of certain
correspondence had between the President and

THE Special Committee of Five on the caution, which the future would approve. President's Message of February 8th-con- We give place to these documents-forming, sisting of Messrs. Howard, (Rep..) of Michi- as they do, historical ranges, by which to gan, Dawes, (Rep.,) of Massachusetts, Rey-direct the student of events into correct and nolds, (Rep.,) of New York, Cochrane, (Dem.,) acknowledged channels. of New York, and Branch, (Dem.,) of North Carolina-reported, from time to time, on the subjects committed to their discretional investigation. Their report on the condition of Messrs. R. W. Barnwell, J. H. Adams, and J. L. Orr, the Navy has been given [see p. 440, et sequitur.] claiming to be Commissioners on the part of South February 27th, the Committee submitted a Carolina, authorized and empowered to treat with majority report, covering the entire question the Government of the United States for the delivery of the President's correspondence with the of the forts, magazines, light-houses, and other real South Carolina Commissioners, and the com- estate, with their appurtenances, within the limits plicity with treason chargeable to certain of South Carolina, and also for the apportionment of members of the Cabinet. The report is an the public debt, and a division of all other property important document, giving the version to held by the Government of the United States as agent acts of an Executive character which was sus- of the Confederated States, of which South Carolina tained by a vast majority of the people, as was recently a member; and generally to negotiate well as by the force of facts, whose authen- as to all other measures and arrangements proper to ticity will bear but one statement. The Mi- be made and adopted in the existing relations of the nority Report, made by Mr. Cochrane-hay-parties, and for the continuance of peace and amity between the Commonwealth (of South Carolina) and ing also the concurrence of Mr. Branchthe Government at Washington. defended the Executive from censure, and pronounced his course one of wisdom and

"A further message of the President, under date of February 8th, 1861, and referred to the Committee,

communicates a copy of certain The Majority Report. correspondence, growing out of another special mission from the State of South Carolina to the President of the United States, having for its object a demand upon the Government of the United States for the delivery of Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, to the constituted authorities of the State of South Carolina.

[ocr errors]

The correspondence above referred to is submitted bythe President without comment, or any suggestion as to the propriety or necessity of any action by Congress in respect to it, or to the various subjects to which it refers. If important to be submitted to Congress at all, it seems certainly to be of a character demanding grave consideration; and the fact that it has been placed before us by the President implies that, in his opinion, at least, it involved considerations which might properly engage the attention of the legislative branch of the Government, in connection with the various other matters forced upon it by the necessities of the times. The Committee has, therefore, thought it expedient and proper to direct attention to these special embassies, their object, the action of the President thereon, and, incidentally, to the character of the correspondence.

[ocr errors]


The Majority Report

made the subject of a formal
and elaborate reply. Consider-
ing the position assumed by the
President in his Annual Message, in respect to the
right of a State to withdraw from the Union, and the
total absence of power on the part of the Executive
to recognize the validity of any such attempt, the
Committee cannot but regard the mission itself, as
well as the manner in which it has been treated by
the President, as among the most remarkable events
of the extraordinary times in which we live. In his
Annual Message, communicated to Congress at the
beginning of the present session, the position is
most distinctly affirmed by the President, that no
State has the constitutional right to withdraw from
the Union, and that there is no power in the Execu
tive Department of the Government, to give the
slightest countenance or encouragement to any such
attempt. In this opinion we fully concur, and believing
it to be the true theory of the Constitution, we have
been unable to perceive upon what principle the
President, representing the dignity of the Govern-
ment of the United States, has assumed to enter-
tain or hold any official communication of the
character disclosed with the representatives of
the State of South Carolina. For it seems to us
obvious enough, that upon the principles enunci-
ated in the Annual Message, the gentlemen compos-

disloyal State, could be regarded in no other light than as engaged in a revolutionary effort to subvert the Government of the United States; and, being so regarded, it would appear to have been the plain duty of the Executive to enforce the laws against any individuals, however eminent and respectable, known or suspected of complicity in any movement of a treasonable character. We are not able to imagine any circumstances under which the Presi dent of the United States would be justified in entertaining diplomatic intercourse with the State of South Carolina, in her present attitude to the General Government, except upon the assumption that by the action of her authorities she had succeeded in acquiring the position of an independent power, owing no duty whatever to the Government of the United States.

"The first communication to the President, by Messrs. Barnwell, Adams, and Orr, under date of December 28th, 1860, communicates an official copying this Commission, acting under the sanction of a of an Ordinance of Secession, adopted by the State of South Carolina, on the 20th of the same month, by virtue of which that State assumes to have withdrawn from the Federal Union, and taken the position of an entirely independent nation. That such an attitude was assumed by South Carolina, in attempting negotiations with the Government of the United States, is not only obvious from the history of current events, but it was most distinctly asserted by her Commissioners,' in their communication to the President. The movement of Major Anderson from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, after their arrival in Washington, seems to have been regarded as an obstacle, on their part, to the opening of any discussion touching the object of their mission, until the circumstances attending that movement should be explained in a manner which would relieve them of all doubt as to the spirit in which the contemplated negotiations should be conducted. They, however, urge upon the President the immediate withdrawal of the troops of the United States from the harbor of Charleston, upon the allegation that they are a standing menace, which rendered negotiations impossible, and which, as they express it, threaten speedily to bring to a bloody issue questions which ought to be settled with temperance and judgment.' This communication was received by the President, and

[ocr errors]

"As before stated, it is claimed by her, and in her behalf, that she now occupies such a position, and her agents are sent hither upon that assumption, charged with most extraordinary and insolent de mands upon the President. The reception, by the President, of such a communication under such cir cumstances, and awarding the dignity of an official reply, involves, to some extent, the recognition of the assumed position of the rebellious State, and impliedly admits that the individuals engaged in the

« PreviousContinue »