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endorsement of his fellow-Republicans, who "had determined to leave all the speaking to the Southern Fire-Eaters." Their policy was not to aggravate matters, nor to lay a word in the way of a settlement. In the course of Mr. Iverson's remarks several important points were elucidated. Alabama, he averred, would secede on the 7th of January, Georgia on the 16th, "and before the 4th of March-before your President is inaugurated, there will be five States, if not eight, that will be out of the Union, and will have formed a Constitution for a frame of Government." Nothing would prevent the dissolution of the Union. Concessions were not only not wanted but would not be accepted. He said:
"Gentlemen speak of concession of the repeal
of the Personal Liberty bills. Repeal them all to
morrow, and you cannot stop this revolution. It is not the Liberty laws but the mob law which he South fears. They do not dread these overt acts, for, without the power of the Federal Government, by force, under the Republican rule, their institution would not last ten years, and they know it. They intend to go out of this Union, and he believed this. Before the fourth of March five States will have declared their independence, and he was satisfied that three other States would follow as soon as the action of the people can be had. Arkansas will call her Convention, and Louisiana would follow. And though there is a clog in the way in the lone star of Texas, in the person of the Governor, who will not consent to call the Legislature, yet the public sentiment is so strong that even her Governor may be over-ridden; and if he will not yield to that public sentiment, some Texan Brutus may arise to rid his country of this old, hoary-headed traitor. [Great sensation.] There has been a good deal of vaporing and threatening, but they came from the last men who would carry out their threats. Men talk about their eighteen millions, but we hear a few days afterward of these same men being switched in the face, and they tremble like a sheep-stealing dog. There will be no war. The North, governed by such far-seeing statesmen as the Senator from New York (Mr. Seward), will see the futility of this. In less than twelve months a Southern Confedracy will be formed, and it will be the most successful Government on earth. The Southern States, thus banded together, will be able to resist any force in the world. We do not expect war, but we will be prepared for it, and we are not a feeble race of Mexicans either."
Mr. Iverson conceded that secession was
Delaware for the Union.
revolution. Every State, he said, went from the Union at its peril, and must take the consequences. He claimed no rights of secession under the Constitution-differing, in this, from his colleagues, who asserted the right to dissolve the Federal compact at will. These disunion expressions were reproved by Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware, who made a brief but highly patriotic speech. He spoke for Delaware. Her people had done too much and performed too many services in achieving our glorious liberty which we now enjoy, and in the establishment of the Constitution under which we now live, and no son of hers will ever raise a hand to strike a blow against the Constitution or against the Union. When that Union shall
be destroyed, by the madness and folly of others, if unfortunately it should be, it will then be time enough for Delaware, and for her Representatives, to say what her course will be. This speech was heartily received by the galleries, which were now uniformly filled by an anxious and excitable crowd of both sexes.
The Committee of Thirty-Three.
Dec. 6th, the Speaker of the House announced the Committee on Mr. Boteler's resolution, of one from each State, to consider that part of the President's Message relating to the distracted state of the country. It was designed to postpone the announcement to December 10th, but the urgency of Conservative Southern men to take the question into consideration, and thus to arrest growing excitement, induced an early nomination and announcement of the members of the Committee, as follows:
Thomas Corwin, of Ohio, Chairman.
Ch. Francis Adams, Mass.
The political cast embraced sixteen Republicans and seventeen Opposition. Conservative men were named upon both sides, so far as such could be found. It introduced, of necessity, several "Fire-Eaters," or peremptory secessionists, one of whom, Mr. Hawkins, of Florida, begged to be excused from serving. He declared against any compromise, and could not serve on any Union-saving committee. This step had been anticipated; and, to prevent other Southerners from preferring requests for non-service, Mr. Millson, of Virginia, moved to adjourn. The House adjourned, by a vote of 104 to 92, to Monday, December 10th. Mr. Corwin requested the interval for the purpose of giving members of the committee time for conference and fraternization.
The Senate also adjourned to Monday, without acting on Mr. Powell's proposition for a Special Committee of Thirteen on the Crisis.
We may here subjoin--to place before the reader the entire argument on the question at issue the Attorney-General's official opinion as laid by the President before Congress. It formed the basis of his own argument against the power to coerce a State. It is an able and lucid paper, reflecting credit upon its author, Judge J. S. Black :
The Attorney - Gene
"ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S OFFICE, Nov. 20, 1860. "SIR: I have had the honor
to receive your note of the 17th, and I now reply to the grave questions therein propounded as fully as the time allowed me will permit.
"Within their respective spheres of action, the Federal Government and the Government of a State are both of them independent and supreme, but each is utterly powerless beyond the limits assigned to it by the Constitution. If Congress would attempt to change the law of descents, to make a new rule of personal succession, or to dissolve the family relations existing in any State, the act would be simply void, but no more void than would be a State law to prevent the recapture of fugitives from labor, to forbid the carrying of the mails, or to stop the collection of duties on imports. The will of a State, whether expressed in its Constitution or laws, cannot, while it remains in the Confederacy, absolve her people from the
"To the Chief Executive Magistrate of the Union
is confided the solemn duty of seeing the laws faithfully executed. That he may be able to meet this duty with a power equal to its performance, he nominates his own subordinates and removes them at his pleasure. For the same reason the land and naval forces are under his orders as their Coramander-in-chief. But his power is to be used not in the manner prescribed by the legislative department. He cannot accomplish a legal purpose by illegal means, or break the laws himself to prevent them from being violated by others.
The acts of Congress sometimes give the Presi dent a broad discretion in the use of the means by which they are to be executed, and sometimes limit his power so that he can exercise it only in a certain prescribed manner. Where the law directs a thing to be done, without saying how, that implies the power to use such means as may be necessary and proper to accomplish the end of the Legislature. But where the mode of performing a duty is pointed out by statute, that is the exclusive mode, and no other can be followed. The United States have no common law to fall back upon when the written law is defective. If, therefore, an act of Congress de
The Attorney-General's Opinion.
THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S OPINION.
clares that a certain thing shall be done by a particular officer, it cannot be done by a different of ficer. The agency which the law furnishes for its own execution must be used, to the exclusion of all others. For instance, the revenues of the United States are to be collected in a certain way, at certain established ports, and by a certain class of officers; the President has no authority, under any circumstances, to collect the same revenues at other places, by a different sort of officers, or in ways not provided for. Even if the machinery furnished by Congress for the collection of the duties should by any cause become so deranged or broken up that it could not be used, that would not be a legal reason for substituting a different kind of machinery in its place.
"The law requires that all goods imported into the United States within certain Collection districts shall be entered at the proper port, and the duty thereon shall be received by the Collector appointed for and residing at that port. But the functions of the Collector may be exercised anywhere at or within the port. There is no law which confines him to the Custom-House, or to any other particular spot. If the Custom-House were burnt down, he might remove to another building; if he were driven from the shore, he might go on board a vessel in the harbor. If he keeps within the port, he is within the law. A port is a place to which merchandise is imperted, and from whence it is exported. It is created by law. It is not merely a harbor or haven, for it may be established where there is nothing but an open roadstead, or on the shore of a navigable river, or at any other place where vessels may arrive and discharge, or take in their cargoes. It comprehends the city or town which is occupied by the mariners, merchants, and others who are engaged in the business of importing and exporting goods, navigating the ships, and furnishing them with provisions. It includes, also, so much of the water adjacent to the city as is usually occupied by vessels discharging or receiving their cargoes, or lying at anchor and waiting for that purpose.
"The first section of the act of March 2, 1833, authorized the President in a certain contingency to direct that the Custom-House for any collection district be established and kept in any secure place within some port or harbor of such district, either upon land or on board any vessel. But this provision was temporary, and expired at the end of the session of Congress next afterward. It conferred upon the Executive a right to remove the site of the Custom-House, not merely to any secure place within the legally established port of entry for the district-that right he had before-but it widened his authority so as to allow the removal of it to any port or harbor within the
The Attorney-Gen eral's Opinion.
whole district. The enactment
"Your right to take such measures as may seem to be necessary for the protection of the public property is very clear. It results from the proprietary rights of the Government as owner of the forts, arsenals, magazines, dock-yards, navy-yards, customhouses, public ships, and other property, which the United States have bought, built, and paid for. Besides, the Government of the United States is authorized by the Constitution (Art. 1, Sec. 8) to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever ** over all places purchased by the consent of the Legislature of the State in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings.' It is believed that no important public building has been bought or erected on ground where the Legislature of the State in which it is has not passed a law consenting to the purchase of it and ceding the exclusive jurisdiction. This Government, then, is not only the owner of those buildings and grounds, but, by virtue of the supreme and paramount law, it regulates the action and punishes the offenses of all who are within them. If any one of an owner's rights is plainer than another, it is that of keeping exclusive possession and repelling intrusion. The right of defending the public property includes also the right of recapture after it has been unlawfully taken by another. President Jefferson held the opinion, and acted upon it, that he could order a military force to take possession of any land to which the United States had title, though they had never occupied it before, though a private party claimed and held it, and though it was not then needed nor proposed to be used for any purpose connected with the operations of the Government. This may have been stretch of Executive power; but the right of retaking pub. lic property in which the Government has been car rying on its lawful business, and from which its officers have been unlawfully thrust out, cannot well be doubted; and when it was exercised at Harper's Ferry, in October, 1859, every one acknowledged the legal justice of it.
"I come now to the point in your letter which is probably of the greatest practical importance. By the act of 1807, you may employ such parts of
The Attorney-General's Opinion.
the land and naval forces as you shall judge necessary for the purpose of causing the laws to be duly executed, in all cases where it is lawful to use the militia for the same purpose. By the act of 1795, the militia may be called forth whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed, or the execution thereof obstructed in any State by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the power vested in the Marshals.' This imposes upon the President the sole responsibility of deciding whether the exigency has arisen which requires the use of military force; and in proportion to the magnitude of that responsibility will be his care not to overstep the limits of his legal and just authority.
The Attorney-General's Opinion.
| difficulty would be found in fil-
"The existing laws put and keep the Federal Government strictly on the defensive. You can use force only to repel an assault on the public proper ty, and aid the courts in the performance of their duty. If the means given you to collect the revenue, and execute the other laws, be insufficient for that purpose, Congress may extend and make them more effectual to that end.
"If one of the States should declare her independence, your action cannot depend upon the rightfulness of the cause upon which such declaration is based. Whether the retirement of a State from the Union be the exercise of a right reserved in the Constitution, or a revolutionary movement, it is cer
"The laws referred to in the act of 1795 are manifestly those which are administered by the judges and executed by the ministerial officers of the courts for the punishment of crime against the United States, for the protection of rights claimed under the Federal Constitution and laws, and for the enforcement of such obligations as come within the cognizance of the Federal Judiciary. To compel obedience to these laws, the courts have authority to punish all who obstruct their regular administration, and the marshals and their deputies have the same power as sheriffs and their deputies in the several States, in executing the laws of the States. These are the ordinary means provided for the execution of the laws, and the whole spirit of our system is opposed to the employment of any other except intain that you have not in either case the authority to cases of extreme necessity, arising out of great and unusual combinations against them. Their agency must continue to be used until their incapacity to cope with the power opposed to them shall be plainly demonstrated. It is only upon clear evidence to that effect that a military force can be called into the field. Even then its operations must be purely defensive. It can suppress only such combinations as are found directly opposing the laws and obstructing the execution thereof. It can do no more than what might and ought to be done by a civil posse, if a civil posse could be raised large enough to meet the same opposition. On such occasions, especially, the military power must be kept in strict subordination to the civil authority, since it is only in aid of the latter that the former can act at all.
"But what if the feeling in any State against the United States should become so universal that the Federal officers themselves (including judges, district attorneys, and marshals,) would be reached by the same influences and resign their places? Of course the first step would be to appoint others in their stead, if others could be got to serve. But, in such an event, it is more than probable that great
recognize her independence or to absolve her from her Federal obligations. Congress, or the other States, in convention assembled, must take such measures as may be necessary and proper. In such an event I see no course for you but to go straight onward in the path you have hitherto trodden; that is, execute the laws to the extent of the defensive means placed in your hands, and act generally upon the assumption that the present constitutional rela
tions between the States and the Federal Government continue to exist until a new order of things shall be established, either by law or force.
"Whether Congress has the Constitutional right to make war against one or more States, and require the Executive of the Federal Government to carry it on by means of force to be drawn from the other States, is a question for Congress itself to consider. It must be admitted that no such power is expressly given; nor are there any words in the Constitution which imply it. Among the powers enumerated in Article I. section 8, is that 'to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and to make rules concerning captures on land and water.' This certainly means nothing more than the power to com
THE ACTION O F THE SOUTHERN
The Attorney-General's Opinion
mence and carry on hostilities | expulsion of such State from
"The right of the General Government to preserve itself in its whole constitutional vigor by repelling a direct and positive aggression upon its property or its officers cannot be denied. But this is a totally different thing from an offensive war to punish the people for the political misdeeds of State Govern
The Attorney-General's Opinion. against the foreign enemies of the nation. Another clause in the same section gives Congress the power to provide for calling forth the militia,' and to use them within the limits of the State. But this power is so restricted by the words which immediately follow, that it can be exercised only for one of the following purposes: 1. To execute the laws of the Union; that is, to aid the Federal officers in the performance of their regular duties. 2. To suppress insurrections against the States; but this is confined by Art.. IV, sec. 4, to cases in which the State herself shall apply for assistance against her own people. 3. To repel the invasion of a State by enemies who come from abroad to assail her in her own territory. All these provisions are made to protect the States, not to authorize an attack by one part of the country upon another; to preserve their peace, and not to plungements, or to prevent a threatened violation of the them into civil war. Our forefathers do not seem to Constitution, or to enforce an acknowledgment that have thought that war was calculated to form a the Government of the United States is supreme. more perfect union, establish justice, insure domes- The States are colleagues of one another, and if some tic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, of them shall conquer the rest and hold them as subpromote the general welfare, and secure the bless-jugated provinces, it would totally destroy the ings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.' whole theory upon which they are now connected. There was undoubtedly a strong and universal conviction among the men who framed and ratified the Constitution, that military force would not only be useless, but pernicious as a means of holding the States together.
"If this view of the subject be as correct as I think it is, then the Union must utterly perish at the moment when Congress shall arm one part of the people against another for any purpose beyond that of merely protecting the General Government in the exercise of its proper constitutional functions.
"I am, very respectfully, yours, &c.,
"J. S. BLACK. "To the President of the United States."
ACTION OF THE SOUTHERN STATES, UP TO DECEMBER 10TH.
Affairs in South
Ox the evening of November 30th, a large manded as belonging to meeting was held in Charleston, at which South Carolina, as the the Hon. C. G. Meminger foreshadowed the quota she was entitled to course to be pursued by the State. He said draw from the broken copartnership; that if that within three days after the Convention said forts and property were not duly given came together, (Dec. 17th,) South Carolina up and quitclaimed, the armed men of South would be declared out of the Union; that a Carolina would take them. This they stood Commissioner would be sent to Washington ready to do at any moment. It was what to treat concerning the forts and other Fede- they would do as surely as they were not ral property, which would be formally de- given up. Should the General Government