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SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR RESIGNS. MR. HOLT IN THE WAR THE PREVALENCE OF TREASON. THE LAW OF TREASON. RESIGNATION OF Ꮇ Ꭱ . THOMAS AND APPOINTMENT
Resignation of Mr.
The War Department,
HON. JACOB THOMPSON, | ances, and declared his purpose to do his Secretary of the Interior, whole duty, fearlessly. resigned his Cabinet seat, Thursday, January 8th. His reasons were, that: "after the order to reenforce Major Anderson was countermanded, on the 31st of December, there was a distinct understanding that no troops should be ordered South without the subject being considered and decided on in the Cabinet, At the Cabinet meeting, on the 2d of January, the matter was again debated, but not determined. Notwithstanding these facts, the Secretary of War, without the knowledge of Secretary Thompson, sent 250 troops in the Star of the West to reenforce Anderson. Not learning of this till Tuesday morning, he forthwith resigned." The resignation proved a relief rather than an embarrassment to the President. He was, like all the Southern men in the Cabinet, inimical to a policy of resistance to the revolution, and served only to distract the Cabinet Council. The remaining Southern member, Mr. Thomas, of Maryland, Secretary of the Treasury, was less offensive than any of those who had withdrawn; but, being a "Southern man," his resignation was, also, daily looked for, and, by the great mass of the people and Members of Congress, was desired.
Congress not being in session Tuesday, Mr. Buchanan was waited upon by a large number of Congressmen, as well as by eminent persons then in Washington, to be congratulated on the growing sentiment for Union. He was quite generally assured that his policy of resistance would not only gratify the majority of the people, but that they would be satisfied with nothing less than a firm enforcement of the laws. The President expressed much gratification with these assur
Mr. Holt, PostmasterGeneral, continued to discharge the duties of the War Department. His labors were almost exclusively performed in General Scott's office, where he could find not only privacy, but could, at all moments, obtain the wise counsel of the veteran Lieutenant-General. Spies and Southern emissaries lurked everywhere, and scarcely a whisper was uttered which did not seem to be heard and repeated to the Government's detriment. Eminent men from the South stooped to the mean position of tale-bearers and special reporters; while the army of Southerners in employ of all the departments, in all branches of the Civil service, in the Army and Navy-almost without exception-became petty informers, plotting and intriguing against the Government whose bounty they were living upon. Such wide spread and thorough demoralization of the sentiment of honor never before was witnessed in America: may it never again be seen! Mr. Holt brought to the duties of his responsible position courage, patriotism and industry quite equal to the extraordinary emergencies by which he was environed, and Southern men beheld in him the controlling genius of the unqualified Union policy.
excuse offered was the impossibility of sustaining the arrests with sufficient force to make them secure; but the Constitutional timidity of the President, and the opposition offered by the venerable man who occupied the position of Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court,* were, doubtless, the real causes of the latitude granted to men who were writing and preaching the most undoubted treason; were buying arms to use against the Government; were exciting sedition and corrupting the loyalty of those still true to the Union and the Constitution.t
* Mr. F. C. Treadwell, of New York, on Jan. 16th, proceeded to Washington, to enter formal complaint against a large number of the leading Secessionists. This complaint, legal and pro forma in its nature, was returned by the Clerk of the United States Supreme Court, with the message from Judge Taney-not the written endorsement (for that would have been evidence of his own complicity,) as such cases required -that" they were improper papers to be presented to the Court." The United States Supreme Court thus planted itself before the conspirators to give them immunity from arrest. No wonder the President was hesitating, when even the Supreme Bench offered sympathy to treason!
The following resolutions, as indicative of the sentiments of a large body of the people, unanimously passed the Central Republican Club of New York City, January 10th:
Whereas, A band of traitors in the Cabinet at Washington, in both Houses of Congress, and in several of the Southern States of this Republic, have made war against the United States; have seized forts, arsenals, and other public property; robbed the Treasury, obstructed the telegraph, and committed other acts of violence, in combination and conspiracy against the people of the United States, and their Constitution of Government, for the pur
pose of introducing Slavery temporarily or permanently into every State and Territory of this Union; therefore,
The crime of treason is thus defined by the Constitution [Art. III., sec. 3]: Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open Court." The same section also stipulates that Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason. In exercising this power Congress passed its act of April 30th, 1790, in which it is declared:
The Law of Treason.
"If any person or persons, owing allegiance to the United States of America, shall levy war against them, or shall adhere to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort, within the United States, or elsewhere, and shall be thereof convicted, on confession in open court, or on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act of treason whereof he or they shall stand indicted, such person or persons shall be adjudged guilty of treason against the United States, and shall suffer death.
"If any person or persons, having knowledge of the commission of any of the treasons aforesaid, shall conceal, and not, as soon as may be, disclose and make known the same to the President of the United States, or some one of the judges thereof, or to the President or Governor of a particular State, or some one of the judges or justices thereof, such person or persons, on conviction, shall be adjudged guilty of misprision of treason, and shall be impris oned not exceeding seven years, and fined not exceeding one thousand dollars."
Chief Justice Marshall, in administering this act, thus interpreted it:
"It is not the intention of the Courts to say that no individual can be guilty of this crime who has not appeared in arms against his country.
On the contrary, if war be actually levied-that if a body of men be actually assembled for the purpose of effecting by force a treasonable purpose -all those who perform any part, however minute, or however remote from the scene of action, and
are to be considered as traitors."
"Resolved, That the Constitution as it is, provides who are actually leagued in the general conspiracy, the most perfect system of government known to man; that it needs no amendment, and shall have none, at the beck and call of traitors, or their insolent mouth-pieces,
Resolved, That we hold ourselves ready, and tender our services to the State, or the National Government, or both, to aid to the extent of our power in crushing this formidable and wicked rebellion; determined, at all hazards, that the Constitution shall
"Overt acts" were everywhere visible throughout the South; while, in the North,
be "preserved, protected, and defended," peace restored, and the blessings of liberty-of liberty of speech and the press, fully and amply vindicated and secured."
open and secret sales of arms and munitions were consummated during all the months of December, January and February-arms which the manufacturers and salesmen knew were to be used against the Government, and, beyond question, sold them so to be used. The Adams' Express was an accredited carrying agent for the transportation of arms to the South; and, during these months, almost daily transported packages which its agents knew to contain arms and munitions ordered by the revolutionary States for use against the Government. During March, large quantities of clothing were manufactured in Northern cities for Southern troops, and rapidly carried South by this same "Southern" Express, knowing the clothing to be for the aid and comfort of the enemies of the Government. In Washington, as we have stated, the Departments, the floors of Congress, the Army, the Navy, all fairly stiffened with the insolence and hauteur of treason and misprision of treason. Army and Navy officers resigned, with the expressed purpose of taking service against their Government-some taking such service before they could even know if their resignations were acted upon, as in the cases of Commander Farrand and Lieut. Renshaw, at Pensacola; while others not even deigned to send in a resignation, but took their vessels with them when they passed over to the revolutionists, as in the cases of Capt. Coste, Capt. Breshwood, and Capt. Morrison-each one of whom betrayed his vessel into the hands of the rebels.
How it will astonish future generations to read the law of Congress above quoted, and then to learn that, in the face of all this undisguised cooperation and collusion with the conspirators, not one arrest was made-not one indictment for treason! That the violent Secessionists in Congress, the Army and Navy officers offering their resignations from secession proclivities, the manufacturers and salesagents of arms,-all should have been arrested admits of no question if the law was to be considered else than a dead letter. That Adams' Express Company should have had its charter confiscated, and its rights and immunities sequestered, can hardly be a matter of argument in the face of that act of Congress.
The responsibility of non-action on the part of Congress and the Executive cannot be excused on the plea that the States, individually, had power to punish treason committed against them, for, what was treason against a State was equally treason against the common country, and, therefore, amenable to the Constitutional provision for its punishment. Judge Story says:
The power of punishing the crime of treason against the United States is exclusive in Congress; and the trial of the offence belongs exclusively to the tribunals appointed by them. A State cannot take cognizance, or punish the offence; whatever it may do in relation to the offence of treason, committed exclusively against itself, if indeed any case
can, under the Constitution, exist, which is not, at the same time, treason against the United States." [Com. on Const. § 1296, p. 173, vol. III.]
Further Cabinet Changes.
On Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Executive, alone must rest the responsibility of non-action. That the growth of the defection was precipitate and wide-spread owing to this very smothering of the plain processes of the law is now, as it then was, evident even to the most casual observer. A telegram from Washington dated the 11th, stated that the "President had signified to Mr. Thomas, Secretary of the Treasury, that his resignation was desired.” This is said to have grown out of a visit of several leading capitalists of New York, as representatives of the banks of that city, who expressed a willingness and wish to aid Government with funds, but felt so little confidence in the Secretary that his removal must precede any tenders of money. The fact that Mr. Thomas was a disunionist-as well as his first assistant, Mr. Clayton,-was sufficient to inspire a want of faith in their integrity of administration. The capitalists, it is probable, also suggested the nomination, as Secretary of the Treasury, of General John A. Dix, then Postmaster of New York City. Mr. Thomas resigned (January 11th), and Mr. Dix took the vacated bureau to try and resuscitate the distressed finances of the country from their humiliating condition. The shocking mismanagement of that Department by the Secessionists Secretaries had almost ruined the credit of Government; and Mr. Buchanan performed a wise act in listening to the counsel of
the New York men of money. The Treasury | supported in a vigorous policy but soon dissoon felt the magnetism of integrity and covered that his advisers were ready for a true patriotism; and, from that hour, it began to recover its old character for efficiency. Howell Cobb took the keys to find the chest absolutely burdened with its riches: Mr. Thomas found and left it in a state of discredit and bankruptcy. The end designed of crippling the Federal Government had been accomplished.
This last change restored the Cabinet to harmony of action. It was now composed of men of undoubted ability and of devoted patriotism, and the President found himself not only
Jacksonian handling of the reins of Government. The brief term of his rule, together with his distaste for a state of war, contributed to lead his feet into bye-paths-to impel him to choose a course of action which should leave the incoming Administration to grap ple with the monster which his timidity had not strangled in its infancy.
He was, indeed, to leave for his successor the veritable Pandora box. It was his only legacy.
WHEN it became proba- | looked eagerly for the news of each steamer to read their fate, if possible, in the revela tions of the foreign press.
The North viewed the matter of English and French sympathy without concern. Ap
Relative Positions. ble that a disrupted Confederacy would be the result of the disunion revolution, the foreign relations of the country began to excite unwonted interest on the part of the revolu-preciating the force of the arguments urged tionary leaders. The South turned longingly to England and France for their sympathy. Were these nations not greatly dependant on the products of Slavery for their prosperity? Could they fail to recognize a new Confederacy which might safely promise more cotton at a less price than under the old Union? Would they not be happy to establish new commercial relations, unhampered by tariffs, and encouraged by a system of exchanges--the foreign nations acting as consumers of a raw material to return it manufactured? What a fine promise, truly, for British commerce and French looms! And then, weightier than all, would not those nations rejoice to see the great Western Republic reduced from a first-class to a third-rate power-thus giving monarchy a new lease of its prerogatives? All views seemed favorable to the scheme for the Slave Confederation, and the leaders
by the South, to create a foreign interest in its behalf, the Free States felt confident of being able to restrain active sympathy for the revolutionists, not more by old ties, treaties and international obligations, than by the repugnance which the people-particularly of Great Britain-felt for Slavery. A pure Slave Confederacy never could win their confidence. If they must have the products of Slave labor, to employ their millions of wearers and spinners, they preferred to practice the little hypocrisy of excusing themselves for the purchase, so long as it came from the free United States; but, make the issue direct, to support a Confederation formed erpressly to extend the area of Slavery, to rivet the chains more securely on the miserable bondmen-then the English people would cry, never! The North seemed to rest assured of this feeling, and did not experience the
OPINIONS OF THE
feverish anxiety in regard to foreign relations which possessed the entire South, from a very early moment of the revolution.
It will be of interest to reproduce such expressions of influential foreign journals, during the month of January, as will indicate how our affairs impressed the European mind. Being outside, and comparatively disinterested, observers the London Times, perhaps, excepted--their remarks will serve to give the reader a clearer comprehension of the questions involved than might otherwise be obtained.
"Mr. Buchanan has sought The Paris "Constitu- out the means of preserving the Union from the catastrophe which threatens it; he has drawn up a plan of reconciliation between the Northern and Southern States. It cannot, however, be said that this project is a compromise, inviting the two adverse parties to mutual concessions and equal sacrifices; it is rather a summons addressed to one to yield to the exigencies of the other; it is more like a decision come to with partiality than an equitable arbitration. To the North, which has gained its cause before the people, the President signifies that it must abandon the benefit of the decision for the profit of the South, which has been the losing party. Under pretext of conciliation, the Message calls on the conqueror to place himself under the feet of the conquered. Such is the groundwork of Mr. Buchanan's propositions. * What, then, does Mr. Buchanan ask for? He requires the North to accept, as forming a part of the Constitution itself, the three following points:-1. An express recognition of the right of property over slaves wherever Slavery exists, or may exist. 2. The duty of protecting that right on all the common Territories, until they constitute themselves into States. 3. The recognition of the right of a master to have a fugitive slave delivered up to him by all the States, and a declaration that all the laws of a State, which are in contradiction to that right are so many violations of the Constitution, and must, therefore, be null and of non-effect. It is tantamount to saying to the North: 'Grant to the South all it claims; it will then be satisfied, and will not separate itself from you.' *
Will the North resign itself to a capitulation of its conscience-to a sacrifice of its self-loveand submit, in exchange for the maintenance of the Confederation, to all the exigencies of the South? Will it accept the evasion proposed to it under the form of remonstrance and wise advice? According to Mr. Buchanan, that would be the only means of Baving the Union. Or will the North, irritated in its turn by the reproaches of the President, who throws
on it the whole responsibility of the crisis, persist in its victory, and allow the South, which it has neither threatened nor provoked, to act as it likes? That is what a no distant future will inform us. For our
part, our wishes are at the same time for the safety of the great American Republic, and for the gradual diminution of Slavery. We much fear, however, that the North will see in the late Message proposi
tions offensive to it; while the South will find there an encouragement to its projects of rupture. Mr. Buchanan would thus have failed in his attempt at pacification, and will have bequeathed to his fellowcountrymen only an incoherent commentary on the Constitution of the Republic. Would it not have been better if he had referred to a famous letter of Washington, dated in April, 1786, and in which that Father of his Country' said: "There is not a man living who desires more sincerely than I to see a plan adopted for the abolition of Slavery; but there is but one suitable and effectual mode of accomplishing that object-legislative authority.'”— Dec. 22d.
The London Times.
"Never for many years can the United States be to the world what they have been. Mr. Buchanan's message has been a greater blow to the American people than all the rants of the Georgian Governor or the ordinances' of the Charleston Convention. The President has dissipated the idea that the States which elected him constitute one people. We had thought that the Federation was of the nature of a nationality; we find it is nothing more than a partnership. If any State may, on grounds satisfactory to a local convention, dissolve the union between itself and its fellows; if discontent with the election of a President, or the passing of an obnoxious law by another State, or, it may be, a restrictive tariff gives a State the right of revolution,' and permits it to withdraw itself from the community, then the position of the American people, with respect to foreign Powers is completely altered. It is strange that a race whose patriotic captiousness, when in the society of Europeans, is so remarkable, should be so ready to divide and to give up the ties of fellowcitizenship for a cause which strangers are unable to appreciate. Still stranger is it that a chief magistrate, who would have plunged the world in civil war rather than a suspicious craft should be boarded by English officers, after it had displayed the Stars and Stripes, or would have done battle against despots for any naturalized refugee from Continental Europe, should, without scruple and against the advice of his own Secretary of State, declare the Federal Union dissolved whenever a refractory State chooses to secede.-January 9th.
"The Declaration of the immediate causes which induce and justify the separation of South Carolina