« PreviousContinue »
Stanton's Defence of
be authorized by Congress, to | Whether the closing of speclose the ports, and not regard cific ports by law be giving them as ports of entry. Then, if a preference to any one the Southern Confederacy treated this as a hostile port more than another, was a question he act, an act of war, and should organize an armed would not then discuss. There was no necesforce, and make an aggressive war upon any of the sity to discuss that question. There was very citizens of the United States, then the Government little difference of opinion about it. Congress must be placed in a position to protect and defend itself. He did not look upon the position taken by had plenary power wherever ports of entry parties in the Seceding States of sufficient practical were located in any State. importance to imperil the peace of the country by attempting hostilities till all hopes of a peaceful adjustment were abandoned. There was a necessity, however, in the mean time, for stationing vessels in the Southern ports; but if that mode of executing the law be resisted, by seeking to capture the Cap ital of the Republic, and the national archives, the Administration must be placed in a position to protect and defend itself against aggression. Supposing, by some untoward event, that Virginia and Maryland should be, within twenty or thirty days after the 4th of March, precipitated into an Ordinance or
John Cochrane, (Dem.,) of New York, also propounded a query. He did not question the Constitutional power of Government to close the port of any State, but he was informed it was the opinion of the gentleman from Ohio that the Southern section was in a state of revolt. Now, he would ask whether it was not the intent of the friends of the bill, through its instrumentality, to precipitate an armed force upon the scene of secession, for the purpose of suppress
Act of Secession, they had not of the whole army of ing it?
the United States 18,000 men, when mustered to its maximum strength, and these troops were scattered over California, Oregon, New Mexico and Texas, and they could not in sixty days concentrate in the Capital 5,000 men belonging to the regular army. Under these circumstances, were they and the personnel of the Government to be exposed to capture
as prisoners of war? Was the Capitol of the nation, the archives, the seal and symbols of sovereignty, all to be exposed to invasion and capture-a thing that might be done within twenty days after
the rising of the present Congress? Did gentlemen desire such a state of things? This bill was called for and desired for no other purpose than for purposes of defence and protection, and the exercise of such force as might be indispensable in collecting the revenue in the least possible offensive manner." Simms, (Dem.,) of Kentucky, asked Mr. Stanton how, under the clause of the Constitution-"that no preference shall be given, by any regulation of commerce or revenue, to the ports of one State over those of another"--Congress had the right to close the ports in the Seceded States? Also, if such a closing would not be an acknowledgment that the States were out of the Union, since, in the Union, they could not be constitutionally closed?
Stanton said he was not prepared to say that the incoming Administration would resort to that mode of executing the laws.
Stanton replied that he apprehended no man contemplated, through the bill, putting a single hostile foot on the soil of any State of this Confederacy, until absolutely necessary, in self-defence, and until a Southern army is marched upon Northern soil-upon any soil of the Confederacy. He added further, that he considered the bill as simply and purely a defensive measure.
Cochrane said that, if it be only a measure of defence, he desired Mr. Stanton to explain how the powers conferred by the bill would be efficaciously directed to the defence of the country and against revolution, so as not to be used in subjugating the State where such existed.
Stanton supposed that any police which might be raised would. be properly used by the Executive for this purpose. Under any circumstances, they must trust something to the intelligence and patriotism of those who have the control of the Government of the Republic.
Simms inquired whether, under the bill, there was any limit to the number of volunteers that may be called out? He would, in this respect, call attention to the difference be tween this bill and the Force bill of 1833. Might not the President, under this bill, call into requisition a million of men, and thus incur a debt of millions, not for the invasion of
MR. STEVENS' SPEECH.
Southern States, but merely as a power of defence and for the execution of the laws?
special order (his Report) to allow discussion on the bill; but, time for its reading, and for consultation, was so evidently demanded that Stanton moved the bill be postponed until the succeeding day at one o'clock, then to be made the special order, with a view
Stanton replied: In that respect the bill did not change the law of 1795. It conferred precisely the same power for the purposes of suppressing insurrection against the authority of a-State in executing the laws; nothing of having it discussed. This was resisted, more, and nothing less. He thought the House might as well dispose of the question, at this time as any other, and he would therefore call the previous question.
Bocock, (Dem.,) of Virginia, amid considerable excitement, inquired when members on his side were to obtain a hearing upon this declaration of war? It was the first time in the history of the country that they had been precipitated into a war under the action of the previous question, and he called upon the men who intend to stand up for the peace of the country to resist this bill, and resist it to the last. He moved to lay the bill upon the table. On this, Craige, of North Carolina, demanded the yeas and nays.
and Winslow, (Dem.,) of North Carolina, objected, which left the bill in its previous shape, viz.: under the call for the previous question, to come up on the morrow, prior to one o'clock.
The Corwin Report, being the special order, then came up, when Stewart, (Rep.,) of Pennsylvania, addressed the House in a speech of an hour's length. He denied that either the States or the General Governments were "soverign," all being ruled by constitutions which stripped them of "sovereign" attributes. The National Government having vested powers, superior to and over the States, was superior to the States, and, therefore, must decide for the States in -69 to 105. During the all questions involving nationality. In this call, and preceding it, the wildest excite-light the step, already taken by some of the ment prevailed. The Southern side charged that the Republicans were putting everything through with a gag force, under the demand for the previous question. He claimed a right to discuss the bill. Boteler, (Am.,) of Virginia, said: "At every stage of the progress through the Committee on Military Affairs, of this most ill-timed, unwise, and iniquitous measure, I have warred against it; and, only this morning, I took occasion to warn the Chairman of the Committee that he could not devise a more efficient method by which to destroy the Union than to persist in pressing it, in this way, and at this particular time, through the House.
Cox, (Dem.,) of Ohio, voted "aye" on the motion to lay the bill on the table, considering the bill a disunion measure. Sickles (Dem.,) of New York, voted aye, saying that the North would regard the bill as substituting coercion for justice-as an abandonment of conciliation for war.
A regular guerrilla war of words followed the announcement of the vote to lay on the table. Corwin proposed to postpone the
States, and threatened by others, was one which challenged the General Government to an exercise of its supremacy, for they were in revolution. As to the right of revolution, it could only be plead in cases of extreme disabilities and oppression. He said that such an assumption, on the part of the Seceded States, threw an onus on the dominant States which ought to be either proven or abandoned. He proceeded to demonstrate how utterly baseless were their alleged wrongs. The very agitation of the question of Slavery always was started by the South-nerer by the North; and if, on plain issues, created by questions which the South had started, the North had triumphed, it was the legitimate result of the Constitutional right of the majority. He cited the acts of 1792, 1795 and 1807, to show that a Congress, composed of many of the men who had helped to frame the Constitution, had deemed it right and necessary to delegate extraordinary powers to the President to sustain the power of the Government against its enemies. He therefore aflirmed that, without the bill reported by Mr. Stanton, the powers of the President were ample
terfere, unless asked by the Governors of the States.
Douglas answered, showing that no sus
to enforce the laws whenever obstructed by State or people. He yet thought it a question whether it was proper for the Government to exercise all its powers. He was willing to sub-pension of the service was contemplated, mit to the will of the people in the matter except in cases where it was obstructed, and of compromise, but he was not willing that that, in that case, the mails must either be the Constitution should be touched. He was withdrawn or defended by force. The bill unwilling that its great principles should be was to avoid the latter alternative. The ehanged. amendment proposed he (Mr. Douglas) preferred to meet on a bill presenting that isolated question.
This most excellent speech was listened to with interest, by both sides of the House. During its delivery Mr. Stewart was closely questioned by Simms, of Kentucky, and Branch, of North Carolina, and answered with a force and frankness which quite disarmed them.
The Naval Appropriation bill coming up in Committee of the Whole, elicited a sharp discussion. The House was in a positive state, and so fully charged that the two sides fairly scintillated in their repellant attitude. After a lively and somewhat protracted debate on various points, the Committee rose without having arrived at a vote.
At the evening session speeches were made by Messrs. Pettit and Porter, (Reps.,) of Indiana, and Wade and Blake, (Reps.,) of Ohio. Porter supported the Corwin Resolutions. The others made strong anti-compromise speeches. That by Pettit was an able argument in vindication of his position-the Constitution and the Union as they are. The speeches of Messrs. Wade and Blake were vigorous in their anti-slavery sentiment.
Mails in the Seceded
The Senate, Wednesday, (February 20th,) considered the bill to authorize the Postmaster-General to discontinue mail service in those States where it was liable to be interfered with, [see pages 346-48.]
Mr. Douglas regarded the bill as eminently proper, and considered it a peace measure.
Green, (Dem.,) of Missouri, moved to amend the bill by adding that the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to prevent any attempt to collect the revenue in such States. He thought the bill was a direct attempt to strike at the States claiming to be out of the Union. Is there insurrection in any State, or obstruction to the mail service in any State? Even if there was, the Postmaster-General or President has no power to in
Green, of Missouri, thinking that this substitute accomplished all designed by his amendment, withdrew his proposition. He spoke at some length, in opposition to the bill. He said: "The real purpose here was to strike at, by indirection, the States which are now denominated Slave States. If you will strike at them, and ignore their political relations by the passage of this bill, I demand it as a right, that you either accept my amendment, or that proposed by the Senator from Texas., which will, I think, accomplish the same thing."
Clingman, (Dem.,) of North Carolina, said he believed those States were out of the Union, and foreign States as much as Great Britain, and thought the mail service should be stopped, but wanted to alter the bill, and moved to strike out "insurrection," and insert as a reason for the discontinuance, "the Secession of certain States."
Fitch, (Dem.,) of Indiana, suggested, say a refusal to acknowledge the laws, so as not to recognize Secession; also, to strike out the words "postal laws maintained," so as to give no reason to employ force. This, offered as an amendment, Clingman finally accepted, as a substitute for his own.
Mason, (Dem.,) of Virginia, addressed the Senate on the bill. He said it came from
MR. BOCOCK'S OPPOSITION.
the House as a declaration a military force to suppress that insurrection existed in insurrection against the authe Seceded States. He thority of the United States. wished the Senate to look at the ques- He briefly argued that the various features in tion as it was thus presented. He argued that the Constitution were designed and intended there was no insurrection, but a new govern- to prohibit the General Government from ment installed, and acting with full power as operating in the States, unless by their cona sovereign government. Therefore, the use sent, saying that this bill authorizes the Presof such terms as "insurrection" assumed ident to carry on positive, direct, and immethat the whole power of the Federal Govern- diate coercion against the Seceding States. ment was still to be exercised in the Seceded It goes further than that: it clothes the States when the "insurrection" would allow. President with the whole military power of It was, for that reason, tantamount to a dec- the country. It was not known what Mr. laration of war. As such it should be Lincoln, when he succeeded to the Presicast out as a wicked and inhuman invention. dency, would consider an act of insurrection The Tariff bill, being the special order, against the authority of the United States. came up for consideration to shut off further We have had in this city a large part of the debate on the Postal Service bill. In the course standing army, owing to an idle apprehenof the long debate which ensued, many in- sion. The Select Committee have reported cidental allusions were made germane to our that no conspiracy in connection with the subject, proving that the Southern men still seizure of the Capitol exists, and yet the milin the Senate sought to serve their friends itary forces here have accumulated since that out of the Union, by offering every conceiva- time. In a few brief days this Administrable objection to the proposed measures for tion will go out, and here is assembled. a replenishing the finances of the exhausted large military force ready for Mr. Lincoln's National Treasury. use; and, in addition, this bill would enable him to call out the whole militia force, and accept the services of volunteers to suppress insurrection against the authority of the United States, Whither are we going? Where are we drifting? We have already divided the Union into two Governments, and if we enter upon war at this time, the consequences must be more disastrous than history has ever recorded. As to the Border Slave States, they ought to take such steps as will best preserve the peace of the country. If this can be done by joining the Gulf States, they ought to do it. But, if blood be shed, and the armies of the two Governments come in collision, and bad passions be engendered by strife, then farewell, a long farewell, to any hope of a reconstruction of the Union! While the Peace Conference is in session, and when it has not even made a report, we see foreign troops gathered here, and members pass to the Capitol by the point of the bayonet. The Convention of Virginia was now in session, and whatever hope may have been cherished of a peaceful solution of our difficulties, it would at least be diminished by the passage of the
The Volunteer Bill
In the House the Volunteer bill, offered by Mr. Stanton on the preceding day, came up during the morning hour, and enlisted quite as much feeling as was anticipated from its first stormy reception.
Bocock, (Dem.,) of Virginia, addressed the House. The passage of the bill seemed a foregone conclusion; but he could not, for that reason, refuse his opposition to it. He opposed it on account of the features which appear on its face; he opposed it in consequence of the effect its passage will produce on the peace and prosperity of the country. He opposed it above all, and more than all, in consequence of the policy it indicates, if it does not in the strongest degree initiate. He yesterday characterized the bill as a declaration of war, and having since carefully read it, he reiterated the remark. It was more than a declaration of war. It invested the President in time of peace with dictatorial powers. The bill does something more than suppress invasion and insurrection. It authorizes the President to employ
The Seven Steam
the Republican sentiment
The Seven Sloops-of-
"I do not say it never will be done. If we enter upon a war in which armies are marching and countermarching between one section and another, such a result would be probable. If all peaceful measures shall fail, and nothing else remains but open war, I do say that I do not know that anybody re
Thaddeus Stevens, (Rep.,) of Pennsylvania, hoped what the gentleman from Ohio said was not said as the united voice of the Republicans. He (Mr. Stevens) held different views. He thought it was the intention to retake all the public property of which they had been robbed, and retake it in such a manner as to necessarily use the gentlest means first, and then such as may be neces‐ sary.
pending bill. At this point the special order was called, being the Corwin Report; upon which Vallandigham, (Dem.,) of Ohio, proceeded to address the House. His speech was an elaborate plea for adjustment by compromise, and reconstruction upon his plan of reorganization of the Electoral system, [see pages 355-56.] At the conclusion of his speech Mr. Sherman pressed the Naval Ap-gards an attempt to recapture those forts as impropriation bill, when it was taken up in practicable or an improbable thing." Committee of the Whole; and the question being on the eighteenth amendment of the Senate, viz., for building seven steam sloopsof-war, Garnett, (Dem.,) of Virginia, offered as a substitute a proviso that said ships shall not be used to execute the Federal laws or aid either the land or naval force in any States claiming to be without the Federal jurisdiction. He said, in defence of his substitute, that if there were no other reason, the bankrupt condition of the Treasury should induce the House to refuse concurrence in the Senate's amendment. From what had been said in the Senate by prominent gentlemen, these vessels were intended for coercive purposes. Among other things, he alluded to Mr. Lincoln's speeches, and a private conversation between Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Hutchison, of Kentucky, to show that Lincoln is in favor of coercing the Southern States. Lincoln is wary and frank, and does not attempt to hide the claws of a tiger under the velvet fur. He does not, like his Republican friends, seek to avoid the issue. A very excited colloquy Stanton, (Rep.,) of Ohio, thought it extra- | followed. Anderson, (Am.,) ordinary that Mr. Lincoln should be held of Kentucky, asked Garnett committed to coercion from casual conversations. If the Seceding States shall return to their allegiance, they will bring back the forts, etc., with them. If, on the contrary, they shall ultimately maintain a sep- A storm of applause and hisses followed arate nationality, he did not believe any man this declaration both from the galleries and would wish to enter upon a course that could the floor. It was some moments ere the conresult in no practical good. Garnett inter- fusion subsided. Anderson was asked by posed to inquire for whom he spoke. Stan- Brown, (Dem.,) of Kentucky, if he was for the ton answered that he certainly spoke for him- Union?-if he would sustain the incoming self, and spoke, too, from what he had gath- Administration in event of its resorting to ered from the views of everybody in conver- coercion? The reply was, that so long as he sation, who would not be likely to talk non- was in the Union, he (Anderson) was for the sense in an unrestricted intercourse. Gar- Constitution and enforcement of the laws. nett inquired if he was to understand that He was not for coercing the South. He did
Stanton further explained, that he took it for granted the next Administration will not recognize the Constitutional right of secession, but that it will be treated as revolution. He took it for granted that Mr. Lincoln will see he has no Constitutional power to forego the execution of the laws, in the mode least calculated to create difficulty. If the Southern States do not return, and there is no Constitutional mode of recogniz ing a separate nationality, of course this business must end in war. There is no escape from it.
if he was for the Union? The loud and excited reply was:
"I am for the State of Virginia seceding from this Northern Union at the earliest possible moment!"