Page images



There is but one tribunal which can release Congress | hostility. In fact, it was a measure of fratrimen from the duty, and that is, the sovereign power | cidal and civil war clearly against the letter which framed the Constitution. That is the only power which can dissolve this Government; and until it is dissolved by that power, our duty is not doubtful, nor will the final result prove our authority

[blocks in formation]


Inasmuch as its enactment-its eventual enactment is a foregone and inevitable conclusion, I do most fervently pray that it may be adopted at once, to the end that the people of Virginia and the South may be roused to an apprehension of the perils which menace their destruction. Sir, it is by this policy of concealment and procrastination; this Machiavelian policy of' divide and conquer,' that the

enemies of the South have sown division in its councils. Dissembling designs which I know they entertain, and pretending pacific purposes, which I know they abhor at heart, they have succeeded, so far, in detaching the Border States from the Southern interest and alliance. Sir, for the sake of a united South, for the sake of the cause now suspended on the success of the Southern movement, I beseech gentlemen on the other side-nay, I rather defiantly challenge them, to assume the attitude of avowed hostility correspondent with their bloody designs."

No man, he declared with a violent demeanor, dared to gainsay the assertion, that the Republican party were resolved never to recognize the independence of the Seceded States, nor to surrender the control over the captured forts. In short, they are resolved to permit the South no other alternative but submission or subjugation. In the event that the South declines to capitulate, coercion by arms is their purpose and policy. Who so bold as to deny this assertion? He desired to proclaim to the country that the policy of the dominant party and the incoming Administration is to carry slaughter and sword into the bosoms of the people of the South, rather than tolerate the existence of a Southern Confederacy. The object is to chastise and subdue the Seceded States. By this bill the President may carry on against them a vigorous

and spirit of the Constitution. He closed his fulmination in these words:

"Then, sir, I say, pass your bills of coercion. Pass them with whatsoever indecent haste and aggravating circumstance. Collect the materials of war, so that when your leader descends upon the scene he may draw the curtain from the bloody drama-so that when he assumes the reins of power he may precipitate his legions into the bosom of the South. I do not say they may be welcomed with bloody hands to hospitable graves,' but this I will adventure: that the people of the South will not surrender their rights without a struggle; and that for whatsoever may be wrested from them by the grasp of superior force, they will indemnify their posterity by bequeathing them the legacy of an untarnished name."

Curtis, (Rep.,) of Iowa, answered the Virginian's irate declamation. He (Pryor) had followed in the same line of argument as others from his State, which, evidently, was meant to keep the public mind inflamed and bewildered. The Republicans were accused of meditating coercion, when

Curtis' Speech.

everything they had done and said had no such bearing. The gentleman expressed the hope that the bill would speedily pass for the purpose of arousing Virginia and the South. He did not thus speak to reason, to the bill, or to Congress, but to the Convention of Virginia, and to the assemblies of the South, who are taking action against their own mother-country. The gentleman's own statement that a Confederacy exists within the United States should induce us to draw around ourselves all the means of power and protection we can command. If we are a nation, we ought to show it. What are the pillars of Government? Goodness, wisdom, and power. There can be no Government without power, and no law without sanction, the omission of which would be mere advice. The bill now pending was for means of defence, and for the sake of peace. He contended that there was nothing unconstitutional in the bill, which only extended the provisions of existing laws. Jefferson, and Madison, and other Presidents had power to call out State troops. He repeated, that the bill is intended to aid in the execution of the

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

sections. He did not make war on the South-murder came from the other side. The acts of ern States, but every man who raised his hand assassins were not from the Republicans--the against the Government, as in the Southern murderous axe against the Government was States, was in rebellion against it. If gentle- wielded by persons skulking in the Executive men have affection for the country, let them Chamber and Senate of the United States, rally around its standard. There is no peace striking at their own mother-their motherif people will not show more loyalty. The country. peace and safety of society depend on the Government, which every man is bound to support, and the Government is bound to support every man.

He was interrupted, at some length, by Simms, of Kentucky, Rust, of Arkansas, Hughes, of Maryland, Clark, of Missouri, Branch, of North Carolina, and Burnett, of Kentucky—all of whom contested his positions and inferences with some feeling. Burnett, among his inquiries, asked whether it was the purpose of the Republicans, under this bill, to reenforce the forts in the Seceded States now held by the Federal Government, and to recapture the forts taken therein, unless they shall be surrendered.

Curtis replied, that his purpose was to support the Constitution as it is, until some power shall be vested in him to do otherwise. He had sworn to support the Constitution, and must do so. It may not be necessary to reenforce those forts in the present exasperated state of the public mind. He (Curtis) recognized rebellion and civil war as existing in the South. He would resort to all honorable means to avoid a conflict of arms, and did not believe it would be necessary to move an army thither until the people carry their hostility against the United States. This did not satisfy. Simms asked another question. In executing and enforcing the laws, do you hold it necessary in doing so to reenforce the Southern forts in possession of the Federal Government, and to recapture the property?

The reply was, that he (Curtis) was not going to say in open session what might be come the duty of his country in event of further aggressions. He would not speak of measures that ought to be spoken of only in secret session, if a purpose of that kind were entertained.

Burnett, of Kentucky, replied to the member from Iowa. He believed, with his friend from Virginia, that the passage of the bill was a foregone conclusion, and declarative of war. Such a measure never had passed Congress nor received the approval of any President. Those who framed and put the Constitution into operation expressly declared that, under no circumstances, in no conceivable state of the case, were the militia of the several States ever to be called into service by the Federal Government, except in subordination to the civil powers. The bill gave the President unlimited power over the army and navy, and enabled him to call into service 3,000,000 volunteers. The time has gone by to deal with theories, and the fact of secession must be looked on as a reality. The revolu tion was peaceful, successful, and the result a Confederated Government. Was it not better for us and our posterity to recognize that Government--not its independence, but the existing fact-and then treat with it, instead of involving and threatening the country with civil war? No man had more love for the Union than himself, but it must be one of equality, and Kentucky would stand by no other. In arraigning the Republicans, he said that they had rejected all propositions from the Border Slave States, and to accept less than what they contained would be dishonorable, therefore impossible.

John Cochrane, of New York, having obtained the Sickles' Amendment. floor, gave way for an amendment offered by Sickles, of New York, as follows:

"Provided, That none of the troops to be raised under this act shall be employed, except to aid in the execution of judicial process issued in conform ity with the Constitution and the laws; nor shall any of said troops be sent into any State unless upon





the request of the Legislature thereof, or of the Executive, when the Legislature shall not be in session, in conformity with section four of article four of the Constitution."

Before any action was Volunteer Bill Posttaken, Corwin moved to poned. postpone further consideration of the bill until Thursday the 28th, which was done, although Mr. Stanton declared such a postponement was equivalent to killing the bill. The vote to postpone stood 100 to 74. Among other remarks made during the calling of the yeas and nays, Mr. Bouligny, of Louisiana, said: "With all due respect to the gentleman who introduced this bill. I must say—and it is my duty to say that it is the most infamous and outrageous bill that has ever been presented to Congress; and I say shame on the man who did it !"

the warts, and afford more sufficient guarantees to the diversified and growing interests of the Government, and of the people composing the same. This substitute was rejected, by a vote of 74 to 108.

Kilgore, (Rep.,) of Indiana, then moved that the resolutions and the pending amendments be laid on the table-a motion that tions and all the amendments-which latter would dispose of the entire reported resoluincluded the resolutions offered by Mr. Kellogg, [see page 310,] and the Crittenden resMr. Clemens, of Virginia. It was offered as olutions, [see pages 156-7,] as submitted by compromise. As such the motion was voted a test question, covering the entire ground of on. The vote stood: yeas 14, nays 174.

The Kellogg Resolutions, being the next amendment, offered as a substitute for

The Kellogg Proposition Rejected.

The Report of the Committee of Thirtythree being the special order, came up. Then the entire propositions submitted by Mr. Corfollowed a scene which the dramatist of Pan-win, were then voted on, and were rejected demonium in Parts might have chozen for one of his acts. The hubbub grew out of the effort to establish the order in which the propositions and amendments were to be considered.

by the vote of 33 ayes to 158 nays. Kellogg vainly sought to withdraw his propositions, and threatened, in event of their rejection, to renew them. Most intense excitement prevailed in the House during the contest in forcing the resolutions to a vote. The Southern members generally voted "nay," because they preferred the Crittenden proposition. The Crittenden propo- The Crittenden Prop

osition Rejected.

In the House, Wednesday, (February 27th,) the Select Committee of Five reported, in a majority and minority report, on the Correspondence between the President and the authorities of the State of South Carolina.sition, offered by Mr. ClemThese interesting documents will be comens as a substitute to the prised in a succeeding chapter. Corwin Resolutions, then came up. The subThe report of the Committee of Thirty-stitute was rejected, by a vote of 80 ayes to three was called up, when several members proceeded to give their views. Debate was, however, cut off, and the voting, under the call of the previous question, proceeded. The first vote was on the amendment proposed by the Pacific States' members of the Committee, Messrs. Burch and Stout. It recom

mended to the several The National ConvenStates of the Union that tion Rejected. they, through their respective Legislatures, request Congress to call a Convention of all the States, in accordance with the Fifth Article of the Constitution, for the purpose of amending the Constitution in such manner, and with regard to such subjects, as will more adequately respond to

113 nays.

The Corwin Resolutions Called.

The question then recurred upon ordering the first series of resolutions reported from the Committee of Thirty-three, to be enrolled and read a third time. The resolutions were as follows:

[ocr errors]

Resolved, By the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all attempts, on the part of the Legislatures of any of the States, to obstruct or service or labor, are in derogation of the Constihinder the recovery and surrender of fugitives from tution of the United States, inconsistent with the comity and good neighborhood that should prevail among the several States, and dangerous to the peace of the Union.

The Corwin Resolu

tions Called.

The Corwin Resolutions Called.

in due form of law, for imputed crimes.

[ocr errors]

Resolved, That each State be also respectfully requested to enact such laws as will prevent and punish any attempt whatever in such State to recognize or set on foot the lawless invasion of any other State or Territory.

[ocr errors]

"Resolved, That the several sojourning therein, against the States be respectfully request-popular violence or illegal sumed to cause their statutes to be mary punishment without trial, revised, with a view to ascertain if any of them are in conflict with, or tend to embarrass or hinder the execution of, the laws of the United States, made in pursuance of the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution of the United States, for the delivery up of persons held to labor, by the laws of any State, and escaping therefrom; and the Senate and House of Representatives earnestly request that all enactments having such tendency be forthwith repeaeld, as required by a just sense of constitutional obligations, and by a due regard for the peace of the Republic; and the President of the United States is requested to communicate these resolutions to the Governors of the several States, with a request that they will lay the same before the Legislatures thereof respectively.

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

'Resolved, That we recognize the justice and propriety of a faithful execution of the Constitution, and laws made in pursuance thereof, on the subject of fugitive slaves, or fugitives from service or labor, and discountenance all, mobs, or hindrances to the execution of such laws, and that citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.

"Resolved, That we recognize no such conflicting element in its composition, or sufficient cause from any source for a dissolution of this Government; that we are not sent here to destroy, but to sustain and harmonize the institutions of the country, and to see that equal justice is done to all parts of the same; and finally, to perpetuate its existence on terms of equality and justice to all the States.

"Resolved, That the faithful observance, on the part of all the States, of all their constitutional obli gations to each other, and to the Federal Govern. ment, is essential to the peace of the country.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Resolved, That the President be requested to transmit copies of the foregoing resolutions to the Governors of the several States, with a request that they be communicated to their respective Legisla


Mr. Sherman said that, as these resolutions were numerous, they would take many votes, and he moved to lay them on the table. The motion was lost by a vote of 66 ayes to 126


[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

Resolved, That, in the opinion of this Committee, the existing discontents among the Southern people, and the growing hostility among them to the Federal Government, are greatly to be regretted; and that, whether such discontents and hostility are without just cause or not, any reasonable, proper, and constitutional remedies, and additional and more specific and effectual guarantees of their peculiar rights and interests, as recognized by the Constitution, necessary to preserve the peace of the country and the perpetuity of the Union, should be promptly and cheerfully granted.

"Resolved, That, as there are no propositions from any quarter to interfere with Slavery in the District of Columbia, or in places under the exclusive juris diction of Congress, and situate within the limits of States that permit the holding of slaves, or to interfere with the inter-State Slave-trade, this Committee does not deem it necessary to take any action on those subjects."

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Simms, of Kentucky, voted against laying them on the table, though he protested against that resolution which endorsed coercion.

Burnett, of Kentucky, could not vote for the resolutions, as they were simply declaratory, and would not satisfy his people.

The Resolutions adopted.

the engrossment and third reading, Mr. Corwin submitted the following amendment :

"Strike out the amendment proposed, and insert in lieu thereof:

"ARTICLE 12. No amendment shall be made to

the Constitution which will authorize or give Congress power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, includ

ing that of persons held to labor or service by the

laws of said State."

The most strenuous exertions were made by Southern members to divide the series, in order to have a vote on each resolution separMr. Hickman, of Pennsylvania, moved to ately, but the Chair desided that, in their lay the resolution on the table, and called nature, they were a joint resolution, and for the yeas and nays on his motion. Antherefore indivisible; while the call for the other scene of disorder followed; but, Mr. previous question on their engrossment and Corwin having called the previous question, their reading cut off all motions for division. it cut off opposition. The vote on HickAfter their engrossment and third reading, man's resolution was: yeas 68-nays 121. another effort was made to obtain their sep-So the House refused to lay the resolution arate consideration, against which the Chairon the table. The vote on the third reading of Corwin's amendment was: yeas 120-nays 61. After engrossment and a third reading the main question was ordered, and, on vote, was lost yeas 123-nays 71. Two-thirds majority was necessary to pass it. A motion to reconsider followed, amid the most intense excitement, which lasted for some time, when, the motion still pending, the House adjourned. In the course of the Senate's proceedings, Wednesday, Powell, of Kentucky, moved to postpone the Army bill, and take up the Crittenden resolutions. He said he did so, because a certain Convention had met

man (Mr. Dawes, of Massachusetts,) again decided. Appeal was made from this decision; but this, on motion of a Republican, was laid on the table. The main question was finally ordered, when the joint resolutions ultimately passed by a vote of 136

to 53.

The Joint Resolution to Amend the Constitution.

The joint resolution to amend the Constitution then came up, as reported by Mr. Corwin, from the Committee of Thirty-three. It was read a first and second time, as follows:

A Kentucky Opinion.

"Joint Resolution to Amend the Constitution of the in this Capital at the call of Virginia, and it United States:

"Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress as sembled, (two-thirds of both Houses concurring,) That the following article be proposed to the Legislatures

of the several States as an amendment to the Con

stitution of the United States, which, when ratified by three-fourths of said Legislatures, shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Con

s.itution, viz. :

was evident were not to agree on anything. He believed there were certain Republicans in the Convention who tried to prevent any agreement. He believed that certain States had sent Commissioners to the Convention to prevent anything being done, and instead of trying to save the country from ruin, were absolutely engaged in preventing the Convention doing anything. He had letters read from the Detroit Free Press, which had been written by the Senators from Michigan to the Governor of the State. Mr. Powell said it was evident that certain gentlemen went to the Convention, especially to prevent compromises. He thought they had better not wait for the Convention, but at once proceed to the consideration of the measures of his colleague, rather than vote money for the Before the previous question was called on support of an army to be used to make war.

"ARTICLE 12. No amendment of this Constitution, having for its object any interference within the States with the relations between their citizens and those described in section second of the first article of the Constitution as all other persons,' shall originate with any State that does not recognize that relation within its own limits, or shall be valid without the assent of every one of the States composing the Union."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »