Page images

men connected with it. I believe their apparent objects are their real objects. Truer men, more loyal and patriotic, are not found in the Commonwealth.

They are conservative in their views; but they are in favor of the vigorous prosecution of the war, of maintaining the nation's unity at every cost, and of cordially upholding the President in the discharge of his great and difficult duties. They cling with tenacity and unfaltering devotion to the Union and the Constitution of their fathers. Mistakes have doubtless been made; mistakes especially which show an ignorance of political machinery and management.

“ Where ignorance is bliss,

'Tis folly to be wise." It is my firm conviction, that the certain result of the rigid, proscriptive, partisan policy adopted by the Republican Convention, especially if followed up by the charge of treason against all who dissent from it, is a divided North ; divided not as to the duty of suppressing the Rebellion, but so divided in feeling and policy as to render efficient co-operation impracticable. I pray you, my Republican friends, to listen to the voices that come to us from the Great West, and to be tolerant and just. The men of Massachusetts cannot be driven. They will practise forbearance for their country's sake, but not

for ever.

To what condition of things have we come, fellowcitizens, when such a man as Josiah G. Abbott can be denounced as a traitor, and this, too, as he stands by the fresh-made grave of a son, dearly beloved ; one of three given to the service of his country? I know him well.

A man better qualified to represent you cannot be found in the district; and it is one of strong men.

He is a very able lawyer; and great questions of law will have to be settled by the next Congress. He is a man of thoroughly practical mind, of large common sense, of extensive knowledge of men and business. He is a patriot through and through, from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot. Nor can any charity excuse or palliate the gross

attacks made upon the accomplished and gallant standard-bearer of this movement.* A leader at one of the ablest bars of the State, respected and beloved by his brethren, at the first call of his country he gave himself to her service. Beginning the war as major of a battalion, he has been successively appointed colonel, brigadier-general, and has now command of a division. His courage and gallantry have been tested; his ability is unquestioned, his character without reproach. How Christian gentlemen can denounce such men as traitors, it is difficult for a plain man to comprehend.

* Gen. Charles Devens.



The House being in Committee of the Whole, and having under consideration the Appropriation Bill, Mr. THOMAS said, —

Mr. CHAIRMAN, - I beg to call the attention of the Committee back to the precise matter before us. It is a provision for the appropriation of money for a definite and specific purpose: that purpose is, to enforce the collection of a direct tax assessed by Congress in conformity to a provision of the Constitution of the United States (art. 1, sect. 2, clause 4); a tax which could only have been assessed in exact conformity to that provision. The object of this provision in the appropriation bill, and of the law of the last session, is to enforce, in the disaffected States, the collection of the tax. Upon what ground, Mr. Chairman, are we seeking to enforce this tax in the “seceded " States? Upon the obvious ground, that the authority of this Government at this time is as valid over those States as it was before the acts of secéssion were passed; upon the ground, that every act of secession passed by those States is utterly null and void ; upon the ground, that an act legally null and void cannot acquire force, because armed rebellion is behind it, seeking to uphold it; upon the ground, that the Constitution makes us, not a mere confederacy, but a nation ; upon

the ground, that the provisions of that Constitution strike through the State government, and reach directly, not intermediately, the subjects of the United States.

Gentlemen say that there is a belligerent power exercising authority against us. That is, you say that rebellion is attempting revolution. Very well. Who ever heard, as a matter of public law, that the authority of a government over its rebellious subjects was lost until that revolution was successful, was a fact accomplished ? That day, I pray God, I may not live to see.

My position, then, Mr. Chairman, is, that we may enforce the collection of this tax, because to-day, as heretofore, the authority of the National Government binds and covers every inch of the national domain; because that law, which we call the Constitution, is, to-day, the supreme law of the land. If the position taken by the learned gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Stevens] be true, that we are every day passing unconstitutional acts, we are every day violating our paths to support the Constitution of the United States. I beg leave to say, that, however we may differ as to the extent of powers which the Constitution gives us (and they are ample for all good ends), when we deliberately pass from fidelity to this Constitution, to enact laws in violation of its sacred provisions, we are ourselves inaugurating revolution. It is fire against fire, revolution against revolution ; and God have mercy on the country! In all events, at whatever cost or peril of treasure or of life, we must cling to the national unity; and, for this end, we must cling to the only possible bond of unity, the Constitution.

I have but a word more to say, Mr. Chairman. I have

listened quietly, but with great sorrow, to the attacks often made on the Republican side of the House against the gentlemen from the Border States. I desire to say, what I have often said, and repeat, with the fullest sense of my responsibility, that in fidelity to the Union and the Constitution, and every earnest effort to uphold them, there have been no truer, nobler, more devoted men than these representatives from the Border States. [Applause.] And the great heart of this country to-day goes out to meet them and to bless them. It is

It is easy in New England (where fortunes are rapidly built up, and industry quickened, and material prosperity advanced, by this war), or in New York, or in Pennsylvania, to be patriotic and loyal and national. These men have stood the touch of fire and the sword. They have been tried by suffering. No ties of natural affection, no love of kindred, no fear of desolation or death, has moved them; not even your unkindness. I do not believe that it is policy or wisdom to alienate such men from us : should rather grapple them with hooks of steel to our hearts.

Say what you will, Mr. Chairman, as a practical question, this war must be fought out in the Border States. They constitute the battle-ground of this contest to-day, as they have been from the beginning of the war. Can you hold the Border States to their allegiance? If you can, the final victory is with us; if you cannot, separation is inevitable. I hope and trust and pray, Mr. Chairman, that we shall hear no more of party discussions and wrangles; no more reproaches thrown from the one side of the House to the other. We have no strength thus


« PreviousContinue »