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assurance that neither rebels, nor those dependent upon them, had any rights.
I ought, however, to add, Mr. Speaker, that, looking upon seizure and confiscation as a penalty for crime, treason, or rebellion, the President, under his general power of pardon, might remit the punishment. But then the other conclusion will follow, that, without trial by jury, no valid forfeiture can be effected.
The second bill, for the emancipation of the slaves of rebels, is much broader in its scope, including every person who shall engage in rebellion, or aid and abet it. The insertion of the word “wilfully,” lawyers will see, does not affect the legal construction. There are considerations of humanity in favor of this bill, which do not apply to the first; but it is not restricted to slaves used in the Rebellion, and no form of judicial proceeding is provided. The constitutional objections apply to it with at least equal force.
That the bills before the House are in violation of the law of nations and of the Constitution, I cannot I say it with all deference to others — I cannot entertain a doubt. My path of duty is plain. The duty of obedience to that Constitution was never more imperative than now. I am not disposed to deny, that I have for it a superstitious reverence. I have “ worshipped it from my forefathers.”
forefathers.” In the school of rigid discipline by which we were prepared for it; in the struggles out of which it was born; the seven years of bitter conflict, and the seven darker years in which that conflict seemed to be fruitless of good; in the wisdom with which it was constructed and first administered and set
in motion ; in the beneficent Government it has secured for more than two generations; in the blessed influences it has exerted upon the cause of freedom and humanity the world over, I cannot fail to recognize the hand of a guiding and loving Providence. But not for the blessed memories of the past only do I cling to it. He must be blinded with excess of light, or with the want of it, who does not see, that to this nation, trembling on the verge of dissolution, it is the only possible bond of unity. With this conviction wrought into the very texture of my being, I believe I can appreciate this conflict, - can understand the necessity of using all the powers given by the Constitution for the suppression of this Rebellion. They are, as I believe, and as the progress of our arms attests, ample for the purpose. I do not, therefore, see the wisdom of violating or impairing the Constitution in the effort to save it, or of passing from the pestilent heresy of State secession to the equally fatal one of State suicide. The fruits of the first are anarchy and perpetual border war; of the second, the growth of military power, the loss of the centrifugal force of the States, the merging of the States in the central Government: a Republic in name and form ; in substance and effect, a despotism.
Mr. Speaker, at a time like this, the individual is nothing; the country, every thing. He cannot truly serve or love his country who is anxious about himself. He cannot have a single eye to the welfare of the Republic, if both eyes are turned homeward. He cannot keep step to the music of the Union who is grinding fantasias for the village of Buncombe.
desire, however, not to be wholly misunderstood. It has been said that I am opposed to any emancipation of the slaves of rebels. Nothing can be further from the truth. The first provision for emancipation, — that in the statute of Aug. 6, 1861, liberating all slaves employed in the Rebellion, — I drew with my own hand; believing now, as then, that it is valid and just. For the abolition of slavery in this District; for the interdiction of slavery in the Territories, for the new article of war forbidding the officers of the army to surrender fugitives from service, my votes are on record. I voted for the resolution recommended by the President for aid to the States in the work of gradual emancipation; though I could not fail to see that it was on the verge of authority, and must perhaps finally rest, like the purchase of Louisiana, upon general consent. My views of the power of the Commander-inchief on the subject of emancipation are fully stated in remarks submitted to the House on the 10th of April. I will not repeat them. They are ample for any emergency. In the bill I introduced 6 for the more effectual suppression of the Rebellion" but which, in the present temper of the House, I thought it useless to press, I have indicated a practical method by which the slaves of rebels may be emancipated, as the penalty for crime, upon conviction or default of the offender. But, Mr. Speaker, I have kept my eye steadily upon the end for which this war is waged, — the only end for which it can be justified, - the integrity of the Union. I have firmly resisted, and shall continue firmly to resist, every effort, open or disguised, to convert this war for the
Union into a war for emancipation, at the risk - no, not at the risk, for the words do not express what I mean or feel, with the moral certainty - of defeating the
purpose for which the war was begun. With these convictions, it is scarcely necessary to say, I cordially approve the course of President Lincoln in modifying the proclamation of General Frémont, and declaring null and void the order of General Hunter. For the wisdom and patriotism which have thus far marked the course of this magistrate, he has my respect and gratitude. A word upon the policy and wisdom of these mea
A great work has been done by this nation. It is easy to find fault. In operations upon so large a scale, requiring so many agencies, mistakes and blunders will be made. But a just criticism, looking upon the work as a whole, cannot fail to commend the patriotism of the people and the energy of the Government. I know it has been prettily said, that we have prosecuted this war upon “ a rose-water policy.” I do not know that I fully comprehend what is meant; but probably the rebels, in view of that long blockade, with the fresh memories of Port Royal, Newbern, Pulaski, Dónelson, Pea Ridge, Shiloh, the Lower Mississippi, and Yorktown, and the ever-tightening folds of the constriction, might say with Juliet, the
Our armies and navies are victorious. The war seems to be drawing to a close. There is reasonable ground to hope, that, before the next session of Congress, the power of the Rebellion will be broken, and the sword
have substantially done its work. But I cannot conceal from myself that our great difficulties lie beyond the conflict of arms. It is the part of wise courage to look them calmly in the face, to gauge them, and gird up our loins to meet them. Action will be needed, not words; judgment, not passion. Unless there be calm and fearless statesmanship, your victories will have been won in vain ; a statesmanship that honors and respects the people, but is willing to abide its sober second thought.
Civil wars, like family feuds, have been fierce, bitter, and unrelenting. The bitterness and ferocity manifested towards us by the rebels cannot but arouse the spirit of retaliation, and thirst for vengeance. If we yield to the fierce temptation, the war will become one of extermination. Thus far, while prosecuting the war with vigor, we have shown the moderation and humanity becoming a great people. I pray we may continue in this course. There is wisdom in the fable of the sun and the north wind. There is power in forbearance, in magnanimity, in obedience to the law we seek to enforce, in the spirit of forgiveness, in the
mercy which seasons justice.” Christ knew what is in man: the gospel is not a lie. There never was a juster war than that which we are waging. It is strictly a war of self-defence, the defence of a free and beneficent Government against traitors in arms against her. But we may not forget, that, to those in the Southern States who believe in the right of secession, this war cannot but wear the aspect of a war of invasion and subjugation. This terrible mistake may account for