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tion in March were filled with rumors of schemes to assassinate Mr. Lincoln, and to seize the Capital. Whether these rumors had a foundation may not be known, but they so far influenced Mr. Lincoln's friends that he was induced to conceal his movements over the route from Harrisburg to Washington.
When Mr. Lincoln became President, all the forts, arsenals, and custom-houses in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida, excepting only Forts Sumter, Pickens, Jefferson, and Taylor had been seized, and all their property, movable and immovable, had been converted to the use of the Confederate States. Mr. Lincoln's legal position was such that he would have been justified in a resort to force for their recovery. It was his purpose, however, to await the movements of the secession authorities, well knowing that they could not long remain inactive, and that an attack upon Union troops would arouse and consolidate the North.
The twelfth day of April, 1861, Gen. Beauregard opened fire upon Fort Sumter. This act transferred the contest from the theatre of discussion to the arbitrament of arms. It was followed by a proclamation from President Lincoln, calling for seventy-five thousand volunteers, whose first duty should be the recovery of the forts, places, and property which had been seized from the Union.
Thus the war was inaugurated, and under circumstances which placed the entire responsibility upon the actors in the Rebellion.
As slavery had been the cause of the war, the administration was brought face to face with questions growing out of the system. In the beginning the military authorities surrendered fugitives to their masters. Soon, however, that course of action was changed, upon the demand of the people and the concurring judgment of the administration.
As early as July, 1862, a law was passed which provided that the slaves of all persons engaged in the Rebellion, or giving aid and comfort thereto, who might escape and come within the Union lines, and all slaves captured from such persons or deserted by them, and all slaves of such persons found in any place occupied by rebel forces and afterwards occupied by the forces of the United States, should be forever free, and never again held as slaves.
This statute ended all controversy over the question of duty in regard to the rendition of fugitives from slavery, and its continuing operation would have ended the system in the eleven rebellious
States, even if the Proclamation of Emancipation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution had not been called into existence.
In the month of March, 1861, the Confederate authorities sent to Washington a commission, consisting of three persons, with instructions to negotiate a treaty of separation and peace. The commis. sioners assumed that they represented a government de jure as well as de facto, and that the question of the right of the Confederate government to exist was not to be considered. Mr. Seward declined to see them, and solely, as he said, upon public grounds.
In the months of January and February, the rebel authorities had seized forts and arsenals, the property of the United States, with all the movable effects, including one hundred thousand stand of arms. Having thus commenced a war, the Confederate authorities sought by diplomacy to negotiate a peace.
Mr. Lincoln occupied strong ground. He claimed to be the President of the whole Union, and he accepted the duty of executing the laws in every State. On this proposition there could be no negotia tions, and certainly none which rested upon an admission that the Union had ceased to exist.
Thus again was made apparent the issue between Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Lincoln. Mr. Buchanan admitted the destruction of the Union, and denied the existence of any right in the national government to attempt its restoration by force. Mr. Lincoln treated the ordinances of secession as void ab initio, and claimed the right to enforce the laws of the United States in every State,-in those that had seceded as well as in those that were loyal to the Constitution. It is thus seen that he laid a foundation in law for every act of his administration, whether of legislation, of diplomacy, or of war. It is thus seen, also, that the Republican party, through its constituted agents, restored a Union and reorganized a government that had been assailed by one wing of the Democratic party, and abandoned by the other
The statute of 1850, for the rendition of fugitives from slavery, was one of the most barbarous acts of modern times, and its passage contributed more largely than any other measure, to the anti-slavery sentiment of the North. The statute of 1793 was a humane measure when compared with that of 1850. By the earlier statute the claimant was required to make his own seizures, and to prove his title to the fugitive before a judge of a circuit or district court of the United States, or before some magistrate of a county, city, or town corpo
rate, wherein the arrest should be made; but by the law of 1850 the commissioners of the courts of the United States were authorized to act, marshals and deputy marshals were required to make the arrests, and in case of an affidavit by the claimant that he had reason to apprehend that an attempt would be made to rescue the fugitive, it became the duty of the officer making the arrest to employ assistants, and to return the fugitive to the State from whence he came, and at the expense of the United States. The alleged fugitive was not allowed to testify in his own behalf, but affidavits in behalf of the claimant were to be received, and the findings of a court in the State from which the person had escaped, as alleged, were conclusive. At the end the commissioner was entitled to a fee of ten dollars if the fugitive should be surrendered to the claimant, and five dollars only in case of his discharge. If a fugitive succeeded in making his es cape from a marshal or deputy marshal the marshal was made liable to the claimant for the value of the service of the fugitive in the State or Territory from which he had escaped, and this whether the escape was with or without the assent of the marshal. In the execution of the process the officer was authorized to call upon the bystanders as a posse comitatus, and all the citizens of the United States were enjoined to aid the marshals and deputy marshals in the performance of their duty.
The fugitive slave bill of 1850 was passed by a majority of fifteen in the Senate, and thirty-five in the House. Each of the old parties contributed votes,-the Whig party less generously than the Democratic party.
When the Republican party came into power the amendment or repeal of the fugitive slave law was a subject of constant agitation in Congress and in the country; but it was not until the 28th day of June, 1864, that a repealing act was passed, and approved by President Lincoln. The repealing bill passed the House by the vote of ninety Republicans against a minority consisting of one Republican and sixty-one Democrats. The bill was supported in the Senate by the votes of twenty-seven Republicans against the votes of four Republicans and eight Democrats.
The delay in securing the passage of the bill repealing the fugitive slave law, was due in part to the protests of the border Slave States that had not joined the confederacy, in part to the necessity of providing means for the prosecution of the war, and in part to the opposition of the northern Democrats, who denounced every movement that threatened the institution of slavery.
The repeal of the measure was the work of the Republican party. It is not easy to comprehend the public sentiment upon the rights of negroes during the years of the war. Speaking generally, the members of the Democratic party were opposed first to their freedom, and consequently they were opposed to every measure and movement designed to elevate or improve the race. It was not without opposition that negroes were allowed to ride in the street-cars of the city of Washington; that they were permitted to testify in courts of justice; that they were employed upon the fortifications, or enrolled in the army. The leading Democrats of the North insisted that slavery should be preserved with the Union, and that the restored Union should answer in every particular to the old Union. They insisted also that the States in rebellion were still States in the Union, and entitled to the same rights as the loyal States. This latter dogma was entertained by many Republicans.
Every attempt to secure equal rights for the negro was opposed vigorously, and it was not until the 3d of March, 1864, that the statutes of the country authorized the enrollment of colored persons as a part of the military force of the Republic.
Through these various stages, and by the action of the Republican party, the colored inhabitants of the country were advanced and secured in the enjoyment of some of the civil rights which appertain to citizenship.
THE PROCLAMATION OF EMANCIPATION AND THE AMENDMENTS TO
HE organization called "The Confederate States of America"
system possible as a mill
tary necessity; but the administration of Mr. Lincoln was confronted constantly with the opposition of the Democratic party of the North. The monitory Proclamation of Emancipation was issued the 22d day of September, 1862, and so general was the hostility to the proceeding that the Republican party escaped defeat by less than twentyfive majority in the House of Representatives. In the year 1862 elec tions were held in the loyal States only.
Nor was the opposition to emancipation confined to members of the Democratic party. Similar opinions were entertained by the Republicans and Union men of the border Slave States, with few exceptions, and the Proclamation was deprecated by the press, and by influential Republicans in the most advanced anti-slavery communities of the North.
The early declarations of the Republican party that it was not its purpose to interfere with slavery in the States were quoted, and thereon the charge of inconsistency was based. No allowance was made for the changes that had been wrought by eighteen months of flagrant war. No account was taken of the facts that the slaves in the rebellious States were employed upon the plantations raising supplies for the armies in the field, and providing sustenance and even' protection for the families at home. The spirit of forbearance, and the sentiment of humanity exhibited during the war by the negro population of the South, when thousands of defenseless families were at their mercy, ought to command not just treatment merely, but the sincere and continuing gratitude of the white population of