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LETTER TO GOVERNOR SEYMOUR.
PETERBORO, January 12th, 1863. HON. HORATIO SEYMOUR :
DEAR Sir: I have read your Message. Although I belong to no party, I belong to a country. Although there are no party interests for me to promote and adjust myself to, I feel the preciousness of the interests of my country, and am deeply and abidingly concerned for their safety. Seldom more than when reading the Message have I felt the great peril of those interests. For I remember that the utterer of its dangerous doctrines is emphatically, if .not indeed preëminently, the mouthpiece of a party comprising nearly half the voters of the Free States. I remember too what great weight with his party have the words of a gentleman of commanding talents, high culture, multiplied influential public relations, bland and winning manners, admired social and domestic life. How could I fail to fear that the Democratic Party, if not already fully identified with these dangerous doctrines, will by force of such commendations of them soon become so ?
1st. I find denunciation in the Message, but no denunciation of the rebels. The Cotton States and the New-England States do in your esteem share about equally in the guilt of the Rebellion. New-England, because she suffered her Garrison to write against Slavery, and her Phillips to talk against it, is in your eyes as criminal as the bloody men who flew at the throat of their unoffending country. New-England who, to help put them down, promptly armed hundreds of thousands of her cherished sons and promptly poured oui scores of millions of her wealth, has no less of your censure and no more of your favor than have those bloody men. And yet you propose to put down the Rebellion! But how can this be done if nearly half of us are like yourself? How could we have the heart to do it even at little cost-much less at the required cost-if the rebels are no worse than the people of NewEngland ? And how, if we had the heart, would it be practicable, should you succeed, as is your too manifest intent, in arraying the Western and Central States against New-England instead of Rebeldom?
2d. I see you still regret that the Satanic compromise proposed two years ago was not adopted. I call it Satanic because it was to be a compromise between two guilty parties at the sole expense—and this too an overwhelming expense-of an innocent third party. Fresh outrages were to be heaped upon the negroesay and eternized. The malignity of this Democratic compromise, which not a few Republicans also favored, (for there are Republicans too who are capable of being satanized,) is equaled only by its meanness. That they, who could propose further and greater crimes against the guiltless and helpless, could still make much account of their Bibles and Churches, argues either their matchless delusion or. their matchless brazenness. I do not say they would have made themselves better by burning up their Bibles and Churches : but I do say that they would have thereby made themselves infinitely more consistent.
3d. “The claim of power under martial law” you indignantly and utterly refuse to admit. · You say that this claim “asserts that the President may in his discretion declare war." I do not believe that it does, and I never before heard that it does. You say that it “exalts the military power of the President above his Constitutional rights." I reply that this power is specifically one of those rights, inasmuch as the Constitution makes him the Head of the Army. I admit that he has no other official rights than what the Constitution gives him; and you should admit that it is only from martial law, or, in other words, the law of civilized warfare, that he can learn the measure of his rights as Head of the Army. You say that this measure is fixed by the Constitution.” Rather is it fixed by this martial law which you disparage. It also changes with this law, which changes with the progress of civilization. It is true that Congress has power to prescribe rules for war. But, on the other hand, it is not only true that it could not provide for a large share of the cases in which the Head of the Army might find himself; but also true that this power of Congress is to be exercised within the limits and according to the character of martial law. So long as that law shall forbid the poisoning of food or water, or the killing of prisoners, or the selling of them into slavery, Congress has no power to authorize these barbarisms. That a nation may carry on war according to its own laws, be they what they will, Christendom would never suffer. These laws must be conformed to the law of civilized warfare. If it is true, as recently reported, that the rebels shot twenty prisoners because they were black, and if also their government shall approve it, then will this enormous violation of the conventions of war not only go far to reveal the character of the rebels to the eyes of Europe; but it will also go far to damage their cause with her.
4th. Scouting as you do the doctrine of martial law, it is not strange that you deny the right of the Head of the Army to lay hands, even in time of war, on persons in a loyal State. Indeed, you do not admit that he may on persons in a revolted one. You decline saying whether such a State has lost any of its rights. Your language clearly implies that it has not lost them all. Here,