Page images
PDF
EPUB

principle it ought not to exist in ours; if they have retained it, by their own construction of ours that shows that to be consistent, they must secede from one another whenever they shall find it the easiest way of settling their debts, or effecting any other selfish or unjust object. The principle itself is one of disintegration, and upon which no Government can possibly endure. If all the States save one should assert the power to drive that one out of the Union, it is presumed the whole class of seceder politicians would at once deny the power, and denounce the act as the greatest outrage upon State rights. But suppose that precisely the same act, instead of being called driving the one out, should be called the seceding of the others from that one, it would be exactly what the seceders claim to do, unless, indeed, they made the point that the one, because it is a minority, may rightfully do what the others, because they are a majority, may not rightfully do. These politicians are subtle, and profound in the rights of minorities. They are not partial to that power which made the Constitution, and speaks from the preamble, calling itself, “We, the people.’ It may be well questioned whether there is to-day a majority of the legally-qualified voters of any State, except, perhaps, South Carolina, in favor of dis. union. There is much reason to believe that the Union men are the majority in many, if not in every one of the so-called seceded States. The contrary has not been demonstrated in any one of them. It is ventured to affirm this, even of Virginia and Tennessee, for the result of an election held in military camps, where the bayonets are all on one side of the question voted upon, can Scarcely be considered as demonstrating popular sentiment. At such an election all that large class who are at once for the Union and against coercion, would be coerced to vote against the Union. It may be affirmed, without extravagance, that the free institutions we enjoy have developed the powers and improved the condition of our whole people beyond any example in the world. Of this we now have a striking and impressive illustration. So large an army as the Government has now on foot was never before known, without a soldier in it but who has taken his place there of his own free choice. But more than this, there are many single regiments whose members, one and another, possess full practical knowledge of all the arts, sciences, professions, and whatever else, whether useful or elegant, is known in the whole world, and there is scarcely one from which there could not be selected a President, a Cabinet, a Congress, and perhaps a Court, abundantly competent to administer the Government itself. Nor do I say this is not true also in the army of our late friends, now adversaries, in this contest. But it is so much better the reason why the Government which has conferred such benefits on both them and us should not be broken up. Whoever in any section proposes to abandon such a Government, would do well to consider in deference to what prin

ciple it is that he does it. What better he is likely to get in its stead, whether the substitute will give, or be intended to give so much of good to the people. There are some foreshadowings on this subject. Our adversaries have adopted some declarations of independence in which, unlike the good old one penned by Jefferson, they omit the words, “all men are created equal.’ Why? They have adopted a temporary National Constitution, in the preamble of which, unlike our good old one signed by Washington, they omit ‘We the people,’ and substitute “We, the deputies of the sovereign and independent States.” Why? Why this deliberate pressing out of view the rights of men and the authority of the people? This is essentially a people's contest. On the side of the Union it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of Government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life, yielding to partial and temporary departures from necessity. This is the leading object of the Government, for whose existence we contend. » “I am most happy to believe that the plain people understand and appreciate this. It is worthy of note that while in this, the Government's hour of trial, large numbers of those in the army and navy who have been favored with the offices, have resigned and proved false to the hand which pampered them, not one common soldier or common sailor is known to have deserted his flag. Great honor is due to those officers who remained true despite the example of their treacherous associates, but the greatest honor and the most important fact of all, is the unanimous firmness of the common soldiers and common sailors. To the last man, so far as known, they have successfully resisted the traitorous efforts of those whose commands but an hour before they obeyed as absolute law. This is the patriotic instinct of plain people. They understand without an argument that the destroying the Government which was made by Washington means no good to them. Our popular Government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it our people have settled: the successful establishing and the successful administering of it. One still remains. Its successful maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an election can also suppress a rebellion ; that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets, and that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided, there can be no successful appeal back to bullets; that there can be no successful appeal except to ballots themselves at succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace, teaching men that what they cannot take by an election, neither can they take by a war, teaching all the folly of being the beginners of a war. “Lest there be some uneasiness in the minds of candid men as to what is to be the course of the government toward the Southern States after the rebellion shall have been suppressed, the Executive deems it proper to say it will be his purpose, then, as ever, to be guided by the Constitution and the laws, and that he probably will have no different understanding of the powers and duties of the Federal Government relatively to the rights of the States and the people under the Constitution than that expressed in the inaugural address. He desires to preserve the government, that it may be administered for all, as it was administered by the men who made it. Loyal citizens everywhere have the right to claim this of their government, and the government has no right to withhold or neglect it. It is not perceived that, in giving it, there is any coercion, any conquest, or any subjugation in any sense of these terms. “The Constitution provided, and all the States have accepted the provision, that the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of government;' but if a State may lawfully go out of the Union, having done so, it may also discard the Republican form of government. So that to prevent its going out is an indispensable means to the end of maintaining the guarantee mentioned; and, when an end is lawful and obligatory, the indispensable means to it are also lawful and obligatory. “It was with the deepest regret that the Executive found the duty of employing the war power forced upon him. In defence of the government he could but perform this duty or surrender the existence of the government. No compromise by public servants could, in this case, be a cure; not that compromises are not often proper, but that no popular government can long survive a marked precedent, that those who carry an election can only save the government from immediate destruction by giving up the main point upon which the people gave the election. The people themselves and not their servants can safely reverse their own deliberate decisions. “As a private citizen, the Executive could not have consented that these institutions shall perish, much less could he in betrayal of so vast and so sacred a trust as these free people had confided to him. He felt that he had no moral right to shrink, nor even to count the chances of his own life in what might follow. - “In full view of his great responsibility, he has so far done what he has deemed his duty. You will now, according to your own judgment, perform yours. He sincerely hopes that your views and your actions may so accord with his as to assure all faithful citizens who have been disturbed in their rights of a cer.tain and speedy restoration to them under the Constitution and laws; and, having thus chosen our cause without guile, and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forWard without fear and with manly hearts. “ABRAHAM LINGOLN.”

A. DAY OF FASTING AND PRAYER, AIPIPOINTED.

On the twelfth of August, the following proclamation, appointing a day of fasting and prayer, was issued :

“Whereas, A joint committee of both Houses of Congress has waited on the President of the United States, and requested him to “recommend a day of public humiliation, prayer, and fasting, to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnities, and the offering of fervent supplications to Almighty God for the safety and welfare of these States, His blessings on their arms, and a speedy restoration of peace.” “And whereas, It is fit and becoming in all people, at all times, to acknowledge and revere the Supreme Government of God; to bow in humble submission to his chastisements; to confess and deplore their sins and transgressions, in the full conviction that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and to pray, with all fervency and contrition, for the pardon of their past offences, and for a blessing upon their present and prospective action. “And whereas, When our own beloved country, once, by the blessing of God, united, prosperous, and happy, is now afflicted with faction and civil war, it is peculiarly fit for us to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation, and, in sorrowful remembrance of our own faults and crimes as a nation, and as individuals, to humble ourselves before Him, and to pray for His mercy—to pray that we may be spared further punishment, though most justly deserved ; that our arms may be blessed and made effectual for the re-establishment of law, order, and peace throughout the wide extent of our country; and that the inestimable boon of civil and religious liberty, earned under His guidance and blessing by the labors and sufferings of our fathers, may be restored in all its original excellence; “Therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do appoint the last Thursday in September next as a day of humiliation, prayer and fasting for all the people of the nation. And I do earnestly recommend to all the people, and especially to all ministers and teachers of religion, of all denominations, and to all heads of families, to observe and keep that day, according to their several creeds and modes of worship, in all humility, and with all religious solemnity, to the end that the united prayer of the nation may ascend to the Throne of Grace, and bring down plentiful blessings upon our country. “In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed, this [L. S.] 12th day of August, A. D. 1861, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-sixth. ‘By the President: “ABBAHAM LINGOLN. “WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.”

COMMERCIAL INTERCOURSE WITH THE REBELLIOUS STATES PROHIBITIED.

Four days later he also promulgated the following :

“Whereas, On the 15th day of April, the President of the United States, in view of an insurrection against the laws, Constitution, and Government of the United States, which had broken out within the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and in pursuance of the provisions of the act entitled an act to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions, and to repeal the act now in force for that purpose, approved February 28th, 1795, did call forth the militia to suppress said insurrection and cause the laws of the Union to be duly executed—and the insurgents have failed to disperse by the time directed by the President; and whereas, such insurrection has since broken out and yet exists within the States of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas; and whereas, the insurgents in all the said States claim to act under authority thereof, and such claim is not disclaimed or repudiated by the persons exercising the functions of government in such State or States, or in the part or parts thereof, in which such combinations exist, nor has such insurrection been suppressed by said States.

“Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in pursuance of the act of Congress approved July 13th, 1861, do hereby declare that the inhabitants of the said States of Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Touisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Florida, except the inhabitants of that part of the State of Virginia lying west of the Alleghany Mountains, and of such other parts of that State and the other States hereinbefore named as may maintain a loyal adhesion to the Union and the Constitution, or may be, from time to time occupied and controlled by the forces of the United States engaged in the dispersion of said insurgents, as are in a state of insurrection against the United States, and that all commercial intercourse between the same and the inhabitants thereof, with the exception aforesaid, and the citizens of other States and other parts of the United States, is unlawful and will remain unlawful until such insurrection shall cease or has been suppressed ; that all goods and chattels, wares and merchandize, coming from any of the said States, with the exceptions aforesaid, into other parts of the United States, without the special license and permission of the President, through the Secretary of the Treasury, or proceeding to any of the said States, with the exception aforesaid, by land or water, together with the vessel or vehicle conveying the same or couveying per

« PreviousContinue »