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Organization of the House.
Different Opinions as to Reconstruction.
THE THIRTY-EIGHTH CONGRESS.
Organization of the House-Different Opinions as to Reconstruction--Provisions for Par
don of Rebels-President's Proclamation of Pardon-Annual Message-Explanatory Proclamation.
UPON the assembling of the Thirty-eighth Congress, December 7th, 1863—that Congress, in the lower branch of which the Opposition bad counted upon a majority--the supporters of the Government found no difficulty in electing their candidates for Speaker by a majority of twenty, nor a radical anti-slavery man as Chaplain, albeit against the latter was offered as candidate an Episcopalian Bishop, nameless here, who had had the effrontery since the outbreak of the war to appear before the public as a defender of the institution upon Christian principles.
With the success of our arms-movements toward an organization of the local governments in the States of Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas being in progress--the difficult question as to the principles upon which such reorganization should be effected presented itself for settlement.
Some took the ground that, by virtue of their rebellion, the disloyal States had lapsed into mere territorial organizations, and should remain in that condition until again admitted into the Union.
Others contended that this would be, in effect, to recognize secession, and maintained that, whatever might have been the acts of the inhabitants of any State, the State as such still constituted an integral member of the Union, entitled to all privileges as such, whenever a sufficient number of loyal citizens chose to exercise the right of suffrage- the General
Different Opinions as to Reconstruction.
Proclamation of Pardon.
Government seeing to it, as was its duty under the Constitution, that a republican form was guarantied. As to what number of loyal inhabitants should suffice, opinions differed.
Congress had provided, by an act approved July 17, 1862:
That the President is hereby authorized, at any time hereafter, by proclamation, to extend to persons who may have participated in the existing rebellion in any State or part thereof, pardon and amnesty, with such exceptions, and at such time, and on such conditions, as he may deem expedient for the public welfare.
In accordance with this authority, the following proclamation was issued by Mr. Lincoln, by which it appeared he held himself pledged, before the world and to the persons immediately affected by it, to make an adherence to the policy of emancipation, inaugurated by him, a condition precedent to any act of clemency to be exercised by himself:
“WHEREAS, In and by the Constitution of the United States, it is provided that the President shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment;' and whereas, a rebellion now exists whereby the loyal State Governments of several States have for a long time been subverted, and many persons have committed and are now guilty of treason against the United States; and whereas, with reference to said rebellion and treason, laws have been enacted by Congress declaring forfeitures and confiscation of property and liberation of slaves, all upon terms and conditions therein stated; and also declaring that the President was thereby authorized at any time thereafter, by proclamation, to extend to persons who may have participated in the existing rebellion, in any State or part thereof, pardon and amnesty, with such exceptions and at such times and on such conditions as he may deem expedient for the public welfare ; and whereas, the
Proclamation of Pardon.
Congressional declaration for limited and conditional pardon accords with well-established judicial exposition of the pardoning power; and whereas, with reference to said rebellion, the President of the United States has issued several proclamations, with provisions in regard to the liberation of slaves; and whereas, it is now desired by some persons heretofore engaged in said rebellion, to resume their allegiance to the United States, and to reinaugurate loyal State Governments within and for their respective States; therefore,
“I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare, and make known to all persons who have, directly or by implication, participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, that a full pardon is hereby granted to them and each of them, with restoration of all rights of property, except as to slaves, and in property cases where rights of third parties shall have intervened, and upon the condition that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath, and thenceforward keep and maintain said eath inviolate ; and which oath shall be registered for permanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to-wit :
-, do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Union of the States thereunder; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all acts of Congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by Congress, or by decision of the Supreme Court; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves, so long and so far as not modified or declared void by decision of the Supreme Court. So help me God.'
“The persons excepted from the benefits of the foregoing
Proclamation of Pardon.
provisions are all who are, or shall have been, civil or diplomatic officers or agents of the so-called Confederate Government; all who have left judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion; all who are, or shall have been, military or naval officers of the said so-called Confederate Government, above the rank of colonel in the army, or of lieu tenant in the navy; all who left seats in the United States Congress to aid the rebellion; all who resigned commissions in the Army or Navy of the United States, and afterward aided the rebellion ; and all who have engaged in any way in treating colored persons, or white persons in charge of such, otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, and which persons may have been found in the United States service as soldiers, seamen, or in any other capacity.
“And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known, that whenever, in any of the States of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina, a number of persons, not less than one-tenth in number of the votes cast in such State at the Presidential election of the year of our Lord 1860, each having taken the oath aforesaid, and not having since violated it, and being a qualified voter by the election law of the State existing immediately before the so-called act of secession, and excluding all others, shall re-establish a State Government which shall be republican, and in nowise contravening said oath, such shall be recognized as the true Government of the State, and the State shall receive thereunder the benefits of the constitutional provision which declares that the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion ; and on application of the Legislature, or the Executive, (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.'
"And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that any provision which may be adopted by such State Govern
ment in relation to the freed people of such State, which shall recognize and declare their permanent freedom, provide for their education, and which may yet be consistent, as a temporary arrangement, with their present condition as a laboring, landless, and homeless class, will not be objected to by the National Executive. And it is suggested as not improper, that, in constructing a loyal State Government in any State, the name of the State, the boundary, the subdivisions, the Constitution, and the general code of laws, as before the rebellion, be maintained, subject only to the modifications made necessary by the conditions hereinbefore stated, and such others, if any, not contravening said conditions, and wbich may be deemed expedient by those framing the new State Government.
"To avoid misunderstanding, it may be proper to say that this proclamation, so far as it relates to State Governments, has no reference to States wherein loyal State Governments have all the while been maintained. And for the same reason, it may be proper to further say that whether members sent to Congress from any State shall be admitted to seats constitutionally, rests exclusively with the respective Houses, and not to any extent with the Executive. And still further, that this proclamation is intended to present the people of the States wherein the National authority has been suspended, and loyal State Governments have been subverted, a mode in and by which the National authority and loyal State Governments may be re-established within said States, or in any of them; and, while the mode presented is the best the Executive can suggest, with his present impressions, it must not be understood that no other possible mode would be acceptable.
“Given under my hand at the city of Washington, the eighth day of December, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-eighth.
“ABRAHAM LINCOLN "