Page images


detrimental to their welfare.

it beyond the constitution, and to speak dispar

The Letter to the President. agingly of the great conservative tribunal of

WASHINGTON CITY, June 26, 1863. our country, so highly respected by all think

To His Excellency the President of the United States : ing men who have inquired into our institutions--THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED

The undersigned, having been appointed a

committee, under the authority of the resoluYour administration has been true to the tions of the state convention, held at the city principles you then laid down. Notwithstand- of Columbus, Ohio, on the 11th instant, to ing the fact that several hundred thousand communicate with you on the subject of the democrats in the loyal states cheerfully re

arrest and banishment of Clement L. Vallansponded to the call of their country, filled the digham, most respectfully submit the followranks of its armies, and by their strong ing as the resolutions of that convention, bearhands and willing arms," aided to maintain ing upon the subject of this communication, your Excellency and the officers of govern- and ask of your excellency their earnest conment in the possession of our national capital; sideration. And they deem it proper to state notwithstanding the fact that the great body of that the convention was one in which all parts the democrats of the country have, in the most of the state were represented, and one of the patriotic spirit, given their best efforts, their most respectable as to character and numbers, treasure, their brothers and their sons to sus

and one of the most earnest and sincere in suptain the government and to put down the rebel- port of the Constitution and Union ever heid

in that state. lion; you, choosing to overlook all this, have made your appointments to civil office, from

Resolved, 1, That the will of the people is the foundayonr Cabinet officers and foreign Ministers tion of all free government; that to give effect to this down to the persons of lowest official grade will, free thoughit, free speech and a free press are absoamong the tens of thousands engaged in col- lutely indispensable. Without free discussion there is no

certainty of sound judgment; without sound judgment lecting the revenues of the country, exclus- there can be no wise government. ively from your political associates.

2. That it is an inherent and constitutional right of the Under such circumstances, virtually pros

people to discuss all measures of thir government, and to .

approve or disapprove, as to their best judgment seems cribed by your administration, and while most

right. That they hare a like right to propose and advoof the leading journals which supported it ap- cate that policy which in their judgment is best, and to proved the sentence pronounced against Mr.

argue and vote against whatever policy seems to them tu Vallandigham, was our true course, our honest

violate the Constitution, to impair their liberties, or to be course, to meet as "Democrats' that neither

3. That these and all other rights guaranteed to them your Excellency or the country might mistake by their constitutions are their rights in time of war as our antecedents or our position.

well as in time of peace, and of far more value and neces

sity in war than in peace, for in peace liberty, security and In closing this communication, we desire to property are seldom endangered ; in war they are ever in reaffirm our determination and we doubt not peril. that of every one who attended the meeting

4. That we now say to all whom it may concern, not by which adopted the resolutions we have discuss

way of threat, but calmly and firmly, that we will not sur

render these rights nor submit to their forcible violation. ed, expressed in one of those resolutions, to Te will obey the laws ourselves, and all others must obey devote "all our energies to sustain the cause of them.

11. That Ohio will adhere to the Constitution and the the Union."

Union as the bast, it may be the last, hope of popular freePermit us, then, in this spirit, to ask your dom, and for all wrongs which may have been committed Excellency to re-examine the grave subjects or evils which may exist will seek redress, under the Conwe have considered, to the end that, on your

stitution and within the Union, by the peaceful but powretirement from the position you now occupy:

erful agency of the suitrages of a free poople.

14. That we will earnestly support every constitutional you may leave behind you no doctrines and no

measure tending to preserve the Union of the states. No farther precedents of despotic power to prevent

men have a greater interest in its preservation than we you and your posterity from enjoying that con

hare-none desire it more; there are none who will make

greater sacrifices or endure more than we will to accomstitutional liberty, which is the inheritance of plish that end. We are, as we ever have been, the devotus all, and to the end, also, that history may ed friends of the Constitution and the Union, and we have speak of yaur administration with indulgence,

no sympathies with the enemies of either. if it cannot with approval. .

15. That the arrest, imprisonment, pretended trial, and

actual banishment of Clement L. Vallandigham, a citizen We are, sir, with great respect, yours truly.

of the State of Ohio, not belonging to the land or naval JOHN V, L. PRUYN,

forces of the United States, nor to the militia in actual Chairman of Committee.

service, hy alleged inilitary authority, for no other pre

tended crime than that of uttering words of legitimate [Signed also by the entire Committe..]

criticism upon the conduct of the administration in power, ALBANY, June 30, 1863,

and of appealing to the bailot-box for a change of policy -said arrest and military trial taking place where the courts of law are open and mobstructed, and for no act done within the sphere of active military operations in carrying on the war-we regard as a palpable violation of the

following provision of the Constitution of the United The following is a correct copy of the correspondence between President Lincoln and abridging the freedom of speech or of the pressori tiho

1. "Congress shall make no law the committee appointed by the Ohio Demo- right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition cratic State Convention to ask for permission the government for a redress of grievances. for Hon. C. L. Vallandigham to return to houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches

and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall Ohio:

issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affir






mation, and particularly describing the place to be search- , dence in the fidelity of your administration to ed and the persons or things to be seized.”

the great landmarks of free government, es3. “No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or in

sential to a peaceful and successful enforcedictment of a gravd jury, except in cases arising in the ment of the laws in Ohio. land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual ser- You are reporied to have used, in a public vice in time of war or public danger.

4. "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy communication on this subject, the following the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury language: of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously as

It gavo me pain when I learned that Mr. Vallandigcertained by law."

ham had been arrested that is, I was pained that there

should have seemed to be a necessity for arresting him; And we furthermore denounce said arrest, and that it will afford me great pleasure to discharge hin, trial and banishment, as a direct insult offered

so soon as I can by any means believe the public safety

will not suffer by it." to the sovereignty of the people of Ohio, by whose organic law it is declared that no person The undersigned assure your excellency, shall be transported out of the state for any from our personal know ease of the feelings of offence committed within the same.

the people of Ohio, i naine public safety will 16. That Clement L. Vallandigham was, at the time of be far more endangered by continuing Mr. his arrest, a prominent candidate for nomination by the Vallandigham in exile than by releasing him. Democratic Party of Ohio, for ibe office of governor of the It may be true, that persons differing from him state; that the Democratic Party was fully competent to in political views may be found in Ohio, and decide whether he is a fit man for that nomination, and that the attempt to deprive them of that right, by his ar elsewhere, who will express a different opinrest and banishment, was an unmerited imputation upon ion. But they are certainly mistaken. their inte!ligeuce and loyalty, as well as a violation of the

Mr. Vallandigham may differ wiih the PresConstitution.

17. That we respexifully, but most earnestly, call upon ident, and even with some of his own political the President of the United States to restore Clement L. party, as to the true and most effectual means Vallanaigham to his home in Ohio, and that a committee of maintaining the Constitution and restoring of one from each congressional district of the state, to be selected by the presiding officer os this convention, is heie.

the Union; but this difference of opinion does by appointed to presenů this application to the President. not prove him to be unfaithful to his duties as

an American citizen. If a man devotedly atThe undersigned, in the discharge of the lached to the Constitution and the Union conduty assigned ihem, do not think it necessary scientiously believes that from the inherent to reiterate the facis connected with the arrest nature of the federal compact the war, in the trial, and banishment of Mr. Vallandigham- present condition of things in this country,canthey are well known to the President, and are not be used as a means of restoring the Union; of public history-nor to enlarge upon the pos- or that a war to subjugate a part of the states, itions taken by ihe convention, nor to recapit- or a war to revolutionize the social system in a ulate the consýitutional provisions which it is part of the states, could not restore, but would believed have been contravened; they have been inevitably result in the final destruction of both stated at length, and with clearness in the res- the Constitution and the Union, is he not to be olutions which have been recited. The under- allowed the right of an American citizen to apsigned content themselves with brief reference peal to the judgment of the people for a change to other suggestions pertinent to the subject. of policy by the constitutional remedy of the

They do not call upon your excellency as ballot-box? suppliants, praying the revocation of the order During the war with Mexico many of the pobanishing Mr. Vallandigham, as a favor; but, litical opponents of the administration then in but by the authority of a convention represent- power thought it their duty to oppose and deing a majority of the citizens of the State of nounce the war, and to urge before the people Ohio, they respectfully ask it as a right due to of the country that it was unjust, and prosean American citizen, in whose personal injury cuted for unholy purposes. With equal reathe sovereignty and digniiy of the people of son it might have been said of them that their Ohio, as a free stale, have been offended.- discussions before the people were calculated And this duty they perform the nore cordially to discourage enlistmenis, "to prevent the from the consideration, that, at a time of great raising of troops,” and to induce desertions national emergency, pregnant with danger to from the army and leave the government withour Federal Union, it is all important that the out an adequate military force to carry on the true friends of the Constitution and the Union, If the freedom of speech and of the however they may differ as to the mode of ad- press are to be suspended in time of war, then ministering ihe government, and the measures The essential element of popular government most likely to be successful in the maintenance to effect a change of policy in the constitutionof the Constitution and the restoration of the al mode is at an end. The freedom of speech Union, should not be thrown into hostile con- and of the press is indispensable, and necesflict with each other.

sarily incident to the nature of popular govThe arrest, unusual trial and banisi nent of ernment itself. If any inconvenience or evils Mr. Vallandigham, have created wide-spread arise' from its exercise they are unavoidable. and alarming disaffection among the people of On this subject you are reported to have said the state, not only endangering the harmony of further: the friends of the Constitution and the Union, and tending to disturb the peace and tranquili- was, by a military commander, seized and tried 'for no

“It is asserted, in substance, that Mr. Vallandigham ty of the state, but also impairing that confi- cther reason than words addressed to a public meeting in


criticism of the course of the administration, and in con- ever, in his judgment, the public safety redemnation of the military order of the general.' Now, if there be no mistake about this, if there was no oiher i'eas

quires it? on for the arrest, then I concede ihatihe arrest was wrong.

True it is, the article of the constitution But the arrest, I understand, was made for a very differ - which defines the various powers delegated to ent reason. Mr. Vallandigham avows his bosiility to the Congress, declares that "tke privilege of the war on the part of the Union; and his arrest was made because he was laboring, with some effecti, to prevent the

writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended raising of troops, to encourage desertions from ihe army, unless where, in cases of rebellion or invasion and to leave the rebellion without an adequate military the public safety may require it." But this force to suppress it. He was not arrested because he was damaging the political prospects of the administration, or

qualification or limitation upon this restriction the personal interest of the commanding general, but be- upon the powers of Congress has no reference cause he was damaging the army, upon the existence and to, or connection with, the other constitutional vigor of which the life of the nation depends. He was warring upon the military, and this gave the military con

guarantees of public liberty. Expunge from stitutional jurisdiction to lay hands upon him. If Mr.

the Constitution this limitation upon the power Vallandigham was not damaging ihe military power of of Congress to suspend the writ of habeas corthe country, then his arrest was made on mistake of facts, pus, and yet the the other guarantees of perwhich I would be glad to correct on reasonable saiisfaciory "sonál liberiy would remain unchanged. evidence."

Although a man might not have à constituIn answer to this, permit the undersigned to tional right 1o have an immediate investigation say, first, that neither the charge, nor the made as to the legality of his arrest upon specifications in support of the charge, on which habeas corpus, yet his bright to a speedy and Mr. Vallandigham was tried, impute to him public trial by an impartial jury of the state the act of laboring either to prevent the rais- and district wherein the crime shall have been ing of troops, or to encourage desertion from commitied,” will not be altered; neither will the army; secondly, that no evidence on the his right to the exemption from "cruel and untrial was offered with a view to support, or even usual punishments;' nor his right to be secure tended to support, any such charge. In what in his person, houses, papers, and effects, instance, and by what act, did he either dis-against unreasonable seizures and searches; courage enlistments or encourage desertions nor his rigbt not to be deprived of life, liberty, from the army? Who is the man who was discour- or property, without due process of law; nor aged from enlisting, and who encouraged to his right not to be held to ansiver for a capital desert by any act of Mr. Vallandigham? If it

or otherwise infamous offense, unless on prebe assumed that perchance some person might sentment or indictment of a grand jury, be in have been discouraged from enlisting, or that any wise changed. And certainly the restricsome person might have been encouraged to tion upon the power of Congress to suspend desert, on account of hearing Mr. Vallandig- the writ of haiicas corpus, in time of insurrecham's views as to the policy of the war as a tion or invasion, could not affect the guarantee means of restoring the Union, would that have that the freedom of speech and of the press laid the foundation for his conviction and ban- shall not be abridged. ishment?

It is sometimes urged that the proceedings in If so, upon the same grounds, every politi- the civil tribunals are too tardy and ineffective cal opponent of the Mexican war might have for cases arising in times of insurrection or inbeen convicted and banished from the country. vásion. It is a full reply to this to say, that When gentlemen of high standing and exten- arrests by civil process may be equally as exsive influence, including your excellency, op- peditious and effective as arrests by military posed, in the discussions before the people, orders. True, a summary trial and punishthe policy of the Mexican war, were they ment are not allowed in the civil courts. But “warring upon the military, and did this if the offender be under arrest and imprisoned, "give the military constitutional jurisdiction and pot entitled to discharge on writ of habeas to lay hands upon" them? And, finally, the corpus, before trial, what more can be required charge, in the specifications upon which Mr. for the purposes of the government? The idea Vallandigham was tried, entitled him to a trial that all the constitutional guarantees of personbefore the civil tribunals, according to the al liberty are suspended throughout the counexpress provisions of the late acts of Congress, try at a time of insurrection or invasion in any approved by yourself, July 17, 1862, and March part of it, places us upon a sea of uncertainty, 3, 1863, which were manirésily designed to and subjects the life, liberty and property of supercede all necessity or pretext for arbitrary every citizen to the mere will of a military commilitary arrests.

mander, or what he may say that he considers The undersigned are unable to agree with the public safety requires. Does your Excelyou in the opinion you have expressed, that lency wish to have it understood that you hold the Constitution is different in time of insur- that the rights of every man throughout this rection or invasion from what it is in time of vast country, in time of invasion or insurrecpeace and public security. The Constitution ion, are subject to be annulled whenever you provides for no limitation upon, or exceptions may say that you consider tie public safety reto, the guarantees of personal liberty, except quires it? as to the writ of habeas corpus. Has the Pres- You are further reported as having said, that ident, at the time of invasion or insurrection, the constitutional guarantees of personal libthe right to engraft limitations or exceptions erty have upon these constitutional guarantees, when

"No application to the present case we hire in hand,

[ocr errors]

because the arrests complained of were not made for trea- those fundamental principles of civil liberty gon-that is, not for the treason defined in the Constitu

which are essential to their existence as a free tion, and upon the couviction of which the punishment is death-nor yet were they made to hold persons to answer people. for capital or otherwiso infamous crime; nor were the pro- In their name, we ask that, by a revocation ceedings following in any constitutional or legal sense

of the order of his banishment, Mr. Vallan“criminal prosecutions.' The arrests were made on totally different grounds, and the proceedings following accorded digham may be restored to the enjoyment of with the grounds of the arrests,” &c.

those rights of which they believe he has been

unconstitutionally deprived. The conclusion to be drawn from this posi

We have the honor to be, respectfully, yours, &c., tion of your Excellency is, that where a man is liable to "a criminal prosecution," or is charg

M. BIRCHARD, Chairman, 19th Dist.

DAVID A. HOUK, Soc'y 3d Dist. ed with a crime known to the laws of the land,

GEO. BLISS, 14th Dist. he is clothed with all the constitutional guar

T. W. BARTLEY, Sth Dist. antees for his safety and security from wrong

W.J. GORDON, 18th Dist.

JOHN O'NEILI, 13th Dist. and injustice; but that, where he is not liable

C. A. WHITE, 6th Dist. to a "criminal prosecution," or charged with

W. E. FINCK, 12th Dist. any crime known to the laws, if the President


J. W. WHITE, 16th Dist. or any military commander shall say that he

JAS. R. MORRIS, 15th Dist. considers that the public safety requires it,

GEO.S. CONVERSE, 7th Dist. this man may be put outside of the pale of the

WARREN P. NOBLE, 9th Dist. constitutional guarantees, and arrested with

GEO. 1, PENDLETON, 1st Dist.

W. A. HUTCHINS, 11th Dist. out charge of crime, imprisoned without know

ABNER L. BACKUS, 10th Dist. ing what for, and any length of time, or be

J. F. MCKINNEY, 4th Dist. tried before a court-martial and sentenced to

F. C. LE BLOND, 5th Dist.

LOUIS SCHAFFER, 17th Dist. any kind of punishment, unknown to the land, which the President or the military commander

The Reply. may see proper to impose. Did the Constitution intend to throw the

WASHINGTON, D. C., June 29, 1863. shield of its securities around the man liable

Messrs. M. Burchard, David A. Houck, George Bliss, T. to be charged with treason as defined by it,

W. Bartley, W.J. Gordon, John O'Neill, C. A. White, and yet leave the man, not liable to any such W. E. Fink, Alexander Long, J. W. White, George H. charge, unprotected by the safeguards of per- Pendleton, George L. Converse, Hanza P. Noble, James sonal liberty and personal security? Can

R. Morris, W. A. Hutchins, Abner L. Rackus, J, F.

McKinney, P. C. LoBlond, Louis Schafer. man not in the rilitary or naval servica, nor within the field of the operations of the army,

GENTLEMEN: The resolutions of the Ohio be arrested and imprisoned without any law of Democratic State Convention, which you prethe land to authorize it? Can a man thus, in sent me, together with your introductory and civil life, be punished without any law defining closing remarks, being in position and arguthe offense and prescribing the punishment?- ment mainly the same as the resolutions of the If the President or a court martial may pre- Democratic meeting at Albany, New York, I scribe one kind of punishment unauthorized by refer you to my response to the latter as meetlaw; why not any other kind? Banishment is ing most of the points in the former. This rean unusual punishment, and unknown to our sponse you evidently used in preparing your laws. If the President has the right to pre- remarks, and I desire no more than that it be scribe the punishment of banishment, why not used with accuracy. In a single reading of that of death and confiscation of property? If your remarks, I only discovered one inaccuracy the President has the right to change the pun in matter which I suppose you took from that ishment prescribed by the court-martial, from paper. It is where you say: imprisonment to banishment, why not from

"The undersigned are unable to agree with you in the imprisonment to torture upon the rack, or ex- opinion you have expressed that the Constitution is differecution upon the gibbet?

ent in time of insurrection or invasion from what it is in If an indefinable kind of constructive treason

time of peace and public security." is to be introduced and engrafted upon the con- A recurrence to the paper will show you that stitution, unknown to the laws of the land, and I have not expressed the opinion you suppose. subject to the will of the President whenever I expressed the opinion that the Constitution an insurrection or invasion shall occur in any is different in its application in cases of rebelpart of this vast country, what safety or secur- lion or invasion, involving the public safety, ity will be left for the liberties of the people? from what it is in times of profound peace and The constructive treasons that gave the friends public security; and this opinion 1 adhere to, of freedom so many years of toil and trouble simply because by the Constitution itself things in England, were inconsiderable compared to may be done in the one case which may not be this. The precedents which you make will be done in the other. come a part of the Constitution for your suc

I dislike to waste a word on a merely percessors, if sanctioned and acquiesced in by the sonal point, but I must respectfully assure you people now.

that you will find yourselves at fault should The people of Ohio are willing to co-operate you ever seek for evidence to prove your aszealously with you in every effort, warranted sumption that I 'bopposed in discussion before by the Constitution, to restore the Union of the the people the policy of the Mexican war." states; but they cannot consent to abandon

You say,

“Expunge from the Constitution this limitation upon cluding those of Mr. Vallandigham, ?ch are the power of Congress to suspend the writ of habeas cor. pus, and yet the other guarantees of personal liberty been for prevention, and not for punishment

not different in principle from the oinet, have would remain unchanged."

as injunctions to stay injury-as proceedings Doubtless if this clause of the Constitution, to keep the peacemand hence, like proceedimproperly called as I think a limitation upon ings in such cases, and for like reasons, they the power of Congress, were expunged the have not been accompanied with indictments, other guarantees would remain the same; but

or trials by juries, nor, in a single case, by any the question is, not how `those guarantees punishment whatever beyond what is purely would stand, with that clause out of the Cono incidental to the prevention. The original stitution, but how they stand with that clause sentence of imprisonment in Mr. Vallandigremaining in it, in cases of rebellion or inva- ham's case was to prevent injury to the militasion, involving the public safety. If the liber- ry service only, and the modification of it was ty could be indulged of expunging that clause, made as a less disagreeable mode to him of seletter and spirit, I really think the constitu- curing the same prevention. tional argument would be with you. My gen- I am unable to perceive an insult to Ohio in eral view on this question was stated in the the case of Mr. Vallandigham. Quite surely, Albany response, and hence I do not“state it nothing of the sort was or is intended. I was now. I only add that, as seems to me, the wholly unaware that Mr. Vallandigham was, at benefit of the writ of habeas corpus is the great the time of his arrest, a candidate

for the Demmeans through which the guarantees of per-ocratic nomination for governor, until so insonal liberty are conserved and made available formed by your reading to me resolutions of in the last resort; and corroborative of this the convention. I am grateful to the State of view, is the fact, that Mr. Vallandigham in the Ohio for many things, especially for the brave very case in question, under the advice of able soldiers and officers she has given in the preslawyers, saw not where else to go but to the ent national trial to the armies of the Union. habeas corpus. But by the Constitution the

You claim, as I understand, that, according benefit of the writ of habeas corpus itself may to my own position in the Albany response, Mr. be suspended when in cases of rebellion or in- Vallandigham should be released; and this bevasion the public safety may require it. cause, as you claim, he has not damaged the

You ask in substance, whether I really claim military service by discouraging enlistments, that I may override all the guaranteed rights encouraging desertions, or otherwise; and that of individuals, on the plea of conserving the if he had, he shou.d have been turned public safety--when I may choose to say the over to the civil authorities under recent acts public safety requires it. This questien, di- of Congress. I certainly do not know that Mr. vested of the phraseology calculated to repre- Vallandigham has specifically, and hy direct sent me as struggling for arbitrary personal language, advised against enlistments, and in prerogative, is either simply a question who favor of desertion and resistance to drafting. shall decide, or an affirmation that nobody shall We all know that combinations, armed in decid, what the public safety does requir: in some instances, to resist the arrest of desertcases of rebellion or invasion. The Constitu-ers, began several months ago ; that more retion contemplates the question as likely to oc-cently the like has appeared in resistance to cur for decision, but it does not expressly de- the enrollment preparatory to a draft; and clare who is to decide it. By necessary impli- that quite a number of asassinations have occation, when rebellion or invasion comes, the curred from the same animus. These had to decision is to be made, from time to time; and be met by military force, and this again has I think the man whom, for the time, the peo- led to bloodshed and death. And now, under ple have, under the Constitution, made the a sense of responsibility more weighty and encommander-in-chief of their army and navy, is during than any which is merely official, I the man who holds the power and bears the re- solemnly declare my belief that this hindrance sponsibility of making it. If he uses the power of the military, including maiming and murjustly, the same people will probably justify der, is due to the course in which Mr. Vallanhim; if he abuses it, he is in their hands to be digham has been engaged, in a greater degree dealt with by all the modes they have reserved than to any other cause; and is due to him to themselves in the Constitution [But how personally in a greater degree than to any can this be done when free discussion is arbi- other one man. trarily forbidden?]

These things have been notorious, known to The earnestness with which you insist that all, and, of course, known to Mr. Vallandigpersons can only in times of rebellion be law- ham. Perhaps I would not be wrong to say fully dealt with, in accordance with the rules they originated with his especial friends and for criminal trials and punishments in times of adherents. With perfect knowledge of them, peace, induces me to add a word to what I said he has frequently, if not constantly, made on that point in the Albany response. You speeches in Congress and before public assemclaim that men may, if they choose, embarrass blies; and if it can be shown that with these those whose duty it is to combat a giant rebel- things staring him in the face he has ever utlion, and then be dealt with only in turn as if | tered a word of rebuke or counsel against them, there were no rebellion, The Constitution it will be a fact greatly in his favor with me, itself rejects this view. The military arrests and one of which, as yet, I am totally ignorand detentions which have been made, in- ant. When it is known that the whole burden

« PreviousContinue »