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Capital to the people in their respective localities, the party agitation was revived, and public meetings were again held to denounce the conduct of the Government, and to protest against the further prosecution of the war. One of the most active of these advocates of peace with the rebel Confederacy was Hon. C. L. Vallandigham, a member of Congress from Ohio, who had steadily opposed all measures for the prosecution of the war throughout the session. After the adjournment he made a political canvass of his district, and in a speech at Mount Vernon, on the 1st of May, he denounced the Government at Washington as aiming, in the conduct of the war, not to restore the Union, but to crush out liberty and establish a despotism. He declared that the war was waged for the freedom of the blacks and the enslaving of the whites— that the Government could have had peace long before if it had desired it-that the mediation of France ought to have been accepted, and that the Government ad deliberately rejected propositions by which the Southern States could have been brought back to the Union. He also denounced an order, No. 38, issued by General Burnside, in command of the Department, forbidding certain disloyal practices, and giving notice that persons declaring sympathy for the enemy would be arrested for trial, proclaimed his intention to disobey it, and called on the people who heard him to resist and defeat its execution.
For this speech Mr. Vallandigham was arrested, by order of General Burnside, on the 4th of May, and ordered for trial before a court-martial at Cincinnati. On the 5th, he applied, through his counsel, Senator Pugh, to the Circuit Court of the United States for a writ of habeas corpus. In reply to this application, a letter was read from General Burnside, setting forth the considerations which had led him to make the arrest, and Vallandigham's counsel was then heard in a very long argument on the case. Judge Stewart pronounced his decision,
refusing the writ, on the ground that the action of General Burnside was necessary for the public safety. "The legality of the arrest," said the judge, "depends upon the extent of the necessity for making it, and that was to be determined by the military commander." And he adds:
Men should know and lay the truth to heart, that there is a course of conduct not involving overt treason, and not therefore subject to punishment as such, which, nevertheless, implies moral guilt, and a gross offence against the country. Those who live under the protection and enjoy the blessings of our benignant Government, must learn that they cannot stab its vitals with impunity. If they cherish hatred and hostility to it, and desire its subversion, let them withdraw from its jurisdiction, and seek the fellowship and protection of those with whom they are in sympathy. If they remain with us, while they are not of us, they must be subject to such a course of dealing as the great law of self-preservation prescribes and will enforce. And let them not complain if the stringent doctrine of military necessity should find them to be the legitimate subjects of its action. I have no fear that the recognition of this doctrine will lead to an arbitrary invasion of the personal security, or personal liberty, of the citizen. It is rare indeed that a charge of disloyalty will be made on insufficient grounds. But if there should be an occasional mistake; such an occurrence is not to be put in competition with the preservation of the nation; and I confess I am but little moved by the eloquent appeals of those who, while they indignantly denounce violation of personal liberty, look with no horror upon a despotism as unmitigated as the world has ever witnessed.
The military commission, before which Vallandigham was ordered for trial, met on the 6th, found him guilty of the principal offences charged, and sentenced him to be placed in close confinement in some fortress of the United States, to be designated by the commanding officer of that Department. Major-General Burnside approved the sentence, and designated Fort Warren, in Boston harbor, as the place of confinement. The President modified this sentence by directing that, instead of being imprisoned, Mr. Vallandigham should be sent within the rebel lines, and should not return to the United
States until after the termination of the war. This sentence was at once carried into execution.
The arrest, trial, and sentence of Mr. Vallandigham created a good deal of excitement throughout the country. The opponents of the Administration treated it as a case of martyrdom, and held public meetings for the purpose of denouncing the action of the Government as tyrannical and highly dangerous to the public liberties. One of the earliest of these demonstrations was held at Albany, on the 16th of May, at which Hon. Erastus Corning presided, and to which Governor Seymour addressed a letter, expressing in the strongest terms his condemnation of the course pursued by the Government. "If this proceeding," said he, speaking of the arrest of Vallandigham, "is approved by the Government, and sanctioned by the people, it is not merely a step towards revolution,-it is revolution. It will not only lead to military despotism,-it establishes military despotism. In this aspect it must be accepted, or in this aspect rejected. this country now wait with the deepest of the Administration upon these acts. generous support in the conduct of the war, we pause to see what kind of a government it is for which we are asked to pour out our blood and our treasure. The action of the Administration will determine, in the minds of more than onehalf of the people of the loyal States, whether this war is waged to put down rebellion at the South, or destroy free institutions at the North." The resolutions which were adopted at this meeting pledged the Democratic party of the State to the preservation of the Union, but condemned in strong terms the whole system of arbitrary arrests, and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
The people of anxiety the decision
Having given it a
A copy of these resolutions was forwarded by the presiding officer to President LINCOLN, who sent the following letter in reply:
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, June 13, 1863.
HON. ERASTUS CORNING AND OTHERS:
Gentlemen: Your letter of May 19, inclosing the resolutions of a public meeting held at Albany, N. Y., on the 16th of the same month, was received several days ago.
The resolutions, as I understand them, are resolvable into two propositions-first, the expression of a purpose to sustain the cause of the Union, to secure peace through victory, and to support the Administration in every constitutional and lawful measure to suppress the rebellion; and, secondly, a declaration of censure upon the Administration for supposed unconstitutional action, such as the making of military arrests. And from the two propositions a third is deduced, which is, that the gentlemen composing the meeting are resolved on doing their part to maintain our common Government and country, despite the folly or wickedness, as they may conceive, of any Administration. This position is eminently patriotic, and as such I thank the meeting and congratulate the nation for it. My own purpose is the same, so that the meeting and myself have a common object, and can have no difference, except in the choice of means or measures for effecting that object.
And here I ought to close this paper, and would close it, if there were no apprehension that more injurious consequences than any merely personal to myself might follow the censures systematically cast upon me for doing what, in my view of duty, I could not forbear. The resolutions promise to support me in every constitutional and lawful measure to suppress the rebellion, and I have not knowingly employed, nor shall knowingly employ, any other. But the meeting, by their resolutions, assert and argue that certain military arrests, and proceedings following them, for which I am ultimately responsible, are unconstitutional. I think they are not. The resolutions quote from the Constitution the definition of treason, and also the limiting safeguards and guarantees therein provided for the citizen on trial for treason, and on his being held to answer for capital, or otherwise infamous crimes, and, in criminal prosecutions, his right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury. They proceed to resolve, "that these safeguards of the rights of the citizen against the pretensions of arbitrary power were intended more especially for his protection in times of civil commotion." And, apparently to demonstrate the proposition, the resolutions proceed: "They were secured substantially to the English people after years of protracted civil war, and were adopted into our Constitution at
the close of the Revolution."
Would not the demonstration have been better if it could have been truly said that these safeguards had been adopted and applied during the civil wars and during our Revolution, instead of after the one and at the close of the other? I, too, am devotedly for them after civil war, and before civil war, and at all times, "except when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require" their suspension. The resolutions proceed to tell us that these safeguards "have stood the test of seventy-six years of trial, under our republican system, under circumstances which show that, while they constitute the foundation of all free government, they are the elements of the enduring stability of the Republic." No one denies that they have so stood the test up to the beginning of the present rebellion, if we except a certain occurrence at New Orleans; nor does any one question that they will stand the same test much longer after the rebellion closes. But these provisions of the Constitution have no application to the case we have in hand, because the arrests complained of were not made for treason—that is, not for the treason defined in the Constitution, and upon conviction of which the punishment is deathnor yet were they made to hold persons to answer for any capital or otherwise infamous crimes; nor were the proceedings following, in any constitutional or legal sense, "criminal prosecutions." The arrests were made on totally different grounds, and the proceedings following accorded with the grounds of the arrest. Let us consider the real case with which we are dealing, and apply to it the parts of the Constitution plainly made for such cases.
Prior to my installation here, it had been inculcated that any State had a lawful right to secede from the national Union, and that it would be expedient to exercise the right whenever the devotees of the doctrine should fail to elect a President to their own liking. I was elected contrary to their liking, and accordingly, so far as it was legally possible, they had taken seven States out of the Union, had seized many of the United States forts, and had fired upon the United States flag, all before I was inaugurated, and, of course, before I had done any official act whatever. The rebellion thus began soon ran into the present civil war; and, in certain respects, it began on very unequal terms between the parties. The insurgents had been preparing for it more than thirty years, while the Government had taken no steps to resist them. The former had carefully considered all the means which could be turned to their account. It undoubtedly was a well-pondered reliance with them that, in their own unrestricted efforts to destroy Union, Constitu