Supplementary Reconstruction bill
The bill (H.R. No. 439) additional and supplementary to an act entitled "An act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel States," passed March 2, 1867, and the acts supplementary thereto, was read the second time by its title.
Mr. Doolittle said:
Mr. President: In moving the reference of this bill to the Committee on the Judiciary I desire to say that I shall move to amend the ordinary motion of reference by adding certain instructions which I shall send to the Chair.
Mr. President, there is more involved in this measure than in any other, all others, perhaps. I see in it a complete overthrow of the Constitution in ten States of the Union. I see in it a practical dissolution of the Union. I see a Republic in form, at least, still remaining north of the Potomac. I see an empire rising south of it. I see in it the realization of the wildest dream of Calhoun "a dual Executive" a President to execute the laws in the Republic of the North; a military dictator, independent of the President, to make as well as execute laws in the negro empire of the South. My heart is oppressed with a sorrow too deep for full utterance; and yet, with the indulgence of the Senate, I would make a last appeal to modify this policy. I deem it a duty which I owe to the country to do so now, before this bill goes to the committee, for in that committee I have no voice, and I know when its report is once made, and they are fully committed to the measure, it will be too late. I fear I am already powerless to influence the judgment of the Senate. But as I love my country and her republican institutions, as, next to the God of heaven, I have worshiped them from my youth up, and as I verily believe, although I pray Heaven I may be mistaken, they are now in most imminent peril of utter destruction if the bill shall become a law, I know that Senators, if they do not agree with me, will pardon me for giving expression to those earnest convictions which I could hardly repress if I would.
As I can have no hope that Congress will wholly abandon its reconstruction policy, for the purpose of asking the Senate to consider the question of modifying it so far as to limit negro suffrage to certain classes, I submit the following motion, which I now send to the Chair, and request the Secretary to read.
The Secretary read as follows :
Resolved, That the bill be referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and that the said committee be instructed, in said bill, or in any other bill which may be reported by them having reference to the question of reconstruction, so-called, in any of the States not represented in the present Congress, to insert the following proviso:
Provided, nevertheless, That upon an election for the ratification of any constitution, or of officers under the same, previous to its adoption in any State, no person not having the qualifications of an elector under the constitution and laws of such State previous to the late rebellion shall be allowed to vote, unless he shall possess one of the following, qualifications, namely:
1. He shall have served as a soldier in the Federal Army for one year or more.
2. He shall have sufficient education to read the Constitution of the United States and to subscribe his name to an oath to support the same; or,
3. He shall be seized in his own right, or in the right of his wife, of a freehold of the value of $250.
Mr. Doolittle. Mr. President, the question presented in the instructions proposed by me is whether Congress is still resolved to subject the white people of the Southern States to the domination of the negro race at the point of the bayonet, or whether Congress, in deference to the recently expressed will of the American people, will now so far modify their policy as to leave the governments in those States in the hands of the white race and of the more civilized portion of the blacks ? That is the naked question. Strip it of all useless verbiage and specious arguments about sustaining loyal men and punishing rebels, it is nothing more or less than this: shall the General of the Army put the negro in power over the white race in all the States of the South and keep him there? That purpose is boldly avowed by some, and that will be the effect of this Radical reconstruction as it now stands, or as it will stand, if this bill shall become a law. On the other hand, the amendment which I offer, if adopted, would leave the governments in those States where they belong and where they ought always to remain --in the hands of our own race-- while, at the same time, it would allow the right of suffrage to all those negroes who have any claim to it by reason of intelligence or patriotic services or estate subject to taxation, namely:
1. To those who have served in the Federal Army;
2. To those who have sufficient education to read the Constitution of the United States and to subscribe their names to an oath to support the same; and
3. To those who have acquired and hold real property to the value of $250.
But the question may be asked, why not apply the same tests to the white men in the South ? The answer is plain and twofold. First, by the constitutions and laws of those States the right of suffrage is already secured to them, and we have no rightful power to take it away. To do so would trample under our feet one of the most sacred rights reserved to the States. It is by extending suffrage to the negroes that Congress is overturning the constitutions of those States. In my opinion, this is a usurpation, which its advocates justify upon the ground of necessity alone. I neither admit the power nor the necessity; but, granting both, no reason can be given, and no necessity but that of party ascendancy can be urged, for going any further in this revolutionary work than to admit to suffrage the classes of negroes named in this amendment.
The second answer is, that the white men have been accustomed for centuries to vote. They have borne all the responsibilities and discharged all the duties of freemen among freemen; and it is a very different thing to take away from a freeman a privilege long exercised by him and his ancestors, from what it is to confer one never before enjoyed upon ignorant, half-civilized Africans just released from slavery. Three generations back many of them were cannibals and savages of the lowest type of human kind. The only civilization they have is that which they have received during their slavery in America.
To confer this great privilege upon the more enlightened negroes might tend to elevate the mass in the end. But to confer it now upon their ignorant hordes can only degrade the ballot and the republican institutions which rest upon it.
No answer to this view has ever been given, no answer can be given, by the friends of universal negro suffrage, except this: "The ignorant foreigner is allowed to vote, why not let the ignorant negro vote?" Thus to compare the civilized European, accustomed to free labor, to self support, and self-government, to all the duties and responsibilities of a freeman, and who withal, before he is allowed to vote in most of the States, must appear in open court, and, after five years' residence, prove by the testimony of two citizens a good moral character, and that he is well disposed toward the Government and institutions of the United States -- to compare him with the poor degraded mass of Africans, plantation slaves just set free, is an atrocious libel upon ourselves, upon our ancestors, upon the results of Christian civilisation, and upon the Caucasian race which for thousands of years has ruled the world.
But suppose it to be true that too many ignorant foreigners of our own race are admitted to suffrage already, is that any reason or any apology even for admitting six hundred thousand half-civilized men of another race -- men whose natural home is in the tropics, who are exotics here, transplanted, not by the natural laws of emigration, not by their own free will, but by the cupidity of Old and New England, as slaves, and whose whose education and civilization, so far as they have any, have been derived from slavery to the white man ? I do not say there are not some ignorant white men, foreign and native born, who are not qualified to vote; but they are exceptions to the general rule. I do not say there are not some persons of Indian, of Chinese, or of African descent who are qualified; but they are exceptions to the general rule also. Society must, in the main, be governed by general laws. While the general rule is that white men are capable, and therefore suffrage may be made universal among them, on the other hand the general rule is that Indians, Chinese, coolies, and negroes are incompetent; and especially is this true of the negroes in the plantation States. Therefore the general rule should exclude them from suffrage. At all events it should no further relaxed than to admit the excepted classes mentioned in this amendment.
The effect of the adoption of this amendment would be to allow all who have the qualifications required by the constitutions of those States before the rebellion, not specially disfranchised, to vote; that is to say, the mass of white men, and at the same time it would allow the most liberal negro suffrage at all compatible with the maintenance of civilized governments in those States.
Let Congress now pause, and modify its course in accordance with the provisions of this amendment, and I have every reason to believe the people of those States would at once take part in the work of reconstruction, a solution of our difficulties would be attained, and peace restored to the country.
But if Congress will insist upon its suicidal measures, if Congress is still determined to establish those governments upon negro supremacy, then chaos comes again; a war of races is inevitable at the South.
Mr. Alexander H. Stephens, one of the ablest living men of the South, and who speaks from long and actual observation, can--
"See nothing in the policy of reconstruction but the operation of a fearful scheme, whose ultimate result will be the destruction of either the black or the white race. Every day, it becomes more painfully evident that the estrangement between the races is widening -- on the part of the negroes from the effects of such instruction as teaches them to mistrust and oppose the whites, and on the part of the latter from an abhorrence of the negro leaders and an instinctive aversion to be ruled and legislated for by ignorance and semi-barbarism. From what fell under his own observation in Georgia, he was unable to detect anything like a spirit on either side tending to mutual sympathy of sentiment and interest. Radical emissaries from the North have sown the seeds of evil dissension with a terrible earnestness, and the diametric opposition of the races now visible all over the South must, in the very nature of things, lead, at some time or other, to fearful collisions. This inevitable result, as a dispassionate observer, forces itself irresistibly on his attention. A war of races, desired by some, and indifferently heeded by others, is, to his mind, a consequence as sure to happen, under the Radical method of reconstruction, as it is impossible to avoid, if the precedents of history or the impulses that control human nature be taken into account."
And such is the united testimony of the intelligent men of the South.
But, sir, why press this negro supremacy over the whites ? What reason can you give ? I have heard three distinct answers to this question worthy of notice:
First, Because the States of the South rejected the constitutional amendment submitted by Congress;
Second, Because the negroes are loyal and the whites disloyal; and
Third, Because it will secure party ascendancy.
Let us consider the first answer, that the States of the South have rejected the constitutional amendment submitted by the last Congress as the basis of reconstruction.
I admit the Legislatures of all the Southern States rejected that amendment with great unanimity; but is that any sufficient reason for the adoption of this harsh policy ? I think not. In the first place, that amendment contains one provision which made its adoption impossible by the Southern people, at least until you change the human heart and destroy the sense of personal honor. It disfranchises from holding office all the men of the South in whom they had ever placed any public confidence --all who had ever held any office, State or Federal. And disfranchises them for what ? For simply doing what they themselves had done.
I can understand how one may say in argument that the leaders should be disfranchised. But how any man of common sense, or common manhood, could ever suppose it possible for the people of the South to vote to disfranchise men (esteemed by them as equal to, if not better than themselves, for an offense of which they themselves were equally guilty, is beyond my comprehension. You ask the Southern people to betray the men whom they trust. You ask them to dishonor those whom they honor, to uproot the affection of years from their hearts. You ask them to strike with a serpent's tooth the bosom of a friend. But until human nature shall cease to be what God has made it, honorable men, to save themselves, to save even their lives, would not incur the guilt of such un-natural treachery by voting for such a provision. When it was pending before the Senate, June 8, 1866, I urged and implored Senators to allow the several provisions of that amendment to be separately submitted and voted upon, and I warned the friends of the measure that this provision would inevitably defeat its adoption by every Southern State. But, sir, the majority were deaf to all appeals. The caucus had resolved; the deed was to be done; and it was done. On account, mainly, of that provision, the amendment was rejected almost unanimously by every southern State.
Again, when examined more closely, we find that provision required them to vote to disfranchise thousands who had received pardon and amnesty, and a restoration to all their rights as citizens under the proclamations of President Lincoln and President Johnson, by virtue of a law of Congress, which you yourselves enacted, which expressly authorized them to grant such pardon and amnesty upon just such terms as they thought proper. An amendment offered by me in the Senate the 31st of May, 1866, to except those men who who had "duly received pardon and amnesty under the Constitution and laws," was voted down by an unyielding majority. I can never view this provision in any other light than a most palpable violation of the plighted faith of this Government given to those persons in the most solemn form.
If the Emperor of Russia, by proclamation, were to grant a full pardon to such Poles as would take an oath of allegiance to his crown, and if he should afterwards deliberately break his word, what denunciations would be, and ought to be, heaped upon his head by the civilized world ! The perfidy of such an action would only be equaled by its folly as a measure of pacification to Poland. Congress authorized the President to give pardon and amnesty to thousands whom Congress now calls upon the people of the South to vote to disfranchise.
Again, sir, there is another feature of that provision which no sentiment of justice should tolerate or excuse. In that sweeping disfranchisement no distinction whatever is made between those who voluntarily engaged and those who were compelled to engage in the rebellion; no distinction whatever between the innocent and the guilty.
The Senate will remember that when this amendment was pending I offered an amendment to restrict that disfranchisement to those who had voluntarily engaged in the rebellion; and it was voted down by the same unyielding majority.
Partisan zeal and party necessity may account for many things. But when the history of these times shall be written it will seem incredible to our posterity that learned men and able Senators could ever for one moment bring themselves to believe it possible that the people of the South would vote for such an amendment.
It contains still another objectionable feature in violation of an important principle in every good government, confounding executive with legislative duties. If there be any prerogative which more than another pertains to the executive in all Governments, ancient and modern, that prerogative is the power of pardon.
This amendment proposes to change the Constitution so as to take that power away from the Executive and confer it upon the two Houses of Congress. It is revolutionary, and worse than that. It vetoes the power of clemency in advance. It not only takes that power from the President, but it takes it away from a majority of Congress. It requires two-thirds of both Houses in order to exercise the power of pardon, the same majority which is necessary to pass a law over the Presidential veto. In what civilized Government upon earth was there ever such a restriction upon the power of pardon ? Can it be found even among the savage tribes ?
Sir, this amendment makes it impossible for a majority of the people of the United States, by the choice of a President or by the election of the Houses of Congress, to grant pardon and amnesty.
I speak with all becoming respect for the opinions of others and for the sincerity of their motives. I know it never could have been intended, but judging this provision by its own words, standing in its own light, it seems to be born of distrust in the intelligence and magnanimity of the people; the offspring of cowardice and revenge, of unforgiving hate and lust for political power.
And is it because the Legislatures of the South rejected such a proposition that Congress should now enforce this policy and establish a combined negro and military despotism in all the States of the South, and under its iron heel trample in the dust our own race and kindred and people ?
The President pro tempore. The morning hour having expired, the unfinished business of yesterday is regularly before the Senate.
The President pro tempore. The bill (H.R. No. 439) additional and supplementary to an act entitled "An act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel States," passed March 2, 1867, and the acts supplementary thereto, is now before the Senate; and the question is on the motion of the Senator from Wisconsin to refer it to the Committee on the Judiciary with the instructions proposed by him. The Senator from Wisconsin is entitled the floor.
Mr. Doolittle. Mr. President, I regret myself that the case which was pending yesterday was not disposed of either yesterday or this morning before we proceeded with the further discussion of the question on which I am entitled to the floor. I suppose that the case of Mr. Thomas, which was under discussion yesterday, could probably be disposed of in an hour; but the Senate have thought proper to determine that the discussion of this other question shall proceed. I shall, therefore, finish the remarks which I rose to make, and which probably would have been finished long ago but for the interruptions that have occurred. I shall not take any exception to the course pursued by any Senator in relation to this matter. I am bound to believe that it is out of courtesy to me that they have determined that I shall finish my speech on the present occasion. I voted against the courtesy myself, because I did not quite "see it." [Laughter.] I thought the proper disposition of business before the Senate was first to dispose of the case of Mr. Thomas, and then go into the general discussion of this question; but I was perfectly willing myself to wait until after that case was disposed of, and then resume my argument; but the Senate have determined otherwise.
Mr. President, Congress has proposed from time to time many schemes, but they may all be resolved into two distinct policies, radically opposed to each other.
First. Reconstruction by the constitutional amendment on the white basis.
Second. Reconstruction by negro suffrage and military force.
The first assumed that peace had come; that the States were in the Union, with governments organized, with Legislatures having power to ratify or reject constitutional amendments; and, furthermore, that those governments were in the hands of white men, with power, as in all the other States, to admit or to exclude negroes from suffrage. And, in case the amendment were adopted by three-fourths of the States, the only effect of admitting or excluding negroes from the ballot, in any State, would be to change its number of votes in the other House of Congress, and in the Electoral College.
The second assumes that we are still at war; that the southern States are not States in the Union at all, but conquered provinces, with no Legislatures which can either ratify or reject a constitutional amendment; that the white people of these States shall no longer have any power over the question of suffrage; that Congress by the bayonet will disfranchise the whites and enfranchise the blacks; and thus by military power and negro votes compel the adoption of a new Union and a new Constitution. Because they rejected the constitutional amendment Congress now resorts to the bayonet and negro suffrage to compel its adoption.
True, I admit they did reject the amendment. But how did they reject it ? By the votes of their Legislatures. They could reject it in no other way, for it was only to their Legislatures that Congress submitted the question. But how could their Legislatures reject it if they had no Legislatures at all ? If they had Legislatures which could reject it they had Legislatures which could ratify it. To do either is the highest act of a State Legislature, for it then acts upon the fundamental law not only of its own State and people, but of all the States and all the people of the United States. Conceding they had power, as you claim, to reject your amendment, by what shadow of right do you deny to those Legislatures power to choose Senators in this body ? As well deny to a living body the right to breathe.
But perhaps you say if they had ratified the amendment, then they had Legislatures which had the right to vote. But as they voted to reject it they had no Legislatures, and no right to vote. In other words, if they voted with you they had a right to vote; if they voted against you they had no right to vote at all.
Again, sir; all the world knows the whole object of the war was to put down the rebellion and to maintain the union of States under the Constitution. Every act and resolve of Congress, every dollar spent, every blow struck, every drop of blood shed, was to compel the people and the States of the South to live in the Union and obey the Constitution. And now that we have succeeded, now that the people and the States of the South have surrendered to the Constitution and laws, you say they shall not live in the Union under this Constitution at all. They shall first form another Union, and come into that Union under another or an amended Constitution.
Mr. President, having thus shown that this first answer to that question is unreasonable, inconsistent, and absurd, I repeat the question a second time. Why press this negro domination over the whites of the South ? What reason can you give ?
A second answer is, because the negroes were loyal and the whites disloyal. Let us examine this bold assertion. Is it true ? Were the negroes loyal during the rebellion ? Recall the facts. Who does not remember that at least three-fourths of all the negroes in those States during the whole war did all in their power to sustain the rebel cause ? They fed their armies; they dug their trenches; they built their fortifications; they fed their women and children. There were no insurrections, no uprisings, no effort of any kind anywhere outside the lines of our armies on the part of the negroes to aid the Union cause. In whole districts, in whole States even, where all the able-bodied, white men were conscripted into the rebel army, the great mass of negroes, of whose loyalty you boast, under the control of women, decrepid old men and boys, did all they were capable of doing to aid the rebellion.
Again, sir, the assumption is equally groundless that the whole of the white population, or a majority even, ever voluntarily engaged in the rebellion. It is true, the great majority in the end were compelled to acquiesce; but it was not until after the Federal Government speaking through President Buchanan, had abandoned the loyal people of the South and declared that neither the President nor Congress had the power to make war to compel the States to remain in the Union; in a word, it was not until after President Buchanan, in his message of December, 1860, declared that this Government had neither the right nor the power to defend itself from overthrow at the hands of the radicals of the South that a majority of the Southern people were disposed to consent to secession, nor did they even then acquiesce in rebellion until hostilities, actually begun, had organized an irresistible military power over them. Then the majority were compelled to succumb.
It should not be forgotten that allegiance on the part of the citizen and protection on the part of the Government are correlative duties. Has a Government the right to demand the one if it do not afford the other ? Has it the right to punish the citizen for yielding to a superior force against which it makes no attempt to protect him ? Such a claim would be monstrously unjust.
We know very well that the radicals of the South had a powerful organization. They were as bold, as earnest, as reckless of consequences and as restive under Constitutional restraints as the boldest of the present Radicals of the North.
Mr. Nye. With the permission of the honorable Senator from Wisconsin, I should like to know what he means by "the Radicals of the South?"
Mr. Doolittle. I mean the secessionists.
Mr. Nye. Ah !
Mr. Doolittle. I will not leave you to misunderstand, sir, to whom I refer.
Mr. Sumner. I should like to ask the Senator what is his authority for the expression ?
Mr. Doolittle. As I perceive that my honorable friend from Massachusetts proposes to enter upon this discussion, I trust he will allow me to finish what I have to say, and then he will have ample opportunity to be heard. I shall refer to several things before I get through that will perhaps attract his attention.
The President pro tempore. The Senator from Wisconsin is entitled to the floor, and cannot be interrupted without his consent.
Mr. Yates. I should like the Senator to answer me as a question of fact---
The President pro tempore. Does the Senator from Wisconsin give way ?
Mr. Yates. Does the Senator wish to be understood as saying that the negroes of the South favored the rebel cause ?
Mr. Doolittle. I said they did all they were capable of doing in the ways I stated --feeding their armies, digging their trenches, and some of them went into the armies, and some of them drove their teams.
Mr. Yates. Does the Senator mean---
Mr. Doolittle. I prefer to go on and finish.
Mr. Yates. I simply wish to understand the Senator.
Mr. Doolittle. I presume I shall be fully understood by the honorable Senator. I do not mean to keep anything back.
The President pro tempore. The Senator from Wisconsin cannot be interrupted without his consent.
I was speaking of the radicals of the South and the extremest radicals of the North, and I say they are similar in all the main elements of character, cherishing even to fanaticism opposite extremes of opinion, equally removed from the truth. Had they exchanged places and educations, in all human probability the radical of the North would have been a most violent radical at the South, and the radical of the South an equally violent radical at the North.
Mr. Morton. With the permission of the Senator from Wisconsin, I should like to ask him one question. I do not often interrupt.
Mr. Doolittle. I will yield to the Senator, if it is for a question bearing on my argument.
Mr. Morton. I want to ask the Senator if the men whom he calls the radicals of the South, who he says are secessionists, are not now acting with the Democratic party ?
Mr. Doolittle. That is not to the point I am considering, and these interruptions are evidently out of order. I do not wish to be discourteous to any gentleman; I do not intend to be discourteous to any; and I hope that no gentleman will deem that I am wanting in courtesy if I decline to be interrupted for such questions as these. I do not know but that perhaps the Senator from Illinois will take offense at my refusing to yield to him, and then yielding to the Senator from Indiana. I did not intend to make any distinction between the gentlemen. I did hear the question of the Senator from Illinois, and also the question of the Senator from Indiana. I hope there will be no further interruptions.
The President pro tempore. It is understood that the Senator from Wisconsin does not wish to be interrupted, and the Chair hopes he will not be.
Mr. Doolittle. Mr. President, it is a striking fact, showing how easily extremes sometimes meet, that the radical cry of the secessionists of 1860 is identical with that of the Northern Radical of to-day, namely, "The Union is broken; the Constitution in all the States of the South is gone. Down with the old Union, down with the old Constitution; we are outside the Union and outside the Constitution; we will have a new Union and a new Constitution to suit ourselves or we will have none at all." The cry was the same, the purpose the same-- political power. The radicals of the South raised that cry to build up their power upon negro slavery; the Radicals of the North to build up their power upon negro supremacy, upheld by the bayonet.---[May be, because the Radicals of the South and the Radicals of the North were the same people, aiming to achieve the same goal, and they needed a war to accomplish it; and reconstruction and new union was the true aim of the war
And, sir, shall we make no allowance for the great mass of the Southern people who, by force, by terror, by persuasion, by the abandonment of the Government, and by all the excitements, passions, and necessities of actual war, were plunged into that terrible conflict by the radicals of the South, as by a power they could not control ? We all know the influence over any party or community of a small, well organized minority, strong in will and reckless of consequences. What have we seen in the Republican party itself within the last three years ?
We have seen a comparatively small number of earnest radicals reverse and absolutely overturn from its foundations the policy of reconstruction adopted by Mr. Lincoln before his re-election, and sustained by the convention which renominated him and the party which re-elected him in 1864. His policy was reconstruction upon the white basis. The negro was excluded altogether.
Even the Wade and Davis reconstruction bill, which passed Congress by Republican votes, and which Mr. Lincoln refused to sanction, but not for that reason, confined reconstruction to the white basis alone. It excluded all negro suffrage. It left that question, where it belongs, to the white race to determine in each State for itself.
Upon this subject I quote and adopt the language of the Senator from Indiana [Mr. Morton] while Governor of that State:
"I call your attention to the fact that Congress itself, when it assumed to take the whole question of reconstruction out of the hands of the President, expressly excluded the negro from the right of suffrage in voting for the men who were to frame the new constitutions for the rebel States."
"If Mr. Lincoln had not refused to sign that bill, there would today be an act of Congress on the statute-books absolutely prohibiting negroes from any participation in the work of reorganization, and pledging the Government in advance to accept of the constitutions that might be formed under the bill, although they made no provision for the negro beyond the fact of his personal liberty."
I repeat, we have seen a little handful of Radicals, by their boldness, persistency, and force, persuade, cajole, or drive the great majority of the Republican party away from their own avowed policy of reconstruction upon the white basis, and compel them to adopt the policy of universal negro suffrage, to establish negro governments, and now, at last, to propose in the bill on your table an absolute military dictatorship in all the States of the South. I shall say nothing unkind of the Senator from Indiana; I admit his patriotism and eminent abilities and his almost incomparable services during the late war to put down the rebellion. But if anything were wanting to demonstrate the power which these Radicals have had over the mass of the Republican party in changing their opinions and reversing their policy, we have only to point to the able Senator from Indiana himself, once among the most powerful advocates of the Lincoln Johnson policy of restoration upon the white basis, now bound hand and foot, and dragged in chains at the victorious chariot wheels, to grace the triumph of Wendell Phillips and the Senator from Massachusetts, [Mr. Sumner.] Even his great mind now lends its powerful influence to favor the establishment of governments based upon universal negro suffrage, to hold, it may be, the balance of power in this Republic under the control of the bayonets of the regular Army.
I well remember the effect produced by the speech of the Governor of Indiana in 1865. It came at a time to be most gratefully remembered by me, for I was engaged in a struggle at that time against the Radicals in my own State, to prevent them from changing the creed and reversing the policy upon which the Union party fought and mastered the rebellion, and by which alone their victory was achieved. I endeavored to demonstrate the same truths set forth in that great speech, and when it came, with its irresistible eloquence and unanswerable force of argument, I rejoiced to lean upon his strong arm for support. Like him, I had on more than one occasion attempted to prove that Mr. Johnson inherited and was faithfully carrying out the policy of his predecessor. We did not then have the positive testimony of General Grant and of Mr. Stanton to prove that Mr. Johnson's North Carolina proclamation was drawn by Mr. Stanton and read over in Mr. Lincoln's Cabinet. Had those facts then appeared it might have saved that honorable Senator and myself the labor of proving the identity of the policy of Mr. Johnson with that of Mr. Lincoln, which the Governor of Indiana demonstrated in a manner so complete that no man has ever been able to answer him. I do not doubt his patriotism nor his sincerity. But of all surrenders to the Radical negro-suffrage policy of reconstruction, none filled me with so much surprise, none gave me so much pain, as that of the honorable Senator from Indiana, except one. I refer to General Grant.
Again, sir, if it were true that the whites were disloyal during the rebellion, they are not rebellious now. Rebellions cannot exist or continue without real or supposed cause. Slavery, the cause and the pretext for the late rebellion, is gone forever. It can never be revived. Nothing can incite another rebellion at the South, for they have no power to organize one against the Government, and will not have for many years to come.
Upon this point allow me to read an extract from a letter of Hon. Benjamin Fitzpatrick, formerly the Presiding Officer of this body, and known by all the older Senators as being opposed to secession, a gentleman of the highest honor and undoubted integrity. Hear what he says :
"It is said by some that it was made to keep down rebellion. What have the people of the South to commence or carry on a rebellion with ? Our slaves are all set free; our fields barely cultivated under the new system of labor, and many of them grown up in briars and weeds since emancipation, and almost everything in a state of dilapidation and decay. The cry for bread which comes up from almost every hill and valley in the State has scarcely ceased ringing in our ears, and it was only hushed by the liberal donations from the benevolent of the North and West. No people of the Old World in any of their long and desolating wars ever longed for peace more than we do. We want peace, but not degradation. We wish to be left free to act for ourselves, and free from the intermeddling of those who do not live among us, but come here to foment discord and speculate upon our troubles."
Sir, this is the language of one who knows the white people of the South and speaks for them.
And why, sir; why should they not desire peace ? For that rebellion, into which in an evil hour the radicals of the South plunged them, they have been punished already by the sacrifice of all their slave property, valued at three to four thousand million dollars; by the sacrifice of more than three-fourths of all other personal property, probably two thousand millions more; by the sacrifice of their public and private credits --at least a thousand millions more; by the depreciation of the value of all their real estate at least seventy-five per cent.-- amounting probably to more than two thousand million dollars more-- making in all a sacrifice of property, credits, and values in the Southern States alone of at least nine thousand million dollars.
But there is another bloody and terrible page in this account -- a page in account with death. It is estimated there have perished in battle, by disease, exposure, or other cause incident to the war, at least three hundred thousand able-bodied men of the South. I take no account of the unutterable anguish of millions of crushed and bleeding hearts. No language can express, no figures measure that. For that rebellion the white men of the South have been most terribly punished ! Nine thousand millions of values, are gone -- lost forever ! Three hundred thousand able-bodied white men of the flower and strength of the South now lie in their bloody or premature graves ! Great God ! Is not this punishment enough ? Must we go further ? Must we now punish the white men of the South by placing them under the domination of half-civilized Africans ? And in order to do that shall we punish ourselves by giving over to stolid and brutish ignorance the political control of one-fourth of the States, and, it may be, under the control of the Army the balance of power in the United States ? Shall we Africanize the South and Mexicanize the whole Republic ?
I know these measures of Congress have done much to wound, nothing to heal. Yet, notwithstanding all that Congress has done to embitter their hatred toward the Radical policy, there is neither thought nor wish nor hope to restore slavery, nor to separate from the Union, nor of rebellion against the authority of the Government; all evidence proves the contrary.
In the whole rebel army which surrendered I challenge any Senator to point me to a single instance in which a rebel officer has violated his parole; or to a single man, of any position or prominence at the South, who after taking the oath of allegiance has violated his plighted faith.
No man can more deeply feel than I do the great and monstrous folly and crime of that rebellion, which brought so much of agony and of blood upon all parts of our beloved land, which robbed us of our sons and dearest kindred and threw a shade of sorrow over our hearts which will never pass away until they cease to beat. But, now that blood has ceased to flow; now that three years of peace have elapsed; now that the whole South has surrendered and every interest they have or can hope for is to be found to the Union and under the Constitution; now that they have in good faith pledged anew their allegiance, and desire to join with us in rebuilding the waste places overrun by this desolating war; now that they have, in fact, ceased to be rebels, why shall we continue to denounce them as rebels, and do all in our power to compel them to be rebels, and to remain rebels and enemies forever ? Is that the way to restore prosperity ? Is that the course of wise statesmanship ? Will that bring permanent peace ?
Sir, let me put the extremest case. Suppose that these States of the South before the war had been foreign States, and that we had conquered them by arms; would not wise statesmen adopt the policy of conciliation ? Would not they treat them as friends and make them fellow-citizens at the earliest possible moment ? How much more earnestly should we adopt that policy because from the beginning we have always declared that our purpose was not to subjugate but to maintain the Union with the equality and rights of the States unimpaired.---[you may have believed this propaganda; but the real aim has always been to subjugate]
We had a war with Mexico, resulting in the acquisition of people and territory. By treaty the people were made citizens at once, with all the rights of citizens. We have had wars with Englishmen; but when the bloody strife was over, when peace had come, what course did our great ancestors pursue ? We all know the war of the Revolution was a civil war. During the strife, confiscation and disfranchisement were the order of the day. But when peace came and they sought to lay the foundations of the Republic broad and deep, what did they do ? Do you find in the Constitution they formed or the laws they passed under it any test-oaths; any bills of attainder; [any ex post facto laws;] any military reconstruction bills ? No, sir. No; they were too great and too wise. They had too much faith in man, and liberty, and truth, and God for that. On the contrary, they declared that no bills of attainder, no ex post facto laws should be passed; no man not in the military or naval service should be subject to military trials under the arbitrary power of the bayonet; and that even for treason itself there should be no corruption of blood or forfeiture beyond the life of the guilty party; and, furthermore, that no man should be convicted except upon presentment by a grand jury and after a fair trial, confronting his accusers, by the verdict of a jury of his peers.
In the Declaration of Independence, also, even in the midst of war, reason remained supreme over passion. They ware equal to the grand occasion. In one of its sublimest sentences they declared they would hold the people of England, their fellow-countrymen, with whom they were then engaged in civil war, as they did the rest of mankind, "enemies in war, in peace, friends." If we cannot equal them, may we not endeavor to follow their example ?
What do the great examples of history teach us in dealing with rebellions if not that, after force has been subdued by force, magnanimity is more powerful than revenge; that love conquers what hate never can --the hearts and affections of a people ?
When Latium, one of the Roman provinces, revolted, and the revolt was put down by arms, the question arose in the Roman Senate, what shall be done with Latium and the people of Latium ? There were some then who cried, "disfranchise them;" others said, confiscate their property." There were none who said, "subject them in vassalage to their slaves."
But old Camillus, in that speech which revealed his greatness and made his name immortal, said: "Senators, make them your fellow-citizens, and thus add to the power and glory of Rome." In this high place, in this Senate of the great Republic of the world, outgrowth of the civilization of all the ages, cannot we, Senators, rise to the height of that great argument ?
To descend to humbler examples, may we not even take lessons from some of our Indian tribes ? It is well known that the civilized tribes of the Indian territory took sides in our terrible conflict. Civil war in its direst and most savage form raged through all their country. Their dwellings were sacked and burned; their hands were red in each other's blood. Yet they have made peace. They have reorganized their governments. They now live side by side in perfect tranquility. Prosperity is once more smiling upon their beautiful land. Cannot Christian statesmen have equal faith in magnanimity -- equal courage to forgive and to believe that love is the power by which to reach the hearts of our late enemies ?
But, sir, suppose the statement be true that the negroes are loyal and the whites disloyal in heart, have we even then the right to degrade the whites in vassalage to the negroes ? I answer no. For their criminal acts we would have the legal right to try and convict and sentence to imprisonment and to death even. But now, without trial, by what operates as a substantial bill of attainder and ex post facto at that, to subject them to negro governments is a crime against the Constitution, against our own race, and against civilization itself. It is to impose upon them against their will a degradation which every State of the North would reject, and one tenfold greater than has ever been attempted in any northern State. It would make them unfit to be our fellow-citizens, and place the States of the South upon a footing inferior to that of the other States in the Union.
Sir, we claim to have fought for liberty and against slavery. The issue of 1860 was the extension of slavery into the Territories. By the election of Mr. Lincoln the people of the United States decided against that. The radicals of the South, another name for the secessionists, rebelled against that decision and endeavoured to reverse it by arms. That rebellion raised another and greater issue --the existence of the Government itself. It also placed at stake slavery in all the States. By the re-election of Mr. Lincoln in 1864 the people decided in favor of a vigorous prosecution of the war until every rebel should lay down his arms, and also in favor of an amendment to the Constitution to abolish slavery in all the States and Territories forever.
At present, what do we behold ? Now that the war is over, now that every rebel has laid down his arms, now that the people of the South have unanimously agreed to abolish slavery forever, to obey the Constitution and discharge every duty as citizens of the United States, the radicals of the North have morally begun a new rebellion against the Union and the Constitution; for, raising anew the old cry of the radicals of the South, they now declare that the States of the South are outside the Constitution, and that Congress, acting outside the Constitution, has unlimited power over them as over conquered territories. In their blind zeal for the advancement of the negro they propose to overthrow the Constitution in order to practically subject the white race to the domination of the negro.
As men who claim to be the friends of liberty, we have no right to do that.
As Christians who claim to have learned something of forgiveness from the teachings of our Saviour, we have no right to do that.
As members of that great Caucasian race which has given the world its civilization, we have no right to do that.
As statesmen who desire to restore the blessings of peace, we have no right to do that which would inevitably make eight millions of our own race and kindred in our own land eternal enemies of the Government.
As statesmen who, with ordinary sagacity, should look to the future and to possible wars with foreign Powers, we ought to make haste to restore sentiments of affection and patriotism in all that vast region, larger and richer by far in natural resources than England, France, and Prussia all combined.
And I ask, Mr. President, with all the earnestness of which the soul is capable, can any human being conceive of a measure so well calculated to make the whole white people of the South, men, women, and children, hate and loathe our Government, to hate it with a perfect hatred, to gather around the family altar upon their bended knees to curse it, and in the agony of prayer to call upon God to curse it, as this Radical reconstruction which seeks to disfranchise the heart and brain of the South, and to subject at the point of the bayonet the white race to the dominion of their late half-civilized African slaves ? Instead of peace it gives them a sword; instead of hope it fills them with despair; instead of civil liberty it gives them military despotism. White disfranchisement and negro domination was the idea which inspired and provoked the riot at New Orleans. It has arrayed everywhere the blacks and whites in hostility to each other, often resulting in bloodshed all over the South. It tends directly to bring on that war of races which in the West Indies enacted scenes of horror to sicken and appal the world.
That war is now impending over all the South -- it is only the presence of the Federal Army which prevents its outbreak upon a gigantic scale -- a war which, once begun, will end, I fear, in the exile or extermination of the blacks from tho Potomac to the Rio Grande. I know the Senator from Ohio, [Mr. Wade,] in a speech in the late canvass, had no fears of such a war or of its results. He is reported to have said, "let that war come; let them fight it out." God grant that war may never come ! but, if it does come, no amount of military discipline can compel the white men of the North to take part in the massacre of their own race and kindred.
Mr. President, having considered at some length the second answer to my question, and finding that it is not sustained by the facts, that it is bad in principle and worse in policy, I repeat the question a third time -- why press this negro supremacy over the whites of the South ? What reason can you give ?
The leader of the Radical forces --that inexorable Moloch of this new rebellion against the Constitution,
"The strongest and the fiercest spirit
That fought in Heaven, now fiercer by despair,"
answers with boldness, and in plain English gives the true reason, namely, to secure party ascendancy. This is the third and last answer which I propose to consider on this occasion. On the 3d of January, 1867, Mr. Stevens, in the House of Representatives, used this language, which I find reported in the Globe:
"Another good reason is, it would insure the ascendancy of the Union party. Do you avow the party purpose, exclaims some horror-stricken demagogue ? I do."
The party purpose is here avowed in the House. In his speeches and letters elsewhere Mr. Stevens again and again, in stronger language, avows the real purpose of this legislation, to them I mainly refer. The negroes, under the tutillage of the Freedmen's Bureau, led by Radical emissaries, or pushed by Federal bayonets, must take the political control of these States in order to obtain their votes in the Electoral College or in the House of Representatives in the election of the next President. Here is a reason, and just such a reason as the bold Radical would give. It is in keeping with his revolutionary measures, and in keeping with his own revolutionary history.
The letter of General Pope, when in command of one of the districts, recently published, draws aside the veil and discloses the fact that the same party purpose seeks to control the bayonet also.
This argument, for party ascendancy, all can understand. It is bold, clear, and logical. It is the argument of necessity addressing itself to unscrupulous ambition. One syllogism contains the whole of it: " We must," says the Radical, "elect the next President. The negroes, under the lead of our Bureau or the control of our bayonets, will vote for our candidate. The whites, outraged by our attempt to put the negro over them, will vote against him. Therefore the bayonet must place the negro in power in these States to give us seventy electoral votes for President, twenty Senators and fifty members of the House."
All honor to the Radical chief, the great Commoner, who, with all his faults, is too great a man to resort to subterfuge or shams, or attempt to conceal this real purpose in this legislation.
Some who favor these measures do not admit his leadership. But the truth is, in some way or other he does lead or drive the Radical party in the end into the support of all his revolutionary schemes. Now and then one shrinks back. More than once I have seen the "galled jade wince," but never fail at the last to obey the lash of her master. Would to heaven it were otherwise ! Would to heaven that the Radical party could pause and modify its suicidal policy ! But I fear the majority have become bound to it -- bound hand and foot with chains they cannot break; that, however much some may regret it or strive to conceal regret, political necessities compel you to go on, and right on to the bitter end. You have staked your all upon it. You must live or die by it.
The Senator from Massachusetts, [Mr. Wilson,] as if by authority, says, "We will take no step backward." Mr. Colfax, in his recent letter, re-echoes, "Not a hair's breadth." Such, I fear, is the fatal resolution taken by the majority.
The result of the recent elections, showing that a majority in the Northern and Western States is opposed to that policy, so far from changing a resolution from which the Radical party dare not retreat, is pushing it on to the madness of despair. It sees that its majority in the North and West is already lost. It dare not exclude the South in the next election. The South must be forced at the point of the bayonet, by white disfranchisement and negro suffrage, to vote for the Radical candidate, or he will be beaten. The majority in the Northern and Western States against him must, therefore, be overcome by the negro votes of the South.
Sir, we shall see if the people of the United States will allow the regular Army, which now controls this ignorant negro vote in the South, to hold the balance of power in the Republic and to elect to the Presidency the candidate of negro supremacy, upheld by military despotism. Shall Pretorian bands control the Presidency, as in the degenerate days of Rome they set up the empire for sale ? I am no prophet; but, if not mistaken in the signs of the times, the American people are not yet prepared for that. The Democratic party, everywhere freeing itself from the errors of the past, planting itself upon the living issues of the hour, welcoming into its ranks all who are opposed to this Radical and barbarian policy of subjecting the States of the South to negro supremacy by military dictatorship, all who are in favor of maintaining the integrity of the Union, the rights of the States, and the liberties of the people under the Constitution, and all who neither admit the doctrine of Southern radicalism which brought on this rebellion, that a State may secede from the Union, nor admit that other doctrine of the Northern Radical, no less revolutionary, that Congress may exclude or disfranchise ten States from the Union, are now coming together upon the platform of the fathers of the Constitution, and in the same fraternal spirit in which it was formed, and by which alone it can be maintained.
Sir, there are times when public opinion is like a placid stream gently flowing within its banks, when slight obstacles may for a time arrest or change or divert its course. Then, it may be said, the voice of the people is the voice of politicians; the voice of the people is the will of a party. But there are other times when the heavens are overcast, the rains have descended, and the floods have come, that its majestic current rolls on, emblem of wrath and power, when resistance maddens its fury and increases its strength. Then it overflows its banks. The barriers of party caucuses and politicians are all swept away and become mere flood-wood on the surface of the troubled waters. The voice of the people then is no longer the voice of politicians; then it is that the voice of the people is the voice of God.
Sir, we have passed through such crises in our day. You well remember when a feeble minority in this body raised its voice against that overbearing majority which, under the dictation of Southern radicals sought to force a State government, with negro slavery, upon the people of Kansas against their will. That monstrous wrong stirred the hearts of the people to their very depths, and party lines and party names were forgotten. Party ties were sundered like flax at the touch of fire. You remember that, sir.
Again, when these same radicals of the South, because the people of the North indignantly refused to sanction the subjugation of Kansas, rose in arms to destroy the Union and the Constitution, what became of party then. The people rose as one man. Large masses of the Democratic party gave their political support to the administration of Mr. Lincoln, forming the Union Republican party; and to their eternal honor be it said that the great mass of the Democratic party, with some exceptions, gave to his war measures a hearty and unflinching support. Without that support the war would have been a failure.
In the actual prosecution of the war, in the camp and on the field of battle, in the rank and file, as well as in command, we found no distinction whatever. Shoulder to shoulder Democrats and Republicans stood together like brothers on every battle-field from the beginning to the end of the rebellion. To defend the Union and the Constitution against overthrow by Southern radicalism, in arms against them, they braved every danger and endured every hardship. Together they stood in the day of the conflict, freely bared their bosoms in each other's defense; together often their life's blood gushed and mingled, and side by side they now sleep their last sleep in their honored graves. There they will sleep together till Heaven calls them to their reward.
And now, sir, what do we behold ? A dominant majority in this Senate and in Congress, under the lead of Northern Radicalism, at the point of the bayonet forcing negro suffrage and negro governments upon ten States of the Union and six million people against their will. What was the outrage upon Kansas compared to that ? We see them practically dissolving the Union by excluding ten States from the Union, thus doing what the rebellion could never do and what we spent $5,000,000,000 and five hundred thousand lives of our best and bravest to prevent. For long months we have seen them encroaching steadily and persistently upon the just rights of the Executive; and now, to rivet their chains upon us and to crown the whole of their usurpations, they propose to subjugate the Supreme Court; to overturn justice in her sacred spat in this tribunal of last resort. They would compel the court whose office it is to hold an even balance between the States on the one hand and the Federal Government on the other, and also between the several departments of the Government, to place false weights in the balances. They would make the weight of the opinions of five judges in favor of the usurpations of Congress more than equal the weight of the opinions of five judges in favor of the rights of other departments, the rights of the States, and the liberties of the people.
Sir, we are in the midst of a new rebellion, bloodless as yet, but which threatens to destroy the Constitution, and with it the last hope of civil liberty for the world. But let us not despair. Let us not surrender our faith in the people nor our faith in republican institutions. The people everywhere are coming to the rescue. They are again rising above party and the clamors and denunciations of partisans. Hundreds and thousands of the earnest Republicans who supported Mr. Lincoln's Administration have already severed their relations to this revolutionary party. Hundreds of thousands more are ready to do so and to strike hands with the great mass of the Democratic party to rescue the Constitution from this new rebellion against it.
Yes, sir, they are organizing everywhere, from Maine to California, not upon the dead issues of the past, for inglorious defeat. There is too much at stake, and they are too terribly in earnest for that. But with living men, upon the living issues of the present, they will organize for a victory so complete and overwhelming that the votes of the negro States of the South cannot hold the balance of power and decide the election against them. That same patriotism which led hundreds of thousands of Democrats to sustain the Republican party in putting down the rebellion of the Southern radicals will now lead hundreds of thousands of Republicans to act with the Democratic party to overcome the no less dangerous doctrines of the Radicals of the North. They are fighting in the same cause of the Union and the Constitution, and, for the spirit which gives them life.
Mr. Nye obtained the floor.
Mr. Morton. Before the Senator from Wisconsin takes his seat I should like, with his permission, to ask him the question that I asked him while he was speaking. The Senator spoke of the radicals of the South. I desire to ask him if the secessionists of the South, whom he calls the radicals of the South, are not now acting with the Democratic party, and did not act with them before the war ?
Mr. Doolittle. In relation to that question I am perfectly free to say that in the southern States before the war there were three parties existing; but a majority, I believe, of the southern States acted with the Democratic party. There were three parties there, however; one in favor of Douglas, another in favor of Bell, and the other in favor of Breckinridge. I think, if my recollection is not mistaken, Breckinridge had the majority of the electoral votes of those States. Whether there was a majority on the popular vote for Breckinridge in those States over Bell and over Douglas I do not now remember. In relation to the Democratic party of the North -- I believe the honorable Senator referred to the Democratic party of the North---
Mr. Morton. Yes, sir. I desire to ask if those men whom you term the radicals of the South are not now calling themselves Democrats and acting with the Democratic party of the North ?
Mr. Doolittle. It may be that some of those radicals of the SOuth are acting with the Democratic party. I never knew a majority in this country in which there were not some radicals. This great majority here has several that I could point out on this floor. [Laughter]
Mr. Nye. I yield the floor to the honorable Senator from Illinois with great pleasure.
Mr. Trumbull. I designed, if no one else did, making some reply to what the Senator from Wisconsin has said; but I certainly shall not take the floor from the Senator from Nevada.
Mr. Nye. I yield it with pleasure.
The President pro tempore. The question is on referring the bill to the Committee on the Judiciary with instructions.
Mr. Trumbull. The Senator from Nevada seems to prefer, if I have anything to say, that I should say it now, and I will do so. I thought that the extraordinary speech of the Senator from Wisconsin deserved some reply, not that I am aware that he has said anything particularly new or advanced any positions that have not been before heard in the country. Sir, it is very common with a certain party in the country to claim to be the friends of the Constitution and the Union upon all occasions; and it is a little remarkable that that party should embrace within its organization all the men who have fought to destroy the Constitution and the Union. It is not the first time in the history of the world that an attempt has been made to destroy that which was good by claiming to be its advocate. Liberty has been stricken down everywhere from the beginning of the world by those who claimed and professed to be its peculiar champions. This assumption on the part of the spokesmen of this organization, that they are the particular friends of the Constitution and the Union, is so often repeated that the unthinking are almost ready to believe there must be some truth in the assertion. Sir, the men who fought to uphold the Constitution and the Union, the men who legislated in these halls for the maintenance of this Government, the hundreds of thousands who went forth to defend the Constitution and the Union upon the field of battle, are in favor of these very measures which the Senator denounces as unconstitutional. Is the world to be made to believe that all these friends of the Constitution and the Union are now seeking their destruction, and that they who hazarded their all for their overthrow are now their only defenders ? It is unreasonable so to suppose.
But the Senator tells us in the opening of his protracted speech that the country is in imminent peril. I do not agree with him; but if it be in danger it is because of such assumptions and awovals as he has made here to-day, such, I was about to say, misrepresentations, such misapprehensions at the least of the desings and intentions of the ruling party in the country, and nothing else. But, sir, I do not agree that this country is in great peril. These reconstruction measures which so alarm the Senator from Wisconsin are being carried peaceably and quietly into execution. What is there to alarm us ? What is the danger ? Reconstruction is going on. Every State which has voted upon the question of calling a convention to reorganize its government and resume its position in the Union has carried the measure. ......
Mr. Doolittle. If my honorable friend will allow me, as this bill is leading to discussion, I will ask that it be laid over for the purpose of taking up the subject on which I wish to address the Senate, the morning hour having expired.
Mr. Hendricks. Before the Senator's motion is put, I wish to make one remark lest I may have been misunderstood in the statement I made at first. I do not wish to be understood as saying that this bill makes valid the bill to which I referred, but that this bill rests upon such a construction of the Constitution as, I think, will probably have that effect.
Mr. Edmunds. I think I must ask the Senate to go on with the consideration of this measure. It is a matter of a good deal of practical importance, and this very question has been considered by the Senate in various ways at several times, and I perceive that my I friend from Kentucky is very familiar with the subject already. I hope the Senate will go on with it until it is finished.
Mr. Doolittle. I ask the Senate to lay this bill aside and to take up the bill (H.R. No. 439) additional and supplementary to an act entitled "An act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel States," passed March 2, 1867, and the acts supplementary thereto, for the purpose of enabling me to address the Senate on that subject.
The President pro tempore. The Senator from Wisconsin moves to postpone the present and all prior orders for the purpose of taking up the bill mentioned by him.
Mr. Sumner. Before that motion is put, I should like to have the attention of my friend from Vermont---
Mr. Edmunds. Let us have a vote on this motion and vote it down.
Mr. Sumner. If it is understood that the motion of the Senator from Wisconsin will not be agreed to---
Mr. Doolittle. I make the motion for the purpose of my being allowed to address the Senate on that subject, according to what I supposed was the understanding of the Senate on Saturday.
Mr. Sumner. I have no objection. I wish merely to make a remark on the pending bill.
The President pro tempore. That cannot be done in order, pending the motion to take up the other bill.
Mr. Sumner. I hope the other bill will not be taken up until this one is put at least in frame for a vote. I think we had better come to a conclusion on the pending bill.
Mr. Hendricks. I support this bill; yet I think when two or three Senators say they wish to examine it, and as it is evidently an important one, it ought to lie over until tomorrow. There will be no difficulty in taking it up at that time. I say this as a friend of the bill.
Mr. Sumner. I wish to know whether, in the opinion of the Senator from Vermont, the bill now before us is applicable to the bill that has already twice passed this Congress, but which has failed down to the present moment to become a law because it has not been returned to the House in which it originated by the President. I wish to know whether this bill covers that case. Reading the section, it seems to me at least doubtful. The section in question is as follows:
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That every bill which, having passed both Houses of Congress and having been presented to the President as provided in the Constitution, shall not have been returned by the President with his objections thereto to that House in which it originated within the time herein defined and declared, shall be a law; and it shall be the duty of the President in such case immediately to deliver such bill, so having become a law, to the Secretary of State, who shall receive with the same in the same manner as may be provided by law for bills signed by the President, and to certify thereon, and in the promulgation thereof, that such bill has become a law for the cause aforesaid.
Now, on this section I have to remark -- I may be mistaken, but it is for that point that I wish to direct the attention of my friend -- it seems to be prospective in its operation it is not retroactive. It leaves, therefore, the bills that have already passed this Congress in status quo, if I may so say. It does not give them the benefit of this act. I submit to my friend whether it would not be expedient while legislating on the subject to remove all doubt by adding a clause something in these words:
It being understood that this section is applicable to any bill already passed by both Houses of the present Congress and not returned by the President with his objections thereto.
Such an addition as that would remove all ground of doubt. The bill for the further security of equal rights in the District of Columbia would then become one of the acknowledged statutes of the land. Without some such provision I fear that we should have to proceed still further; re-enact it again; go through the same process which we have already gone through twice before. I wish to supersede that. I should like to know the view that my friend takes upon this point, and whether, in his opinion, there is any objection to adding to that section the words which I propose, or something equivalent thereto.
The President pro tempore. The question is on taking up the bill mentioned by the Senator from Wisconsin.
Mr. Edmunds. That being the question I do not know whether the merits of this bill are under debate.
The President pro tempore. They are not under debate strictly, the motion being to take up another bill; but the Chair cannot decide what arguments are pertinent on such a motion.
Mr. Edmunds. I suppose the proper form would be "to postpone this and all prior orders," and stop there.
The President pro tempore. That is the motion.
Mr. Edmunds. I will only say, therefore, with the unanimous consent of the Senate, to my friend from Massachusetts, that the committee, all of them, thought that the bill to which he refers is already the law, and that it is the duty of the Secretary of State to receive it and put it on the files, and if he does not he is subject to punishment. I will not enlarge on the reasons now, because it is said to be out of order. I will say now on the pending motion, that of postponement, that the appeal of my friend from Indiana, my brother on the committee, is too strong for me to resist, and I, for one, shall not object to this bill going over in order that Senators who have objections to it may be heard.
The President pro tempore. The question is on postponing this bill and all prior orders for the purpose of taking up the bill mentioned.
Mr. Trumbull. I will inquire if that is House bill No. 214 ? What bill is it ?
Mr. Doolittle. House bill No. 439 is the one I move to take up, and upon that I desire to reply to Senators who have referred to me in the course of the debate.
Mr. Trumbull. Has the Senator any objection to our taking up House bill No. 214 and acting upon it, and then taking up the bill to which he refers ?
Mr. Doolittle. I propose to go on now and speak on that bill.
Mr. Trumbull. I take it there will not be likely to be any discussion on House bill No. 214. The Senator from Kentucky spoke at great length while that bill was up a day or two ago, but we all know his speech was upon the general subject of reconstruction.
Mr. Doolittle. It will not make a very material difference to me whether bill No. 214 or bill No. 439 is taken up. I shall move the same amendment to bill No. 214.
Mr. Trumbull. Is not the Senator willing that we should act on that at this time and dispose of it ?
Mr. Doolittle. I propose to speak at this time. I proposed to do so on Saturday. I came prepared to speak on the question this morning, and I can speak on that bill if the Senator prefers that that bill should be before the Senate.
Mr. Trumbull. The Senator did not understand me. What I prefer is to take up bill No. 214 and get it out of the way, and then let the Senator from Wisconsin make his speech.
Mr. Doolittle. I will state to my honorable friend that it will be impossible to dispose of that bill without some discussion.
Mr. Trumbull. I was not aware that anybody wanted to discuss the features of that bill.
The President pro tempore. The question is on the motion of the Senator from Wisconsin.
The motion was agreed to.
Supplementary Reconstruction Bill.
The Senate resumed the consideration of the bill (H.R. No. 439) additional and supplementary to an act entitled "An act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel States," passed March 2, 1867, and the acts supplementary thereto.
Mr. Doolittle. Mr. President, all persons must feel the gravity of the present situation, and it is in that feeling that I come to the consideration of the question before the Senate.
It will be remembered that when this bill which has passed the House of Representatives was about to be referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, I moved to instruct that committee to report the following amendment by way of proviso:
Provided, nevertheless, That upon an election for the ratification of any constitution, or of officers under the same, previous to its adoption in any State, no person not having the qualifications of an elector under the constitution and laws of such State previous to the late rebellion shall be allowed to vote, unless he shall possess one of the following qualifications, namely:
1. He shall have served as a soldier in the Federal Army for one year or more.
2. He shall have sufficient education to read the Constitution of the United States and to subscribe his name to an oath to support the same; or,
3. He shall be seized in his own right, or in the right of his wife, of a freehold of the value of $250.
In reference to the propriety of attaching some qualifications to the suffrage of the great mass of freedmen, who, by the acts of Congress, are made to take part in the reorganization of the State governments in the ten States of the South, I might content myself with reading a single extract from a speech of the honorable Senator from Maine, [Mr. Fessenden] when speaking, perhaps, not more for himself than for the Committee on Reconstruction, two years ago. This speech was made in part in reply to the honorable Senator from Massachusetts, [Mr. Sumner] and in it the honorable Senator from Maine said :
"The power exists now, at the present time, in all these States to make just such class or caste distinctions as they please. The Constitution does not limit them. The Constitution, in terms, gives us no power; it leaves to the States, as everybody knows, the perfect authority to regulate this matter of suffrage to suit themselves."
That was the view then expressed by him, not simply for himself but for the committee which he represented, that the States themselves, under the Constitution, had complete control over the question of suffrage. He also stated, in answer to the honorable Senator from Massachusetts, his views of the propriety of universal suffrage being extended to the colored people of the South, in the following language:
"I take it no one contends. I think the honorable Senator from Massachusetts himself, who is the great champion of universal suffrage, would hardly contend that now, at this time, the whole mass of the population of the recent slave States is fit to be admitted to the exercise of the right of suffrage. I presume that no man who looks at the question dispassionately and calmly, could contend that the great mass of those who were recently slaves, (undoubtedly there may be exceptions,) and who have been kept in ignorance all their lives, oppressed, more or less forbidden to acquire information, are fit at this day to exercise the right of suffrage, or could be trusted to do it, unless under such good advice as those better able might be prepared to give them."
In addition to that, I hold in my hand a memorial, addressed in very strong and eloquent terms, to the Congress of the United States, signed by a thousand or more of the able men in the State of Alabama.
Mr. Pomeroy. The Senator says able men. Does he mean loyal men ?
Mr. Doolittle. I say the able men of the State. Some of them were loyal and some of them were rebels, as appears from the statement of the memorial itself. The signatures appear here. It is a memorial which I wish every Senator would read and consider. It is as follows:---[All through the 1840s and 1850s these States, these intelligent people of these States, had the means and every opportunity to return these negroes to Africa, with compensation. But no, they kept up the kidnappings of africans and increased domestic slave production. Now these negroes are biting them in the ass, and children suffer for the sins of fathers......]
To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled:
The white people of Alabama send this their humble petition.
We beseech your honorable bodies to withdraw yourselves from the influence of the passions and contests of the hour, and contemplate for a brief period our miserable condition, and the yet more wretched state which is already prepared for us. Surely it is only such influences that have prevented you from bestowing upon us a single ray of beneficent regard.
According to the last census taken by the federal Government, the white people of Alabama largely outnumbered the negro or colored population. And we think we arrogate nothing which your honorable bodies will not concede to us, when we say that nearly all of the education, intelligence, and civilization of the State, are found in our race. But poverty prevails throughout the land. We are beset by secret oath-bound political societies. Our character and conduct are systematically misrepresented and maligned to you and in the newspapers of the North. The intelligent and impartial administration of just laws is obstructed. Industry and enterprise are paralyzed by the fears of the white men and the expectations of the black, that Alabama will soon be delivered over to the rule of the latter; and many of our best people are for these reasons leaving the homes they love, for other and strange lands.
Before the late unhappy war, the white people of the South contributed their whole just proportion of the great and good men, whose acts and characters constituted the chief renown of the Republic. Those of us who endeavored to withdraw the South from its partnership therein, did not do so in order to make war upon the northern States or their institutions, but for the purpose (vain hope!) of peacefully establishing another, not unfriendly, independent confederacy, in which, under almost identical constitutions, we might be more free from discord. And however criminal, in your opinion, we may in this have been -- yet neither our sins nor our sufferings have reduced us to uncivilized barbarians.
On the other hand, it is well known to all who have knowledge on the subject, that while the negroes of the South may be more intelligent and of better morals than those of the same race in any other part of the world where they exist in equal density --yet they are in the main ignorant generally, wholly unacquainted with the principles of free governments, improvident, disinclined to work, credulous, yet suspicious, untruthful, incapable of selfrestraint, and easily impelled by want, or incited by false and specious counsels into folly and crime. Exceptions, of course, there are, and chiefly among those who have been reared as servants in our domestic circles and in our cities. But the general character of our colored population is such as we have described. Whose fault it is that they are so, whether ours, under whose control they have certainly become better than their brethren in their native Africa, or the fault of anybody, it is needless now to inquire. We have to deal with the incontestible fact that in the main they are, unlettered and capricious barbarians, turned suddenly loose from the condition of slaves, and eager to avail themselves of freedom to indulge and gratify their desires and passions.
Are these the people in whom should be vested the high governmental functions of enacting and enforcing laws, and establishing institutions to prevent crime, protect property, preserve peace and order in society, and to promote industry, enterprise, and civilization here, and the power and honor of the United States ? Without property, without industry, without any regard for reputation, without control over their own caprices and strong passions, and without fear of punishment under laws, by courts, and through juries which are created by, and composed of themselves, and those whom they elect -- how can it be otherwise than that they will, to the great injury of themselves as well as of us and our children, bring blight, crime, ruin, and barbarism on this fair land ?
Does any one say that your laws do not make them rulers over us ? What difference does it make except to increase jealousy and intensify antagonism, that white men are also allowed to vote with the black, when it is so contrived that the black shall have the predominance and dominion ? We entreat you to pause and observe how your reconstruction acts are being executed here.
Of the negro population, whose numbers are many thousands less, the registered voters are over eighteen thousand more than those of the white race. And white men who hate us, and others, from sordid motives, co-operating with them, have, by their own procurement or the procurement of others, and not by the intelligent choice of the negro voters, been elected as their delegates for the purpose, and have trained and now presented for ratification to those registered voters a constitution of government, all of whose best clauses are contained in our present constitution and in every other instrument of the kind. But these are made delusive and useless by the diabolical ingenuity of other provisions made to disfranchise us even beyond the enactments of Congress, and to insure over us and our children and all who shall come among us the ascendancy of the negro race. And these same designing and malignant enemies stand prepared, so soon as that constitution shall be ratified, to organize, arm, and invest with power, under the forms of law, a militia, to be composed chiefly of those same negro voters, in order to perpetuate their lordship over us by the aid of bullets and bayonets. We cannot believe that the majorities of your honorable bodies intended by your enactments to erect such a reconstruction as this.
Will you, nearly three years after the war has ended -- when the passions it kindled should have died out in the magnanimity which great success ought to inspire -- suffer the whole State, full of your kindred, civilized, white inhabitants, not only those who had opposed the Government, but women and children and loyal men who had adhered to it, to be thus delivered over to the horrid rule of barbarian negroes ? Do not compel the honorable officers and brave men of the armies of the Republic to hold us down while such fetters are forged in our view and yours and then ignominiously fastened upon us. We are compatriots of Washington and Henry and Jefferson and Madison and Marshall and the Pinckneys and Marion and Jackson and Clay and Taylor. Are there no names among these potent enough to arouse any respect for us in your legislative Halls ?
It is said -- and by frequent repetition you are made to believe it true -- that the negroes and selfstyled loyalists cannot have justice done them and are unsafe among us, and that we are still in a state of rebellion. The charges are false. Ever since the war our courts and upright judges in them have administered justice as impartially as anywhere else in the Republic; and toward the negro -- who aided the South as cheerfully while he was in the confederate lines as he afterward aided the northern armies when and where they had power -- we have been, both from inclination and interest, humane and kind. The slanderers, who say otherwise, are of those who are seeking to enslave us by your aid. They arrogate to themselves the majesty of the Government of the United States, and call our opposition to them in their nefarious endeavors to subject us to a new and unheard of despotism disloyalty to the United States.
When our people surrendered their arms they did so absolutely and without any purpose of ever again employing them against the Government. Upon its requirement we also emancipated our slaves, and thus reduced ourselves from wealth to poverty. Not only this, but in every negro we set free we placed over us and our families a guard for the Government upon the fidelity of our allegiance. This, it was supposed, would be the extreme demand of the conquerors. Yet, although by reason of our impoverishment and the terms of the instruments creating the war debts of the South, it became impossible that they should ever be paid, and therefore the demand that we should repudiate them was useless, we thought, for any other purpose than that of humiliating us, that demand was made. And we submitted, not without anguish, to the enforced humiliation of expressly repudiating these debts. Standing thus, stripped of arms, stripped of property, stripped even of credit and honor, and with negroes at our doors to strike us down whenever your officers shall command them to do so, who can believe that the people of the South contemplate anything else than submission to the United States ? What higher evidence besides this could be given of the universal good faith and entireness and frankness of our surrender than the fact that, notwithstanding the great provocations of intruding political adventurers, not a single guerilla band has existed and been kept up against your authority since the abdication of the confederate authorities under whose orders the war was waged ?
Continue over us, if you will do so, your own rule by the sword. Send down among us honorable and upright men of your own people, of the race to which you and we belong; and, ungracious, contrary to wise policy and the institutions of the country, and tyrannous as it will be, no hand will be raised among us to resist by force their authority. But do not, we implore you, abdicate your rule over us by transferring us to the blighting, brutalizing, and unnatural dominion of an alien and inferior race; a race which has never exhibited sufficient administrative ability for the good government of even the tribes into which it is broken up in its native seats, and which in all ages has itself furnished slaves for all the other races of the earth.
Mr. President, the question which has forced itself upon me again and again, as I have listened to this long debate, is :
Are we at peace? or, Are we still at war ?
It is almost three years since the last armed soldier of the rebellion surrendered, when war in fact ceased; and on the 20th day of August, 1866, the President, by proclamation, declared peace restored ?
Does some one say he assumed to do that without authority of Congress, and therefore it is not binding upon Congress ?
To close all controversy on this point, my honorable friend from Connecticut [Mr. Dixon] read a section from a law of Congress of March 2, 1867, in which that proclamation is recognized, and its validity sanctioned by Congress itself. It is section two of an act entitled "An act to provide for a temporary increase of the pay of officers in the Army of the United States, and for other purposes," and is in these words:
"That section one of the act entitled 'An act to increase the pay of soldiers in the United States Army, and for other purposes,' approved June 20, 1864, be, and the same is hereby, continued in full force and effect for three years from and after the close of the rebellion, as announced by the President of the United States by proclamation bearing date the 20th of August, 1866."
Sir, we have peace in fact, and peace proclaimed in due form of law.
Peace --blessed peace has come, God grant she has come to stay !
Mr. President, when this measure, in a time of profound peace, as if to combine all that preceded it into one act of concentrated despotism; to sweep away at one blow all civil law, and civil government even, from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, and to put it beyond the power of the Executive, and beyond the power of the Supreme Court to recognize the existence of either in ten States of this Union,, and among eight million people; when that measure came from the House and asked the approval of the Senate, I know not how others felt, but I could feel the very foundations of republican government giving way under my feet --the columns, reared to constitutional liberty, crumbling around me.
Sir, not in anger, but in sorrow, I appealed to the Senate to arrest it and to modify its policy. My duty as a Senator, as a citizen, and as a friend constrained me to do so. What gave deeper earnestness to that appeal was the fact that I feared the majority were so intent upon securing a party ascendancy as to be unable or unwilling to see that this measure, and the kindred measures now pending, tend to produce, and are, of themselves, a revolution in the Government.
Under the influence of the siren song of party necessity the majority seemed to sleep while Rome was on fire; to be drugged with the same fatal poison which has destroyed all the republics of the world, and prepared the way for Cæsarism -- for the imperator.
That was the simple Roman word for general. When Julius Caesar bore that title it meant no more, no less, than general. But now it is the title aspired to by all the absolute monarchs of the earth, for imperator is emperor now.
Sir, this bill on your table, in addition to laws already in force, clothes out General with all the powers of Caesar, in a country larger than ancient Gaul, Britain, and Germany.
The majority, unconscious or unwilling to be awakened to the fact, seemed to press on into the very jaws of a revolution which threatens to ingulf all worth having in republican institutions. They are sleeping upon the sides of Vesuvius, and are not awakened by the first jets of its eruption.
Sir, by this bill all power over the Army, and over the execution of the laws in nearly one third of the States, and over eight million people, is taken away from the President in open, palpable violation of the Constitution. The Constitution vests all executive power in the President. It requires him to take an oath to see that the laws are faithfully executed. In express words, also, it makes him Commander-in-Chief of the Army. This bill makes it a crime in him to perform the duties of either.
All power, also, is to be taken away from the Supreme Court, to take any appeal or to recognize the existence of any civil government, in those States.
Not only the President but the Supreme Court is to be manacled, and made to wear the ball and chain.
The lives, liberty, and property of eight million people are to be placed under the absolute control of a military dictator.
And all that usurpation and all that despotism is -- for what ? For the purpose of forcing universal negro suffrage upon ten States and six million of our own race and people against their will, in order, as some of the bolder Radical leaders avow, to secure through negro votes the electoral votes of those States for the Radical candidate for the Presidency; and that candidate, as many think, is to be the very General into whose hands this despotic power is to be placed enabling him to secure for himself, if he will, seventy electoral votes.
Pass the measure and General Grant may well say "Save me from my friends." It is hardly possible to believe that able General will consent to take this power and at the same time be a candidate for President. I can hardly believe his sense of propriety will permit that. Can he take absolute military control over seventy electoral votes, and be himself a candidate for those very votes ? Pass this bill and it seems to me he must resign, as General, or renounce as candidate for President. Could Chief Justice Chase be a candidate for President if a case were pending in the Supreme Court to determine the validity of seventy electoral votes without first resigning his office as Chief Justice ? If he could, or would, we have fallen upon evil times indeed !
Mr. President, when this measure came from the House, and was about to be referred, I offered an amendment of instructions to the committee according to the rules of the Senate, and earnestly appealed to the majority if they would not arrest, at least to so far modify their policy as to leave the government of those States in the hands of our own civilized race. And how was that appeal received ?
First of all, the Senators from Ohio [Mr. Sherman] and from New York [Mr. Conkling] were unwilling to extend to me the usual courtesies of this body; the former saying I had violated the rules of the Senate -- a mistake in point of fact -- and the latter, that my speech was offensive to the majority, which perhaps was true, if offense there be in strong and determined, though courteous and parliamentary opposition.
To these gentlemen I have no reply, except when they address the Senate upon any grave question upon which they as Senators shall deem it their duty to speak, I shall not deny them the usual courtesy of this body, however much they may differ from me or oppose the measures I advocate.
The Senator from Illinois [Mr. Trumbull] fell into a strain of violent denunciation, charging me with effrontery for saying these measures of Congress are unconstitutional, when that Senator must know that Congress is unwilling to allow their constitutionality to be passed upon by the Supreme Court until after the chain now forging for that court shall be placed upon it; until after Congress shall subjugate the very tribunal created by the Constitution to negative the usurpations of Congress; and to save from those usurpations the other departments of the Government, the rights of the States and the liberties of the people, which mainly depend upon them; in short, to save us from the danger of all others most feared by our ancestors, namely: the centralization of power in Congress. I may refer to this subject again before I close.
The Senator from Massachusetts [Mr. Wilson] denounces my speech as "unpatriotic, inhuman, and wicked" as anything which ever fell from the "dominating Davis," the "blusering Toombs," the "pompous Mason" the "unscrupulous Slidell," the "insincere Benjamin," the "plausible Breckinridge," and "their compeers in crime."
I confess I was not a little surprised at the language of that Senator, representing as he does the highly civilized State of Massachusetts. Such epithets admit of no reply worthy of a Senator, or of the Senate. I pass them by.
But, in entering upon a reply to Senators upon the other side, I shall address myself first to the logic; and then; if I have time, may give a passing notice to some of the denunciations, of this debate, which are not, of themselves, beneath the dignity of this body.
The Senator from Indiana, who may, without discourtesy to any other Senator, be said to represent the logic of the other side, opens his speech, one of great ability, in these words:
"The issue here to-day is the same which prevails throughout the country, which will be the issue of this canvass, and perhaps for years to come. To repeat what I have had occasion to say elsewhere, it is between two paramount ideas, each struggling for the supremacy, one is, that the war to suppress the rebellion was right and just on our part; that the rebels forfeited their civil and political rights, and can only be restored to them upon such conditions as the nation may prescribe for its future safety and prosperity. The other idea is, that the rebellion was not sinful, but was right; that those engaged in it forfeited no rights, civil or political, and have a right to take charge of their State governments and be restored to their representation in Congress just as if there had been no rebellion and nothing had occurred."
Sir, I love to meet men who reason, who state their premises and logically draw their conclusions. My honorable friend from Indiana [Mr. Morton] has maintained the dignity and the courtesy of the Senate; and in his speech has presented, in as logical form as it is capable of being presented, the argument on the other side.
In addressing myself to that it is not my purpose to go over the whole ground in reply, especially where the honorable Senators from Maryland, [Mr. Johnson] Pennsylvania, [Mr. Buckalew,] Connecticut [Mr. Dixon] and his colleague [Mr. Hendricks] have already gone. There is no necessity for me or for any one else to go over the ground where they have trod.
But I propose, for a brief period, to examine this foundation upon which his speech rests; the groundwork upon which he builds his argument. If his premises are found to be false, if his foundation rests upon the sand of error, his column falls of course.
Sir, what is that foundation as stated by himself ? What is that paramount issue here which is to be the issue of this canvass, and, it may be, for years to come ? What are the two paramount ideas thus struggling with each other for supremacy, one of which is maintained on his side and the other on ours ?
He says upon the one side of that issue the ruling idea is that the war to suppress the rebellion was right; upon the other side the paramount idea is that the rebellion itself was right.
These, he says, are the two paramount ideas struggling for supremacy. This, he says, is the issue here, will be the issue of this canvass, and perhaps for years to come.
Sir, which of these two paramount ideas does he maintain, and which dues he assign to me ? Upon this all-absorbing issue, overriding all others -- like Aaron's rod, swallowing all the rest for years to come -- upon which side does he stand, and upon which side does he place me ?
Upon the question whether the rebellion was right or wrong, and whether its suppression was right or wrong, the honorable Senator may take his own position; but he has no right to thus make up a false issue in order to place me or those acting with me upon the wrong side of that issue. I admit, if the Senator has stated the true issue to be whether the suppression of the rebellion was right or wrong, and if he and those acting with him maintain that it was right, and if I and those who act with me maintain that it was wrong, his side is already victorious, ours already vanquished.
But, Mr. President, there is no such issue here or before the country. With all courtesy he will allow me to say that in thus stating it he has based his speech upon a very grave and material misstatement. He says the ruling idea on his side of that issue is that the war to suppress the rebellion was right. Sir, that is the ruling idea on our side also. I not only admit it to be true, but, with all the power God has given me, I maintain that it is true; the rebellion was wrong; its suppression was right. Therefore, when he says or implies that the ruling idea on our side is that the rebellion was right and its suppression wrong, he states what is not only untrue, but without shadow of foundation. With equal truth he might say if a man assault me without cause, and after a fierce encounter, in which he is beaten and severely punished and surrenders, if I should then refuse to strike him when he is down and be disposed to make peace upon his pledge of honor for future good behavior, that by so doing I would admit that his attack upon me was right.
Sir, I will not do him the injustice to suppose that he could attribute to me any such idea as that the rebellion was right. He could not have forgotten my language of the day before, in which I deplore as deeply as any other the monstrous folly and crime of that rebellion which brought upon us so much of blood and agony and tears; which draped almost every house in mourning, and left at almost every family table its vacant chair. No, sir; no. The Senator knows the cup many have been compelled to drink was too bitter, the anguish too deep, for that. I felt as much as he could feel the wrong of that rebellion, and not only the right, but the imperious necessity of its suppression. I felt, as I have no doubt he did, that all that we have and all that we are were staked upon the issue of suppressing that rebellion and of maintaining the union of States under the Constitution. He felt as deeply as I could that if this Union was once overthrown all that we can hope for of constitutional liberty would perish; because if that Union were once broken up into petty States, discordant and belligerent, sure as night follows day anarchy would come first and tyranny afterward. On the other hand, if the Constitution be overthrown by the centralization of power here; if the rights of the States which that Constitution designed to guard and defend shall be trampled down and give place to the doctrines of absolutism in Congress, whether claimed under the clauses of the Constitution or found outside the Constitution, it is equally certain as effect follows cause that republicanism will give place to imperialism; the days of the Republic will soon be numbered and the days of the empire begin.
Sir, at no period in the history of man, upon no other continent upon the globe, has constitutional liberty had so fair a trial or so good a chance for success as with us. The Senator from Indiana knows and feels this as well as I. He knows, if either by secession leading to anarchy and tyranny, or by centralization leading to imperialism, we now fail, the noblest aspiration of man from the beginning of time --the aspiration for constitutional liberty; for liberty guarded by law; for liberty of the citizen secured against the oppression of overbearing majorities as well as against the tyranny of a single despot -- will prove after all to have been a delusion -- a fitful, bloody, and hideous dream; and that dream is over !---[Dear, oh dear, Mr. Doolittle, are you smelling some coffee ? In February 1862, Representative Vallandigham told the House and anybody who was willing to listen that Cæsarism and centralization of power was the aim (of that war, of President Lincoln and the Whig crew behind him). Twenty years earlier, (July 8, 1841) Representative Sergeant had essentially told the South "submit without murmur [to cæsarism and centralization], or else to prepare for the horrors of civil and of servile war".]
Sir, while I willingly concede to that honorable Senator all the devotion any man can have for the maintenance of the Union, and I hope, also, for the maintenance of the rights of the States under the Constitution, by which the liberties of the individual are mainly secured and defended, I cannot allow him to attribute to me for one instant the idea which he now says is the ruling idea upon our side in the struggle, namely, that the rebellion was right or that its suppression was wrong.---[forgive me, dear sir, the rebellion was against cæsarism and centralization, the same thing which you now claim to oppose; if the rebbels' opposition to the increasing power of the federal government was wrong, what argument do you have Mr. Doolittle ?]
It is not only untrue as to me personally; it is equally untrue as to every other Senator who has spoken on this side of the Chamber. Does the honorable Senator attribute that idea to his colleague, [Mr. Hendricks] to the Senator from Maryland, [Mr. Johnson] to the Senator from Pennsylvania, [Mr. Buckalew] to the Senator from Connecticut, [Mr. Dixon] to the Senator from Kentucky, [Mr. Davis]? I feel sure he cannot do so.
If we go among the masses of the people in all the States represented here how does it stand ? I call attention to the following table:
By that table it appears that in the great State of New York there were 373,000 men who voted for the Democratic and Conservative Republican, (or, to use a shorter name, the one applied to the party which supported General Jackson) the Democratic Republican candidates last fall. Among all these, how many could be found who would now say, or who have ever said, the rebellion was right ? Not one in a hundred. In the whole 1,673,000 who voted against the Radical Republican policy last fall, not 16,000, if even 5,000, men can be found in all the States represented in Congress, not native-born citizens of slave States, who, even for one hour of their lives, believed the rebellion was right.
That such an idea did once prevail at the South under the radical teachings of Calhoun I do not deny. But with the great mass of that people it has been surrendered, and that surrender was sealed with the blood of half a million of men.
Sir, not for myself alone, but for those who act with me here, I reject as untrue, as logically and historically false, the issue thus stated by the Senator from Indiana, [Mr. Morton]
In the name of more than 1,600,000 men in the States represented here who sustain the Democratic Republican party, I protest against this false issue thus sought to be forced upon them.
I will go further, and in the name of nine-tenths of all the people of all parties in the States not represented, as manifested by all their conventions, by all their public meetings, by all their newspapers, by all their private letters, and by three years of peaceful submission, as well as by their solemn oaths of future allegiance, I affirm that they have surrendered forever all claim of right to secede and all thought of rebellion against the authority of the Constitution and the laws of Congress in pursuance thereof.
The issue thus stated by him is untrue in fact. The foundation upon which he builds his speech is unsound. For we maintain as earnestly as he does or can that the rebellion was wrong and that its suppression was right.
There is no such issue in fact. He can make no such issue either here or before the country. His paramount idea that the war to suppress the rebellion was right is our paramount idea also. Here we stand side by side.---[If the federal government had been willing to stay within its constitutional limits, there would have been no rebellion. The federal government won the war, so what is the big surprise that the federal government is now acting the way the southerners always said it would, if could ? You won the war, but now you don't like the victory]
But what consequences flow from that idea ? That's the real question. There we begin to differ. There is the point of departure. He states his idea of those consequences in these words: "that," by their rebellion, "the rebels forfeited their civil and political rights, and can only be restored to them upon such conditions as the nation may prescribe for its future safety." Here we begin to differ. This statement is partly true and partly false. It speaks of two things: first, of forfeiture of rights; second, of conditions of restoration. As to forfeiture let us first inquire what was forfeited by treason or rebellion ? The Constitution declares in what treason shall consist, and that "the Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason." It also declares "no bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed," and therefore, by the express words of the Constitution as well as by the enlightened conscience of civilized man in all ages, the forfeitures and penalties of an offense must be declared before the offense is committed -- before, not afterward.
Pursuant to this power and in performance of its duty Congress did properly declare by law the punishment of treason and rebellion, and the precise forfeitures and all the forfeitures to which the guilty party should be subjected when convicted of that offense. The law of July 17, 1862, provided that every person who should thereafter commit the crime of treason against the United States and should be adjudged guilty thereof should suffer death, and all his slaves, if any, should be declared and made free; or, at the discretion of the court, he should be imprisoned for not less than five years and fined not less than ten thousand dollars, and all his slaves, if any, should be declared and made free. And it further provided that if any person should thereafter incite, set on foot, assist or engage in any rebellion against the authority of the United States, and be convicted thereof, he should be imprisoned not more than ten years and fined not exceeding ten thousand dollars, or both, at the discretion of the court, and his slaves should be set free. And it was further provided that for either the offense of treason or rebellion he should also be forever incapable and disqualified to hold any office under the United States.
Here, sir, are the forfeitures, and the only forfeitures, incurred by treason or rebellion. These forfeitures do not attach except upon conviction. By the very language of the law declaring these forfeitures a conviction is made a condition precedent to any forfeiture taking effect.
The Constitution declares that no person not in the land or naval forces, or the militia in actual service in time of war or public danger, shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless upon a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, and that he shall be entitled to a fair and public trial by an impartial jury, and, confronting his accusers, shall have compulsory process for witnesses in his favor and the assistance of counsel for his defense.
The indictment, the public trial, the testimony of witnesses, the assistance of counsel, the verdict of the jury, and the judgment of the court are all necessary to convict the accused. Until that judgment is pronounced no forfeiture whatever takes effect upon the accused.
I have spoken thus clearly in order, if possible, to ascertain the precise truth upon this matter of forfeiture. This view leads logically to this result. The forfeiture incurred by the people of the South has been precisely what Congress by law declared it should be before the offense was committed, and Congress has no power, by ex post facto laws or bills of attainder, to declare any new or any other forfeiture.
And now, sir, secondly, as to the conditions of restoration.
The same law of Congress, in the thirteenth section, authorized the President, at any time thereafter, by proclamation, to extend to persons who participated in rebellion pardon and amnesty, with such exceptions at such time and on such conditions as he should deem expedient for the public welfare.
By virtue of this express authority of Congress, as well as by his paramount authority under the Constitution, President Lincoln and President Johnson, following his example, restored hundreds of thousands to their civil and political rights, which Congress has no power to take away by bills of attainder or ex post facto laws. As to what is meant by those forbidden acts of Congress we are not left to conjecture, for the Supreme Court say, in the case of Cummings vs. Missouri, "a bill of attainder is a legislative act, which inflicts punishment without judicial trial. If the punishment be less than death the act is termed a bill of pains and penalties. Within the meaning of the Constitution, bills of attainder include bills of pains and penalties." The court also say, upon the authority of the great commentator upon the common law, that "a disability to hold office" is a punishment.
If there could be any doubt upon that point, whether disability to hold office is to be deemed as a punishment within the meaning of the Constitution, that doubt vanishes instantly as we call to mind the fact that such disability is declared by Congress to be a part of the punishment of treason and rebellion; and therefore after the offense has been committed for Congress by law to impose any such disability is an open, palpable, violation of the Constitution, which forbids ex post facto punishments and bills of attainder, including bills of pains and penalties.
And now, sir, as to the effect of those pardons granted by the Executive, allow me to adopt as my own the language of justice Field in pronouncing the opinion of the Supreme Court in the case of Garland, when speaking of the pardoning power of the President:
"The Constitution provides that the President shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States except in cases of impeachment.
"The power thus conferred is unlimited, with the exception stated. It extends to every offense known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgment. The power of the President is not subject to legislative control. Congress can neither limit the effect of this pardon nor exelude from its exercise any class of offenders. The benign prerogative of mercy reposed in him cannot be fettered by any legislative restrictions.
"Such being the case, the inquiry arises as to the effect and operation of a pardon, and on this point all the authorities concur. A pardon reaches both the punishment prescribed for the offense and the guilt of the offender; and when the pardon is full it releases the punishment and blots out of existence the guilt, so that in the eye of the law the offender is as innocent as if eo had never committed the offense. If granted before conviction it prevents any of the penalties and disabilities consequent upon conviction from attaching; if granted after conviction it removes the penalties and disabilities and restores him to all his civil rights; it makes him, as it were, a new man, and gives him a new credit and capacity."
This power to pardon thus vested in the President, beyond the power of Congress to limit or take away, of necessity lies at the very foundation of all restoration or reconstruction at the South. In this is the power to wipeout the offense; in this is the power to blot out of existence the guilt of the offenders, as well as to release from forfeiture. It is a power vested in the Executive which Congress, in every effort it makes to take it away, makes a new war upon the Constitution itself.
There is another power vested in the Executive, under the Constitution and the laws of Congress, of no less importance -- I mean the power to make war and to make peace; to put down the rebellion and then to disband the army. If the Constitution had not done so the laws passed by Congress authorized and directed him to do both. From time to time Congress authorized him, first, to raise two millions of armed men and to expend $5,000,000,000 to put down the rebellion; and second, when he had done that work, to disband that immense army, return them to their homes, and cease that expenditure. In a word, the President was clothed with the power to make war and make peace, granting amnesty upon such terms and to such persons as he deemed proper. By the decision of the Supreme Court, as Commander-in-Chief, he was vested with all the authority necessary to establish provisional governments. He had no power, Congress has no power, to establish constitutions for States, for it is of the very essence of a republican Government that the people themselves should form their own constitutions. The President, however, before he withdrew the Army from those States, had the power, indeed it was his duty, to know that the governments left behind him should not raise a new rebellion; and therefore it was that he prescribed an oath of allegiance and excepted certain leading rebels from taking part in their reorganization. He did not assume to fix the qualifications of voters nor to form constitutions, but only to see that those who voted and took part in restoring the machinery of government under their constitutions had renounced their rebellion. This was a proper exercise of his discretion, under the Constitution and under the laws of Congress, both in granting pardon and amnesty as the organ of clemency, and in judging and deciding when the rebellion was suppressed, when it was safe to withdraw and disband the Army as Commander-in-Chief; in short, to make peace and then to sheathe the nation's sword.
But the Senator from Indiana says he has been "educated." Perhaps he has been educated up to the point of maintaining with the Senator from Massachusetts that the States of the South as States rebelled. If that assumption be true it does not change or lessen the powers of the President under the Constitution nor under the lams of Congress at all; it would give them a wider meaning. If he was dealing with States as rebels when, as Commander-in-Chief, he was directed by Congress to draw the sword to put the rebels down, and when he had done that to sheathe the sword, his power to take the surrender of States, if States were the rebels, was, of necessity, implied. The work he was directed to do was to put down the rebels, and when that was done to return the sword to its scabbard. If States were rebels in arms he had as much power to take their surrender as he had to take the surrender of their armies.
But, sir, I shall not go over the whole ground now. I did on a former occasion discuss these questions at considerable length, in January, 1866. What I then maintained has not been answered, and every day has confirmed me in the opinion of the soundness of the views then expressed. I will not trespass on the time of the Senate to restate them now. All I desire further to say upon this point is, the reconstruction policy of Congress which assumes to annul the pardons legally and constitutionally given is an intolerable injustice, a palpable violation of the Constitution which no principle can justify and no good policy excuse. Impartial history will record it as a violation of the national faith.
When I spoke of the great injustice of forcing negro suffrage upon the States of the South against their will the Senator hardly attempts to answer that. He puts it aside as an appeal to the prejudice of race. Sir, does not the Senator know that if Congress should attempt to force negro suffrage upon the States represented here against their will it would probably overthrow the Government ? Does not that Senator know that in some things the sentiments, the instincts, the prejudices even of men are stronger and truer than reason ? Does he not know that in legislating, especially in efforts to pacify a country disturbed by civil war, nothing is to be more carefully considered than the sentiments and feelings of a people ? In pacifying the Indian territory we provided by treaty that if the Choctaws and Chickasaws would not allow the negroes among them to have the right of suffrage the negroes should have a Territory set apart for themselves. Can we not have equal respect for the deep-seated prejudices of white men in the States of the South, if prejudices they are ?
Making peace is, of necessity, an executive duty; after war with a foreign Power, by a treaty of peace negotiated with the representatives of that Power by the President and ratified by the Senate; after war against our own States or citizens to suppress rebellion, not by a new treaty --for the Constitution is a treaty and more than a treaty-- but by executing the laws made in pursuance to the Constitution and compelling obedience thereto; for obedience to the laws is peace. He is clothed by the Constitution with the power to pardon, and, as we have seen by the decision of the court, that power is not subject to legislative restriction. In that is involved the whole power to make peace with all citizens or persons within the jurisdiction of the United States amenable to its laws. In addition to that, by his power as Commander-in-Chief, under the Constitution and laws he was made the judge of the time when the rebellion ceased, whether the rebels are to be regarded as States, as the Senator from Massachusetts contends, or as citizens levying war against the United States, as I have always maintained.
The Senator's speech of 1865 [Mr. Morton's] demonstrated the identity of Mr. Johnson's policy with that of Mr. Lincoln, and in all things justified the policy of restoration commenced by Mr. Lincoln, and continued by Mr. Johnson until the meeting of Congress in December, 1865.
But the Senator says that the Senate has been educated, and led to the adoption of new ideas and new policies. I admit the fact, right or wrong, they have been educated; they have made great progress in the new school of radical reconstruction; and I propose to show by the record when the Senate took its first great lesson and the master who gave it. I pass over the protest of Messrs. Wade and Davis against Mr. Lincoln's reconstruction policy. I pass over the convention at Cleveland, called to defeat that policy by defeating his re-election. The call itself denounced that policy as "imbecile and treacherous to justice and to freedom." It called upon the people "in thundertones to come to the rescue of the cause of impartial justice and universal freedom, threatened with betrayal and overthrow" by Mr. Lincoln. I pass over the scenes in the convention which re-nominated him, when the great master in the radical school of reconstruction of the other House [Thaddeus Stevens], sought to commit that convention to the same radical policy which rules Congress to-day. I pass over all that because in the nomination and reelection of Mr. Lincoln, the people, by overwhelming majorities, repudiated that new policy as utterly false, and sustained the reconstruction policy of President Lincoln. But I propose to come at once to the school of reconstruction opened here, in this Senate. I shall call up scenes of which most of us are living witnesses, and of which the Globe is an imperishable record. On the 25th of February, 1865, just before the end of the session after the re-election and just before the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, the Senate, as in Committee of the Whole, resumed the consideration of the joint resolution recognizing the government of the State of Louisiana, organized by the people of that State under the proclamation of President Lincoln.
It was then the Senator from Massachusetts [Mr. Sumner] began to play his grand rôle as master in the radical school of reconstruction in the Senate. He then practically applied his first lesson. It was the same idea for which the Senator from Indiana now so ably contends; the same idea which now controls the majority, namely, that under the guarantee clause of the Constitution Congress has power to impose negro suffrage as the basis of republican State governments. Then the Senator from Massachusetts stood almost alone. Now every Senator then here and who supported Mr. Lincoln's Administration except three have renounced Mr. Lincoln's policy and adopted the policy of the Senator from Massachusetts. They have gone over to him and stand by his side.
I go too far, perhaps, when I say he stood alone, for he was supported by the allied forces of the Senator from Ohio [Mr. Wade] on his right, and of the Senator from Kentucky [Mr. Powell] on his left. His right wing, including himself, consisted of five Radical Senators, and his left of six or eight members of the Opposition. Sustained by this small force the Senator from Massachusetts, [Mr. Sumner] gallantly and successfully led the assault upon this vital measure of Mr. Lincoln's Administration, and thereby administered his first lesson to the majority. The progress they have made will be seen hereafter.
The Senator from Illinois [Mr. Trumbull] then, as now, was the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He stood then as the champion of the Administration, surrounded and sustained by a solid phalanx of eighteen Senators, all determined supporters of Mr. Lincoln's policy, and fully resolved to admit to representation the State of Louisiana. For weeks, with his usual ability, earnestness, and pertinacity, he had struggled to bring the Senate to a vote. The first lesson in this educating process, administered by the Senator from Massachusetts, was in the form of a long amendment offered as a substitute for the joint resolution. It contained nine sections.
The first asserted the power of Congress under the guarantee clause to re-establish by act of Congress republican forms of government, the very clause under which the honorable Senator from Indiana [Mr. Morton] now asserts the power to establish negro suffrage in the States of the South.
In the second he asserted that this power was to be exercised by the United States; not by the President alone, nor by Congress alone, but by the President and both Houses of Congress. The same idea now stated in other words by the Senator from Indiana.
In the third section, in substance, he insisted that there could be no government republican in form unless suffrage should be extended equally to the blacks as well as to the whites.
The other sections in no way qualify the first three.
But in order to simplify this first lesson in its application, to reduce it to a single idea of easy comprehension, and to bring the Senate to a vote upon the precise point, and, I will add, the very point of controversy which then began, but has since raged with more and still more intensity down to this very hour, the honorable Senator from Massachusetts offered the following amendment:
"Provided, That this shall not take effect except upon the fundamental condition that within the State there shall be no denial of the elective franchise, or any other rights on account of color or race, but all persons shall be equal before the laws."
I do not mean this was the first time that Senator had advocated the same idea; I mean this was the first time it was applied to the question of reconstruction. During the debate, in answer to a question of the honorable Senator from Missouri, [Mr. Henderson] the Senator from Massachusetts insisted that the constitution of Louisiana was not republican in form, because it did not give suffrage to the colored men of Louisiana. A dialogue ensued. I read as follows:
---[Now, just how did individuals from another continent, kidnapped and kept captives, become citizens ? (prisoners of war do not become citizens, they are allowed to go home)]
"Mr. Henderson. Now, Mr. President, I desire to ask the Senator if the Congress of the United States can interfere with the right of suffrage in any of the States of this Union; I put the question to him as a constitutional lawyer.
"Mr. Sumner. I answer at once as a constitutional lawyer, that at the present time, under the words of the Constitution of the United States declaring that the United States shall guaranty to every State a republican form of government, it is the bounden duty of the United States, by act of Congress to guaranty complete freedom to every citizen, and immunity from all oppression, and absolute equality before the law."
A long struggle ensued. Many votes were taken, disclosing the fact, as I have said, that in his right wing he could muster but five Radical Senators, including himself, and in his left sometimes four and sometimes seven.
Mr. Davis. If the honorable Senator will allow me, I will make in explanation.
Mr. Doolittle. I hope my honorable friend will wait until I get through. I intend no discourtesy, but if I yield I shall be compelled to continue my remarks much longer than I desire.
Mr. Davis. I only wanted to say that the position of the "left wing," as the honorable Senator terms it, was equally hostile to both projects.
Mr. Doolittle. I understand that. The issue then was precisely the issue now, except that now is superadded to negro suffrage military despotism to enforce it. The argument then was the same as now. The Senator from Indiana has restated the argument in another, perhaps in more condensed form. But I mean no discourtesy when I say that in the amendment and speeches of the Senator from Massachusetts he will find every substantive proposition taken by him, or advocated by his friends, upon the power and duty of Congress during this debate. The only difference is, the Senator from Massachusetts then stood in a feeble minority, now the great majority stand by his side. While the Senator from Connecticut, [Mr. Dixon] the Senator from Maryland, [Mr. Johnson,] and myself, who then stood with the large majority, now, of all who were then here and supported the Administration of Mr. Lincoln, stand alone, battling in the same cause, against the same ideas, and against, if possible, still more palpable usurpations of power by Congress than even the Senator from Massachusetts dared then to advocate. Has he changed his ground ? If he has, it has been only to advance to keep up with the advancing education of his Radical friends. He is fighting on that same line, and so are we. But why is the majority then with us now with him ? What reason can be given for this great change of base ? My friend from Indiana [Mr. Morton] gives the true reason. He says the majority have been educated.
My friend from Massachusetts ought to feel a sense of profound satisfaction to see the progress they have made. I mean no discourtesy when I say the ideas advanced by him that night, rejected then by a majority of four to one, rule the Senate now. Not only have they educated, they have Sumnerized the Senate.
And now, Mr. President, for the specifications. In order to show how, when, and where this great work was done, I shall read from the records. They are both amusing and instructive. Before doing so, I must remind the Senate that my honorable friend from Kansas, [Mr. Pomeroy] who assails my speech so vigorously now, was then with me battling for the rights of Louisiana and Arkansas to representation as well as for the rights of all the States to determine each for itself the qualifications of suffrage.
The little rebellion against Mr. Lincoln's Administration, which he joined when he signed the call for the Cleveland convention, had been suppressed. He had renewed his allegiance, received amnesty, and been restored to full fellowship.
Mr. Pomeroy. I never signed any call for the Cleveland convention.
Mr. Doolittle. If that be true I stand corrected. I understood my friend favored the call.
Mr. Pomeroy. I never signed it.
Mr. Doolittle. Perhaps not, but I understood he was one of the originators and favorers of it. I say he was restored to full fellowship. He proved himself a good and faithful soldier on the memorable occasion to which I shall refer. He protested as earnestly as I did then against that fatal heresy that under the power to guaranty a republican form of government Congress has power to impose universal negro suffrage upon the States in this Union against their will, and thus to trample down the sacred right of every State for itself to fix the qualifications of its own electors, a right without which a State ceases to be republican at all.
In language clear, strong, and to the point he said, (February 25, 1865:)
"Mr. President, I am opposed to this amendment. I usually vote for everything that the Senator from Massachusetts brings forward on the anti-slavery question, but I am opposed to this amendment in the first place because I do not suppose we have a right to say what shall be the qualifications of voters in any State of the Union. The people of my own State are supposed to be loyal. They are as radical as the citizens of Massachusetts, but they are not loyal enough to allow Congress to dictate to them what kind of qualifications for voting they shall have."* * * * * * *
"For one, sir, I am for leaving this question of suffrage to the citizens of the States, and I claim it is their right to admit whoever they choose to the ballot-box. I am not loyal enough myself to allow my own rights as a citizen of a State to be trampled upon in that way. I would not be dictated to as a citizen of a sovereign State by Congress or any other power as to what kind of citizens of my State should be allowed to vote. If they choose to let all the citizens, including the women, to vote, it is not a matter for Congress to interfere with."* * * * * *
"But so far as I am concerned I shall vote against all amendments that look like dictation on the part of Congress to any State whether they shall let the right of suffrage be enjoyed by a whole or a part of the people."
Sir, this argument is unanswerable. The claim that under the power of the United States to guaranty republican forms of government in the States, Congress can impose negro suffrage, would give Congress power also to impose woman suffrage, or restrict suffrage to men over fifty years of age, or impose any other qualification. This argument of my friend from Kansas against this power was conclusive then when he so ably urged it. It is now when I repeat and adopt it as a part of my own. He fails entirely to answer it now. Within his reasoning then the Constitution gave Congress no power to regulate suffrage in the States. To do so then was to destroy and trample under foot the rights of the States. He declared that, loyal as he was, he was not loyal enough to submit to that. But now, when Congress forces negro suffrage upon ten States against their will, by military power; when Congress now, as it does in this bill, at one blow, not only destroys the State government of Louisiana, for which he and I then struggled, but destroys all civil government in nine other States, including four of the old thirteen, and including also the State government of Virginia, which he knows the Supreme Court, both Houses of Congress, and President Lincoln sustained by the written opinions of his Cabinet, including Mr. Stanton, and the Chief Justice recognized in every form, and which he very well knows had Senators on this floor during the whole war; now, when he sees Congress, in a time of profound peace, usurp the power to do all that, the Senator from Kansas sees no wrong at all ! What shall I say? what can I say ? He has, indeed, been educated ! He is, indeed, an apt scholar ! He has made marvelous proficiency in the school of Sumnerism. He no longer protests against -- he advocates the usurpation; now, when he sees the Constitution trampled down by a usurpation upon the rights of the States, to which neither he nor his State would then submit, he no longer raises his voice against the outrage, but urges it on. When he sees constitutional liberty herself bound and scourged and crowned with thorns here --here in her own sacred temple-- he joins his voice among the loudest to cry, "Away with her; crucify her, crucify her."
Mr. Stewart. I desire to know, as a matter of fact---
Mr. Doolittle. If the Senator desires to correct me I hope he will do it when I am through. I do not wish to trespass too long on the time of the Senate, and I have a great deal more to say.
Mr. Stewart. I presume the Senator does not intend to misrepresent the Senate. The position---
Mr. Doolittle. I have not referred to the Senator at all. He knows that I intend no discourtesy to him; but I must decline to yield.
Mr. Stewart. But the position attributed to---
Mr. Davis. I call the Senator from Nevada to order.
The President pro tempore. The Senator from Wisconsin has the floor, and cannot be interrupted without his consent.
Mr. Doolittle. I am arguing with my friend front Kansas.
Neither has the education of my colleague in this respect been altogether neglected. Side by side with me and with the majority he stood around the Administration of Mr. Lincoln, ready to raise his strong arm in its support, both upon the ground of principle and of policy. I remember on one occasion he volunteered to be its champion against all comers. Where does he stand now ? What progress has he made ? What is the state of his radical education ? We find him high advanced, if not at the very summit, I will not say in the school of Sumnerism, for I have sometimes thought he was setting up a school of his own. But any one will see his position when I read a most explicit declaration made here on the 6th of January last. I doubt whether he has not gone even beyond the Senator from Massachusetts. He said:
"Over and over again, Mr. President, I have argued to the Senate and to the country that the authority is given to the national Legislature to disfranchise a State. It is not given to the Senate; it is not given to the House; it is given to the Legislature, plainly given, and if it ought to be exercised in any case, if it is authorized to be enforced in any case, it is whenever you are convinced that the community is disloyal and traitorous."
Has the Senator from Massachusetts ever said as much as that ?
My colleague maintains that Congress has authority to disfranchise a State. Whenever a majority of both Houses choose to exercise that power they may expel a State from representation in the Union. Is that power to be found in the guarantee clause also ? The Constitution gives Congress the power to admit new States. Does my colleague maintain that the power is implied, or, in his own language, "plainly given," to expel old ones ?
The Senator from Massachusetts should look carefully to his laurels. He has given us "State abdication," "State forfeiture," "State suicide," "the lapsing of States into territories," and "negro suffrage under this guarantee clause," as essential to a republican form of government; but I think he has never yet, with all his tendency to centralize power in Congress, broached the idea that Congress in time of peace has power to disfranchise States once admitted as such to the equal rights and dignity of the old thirteen. He may have said that States which by insurrection have withdrawn their representation shall not be restored to it until Congress should so determine, but never has he said that Congress, under the power to admit new States, can disfranchise old ones.
Sir, what a vast power over the States is thus claimed by my colleague. What becomes of the rights of the States or of the liberties of the people under a doctrine which can expel their representation at the will of a majority of Congress ? Majorities change. In times of high political excitement majorities sometimes abuse their power.
Suppose a majority of Congress should be of opinion that the radical doctrines of the Senator from Massachusetts are as dangerous to liberty and as much at war with the Constitution as secession, and that the people of Massachusetts are disloyal to the Constitution because they send as a Senator here one who is distinguished as their great teacher, ought Congress to have the power to disfranchise Massachusetts ?
In the assertion of this power my colleague, I think, stands entirely alone. He is less supported than was the Senator from Massachusetts three years ago when he claimed the power under the guarantee clause to force negro suffrage upon the States of the South as the basis of republican State governments.
What progress two years more of radical education may produce in the Senate I know not. Should the majority then adopt it there would be no greater progress than it has made during the last three years.
Without discourtesy to Senators of the junior class, (many of whom, it is due to them to say, are quite well advanced,) who entered the Senate since the Senator from Massachusetts applied his first great lesson, I shall confine myself to Senators of the older classes, and mainly to the honorable Senator, my friend from Illinois, [Mr. Trumbull]. I insist upon calling him my friend, although a stranger might suppose, from his tone and bearing toward me the other day, he was really hostile. I know it to be otherwise. It was only the appearance of hostility into which he fell in the excitement of debate.
I think I shall be able to satisfy the Senate, however, that apt, diligent, and progressive as the Senator from Kansas and my colleague have been, my friend from Illinois [Mr. Trumbull] in some respects, at least, has made greater progress in that education referred to by the honorable Senator from Indiana, [Mr. Morton.] Not many years ago he contended on the floor of the Senate that the Creator had stamped an indelible difference between the white and black races, and that he would not admit the latter to equal political rights or admit as a State of this Union a community of negroes. He did not believe the two races could live together on terms of equality.
To avoid all ambiguity it is proper that I should remind the Senate that upon the great issue of the negro, and the rights of the States to deal with him, there have been three distinct schools:
First. The school of the southern radicals, which I will call the school of Calhoun,
Second. The school of the northern radicals, which I will call the school of Sumner; and
Third. The school of Jefferson and Madison, based upon tte true philosophy of man and of human government.
The two first schools are radical, both, in some respects, radically wrong. The third, or the school of Jefferson and Madison, and at a later period of Webster, Clay, Ewing, Benton, Wright, and General Jackson, standing midway between, rejecting the errors and embracing the truths of both, is, in my judgment, the true school of the statesman.
In the first or Calhoun school negroes have no rights which white men are bound to respect; their normal and true condition is that of slavery. And in that school, also, the Federal Government has no power to enforce a State to obey the Constitution against its will, and a State may secede at its own pleasure.
In the second or Sumner school negroes in a community of white men have not only a right to their liberty and person and property, but a right to be placed upon a footing of political equality, including the right of suffrage and to hold office, and, as a matter to follow inevitably, social equality. In that school, also, the new doctrine of centralization of all power in Congress over the States under the clause to guaranty republican forms of government has arisen, as dangerous to liberty as secession itself.
Opposed to both of these radical schools is the true school of Jefferson and Madison. It maintains the right of all men to be free, and that their persons, liberty, and property should be secured by just and equal laws. It rejects, however, upon all the teachings of history, the idea that two races so distinct as the negro and the white man can live together upon a footing of political and consequent social equality. It rejects secession, upon the one hand, as utterly destructive to the Union; and consolidation as dangerous to republican institutions as it is to liberty itself. It is in this latter school that I was reared from my youth up; I remain its disciple still. When the Democratic party, under the influence or the radicals of the Calhoun school, seemed to me to shape its action and control its policy, I was compelled to separate from it and act with the Republican party until the rebellion was suppressed; and now that the radicals of the Sumner school have got control of the councils and action of the Republican party, and are driving it on to absolutism and to the destruction of the rights of the States, I cannot go with them. To do so would be to abandon the whole teachings of my life. As the Democratic party is reorganizing upon the same grounds where the old Democratic Republican party stood half a century ago, at least as I think it is, we shall stand together and do battle in the same cause. When I entered the Senate the honorable Senator from Illinois was an able disciple and powerful advocate of the doctrines of the school of Jefferson. He then belonged to the same school with myself. In a speech at Chicago, August, 1857, he used such expressions as these:
"I want to have nothing to do with the free negro or the slave negro. We, the Republican party, are the white man's party. [Great applause] We are for free white men and for making white labor respectable and honorable."
Speaking of the negroes, he said:
"I would colonize them. We colonize Indians on our western frontier; why cannot we colonize the negro as well as the Indian ?" * * * * "We believe it is better for us that they should not be among us. I believe it will be better for them to go elsewhere."
But it may be said these were casual expressions in a popular speech, and I ought not to refer to them in the Senate. To leave no doubt upon this subject I read a few extracts from the Globe to show his views as expressed in the Senate, December 8, 1859. (Congressional Globe, page 58.)
Mr. Trumbull said:
"When we say that all men are created equal we do not mean that every man in organized society has the same rights. We do not tolerate that in Illinois. I know that there is a distinction between the two races, because the Almighty himself has marked it upon their very faces, and, in my judgment, man cannot, by legislation or otherwise, produce a perfect equality between those races so that they will live happily together."
Again, page 6, he quoted the famous declaration of Mr. Jefferson:
"Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people (the negroes) are to be free. Nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion have drawn indelible lines of distinction between them."
And he quoted also the phrase in which Jefferson expressed, in his own strong words, the dangers of a war of races. After quoting this the Senator from Illinois went on to say:
"I trust the Republican Party will make it part of its creed that this Government should procure some region of country, not far distant, to which our free negro population may be taken. I fear the consequences which Jefferson so eloquently prophesied unless that is done. I agree with the sentiment of Mr. Jefferson, that two races which are marked by distinctive features cannot live peaceably together without one domineering over the other, especially when they differ in color. The free negro population of this country is a great evil now."
And again, sir, to show that this was no casual declaration, made in the heat of sudden debate, but an earnest and settled conviction of that honorable Senator, I read also from page 102:
"There is a distinction between the white and black races made by Omnipotence himself. I do not believe these two races can live happily and pleasantly together and enjoy equal rights without one domineering over the other, and therefore I advocate the policy of separating these races by a system which shall rid the country of the black race as it becomes free."
These were his declarations, these were his convictions then. He may say the war has educated him and he has changed his opinions; but the war can no more change the fact of a "distinction between the white and black races made by Omnipotence himself" than the leopard can change his spots or the Ethiopian his skin.
But, sir, I do not wish to be drawn far from the great question of reconstruction, and will therefore confine myself mainly to the education of the majority of the Senate on that subject. I shall refer to the Senator from Illinois more than to any other, because he was then our champion, as he is now the Champion of the other side. To do him no injustice I hall be obliged to read from the proceedings of the Senate when he received his first lesson from the great master in the school of radical reconstruction. I will quote the very language in which that lesson was given and in which it was received. I do this because it is impossible for me to abridge it and do justice either to the disciple or to the teacher, to the lesson given, to the manner in which it was given and received, or to the wonderful progress made in learning it.
Call to mind, sir, a scene in this Chamber at ten o'clock at night of the 25th of February, 1865. There sat Mr. Clark, of New Hampshire, in the chair. The resolution for the recognition of the State government of Louisiana, a vital measure of the administration of Mr. Lincoln, had been pending for several weeks. The friends of the measure desired to bring it to a close, and placed themselves under the lead of the honorable Senator from Illinois. The Senator from Massachusetts led the Opposition. He was supported upon his right by the Senator from Ohio [Mr. Wade] and upon his left by the Senator from Kentucky, (Mr. Powell.) The discussion of the measure upon the merits was over, and the simple question was whether the Senate should come to a vote. Our champion had given notice in open Senate during the day that it would be pressed to a final vote that night. A recess had been taken, and the Senate was convened in the evening for that very purpose. The struggle began:
[Congressional Globe, Saturday, February 25, 1865, page 1107.]
"The Presiding Officer (Mr. Clark, in the Chair.) The question is on motion of the Senator from Ohio (Mr. Wade] to postpone the further consideration of the joint resolution until the first Monday of December next."
This, of course, was to kill the bill.
"The question being taken by yeas and nays resulted-- yeas 12, nays 17; as follows."
To save time I will only read the names of the friends of the administration of Mr. Lincoln:
"Yeas-- Messrs. Brown, Chandler, Howard, Sumner, and Wade.
"Nays-- Messrs. Clark, Dixon Doolittle, Foot, Foster, Harlan, Henderson, Howe, Lane of Indiana, Lane of Kansas, Morgan, Pomeroy, Ramsey, Ten Eyck, Trumbull, Willey, and Wilson.
"So the motion was not agreed to.
"The Presiding Officer. The question returns on the amendment to the amendment."
Mr. Howard, one of the faithful supporters and advanced scholars of Mr. Sumner, rose and said:
"I move that the Senate do now adjourn."
Everybody knew that if the bill did not pass that night it would probably be lost, it was so near the end of the session.
"Mr. Trumbull and Mr. Foster called for the yeas and nays; and they were ordered, and being taken, resulted-- yeas 12, nays 19.
"Yeas-- Messrs. Brown, Chandler, Howard, Sumner, Wade, and Wilson.
Nays-- Messrs. Clark, Dixon, Doolittle, Foot, Foster, Harlan, Henderson, Hendricks, Howe, Johnson, Lane of Indiana, Lane of Kansas, McDougall, Morgan, Pomeroy, Ramsey, Ten Eyck, Trumbull, and Willey."
Mr. Howard, after some remarks, said:
"I move that the whole subject be laid on the table."
This was another motion to defeat the bill.
Mr. Chandler, another advanced disciple, said:
"I ask for the yeas and nays on that question.
"And the yeas and nay, were ordered.
"Yeas-- Messrs. Brown, Chandler, Howard, Powell, Riddle, Stunner, Wade, Wilson, and Wright.
Nays-- Messrs. Clark, Dixon, Doolittle, Foot, Foster, Harlan, Howe, Johnson, Lane of Indiana, Lane of Kansas, McDougall, Morgan, Pomeroy, Ramsey, Ten Eyck, Trumbull, and Willey.
"So the motion was not agreed to."
Then Mr. Sumner arose to inculcate his first lesson against the reconstruction policy of Mr. Lincoln:
"I agree with the Senator from Michigan in the impropriety of pressing a measure of this importance. Perhaps it is the most important measure, as he says, we have had before as. I shall regard its passage as a national calamity. It will be the political Bull Run of this Administration"---
Whose administration ? Not Mr. Johnson's. Mr. Lincoln's, of course. This was eight days before his second inauguration.
"Sacrificing as it will a great cause and the great destinies of this Republic."
What cause ? The cause of negro suffrage guarantied by Congress as the foundation of republican State governments.
"I think the Senate is not now in a condition to vote finally upon it.
"Mr. Foster. I will ask the honorable Senator if he is not fully prepared to vote on the question ?
"Mr. Sumner. I certainly am prepared to vote on it.
"Mr. Foster. I will merely say I am.
"Mr. Sumner. I think the honorable Senator is not prepared to vote.
Mr. Foster. I think the honorable Senator is."
Mr. Sumner, by way of a short special lesson to the Senator from Connecticut, and to prepare him to vote properly, continued:
"I know I am prepared to vote upon it; but when the Senator from Connecticut speaks as he does, after voting as he has, I cannot but think but a little more study of the question and a little more examination of its consequences would enable him to vote with more intelligence. I think, on his account, it would be well that the question should be postponed for another day, to give him an opportunity of a little more reflection on this important matter. It is never too late to mend, and I think it not impossible that even the Senator, coming as he does from New England, representing, as I doubt not he does, liberal ideas, devoted as he ought to be to the cause of human freedom and of his country, may think there is something in this question which will justify the most mature consideration. I therefore move an adjournment, and on that motion I ask the yeas and nays.
"The yeas and nays were ordered.
"Yeas-- Messrs. Brown, Howard, Powell, Riddle, Sumner, Wade, Wilson, and Wright.
"Nays-- Messrs. Clark, Dixon, Doolittle Foot, Foster, Harlan, Henderson, Howe, Johnson, Lane of Indiana, Lane of Kansas, McDougal, Morgan, Pomeroy, Ramsey, Ten Eyck, Trumbull, and Willey --18.
"So the Senate refused to adjourn."
Mr. Trumbull, who had charge of the measure, and not yet being sufficiently educated to receive this instruction very kindly, rose and said :
"It is manifest now, by the course being pursued by the Senator from Massachusetts, who takes upon himself to lecture other Senators, telling them they do not know how to vote, that he is in a combination here of a fraction of the Senate to delay the important business of the country. We find him now, near the closing days of the session, uniting with a very few persons acting with him, associating himself with those whom he so often denounces"---
Evidently referring to Senators Powell, Riddle, Wright, and others---
"for the purpose of calling the yeas and nays, making dilatory motions to postpone the action of this body upon what he says is a very great public measure, when he knows that next week other public measures are to be pressed upon the attention of the Senate; when he knows that in full Senate they were told the intention was to press this bill, if possible, to-night, and yet we find the Senator from Massachusetts here declaring to the Senate that no vote shall be taken. Does he hold in his hand the Senate of the United States, that in his omnipotence he is to say when votes shall be taken and public measures shall be passed ? Has it come to this ?
"In this time of war is he setting the example here of delaying public business by dilatory motions, refusing either to discuss the measure or allow it to be voted upon ? And then he appeals to the Senate that they shall put this over for somebody else to get ready. If Senators are absent they are absent on their own responsibility. They knew this measure was up; the Senator has fought it day after day to prevent it coming up, and when a large majority has overruled him time and again and decided that it should come to a vote, he stands here at half past ten o'clock on Saturday night making dilatory motions to prevent the action of this body on what he denominates 'this great, important measure.' Sir, there can be no excuse for such action." * * * * "It is a matter that has been before the Senate of the United States for a number of weeks. It was discussed to some extent before it was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. It was reported to this body a week ago. It has been discussed for several days. I should have been glad if it must go over until next week, that it could have gone over without these manifestations of a determination to browbeat the Senate on the part of the minority."
Sir, I do not think any one would say the Senator from Illinois was a very docile scholar that night, however much he has progressed since. To this speech Mr. Sumner at once replied:
"The Senator from Illinois draws upon his imagination, which is upon this occasion peculiarly lively. I know not that anybody has undertaken to browbeat unless it be himself. Certainly nobody on the side with which I am associated has done any such thing, or, I believe, imagined doing such a thing.
"Mr. Trumbull. I have heard it said that there should be no vote to-night.
"Mr. Sumner. Well, sir; is that brow-beating ?
"Mr. Trumbull. I think it is undertaking to decide for the Senate.
"Mr. Sumner. Is that brow-beating ? No, sir. It is only undertaking to decide the conduct of an individual Senator with regard to an important public measure. The question between the Senator from Illinois and myself is simply this, he wishes to pass the measure and I do not wish to pass it. He thinks the measure innocent; I think it dangerous; and, thinking it dangerous, I am justified in opposing it, and justified, too, in employing all the instruments I can find in the arsenal of parliamentary warfare. But, sir, I mean to employ them properly and in a parliamentary way. In no other way can I act in this Chamber. The Senator from Illinois is entirely mistaken if he supposes that this measure can be passed to-night. I tell him it cannot. Parliamentary law is against him, and the importance of the measure justifies a resort to every instrument that parliamentary law supplies. The Senator knows it well. I need not even suggest it. And now, sir, I have to counsel the Senator --perhaps he would say I am taking too great a liberty, and even dictating-- but I would counsel the Senator first to look at the clock. He will see that it is twenty-five minutes to eleven, that it is approaching Sunday morning. Then let him think that we have been here all day; and then I would counsel him to ask himself whether, all things considering, it is advisable to press this revolutionary measure ?"
What revolutionary measure ? The carrying out of Mr. Lincoln's policy; the recognition of the State of Louisiana, without guarantying negro suffrage by Congress. But to resume, Mr. Sumner continued:
"After this protracted session and at this late hour, I think his better judgment will come to the conclusion that it is not. At any rate, should he not come to that conclusion, I think he will make a mistake, and that all his efforts will be fruitless. There is a certain character of antiquity who was found sowing salt in the sand by the sea-shore and plowing it in; and the Senator will be engaged in an occupation just about as profitable."* * * * * * * *
"Then I move that the Senate adjourn.
"Mr. Chandler. On that question I ask for the yeas and yeas.
"The yeas and nays wore ordered; and being taken, resulted as follows:
"Yeas-- Messrs. Brown and Wilson.
"Nays-- Messrs. Clark, Dixon, Doolittle, Foot, Foster, Harlan, Henderson, Hendricks, Howe, Johnson, Lane of Indiana, Lane of Kansas, McDougall, Morgan, Pomeroy, Ramsey, Ten Eyck, Trumbull, and Willey --19."
Among the absent I find the names of Messrs. Chandler, Howard, Sumner, and Wade.
So the Senate refused to adjourn.
The whole right wing, including himself, refused to vote except Brown and Wilson, hoping to break up a quorum. That failed, however. Mr. Chandler then said:
"I move that the further consideration of this subject be postponed until next Saturday, and made the special order for twelve o'clock on that day"---
Another motion to kill the bill---
"and on that I ask the yeas and nays."
As the gay will sometimes mingle in the gravest matters, Mr. Foster said:
"I rise to a point of order.
"The Presiding Officer. The Senator will state his point of order.
"Mr. Foster. It is this: that the Senator from Michigan is not present. [Laughter.] His name was called a few minutes ago and the vote showed that he was not present, and he has not since come into the Chamber. I object, therefore, that he is not in the Chamber.
"Mr. Chandler. I have got back.
"Mr. Foster. The Senator has not left the Chamber. He refused to answer to his name, when, by the rules of the Senate, if a Senator is present he is required to vote, and that, of course, shows he has seceded, and is, therefore, not one of the body. [Laughter.] Having seceded from the body and not yet returned to it, he ought not, as I submit to the Chair, be recognized to make a motion. [Laughter.]
"The Presiding Officer. The Senator from Michigan moves that the further consideration of this subject be postponed until Saturday next.
"Mr. Chandler. At twelve o'clock; and made the special order for that day.
"Mr. Wade. Let us have the yeas and nays on that motion.
"The yeas and nays were ordered."
After some other discussion, Mr. Sumner said:
"The Senator from Illinois made in a certain sense an appeal to me. When he made it I said to myself: There was a Senator from Illinois once in this Chamber, his name was Douglas. He, too, brought forward a proposition calculated to bring discord on the country. You know it was a Kansas-Nebraska bill: I had the honor of a seat here at the time. He brought that proposition in precisely as my friend from Illinois now brings this in, proudly, confidently, and almost menacingly, saying that he was to pass it --was it not in twenty-four hours ?
Mr. Wade. Yes.
"Mr. Sumner. Right off, precisely, as the Senator from Illinois now speaks. The Senator tears a leaf out of that hateful book, and now with another question, kindred in character to that which was once introduced by the other Senator from Illinois, he undertakes to press it upon the Senate. He takes a copy from that English officer who, in the time of the stamp act, said he would cram the Stamp act down the throats of all the American people with the hilt of his sword, if need be. He is going to cram his resolution down the throats of the Senate, and he appeals to us to enter into some compact or understanding that we will allow the operation to proceed without the least resistance; that we will quietly consent to the cramming process."
Mr. President, I do not often read from my own speeches, but as I was here, and what I said was a part of the res gesta, I will read a few sentences:
"Mr. President, I have not been an indifferent spectator to the scenes we have witnessed here tonight. They are scenes which I wish the whole country could look upon. I wish they could analyze these proceedings and read over the names of the men who have been voting on the dilatory motions to prevent the Senate coming to a vote upon what all regard as a very important measure. Men differ in their opinions, it is true, as to this measure, whether it should or should not pass, but all concede that it is an important measure. Now, sir, not to speak of those gentlemen who usually vote with the opposition, and of whom we have no right to complain, but to confine myself entirely to those gentlemen who usually vote with the friends of the Administration, what do we see ? There are but five who usually act with the Administration who are making and voting for these dilatory motions, and there are eighteen of the friends of the Administration opposed to them. These five, a small minority --not a third, not a fourth of the friends of the Administration on this floor-- are making these dilatory motions and complaining because my friend from Illinois, who stands here in charge of this measure, and we may say the representative of the friends of this measure, who, when he speaks upon it, speaks the voice of the Senate by a majority of almost three to one, desires to obtain a vote upon it. These men are presenting themselves here in this attitude. They say in substance there shall be no vote to-night; the Senator from Massachusetts says he will draw upon the whole arsenal of parliamentary opposition; that the Senator from Illinois, in asking a vote to-night, is but sowing salt upon the sand and plowing it in."* * * * * *
"And the honorable Senator from Massachusetts, though he says he is prepared to vote, because other Senators differ from him presumes they are not prepared to vote. What arrogance, what assumed superiority on the part of one man over his equals and his peers on this floor, to say that he is prepared to vote, but that other Senators are not prepared because they do not agree with him ! Sir, I would to God the whole American people could look in upon this scene and upon the Senator from Massachusetts. That Senator more than once, because I have urged the admission of the free State of Louisiana with a constitution which has been adopted by a large majority of her loyal people; a constitution which sets free in districts which were excepted in the President's proclamation, almost ninety-thousand slaves, has charged me with standing in the march of human freedom. And yet he, here in season and out of season, is against the recognition of the free State of Louisiana, and against a constitution which gives freedom to ninety thousand slaves and to all the slaves of Louisiana, whether the emancipation proclamation reached them or not, because as he avowed last evening on the floor of the Senate, the constitution of Louisiana is not republican in form inasmuch as it does not give universal suffrage to all the colored men of Louisiana.
"And what else do we see ? The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. Powell] declares that this election of the people of Louisiana was carried by military power, by military authority, and is the result of military dictation and military despotism over the people of Louisiana. The Senator from Ohio [Mr. Wade] responds to this with all his heart.
"Mr. President, we look upon a strange spectacle here when the two extremes of this body come together in this way. One would suppose that Pilate and Herod had joined hands to attack the Administration in its policy on this subject, and, if they can, to crucify the free State of Louisiana."
As the Senate has no previous question, it was found impossible to bring the measure to a final vote. The adjournment of that night thus forced upon the Senate by the Senator from Massachusetts and his allies, killed the bill. No man not most intimately acquainted with President Lincoln can realize how deeply wounded his spirit was by this fatal stab at his cherished policy in the house and at the hands of his friends. He encouraged the people of Louisiana to stand fast. He had full faith to believe the next Congress would recognize their State and admit its representatives. Had he lived I have no doubt his prediction would have been realized and the government of Louisiana recognized. He had a majority in the Senate of at least two to one. But he did not live to see the next Congress assemble. He died at the hands of an assassin. His last public utterance, however, was a speech upon that subject here in Washington. In gentle but earnest tones he showed the sad mistake of Congress in refusing to recognize the State of Louisiana, and he pleaded for the adoption of his policy in all the other States of the South with the eloquence of an angel trumpet-tongued as the true basis of peace and restoration.
Sir, had Congress then recognized Louisiana all the other States, two years ago, would have been restored to representation here; their practical relations in the Union harmoniously resumed; the credit of this Government placed in a position so strong that our six per cent. bonds would now command gold at a premium in any money center of the world.
Senators, it is a sad commentary upon that fatal mistake. The four per cent. bonds of Brazil command over ninety per cent. in gold, while the six per cents of the United States sell at seventy-three. What reason can be given except that one third of the States, nearly three years after war has ceased, are denied by Congress all representation, and Congress seems determined to impose upon them such unbearable degradation that white men from other States will not go there to reside, and those who are now there are driven to despair.
Had Congress then recognized the State of Louisiana there never would have been any such riot at New Orleans. By refusing to recognize it doubts as to the validity of the existing government were at once engendered. An effort was made to extend negro suffrage in that State by revolution against the existing government there by calling together the old convention which formed the constitution to amend it in such a manner as to disfranchise large classes of white men and enfranchise the blacks. But for the failure of Congress to recognize Louisiana at that time no such attempt would have been made or dreamed of; and but for that attempt no such riot would have been provoked or incited to the sorrow and mortification of every true American.
Mr. President, let me not be misunderstood. When the Senator from Illinois [Mr. Trumbull] and the majority of the Senate stood with me, contending so earnestly for Mr. Lincoln's policy, their purpose as well as mine was the re-establishment of the Union fully and constitutionally and the restoration of harmony and good accord between the North and the South. That was my purpose then, and is still. I think that may be the purpose of the majority still, although under the educating process referred to by the honorable Senator from Indiana they have come to think the cause of the rebellion will triumph in some way unless the party in power is sustained, and therefore they will consent to no restoration which will not secure their party ascendancy. In this I do not participate. Here, though always painful to separate from political friends, we must separate. Besides, there is another fundamental element of division between us. The manner in which Congress now pursues its policy of reconstruction necessarily defeats the main purpose in which in the beginning we all agreed, peaceful and cordial reconstruction, or restoration on a constitutional basis. Congress now makes it a question of arbitrary power on one side, of abject submission or stubborn resistance on the other.
England has tried both policies. She extended equal rights to Scotland, conquered after centuries of cruel and desolating war, and Scotland has been for the last hundred and fifty years a peaceful and loyal part of the British empire.
She tried the other course with Ireland; proscribed her citizens, persecuted her, heaped contumely and reproach on all who loved her people and whom her people loved, and all has been and continues to be anarchy, disorder, mutual hatred and mutual violence, and the end is not yet.
Men, high spirited men, are the most difficult of all creatures to beat or drive into submission. They cannot be brought to love those who habitually insult and degrade them.
We differ in this. Now that the rebellion is over I am in favor of lawful, kind, and conciliatory measures, and, as far as may be consistent with my own convictions, of paying due respect to the long-cherished feelings, opinions and prejudices in the South, the course in short which England pursued toward Scotland, and which so happily united her.
While the majority in Congress speak of the South as still in rebellion; denounce their characters; spurn their oaths of allegiance; treat as null their pardons granted by the President; favor wholesale proscription; military government first then negro government; humbling the intelligent white men of the South to a condition politically below the most ignorant plantation negro. They are, as I understand them, prepared to adopt the course which England took against Ireland, and for the sake of the brief continuance of power which they may hope it will give them, take, or rather let the country take, its terrible consequences. Fenianism is not confined to Ireland; it is contagious, for human nature is the same in all ages of the world.
It is never wise to humiliate an adversary whom the fortunes of war have placed in our power. When in the early days of Rome the army, embracing the flower of the Roman youth, being led into a defile were captured by the Samnites under command of a youthful general, he sent to inquire of his aged uncle, a great man as well as a great general, what should be done with the prisoners, received for answer, "Set them at liberty upon a pledge of peace for the future. Send them home with honor; do not humiliate then." This advice was too wise, too far-seeing and magnanimous to be comprehended by the young Hotspur in the flush and pride of his great victory. He did humiliate them. From that moment peace became impossible between Rome and the Samnites; it was war to the death, which did not cease until the name of that people perished.
Sir, if we would have peace, a peace worth having, let us give to the people of the States of the South the same Constitution, the same laws, the same rights which we claim for ourselves. As States let us not humiliate them, and because they are now weak and we are strong place them upon a footing inferior to other States. They are sisters of the same family, and though they have been in deadly feud with us, in which the wrong has been with them, now that the feud has ceased, now that they have renounced their error, let us treat them as sisters and equals once more. You know, sir, that the States represented here would not consent to have Congress force upon them negro suffrage against their will.
Shall we humiliate six millions of our own race, brave, high-spirited men, wrong though they once were, by forcing upon them what we will not take upon ourselves ? And what makes the degradation of this policy so much more to them is the fact that from the wholesale disfranchisement of the whites and the universal suffrage of the blacks, forced upon them by military power, in several of those States, if not in all, they are to be subjected in fact to a negro government; to the government of their late negro slaves. No humiliation can be conceived so great as that, or so utterly destructive of their interests, present and future. It is a state of things which cannot be imposed and cannot be upheld except by military power at enormous cost to the Government.
Some Senator in this debate complained because I read a statement of Alexander S. Stephens and Mr. Fitzpatrick upon the condition of the South since the adoption of the new policy by Congress. I did so because the South has no voice here; because Congress closes the door and refuses to let her speak for herself. We do not understand and we cannot realize her true condition. I read, the statements of those gentlemen because there is not a man on this floor who will not admit their knowledge and their veracity. I now appeal to the Senate to listen for a moment to the words of one of the ablest men of our country, Governor Perry, of South Carolina. He was a true friend of the Union during the whole war. I would he were here on this floor to speak for her and for himself.
He would state the effects of this new congressional policy in words so terse and clear, and in tones so earnest as to reach the judgment and move the heart.
Of the effect of radical policy, First, on the negroes, he says:
"When slavery was abolished in the southern States, if the people had been let alone in their State legislation and restored to the Union, all would have been well. They would soon have recovered from their exhausted and crushed condition, and been once more a happy and prosperous people. They would have added hundreds of millions annually to the wealth of the Republic instead of costing it as they now do, $100,000,000 every year, through the Freedmen's Bureau and a standing army. But the unjust, unconstitutional, and suicidal legislation of Congress has paralyzed them forever, I fear. The negro is no longer that industrious, useful, and civil laborer which he once was, but an idle drone and pest to society. Inflated with his new and marvelous political importance, he has abandoned his former industrious habits and spends his time in attending public meetings and loyal-league gatherings by day and by night. The whole race seem disposed to quit their work and resort to the towns and villages, where they may eke out an idle and wretched existence in pilfering and begging."
Second, on property:
"Property of all kinds, and especially real estate, has depreciated in value one half or two thirds during the past year. No one is disposed to purchase anything, and foreign capital has been driven out or deterred from coming here for investment. Property sold by the sheriff brings nothing. The marshal of this State told me the other day that he sold a plantation, well-improved, containing two thousand acres, in Horry district, at Public auction to the highest bidder for five dollars."
Third, on population:
"A great many persons are moving from the lower country, where there are so many negroes, and that section of the State is destined to become a wilderness. The same thing must occur in many portions of Mississippi and other States. A gentleman just returned from Mississippi tells me that lands which rented last year for fourteen dollars per acre were now offered at two dollars per acre, and no one would take them.
Unless there is a reaction at the North, and better legislation for the southern States, they will be an incubus to the Union, utterly destructive of the whole Republic."
Fourth, on crime or pauperism:
"The consequences are that our fields and plantations are uncultivated, the country pauperized, at the point of starvation, and filled with every grade of crime. Not a day passes over our heads that we do not hear of some theft, houseburning, robbery, rape, or murder. I will mention one or two instances out of thousands which might be enumerated. Five negro men, last week, in Darlington district, went, armed with guns, to a country store, robbed the store, killed the clerk, shot a woman in the house, and went to the dwelling of the owner and killed him. A short time since a parcel of negroes placed obstructions on the South Carolina railroad, which threw off a train of cars in the night time. Again, at another point on the same road, a parcel of negroes fired into the train, and came very near killing several passengers. Last fall, at Pickens court, seven or eight negroes were convicted of murder, and seventeen or eighteen others sent to the penitentiary. Highway robbery, an offense which was scarcely ever heard of in South Carolina for years past, has became a very common crime in the neighborhood of towns and villages. Theft and burglary are of constant occurrence."
Fifth, on war of races:
"The present military force will have to be kept up to maintain peace between the two races, and there is no certainty of their ability to do this long. I have for some time thought that when the negro government went into operation it would be impossible to preserve the peace of the country. A war of races must ensue, and it will be the most terrific war of extermination that over desolated the face of the earth in any age or country."
Who can describe, who can conceive, the horrors of such a war as that ? Terrible as our late civil war was, it was nothing in comparison. In a war of races there is nothing sacred, nothing holy, nothing respected. All the charities of the heart and all the ordinances of God and of man are trampled down before the passions of demons incarnate. Fire, rapine, and death encompass you on every side. The flames of your dwellings, the shrieks of the virgin, and the groans of the matron break your midnight repose. The dead lie unburied in your houses and in your highways. The priest is slain at the altar -- feeble age upon its crutch -- the infant in its cradle.
What will you do ? Where will you fly ? Alas I you know not, for "Which way I fly is hell."
And because I would save the South from the adoption of a policy which tends to produce such a war as that, am I to be charged with cruelty and inhumanity ? Sir, I am pleading for the peace, for the lives, for the existence even of the people of the South. Because as an American and as a man I love the people of the South of both races, the whites with all their errors and enmities, now severely punished and deeply atoned for, and the blacks with all their present ignorance and as a class their entire incapacity to govern themselves much less to govern others; because I am pleading with all my might to save them from a policy which will certainly destroy one if not both races, is it right to say I am wanting in Christian charity ? This charge has too little foundation to require further notice. I return to my argument.
This statement which I have just read from Governor Perry, corroborated, as it is, by the universal testimony of intelligent men of the South, it should be carefully considered and not thrust aside by the Senate.
Mr. President, will the South live or die under such treatment ? To prevent a war of races a large standing army will be required if political power is placed in the ignorant mass of half civilized negroes.
Bad as military despotism is, the mass of white people would prefer that to negro government, and that can only be upheld by military power.
The best lands of the South are returning to a wilderness; production is paralyzed; negro suffrage is to be maintained by a standing army at hundreds of millions of expense; and republicanism is to be trampled down by military despotism at the South. And, sir; what will be the effect of all that upon the States and upon the institutions of the North ? Can the North bear all that immense expenditure to sustain negro supremacy at the South ? What will become of our credit, of our resources ? What will become of our republican institutions ? Can we live as a republic bound to a despotism; can we as a nation, live at all, chained to a dead body ?
The Union for which we struggled was a union of equal States under the Constitution, a union with the living, not with dead. If this radical policy shall be pursued until death ensue, the Republic, to save itself, may yet cry out in agony, who shall deliver from this body of death? who will cut the cord which binds us to a corpse ?
I appeal once more to the Senate to arrest, or at least to modify, this policy, and to leave the States of the South in the control of its civilized people. If you will not leave the question of suffrage entirely to them, as we claim it for ourselves, to be determined each State for itself, do not, I implore you, humiliate the intelligence and civilization of the South by forcing upon them against their will, against their long-cherished sentiments, the universal suffrage of their late ignorant and as yet but half-civilized African slaves.
For the elevation of the negroes themselves I implore the Senate to place some restrictions upon negro suffrage; some qualifications which the more worthy may now have, and to which the mass may, perhaps, hereafter aspire.
Adopt substantially the amendment which I propose, and I have no doubt in sixty days the people of those States would carry it out in good faith. Order and civil government would take the place of anarchy and military despotism. A great part of the Army could soon be withdrawn, and our expenses reduced by $50,000,000 per annum. Hope would revive, and prosperity begin to smile upon all parts of the Republic.
If the majority would adopt that and except from disfranchisement all who have received pardon according to law, with all the great errors it has committed during the last two years, I think it might still hope with confidence that the people of the United States would continue them in power.
But if they will insist upon the disfranchisement of thousands upon thousands to whom the nation's plighted faith has given pardon; if they will force universal negro suffrage upon ten States and six millions of our own race and people against their will, the party in power, whoever may be its candidate for President, ought to be, and I think will be, overthrown.
Mr. President, as I said in the beginning, when this measure came here from the House, a measure which, upon its face, in a time of profound peace, creates, as it seems to me, an absolute, unqualified military despotism over ten States, eight millions of our people, and over a territory larger than England, France, and Germany all combined, I confess I was filled with emotions which no language can express.
I have accustomed myself to look upon the United States, with its written Constitution, forming a union of many States into one nation, and yet so defining and limiting its powers as to leave the States thus united independent, each for itself, under its own constitution, to guard the more sacred rights of its citizens, as the realization of all that is great and good in human government -- as the true ideal.
As a citizen and as a Senator I have looked upon this great Republic in this New World not only as the outgrowth of the civilization of the ages, but as the realization of the highest aspiration of all who have preceded it and prepared the way for its coming; as that higher and better Republic for man upon the earth, for which the great and good of all ages have longed and prayed, and for which the brave have struggled and have not feared to die.
With the eye of an humble faith I have looked upon it, also, as that very Republic which the prophets of old foresaw was to come -- the Manchild of prophecy, the Faithful and True, in righteousness judging and making war; and if faithful and true to its high mission that heaven with all its omnipotence stands pledged for its success. Will the great Republic be faithful and true to that mission ? For its hour of trial has come. Two dangers alone threaten it. They come, not from without; they come from within. Secession on the one hand; centralization, to be followed by imperialism, on the other.
We have overcome the one. That danger is already past. Are we equal to the struggle necessary to resist and to overcome the other which threatens now ? That depends upon the people themselves. God grant they may be !
Senate of the United States
Saturday, February 25, 1865, just about midnight.
checking anybody in debate, but simply that he and those acting with him should not make a factious opposition, should not make dilatory motions. When I asked him if he was willing to let it go over, and let us take it up and proceed with it on another day until we finish it, each person taking as much time as he pleased, but simply with an understanding that he should not resort to the artillery of parliamentary motions to defeat it, he called that "cramming!"
Now, sir, it is manifest, from the disposition which has exhibited itself here on the part of a few, and which looks to me a little like factious opposition, that we can get no vote to-night.
Mr. Sumner. I told you so some hours ago.
Mr. Trumbull. Yes, sir. If there is a faction standing here to defeat the will of the Senate I think the Senate will not be disposed to weary itself with an opposition of that kind, but would rather take another day to endeavor to pass the resolution which a few will stand in the way of action upon to-night. I shall not resist a motion to adjourn when I see this disposition of the Senate.
Mr. Hendricks. Mr. President, like the Senator from Wisconsin, I have not been an inattentive observer of the proceedings of this night's session. The discordant elements of the Republican party are exhibiting themselves here; and I venture the prophecy that a like exhibition will be witnessed over the country within a very few years. But four years ago, at the Chicago convention, when Mr. Lincoln was nominated for the Presidency, a solemn pledge was made to the people of this country that that party, when it came into power, would not undertake to interfere with the institutions of the States. As soon as the disturbed condition of the country gave the pretext for it, the undertaking was commenced; and now, when, in the judgment of some, it has been accomplished, there comes up the grave question, what is to be done, and what is to be the political condition of the four million negroes when they are set free ? And upon that question the real strife of to-night has been witnessed. That is the subject, and it need not be disguised. It is growing out of the discordant elements of the party that now governs the country.
The Democracy here to-night have favored the consideration of the resolution that is before the body. We have not sought to defeat legislation. And how does it come that in the harmonious majority we see this clash of arms in the hands of its magnates, not with us ? We are content to be the quiet observers of the controversy. I welcome the strife as a harbinger of a return to those principles that will yet save this country.
I am ready to go on to-night in the discussion of this measure, and am ready to vote against it to-night; or rather to abstain from voting, if the gentleman from West Virginia [Mr. Van Winkle] does not get here. If he is here on Monday I shall be ready to give my vote after a very few remarks upon the resolution.
But, sir, the lessons of to-night have been instructive. There is a strife here; and it is not a strife between gentlemen. Senators are too honorable to have a personal controversy. It is a strife of principle; and the question is, what is to be done with the four million negroes when they are set free ? There are Senators upon the Republican side who feel that it is a very troublesome question. That is the trouble here to-night. It is not whether a particular measure shall be considered; but that very thing; and I think the Democracy will eventually have some gains from gentlemen who will not go the extreme doctrine. The Senator from Massachusetts [Mr. Sumner] is determined that none of these States shall ever be heard in the Halls of Congress until the men who speak from those States speak the voice of the negroes as well as of the white men. Other Senators say that shall not be. We Democrats are a unit upon that question. We believe in the sentiment of the illustrious Senator formerly occupying a seat in this body from Illinois, that this Government was made by white men for white men, and we expect to stand by that idea. Let the controversy go on. The Senators and the Republicans over the country who wish to elevate the negro to an equality, political and social, and civil and legal, with the white man, will have their controversy with Senators and Republicans who entertain sentiments with the Senator from Wisconsin, who do not believe that the condition of the negro in the South is such as entitles him to control the legislation and policy of this great country.
Now, Mr. President, if it is in order, I will renew the motion I proposed a while ago, that this resolution be made the order of the day for Monday evening at eight o'clock, and then I hope we can come together to dispose of it.
Mr. Trumbull. We had better adjourn.
Mr. Hendricks. I understand the bill that has come from the House increasing the taxes is the order of the day for one o'clock on Monday, and of course that cannot be displaced by this measure.
Mr. Trumbull. If the Senator from Indiana will allow me, this resolution will supersede it if we adjourn now, because it will be the unfinished business.
Mr. Hendricks. I am not willing to submit a motion that will supersede that bill. I do not know whether that bill has got any merits. It is a bill we will all feel when it comes. It is a bill that claims attention, either for passage or defeat; and I do not know which. It is doubtful whether I shall vote for it; but we shall see when it is considered and discussed. It is very clear, I think, that the Senate will not consent that that bill shall lose its position for this, because this measure will hardly become a law at this session at any rate. It is a Senate measure, and the House of Representatives will hardly pass it at this session.
Mr. Trumbull. I think they will.
Mr. Hendricks. I do not think it will be passed through that body without some conversation. I think there are some gentlemen over there who will have some remarks to make about it. I have heard some of them say so. As it has taken this body, a small body, some time to come to anything like a conclusion, it will take that body, being a larger one, a good deal longer time. I think it is a very liberal proposition now that this measure shall be the order of the day for eight o'clock on Monday evening, and I think the Senator from Illinois ought to consent to that proposition. I have voted with him to secure a vote to-night, and I believe every Democrat here almost has voted so as to have the question taken to-night if possible. Now, I propose as a compromise that we make it the order of the day for eight o'clock on Monday evening, and we can have the hour between seven and eight for private bills and little matters that Senators wish to bring up.
Mr. Lane, of Kansas. I move that the Senate adjourn.
The motion was agreed to; and the Senate adjourned.
President Lincoln's Last Public Address:
Speech on Reconstruction
April 11, 1865.
We meet this evening, not in sorrow, but in gladness of heart. The evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and the surrender of the principal insurgent army, give hope of a righteous and speedy peace whose joyous expression can not be restrained. In the midst of this, however, He from whom all blessings flow, must not be forgotten. A call for a national thanksgiving is being prepared, and will be duly promulgated. Nor must those whose harder part gives us the cause of rejoicing, be overlooked. Their honors must not be parcelled out with others. I myself was near the front, and had the high pleasure of transmitting much of the good news to you; but no part of the honor, for plan or execution, is mine. To Gen. Grant, his skillful officers, and brave men, all belongs. The gallant Navy stood ready, but was not in reach to take active part.
By these recent successes the re-inauguration of the national authority--reconstruction--which has had a large share of thought from the first, is pressed much more closely upon our attention. It is fraught with great difficulty. Unlike a case of a war between independent nations, there is no authorized organ for us to treat with. No one man has authority to give up the rebellion for any other man. We simply must begin with, and mould from, disorganized and discordant elements. Nor is it a small additional embarrassment that we, the loyal people, differ among ourselves as to the mode, manner, and means of reconstruction.
As a general rule, I abstain from reading the reports of attacks upon myself, wishing not to be provoked by that to which I can not properly offer an answer. In spite of this precaution, however, it comes to my knowledge that I am much censured for some supposed agency in setting up, and seeking to sustain, the new State government of Louisiana. In this I have done just so much as, and no more than, the public knows. In the Annual Message of Dec. 1863 and accompanying Proclamation, I presented a plan of re-construction (as the phrase goes) which, I promised, if adopted by any State, should be acceptable to, and sustained by, the Executive government of the nation. I distinctly stated that this was not the only plan which might possibly be acceptable; and I also distinctly protested that the Executive claimed no right to say when, or whether members should be admitted to seats in Congress from such States. This plan was, in advance, submitted to the then Cabinet, and distinctly approved by every member of it. One of them suggested that I should then, and in that connection, apply the Emancipation Proclamation to the theretofore excepted parts of Virginia and Louisiana; that I should drop the suggestion about apprenticeship for freed-people, and that I should omit the protest against my own power, in regard to the admission of members to Congress; but even he approved every part and parcel of the plan which has since been employed or touched by the action of Louisiana. The new constitution of Louisiana, declaring emancipation for the whole State, practically applies the Proclamation to the part previously excepted. It does not adopt apprenticeship for freed-people; and it is silent, as it could not well be otherwise, about the admission of members to Congress. So that, as it applies to Louisiana, every member of the Cabinet fully approved the plan. The message went to Congress, and I received many commendations of the plan, written and verbal; and not a single objection to it, from any professed emancipationist, came to my knowledge, until after the news reached Washington that the people of Louisiana had begun to move in accordance with it. From about July 1862, I had corresponded with different persons, supposed to be interested, seeking a reconstruction of a State government for Louisiana. When the message of 1863, with the plan before mentioned, reached New-Orleans, Gen. Banks wrote me that he was confident the people, with his military co-operation, would reconstruct, substantially on that plan. I wrote him, and some of them to try it; they tried it, and the result is known. Such only has been my agency in getting up the Louisiana government. As to sustaining it, my promise is out, as before stated. But, as bad promises are better broken than kept, I shall treat this as a bad promise, and break it, whenever I shall be convinced that keeping it is adverse to the public interest. But I have not yet been so convinced.
I have been shown a letter on this subject, supposed to be an able one, in which the writer expresses regret that my mind has not seemed to be definitely fixed on the question whether the seceding States, so called, are in the Union or out of it. It would perhaps, add astonishment to his regret, were he to learn that since I have found professed Union men endeavoring to make that question, I have purposely forborne any public expression upon it. As appears to me that question has not been, nor yet is, a practically material one, and that any discussion of it, while it thus remains practically immaterial, could have no effect other than the mischievous one of dividing our friends. As yet, whatever it may hereafter become, that question is bad, as the basis of a controversy, and good for nothing at all--a merely pernicious abstraction.
We all agree that the seceded States, so called, are out of their proper relation with the Union; and that the sole object of the government, civil and military, in regard to those States is to again get them into that proper practical relation. I believe it is not only possible, but in fact, easier to do this, without deciding, or even considering, whether these States have ever been out of the Union, than with it. Finding themselves safely at home, it would be utterly immaterial whether they had ever been abroad. Let us all join in doing the acts necessary to restoring the proper practical relations between these States and the Union; and each forever after, innocently indulge his own opinion whether, in doing the acts, he brought the States from without, into the Union, or only gave them proper assistance, they never having been out of it.
The amount of constituency, so to speak, on which the new Louisiana government rests, would be more satisfactory to all, if it contained fifty, thirty, or even twenty thousand, instead of only about twelve thousand, as it does. It is also unsatisfactory to some that the elective franchise is not given to the colored man. I would myself prefer that it were now conferred on the very intelligent, and on those who serve our cause as soldiers. Still the question is not whether the Louisiana government, as it stands, is quite all that is desirable. The question is, "Will it be wiser to take it as it is, and help to improve it; or to reject, and disperse it?" "Can Louisiana be brought into proper practical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining, or by discarding her new State government?"
Some twelve thousand voters in the heretofore slave-state of Louisiana have sworn allegiance to the Union, assumed to be the rightful political power of the State, held elections, organized a State government, adopted a free-state constitution, giving the benefit of public schools equally to black and white, and empowering the Legislature to confer the elective franchise upon the colored man. Their Legislature has already voted to ratify the constitutional amendment recently passed by Congress, abolishing slavery throughout the nation. These twelve thousand persons are thus fully committed to the Union, and to perpetual freedom in the state--committed to the very things, and nearly all the things the nation wants--and they ask the nations recognition and it's assistance to make good their committal. Now, if we reject, and spurn them, we do our utmost to disorganize and disperse them. We in effect say to the white men "You are worthless, or worse--we will neither help you, nor be helped by you." To the blacks we say "This cup of liberty which these, your old masters, hold to your lips, we will dash from you, and leave you to the chances of gathering the spilled and scattered contents in some vague and undefined when, where, and how." If this course, discouraging and paralyzing both white and black, has any tendency to bring Louisiana into proper practical relations with the Union, I have, so far, been unable to perceive it. If, on the contrary, we recognize, and sustain the new government of Louisiana the converse of all this is made true. We encourage the hearts, and nerve the arms of the twelve thousand to adhere to their work, and argue for it, and proselyte for it, and fight for it, and feed it, and grow it, and ripen it to a complete success. The colored man too, in seeing all united for him, is inspired with vigilance, and energy, and daring, to the same end. Grant that he desires the elective franchise, will he not attain it sooner by saving the already advanced steps toward it, than by running backward over them? Concede that the new government of Louisiana is only to what it should be as the egg is to the fowl, we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it ? Again, if we reject Louisiana, we also reject one vote in favor of the proposed amendment to the national Constitution. To meet this proposition, it has been argued that no more than three fourths of those States which have not attempted secession are necessary to validly ratify the amendment. I do not commit myself against this, further than to say that such a ratification would be questionable, and sure to be persistently questioned; while a ratification by three-fourths of all the States would be unquestioned and unquestionable.
I repeat the question, "Can Louisiana be brought into proper practical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining or by discarding her new State Government ?
What has been said of Louisiana will apply generally to other States. And yet so great peculiarities pertain to each state, and such important and sudden changes occur in the same state; and withal, so new and unprecedented is the whole case, that no exclusive, and inflexible plan can be safely prescribed as to details and collaterals. Such exclusive, and inflexible plan, would surely become a new entanglement. Important principles may, and must, be inflexible.
In the present "situation" as the phrase goes, it may be my duty to make some new announcement to the people of the South. I am considering, and shall not fail to act, when satisfied that action will be proper.