Radical Reconstruction, March 2, 1867.
“My firm conviction is, that any other solution to our present difficulties than a reconstruction of but one government over all the states of our confederacy would entail upon us and our children an inheritance of the most fearful consequences, which would end in the utter disintegration and ruin of the whole country.” —August Belmont, July 20, 1862.
The Republican party was the party of the money power; and Pig-Iron Kelly was part and parcel of this party. So was Thaddeus Stevens whom Kelley allegedly declared to be a grand old commoner, even though Stevens had nothing to do with the common men, all his life he was a rich bank lawyer and railway lawyer; ignorant, un-cultured, but rich.
Instead of dealing with the the problems left behind by the war, the party of the money power, and the leading figure in that party in the House of Representatives, Thaddeus Stevens, spent his time and effort with reorganizing the United States from a union of sovereign States into a centralized dictatorship in which the member States are mere divisions of the grand central government in Washington.
In 1866, 1867, 1868 this radical crew, led by Thaddeus in the House, and Charles Sumner in the Senate, prevented any measure of rebuilding from devastation and returning the economy to peace-time production. They prevented any measure of correcting, reorganizing the finances and banking of the nation. On July 11, 1866, H.R. 771 was introduced in the House to amend the National currency Bank Act of 1863-4: the House would not hear it (the great protectors of the people’s finances, Stevens, Kelley, Butler, Julian, Scofield, &c, would not do anything other than lip-service to deal with the financial problems the common people were facing);
on January 7, 1867, Representative Randall (a Democrat, genuine hard-money man) introduced a bill that would have ended the National currency Bank system; the friends of the people, the loud and vocal advocates of greenbacks, would not even look at it.
In 1867 and 1868 Stevens, Black-jack Logan, Ben Butler, heroes of paper-money conspiracy books and pamphlets from 1870 to 1900 occupied themselves with reconstruction, with trying to impeach a President who stood in the way of their schemes,
with giving lip-service to the solution of the financial and economic problems of the people, but carefully making sure that nothing meaningful is done in that direction and consistently voting down every measure that managed to see daylight that would have helped the people and corrected the evil that was enacted into law during the war;
with lying to their constituents in preparation for re-election in 1868.
In 1824, 32 year old Thaddeus Stevens made the acquaintance of Nicholas Biddle and became one of his many attorneys, in the service of the Bank of the United States.
national banks, bankrupt laws, a vast and permanent public debt, high tariffs, heavy direct taxation, enormous expenditures, gigantic and stupendous peculation, anarchy first, and a strong government afterward no more State lines, no more State governments, and a consolidated monarchy or vast centralized military despotism –Vallandigham, Wednesday, July 10, 1861.
And now, sir, what, I beg to know, is the object of all this, if it be not to subjugate the States and the people perpetually to the Federal Government ? —Representative Clement Vallandigham, of Ohio, Monday, February 3, 1862.
Section 10 of the 1864 Republican platform upon which Abraham Lincoln, Thaddeus Stevens, William Kelley were re-elected: “Resolved, …. that it is the duty of every loyal state to sustain the credit and promote the use of the National currency.” They were faithful to their pledge and remained loyal to the notes of privately owned National currency Banks.
[Printer’s No. 360.]
39th Congress, 2nd Session
In the House of Representatives.
January 7, 1867.
Read twice, referred to the Committee on Banking and Currency, and ordered to be printed.
Mr. Samuel J. Randall, on leave, introduced the following bill:
To authorize the issue of treasury notes, not bearing interest, to be used in providing a sinking fund for the extinguishment of the national debt.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized to issue, on the credit of the United States, such sums as may be necessary for the purposes set forth in this act not exceeding in the aggregate amount three hundred millions of dollars, of treasury notes, not bearing interest, of such denominations as he may deem expedient, not less than five dollars each, which said notes shall be lawful money and a legal tender for debts in like manner as provided in the first section of an act entitled “An act to authorize the issue of United States notes, and for the redemption or funding thereof, and for funding the floating debt of the United States,” passed February twenty-five, eighteen hundred and sixty-two. And the provisions of the sixth and seventh section of said act are hereby re-enacted and applied to the notes herein authorized.
Sec 2. And be it further enacted, That the amount of said notes issued in any one fiscal year shall not exceed one hundred millions of dollars, and the same shall be used only in exchange for notes issued by the national banks under the authority of the United States, in conformity with the laws regulating the same, and for the purchase of such portions of the national indebtedness as may be necessary to carry out the true intent of this act.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That the said national bank notes so received in exchange for the treasury notes, authorized by this act, shall be by the Secretary of the Treasury forthwith cancelled in like manner as though they had been returned for cancellation by the banks respectively issuing them, and the certificates of national indebtedness, and bonds on deposit for the security of said notes, shall be transferred to the commissioners of the sinking fund, which is herein established, at market prices to the amount and extent that the several banks whose notes have been thus returned would be entitled to receive the securities therefor.
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That the Secretary of the Treasury, the Attorney General, the Secretary of the 3 Interior, the Treasurer of the United States, and the Comptroller of the Currency, shall be the commissioners of the sinking fund, who, or a majority of whom, shall receive the evidences of debt and bonds purchased in accordance with the provisions of this act, and forthwith stamp upon each, so as to make it unfit for further use, “Belonging to the sinking fund of the United States,” and shall cancel the signatures thereon. They shall hold said evidences of debt and bonds until their respective maturities, and until then all accruing interest shall be paid and is hereby appropriated to the said commissioners, who shall purchase other evidences of debt and bonds, to be used and held as herein provided for, and so from time to time as money may be received from such sources.
Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That immediately after the close of each fiscal year the Secretary of the Treasury shall publish an account of the condition of the said sinking fund in at least one newspaper published in the cities of Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York, and he shall, at the first meeting of Congress thereafter, report the same to each branch thereof.
Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That so much of any law or laws as are inconsistent herewith shall be, and the same are hereby, repealed.
An act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel States,
passed March 2, 1867.
Speech of Hon. Andrew Harrison Ward, of Kentucky, Democrat,
in the House of Representatives,
January 19, 1867.
The House having under consideration the bill (H.R. No. 543) to provide for restoring to the States lately in insurrection their full political rights—
Mr. Ward, of Kentucky, [Andrew Harrison Ward January 3, 1815–April 16, 1904; studied law; was admitted to the bar] said:
Mr. Speaker: A novice and almost a stranger upon this floor, I congratulate myself that I bear no scars inflicted by any member of this House, and no one can complain of any inflicted by me. I have heretofore engaged in no war of words, and do not therefore need the kind offices of the Reconstruction Committee.
It occurs to me that if the politicians of the country would teach and practice God’s law of kindness instead of inculcating the doctrines of hate and vengeance between man and man and between section and section, you might discharge your joint Committee on Reconstruction; its occupation would be gone.
I find myself, Mr. Speaker, in a novel position in being called on to resist and condemn involuntary and compulsory secession. The people of the South in 1861, believing they had a right to secede from the Union, undertook to do so. This movement I opposed, because I then thought they were wrong. I did not think secession and rebellion could possibly remedy the evils complained of, but would be the fruitful source of incalculable and perhaps incurable mischiefs. The bill under consideration assumes that ten States, with a population of ten or twelve million white citizens, are out of the Union, foreign States, and their people aliens.
The distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Stevens] announces the startling fact that four years of war was prosecuted by the Government to turn ten States out of the Union and to make all of their white inhabitants slaves and aliens; not only so, but it is contended and asserted in the bill under consideration that these ten States have lost their state governments by the war.
Mr. Speaker, I have been taught to believe that the Constitution framed by our fathers invested Congress with the power to admit States into the Union, but gave that body no power to turn States out. The same great charter confers upon Congress power to pass uniform naturalization laws, but gives no power to destroy citizenship acquired under them. How, then, can Congress make aliens of native-born citizens ? These southern States fought four long years to get out of the Union, and the contest was carried on by the Government of the United States to keep them in. This was what our bravest and best soldiers of the war fought for; they did not fight to turn these States out of the Union, nor to make aliens and slaves of the white people of the South. No one dared to announce such an infamous purpose as this. Gentlemen did not even dare at the commencement of the war to say that it was waged to free the negroes who now boldly assume that it was waged to turn States out of the Union, to destroy their State constitutions, and to enslave their white population. I assume, Mr. Speaker, that the Constitution provides for the admission of States into the Union, and successful revolution can alone open the door for their exit.
It is true that the relations of these States to the General Government were suspended daring the late unhappy war; but its successful termination at once restored the authority of the Constitution over all their territory and people. These ten States certainly were States before the war; if they are not States now, what are they ? Certainly not Territories; no territorial governments have ever been or could be properly provided for them: and if their citizens are not citizens of the United States I would be obliged to the author of this bill if he will tell me of what country they are citizens ?
In the exaction of all their duties to the General Government on the part of these ten States this Congress has repeatedly recognized them as such.
Mr. Speaker, the nation needs and must have repose; the war is over, but the whole surface of society is covered with frightful wounds, which must be healed. You cannot heal them by irritation nor by vindictive legislation. We must have peace, substantial, healthful peace; this can only be obtained by the speedy and complete restoration of all the white citizens of the late rebellious States to equal rights under the Constitution and laws. But gentlemen say that the people of these ten States cannot be safely trusted with a voice in the Government of the country, because they are disloyal. It seems to me a very important truth is overlooked in this line of argument. It is this: the people of the South did not make war upon our republican form of government nor seek to destroy it; they only sought to make two republics out of one. They are now and have been all the time as much attached to our system of free republican Government as those who abuse them for disloyalty.
Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that if gentlemen wanted to make these people hate our Government they could not devise a measure better calculated to accomplish that object than the one under consideration. It is natural for the citizen to love a good Government, which affords him perfect protection and perfect equality; but by what sort of reasoning do you expect him to love a Government which denies him every right of a freeman and degrades him by making him subservient to his former slave; and all this is accomplished by this bill in the most outrageous and odious manner. By its terms you declare all the white people of these ten States aliens, and at the same time, by the amendment of the distinguished gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. Spalding,] you suspend the writ of habeas corpus in reference to these foreigners and proclaim martial law over all of these ten States.
Mr. Speaker, such a system of legislation as this must inevitably destroy the national credit and lead to national bankruptcy and ruin, and I fear its legitimate end will be frightful, bloody anarchy and final despotism. There is no rebellion now, no invasion threatened; the public safety is not endangered; then why suspend the writ of habeas corpus and proclaim martial law ? Sir, we have had too much martial law already; in its practical operation it is military despotism.
Mr. Speaker, I honor the true soldier who perils his life in defense of constitutional liberty; but I would greatly prefer to meet him with the olive branch in his hand instead of the sword, dripping with the blood of his own countrymen. I want to see no more civil wars. I want to see my whole country united, prosperous, and happy.
Mr. Speaker, what is our condition at the end of this unhappy war ? We have a debt of nearly three thousand million dollars hanging over the nation; and it will require the untrammeled brain and muscle of every man in America to pay it. What does the measure now before us propose ? It not only proposes to make slaves of nearly one third of the white population of the United States, but it absolutely proposes an experiment which will cost this nation untold millions of treasure. If the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Stevens] or any other gentleman supposes that you can enslave ten or twelve million white people in the United States of America in this nineteenth century without the expenditure of a vast amount of blood and money, he is most egregiously mistaken.
Now, sir, what is the true policy of the Government in regard to these people ? A nation cannot prosper unless its individual citizens are prosperous. When every individual is perfectly protected in his life, liberty, and property, he then invests his labor to advantage: he crowns his domestic board with plenty and accumulates a pile of surplus from which a rill of gold flows into the public Treasury.
Now, suppose you admit all these southern people to equal rights under the Constitution and laws; give them their representation here; do not thrust the hand of the Government into their pockets to take their money to sustain the Government and refuse them representation; let them come here and have an equal voice in making the laws under which they are to be taxed, and they will help you to pay the public debt.
I understand the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania [Thaddeus the bank-lawyer] to be opposed to closing the rebellion. He wants to put an appendix to it. He wants to continue it until he, with the aid of others, can make a “perfect Republic.” Now, let us see how this is proposed to be done by the measure under consideration.
I will concede at the commencement of the argument upon this question that every man, not only in the United States, but every human being upon the face of God’s earth, ought to be free, provided he is capable of governing himself; and I say, at the same time, that the man who governs himself is free, and that he who is governed by somebody else is a slave, be he white or black.
Now, I say, Mr. Speaker, that this proposition undertakes to regulate man’s right of self-government in the following manner, as provided in sections four, five, and six of the bill under consideration. The fourth section provides—
That the persons who shall be entitled to vote at both of said elections shall be as follows: all male citizens above the age of twenty-one years who have resided six months in said State and ten days within the election district; and no person shall be deprived of the right to vote, or otherwise disfranchised, by reason of conviction and punishment for any crime other than for insurrection or treason or misprision of treason.
The sixth section disfranchises every man who renounced his allegiance to the United States and swore allegiance to the confederate government. But let us look at the proviso. It provides—
That on taking the following oath the party being otherwise qualified shall be allowed to vote and hold office:
I, A B, do solemnly swear, on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, that on the 4th day of March, 1864, and at all times thereafter, I would willingly have complied with the requirements of the proclamation of the President of the United States, issued on the 8th day of December, 1863, had a safe opportunity of so doing been allowed me; that on the said 4th of March, 1864, and at all times thereafter, I was opposed to the continuance of the rebellion, and to the so-called confederate government, and voluntarily gave no aid or encouragement thereto, but earnestly desired the success of the Union and the suppression ofall armed resistance to the Government of the United States; and that I will henceforth faithfully support the Constitution of the United States, and the Union of the States thereunder.
These are qualifications for suffrage embraced in that section. But there is another section on the same subject. The fifth section reads as follows:
And be it further enacted, That the word citizen, as used in this act, shall be construed to mean all persons born in the United States or duly naturalized. Any male citizen above the age of twenty-one years shall be competent to be elected to act as delegate to said convention.
The fourth section of the bill provides that no person shall be debarred from exercising the right of suffrage on account of having been convicted of any crime.
Now, what is the effect, I ask you, of these provisions ? Why, sir, in the first place every man who ever committed manslaughter, rape, arson, or burglary, and was thus rendered infamous and disfranchised by a judgment of conviction, is to be a prominent and qualified voter in the reconstruction of these States. And not only that. There is the temptation held out in the proviso to the sixth section to every man in the confederate States to commit perjury. The man who went into the rebellion from interested motives, or a mere camp follower, may take this oath, while the man who thought he had a right to secede and who fought honestly and manfully to carry out that idea will not take it, because he cannot do so truly; he will not perjure himself. You will catch all who will swear falsely, and you will lose all who have integrity enough to swear truthfully.
In addition to that, what do you get under the suffrage regulations of this bill ? You get the votes of all the negroes, the votes of men who have learned the science of self-government in the school of slavery for nearly two hundred years. You get the convicts of the penitentiary, all of the jail-birds and unpardoned scoundrels who prey upon society, the men who would perjure themselves by swearing they were opposed to the cause for which they were fighting; and this is what the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania [Thaddeus] calls a perfect Republic. All of the people who have honesty enough to say what they are and what they have been, are disfranchised. And this is the perfection of a Republic in the estimation of the distinguished Pennsylvanian.
But how does the thing work if you look at it a little further ? The constitution is to be made in this manner: Congress is to elect three commissioners who are to select judges of election; and I suppose they will select them without distinction of race or color — bound to do it. I suppose that they will be guilty of a violation of the sentiment which seems to prevail in this House if they make any distinction as to race or color in the judges. I suppose the judges must be loyal, and of course they will be of the colored race. Now, these gentlemen sit there as judges of the election with the Army of the United States at their back to keep the peace at the polls, as gentlemen say. Sir, we have had some of these peace-makers at the polls in Kentucky, and God forbid that we should ever see such peace-makers again. They were put at the polls for base and infamous partisan purposes; they were put there to disfranchise the free, qualified voters of my State.
Now, these negro judges will sit and hold this election, backed by the United States Army. That is rather an elevated position for the newmade freedman; the habeas corpus suspended, martial law proclaimed, the Army at the back of the negro conducting an election to reconstruct States. [Laughter.] I suppose the Freedmen’s Bureau men will have something to do with it as it progresses. Now, look at it. Congress finding the negro incapable of self-government, passes an act creating the Freedmen’s Bureau to govern him. Congress controls the Freedmen’s Bureau, the Freedmen’s Bureau governs the negro, and the negro, with the United States Army at his back, governs the white men, [laughter;] and this is what the gentleman [Thaddeus the bank-lawyer] is pleased to call a perfect Republic. [Laughter.]
Why, sir, I hope I may be pardoned for alluding to a caricature that I once saw. It was a picture of an old lady flourishing a broom-stick over the head of her husband, with a negro in the background holding a dog by the neck, and flourishing an uplifted lash, with these words issuing from the mouth of the darkey: “missus whips massa, massa licks me, and so you infernal dog I gib you de debbil.” [Great laughter.] Congress backs the Freedmen’s Bureau, the bureau backs the darkey, and the negro gives the white man the devil, [renewed laughter;] and this is your perfect Republic !
But gentlemen undertake to say, when this constitution is thus formed and presented to Congress, Congress are to pass upon it, and say whether they will approve it or not, or whether they will make it over again. Do gentlemen assume that Congress has power to make a constitution for a State or Territory either ? I deny it. There is not a vestige of authority for it anywhere. There is not a line in the Constitution, which is the great charter, that authorizes Congress to make a constitution for a State. The States have the right to make their own constitutions, to alter or amend the same as they please. Congress only has the power to guaranty to the States republican forms of government; and if you confer this power upon the negroes of the ten States it is very likely they will exercise it in their own way.
Now, the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Thaddeus the bank-lawyer] really contemplates that at some future day in the dim distance these people of the seceded States are to be restored. Suppose that Cuffy, when he comes to make a constitution, shall think better of his former master, and should happen not to hate him so bitterly as the author of this bill seems to do, and shall make a constitution declaring that all of the white men over twenty-one years of age shall vote without being naturalized, will you reject his constitution on that account ? Why, sir, how long, I would like to know, do gentlemen propose to keep these people of the seceded States out ? How long do you think it is necessary to keep them in a state of bondage before they will learn to love the authors of their oppression and graduate in loyalty and the science of self-government ?
The rule adopted in regard to the negro is, that he is eminently qualified and has learned to be perfectly fitted for freedom by a probation of two hundred years in slavery. Do you propose to hold the white population of these ten States in a preparatory state for two hundred years ? Or how much short of that will you stop ? You intend finally to restore them; you think that having felt the chains of bondage around his neck and the manacles upon his wrist the white man there will have learned to love a Government which should owe its strength to the approbation and consent of those governed by it. You propose to teach him to love the Government by smiting him through that Government; you undertake to make him loyal by persecuting him. You undertake to punish a man who has been pardoned for all his political sins; and this is the perfection of a republic.
Now, I am glad the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Stevens] proposes at some time to restore these people. I am one of those who think that the longer a man is free the more capable he becomes of being free and exercising the rights of a freeman; and the longer you keep a man in bondage, the more likely he is to remain in bondage and the less capacity he is likely to acquire to throw off his bondage. When a man is free I am in favor of keeping him free. But these gentlemen here say that at some future time they intend to let these people come back.
There was a man who once came to my neighborhood and preached what he called the doctrine of restoration in reference to a better and higher world. He said that all sinners would finally be restored to the enjoyment of paradise, and be permitted to walk the streets of the New Jerusalem; but he said they would first have to go to the place of perdition, the pit that burns with fire and brimstone, and stay there until they had expiated all their sins. An old man who was present and heard him, one who was noted more for his straightforward and blunt language than for his piety, got up and said: “Why, brother, after I have been in that sulphur and fire burning long enough to have all my sins burned out of me, don’t you think I would be a d__d pretty singe cat to go to heaven ?” [Great laughter.] And that is what the gentleman [Thaddeus the bank-lawyer] is pleased to call a perfection of the Republic.
Mr. Washburn, of Indiana. I would like to ask the gentleman if the preacher Nasby lives in his district ? [Laughter.]
Mr. Ward, of Kentucky. I have always understood that he came from Indiana. [Roars of laughter.]
Mr. Speaker, the proposition under consideration not only proposes to dissolve the Union, but it proposes to dissolve it prospectively and indefinitely: it not only proposes to break up the Union now, but it proposes to lay the foundation for breaking it up indefinitely hereafter. It is assumed that the majority of Congress can do pretty nearly everything. I thought when I came here, having occasionally read the Constitution of my country, that the Constitution of the United States, like the fiat of the Great Creator of the universe, who, when He divided the sea from the land, said to the sea “Thus far shalt thou come, and no farther” — I thought the Constitution of the United States absolutely restricted the power of legislation; yet some gentlemen here seem to think they can do almost everything. They assume that they cannot only expel ten States from the Union at one blow, but also lay the foundation for their indefinite exclusion at the pleasure of the majority of any future Congress.
There is a provision in this very bill which says that if the right of suffrage and any other rights be in any manner restricted or denied by any of these States to the negro then that State shall be excluded from its representation upon the floor of Congress. Is it possible that such a precedent as that is to be established here ? Suppose that the majority should be the other way, and not be, as it is now, in favor of New England and New England ideas. New England is now the largest slave-owner in the world, and under your tariff system all of the other States are her tributaries. These southern States are not considered republican in form because they once held slaves. And New England leads the van in this war upon the southern people. Yet New England today claims to own ten or twelve million white slaves; and the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Stevens] says she obtained them by conquest. Now, is it possible that a free republic can fight to make ten or twelve million people slaves and still be a free Government ? Can a republic make ten or twelve millions of its own citizens slaves by conquest ? No, sir; to do that would be simply an act of suicide. Suppose, then, that there should be a majority here that would differ with the present majority in this House; and suppose they should undertake to say that New England, having at this particular juncture of affairs claimed to be the owner of ten or twelve million white people, and, therefore, her government was not republican in form, and therefore that a majority in Congress should say, “You must walkout!” that Congress would have as much right to turn her six States out as you have to say these ten southern States are out now.
I ask gentlemen to pause before they indulge in this kind of legislation. What are to be its effects upon the country ? You undertake to hold these people in bondage, at an expense of one, two, or three hundred million dollars per annum. You establish a system of martial law. I believe the estimates of the Army and Navy reach about one hundred million dollars for the current year. If you carry out your system of martial law and suspension of the habeas corpus and your negro governments at the South, you will need at least $250,000,000 annually. I ask you whether the toiling millions of this nation are prepared to pay $250,000,000 per annum for the exceeding great luxury of holding our own countrymen in bondage, and this, too, while a national debt of about three thousand million dollars is hanging like a millstone round the nation’s neck, and the people already overburdened with taxation to pay it ? Can this scheme be carried out in the critical condition and peculiar character of the currency ? What sort of a currency have you ? About three hundred million dollars of the circulation of the national banks, based upon what ? Simply upon the nation’s promises to pay, the interest which the Government pays upon its bonds being the only metal that enters into the arrangement. Three hundred million dollars of circulation, and a few pitiful thousands upon which to sustain it ! Why, sir, here you have a pyramid inverted, with an exceedingly narrow apex. What upholds it ? Nothing but the atmosphere of popular confidence in the public credit. Carry out your revolutionary schemes; pursue your experiments with the liberties of the white people of this country, at the expense of two or three hundred million dollars per annum, and I ask you how the people can be expected to have confidence in your credit. Suppose this fabric topples over, what becomes of the Government securities ? Your bonds become worthless; all the material interests of the country are damaged and almost destroyed. Yet gentlemen are asking us to pass this bill under the idea that it makes the Government a perfected Republic.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I am opposed to this whole system of legislation which has for its object retaliation and vengeance. The nation cannot afford to indulge in it. It is too expensive, not only in money, but it may cost the whole nation its safety. I implore gentlemen to abandon it. It is said by the distinguished gentleman [Thaddeus the bank-lawyer] who proposes this bill that, if we regard this measure as one of punishment, these people have deserved it. Gentlemen are all the time saying that treason must be made odious. They cling to the idea of punishment. It seems to me that war –a civil war like that through which we have passed– brings its own punishment. What more do you want than the punishment which the war has inflicted ? The commerce of the southern people has been destroyed; their towns and cities have been burned; their fields desolated and stained with blood; wives have been widowed and children made orphans; and amid the desolation they are threatened with famine and crying for bread. Yet gentlemen say, “Revenge, crucify, punish–still punish.”
“Alas, for the rarity
Of Christian charity
Under the sun !”
These children cry for bread, and you give them vengeance. You not only refuse to feed the body –you absolutely refuse to feed their minds. A few days ago there was passed in this House a resolution denying to the States lately engaged in the rebellion the scrip that was appropriated by Congress to educate the children. “God said, ‘Let there be light !'” but this House says, by its vote, “Let darkness prevail !” You are in favor of darkness, because you shut out intellectual light. You propose to “make treason odious” by punishing the poor children and shutting the light of education from their minds. I ask gentlemen whether they expext to restore the Union by such legislation. Why, this is only one specimen of it. In my own State, and in the other border States, commissioners have been appointed by this Government to value the slaves that were enlisted in the Army of the United States. By a bill which has recently passed both Houses of Congress those commissioners are to be suspended in the exercise of their functions, the money is to be held, and the obligation, I suppose, finally repudiated. It seems to me repudiation –nothing but repudiation; although this House, in conjunction with the Senate, originally passed a law, before the negroes were enlisted, proposing to pay their former masters for them, they did it by solemn enactment, and afterward, at the last session I believe they re-enacted the law and said it should be paid to the loyal owners. But now what have you done ? When you want to uphold the nation’s credit, when you want to restore the confidence of the public, you set the example of repudiation. A great nation cannot preserve its respectability among nations unless it pays all of its just debts. “Pay what thou owest” is the law of God and the law of the land. The nation ought to pay, and ought not to set the example of repudiation. I warn gentlemen on that subject. If you expect the people to be satisfied with the Government and uphold it, if you will make it strong and make peace permanent, you must not commence by repudiating what you owe the people of certain States and then turn round and tax them for what is due to you. You must pay all justly and fairly, or else repudiate all. The laws of the land must be executed fairly and justly; and I hope this House will reconsider that subject, and in some shape reassert its purpose to pay what it owes our people whose slaves enlisted in the Army.
Mr. Speaker, I have experienced some difficulty in making myself heard on account of severe cold and hoarseness; but I felt constrained by an imperative sense of duty to enter my solemn protest against the passage of this bill, believing as I do that if the provisions of this measure and others now pending in this Congress of a similar character be carried out the nation’s credit must be destroyed, the Government securities rendered worthless, and the stability of the Government rendered so uncertain that capital will seek a safer place of investment, and I greatly fear that our free Republic, of which we have all felt so proud, will be converted into a military despotism at no distant day.
Mr. Speaker, I promised to give my friend from Ohio [Mr. Le Blond] a few minutes of my time, which I now cheerfully yield to him.
Speech of Hon. L.S. Trimble, of Kentucky, in the House of Representatives,
January 21, 1867.
The House having under consideration the bill (H.R. No. 543) to provide for restoring to the States lately in insurrection their full political rights—
Mr. Trimble [Lawrence Strother Trimble (26 August 1825 — 9 August 1904) studied law, admitted to the bar; Democrat] said:
Mr. Speaker: If I know the feelings of my own heart, I entertain a sincere and honest desire to see a thorough restoration of all the States to all their rights under the Constitution. I am in favor of peace, and wish to see every interest of the country prosper. I believe
“Peace hath her victories
No leas renowned than war.”
before glorious because they are bloodless, deriving their highest luster from the numbers saved instead of slain. Hence I am not in favor of the passage of the bill now under consideration or the substitute of the gentleman from Pennsylvania, [Mr. Stevens;] for I believe under them we cannot have peace, that under them every right of the States and every right of the citizens of those States embraced by their provisions will be trampled under foot.
The bill declares, in the first place, that the ten States of the South are out of the Union, denies them representation upon this floor or a voice in their State governments, and proposes to establish in lieu of the governments now in those States governments to be set up and put in operation by Congress, through the agency of commissioners and military despots with no responsibility to the people, disfranchising a large portion of the people of that section. The most intelligent and best citizens are to be reduced to serfs. I ask where is the authority, where is the power, under the Constitution of the United States to so treat these people ?
The people of the South attempted to get out of the Union by and through secession; did they succeed ? Was secession triumphant, and did they, by the act of secession, dissolve the Union ? If they did not, then will this Congress, and by this very act, break up the Union and place the people of the South where they could not place themselves by secession or by revolution ? The illegal and unconstitutional acts of the northern States, with the attempt on the part of the southern States to establish a government of their own, did not and cannot dissolve the Union. This unnecessary and cruel war cost this Government six thousand millions at least of treasure and an amount of blood unparalleled in the history of human warfare. But that did not take them out of the Union. But, sir, if this bill shall become a law, in my opinion it will bring upon the country another civil war with all its direful consequences; and I fear it may cost us as much blood and treasure as the late unfortunate struggle, ending in a total disruption of the Union and loss of the liberties of the people. I ask members to pause and reflect before passing this act. The step once taken it may never be in your power to recall it, and I appeal to you to stay your hands, do as you would have others do unto you, and give to these people the rights you claim for yourselves, to which they are equally entitled under the Constitution.
Now, sir, under what authority, under what clause in the Constitution, do you find any warrant for this bill ? Not even under the constitutional amendment that is now pending and unaccepted as yet by the people –neither can it be, giving it the votes of all the northern States– can you find a shadow of authority or justice for the monstrous provisions contained in this bill. In the first place it puts upon trial ten States of this Union, arraigns them at the bar of Congress, adjudges them guilty of high crime, and denies them all rights, including those that are inalienable. They are not heard; they have no representation here; they have not the benefit of counsel, no one to plead their cause. By this act you dissolve their connection with the Government of the United States, blot them out of existence as freemen, and degrade them to the condition of negro Commonwealths.
The war did not destroy the States. It was carried on by the Government, as you solemnly declared, for the avowed purpose of maintaining the Union and preventing disunion, to preserve the national authority throughout the entire country, to enforce obedience on the part of the revolted States to the Constitution and the laws passed in pursuance thereof. It was so declared in the celebrated Crittenden resolution; it was so declared by Congress again and again; it was so declared by President Lincoln and Secretary Seward. It was expressly declared and reiterated by every speaker in the land who advocated the war that the sole purpose and object of the war was to maintain the Union, not to dissolve and break it up and by it to crucify the States and State constitutions. Without that declared purpose I do not believe the support that was given to it could have been wielded in the manner that it was.
Besides, Congress has recognized these States as States from the beginning of the struggle up to the present hour. The very bill that I have before me and the substitute of the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Thaddeus the bank lawyer], characterizes them as States. Congress by the act of the 9th of March, 1862, so recognized them, and to-day this House recognizes that act, as follows:
“That from and after the 3d day of March, 1863, the number of members of the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States shall be two hundred and forty-one, and the eight additional members shall be assigned one each to Connecticut, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Vermont, and Rhode Island, approved March 4, 1862.”
Fixing two hundred and forty-one as the number of members of this House, only one hundred and ninety-one hold seats here. Thus admitting by the law, as it now stands, that South Carolina is entitled to four Representatives. North Carolina to seven, Virginia to eight, Mississippi to five, Alabama to seven, Arkansas to three, Louisiana to five, Florida to one, Georgia to seven, and Texas to three; but by your action overriding this law and the great constitutional right of representation. This act declares that the lower House of Congress shall consist of two hundred and forty-one members; we have upon this floor to-day less than that number by fifty. Besides this, you were fearful the President would not send this amendment to the southern States, and you passed a resolution instructing the President of the United States or your clerk to send to each of the States of this Union the proposed amendment to the Constitution for their approval. No one has ever yet declared here, so far as the action of the southern States is concerned, any objection to their ratifying amendments that suit the purposes and objects of the party in power.
—[Those fifty Representatives would have voted for resolutions that aimed to restore the currency to stability, to reduce and pay off the Federal debt, to put an end to national currency banks (the greenbackers in the Republican Party –the party of the Money Power– Stevens, Kelley, Butler, Julian, Scofield, Donnelly, Logan, did not want that); those 50 representatives would have made it impossible to pass the Credit Strengthening act: the Republicans did not want that, either……]
If I recollect, during the last session of this Congress in the midst of a speech of some gentleman, (I believe the gentleman from Pennsylvania,[Thaddeus the bank-lawyer] who was arguing at that time these States were dead, ) he was stopped while a telegram was read from the Governor of Alabama announcing the pleasing intelligence to the majority here that that State had passed the constitutional amendment and desired to be counted as the twenty-seventh State. That was received by members all over the House with plaudits and cheers, thus recognizing the right of the State of Alabama to pass upon this question. And the same doctrine was enunciated to the country upon the adoption of that amendment by the State of Alabama.
So all the time throughout the discussion and excitement upon this question, the southern States have been recognized as States. Why Louisiana, Tennessee, and other States had Representatives upon this floor long after the outbreak of the war; and the distinguished gentleman who now occupies the White House was a Senator from the State of Tennessee, and was nominated by the party in power as Vice President while the war was in progress. If those States are out now, Tennessee was certainly out then. You are committed, in my judgment, to the doctrine that these States have never been out of the Union. And I defy your power to put them out in the manner proposed.
I take it that if there is any constitutional authority or power anywhere to pass this bill, it is to be found in the Constitution itself, and not in the last amendment proposed that is now pending; because I suppose no one will claim or assert here that that amendment as it now stands has passed. It is defeated as it stands before the people of the United States to-day. To ratify it requires the vote of three-fourths of the State Legislatures. It has been submitted to all the States. The existence of the southern States as members of this Union has been recognized by the Executive and by Congress, and cannot be denied successfully before the Supreme Court of the United States, or any other tribunal in the United States, in my opinion. It has not received the sanction of enough States to entitle it to become the organic law of the land. If it had, this bill would be in plain and direct violation of that amendment itself, because that amendment declares that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the States wherein they reside,” and that “no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of any citizen of the United States,” &c.
That is the amendment; but this bill proposes to disfranchise three fourths of all the white people of the South and degrade them to the position of slaves, denying them a voice in the affairs of their States or to be represented in the councils of the nation. I say that this bill is a plain violation of that amendment of the Constitution, because under this bill all persons are disfranchised who come within the provisions which I will now read. It is as follows:
Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That all persons who on the 4th day of March, 1861, were of full age who held office, either civil or military, under the government called the “confederate States of America,” or who swore allegiance to said government, are hereby declared to have forfeited their citizenship and to have renounced allegiance to the United States, and shall not be entitled to exercise the elective franchise, or hold office, until five years after they shall have filed their intention or desire to be reinvested with the right of citizenship, and shall swear allegiance to the United States and renounce allegiance to all other Governments or pretended governments.
Who, I ask, can vote under this clause ? Can any honest native of the South ? The object and purpose of this last constitutional amendment was to prevent the disfranchisement of the black race or to endow them with the right of suffrage. But the object and purpose of this bill is to give the right of suffrage to the blacks and to disfranchise the whites.
Now, if that amendment to the Constitution is the law for the party in power, and it was the party cry upon which you went to the country at the last election, why, I ask, do you come here now and seek by the provisions of this bill to disfranchise three fourths or four fifths of the white population of the South ? Is not that making a discrimination between races ? But I suppose that that is all right if the discrimination is against white men, in the estimation of the majority here.
What else do we find ? We find that this is a bill of attainder and an ex post facto law. By its provisions you try these people, condemn, and execute them in their absence. It not only destroys them as States, but it ruins them as individuals and deprives them of their rights as freemen. The constitutional amendment says:
“Nor shall any State deprive any person of life liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
Now, if a State has not the power to do this, to deprive a citizen of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, where is there authority in the Federal Government to thus deprive the people of the South of the dearest right of freemen, the right of suffrage ? Sir, you may take my land; you may take my slaves and everything else I possess; but all that dwindles into insignificance when compared with this monstrous outrage, depriving me of the inalienable right of the American citizen, the right of suffrage. In God’s name leave me a freeman not a slave !
What does this bill do further ? It fixes the conduct of elections in the hands of the military and of commissioners appointed by Congress. It overrides that provision of the Constitution of the United States which declares that—
“The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several States, and the electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for the most numerous branch of the General Assembly.”
The right of the people to manage their own affairs by means of State organizations is one of the rights which in my judgment never was surrendered to the Federal Government. And the only power possessed by Congress or by the executive department is the power expressly delegated by the Constitution itself. The Constitution says:
“All powers not delegated by the States to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the people.”
When did the States of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, four of the original thirteen States, surrender, by constitutional amendment or otherwise, to the Federal Government the right to say who shall be entitled to the right of suffrage in those States ? They never did surrender that right; and Congress has no such power under the Constitution of the United States. To do so will be usurpation and despotism.
Sir, is this the sort of government contemplated by the Constitution of the United States, which declares that it shall be the duty of the Federal Government to protect and defend the States in the exercise of a republican form of government ? Is it republican to deprive these people of the right of suffrage, of any voice in their local affairs ? I ask you further, if it is just and proper that the people of the South shall be disfranchised as it is proposed to do by the provisions of this bill, while the millions of recently emancipated slaves in that country should be endowed with the highest title of sovereignty ? Is it fair and right to bestow this right upon them and deny it to the descendants of Lafayette and Kosciusko who may come to this country until they shall have been here five years ? Is the freedman better qualified to manage the affairs of this country than the intelligent foreigner ? If not, then why make the foreigner go through a schooling or training of five years before he is endowed with the right of suffrage, or why should that right be denied to the free-born white citizen of the United States ?
I have ever believed that the perpetuity, the very existence of this Government depends upon the intelligence and patriotism of those upon which the duty falls of controlling its destiny through the ballot-box. If you would preserve the Government in all its purity and integrity, you should preserve the elective franchise, and place it in the hands of those competent to wield it to the honor and safety and dignity of the Government. Have we any evidence going to show that we should continue to prosper under the state of affairs proposed by this bill, with the ruling classes heretofore now made subservient to their former slaves and the slaves placed in power over them ? tremble for my country when I contemplate the possibility of this proposition being carried into execution. As I already have said, I appeal to members here to pause before they commit this fatal mistake, before they make this stab at the very existence of our Government as ordained by our fathers. I desire to see it protected and perpetuated for all time in all its justice and purity.
What else do we find in this bill ? We find that according to the provisions of this bill when this Union shall have been restored, its continuance will depend upon the whim and caprice of any State. According to this bill should its provisions be violated by any State that State is to be sent back to the condition which it now occupies, the condition of being virtually out of the Union –taxed, but denied equality and representation. Now, is that constitutional, is that in accordance with the ideas of those great men who ushered into being this great and glorious Government of ours under the Constitution ? Did they ever suppose that the right of any State in this Union, and especially of any of the States that made the Constitution itself, would ever thus be put in jeopardy ? I do not believe it; no sane man or jurist ever did believe it heretofore.
Nor do I believe, Mr. Speaker, that if this bill ever becomes the law of the land it will be allowed to remain upon the statute-book for twelve months. Whenever reason shall have resumed its sway, the people who are now so anxious for the passage of this bill will see the workings of it, and will with their own hands obliterate it from the statute-book with the seal of their condemnation and that of every friend of law and of order.
What further do we find in this bill ? An amendment was offered by the gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. Spalding,] and accepted by the gentleman from Pennsylvania, [Mr. Stevens.] That amendment is as follows:
“And be it further enacted, That from and after the passage of this act, and until the said States in rebellion shall be admitted to representation in Congress as aforesaid, the provisions of the writ of habeas corpus shall be suspended in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas; and said districts of country are hereby placed under martial law for and during the whole term aforesaid.
Just think of it. This country is to be again placed under martial law, and that, too, at a time when there is profound peace, when the laws are being executed from one end of this country to the other, and as well executed in the southern States, I have no doubt, as in any other portion of the country. And that is to be done in plain violation of the Constitution of the United States, which each one of us upon this floor has sworn to support. You object to governments and officers elected while martial law prevailed in the South. The opposite side of the House are estopped from objections on that ground: after giving their countenance and aid to elections in my State, held by the military in 1863, electing members to Congress, without whose votes you could not have passed the first amendment, in open and known violation of the will of the legal voters of that State.
The Constitution declares that—
“The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”
Why, sir, this very bill speaks of those States as “States lately in rebellion.” No man asserts, because the facts will not warrant him in doing so, that those States are in rebellion today. Eighteen months or more have passed since the last armed confederate laid down his arms. Peace has prevailed from one end of this country to the other. Yet, in the face of this fact, we have this monstrous proposition– to declare martial law in ten States of this Union; and in making this declaration we, in my judgment, step upon the mangled ruins of the Constitution; for the Constitution plainly gives this power neither to the executive nor the legislative department of the Government. In this position I am sustained by the highest tribunal in this land. Let me read two short extracts from the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States in the celebrated ease of ex parte Milligan and others.
“No graver question was ever considered by this court, nor one which more nearly concerns the rights of the whole people; for it is the birthright of every American citizen, when charged with crime, to be tried and punished according to law. The power of punishment is alone through the means which the laws have provided for that purpose; and if they are ineffectual there is an immunity from punishment, no matter how great an offender the individual may be, or how much his crimes may have shocked the sense of justice of the country or deranged its safety. By the protection of the law human rights are secured: withdraw that protection, and they are at the mercy of wicked rulers or the clamor of an excited people.”
“Time has proved the discernment of our ancestors, for even these provisions, [referring to the provisions of the Constitution designed to protect the personal liberties of the people] expressed in such plain English words that it would seem the ingenuity of man could not evade them, are now, after the lapse of more than seventy years, sought to be avoided. Those great and good men foresaw that troublous times would arise when rulers and people would become restive under restraint, and seek by sharp and decisive measures to accomplish ends deemed just and proper; and that the principles of constitutional liberty would be in peril unless established by irrepealable law. The history of the world had taught them that what was done in the past might be attempted in the future. The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men at all times and under all circumstances. No doctrine involving more pernicious consequences was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of Government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism; but the theory of necessity on which it is based is false, for the Government within the Constitution has all the powers granted to it which are necessary to preserve its existence, as has been happily proved by the result of the great effort to throw off its just authority.”
I am admonished why read from the Constitution or decisions of the highest tribunal in the land to a body whose voice can make and overthrow constitutions, executives, and the courts.
Under the Constitution the people of the South have the right, if they are accused of any crime against the Government of the United States, to be tried by a jury; for the Constitution declares that—
“The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the State where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.”
With the same regard for the rights of the citizen when accused of crime, the Constitution provides that—
No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia when in actual service, in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”
These constitutional provisions are the shield behind which the humblest citizen of the South can stand, and, in my humble judgment, protect himself from the operation of the provisions of this bill. I believe that this protection will be given by the courts under the Constitution.
Much complaint has been made because the Legislatures of the southern States have not adopted the constitutional amendment submitted by Congress at the last session. I think myself that the southern States have already adopted one amendment too many. I trust that they will not adopt another. Why has any one the right to complain because those States refuse to adopt a proposed constitutional amendment ? Why is an amendment submitted to those States unless it is expected that they shall exercise their free choice in regard to its ratification or rejection ? If it is foreordained that a particular proposition for amendment shall become the law of the land, why go through the mockery of submitting to the people of the South a proposition upon which they are to exercise no freedom of choice ? Why should not the southern States exercise the right to determine such questions in the manner which they deem to be demanded by their interests or self-respect ? I would not ask Massachusetts to accept an amendment changing the organic law of the land unless that old Commonwealth believed that the adoption of that amendment would conduce to her interests and promote the welfare of the entire country. Nor would I ask the people of the South to accept an amendment which, in my judgment, barters away the rights and liberties of the best, the most intelligent portion of that entire country.
In my view there can be no doubt that this bill in its present shape comes within the definition of a bill of attainder and ex post facto law. It proposes to make criminal retrospectively, acts which were not criminal at the time of their commission. It proposes to inflict punishment upon those whose guilt, whatever it may have been, has been wiped out by the pardoning power of the President of the United States. Three fourths or more of the people of the southern States have been, under amnesty proclamation of the President of the United States, (about whose power in the premises there can be no question,) relieved all the pains and penalties to which they were liable by reason of their participation in the late rebellion.
Attainder is the stain or corruption of blood which arises from being condemned for any crime. When and where, by what court and jury, were these people tried by law and found guilty ? You have not tried Jefferson Davis nor convicted him, neither do I believe you can under the Constitution and laws.
They are free from that offense so far as the Constitution of the United States and the pardoning power can free them; and that frees them to all intents and purposes, in my judgment, as any man could be freed from any past offense. If that be so, I ask, then, if this bill is not a bill of attainder, and ex post facto ?
And the only authority that exists, in my judgment, either in the national Government or in these States, to deprive any free-born white citizen of Texas or of South Carolina of any of the constitutional rights I have enumerated is by trial and conviction by a jury of that State for the commission of some offense the penalty for which has been fixed by law prior to its commission.
By the Constitution certain duties were imposed upon the several States, and the exercise of certain of their powers was restrained, which implied their continued existence as States. But to remove all doubt an amendment was added which declared that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. The reserved rights of the States are treated by this bill as nullities, not worth the paper on which they were written.
I have ever believed and sincerely believe to-day that the only way or hope to save this Union and preserve the life of the nation will be to preserve inviolate the Constitution. Tell me not that you can preserve my life after you have torn out my heart; it is as idle to talk of preserving this nation by overthrowing her
Constitution. Under no circumstance conceivable by the human mind have I or would I ever consent to violate that Constitution for any purpose. I will cling to it as the last hope of freedom, as the bond of unity in the past, as the only practical bond of union in the future, the only land lifted above the waters to which the ark of the Union can be moored. From that ark alone will go out the dove, which shall return bringing the olive-branch of peace and the guarantee of constitutional liberty.
I am for peace, for the Constitution and laws passed in pursuance thereof. It may be a crime; if so I confess it. Already have our quarrels filled the country with mourning, with widows and with orphans that to-day appeal to Heaven for aid and sympathy. Why pursue these unfortunate differences ? Let by-gones be by-gones; let us act for the living, with charity to all and malice to none, upon living issues, issues upon which we are to be saved or lost as a nation. I entreat you to pause in your career of madness and folly, of unequal and unconstitutional legislation. Repeal your Freedmen’s Bureau bill, your civil rights bill, your test oath; grant a general amnesty; make good your Crittenden resolution; declare to the South and to the world that this is a republican Government in the true sense of that term, that we derive our just powers from the consent of the governed.
Mr. Speaker, by this act you blot out ten stars from that flag now waving over your chair. Desecrate not that flag, I entreat you, by mutilation or by tearing from its folds ten or one single star; let it continue to greet the breezes of heaven as the ensign of thirty-six coequal States united by a just Government, shedding its blessings upon all like the dews of heaven. Let there be one refuge secure from tyranny and oppression; let that glorious refuge be here in the United States of America.
The spirit now dominant in this House and rampant throughout the North not only mock at gray hairs and tramples on the lessons of experience, but regards with impatience and ill-disguised contempt every appeal in behalf of the rights of States or the guarantees of that Constitution you have all sworn to support. Stop! stop! says the extreme loyalist. We have had a terrible rebellion, we are fresh from the scenes of carnage and of war where our brothers have been slain. Can this be plead to extenuate or relieve you from your oath and duty to the Constitution of our fathers ? No, never. Sir, the fierce bay of the bloodhound on the warm track of his prey devours the calm voice of reason and the soft pleadings of humanity. Who that realizes the moral accountability of nations can doubt that we have fallen upon evil days ?
In this great crisis, oh! that some great and good voice that never counseled aught to dishonor or injure this Union would rise, as if from the grave, and expose the specious pretexts on which a further prosecution of this war is now being waged upon a brave and vanquished people.
Sir, they are our brothers. To what end do you further persecute them ? Born a few miles south of us, from a common ancestry, with a common inheritance, who indeed formed the Union of these States.
I am frank to say I do not believe that the people who for four long years held at bay and often drove back nearly one million Federal troops can be reduced to subjection (by unconstitutional laws) and the negroes established as the dominant race. If so they have degenerated from their noble ancestors who drove back the British at King’s mountain and upon the plains of New Orleans. Sir, if you do not intend to have a Union under the Constitution upon terms of equality you had better at once let the South go in peace, for no brave people ever did or ever will submit long to such taxes and laws as now proposed– virtually slaves without representation. Our forefathers fought for representation. They established the principle by the offering of their lives and their blood that representation and taxation should go together. Is that principle less dear to American freemen to-day ? No, sir; it will continue to glow and burn until again enshrined in the hearts of every true American in this land, and woe to the man or party that stands in the way of this inalienable right.
From recent indications the last citadel of liberty, the Supreme Court, must bow to the behests of party. God forbid ! Save us from such humiliation ! Be it said to the honor of the courts in all ages of the world they were the last to forsake the rights of the citizen. In our own they have not been the instruments used to take the lives and liberties of innocent men and women. May that august tribunal continue with all its power and dignity under the Constitution as the shield and protector of the weak and the innocent through all time.
Speech of Hon. Elijah Hise,
in the House of Representatives,
January 21, 1867.
The House having under consideration the bill (H.R. 543) to provide for restoring to the States lately in insurrection their full political rights—
Mr. Hise [Elijah Hise (4 July 1802 — 8 May 1867); studied law and was admitted to the bar; Democrat] said:
Mr. Speaker: If I occupy any time to-night in the discussion of the subject now before the House it will be of course not to enlighten the members here nor to produce any conviction upon the minds of gentlemen united in this House in support of this and other measures to which I am opposed. My only object is to avail myself of this the only opportunity I shall have, I presume, to present some views I entertain on this subject, in order that the facts stated and the arguments urged may go to the country and go especially to my constituents for their information and instruction, if what I may say will furnish any. The reporters will please take down what I have to say as I have no written speech prepared. I am in the habit of relying upon the current of my own thoughts, the spontaneous flow of ideas in my mind, and on the inspiration of the moment for what I may say.
Mr. Speaker, I was asked, in the progress of my remarks on a former occasion, while speaking in the Committee of the Whole, by the gentleman from Pennsylvania, [Mr. Williams,] who is not now present, and for whose cultivated intellect I entertain a high respect –I was asked whether or not it was my opinion that the fact of the Republican, now commonly known as the Radical, party, had risen into power, whether their advent to power, their obtension of authority, both in the executive and legislative departments of the Government, was a sufficient cause for precipitating the country into a war by the southern States in their acts of secession and their subsequent attempts to establish and achieve their own independence ? I instantly answered, in the hurry of the moment, that I thought not, and I would still give the same answer.
Although there had been causes engendering for a great number of years which occasioned strife and animosity between the States in which slavery did not exist and the States in which it did, and which were well calculated to drive the States asunder, although there had in the progress of time been many acts of usurpation of power not granted in the Constitution and many acts of the prostitution for unconstitutional ends of powers which were actually granted for the aggrandizement of one section at the expense of the other, nevertheless I never yet believed in the expediency of resorting to an attempted dissolution of the Union by separate or collective efforts for secession on the part of the southern States or either of them as a remedy or redress for all the oppression, for all the usurpation of ungranted powers and the prostitution of granted powers to their injury. I never believed secession a remedy either lawful or expedient; but if they had not hitherto, if preceding the acts of secession there had not existed any cause for so momentous a proceeding, one fraught with such disasters and calamities, yet they seem now, at all events, whatever may have been their purpose heretofore, or however unfounded may have been the pretext or the grounds upon which the southern States attempted to secede and establish separate governments for themselves, they have ample grounds here now why they should hereafter resist Federal power and Federal domination; that is, provided the atrocious acts of usurpation, injustice, and oppression committed and projected are attempted to be visited upon them.
I am, sir, forgiving no cause for a severance of the Federal Union, or for resistance to the authority of the Federal Government; and I am for giving no substantial sufficient cause for revolution or secession. I was opposed to a severance of the Union, so much opposed to it that in fact I have always been in the hope and entertained the desire that the beneficent Government of the United States should be coextensive with the whole continent of North America. I have also further, however, entertained the opinion that unless this Government was administered and conducted within the limits presented in the Constitution and in the exercise only of the powers granted therein, and to subserve only the ends intended thereby, always respecting the right of self-government and the reserved powers of the States, the Union never could be preserved; but by maintaining such respect for the rights of all sections and all the States of the Union, and by avoiding the usurpation of ungranted and even doubtful powers, the Union may be indefinitely extended and forever perpetuated. The very best mode, the most judicious course for strengthening the bands of union and perpetuating its existence forever would be to respect and carefully observe that wise and celebrated doctrine of President Jackson, to refrain from the usurpation or exercise of any ungranted or even doubtful powers.
These few preliminary remarks bring me directly to the expression of my opinion of the legal status and condition of things now. My opinion, as formerly expressed, has been and now is that there never has been a State yet out of the Union; that the authority exists only to admit States into the Union, and when admitted that all the States in the Union collectively, under the Constitution of the United States, compose a commonwealth of States; that they govern through that Constitution as States; that none but States can govern, and none but States can be governed by the United States. I say therefore that you can admit a State or any number of States into the Union. This power is plenary, full, and unlimited; but there is no power reserved to a State to withdraw, or granted to the United States to expel or eject a State from the Union.
I admit that Governments of every form, whether republics, monarchies, oligarchies, aristocracies, in former times have been overthrown, subverted, and destroyed. Such a thing may occur by one strong Power invading the dominion of a weaker Power and subduing its inhabitants. Such a thing may even occur in constitutional and representative Governments by surmounting to such extent the limitations of power and the lawful manner of its acquisition, and by obliterating in practice the conservative division of authority, so as by repeated acts of usurpation a republic may be converted into a despotism; but it can never legitimately be the case in the United States Government, a Government strictly constitutional, having no right to exist except under a constitutional charter, from which alone it derives all its powers (strictly defined and limited by special grants) to perform any governmental act.
Now, sir, if there was no sufficient cause for these States by revolution or by secession to withdraw from the Union and to attempt to maintain their position by defensive war -because it was manifestly a defensive war— will you now attempt to reduce them to a state of political slavery such as is unheard of in this country or, I believe, in any other ? You propose that a commission, appointed under the provisions of this bill by the supreme court of this District, shall be vested with despotic and arbitrary power to call an election, whether the people of the State desire it or not, to arrange and rearrange districts in these States at their pleasure and to authorize the people to vote or not to vote at their pleasure, having the privilege of adopting a registry of voters in these States. Where under the Government of the United States has a despotism of that sort existed ? Where in this country has there ever yet existed, or can there exist, any government unless it be free and representative both in form and substance.
Sir, what kind of an officer would you call one of these commissioners ? Is he a Federal or a State officer ? Is he an officer of the Government of the United States or an officer of a State government ? Is his office legislative, executive, or judicial, or all combined ? All combined in one. By this extraordinary bill these commissioners not only have authority legislative, executive, and judicial, but also to setup one government, overthrow another, and install their own officers at pleasure. This they can do under the authority proposed and attempted to be vested in them to make a registry of the men who alone shall vote.
Now, sir, I hold that if these men are Federal officers, then the Constitution is violated in their mode of appointment. Where is the constitutional authority to vest the appointment of a Federal officer in the district court of the District of Columbia. The Constitution provides that—
“The President shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate shall appoint, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law. But the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers as they think proper in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of Departments.”
Those inferior officers who are to be appointed by the heads of the Departments must be executive officers necessary as inferior agents in the discharge of the duties pertaining to those particular Departments. If the authority of appointment is vested in the courts of law, of course it is contemplated by the Constitution that they are to be inferior officers of those courts of law, such as tipstaves, prothonotaries, clerks, and messengers of the courts. As for other officers, judges, ambassadors, heads of Departments, &c., their appointment belongs, under the Constitution to the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and they are, with the exception of judges, removable at his pleasure. Here is a manifest violation of the Constitution.
Again, sir, these commissioners are by this bill to be invested with a power which this Congress has no authority to vest in any officer of the Government, legislative, executive, or judicial; that is, the authority to overturn a State government and superstruct another, in violation of every principle of republican and representative government.
Again, sir, it is proposed in this bill to authorize a certain class of the population to vote in constructing these new governments. Herein we have a gross violation of the rights and powers of the State governments, who alone have the authority to prescribe the qualifications and conditions upon which the inhabitants of the States shall exercise the right of suffrage. This is a power that does not belong to the Government of the United States. It is contained in no grant of the Constitution, nor is it to be derived by implication from any granted power. On the contrary, the implication is decidedly the other way, because the Constitution in defining who may vote for members of this House declares that those voting shall possess the qualifications of electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislature.
Some gentlemen on the other side, in arguing this question, have admitted, as I understand, that the Federal Constitution is a compact between sovereign States. This cannot be denied, because it had no obligatory force upon any State except by its own agreement, that agreement being indicated by its ratification through a State convention. The Constitution was a compact, a treaty, an agreement in writing between all the States, in the nature of a charter, defining the skeleton and framework of a Government to be instituted, with public functionaries to rule according to the provisions of that instrument, to exercise the powers granted, and to respect all the reserved powers and rights of the State.
Gentlemen agree that the Constitution was a compact. They agree further that the compact was violated by the different ordinances of secession which certain States adopted. They agree that, in virtue of that provision of the Constitution which declares the supremacy of the Constitution and laws of the United States, “anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding,” those ordinances of secession and acts of State Legislatures looking toward the secession and separate independence of certain States fall to the ground as null and void.
That being the case, they failed to get themselves out of the Union by valid ordinances, by valid acts of secession, by any valid acts of their Legislatures, or by any valid proceedings of their popular conventions. It is admitted that they did not get out in any such way. And we claim that they did not get out at all, but that they were forced to continue in the Union. We hold that not for a moment did they lose their right of representation under the Constitution of the United States, either at the time of secession or during the whole progress of the strife, provided that without obstruction they could have used and exercised their constitutional privilege. But they were forcibly impeded; they were prevented during the time of the war by the military occupation of the country, by armed force in opposition to the Government, from sending their Representatives here.
Now, I have never yet heard that the non-user of a constitutional privilege contained in the solemn covenant of Government between all the States would by any operation of law or reason deprive them of that privilege, and what can you make of it except a non-user during the five years the war was prosecuted ? It was nothing but an abstaining from the assumption and exercise of an undoubted right to have their Representatives upon this floor to speak and vote for them, and to legislate in reference to the interests of all the States of the Union, themselves included. They failed to use their privilege, their right of representation. Whether the non-user was voluntary, or the result of obstructing force makes no difference in point of law or logic. They were still entitled to their representation here, and whenever they send their Representatives here we are bound to receive them, or otherwise we are justly liable to the charge of being disunionists and revolutionists, because the Union is one of States under a compact by which only States unite upon the unalterable principle of equal representation in the Senate and proportionate representation in the Lower House of the Congress.
The only answer that is urged to this legal view of the case –and it is an answer founded neither in fact nor in reason– is that they forfeited their places as States, their rights as States, and their right of representation in the Federal Government, as a penalty due and which can be rightfully and properly enforced against them for their rebellion. Now, this is the first time I have ever heard gentlemen who assume to be jurists or lawyers claim that a State, a political corporation, can commit a felony; that a political State sovereignty, with all governmental powers, except such as they granted to the Federal Government, can be guilty of any known crime or offense against the Constitution of the United States or against any law of the United States in such manner as to make them subject to any kind of indictment, prosecution, judgment, conviction, or punishment.
I will admit that individuals may be punished; but that the number of individuals who have committed transgressions or offenses or crime may be so numerous as to make it bad policy to punish any of them. That is the case here ? Not only can you not punish these individuals, but by the treaties and arrangements by which their armies were induced to surrender, as well as by the amnesty of the president of the United States as published, and the pardons by him granted since, nearly the whole body of people, high and low, engaged in the contest for self-government are relieved from all penalties whatever, and are not now liable to be prosecuted, tried, convicted, or punished at all, even in the courts of law. If they have violated the compact, as they concede it to be, and by such violation have forfeited their position in the Union, and their rights as States under the Constitution, why is it so ? It is because by their acts of secession and by their resistance to the authority of this Union they have got out of the Union as States. Then the forfeiture of their constitutional right to representation in this Government involves the release of their obligation to obey it. There is no law to indict a State or to define crimes committed by States. There is no mode of procedure of trial by which a State can be arraigned, tried, convicted, condemned, and then punished for any offense.
In regard to the effect of an attempted secession of some of the States from this Union, and an attempt to obtain their independence by force of arms, in reason or law the effect of it can be nothing more nor less than to suspend by reason of obstructing causes their representation in Congress for the time being.
Now, see what they propose. They propose to give to a commission unbounded authority; that commission to be appointed unconstitutionally by the supreme court of this District. I suppose it is known when they vest the appointing power in this court what kind of court it is, and that they therefore look forward to and expect the appointment of a radical commission, a commission composed of men who are continually howling out these hackneyed words of “loyalty,” and “disloyalty,” of “traitor,” “treason,” and “rebellion.”
These gentlemen, Mr. Speaker, would cease these vituperative cries, they would cease belching forth these words “traitor” and “rebel” if they could at once perceive and understand that the country, that a large majority of the intellectual, the intelligent, and educated portion of it, look upon them in their attempts to eject States from the Union as the actual rebels and traitors instead of the southern people, who are endeavoring under the Constitution to resume their guarantied right of representation in Congress and their position in the Union.
Abusive epithets of that description may easily be bandied backward and forward with or without reason; but they should not, sir, be thrown out continually against the men who are in favor of the peaceable union of these States under the Constitution, with the rights of representation, with the rights of person and of property, with our liberties preserved; but if it were prudent and admissible to retaliate, might not these terms of reproach be justly and truly hurled at those of the majority who so freely use them, those who are for instituting unconstitutional dominion over ten States of the Union, for creating a sectional military despotism, and for preventing the continuance of the union of all the States under and as required by the Constitution of the United States; for they are not willing that the Union shall be reestablished under the Constitution, but persist in their efforts and purpose to eject from the Union ten States by refusing them representation, while at the same time they are designing to impose upon them a most odious, oppressive, and despotic government.
Now, sir, my programme is this; it is plain and simple: let us be united. You cannot by injustice and oppression prevent the people of this country from quarreling, as families sometimes do, upon measures of policy. You cannot prevent the existence of difference of opinion. You cannot prevent the existence and civil conflicts of parties adherent and parties opponent to an existing Administration. You cannot prevent the formation of the party of ins and the party of outs. You cannot prevent the party that is out from opposing the one that is in.
In a deliberative body like this, having limited legislative powers in regard to any great measure of public policy, there will be differing views and opinions, leading to strife and controversy upon constitutional questions and upon important subjects of public policy, as, for instance, internal improvements in the States by the Federal Government. One party will deny you have any power in the premises; that you have any authority to collect taxes in one portion of the Union to be invested in making internal improvements in another. Men will assert that you do nothing less than prostitute the power of the Government when you obstruct the freedom of commerce and impose duties upon foreign imports for the purpose of aggrandizing certain classes at the expense of others. Of course we will squabble about all these things, but we will nevertheless do it peaceably and courteously, maintaining in the mean time a respect for and obedience to the Constitution and laws of the land. We will not kill one another, we will not make war upon one another or between parties or sections; we will act courteously, and amid opposing views and conflicting though tolerant opinions show to each other that deference and respect which is due from man to man.
Differences of opinion will exist in a republican form of government, and ought to exist; and it cannot, therefore, be expected from the people of the South that by coercive exclusion from their place in the Union and deprivation of their right of representation in Congress they will surrender all their political opinions and prejudices in regard to the extent of the powers of the Federal Government and the reserved rights and power of the States, and humbly get upon their knees and exclaim, “You Radicals are right; you are in power, and we will vote for all of your measures now and forever hereafter.” If you expect that sort of slavery, that kind of servile submission on the part of these southern people before you allow them representation upon the floors of Congress, then the Union never will be restored. Were they to make such slavish and degrading confession of repentance and reformation, you will never have any confidence in them; your suspicion and jealousy would remain; and the tenacity with which you have grasped and hold all power, and the dread of losing it and your party ascendancy, will hereafter as heretofore cause you to continue your opposition to the union of all the States and to the admission of the Representatives of the ten southern States in Congress.
It is apparent, sir, that the use of the word “loyalty” in this country by this party means loyalty to them, loyalty to their domination, submission to their will, undisputed recognition of their power and authority now, and a promise for its perpetual continuance. What you mean by freedom is to make slaves of these southern people, to put the State governments of the South in the hands of the negroes, because by robbing the people of the South of their slave property and putting these negroes into power you hope to make them your own submissive slaves.
The term “loyalty” is one inapplicable to this country. This term should be obsolete and find no place in an American lexicon. It means submission, unconditional slavish submission to a feudal superior, whereas in this country we are all equal and there is no such thing as legal or obligatory loyalty to any man or party required of an American citizen.
We are bound to obey the Constitution until it is changed, to submit to the laws until they are repealed; but the right of free discussion always exists. Our whole superstructure of governments, State and Federal, are built upon the declared right of the people to alter, abolish, overturn, and reconstruct their political institutions at pleasure. What does the possession of this right amount to unless we have also the other right to be disloyal in the sense in which that word is used; that is, the right to controvert the views of others, the freedom of discussion, the freedom of the press, the right to object to any feature in the Constitution or laws or policy of the country that we may think subversive of the public good or prosperity ? It involves the right to overturn the Government itself –legitimately, I admit, not by faction nor by revolution– but by repealing or changing, in the forms prescribed, an existing Constitution, and the substitution of another by competent authority in its place. And yet, if any southern man should stand up here for the Constitution as it was and should speak against the fearful corruption of the dominant party here, he would be denounced with contempt as a disloyal man.
Some gentlemen say: We offer you conditions; accept this constitutional amendment and you shall have representation in Congress –as though it lay in them, ex gratia, to give or withhold the right of constitutional representation ! Sir, you deny this right in violation of right, of justice, and of the Constitution. Conditions ! You have no right to make conditions. The right of representation stands in the great charter of the Constitution, and can never be forfeited so long as a State that you wrongfully deprive of representation is governed by and held amenable to the authorities created by that Constitution; so long as you attempt to rule, tax, and govern a State as a State of the Union, so long it is a State of the Union, and its rights as such can only be defeated by a gross violation of the Constitution; in fact, by an entire subversion of free government, pro tanto at least, to the extent you attempt to exercise control over disfranchised States.
Now, sir, this attempt never can be carried out. I know well –I think the country well understand– what the party here in power are attempting to accomplish by the series of measures and the system of policy projected. Those measures and that policy are certainly calculated, if not designed, to uphold their dominion and to perpetuate their power, by keeping alive indefinitely the hostile, vindictive, revengeful feeling that has been engendered by long years of political controversy and strife, and by a bloody civil war, so that the public feelings and sentiments on theirs (the stronger section) will be so educated, fostered and strengthened, as to insure their continued possession of place and power. They will, to keep alive forever sectional jealousy and hatred, persistently reiterate the charge of southern disloyalty as furnishing a sufficient reason and excuse for depriving these people of their representation in Congress. If a loyal man comes here and asks admission, and if the State he represents has adopted the constitutional amendment, you say you will admit him. What right have you to inquire into the loyalty of a member ? And when you do inquire, what would you ask ? Your inquiry would be substantially this: “are you humble; are you repentant; have you changed your opinions and feelings; are you willing now to subscribe to our dominion, and admit not only that all we have done is right, but all that we may do hereafter will be right ?” [Laughter.] And if he answers in the negative you may pronounce him disloyal.
It is upon such a miserable and unreasonable pretext as this that you deprive these States of their right of representation on this floor. The negroes are your friends, and they and the felons and jail-birds are to be admitted to the right of suffrage and allowed to hold office in these States by your bill; and of such persons will be composed the membership of the proposed conventions, the miserable creatures that are claimed to be enfranchised by your civil rights bill, the reckless and unprincipled adventurers from the North who have overrun the South to plunder both the white man and the negro; camp followers, sutlers, Army contractors, and discharged convicts, are the kind and character of persons to whom will be committed, by the operation of this bill, the governments of these States, and who, should it be passed and carried into execution, will send Representatives, “loyal” Representatives, to this House. My God! what a representation it will be. [Laughter.]
I have heard the question asked sometimes, “Would you like to be President of the United States, and receive an ambassador from Hayti; would you like to sit at table with a fragrant African on one side of you?” And I have heard the answer made, “I would never serve in a body where the black man occupied that position on terms of equality with me.”
These are the kind of men that are to make these new governments, overturn the existing governments, and send “loyal” representatives to Congress. Now, we understand all this, and the country ought to understand it. It is all a miserable scheme of public policy to destroy the political force and influence of the southern States as members of the Union, devised by a party whose adherents are loudest in professions of devotion to free government and of love of liberty. Ah, sir, Madame Roland exclaimed during the bloodiest period of the French Revolution, “Oh, Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name !” These men claim to be the special advocates of human liberty and equal rights. They say they must put their friends, their loyal friends, in possession of the State governments and then they will send loyal delegations to represent them in Congress. Oh, yes, they will send loyal delegations ! So this bill, if executed, will in effect establish corrupt and despotic local governments for all those States, and place in all the offices the most ignorant, degraded, and corrupt portion of their population, who would rule and ruin without honesty or skill the actual property holders and native inhabitants, making insecure life, liberty, and property, and still holding those States in their Federal relations subject to the most rapacious, fierce, and unrelenting despotism that ever existed, that of a vindictive and hostile party majority of a Congress in which they have no voice or representation, and by which irresponsible majority they would be mercilessly oppressed for that very reason; and this will be continued I fear until the country shall again be precipitated into civil war. We think the design and purpose of this unwise and malignant policy is understood by the representatives in the Congress of the United States. But the country should understand it also, because it is impossible that the American people should long sustain a party who do everything they please; who engage in all sorts of usurpation, and who sustain all sorts of monstrous and vile measures, unwarranted by constitutional law, subversive of republican government, and destructive to the Union of the States. They will not sustain them when they have full knowledge and are enabled to understand the purposes they have in view.
Sir, I am not speaking to that party. What I say I say to the country in the hope that what goes forth to the people of truth and reason will influence the public judgment, in time, by a change of rulers, to avert the impending ruin now threatening the whole country. I could make, sir, a series of charges against that party, the truth of which would find its verification in the history of the times, including the period intervening between the date of their advent to power and the present moment, that when understood and believed by a free people would overthrow any party in any civilized community in the world. I have not time to do that now. We can do nothing with them by argument. We can do nothing by holding up the written Constitution and the laws. They are ruling, dominant, fierce, and triumphant, with such force and powers of numbers that, in the exultant spirit of present possession and fruition, they are made blind to the adverse destiny which surely awaits them. Now, in the very zenith of their power they will triumphantly carry all their monstrous measures, tending to produce consolidation of all the powers of the Government of the United States executive, judicial, as well as legislative, and of all the States, in the hands of the dominant majority of this the legislative branch of the Government.
They have deliberately engaged in an unconstitutional scheme for subverting the executive power of this Government, and to-day a monstrous bill was proposed and referred to a committee by a party majority to overthrow the judicial department of the Government, to overthrow it in all its material characteristics, in regard to its main power of subserving the grand object had in view in the creation of independent departments of the Government. What is the Constitution but a paper with writing upon it –intelligible writing ? How can you sustain this Constitution; how can you command respect for its provisions, save by an adherence to it and by keeping within its restraints, and it secured in such respect and restraint by an independent judiciary ?
The history of this Congress will show how little respect a dominant majority has for constitutional law, and how gloomy would be the hope or prospect of avoiding legislative encroachment and usurpation without the existence of an independent judicial department of government of powers sufficient to check the inroads of the Legislature upon the Constitution.
It was well known by the wise and sagacious men who framed the Constitution of the United States that that Constitution would not be respected by a dominant party majority in Congress, especially when it attained to a two-third vote, since it would then
Play such fantastic tricks before high heaven.
As make the angels weep.”
The framers of the Constitution foresaw this, and hence they provided that there should be a judicial department of the Government, and that the judges should be independent of the legislative department, should hold their places for life, and should only be removed by impeachment in the most solemn form. Why was this done ? It was in order that the people might rely upon that department of the Government as standing as a breakwater, as an intervening wall of defense against the invasions and usurpations of Congress in behalf and in defense of the rights of the States and of the people.
Not only was the judicial department thus created and for this purpose, but knowing that a check of that sort was necessary to preserve constitutional rule there was an executive department created for the same identical purpose, an executive department in which was lodged all executive power. The only officer known to the Constitution in which that power is vested is the President. And it is necessary only to ascertain the distinction as to what is legislative and what is executive power in order to know whether any given power belongs to Congress or to the President of the United States. He comes in with his beneficent conservative power and authority placed by the Constitution in his hands of putting a veto upon the unconstitutional action of the legislative branch of the Government, which power can never be overcome except by a vote of two thirds of each House of Congress, as has been the case here lately, and as will undoubtedly be the case repeatedly hereafter. And our only hope of the preservation of a free Government is in the judicial department of the Government, and in the decisions of the Supreme Court pronouncing your acts unconstitutional and void.
House of Representatives
January 26, 1867.
Mr. Ashley, of Ohio. I call for the regular order.
The Speaker, The first business in order after the expiration of the morning hour is the consideration of House, bill No. 543, to restore to the States lately in insurrection their full political rights, upon which the gentleman from Illnois [Mr. Ross] is entitled to the floor.
Mr. Ross [Lewis Winans Ross (December 8, 1812 – October 29, 1895) studied law, admitted to the bar; Illinois Democrat] . In view of the magnitude and importance of the legislation proposed by the bill now before us I have thought it my duty to submit a few considerations to the House upon the subject. The objections which I shall present to this bill will be, first, that there is no constitutional power or authority in the Congress of the United States to pass such a measure as this; second, that it is in conflict with the principles and doctrines enunciated by the Republican party during the progress of the war; and third, that if these objections did not exist, it would be unwise and inexpedient to act upon the subject in the manner proposed.
First, then, upon the question of the power and the right of Congress to pass the bill before the House: I hold that the powers of Congress are limited by the Federal Constitution; that while the General Government is supreme and paramount to the extent of the delegated powers, it is equally clear that the powers not conferred upon it are by the express terms of the Constitution reserved to the States and the people thereof respectively. The national Government has supreme authority to the extent of its delegated powers; but those powers are defined in the written Constitution establishing the Government.
Mr. Speaker, I do not recognize the soundness of the doctrines enunciated by the able and distinguished gentleman from New York, [Mr. Raymond,] who discussed this question the other day, that we have an unwritten Constitution by which we are to be governed. I am somewhat relieved, however, to find that gentlemen on that side of the House are inclined to thus justify their action. I had felt some apprehension that in our congressional action here we might be trenching upon the Constitution of our country. But when I learned from the gentleman from New York [Mr. Raymond] that all these measures which we suspected to be infringements upon the Constitution are to be passed under the authority of an unwritten Constitution I felt greatly relieved, at least upon that particular point.
I do not recognize any such doctrine. The written Constitution of our country is the guide by which we are to be governed and controlled in our action. I am aware that this is a doctrine which commands but little attention in Congress at the present time. But a few days ago, when a distinguished and able member from the State of Kentucky was discussing a constitutional question, a gentleman near me said, “Why, he must evidently be a new member; if he had been here any length of time he would have learned long since that no attention is paid by this Congress to the Constitution of the United States.”
Having said this much upon the constitutional question, I propose briefly to call the attention of the House to what I suppose will be arguments of greater weight with the majority in this House than the Constitution of the country. I submit that this bill is in clear conflict with the action of the party in power during the entire progress of the war; it is in conflict with the clearly-expressed opinions of the Executive of the nation, the Supreme Court, and the Congress of the United States. If I succeed in satisfying the majority of this House that their policy is in conflict with the teachings and principles of the party in power during the last six years, I am satisfied that as honorable men they will refrain from pressing this measure upon the consideration of the House.
The first evidence to which I desire to call the attention of members is the resolution which has been so frequently alluded to in this House, known as the “Crittenden resolution.” I do not propose to give the language of the various public acts to which I may refer, because they are not before me; but it is well known that the honorable Speaker who presides over the deliberations of this House, as well as a large number of the gentlemen upon this floor, gave their solemn pledge to the country that they would stand by that Crittenden resolution, which declared in substance that the war was to be waged for the purpose of maintaining the national authority and putting down the rebellion; not for the purpose of subjugation or to overthrow any of the States of this Union, but to guaranty to them their equality and rights within the Union. That resolution, Mr. Speaker, was a national pledge made to the country by the party in power, declaring the purposes and objects for which the war was prosecuted.
The second evidence which I present for the consideration of the House, showing that it was never contemplated by the party in power during the progress of the war that States engaged in the rebellion were out of the Union and not entitled to representation, is the fact that they permitted Senators and Representatives from those States to retain their seats in Congress until the time for which they were elected had expired; and there was no complaint upon that subject from any member of either House. Congress continued during the whole progress of the war to recognize the right of those States that were in rebellion against the national authority to send Senators and Representatives to Congress. The present President of the United States continued to hold his seat as a Senator from Tennessee; a Senator from the State of Virginia continued to represent that State; and there were several other such instances which I do not now recollect. I ask, Mr. Speaker, whether this would have been the fact if it had been contemplated during that time that the war was to dissever the bonds of the Union.
The third proposition to which I call the attention of the House is, that in 1862 or 1863, during the progress of the rebellion, Congress passed an act by which they assessed taxes upon the States which were in rebellion. This would certainly never have been done had it not been clearly recognized that those States were within the Union. Now, sir, it could not have been expected that in so brief a period of time you would have abandoned the doctrines for which our fathers fought the battles of the Revolution, and imposed upon eight million people taxation without representation. This could not have been contemplated by the Congress of the United States in the passage of the act apportioning taxation among the States in rebellion.
The fourth proposition to which I propose to call the attention of the House is, that in 1862, if my memory serves me right, Congress passed an act apportioning representation among the several States of this Union; and in that act about fifty members of Congress were assigned to the ten States which now, according to the theory of this bill, are outside of the national Union. Sir, those acts apportioning taxes and representation were concurred in by the two branches of Congress. Nor is this all. They had the approbation of President Lincoln, who signed and approved them. Thus, in addition to the congressional recognition of the right of representation as belonging to those States, there was executive action equally emphatic in the same direction.
The fifth evidence is, that the action of the Supreme Court is against this bill. The order of that court last winter to take up the cases from those States upon the docket and dispose of them is evidence that it does not consider this Union dissevered. The action of Congress assigning circuits to the judges of the Supreme Court is additional evidence of the opinion of Congress on this subject. And, in addition to this, the civil rights bill, giving power to these courts within those States, shows that the action of Congress contemplated these courts were to be in existence to exercise these powers during this time.
The sixth evidence I will offer to the House will be found in the correspondence of our Government with the French Government, in which President Lincoln, through the Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, informs the French Government this was a mere rebellion in this country, and that the seats of the southern members are awaiting their return to be occupied by them. I say this is the opinion, not of the Secretary of State, but of the President of the United States through his chief clerk, the Secretary of State, enunciating the doctrines of the American to the French Government.
In the seventh place I refer to the fact that the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery in this country was submitted for ratification to the States which had been in rebellion as well as to those which had not. Gentlemen cannot avoid the force of this position by saying with the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Stevens] it was the Secretary of State who published this. He acted under the authority and direction of the Congress of the United States, which determined this measure should be submitted to all these States.
Mr. Stevens. I ask the gentleman when Congress so determined ?
Mr. Ross. I have so understood.
Mr. Stevens. The gentleman is mistaken, as we have passed no such resolution.
Mr. Ross. I think otherwise. I will not stop here to inquire as to the taste of the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Scofield] in his criticism of the action of the Secretary of State. I would have thought, taking everything into consideration, he would have treated him a little more tenderly. He ought to have taken into consideration that Mr. Seward for twenty-five years furnished the brains for the gentleman’s party. He denounced him as a trickster, as a man hostile to the Government; and he compared him to a dog. It created considerable amusement among the grave and distinguished gentlemen who sat near him when the leader of their party, who furnished it with brains for twenty-five years was compared in ridicule to a dog. I suppose it is all right. Congress can speak of the President as a usurper, compare the Secretary of State to a dog, and deride the authority and views of the Supreme Court, but when one member intimates another has not squared the mark on the subject of telling the truth, it is a grave question for the immediate action of this House.
The eighth and last evidence I shall furnish to my Republican friends is the proclamation of emancipation. I do not profess to give it with accuracy, but it will be found in that proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln, he gave notice that unless within a certain period the rebel States grounded arms, on the 1st of January, 1863, their slaves should be declared to be emancipated. He said he would regard it as an evidence of their return to the national authority that they should have representatives here on the 1st of January, 1863. Was Abraham Lincoln opposed to their representation in Congress ? Did he believe the result of this war was to give us a dissevered Government ? I do not think he did.
I proceed now to show that if this were a new measure and were not a violation of the Constitution and of the principles of the Republican party during the four years’ progress of the war, it would still be unwise and inexpedient for us to adopt it. And in this connection I propose briefly to call the attention of the House to some of the provisions of this most extraordinary bill.
The fifth section provides—
That the word citizen, as used in this act, shall be construed to mean all persons (except Indians not taxed) born in the United States or duly naturalized.
The seventh section provides—
That no constitution shall be presented to or acted on by Congress which denies to any citizen any rights, privileges, or immunities which are granted to any other citizen in the State. All laws shall be impartial, without regard to language, race, or former condition. If the provisions of this section should ever be altered, repealed, expunged, or in anyway abrogated, this act shall become void and said State lose its right to be represented in Congress.
I understand from this section that the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Stevens] means to incorporate a new doctrine, a doctrine that from his known gallantry it is to be presumed he would favor, namely, female suffrage. It declares who shall be citizens, and that if any State shall deprive any of its citizens of the right of suffrage it shall lose its representation in Congress. I do not object to the bill on this score, only it is a little in advance of the party, I suppose, to confer suffrage on females now.
But I call attention to the latter part of the seventh section:
If the provisions of this section should ever be altered, repeated, expunged, or in any way abrogated, this act shall become void, and said State lose its right to be represented in Congress.
What is that provision ? Why, that if by any future amendment to their constitutions any of these States shall deprive any black man of the right of voting in those States, then they are to be deprived of representation in Congress. Now, I submit to the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Thaddeus the bank-lawyer] if he would apply a rule to those States which he is not willing to apply to his own State. Why, sir, the rule laid down in this bill for the government of these southern States would, if applied to Pennsylvania, deprive it of representation in Congress. Is it possible that we will enforce upon the people of these States a doctrine so odious ? I understand when States come into this Union they come in upon an equality, but here it is proposed to make an odious distinction between the States. While the gentleman from Pennsylvania will represent his district where the black man is still deprived of what the gentleman terms this invaluable right of casting his ballot for the choice of his own rulers and of those who make laws to govern him, when he comes to apply a rule to the ten States lately in rebellion he makes an entirely different one.
I desire now to call the attention of the House to some of the provisions of the sixth section. That section goes upon the hypothesis that Congress possesses the power to determine who shall be citizens of the United States, or in other words to deprive individuals who are citizens of the United States of their citizenship by a mere statute. I do not
think we have any such right. I think it is only upon due trial and conviction that these rights can be taken from individuals.
Now, suppose this doctrine is maintained, what will be the result during a high state of political excitement. The party coming into power will hold that all those who voted against them are not citizens of the United States, but must remain for five years in tutelage before they shall be permitted to exercise the right of suffrage and other rights pertaining to citizenship. At the next election that takes place the opposite party gets into power, and those who voted against them will be declared to have forfeited all their rights as citizens. In this way the great mass of the people of this country might be cut off from the right of suffrage and representation.
I object to the latter part of this section on the ground that it will encourage perjury by leading men to swear falsely in relation to these matters. Now, for these reasons I judge that the calm and dispassionate consideration of this House will show in its action that they do not regard this bill as worthy of the American Congress.
Now, for what object was this war prosecuted ? Was it prosecuted to overthrow or to save the nation ? I understand that the vast sacrifice of men and money which we have made during the terrible struggle of four years was to save and not to destroy. That I understand to be the opinion of the officers and soldiers of our Army, of the men who went to the front. It was their intention to preserve and perpetuate and hand down unimpaired this glorious legacy to those who come after us.
But according to the theory of this bill the war destroyed this Union, at least to the extent that we should not, if the doctrine be true, continue upon the flag that waves over your desk, Mr. Speaker, the six and thirty stars which now adorn it. But I care not what may be the views of others upon the subject; I will never consent to blot out one star now upon our national banner. I believe this war was fought for the purpose of supporting and maintaining the national authority, for the purpose of preserving and not of destroying. Shall we now by act of Congress strike down ten States of the Federal Union, four of the ten having been of the original States which formed the Constitution ? I hope not.
In this connection let me read a short extract from the opinions of General Grant upon this subject. He says:
“My observations lead me to the conclusion that the citizens of the southern States are anxious to return to self-government within the Union as soon as possible; that while reconstructing they want and require protection from the Government; that they are in earnest in wishing to do what they think is required by the Government not humiliating to them as citizens; and that if such a course was pointed out they would pursue it in good faith. It is to be regretted that there cannot be a greater comingling at this time between the citizens of the two sections, and particularly of those intrusted with the lawmaking power.”
Ah! General Grant; you think there should be a commingling between the people of the two sections, and especially between those intrusted with the law-making power. But Congress does not think so; Congress says that these people shall knock for eighteen months and two years at our doors and still be refused admission. Congress not only puts itself in conflict with the principles enunciated in the messages and proclamations of Abraham Lincoln, the opinions of the Supreme Court of the United States, but also the opinions held by General Grant, and also, too, by General Sherman. I have not the letter of General Sherman before me, but I recollect that he says that as a man and a soldier he would never strike a disarmed foe standing before him. I think that is a good sentiment; I think this is the sentiment of a brave man. Where is the man who would desire to strike a fallen foe, lying prostrate and disarmed before him ?
Perhaps there are some who may desire further strife and further conflict; if so, they are the men who were hunting for cotton and silver spoons; not those who went to the front to fight the battles of our country.
I desire to call the House to another consideration in this connection. I hold that if the bill now under consideration should be adopted by the American Congress it will recognize a theory which will make this country responsible, at least to foreign nations, for the evidences of confederate debt held by their citizens. If these southern States are conquered provinces, then, by the laws of nations, we are responsible for all the debts and liabilities of the conquered country. I ask gentlemen to pause before we take so great a responsibility as this upon us.
There are influences not made apparent in the House to keep these men out of Congress. I have noticed that the “high tariff?” men are most anxious to exclude southern men from Congress. Why is this ? They know that the great Northwest are “hewers of wood and drawers of water” to New England. I do not wonder that they like to keep out these fifty members from the South. Their object is to perpetuate “the power of the Northeast, and derive profit as long as they can from it. But the question is seriously mooted in this House that if we admit these fifty southern members it is going to endanger the perpetuity of out free institutions; that out Government is going to be overthrown. Now, can the presence of fifty members here, added to the vote here already, either vote to indorse the confederate debt or to vote down the national debt.
Our friends upon the other side tell us that by the abolition of slavery these rebellious States are entitled to twelve more members than they had before the war. Well, sir, we are not to have an appointment of representation before 1870, and before that time the black men of the South will abandon their present position and flock like doves to the Northeast. They will then be counted as a basis of representation, not in the southern States, but in the Northeast. In the apportionment of 1870 where will the black men be ? They will not be counted anywhere until 1870.
But the distinguished gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Shellabarger] amazed the House by a new constitutional amendment, which he got up, as applicable to the views of this side of the House, and he read it in the presence of his friends who surrounded him. I would ask you if any member upon this side of the House has at any time at this or at the last session of Congress advocated the admission of disloyal men upon this floor. I say that you can find no such instance. I defy the gentleman to show any instance in which the question of the right of representation upon this floor was not left free and untrammelled for the consideration of the House.
After 1870 we shall have five members to their one. Hence I conclude there would be no danger by admitting loyal representatives to their seats in Congress to deliberate upon these great questions which are claiming the attention of the country.
But the Supreme Court of the United States does not escape the denunciation of the party in power; and an especial victim of this denunciation is the individual who delivered the opinion of that court in vindication of the great principle of constitutional law and individual right. Who is this man who is being denounced upon the other side of the floor as plotting to overthrow the Government ? Why, sir, I have had the pleasure of knowing, Judge Davis for a quarter of a century. He and I have always differed upon political questions; yet I have always recognized him as an honorable, high-toned gentleman; and, sir, permit me to say that there was no man in all this country upon whom Abraham Lincoln more confidently leaned for counsel and advice than he did upon David Davis, of Illinois, the man who is now denounced by the other side of the House for making a decision which nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand lawyers in this country would have made before this rebellion took place.
The war is also carried on against the President [Andrew Johnson]. He is a “white-washer;” he is a “usurper;” a man who is plotting to overthrow the liberties of the country. Why, sir, what object has he in being untrue to his country ? From the time when he attained manhood he has stood by the people. He has uniformly revered and venerated the Constitution of the country; and during the recent rebellion he manfully stood up and cast this Constitution in the teeth of southern rebels when they were attempting to overthrow our institutions. You may go on and pass your resolutions of censure, but I tell you, gentlemen, there is a day of reckoning coming. This is not the first time that a President of the United States has been maligned by a Congress of the United States. If memory serves me right, about 1833 the Senate of the United States passed a resolution of censure upon Andrew Jackson. That resolution stood for some time; but, sir, the “sober second thought” of the American people at length prevailed, and when it did prevail what was done ? Why, sir, in 1837, through the exertions of Thomas H. Benton and other able statesmen of those days, that insult to the nation, that stigma upon the name of the great Jackson was wiped out. That resolution was expunged. The Journal upon which it was recorded was brought into the Senate Chamber, and in the presence of the Senate, black lines were drawn around that resolution; as black as the iniquity of those who had concocted that slenderous resolution. I trust, sir, in God’s name, that if liberty still lives in this country there will come a time –perhaps when we shall have passed away– when the ignomity and contempt sought in this hour of trial to be fastened upon the Chief Magistrate of the Government will be wiped out and atoned for. Such is my faith, such my confidence in free Government, and the “sober second thought” af the American people.
The Senate of the United States in these days is in the habit of rejecting the nominations of men whose opinions do not accord with theirs, and for no other reason. Why, sir, this experiment was tried once before by the Senate. When Mr. Van Buren was nominated as minister to the Court of St. James the Senate of the United States rejected the nomination; and his unwarranted rejection by a partisan Senate caused Martin Van Buren, who otherwise would probably never have been thought of in connection with the Presidency, to be nominated and elected, by the American people to the first office in their gift.
Gentlemen are mistaken if they imagine that the people of this country are going to give up free government. They intend to stand by the Constitution of our fathers. They intend to let well enough alone, rejecting the revolutionary schemes of agitators and fanatics. They revere and venerate the memory of the patriotic men who established the form of government under which we live; and, in my judgment, they will still come to the rescue and maintain and uphold our institutions. This is my hope. Still, I am frank to confess, Mr. Speaker, that I have my fears; I have my apprehensions. This country is now passing through a most terrible ordeal. The great question whether civil liberty and the capacity of the people for self-government can be maintained is now being tested.
If the Congress of the United States can usurp three departments of the Government; if they can depose the President, paralyze the Supreme Court; if they can destroy civil liberty in this country, then when I look back into the history of the French revolution I sometimes think I see a little “mountain” on the other side, and I think sometimes I can pick out the Robespierres, the Dantons, and the Marats. I sometimes feel there is fear civil liberty is to be crucified in the house of its pretended friends. In my judgement the time has come when the American people should be aroused to the impending danger which hangs like a dark pall over our political institutions. The time has come, sir, when we must maintain and uphold and perpetuate those great principles of civil liberty for which our fathers fought.
I appeal to my brother members, let us pause, let us reflect, let us consider that we have lived for a long time under a Government which has given us protection in our persons, our property, and in all that we hold dear. Shall we imperil it ? Where can we find a better one ? Cast your eyes over the Governments of the world. Where can you find another comparing with this glorious Government of ours ? Shall we experiment with it ? Let us leave well enough alone. I would—
“Rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of.”
I ask gentlemen to be careful how they strike down the great landmarks of constitutional government. See what a magnificent future we have before us ! No such country was ever given to any other people. Look at its, vast resources ! It was a Government that rested so easily upon our shoulders that we hardly felt we were governed.
Now, what is the change ? In a time of profound peace we have ninety thousand soldiers in the field to support whom the people are heavily taxed. It used to be the pride of the American people that the humblest citizen in the country was protected. What is it now ? A few days ago what did we do ? We passed a law through Congress by which the acts of all our officers of every kind, including petty larceny and crimes of every description, are to be forgiven. All record of them is to be obliterated, so that hereafter no one can prosecute those who committed them. Every man who during the war unjustly took away the property of a private citizen is to be protected under the bill of my colleague [Mr. Cook] from being called to account.
Indeed, in that bill it has also been held that where any of these offenses have been committed it must be taken for granted that the party who committed the offense had full authority to do so. Is this the feast we have been invited to ? Are we to ignore the rights of private citizens ? Is there to be no redress, and are you not to stop even to inquire because the offense was committed by some officer with epaulettes on his shoulders or by some sergeant or corporal ? I tell you, gentlemen, it is time the American people were aroused to the impending dangers which imperil the liberties of this country.
Mr. Cook. I desire to make a suggestion, as my colleague has referred to a bill reported by me from the Committee on the Judiciary. It is very apparent from what he has said that he has not read it so as to understand it.
Mr. Ross. I think I understand it very well. I think my colleague will not deny the commission of the offense is made prima facie evidence of authority to commit it. That is the bill I know. I say it is trampling upon the right of the private citizen.
Mr. Cook. There is no such provision in the bill.
Mr. Ross. It is only part of the legislation which has been pushed through this Congress by the gentleman’s entire party. I appeal to members that we shall act as wise men. I ask why, having the vast responsibility imposed upon their shoulders to preserve the liberties of the country, the other side will continue to strike them down ? Why do you want to destroy the Government ? Why do you want to create confusion ?
You say that you will impeach the President of the United States. What has he done ? Some gentlemen intimated to me the other day that the President would be impeached, to which I replied that it seemed to me a man who left so many disunionists in office throughout the land when he had the power to remove them deserved impeachment. He has held in office men who contend that the Government is dissevered, and that I think is the strongest objection I have ever heard urged against Andrew Johnson. He has not turned out one tithe of the men who were turned out by Abraham Lincoln. Why should we attempt to make this kind of example. I trust it will not be done; that we will not create such commotion and discord and establish such a precedent. We do not set precedents for ourselves alone; we may reasonably expect they will be followed by others.
Gentlemen, let us now harmonize; let us act like wise men. Do you expect these southern men to love us any better by abusing them ? They will not do so. They have got to live in this country. Do you want an Ireland, a Hungary, a Poland in your midst ? I confess I do not. I want the American people to revere and venerate the Government under which we live. I want to see a people who will rally at the call of the Government to protect and defend it against all its enemies under all circumstances. In my own judgement a lenient policy, such as has been recommended by General Grant, General Sherman, and the President of the United States, and such as Mr. Lincoln would have adopted in all probability, would be the best, would give peace, harmony, and perpetuity to this Government. We want this Government to live, to endure as long as water runs and grass grows. Let us act like wise men in so shaping our legislation as to attain this very desirable end.
Mr. Speaker, I have occupied about as much time as I had intended. I have thrown out brief and disconnected remarks on the spur of the occasion. If they are worthy of consideration I hope they will be considered. I have an anxious and ardent desire that this country should be restored to harmony and peace, that we should go on in the highway of national greatness for years and centuries to come, that it should continue to be the asylum for the down-trodden of the nations of Europe, where they may come and seek protection and share with us the benefits of a great, glorious, and free Government.
—[the bill then went to the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, and after a while appeared in the House, again, under a new number]
Government of Insurrectionary States.
Speech of Elijah Hise, of Kentucky, Thursday, February 7, 1867.
In the House of Representatives
The House having under consideration the bill (H.R. No. 1143) to provide for the more effectual government of the insurrectionary States–
Mr. Hise said:
Mr. Speaker: If I had not been prepared by other measures hitherto adopted and others hitherto introduced into this House, I should not have been less startled at the introduction of this than if I had received the sudden intelligence that the ten States enumerated in this bill had been sunk by some great convulsion of nature and submerged under an oceanic deluge. I acknowledge, however, that I have been to a considerable degree prepared to anticipate the introduction of this or some similar measure in this House by the committee to which I have been attached.
The chairman of the Committee on Reconstruction, in laying the foundation for the authority of this Congress to adopt this most extraordinary measure, has made a most extraordinary assumption, namely, that the States by their attempt to retire from the Union, and the efforts of their people to cast off the authority of the Constitution and laws of the United States and to set up a separate and independent government for themselves, thus giving occasion for the prosecution of a war by which they were finally subdued and their severance from the Union thus prevented, are thereby to be regarded as occupying the position of territories of a foreign country, conquered by us as such, and subject therefore to the unlimited authority of the Congress of the United States, which has complete and plenary power to institute over them or their inhabitants such government, civil or military, as it may choose to establish, regardless of the charter under which the Congress of the United States derived its own existence and authority, and regardless of all the limitations and restrictions upon the exercise of power by Congress therein contained.
Such, sir, is the ground upon which the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Stevens] assumes to exercise this most extraordinary authority. He likens it to a case of a war with a foreign Power, where the conquered people are dependent upon the mercy of their conquerors even for their continued existence as a people. He founds his assumption upon what he calls the laws and usages of war as defined by standard authorities upon international law and as observed in the conflicts between civilized nations, and by which authority is erroneously claimed to institute a military despotism and impose it upon the people inhabiting that conquered territory, thus placing their lives, liberty, and private estates at the disposal of the commander of the forces detailed to maintain his authority.
I think I have stated briefly as I could the position assumed by the gentleman from Pennsylvania as the foundation of the authority of Congress to pass this bill. On the other hand, the gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. Bingham,] repudiating expressly the ground of authority assumed by the gentleman from Pennsylvania, and maintaining that the late insurgent States are still States of the Union, and that they never have been otherwise, claims that the authority for the passage of this or any other measure in regard to the people inhabiting these ten States is to be derived from the Constitution of the United States alone.
—[When not a Representative, John Bingham was a railway lawyer; on occasions he appeared as paid witness for the railroads and proudly asserted that he (and Roscoe Conkling) slipped the ‘person’ instead of the proper ‘natural person’ language into the 14th amendment, to ensure that one day corporations would be declared person and given civil rights the same as freed slaves received by the amendment.]
Now, sir, in making an argument upon a great constitutional question like this, in such an august assembly as this Congress of a great confederate Government of thirty-eight States, with the high reputation of those gentlemen, they should be able to so put the statement of the case, so connect the line of argument, that there should be no mistake of fact, no misapplication of law, no sophism in their argumentation. What they say should have all the accuracy, the neatness, and completeness of a piece of machinery adapted skillfully in all its parts to the consummation of a perfect whole, so that when it goes to the country it may deserve the influence which they intended it should exercise upon the minds of the people in creating public opinion.
Now, sir, in the first place, I deny that a State once in the Union can ever get out of it except by force –never by law. And in considering this subject we must consider it in the light of the law as applicable, not of force, which would be applicable only in the event that such force is finally successful. If the attempt to sever their connection as States of the Union and to set up an independent Government for themselves did not prevail, then they have not lawfully effected a separation. The force, unless successful, does not alter the law of the case.
The law, then, of the case is undoubtedly this: that this Congress has no existence as a legislative body except by virtue of the fundamental law which spoke it into existence. It has not one iota of authority beyond the grants of power contained in the Constitution of the United States, that power to be carried out and executed by necessary and proper means to effectuate the great ends and objects for which the States confederated and agreed with one another upon the adoption of this constitutional charter. The functionaries of this department of the Government were spoken into existence alone by virtue of that instrument. This statement cannot with truth or reason be denied.
Now, when gentlemen assume the position that a bill before a legislative body is constitutional, they are bound, if it is questioned, to produce the constitutional authority. They are bound to refer to the article or clause which sanctions by fair, logical argument, and by just rules of interpretation, their assumption; because if the power is not found in the Constitution it does not exist, and Congress cannot assume it. He who takes the position that a measure is unconstitutional of course does not, in his judgment, find or admit the existence of the power to pass it or to have it executed; if it is not found by him in his examination of the instrument it does not exist there; and when gentlemen are challenged to show the clause in the Constitution upon which the authority is based they are bound to produce it.
Now, I have given close attention to the discussion of this bill, and though gentlemen have been repeatedly challenged to show their constitutional authority I have heard no intelligible response to the challenge. When asked where they find the constitutional provision upon which to base this bill, they have not answered it. Nowhere from beginning to end of that instrument can they find any authority –in none of the special grants of power contained in that instrument. Hence the gentleman from Pennsylvania has been represented as saying that the Constitution is played out, that the States having made an unsuccessful and abortive attempt at severance and independence the Congress of the United States is under no constitutional obligation whatever in regard to their government or treatment as States of the Union. Thus he sets aside the Constitution and claims that they are conquered territories, whose inhabitants are subject to the will of the conqueror, according to the usages of war as defined by writers on international law.
Now, sir, the answer to that is full and complete by saying that you cannot speak in this Hall. You have no right to utter a word here except by virtue of the Constitution of the United States. You have no authority to pass a law except by virtue of that instrument. If, then, the Constitution is to control, I deny the authority of this Government even in a war with a foreign Power to conquer territory and to take its inhabitants under its arbitrary dominion. There is power and authority to make war and peace, but I am thoroughly satisfied from my reading of our political history, as I shown in the essays of three of the most learned members of the Federal Convention, Hamilton, Jay, and Madison, as well as by later authors upon the subject, that it never was intended that this Government should make any other than defensive war. War for subjugation, war for extending dominion, has no authority under our Constitution. Under the war-making power of the Constitution aggressive wars for the conquest of foreign countries and to enslave their people were never intended to be authorized –only war for the protection of the independence of the States of the Confederacy which had been achieved by a long and bloody struggle with a foreign Government –to maintain our rights as a nation on the land and on the sea. The power to raise and support an Army and a Navy was intended only as a means of defense. The right of conquest does not exist under our Constitution, much less the authority to impose upon a conquered territory and its inhabitants a despotic government, such as does not and cannot exist under the Constitution of the United States.
Now, if gentlemen are right in their theory that these States are to be regarded as foreign territories, made foreign by their acts of secession, and the war was waged as a war against a foreign country and resulted successfully by the subjugation of their forces in the field, then the question comes up as to what authority the Government or the Congress of the United States has over the territory and the inhabitants of the territory so conquered. Now, I say that this Government has no right to set up any authority at home or abroad, for foreign or domestic purposes, not conferred by the Constitution of the United States, which was intended, so far as we are concerned, to embody the laws of war and the laws of nations as applicable to our character of government, both State and Federal.
Now, when we had the war with Mexico we conquered nearly the whole of that country. We conquered the States of New-Mexico, California, Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, and Vera Cruz, and took possession of the capital of that republic. Yet so well convinced was the then existing Administration, at the head of which was Mr. Polk, that the Government of the United States could not by violence and force conquer and annex foreign territories and, under the Constitution of the United States, govern the people of those territories arbitrarily, that they did not rely upon the right of title by conquest at all. On the contrary, we obtained by the treaty of peace with Mexico a cession of a portion of her territory, for which we paid an equivalent in money.
And when the subject of the admission of California was considered before Congress, and when the subject of imposing a territorial form of government upon New Mexico was under consideration in this House, in which there were then as Representatives the most intelligent, patriotic, and illustrious men that ever adorned our own or any other age, it was admitted that whether our title to the country was to be regarded as acquired by conquest, by subjugation of the inhabitants, and the taking possession of and holding the country by military power, or by cession and treaty, we had no authority to impose arbitrary and despotic government over the people of that country; but the laws and customs of the country as previously existing continued to exist in full force and vigor for their government, except so far as they might be in conflict with the Constitution of the United States.
I therefore ask my friend from Ohio, [Mr. Bingham,] for whose acumen, judgment, and ability in making nice and accurate distinctions in argumentation as well as in legal application I have the highest respect –I ask him how in the name of common sense he can claim the authority and right to impose upon the inhabitants of these States an arbitrary military dominion contrary to the character of the Government of the United States itself, contrary to the representative principle, and contrary to our constitutional theory, that the military should ever be held to be subordinate to the civil authority ?
Mr. Bingham. In reply to the gentleman I desire to make one remark which did not occur to me when I was addressing the House. He uses the words “arbitrary military government.” I wish the gentleman to understand that I do not recognize any such principle under the Constitution and laws of the United States, nor is it recognized in this bill either. This military authority and government is not to be arbitrary, but it is to be exclusively subject to the law-making power; and one limitation is incorporated in this bill, as the gentleman will observe, and it is borrowed from the Constitution and is the rule of law for the government of every one of these military officers, to wit, “that no cruel or unusual punishment shall be inflicted.” And if you can impose one limitation by statute you may impose forty, so that this military government is not arbitrary at all, but is subject to law.
Mr. Hise. I do not intend to inflict a constitutional argument upon the House at this late hour, for I have not time. But I take the ground, and I do not think it can be successfully controverted, that these States are now States in the Union, subject to the Constitution of the United States and the laws enacted in conformity thereto, and consequently entitled to all the rights and powers that appertain to the other members of the Union. I assume this to be an obvious political truth, an actual existing fact, that cannot be contradicted with any show of reason or by constitutional or legal sanction or with a due regard to historic truth; to deny it is revolting to common sense and in opposition to the convictions, nay the knowledge of all unprejudiced men, unless resolved to persist in the grossest error both of law and fact.
What an unwarrantable assertion it is to say that they are not now States in the Union, that they have got out of the Union, although they failed in their effort to do so; although the war was successfully prosecuted to maintain the Union; although the war was waged with the express and solemn declaration on the part of Congress that when it should terminate by the suppression of the rebellion the States would resume or rather continue their existence in the Union as States, with all their equal rights and privileges as such, and with all their institutions preserved intact, equally with all the other States.
Now, I will ask again, where is the authority to disfranchise a State; to expel a State from the Union for the purpose of punishment ? Why, sir, examine the debates in the constitutional convention as reported in the Madison papers, and you will find that it was contended in so many words, without being contradicted or questioned, that a State as a State could not be punished. Hence in framing our Government it was so constituted as to provide for a judicial and an executive department, so that the powers of the Government and its laws could be executed and made to operate directly upon the citizen. And this was done in conformity to the acknowledged political truth that a State as such was not susceptible of trial, arraignment, conviction, or punishment, and could commit no offense for which their place in the Union could be changed or their rights and immunities under the Constitution annulled. The power conferred was to admit States in the Union: none was granted, for any cause, to expel them from it.
What, then, but malignant and hostile feelings toward the people of those States can be the ground for your determination to rivet this most odious military despotism upon them ? If you entertain this feeling of resentment and revenge let it be carried out legitimately. If those men are guilty of a violation of the criminal laws of the United States upon the subject of treason or conspiracy or rebellion, they are amenable to punishment in a regular and legitimate way: they can be, if guilty, apprehended, indicted, and tried for their offenses in the civil courts of the United States of competent jurisdiction. That is the mode, and the only mode, by which their crimes, if any have been committed, can be lawfully punished. A State as a State cannot be guilty of a crime. Whatever crime may have been committed, if any, in fomenting a rebellion in those States, it is the crime of A, B, C, or D, and they alone can be tried, convicted and punished by the courts according to law and in the manner prescribed in the Constitution. This Congress has no judicial power except for impeachment of civil officers. It has no power to assume by legislation that a State or its inhabitants have committed crimes, and then judge, convict, and punish them by a deprivation of their rights of representation, their right of suffrage, by their disfranchisement, and by placing their property, liberty, and lives under the arbitrary and irresponsible control of a military tyrant, with authority to plunder, imprison, and slay, at his discretion, and provided with a military force sufficient to support such authority. Congress may pass laws defining crimes and fixing their punishments, and when this is done its power in this respect is exhausted. The courts alone can try and punish the offenders.
—[Jefferson Davis was found and arrested (reward was paid to the informant whose report made the arrest possible) but he was never tried in court, never found guilty, and eventually was released….. why? were these reconstructionists afraid of a court proceedings ?]
All the States as corporate political bodies are in the Union, and have been continuously ever since the original thirteen ratified the constitutional compact, and ever since the other twenty-three became parties thereto by their admission into this Union. Four of these States, through their illustrious representatives in the constitutional Convention, were among the most influential in constructing our Government. Nay, it maybe said, almost, that Madison was the framer of it. Others of those States have been admitted to the Union under the plenary power of Congress to admit new States. Why admit States ? Because essentially and necessarily there could be no government of the Union under the Constitution except by States and the representatives of States being equal in one branch of a constitutional Congress, and being represented also as States, although without equal numbers in the lower branch of Congress. I charge, then, upon the party predominant in this House that setting aside and subverting the Constitution of the United States, they have denied to ten States of this Union their equal representation in the Senate and their proportionate representation in this House, without any authority under Heaven for so doing.
What is the warrant for this bill ? Whenever you ask for constitutional authority gentlemen get up and clamor and rant about the “loyal” men and the “freedmen” –the free negroes of the southern States– being oppressed; their property, their liberty and their lives endangered by unlawful misrule. Gentlemen do not appear to understand the fact that in those States all the property-holders, all the land-holders, all the traders and merchants who had capital, including all the best and most reputable citizens, the substantial men disposed and interested to maintain good government, to uphold law and order, and to secure the enjoyment of regulated liberty, were engaged in the movement for secession and separate independence. They composed, I venture to say, exclusive of the negroes, nine tenths of the entire population of all those States. Yet you assert a right to enslave all those people –to make political bondsmen of the men who have the capital of that section, who do the business, who carry on the factories– the men who have a deep stake in the country for the preservation of law and order. These are to be placed under the dominion of their own slaves, now turned loose among them, and of the interlopers, the renegade sutlers, jobbers and contractors and army followers from the North, who return spreading abroad unfounded reports of their having been “Union men” all the time and having been proscribed and persecuted and driven off, not one word of which, in my deliberate opinion, has any foundation in truth. Since the war has closed, since the armies of the rebellion have been dispersed, the actual citizens of those States to whom I have referred, who have a stake in the well-being and prosperity of the country, are the men to whom we should look for the preservation of law and order and the prevention of crime and misrule.
Yet because you suspect and believe if these governments continue in the hands of those men, disloyal men, rebels, traitors, as you continue to call them, and they are allowed representation in the Congress of the United States, which you cannot deny to them without violation of the Constitution; because it is apprehended that they will stop the progress of all your revolutionary measures, all your unconstitutional schemes of policy for monopolizing all the power and patronage of the Government and all the emoluments of office, you design to destroy their States, disfranchise the citizens, whatever may happen, subvert their State governments and laws, and subject the inhabitants to a military despotism.
Now, sir, what is the object of this measure you have inaugurated ? A despotic government has existed over these people ever since they surrendered. They surrendered under the hope and expectation on the part of all their intelligent, able, and prominent leaders, of all their distinguished men who before the war had occupied seats in the Congress of the United States, that when the war terminated the Constitution of the United States would be still in force all over the whole country, and that they would be entitled as free men to representation in the Legislature of the United States, hopes and expectations founded upon the solemn pledges of the American Congress, founded also upon constitutional law; yet Congress in bad faith, and contrary to express constitutional injunction, interpose by a joint resolution a barrier to the admission of their representatives into the Senate and House, and declare in substance that they shall be excluded at discretion until such barriers shall be removed.
So from the very period of the termination of hostilities up to this moment there has been a despotic civil government over them. You have extended the authority of your courts over them. You have imposed upon them your internal tax laws. You have imposed your impost duties upon them, and all obstruction to the execution of the Constitution and laws of the United States has been removed; and while you discriminate against them in taxing their agricultural productions, and while you are so legislating as to impose upon them all the heaviest burdens of the Government, and to deprive them of all its advantages and blessings, yet you deny to them their constitutional right of representation here and their right of local self-government. Is not this the very essence of despotic government, to rule those ten States of the Union and all their inhabitants by a governing power wielded by a legislative body made up exclusively of representatives of other States, in which they have no voice, over which they have no share of influence, and which is irresponsible to the people whom they oppress and enslave ?
But, sir, do you tell me any respect for constitutional law or the constitutional rights of these States will ever restrain Congress from the exercise of any legislative power, however illegitimate, cruel, and oppressive, which will enrich and aggrandize the represented at the expense of the unrepresented States. See what has been done already. Look at the discriminating tax of three cents per pound upon cotton. Observe how all the patronage and revenues of the Government are dispensed and expended for the exclusive benefit of the North, with a studied discrimination against the South and the southern people. Look at the pitiful indication of sectional malignity against the southern people upon this floor in striking out an appropriation of $10,000 for necessary repairs of the marine hospital at Louisville, Kentucky. Look at the immense patronage given in the form of Government credits and grants of public lands to northern companies for the construction of railroads, while the project of a railroad from the Mississippi to the Pacific on the line of thirty-two, through the State of Texas, by the way of El Paso to the Pacific port of San Diego has not a single acre of land nor a single dollar from the Government. No aid has been given on the part of the Government to push that enterprise; and yet that railroad project is over a country through which the route is everywhere practicable and its construction easy, at a cost much less than that of the other projects so munificently patronized. It will pass through the richest mineral region of the country, is near one thousand miles shorter than any other route, and has the advantage of a location in a latitude where there is a perpetual spring and never any obstruction from ice or snow.
Look at everything done by this Government and you will find the design and end to be for the aggrandizement of the North and the oppression of the South. It all shows that it will inevitably follow, in the nature of things, that the Government by the representatives of one section over the people of another section will always subject the latter to injustice, cruelty, and oppression.
You have kept up a civil despotism in the South up to this very moment, and now you propose to substitute a military despotism in place of it. There is no limitation upon the power of these military satraps. Who they are to be I now distinctly understand. They are to be appointed by—
Mr. Allison. Appointed by the President.
Mr. Hise. Appointed by the President ! Indeed.
Now, sir, with all deference and respect to the gentlemen who differ with me, it appears to me that these measures, taken as a series, strike at the executive and judicial departments of the Government, consolidating the powers of the Government in the hands of one of its branches, thus abrogating all the checks and guards devised in order that neither of them should absorb the powers assigned to each by the Constitution. But by this bill it is proposed to establish military governors over ten States of this Union, who may rule and control them without any regard to their rights, any knowledge of their laws, or any sympathy for their inhabitants.
Sir, it is a monstrous usurpation of power. This law proposes to consolidate the powers of the Government in the hands of the military authorities, and to perpetuate the authority exercised by the military during the war, the exercise of which in time of peace has been declared to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States.
You propose further by this bill to ignore the executive department of the Government by depriving the President of the power to execute this law; for the military tyrants who are to rule the five military districts embracing the ten States are to be appointed by the General of the Army.
The gentleman from Ohio says that the bill requires that persons arrested by the order of the military chief shall be, without unreasonable delay, brought before military commissions for trial. I presume—
Mr. Bingham. I wish the gentleman to consider that there is nothing in the text of the bill that justifies him in supposing that the limitation refers to State laws; it is a limitation applicable to all other authorities.
Mr. Hise. The bill provides for no limitation to the authority and power of the commanders of these military districts; but they are invested with full, arbitrary, and irresponsible power. They are not elected by the people. They are not appointed, according to this bill, by the President or the head of any executive department of the Government. They will govern these people regardless of their will; and they are responsible to no higher authority and may imprison for life, confiscate the estates, and take the lives of the inhabitants through the instrumentality of the military tribunals established by themselves. It cannot be expected that such despotic government will be voluntarily submitted to. The people of these States will not endure this degrading bondage under which they must depend for any security of life, liberty, and property upon a callous and rapacious despotism.
Mr. Allison [voted for Credit Strengthening]. Would you be afraid to trust General Grant ?
Mr. Hise. I have had an opportunity of knowing something of this military rule and of the crimes and atrocities which make up its bloody and relentless record of murders, robberies, thefts, arson, and rapes, of arrests and imprisonments committed and done among and upon the inoffensive, unarmed, and peaceable inhabitants of the border States adhering to the Union, and where the people were peaceable. I know that citizens were maltreated, imprisoned, plundered, and put to death without authority of law; and that assessments were unlawfully made upon them, and large sums of money collected and forced from them by threatened and actual violence upon their persons and property.
Such were the bitter fruits of the imposition upon the people of military rule in many portions of the country, within the limits of some of the adhering States, and in every place in the South where the troops were stationed, and through which they made their desolating marches; and all this upon the pretext that the people were disloyal.
Mr. Grinnell. The pretext.
Mr. Hise. Yes, sir, the pretext, and the same pretext that has been employed always as an excuse for deeds of blood and violence the world over.
Now, sir, this bill does not expressly provide that the negroes alone are to be protected, and that those loyal fellows who come here to Congress and ask to be placed in power over all the property-holders and the virtuous and intelligent men of these southern States, and are to be permitted to oppress and rob them — the negroes. No, because they have nothing to be robbed of. Instead of that the negroes of the country have been taken by force from their masters, contrary to the Constitution of the United States. It is very true that the bill does not say that they –the negroes– are to be the exclusive objects of protection.
However, it might be said here with truth, that this military government is to be provided for the exclusive advantage of the enfranchised slaves and the extremely loyal adherents of the party in power here; and they and the military governors, with the troops furnished for the purpose, will be let loose by this bill to prey upon the other inhabitants, who, under the military government which this bill provides for them, will be, by being oppressed and plundered, by imprisonments and military executions, driven from their homes or exterminated.
Whatever may be the design, such I believe would be the terrible effects of this stupid, cruel, unwise, and unconstitutional measure should it pass and go into operation, regardless of the Executive veto and the opinions of the Supreme Court. This bill, I grant, does not say in express terms that the negroes and the poor loyal white men of the country alone are to be protected. But from the speeches which have been made upon this floor it is perfectly manifest that the men who have been engaged in the civil or the military service of the confederate government while it existed are to be disfranchised and punished, while their slaves and these loyal vagabonds and adventurers, who followed the armies to the South, and who are the authors of the false reports spread broadcast in the North of southern crime and cruelty, are to be placed in power to govern the country. And when this is done, I suppose the southern States will be placed in their constitutional relations with the Government of the United States, and be allowed representatives in the two Houses of Congress, provided they be black, or loyal if white, and are and remain true adherents of the Radical leaders and supporters of their measures.
My friends, the gentleman from Ohio and the gentleman from New Jersey, have differed in regard to a very material and important question. The gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Le Blond] entertains the opinion that the President of the United States had no authority after the termination of the war to appoint provisional or military governors for the ten southern States. But the gentleman from New Jersey [Mr. Rogers] entertains a different opinion on that subject, and he quoted judicial authority and opinion to sanction his view of the question. Now, my opinion upon the law of the case is simply this, that no State can get out of the Union legally; that every attempt of the civil authorities, by ordinances or decrees of conventions or legislative enactments, would not lawfully produce such result, because all such acts, decrees, and ordinances would be nothing more nor less than mere nullities. Being contrary to the laws and the Constitution of the United States, which are supreme, those ordinances or decrees could have no effect to dissolve the connection of those States with the Government of the United States; they could not release or discharge them from their obligation to obey that Constitution and those laws, nor could they have the effect of depriving those States of their reserved powers of local self-government, nor of the rights, immunities and privileges secured to them equally with all the other States by the Constitution of the United States. That is my opinion of the law of the case.
If they had gone on and succeeded in dissevering their connection with the Union by force, that would have been a breach of the Constitution successfully accomplished by means of a revolution.
Our action as Colonies in severing our connection with England was revolutionary. The law of the case was against us. We were legally subjected and owed allegiance to the Government of England. The King of England was King of the Colonies. And the Declaration of Independence would have been null and void, the Articles of Confederation would have been of no force or effect legally, except that validity and force were given to both by a successful application and use of military power, acquiesced in finally by England herself. But that was not the case in the southern States. There was no successful application of force either by them or by the Government of the United States.
And, sir, the contrary opinion involves those holding it in these difficulties: if these States are out of the Union –you do not admit or contend that they got out by force of arms– by virtue of their civil proceedings, by their enactments in conventions and Legislatures, and by the votes of their people they got out of the Union, then they are still out of the Union. And if you maintain, then, that because they are not States in the Union they are deprived of all the rights of States, including that of representation, under the Constitution of the United States, then they are relieved from all obligation to obey that Constitution. And you have no right any longer to govern them, because you can only govern them as States; and as States to be governed under and by virtue of the Constitution they must have representation.
If they be not in the Union, then they are out as independent States. In such case they are not bound by the laws or Constitution of the United States, and the President would have no authority to appoint their Governors, nor would Congress have power to bind them by its enactments. But if these States are in the Union, they are entitled to representation in Congress and to the right of local self-government, and the President would have no right to appoint their Governors nor Congress the power to establish, alter, or overthrow their local governments. The Congress of the United States has the power to admit new States; but I want to know if there is any power to put States out of the Union by war or in any other way ? And if you cannot put them out, if there is no constitutional authority to eject them from the Union as States, then you have no right or authority to deprive them of their representation as States. Now, I admit that Congress did not at first expel them, but that they attempted to go out. Some lawyers on this floor concede that the Constitution is a compact between States, a treaty between the several States contracting with one another; and they concede that all these ordinances are null and void by reason of the fact that they were contrary to and in violation of the compact or Constitution of the United States, because that Constitution and the laws made in pursuance of it are supreme and in direct opposition to such legislation.
Pig-iron Kelley, on Tuesday, February 12, 1867.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to express the hope that the House will adopt the bill under consideration as reported by the committee without amendment.
vote on Wednesday, February 13, 1867
Mr. Stevens demanded the previous question on the passage of the bill.
The previous question was seconded and the main question ordered.
Mr. Ancona demanded the yeas and nays. The yeas and nays were ordered.
The question was taken on the passage of the bill; and it was decided in the affirmative— yeas 109, nays 55, not voting 26; as follows:
—[these were the Radical reconstructionists in the House; many of them voted for the legal-tender bill, and the national currency bank bill; in their speeches they pretended to be opponents of banks and friends of the working people, but their actions showed otherwise: they wanted to re-construct the United States along dictatorial lines, under the firm control of a central government in Washington; future book-peddlers and pamphleteers presented Stevens and Kelley and others as heroes of the people in a decade-long struggle against the money power, when in fact they were exactly the opposite]
Messrs. Allison, Anderson, Arnell, Delos R. Ashley, James M. Ashley, Barker, Baxter, Beaman, Benjamin, Bidwell, Bingham, Blaine, Bouwell, Bromwell, Broomall, Buckland, Bundy, Reader W. Clarke, Sidney Clarke, Cobb, Cook, Cullom, Darling, Dawes, Delano, Deming, Dixon, Ignatius Donnelly, Driggs, Dumont, Eckley, Eggleston, Eliot, Farnsworth, Farquhar, Thomas Ferry, James Garfield, Grinnell, Abner C. Harding, Hayes, Henderson, Higby, Hill, Holmes, Sam Hooper, Chester D. Hubbard, John H. Hubbard, James R. Hubbell, Hulburd, Ebon Ingersoll, Pig-iron Kelley, Ketcham, Koontz, Laflin, George V. Lawrence, William Lawrence, Longyear, Lynch, Marston, Marvin, Maynard, McClurg, McKee, McRuer, Mercur, Miller, Moorehead, Morrill, Morris, Moulton, Myers, Newell, O’Neill, Orth, Paine, Patterson, Perham, Pike, Plants, Price, Alexander H. Rice, John H. Rice, Rollins, Sawyer, Schenck, Scofield, Shellabarger, Sloan, Spalding, Starr, Thaddeus Stevens the bank-lawyer, Stokes, Thayer, Trowbridqe, Upson, Van Aernam, Burt Van Horn, Robert T. Van Horn, Hamilton Ward, Warner, William B. Washburn, Welker, Wentworth, Whaley, Williams, James F. Wilson, Stephen F. Wilson, Windom, and Woodbridqe –109.
Nays— Messrs. Ancona, Baker, Banks, Bergen, Boyer, Campbell, Chanler, Cooper, Davis, Dawson, Defree, Denison, Dodge, Eldridge, Finck, Glossbrenner, Goodyear, Aaron Harding, Harris, Hawkins, Hise, Hogan, Edwin N. Hubbell, Humphrey, Hunter, Kelso, Kerr, Andrew Kuykendall, Latham, Le Blond, Leftwich, Loan, Marshall, Niblack, Nicholson, Noell, Radford, Samuel J. Randall, William H. Randall, Raymond, Ritter, Rogers, Ross, Rousseau, Shanklin, Sitgreaves, Stilwell, Strouse, Taber, Nathaniel G. Taylor, Nelson Taylor, Francis Thomas, John L. Thomas, Thornton, and Andrew H. Ward –55.
Not Voting— Messrs. Alley, Ames, Baldwin, Blow, Brandegee, Conkling, Culver, Griswold, Hale, Hart, Hotchkiss, Asahel W. Hubbard, Demas Hubbard, Jenckes, Jones, Julian, Kasson, McCullough, McIndoe, Phelps, Pomeroy, Trimble, Elihu B. Washburne, Henry D. Washburn, Winfield, and Wright –26.