« PreviousContinue »
substitute "We, the deputies of the sovereign and independent States.” Why? Why this deliberate pressing out of view the rights of men and the authority of the people ? This is essentially a people's contest. On the side of the Union it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of Government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life, yielding to partial and temporary departures from necessity. This is the leading object of the Government, for whose existence we contend.
I am most happy to believe that the plain people understand and appreciate this. It is worthy of note that while in this, the Government's hour of trial, large numbers of those in the army and navy who have been favored with the offices, have resigned and proved false to the hand which pampered them, not one common soldier or common sailor is known to have deserted his flag. Great honor is due to those officers who remained true despite the example of their treacherous associates, but the greatest honor and the most important fact of all, is the unanimous firmness of the common soldiers and common sailors. To the last man, so far as known, they have successfully resisted the traitorous efforts of those whose commands but an hour before they obeyed as absolute law. This is the patriotic instinct of plain people. They understand without an argument that the destroying the Government which was m by Washington means no good to them. Our popular Government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it our people have settled: the successful establishing and the successful administering of it. One still remains. Its successful maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an election, can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets, and that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided, there can be no successful appeal back to bullets ; that there can be no successful appeal except to ballots themselves at succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace, teaching men that what they can not take by an election, neither can they take by a war, teaching all the folly of being the beginners of a war.
Lest there be some uneasiness in the minds of candid men as to what is to be the course of the Government toward the Southern States after the rebellion shall have been suppressed, the Executive deems it proper to say it will be his purpose then, as ever, to be guided by the Constitution and the laws, and that he probably will have no different understanding of the powers and duties of the Federal Government relatively to the rights of the States and the people under the Constitution than that expressed in the Inaugural Address. He desires to preserve the Gorernment that it may be administered for all, as it was administered by the men who made it. Loyal citizens every-where have a right to claim this of their Government, and the Government has no right to withhold or neglect it. It is not perceived that in giving it there is any coercion, conquest or subjugation in any sense of these terms.
The Constitution provided, and all the States have accepted the provision, “that the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of government,” but if a State may lawfully go out of the Union, having done so, it may also discard the Republican form of Government. So that to prevent its going out is an indispensable means to the end of maintaining the guarantee mentioned; and when an end is lawful and obligatory, the indispensable means to it are also lawful and obligatory.
It was with the deepest regret that the Executive found the duty of employing the war power. In defense of the Government forced upon him, he could but perform this duty or surrender the existence of the Government. No compromise by public servants could in this case be a cure, not that compromises are not often proper, but that no popular government can long survive a marked precedent, that those who carry an election can only save the Government from immediate destruction by giving up the main point upon which the people gave the election.
The people themselves and not their servants can safely reverse their own deliberate decisions.
As a private citizen the Executive could not have consented that these institutions shall perish, much less could he, in betrayal of so vast and so sacred a trust as these free people had confided to him. He felt that he had no moral right to shrink, nor even to count the chances of his own life in what might follow
In full view of his great responsibility, he has so far done what he has deemed his duty. You will now, according to your own judgment, perform yours. He sincerely hopes that your views and your actions may so accord with his as to assure all faithful citizens who have been disturbed in their rights, of a certain and speedy restoration to them, under the Constitution and laws, and having thus chosen our cause without guile, and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward without fear and with manly hearts. July 4, 1861.
To the recommendation that $400,000,000 be appropriated, and 400,000 men raised, for the prosecution of the war, Congress responded with great unanimity, granting instead $500,000,000 in money, and calling for 500,000 volunteers for the army.
This action was consummated on the 22d of July—the day following the battle of Bull Run. The Senate had passed a bill of similar character on the 10th--five Senators, Messrs. Johnson, of Missouri, Kennedy, Polk, Powell and Saulsbury, voting in favor of an amendment reducing the number of men to 200,000. Otherwise, the measure was unopposed in that body.
On the 22d of July, the House of Representatives passed, with only two dissenting votes, the following resolution, introduced by Mr. Crittenden, of Kentucky:
Resolved, By the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States, That the present deplorable civil war has been forced upon the country by the Disunionists of the Southern States now in revolt against the Constitutional Govcrnment, and in arms around the capital ; that in this National emergency Congress, banishing all feeling of mere passion or resentment, will recollect only its duty to the whole country; that this war is not waged on our part in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, nor purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of the States, but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution, and to preserve the Union, with all the dignities, equality and rights of the several States unimpaired; and that as soon as these objects are accomplished the war ought to cease.
On the 10th of July, a bill passed the House of Representatives, authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to effect a National loan, of not exceeding $250,000,000, on bonds bearing seven per cent. interest, redeemable in twenty years, or in Treasury-notes of a denomination not less than $50, payable in three years, at an interest of seven and three-tenths per cent. Only five Representatives voted in the negative, namely: Messrs. Burnett, Reid, Norton, Vallandigham and Wood. The first three of these, from Kentucky and Missouri, were soon af. ter direct participants in the rebellion, either as civil or mili. tary officials. The subsequent course of the other two, living at the North, has been steadily in keeping with this association of their names and acts.
With certain modifications, which need not be particularized, the financial policy thus indicated was ultimately adopted by both houses of Congress, and approved by the President. A new tariff bill, designed to increase the revenue from imports, and a direct tax bill to raise $20,000,000, also became a law on the 2d of August. A confiscation act, moderate in its provisions, was also passed near the close of the session. An act legalizing the official measures of the President, during the recent emergency, received the support of nearly every member of both houses. The extra session closed on the 6th day of August.
On the 20th day of July, the so-called Congress of the Rebel Confederacy assembled at Richmond, the seat of the civil branch of the rebellion having been removed to that city from Montgomery, where the same body had closed its first session on the 21st of May. Eight days after the latter date Davis arrived in Richmond, and his “government” was there put in operation. His message was sent in on the 20th of July. He therein congratulates his friends on the accession of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas to the seceding sisterhood, making in all eleven States against twenty-three still loyal. The subjoined extracts will serve to show the general character of the document, giving also an authentic Southern view of the contest down to the day preceding the battle of Manassas :
I deemed it advisable to direct the removal of the several Executive departments, with their archives, to this city, to which you have removed the seat of government. Immediately after your adjournment, the aggressive movements of the enemy required prompt, energetic action. The accumulation of his forces on the Potomac sufficiently demonstrated that his efforts were to be directed against Virginia, and from no point could necessary measures for her defense and
protection be so effectively decided as from her own capital. The rapid progress of events for the last few weeks has fully sufficed to lift the vail, behind which the true policy and purposes of the
Government of the United States had been previously concealed. Their odious features now stand fully revealed. The message of their President, and the action of their Congress during the present month, confess their intention of the subjugation of these States, by a war by which it is impossible to attain the proposed result, while its dire calamities, not to be avoided by us, will fall with double severity on themselves.
Referring to the hearty response of Congress to the recommendation of President Lincoln as to men and means for prosecuting the war begun at Fort Sumter—the responsibility of which he vainly endeavors, by angry special pleading, to fix upon the Government-Davis, with a recklessness commensurate with his passion, goes on to say:
These enormous preparations in men and money, for the conduct of the war, on a scale more grand than any which the new world ever witnessed, is a distinct avowal, in the eyes of civilized man, that the United States are engaged in a conflict with a great and powerful nation. They are at last compelled to abandon the pretense of being engaged in dispersing rioters and suppressing insurrections, and are driven to the acknowledgment that the ancient Union has been dissolved. They recognize the separate existence of these Confederate States, by an interdictive embargo and blockade of all commerce between them and the United States, not only by sea, but by land; not only in ships, but in cars; not only with those who bear arms, but with the entire population of the Confederate States. Finally, they have repudiated the foolish conceit that the inhabitants of this Confederacy are still citizens of the United States; for they are waging an indiscriminate war upon them all with savage ferocity, unknown in modern civilization.
After a highly-wrought picture of imaginary outrages perpe. trated in Virginia by Federal armies that had scarcely begun to move, except in Western Virginia, where no pretext for such complaints existed, and by the Government in its adoption of the policy of non-intercourse, he comes to the case of certain captured privateersmen who were in close confinement, awaiting their trial for piracy. No terms for an exchange of prisoners had yet been agreed upon-the number on either side being very small, and the civil bearings of the question being yet under consideration. On this subject Davis fiercely remarks.