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DEBATE ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.
will rise up to do you honor. Every lover of liberty in Germany, France, Italy, Great Britain, the world, will rise up and call you blessed. The gallant soldiers in the field who are giving their lives for liberty and Union will call down upon you the blessings of heaven. Let the lightnings of God, (fit instruments for the glorious message,) transmit to the toiling and struggling soldiers of Sherman, and Hunter, and Butler, and Grant, the thrilling words 'slavery abolished forever,' and their joyous shouts will strike terror into the ranks of the rebels and traitors fighting for tyranny and bondage. The thousands of wounded in the hospitals around this Capital, would hail the intelligence as a battle fought, and a great victory won.
"This Constitutional amendment has passed the Senate, long regarded as the citidel of the slave power; how strange if it should fail in the popular branch of Congress! The people and the States are eager and impatient to ratify it. Will those who claim to represent the ancient democracy refuse to give the people an opportunity to vote upon it? Is this your confidence in the loyal masses? The passage of this resolution will strike the rebellion at the heart. I appeal to border State men and democrats of the free States; look over your country; see the bloody footsteps of slavery. See the ruin and desolation which it has brought upon our once happy land; and I ask, why stay the hand now ready to strike down to death, the cause of all these evils? why seek to prolong the life, to restore to vigor, the institution of slavery, now needing but this last act to doom it to everlasting death and damnation? Gentlemen may flatter themselves with the hope of a restoration of the slave power in this country. The Union as it was!' It is a dream never again to be realized. The America of the past, is gone forever! A new nation is to be born from the agony through which the people are now passing. This new nation is to be wholly free. Liberty, equality before the law, is to be the great corner stone. Much yet remains to be done to secure this. Many a battle on the field has yet to be fought and won against the mighty power which fights for slavery, the barbarous system of the past. Many a battle has yet to be won on the higher sphere of moral conflict. While our gallant soldiers are subduing the rebels in the field, let us second their efforts by sweeping from the statute book every stay, and prop, and shield of human slavery, the scourge of our country, and let us crown all by incorporating into our organic law, the law of universal liberty. For myself, I mean to fight this cause of the war, this cursed cause of all the expenditure of blood and treasure, from which my country is now suffering, this institution which has filled our whole land with desolation, sorrow, and anguish. I mean to fight it, until neither on statute book nor the Constitution, shall there be left
a single sentence or word which can be construed to sanction the stupendous wrong. Let us now, to-day, in the name of liberty, justice, and of God, consummate this grand revolution. Let us to-day, make our country, our whole country 'the home of the free!'
"I conclude in the language of the President: So much good has not been done by one effort in all past time, as in the providence of God, it is now your high privilege to do. May the vast future not have to lament that you have neglected it.'"
Mr. Pendleton of Ohio, in a closing speech, rallied the democratic party against the amendment. The vote was ninety-three in favor of the amendment, sixty-five against itnot voting, twenty-three. Not having a majority of twothirds, the resolution failed. The democratic party voted nearly solid against it. Messrs. Bailey of Pennsylvania, Colonel Cobb of Wisconsin, Griswold and Odell of New York, were exceptions.
Before the vote was announced, James M. Ashley of Ohio, changed his vote from the affirmative to the negative, for the purpose of entering a motion to reconsider. The subject went over to the next session. Meanwhile, the adoption of the amendment, and the longer existence of slavery passed into an issue to be decided at the approaching Presidential election.
During the struggle on the Constitutional amendment, the President manifested the utmost anxiety that it should pass. On the 1st of January, 1864, he received his friends, and many congratulations were expressed, on account of the improved prospects of the country. The decisive victories in the West, and the successes in the East, gave a more buoyant tone to all visiting the White House. One of the most devoted friends of Mr. Lincoln calling upon him, after exchanging congratulations over the progress of the Union armies during the past year, said:
"I hope Mr. President, one year from to-day I may have the pleasure of congratulating you on the consummation of three events which seem now very probable. What are they?' said Mr. Lincoln.
"First, That the rebellion may be completely crushed. Second, That slavery may be entirely destroyed, and prohibited forever throughout
THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.
the Union. Third, That Abraham Lincoln may have been triumphantly reelected President of the United States.
"I would be very glad' said Mr. Lincoln, with a twinkle in his eye. 'I think I would compromise, by obtaining the first two propositions."" A democratic member had a brother mortally wounded at Chancellorsville. Mr. Lincoln's kindness to him while in the hospital at Washington, visiting him, and relieving every want, won the heart of the Congressman, and sometime afterwards, he expressed his gratitude so warmly, that the President during the debate in the House on the Constitutional amendment, and while the result was doubtful, at a reception, said to the member, "your brother died to save the Republic from death by the slaveholders rebellion. I wish you could see it to be your duty to vote for the Constitutional amendment ending slavery."
No selfish consideration was suggested; but the appeal to duty coming from the President to an honest and grateful heart, was successful. Party ties were broken, and the vote given for the amendment.
QUESTION OF ADMISSION OF SENATORS FROM ARKANSAS-FREEDMEN'S BUREAU-SPEECH OF BROOKS-EXPULSION OF LONGCENSURE OF HARRIS-SPEECH OF WINTER DAVIS.
THE subject of reconstruction had been presented to Con
gress by the President in his annual Message of December 1863. He said that looking to the present and the future, with reference to a resumption of the National authority within the States wherein that authority had been suspended, he had thought fit to issue a proclamation in which he thought nothing was attempted but what was justified by the Constitution. This proclamation proffered a full pardon, with the restoration of all rights of property except as to slaves, and when the rights of third persons had intervened, on condition of an oath of fidelity to the Constitution of the United States, and support to all acts of Congress passed during the rebellion on the subject of slavery, and also the Proclamation of Emancipation.* From the persons to whom this offer of pardon was extended, were excepted, all officers of the Confederate Government, all who left judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion, military and naval officers of the rebel government above the rank of colonel in the army and lieutenant in the navy, and all who had been engaged in treating white or colored persons otherwise than as prisoners of war.
* Thus it will be seen, that from the beginning, Mr. Lincoln determined that reconstruction should have for its basis universal freedom.
In this proclamation Mr. Lincoln manifested his fixed determination that slavery should cease in the reconstructed. Union, and that the faith of the Nation pledged to the colored race should be fully and scrupulously kept. Fidelity,―fidelity to the freedmen, breathed through every paper Mr. Lincoln ever issued on the subject. In regard to the reorganization of States he said: "In some States, the elements for resumption seems ready for action, but remain inactive for the want of a plan of action. By the proclamation, a plan is presented which the people are assured will not be rejected by the Executive." The plan suggested was, that when one tenth of the voters in any State who had voted in 1860, should take the required oath, and organize and reestablish a State government which should be republican in form, and no wise contravening said oath, it would be recognized by the Executive as the government of the State. He further suggested that in constituting a loyal State government, the names and boundaries of the old States might be properly and conveniently retained. This would avoid inconvenience and confusion.
Does not such a suggestion negative the idea that the State as such still existed, as a State in the Union, and a component part of the Government, and could of itself resume its former relations to the Union? He added, in presenting the subject to Congress," to avoid misunderstanding, that in saying reconstruction will be accepted, if presented in a specified way -is not saying it would be rejected if presented in any other way."
There was a wide difference of opinion among the friends of the President in regard to the Amnesty Proclamation. In the midst of the fierce passions and animosities growing out of the war, many thought the terms much too favorable to the rebels. But the conviction of the President was clear that when there was sincere repentance manifested by action, it was the duty of the Executive to pardon. He said, "when a man is sincerely penitent for his misdeeds, and gives satisfactory evidence of it, he can safely be pardoned."
It is known that he was very anxiously seeking the restoration of some one, or more of the seceded States.