« PreviousContinue »
emergencies of war constrain to temporary departure from the principle of adequate taxation, the first moments of returning tranquillity should be devoted to its re-establishment in full supremacy over the financial administration of affairs." He recommended the policy of an income tax, because it “ requires largest contributions from largest means." That the sum looked for from taxation, fifty million dollars, was "large," he admitted, but, he added, if the sum is large, the means of the people are also large; and the object to be attained by a consecration of them to the public service is priceless."
Repeating the remark that, after all that could be hoped from taxation the main reliance must be on loans, and saying that "the action of banking institutions in assuming the immediate responsibility of the whole advances hitherto required, as well as the final responsibility of much the largest portion of them, merits high eulogium," he adds, "the prompt patriotism with which citizens of moderate means and workingmen and workingwomen have brought their individual offerings to the service of their country must command even warmer praise."
Saying that "to enable the government to obtain the necessary means for prosecuting the war to a successful issue without unnecessary cost is a problem that must engage the most careful attention of the legislature," and adding that he had given it "the best consideration in his power," the Secretary suggested "two plans": the first "the withdrawal of the notes of private corporations, and the substitution of United States notes, payable in coin on demand"; and the second, what has been familiarly termed the "national bank" theory, which he more minutely described, to which he gave the preference, and which was ultimately adopted.
After giving his estimates of what would be required for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1862, he says, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1863, "no reliable estimates can be made." He adds, however, notwithstanding the remark that "it is the part of wisdom to be prepared for all eventualities," this hopeful prediction: "It is earnestly to be hoped, and, in the judgment of the Secretary, not without sufficient grounds, that
the present war may be brought to an auspicious termination before midsummer. In that event, the provision of revenue by taxation, which he has recommended, will amply suffice for all financial exigencies, without resort to additional loans; and not only so, but will enable the government to begin at once the reduction of the existing debt." He added, however, if the war be protracted until the 1st of July, 1863, "the public debt will be, in round numbers, nine hundred million dollars." But even this amount, so unprecedented and unexpected, he contended, need not alarm. "The country," he said, "even if the loyal States only are regarded, can sustain and pay off, in thirty years, the debt to which the Rebellion now exposes us, with hardly greater proportional contributions from increased and increasing resources than the debt made necessary" by the war of 1812, and which was paid off by the people in twenty years.
"The 1st of July, 1863"; "Nine hundred million dollars"! These figures were given as indicating the possible, but by no means probable, duration and cost of the war. And yet the considerate Secretary felt called upon to make to his country. men this unwelcome announcement as among the possibilities of the future, in order that he might bespeak, even in such a contingency, their courageous and trustful acceptance of the situation, with the assurance that even then their case would be no worse than was that of their fathers, who were obliged to take up the burdens imposed by "the war of 1812." Had the full truth then been known, and had it been foreseen that the war, instead of reaching its termination in 1863, as the Secretary deemed it possible it might extend so far, would not find an end until 1865, and, instead of nine hun dred million dollars, its maximum cost should reach nearly four thousand million dollars, how would he and his countrymen have then viewed the matter? Is there doubt that there was mercy in that uncertainty; and that it was far better that such conclusions should be gradually reached?
SCHOOLS IN THE DISTRICT OF
National responsibility. - Infamous laws. Mr. Wilson's bill. Wilmot. New section. Bill passed. County jail and its disgraceful condition. Testimony of Wilson and Sumner. - Wilson's resolution. - Fessenden, Hale. - Mr. Clark's resolution. Bill of Mr. Grimes. Democratic opposition. — Powell, Pearce, Carlile. - Bill for new warden. - House. -Bingham's resolution. - Marshal Lamon. - President's order. — Enforced ignorance. — DisMr. Grimes's bill. — Passage. — Lovejoy's supplegraceful and unjust laws. mentary bill. Miss Miner's school. - Bill for incorporation. - Debate. Grimes, Morrill. Passage of Grimes's bill for education in the county. — Mr. Patterson. Bill passed.
No complete and adequate estimate of the enormities of the slave system and of the guilty participancy of the nation therein can be formed without a knowledge of the black code of the District of Columbia, of that portion especially which lies on the left bank of the Potomac, embracing the cities of Washington and Georgetown. Coupling that knowledge with the facts that the Constitution gives to Congress "the power to exercise exclusive jurisdiction in all cases whatsoever"; that here the government has been domiciled, and for half the year representatives from all parts of the country have made it their home, and have been, of course, cognizant of its internal polity; and that no laws respecting it have validity without their sanction,- and you have materials, to be found perhaps nowhere else, for judging of the nation's complicity and consent, in spirit and purpose, in the matter of slavery, and of its consequent responsibility for the grave offences to which it has given rise.
Lying at its foundation was the act of 1801, continuing in force, for the new republic, the barbarous laws of the colony
of Maryland, though they were enacted in the darkest hour of its early history, when the mother country; fully and openly committed to slavery and the slave-trade as a source of profit and national revenue, proclaimed it a traffic not to be restrained, but cherished and protected. These laws, sufficiently barbarous for any age or any people, seem almost if not altogether to have been conceived and constructed by men without belief or conception of human rights, if not completely oblivious of all moral distinctions. As if color completely dehumanized the black man, and he had no rights the white man was bound to respect, these laws not only held in rigorous bondage those already enslaved, but reduced to slavery free persons of color for several specified and often most trivial offences. They hampered, too, and hedged around the slavemasters with arbitrary provisions against granting their slaves even the most moderate privileges to lighten their burden and relieve in the least their "dull monotony of gloom."
Illustrations are only too numerous. Thus, if one was to allow his slave to raise cattle or hogs as the proper right of such slave, he shall pay five hundred pounds of tobacco"; if any one should "trade or barter with a slave without license of the owner, he shall pay two thousand pounds of tobacco"; and if one should harbor a runaway, or one who had "rambled" from his owner, "during an hour or longer," he should be fined one hundred pounds of tobacco, or, in default of that, he should be "whipped on his or her bare back, not exceeding thirty-nine stripes for any one offence." But if one should. return such runaway he should receive two hundred pounds of tobacco, to be collected from the owner. If a slave should be guilty of the seemingly small offence of rambling, going abroad in the night, and riding horses in the daytime without leave, he should be "punished by whipping, cropping, and branding with the letter R." If a slave should strike a white man, he should be "cropped." A slave convicted of petit treason, arson, or murder should have "his right hand cut off; be hanged in the usual manner; the head severed from the body, the body divided into four quarters; the head and quarters set up in the most public places of the country."
A person "stealing a slave, or being accessory thereto, and being convicted, or who shall obstinately or of malice stand mute, shall suffer death without benefit of clergy." Runaway slaves refusing to surrender and making resistance, "it shall be lawful to shoot, kill, and destroy"; and any one thus shooting and killing "shall be indemnified from any prosecution for such killing"; and the value of such slave shall be paid by "the treasurer of the province out of the public stock." And these laws, and such as these, were standing on the statute-book of the District, for which Congress was openly and directly responsible, in the year of grace 1862.
After the adoption of the Constitution, and the District had been ceded to the government, the enactments were not as brutal and sanguinary, for, the former remaining in force, more of the same character were not needed; but the latter, like most of the slave codes, were restrictive and repressive, galling and crushing,- galling to every human and humane. sensibility, crushing out everything like self-assertion, selfreliance, and self-respect. Not only were the slaves compelled to bear the burden of unremitting and unpaid toil, wanton contempt and insult, the lash of passion and of unsatisfied exaction, but whichever way they turned they encountered some statute designed to come in conflict with their free will and to deprive them of some just privilege. Under an act of Congress, adopted as late as 1820, granting and defining the powers of the corporation of Washington, a slave might be whipped for breaking a street lamp; tying a horse to any of the trees of the public grounds; injuring a house or any of its appendages; offending against any of the laws of the public markets; setting fire to straw or shavings after sundown; sending off crackers within a hundred yards of a dwelling-house, flying a kite, or bathing in the canal; and for being present at any assemblage, except a religious meeting led by a white man, and terminated before half past nine o'clock. Free negroes or mulattoes were compelled to prove their freedom, and enter into bonds, with five good sureties; or, in default of which, to pay a fine of one thousand dollars, and be sent to the workhouse. Persons of color, free or slave, visiting the capitol