“Yes,” said I, “of the Constitutional Union party.”
“The campaign motto or platform of which,” he continued, “was “The Union, the Constitution
, and enforcement of the laws”?”
“It was,” I replied; “and I think that it was not only the briefest, but about the best and most comprehensive platform that could have been adopted for that canvass.”
“And you still stand by it, of course 2?”
“I certainly do,” was my reply.
“Then,” he remarked, “there is no reason why we should not be of the same mind in this emergency, if I understand the meaning of your platform.
How do you, yourself, interpret it?”
“It's meaning,” I answered, “is obvious.
It has nothing hidden in it-nothing more than meets the eye. We go for The Union
as our fathers made it — to be a shield of protection over our heads, and not a sword of subjugation at our hearts; for The Constitution
as they designed it, to be equally binding on both sections, North as well as South, in all its compromises, and in all its requirements; and for “the enforcement of the laws” by peaceable and constitutional means, not by bayonets-Federal bayonets, especially, Mr. Lincoln
“Then your idea is,” said he, “that Federal bayonets should not be used for the enforcement of laws within the limits of a State”
“As a general rule, unquestionably not,” I answered; “but, of course, there are exceptional cases, such as have already occurred-cases of invasion, insurrection, etc.-when the civil authorities of a State, finding themselves inadequate to the duty of protecting their people, or unable to enforce the laws within the limits of their jurisdiction, may rightfully require the Federal
forces to assist them; in which event, it becomes the duty of the General Government
, on application of the Legislature of the State, or of its Executive, when the Legislature cannot be convened, to furnish the required aid.”
“And, now,” said he, “to apply your platform to the present condition of affairs in those Southern States of the Union
which are assuming to be no longer part of it. How about enforcing the laws in them, just now — the laws of the United States
“Inasmuch,” I replied, “as the difficulties of doing so peaceably, under existing circumstances, are exceeded only by the dangers of attempting it forcibly, the practical question to be determined beforehand is whether the experiment is worth a civil war. Which consideration,” I added, “brings us back to the object of my visit, and I therefore again take the liberty of asking if you approve of ”