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[303] was much discussed. I am not prepared to say whom the journals would show to have voted for the measure.

It may be remarked, first, that we had the same Constitution then as now; secondly, that we then had a case of invasion, and now we have <*> case of rebellion; and thirdly, that the permanent right of the people to public discussion, the liberty of speech and of the press, the trial by jury, the law of evidence, and the habeas corpus, suffered no detriment whatever by that conduct of General Jackson, or its subsequent approval by the American Congress.

And yet, let me say that, in my own discretion, I do not know whether I would have ordered the arrest of Mr. Vallandigham. While I cannot shift the responsibility from myself, I hold that, as a general rule, the commander in. the field is the better judge of the necessity in any particular case. Of course, I must practise a general directory and revisory power in the matter.

One of the resolutions expresses the opinion of the meeting that arbitrary arrests will have the effect to divide and distract those who should be united in suppressing the rebellion, and I am specifically called on to discharge Mr. Vallandigham. I regard this as, at least, a fair appeal to me on the expediency of exercising a constitutional power which I think exists. In response to such appeal I have to say, it gave me pain when I learned that Mr. Vallandigham had been arrested — that is, I was pained that there should have seemed to be a necessity for arresting him — and that it will afford me great pleasure to discharge him so soon as I can, by any means, believe the public safety will not suffer by it. I further say that, as the war progresses, it appears to me, opinion and action, which were in great confusion at first, take shape and fall into more regular channels, so that the necessity for strong dealing with them gradually decreases. I have every reason to desire that it should cease altogether, and far from the least is my regard for the opinions and wishes of those who, like the meeting at Albany, declare their purpose to sustain the Government in every constitutional and lawful measure to suppress the rebellion. Still I must continue to so much as may seem to be required by the public safety.

Reply of the Albany Democracy.


At a public meeting held at the Capitol, in the city of Albany, on the sixteenth day of May, 1863, to consider the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Vallandigham, certain resolutions were adopted, copies of which were, by the direction of the meeting, transmitted by its officers to President Lincoln, who, in a communication dated the twelfth of June, 1863, addressed to the gentlemen referred to, which has appeared very generally in the public prints, discussed the resolutions and controverted certain positions which they maintained in regard to personal rights and constitutional obligations.

On the receipt of this communication the Hon. Erastus Corning, chairman of the meeting referred to, addressed the President, informing him in substance that the special duty assigned to the officers of the meeting had been fulfilled by sending the resolutions to his Excellency, but adding that in view of the importance of the principles involved, and the public interest which the matter had assumed, he had deemed it proper to submit the President's letter to the committee who reported the resolutions, for such action as in their judgment it might demand.

The committee having considered the subject, and viewing the questions at issue as of the gravest importance, replied to the President's communication, which reply is now laid before the public. At the request of the committee it was sent to the President by the officers of the meeting, in a letter under their signatures, of which the following is a copy:

To His Excellency the President of the United States:
sir: The undersigned, officers of the public meeting held in this city on the sixteenth day of May last, to whom your communication of the twelfth of this month, commenting on the resolutions adopted at that meeting, was addressed, have the honor to send to your Excellency a reply to that communication by the committee who reported the resolutions. The great importance to the people of this country of the questions discussed must be our apology, if any be needed, for saying that we fully concur in this reply, and believe it to be in entire harmony with the views and sentiments of the meeting referred to.

We are, with great respect, very truly yours,

To His Excellency Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States:
sir: Your answer, which has appeared in the

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