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 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 made by Washington means no good to them.
Our popular government has often been called an experiment.
Two points in it our people have already 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 cannot take by an election, neither can they take by a war — teaching all the folly of being the beginners of a war.
He concludes his Message with these impressive and memorable words:
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, not 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 action 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 the laws.
And, having thus chosen our course, without guile and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward without fear and with manly hearts.
Several of the opening days of the Session were mainly devoted by the House
to the consideration of disputed claims to seats — there being rival claimants from Oregon
, from Nebraska
, and from the Ist district of Pennsylvania
, beside three members in all from Virginia
, whereof two (Messrs. Carlile
) were chosen from Western districts, by heavy votes, on the regular day of election; while the other (Mr. Upton
) was chosen under different auspices.
The Convention which passed the Ordinance of Secession had assumed power to annul or suspend the law which provides that a regular election shall be held, and Members of Congress semi-annually chosen thereat, on the fourth Thursday of May; but the people of West Virginia
had treated this action of the Convention
as a nullity, not having been ratified by a popular vote, as the law calling the Convention
required; and had elected in its despite.
Congress approved and sustained this action, and Messrs. Carlile
held their seats with very little dissent.
There was more demur as to Mr. Upton
's case-his poll being light, the time and manner of his election irregular, and he having voted in Ohio
the preceding November; but he was not unseated.