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[494] the Constitution and the Union, conscientiously believes that, from the inherent nature of the Federal compact, the war, in the present condition of things in this country, cannot be used as a means of restoring the Union; or that a war to subjugate a part of the States, or a war to revolutionize the social system in a part of the States, could not restore, but would inevitably result in the final destruction of, both the Constitution and the Union, is he not to be allowed the right of an American citizen to appeal to the judgment of the people for a change of policy by the constitutional remedy of the ballot-box?

The undersigned are unable to agree with you in the opinion you have expressed, that the Constitution is different in time of insurrection or invasion from what it is in time of peace and public security. The Constitution provides for no limitation upon or exceptions to the guaranties of personal liberty, except as to the writ of habeas corpus. Has the President, at the time of invasion or insurrection, the right to engraft limitations or exceptions upon these constitutional guaranties whenever, in his judgment, the public safety requires it?

True it is, the article of the Constitution which defines the various powers delegated to Congress declares that “the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.” But this qualification or limitation upon this restriction upon the powers of Congress has no reference to or connection with the other constitutional guaranties of personal liberty. Expunge from the Constitution this limitation upon the power of Congress to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, and yet the other guaranties of personal liberty would remain unchanged.

Mr. Lincoln responded1 pungently to this appeal, but less elaborately than he had done to the Albany arraignment; deeming the argument in good part exhausted. On the main point, he said:

The earnestness with which you insist that persons can only, in times of rebellion, be lawfully dealt with, in accordance with the rules for criminal trials and punishments in times of peace, induces me to add a word to what I said on that point in the Albany response. You claim that men may, if they choose, embarrass those whose duty it is to combat a giant rebellion, and then he dealt with only in turn as if there were no rebellion. The Constitution itself rejects this view. The military arrests and detentions which have been made, including those of Mr. Vallandigham, which are not different in principle from the other, have been for prevention, and not for punishment--as injunctions to stay injury, as proceedings to keep the peace — and hence, like proceedings in such cases and for like reasons, they have not been accompanied with indictments, or trials by juries, nor, in a single case, by any punishment whatever, beyond what is purely incidental to the prevention. The original sentence of imprisonment in Mr. Vallandigham's case was to prevent injury to the military service only; and the modification of it was made as a less disagreeable mode to him of securing the same prevention.

In drawing his argument to a close, the President said:

You omit to state or intimate that, in your opinion, an army is a constitutional means of saving the Union against a rebellion, or even to intimate that you are conscious of an existing rebellion being in progress with the avowed object of destroying that very Union. At the same time, your nominee for Governor, in whose behalf you appeal, is known to you and to the world to declare against the use of an army to suppress the Rebellion. Your own attitude, therefore, encourages desertion, resistance to the draft, and the like; because it teaches those who incline to desert and to escape the draft to believe it is your purpose to protect them, and to hope that you will become strong enough to do so.

After a short personal intercourse with you, gentlemen of the committee, I cannot say I think you desire this effect to follow your attitude; but I assure you that both friends and enemies of the Union look upon it in this light. It is a substantial hope, and by consequence a real strength, to the enemy. It is a false hope, and one which you would willingly dispel. I will make the way exceedingly easy. I send you duplicates of this letter, in order that you, or a majority, may, if you choose, indorse your names upon one of them, and return it thus indorsed to me, with the understanding that those signing are thereby committed to the following propositions, and to nothing else:

1. That there is now a rebellion in the United States, the object and tendency of which is, to destroy the National Union; and that, in your opinion, and army and navy are constitutional means for suppressing that rebellion.


1 June 29.

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