152.-debate in the U. S. Senate on the bill for the suppression of insurrection, August 1, 1861.
The bill to suppress insurrection and sedition being taken up:
(of Pa.) moved that it be postponed till December.
Mr. Bayard (Del.)
thought that was the best disposition that could be made of the bill.
He thought it unconstitutional.
Mr. Harris (N. Y.)
also spoke in favor of its postponement, and thought it very important.
The bill was too important to be matured this session in the temper of the Senate and the temperature of the place.
He was inclined to think that necessities of a case give a military commander all the power needed.
Mr. Breckinridge (Ky.)
said he should vote for its postponement.
He was glad to see the Senate at last pause before one bill.
Hie wished it were published in every newspaper in the country.
He thought it would meet with universal condemnation.
He thought this would abolish all State Government and destroy the last vestige of political and personal liberty.
, of Illinois
, contended that some bill of the kind was necessary from the exigencies of the times.
The Constitution is in danger, and we have voted men and money to carry on the war to save the Constitution
, and how can we justify ourselves without maturing a bill so much needed?
Give the bill the goby, and let the Constitution
be violated every day because we would not pass it, but leave the military to do as they please without restriction.
Mr. Breckinridge (Ky.)
said the drama was beginning to open, and the Senators
who are urging on the war are quarrelling among themselves.
The Senate had already passed a General Confiscation bill, and also a General Emancipation bill.
The Police Commissioners
were arrested without any law, and carried off to an unknown place, and the President
refused to tell the House
what they were arrested for and what had been done with them.
Yet they call this liberty and law!
Gentlemen mistake when they talk about the Union
The Union is only a means of preserving the principles of political liberty.
The great principles of liberty existed long before the Union
They may survive it. Let gentlemen take care that they do not sever all that remains of the Federal Government
These eternal principles of liberty, which lived long before the Union
, will live forever somewhere.
They must be respected.
They cannot with impunity be overthrown, and if you force the people to the issue between any form of government and these priceless principles of liberty, that form of government will go down.
The people will tear it asunder as the irrepressible forces of nature rend asunder all that opposes them.
declares that this conflict must be carried on under the rules of war, and admits that some things must be done contrary to the Constitution
I desire that the country should know the fact that constitutional limitations are no longer to be regarded, and let the people once get the idea that this is a war, not under the principles of the Constitution
, but a conflict in which two great people are against each other, for whom tile Constitution is not, but for whom the laws of war are, and I venture to say that the brave words we hear now about subjugation and conquest, treason and traitors, will be glibly altered the next time the Representatives
of States meet under the dome of the Capitol
Then if the Constitution
is really to be put aside, and the laws of war are to govern, why not act upon it practically.
I do not hold that the clause of the Constitution
which authorizes Congress to declare war applies to any internal difficulties; nor do I believe that the Constitution of the United States
ever contemplated the preservation of the Union
by one-half of the States warring on the other half.
It provides for putting down insurrection, but it does not provide for the raising of armies by one-half of two political communities of this Confederacy for the purpose of subjugating the other half.
If this is a case of war, why not treat it like war?
Practically it is treated so. The prisoners are not hung as rebels.
It is a war, and, in my opinion, not only an unhappy war, but an unconstitutional war. Why, then, does the Administration refuse to send or receive a flag of truce, and all those acts which night at least ameliorate the unhappy condition in which we are placed?
So much, then, we know.
We know that admitted violations of the Constitution
have been made, and are justified, and are, by legislation, proposed still further to confer the authority to do acts not authorized or warranted by the Constitution
We have it openly avowed that the Constitution
, which is a bond at least between those States that adhere to it, is no longer to be regarded as that bond of Union.
It is not enough to tell me that it has been violated by seceded States.
It has not been violated by those States that have not seceded, and if the Constitution
is thus to be put aside, these States may pause to inquire what is to become of their liberties.
, we are on the wrong track, and we have been from the beginning, and the people are beginning to see it. We have been hurling hundreds to death.
The blood of Americans
has been shed by their own hands, and for what?
They have shown their prowess and bravery alike, and for what?
It has been to carry out principles that three-fourths of them abhor.
For the principles contained in this bill, and continually avowed on the floor of this Senate, are not shared, I will venture to say, by three-fourths of your army.
I said, sir, we have been on the wrong track, Nothing but utter ruin to the North
, to the South
, to the East
, and to the