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‘ [137] have no inclination to do so.’ The leader (Sumner) of the Abolition party in Congress, on February 25, 1861, said in the Senate, ‘I take this occasion to declare most explicitly that I do not think that Congress has any right to interfere with slavery in a State.’ The principle thus announced had regulated all the legislation of Congress from the beginning of its first session in 1789 down to the first session of the Thirtyseventh Congress, commencing July 4, 1861.

A few months after the inaugural address above cited and the announcement of the fact above quoted were made, Congress commenced to legislate for the abolition of slavery. If it had the power now to do what it before had not, whence was it derived? There had been no addition in the interval to the grants in the Constitution; not a word or letter of that instrument had been changed since the possession of the power was disclaimed; yet after July 4, 1861, it was asserted by the majority in Congress that the government had power to interfere with slavery in the states. Whence came the change? The answer is, It was wrought by the same process and on the same plea that tyranny has ever employed against liberty and justice—the time-worn excuse of usurpers —necessity; and excuse which is ever assumed as valid, because the usurper claims to be the sole judge of his necessity.

The formula under which it was asserted was as follows:

Whereas the laws of the United States have been for some time past and now are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, etc., by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings. . .

Therefore, says the plea of necessity, a new power is this day found under the Constitution of the United States. This means that certain circumstances had transpired in a distant portion of the Union, and the powers of the Constitution had thereby become enlarged. The inference follows with equal reason that, when the circumstances cease to exist, the powers of the Constitution will be contracted again to their normal state; that is, the powers of the Constitution of the United States are enlarged or contracted according to circumstances. Mankind cannot be surprised at seeing a government administered on such an interpretation of powers blunder into a civil war, and approach the throes of dissolution.

Nevertheless, these views were adopted by the Thirty-seventh Congress of the United States, and a system of legislation was devised which embraced the following usurpations: universal emancipation in the Confederate States through confiscation of private property of all kinds; prohibition of the extension of slavery to the territories; emancipation

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