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[144] emancipation of all our slaves. Upon his approval of the bill, President Lincoln sent a message to Congress, in which he said:
It is startling to say that Congress can free a slave within a State, and yet, if it were said the ownership of the slave had first been transferred to the nation, and Congress had then liberated him, the difficulty would at once vanish. And this is the real case. The traitor against the General Government forfeits his slave at least as justly as he does any other property; and he forfeits both to the Government against which he offends. The Government, so far as there can be ownership, thus owns the forfeited slaves, and the question for Congress in regard to them is, ‘Shall they be made free or sold to new masters?’

It is amazing to see the utter forgetfulness of all constitutional obligations and the entire disregard of the conditions of the laws of nations manifested in these words of the President of the United States. Was he ignorant of their existence, or did he seek to cover up his violation of them by a deceptive use of language? It may not be unseasonable to repeat here the words of John Quincy Adams in his letter of August 22, 1815, as above stated:

Our object is the restoration of all the property, including slaves, which, by the usages of war among civilized nations, ought not to have been taken.

Let posterity answer the questions: Who were the revolutionists? Who were really destroying the Constitution of the United States?

The agitation of this subject brought out another still more alarming usurpation in Congress, and showed that the majority were ready to throw aside the last fragments of the Constitution in order to secure our subjugation. The argument for this usurpation was thus framed: assuming that the state of the ‘nation’ was one of general hostility, and that, being so involved, it possessed the power of self-defense, it was asserted that the supreme power of making and conducting war was expressly placed in Congress by the Constitution. ‘The whole powers of war are vested in Congress.’1 There is no such power in the judiciary, and the Executive is simply ‘commander-in-chief of the army and navy’; all other powers not necessarily implied in the command of the military and naval forces are expressly given to Congress.

The theory was that the contingency of actual hostilities suspended the Constitution and gave to Congress the sovereign power of a nation creating new relations and conferring new rights, imposing extraordinary obligations on the citizens, and subjecting them to extraordinary penalties. There is, under that view, therefore, no limit on the power of Congress; it is invested with the absolute powers of war—the civil functions of the government are, for the time being, in abeyance when in conflict, and all

1 United States Supreme Court, Brown vs. United States, 1 Cranch.

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