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[386] Constitution of the United States prohibiting the existence of slavery, was of no force; consent given by a party under constraint has neither legal nor moral validity. The state constitution was so amended as to contain certain new provisions prescribed by the government of the United States by a so-called convention of delegates elected by the voters above specified, then submitted to these voters and said to be ratified by them. They were little more in numbers than a handful of the people of Tennessee. Was this a Constitution amended and approved by the consent of the people of Tennessee, the only sovereigns known under our institutions, or was it a Constitution amended and voted for by a small fraction of its population acting under the authority of the government of the United States as the only sovereign in the state? Admitting, even, that those who voted for the amended Constitution were the only legal voters in the state, the government of the United States was no less an unlawful intruder and usurper when it prescribed the amendments to the Constitution and designated the voters. Nevertheless, this work was recognized by it as constituting a republican state government under the Constitution.

Let us next notice some points in the subversion of the state government of Louisiana. One of the earliest steps taken for a civil organization, after the occupation of New Orleans, was to make a registration of voters. The United States government was in possession by military force, and the object was to secure its permanent supremacy. Therefore the oath which was administered to the person applying for registration contained this condition:

I now register myself as a voter, freely and voluntarily, for the purpose of organizing a State government in Louisiana, loyal to the Government of the United States.

It was also announced, with the approval of the military governor, that any person swearing falsely to any material part of the oath would be deemed guilty of perjury, and be liable to prosecution and punishment. The effect of this measure was to secure a registration only of persons who would maintain the supremacy of the government of the United States. A proclamation was next issued by the commander of the United States forces for an election of state officers under the laws and constitution of the state. It was declared that these officers, when thus elected, would constitute the so-called civil government of the state, under the constitution and laws of Louisiana, ‘except so much of the said Constitution and laws as recognize, regulate, or relate to slavery,’ which were also declared to be inoperative and void. It was further provided, in the same proclamation, as follows:

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