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[655] time to show how Congress, the faithful interpreter of public opinion, gradually imposed the most onerous taxes upon the American people. We shall not take cognizance in this place of any legislation having reference to the home policy of the country during these two years—special laws, resolutions and proclamations involving the question of slavery—as everything relating to this subject will find its place at the end of the chapter in which we propose to treat of the relations of the belligerents to each other.

In virtue of the Constitution, the House of Representatives is elected for two years; one-third of the Senate is renewed every two years, each senator being, therefore, elected for six years. Congress, composed of these two assemblies, meets in stated session the first Monday in December of each year. It adjourns when it pleases, and may be again convened by the President in extra session, before the legal date of meeting, if he thinks it necessary. The 3d of March of every alternate year, on which day the powers of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate expire, ends the existence of a Congress. The new Congress which succeeds it, although it does not meet generally until December of the same year, immediately inherits its power, the elections having taken place a few months before, and its members may on the morning of the 4th of March in case of necessity take the places just vacated by their predecessors.

As we have already said, the Thirty-sixth Congress, which was in session during the last two years of Mr. Buchanan's administration, had adjourned finally on the 3d of March, 1861. The elections that had taken place in the Northern States, previous to this date, had considerably increased the number of representatives and senators belonging either to the party that had carried Mr. Lincoln into power or to that of War Democrats, who, after having opposed him at the polls, had determined to sustain him against all those who attacked the legality of his authority. Nevertheless, these consolidated parties would have found it difficult to obtain a majority in the two houses, as we shall presently show by figures, if their adversaries had occupied the seats which constitutionally belonged to them.

On the 15th of April, at the news of the fall of Fort Sumter,

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