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[682] to non-combatants during international wars, and rejected the oath which implied a recognition of the sovereignty of the United States. The result of this system, therefore, was to divide the population of those countries into two classes, the oath-takers and the oath-rejecters. The first class, being exclusively favored at the expense of the second, contained not only many sincere partisans of the Union, but also all the wavering or dissembling characters in the community, all those who desired to speculate on the war, and, above all, an incalculable number of spies belonging to every rank of society.

The oath of allegiance, which was proper and easily applied in those States that had remained loyal to the Constitution, became, therefore, unjust and impolitic when the practice was extended to those which had been reconquered by the force of arms.

However, whilst Messrs. Dix and Pierrepont were restoring to most of the political prisoners their freedom, the places thus becoming empty in the Federal forts soon received new guests, chiefly furnished by Kentucky. Some were arrested for the same causes as their predecessors, others were simply the victims of their resistance to the militia conscription law. Many were deserters, insurrectionists or their accomplices, with whom the Federal authorities had thought proper to deal summarily in order to secure the execution of the law. These imprisonments, justified by the state of civil war, were generally of short duration; they did not the less constitute a violation of the habeas corpus; their legality, therefore, was frequently impugned before the courts of justice. These tribunals, whilst recognizing the power of the President to order such arrests, refused to ratify those made by his subordinates, when they were not provided with a mandate bearing his signature. This law was a barrier interposed against all abuse of power on the part of inferior functionaries; but, on the other hand, as it would have been annulling the right of the President to compel him to sign mandates which had to be sometimes executed at a distance of several hundred leagues from Washington, it became necessary to determine to whom his power was to be delegated, and the limits within which this power was to be exercised. This is precisely what Mr. Lincoln did by an

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