House of Representatives.
Friday, August 22, 1862.
met at its usual hour, and was opened with prayer by Bishop Early
. Journal of yesterday read.
, of Tenn.
, offered a joint resolution tendering thanks to Col. N. Bedford Forrest
, and the officers and soldiers under his command, for gallant services.
offered a resolution requesting the Secretary of War
to furnish this House
with a copy of the report of Gen. Crittenden
of the battle of Fishing Creek
offered a resolution that the President
be requested to furnish the House
with a copy of the report of Gen. Simon B. Buckner
of the battle of Fort Donelson
This resolution was withdrawn without action upon it.
, of Tenn.
, moved that the House
resolve itself into Committee of the Whole on the President
's message, and Mr. Curry
, of Ala.
, took the chair.
The Committee was called to order, and the Chairman
announced that the gentleman from Tennessee
) was entitled to the floor, and he addressed the House
on the following proposition, submitted by him a few days ago:
it is now most manifest that our remorseless and vindictive foes are resolved still further to prosecute this bloody and unnatural war, and are at this moment engaged in raising a large additional force of mercenary soldiers for the destruction of our liberties and for the desolation of our homes; and whereas,
the people of the Confederate States
are more united now than they have heretofore been in the stern and unalterable determination never to relinquish the struggle for independence and freedom until the last armed foe shall cease to pollute the sacred soil of the South
and popular liberty and State sovereignty — for both of which we are contending in arms — shall have been established upon imperishable foundations: Therefore,
Be it Resoloed,,
That the Committee
on Military Affairs be instructed to prepare a bill to provide at once, by law, for calling forth from the States, by the most effective and expeditions method, an additional army of two hundred and fifty thousand men, to be equitably apportioned among the said States, having due regard to population, the number of soldiers heretofore furnished, and other kindred considerations; each of the States being required to organize and to officer its own portion of the troops supplied; and the whole force of two hundred and fifty thousand men, or any part thereof being subject to be called into the Confederate
service whenever the exigencies of the war shall, in the judgment of the President
, render it necessary; subject, when these exigencies shall have ceased, to return within the limits of their respective State, and be subject once more to the jurisdiction thereof, and preserving, meanwhile, under their existing political relations with their respective States, and bound at all times to protect and maintain the sovereign rights of the States to which they shall respectively appertain against all assaults and usurpations which may be attempted thereupon by any Government or potentate whatsoever.
, after a few general remarks
, relating mainly to the history of the origin of the Conscript law, showing the haste
with which it was passed.
the manifold deficiencies which the original act contained, the amendments afterwards made in it, at the special instance of the President
, and its general inefficiency,
arising from its intrinsic defects, proceeded to say that the act was notoriously passed under an alleged necessity
existing at the period of its adoption, and observed that many honorable members then in his eye had confessed that they voted for the law with the most painful reluctance, seriously doubting its constitutionality, and, in fact, only supporting it on the ground of salus republica suprema lax.
He then reminded the House
that both the President
and Secretary of War
acknowledged that there was no present necessity
for an extension of the Conscript law. In this he agreed with them; but he did not agree with them in supposing that there was no present necessity for some
law, free from constitutional and other objections, which would enable the Confederate Government to meet and to overthrow the huge armies of the Lincoln Government
, which that Government was now struggling to bring into the field.
He thought that no time was to be lost in preparing to meet the enemy, and therefore he had brought forward the present proposition.
spoke at considerable length on this subject, and made the following points among others:
The present Conscript law is unconstitutional; and, if the plan delineated in it should be allowed to glow into a system, would be altogether subversive of State sovereignty and popular freedom.
- 2. The necessity which was alleged to exist formerly for the present law no longer existed.
So the President admitted; and such was apparently the truth of the matter, as the former necessity related alone to the twelve months men then in the field, upon whom the present law had already fully operated.
- 3. That the former alleged necessity was purely artificial, which undeniably grew out of the failure of the Provisional Government to provide for expected deficiencies in the army in season.
He insisted that two hundred and fifty thousand men could be raised by requisition upon the States in less time than in any other mode.
On this point he dwelt at some length.
- 5. He urged that an army raised in this way would awaken no distrust or alarm in the popular mind, nor occasion any collision with State authorities, always to be deprecated.
He showed that if such a bill as the Secretary recommended should be adopted, collision with Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and other States, would be inevitable, inasmuch as the new Conscript law would sweep into its vortex the whole body of the militia now organized by them, or in course of organized on.
He insisted that the Constitution clearly contemplated leaving the great body of the militia force of the States under State control, except when called for by the President to meet exigencies specified in that instrument, after the passing away of which they were expected to return once more to their original position, all the while maintaining their political identify with the States to which they might respectively appertain.
- 8. He discussed at some length the propriety of allowing the States to officer and organize the troops to be raised.
- 9. He claimed that the new army, to be composed of organized bodies of soldiers from various States, would serve ordinarily as a valuable State guard, supplying the means of local defence against domestic insurrection, and all exterior attempts to infract existing rights, or destroy the movements of State sovereignty.
- 10. He urged most earnestly that the establishment of such a system as that now proposed by the Government would inevitably in the end result in the consolidation of all power in the central department, and ere long bring about the establishment of a military despotism.
He acquitted the President and Secretary of War altogether of entertaining any intentions hostile to public liberty; spoke in kind and complimentary terms of both of them, and commended the conciliatory language of the former in recommending, as he had done in his message, the adoption of some measure of compromise which would reconcile discordant opinions and rmonize public sentiment.
, and Bonham
, also addressed the House
in speeches pertaining to the question.
At the conclusion of Mr. Bonham
's remarks, the Committee
rose and the House
went into secret session on the message sent in this morning by the President