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[460]

Doc. 152.-debate in the U. S. Senate on the bill for the suppression of insurrection, August 1, 1861.

The bill to suppress insurrection and sedition being taken up:

Mr. Cowan (of Pa.) moved that it be postponed till December.

Mr. Bayard (Del.) thought that was the best disposition that could be made of the bill. He thought it unconstitutional.

Mr. Harris (N. Y.) also spoke in favor of its postponement, and thought it very important. The bill was too important to be matured this session in the temper of the Senate and the temperature of the place. He was inclined to think that necessities of a case give a military commander all the power needed.

Mr. Breckinridge (Ky.) said he should vote for its postponement. He was glad to see the Senate at last pause before one bill. Hie wished it were published in every newspaper in the country. He thought it would meet with universal condemnation. He thought this would abolish all State Government and destroy the last vestige of political and personal liberty.

Mr. Trumbull, of Illinois, contended that some bill of the kind was necessary from the exigencies of the times. The Constitution is in danger, and we have voted men and money to carry on the war to save the Constitution, and how can we justify ourselves without maturing a bill so much needed? Give the bill the goby, and let the Constitution be violated every day because we would not pass it, but leave the military to do as they please without restriction.

Mr. Breckinridge (Ky.) said the drama was beginning to open, and the Senators who are urging on the war are quarrelling among themselves. The Senate had already passed a General Confiscation bill, and also a General Emancipation bill. The Police Commissioners of Baltimore were arrested without any law, and carried off to an unknown place, and the President refused to tell the House what they were arrested for and what had been done with them. Yet they call this liberty and law!

Gentlemen mistake when they talk about the Union. The Union is only a means of preserving the principles of political liberty. The great principles of liberty existed long before the Union was formed. They may survive it. Let gentlemen take care that they do not sever all that remains of the Federal Government. These eternal principles of liberty, which lived long before the Union, will live forever somewhere. They must be respected. They cannot with impunity be overthrown, and if you force the people to the issue between any form of government and these priceless principles of liberty, that form of government will go down. The people will tear it asunder as the irrepressible forces of nature rend asunder all that opposes them. The Senator from Vermont declares that this conflict must be carried on under the rules of war, and admits that some things must be done contrary to the Constitution. I desire that the country should know the fact that constitutional limitations are no longer to be regarded, and let the people once get the idea that this is a war, not under the principles of the Constitution, but a conflict in which two great people are against each other, for whom tile Constitution is not, but for whom the laws of war are, and I venture to say that the brave words we hear now about subjugation and conquest, treason and traitors, will be glibly altered the next time the Representatives of States meet under the dome of the Capitol. Then if the Constitution is really to be put aside, and the laws of war are to govern, why not act upon it practically. I do not hold that the clause of the Constitution which authorizes Congress to declare war applies to any internal difficulties; nor do I believe that the Constitution of the United States ever contemplated the preservation of the Union by one-half of the States warring on the other half. It provides for putting down insurrection, but it does not provide for the raising of armies by one-half of two political communities of this Confederacy for the purpose of subjugating the other half. If this is a case of war, why not treat it like war? Practically it is treated so. The prisoners are not hung as rebels. It is a war, and, in my opinion, not only an unhappy war, but an unconstitutional war. Why, then, does the Administration refuse to send or receive a flag of truce, and all those acts which night at least ameliorate the unhappy condition in which we are placed? So much, then, we know. We know that admitted violations of the Constitution have been made, and are justified, and are, by legislation, proposed still further to confer the authority to do acts not authorized or warranted by the Constitution. We have it openly avowed that the Constitution, which is a bond at least between those States that adhere to it, is no longer to be regarded as that bond of Union. It is not enough to tell me that it has been violated by seceded States. It has not been violated by those States that have not seceded, and if the Constitution is thus to be put aside, these States may pause to inquire what is to become of their liberties. Mr. President, we are on the wrong track, and we have been from the beginning, and the people are beginning to see it. We have been hurling hundreds to death. The blood of Americans has been shed by their own hands, and for what? They have shown their prowess and bravery alike, and for what? It has been to carry out principles that three-fourths of them abhor. For the principles contained in this bill, and continually avowed on the floor of this Senate, are not shared, I will venture to say, by three-fourths of your army. I said, sir, we have been on the wrong track, Nothing but utter ruin to the North, to the South, to the East, and to the [461] West will follow the prosecution of this contest. You may look forward to innumerable armies and countless treasure to be spent for the purpose of carrying on this contest, but it will end in leaving us just where we are now; for, if the forces of the Union are successful, what on earth will be done with theta after they are conquered? Are not gentlemen perfectly satisfied that they have mistaken a people for a faction? Have they not become satisfied that it is necessary to subjugate, conquer, even to exterminate a people? Don't you know it? Don't everybody know it? Does not the world know it? Let us pause, then, and let the Congress of the United States respond to the uprising feeling all over this land in favor of peace. War is separation, in the language of an eminent Senator, now no more. It is disunion.--eternal, final disunion. We have separation now, and it is only much worse by war, and the utter extinction of all those sentiments which might lead to reunion. But let the war go on, and soon in addition to the moans of the widows and orphans all over this land, you will hear the cry of distress from those who want for food, and the comforts of life. The people will be unable to pay the grinding taxes which a fanatical spirit will attempt to impose upon them. Let the war go on, and the Pacific slope, now doubtless devoted to the Union, when they find the burden of separate conditions, then they will separate. Let it go on, until they see the beautiful pictures of the Confederacy beaten out of all shape and comeliness by the war, and they will turn aside in disgust. Fight for twelve months, and this feeling will develop itself. Fight for twelve months more, and you will have three Confederacies instead of two. Fight for twelve months more, and we will have four. But I will not enlarge upon this. I am quite aware that what I say will be received with sneers of disgust by gentlemen from the North-west and the East, but the future will determine who is right and who is wrong. We are making a record here. I am met by the sneers of nearly all those who surround me. I state my opinions with no approving voices, and surrounded by scowls; but the time will come when history will put her private seal upon these proceedings, land I am perfectly willing to abide her final judgment.

Mr. Baker--Mr. President, it has not been my fortune to participate in at any length, indeed, not to hear very much of the discussion which has been going on — more I think in the hands of the Senator from Kentucky than anybody else — upon all the propositions connected with this war; and, as I really feel as sincerely as he can an earnest desire to preserve the Constitution of the United States for everybody, South as well as North, I have listened for some little time past to what he has said, with an earnest desire to apprehend the point of his objection to this particular bill. And now — waiving what I think is the elegant but loose declamation in which he chooses to indulge — I would propose, with my habitual respect for him, (for nobody is more courteous and more gentlemanly,) to ask him if he will be kind enough to tell me what single particular provision there is in this bill which is in violation of the Constitution of the United States, which I have sworn to support--one distinct, single proposition in the bill.

Mr. Breckinridge--I will state, in general terms, that every one of them is, in my opinion, flagrantly so, unless it may be the last. I will send the Senator the bill, and he may comment on the sections.

Mr. Baker--Pick out that one which is in your judgment most clearly so.

Mr. Breckinridge--They are all, in my opinion, so equally atrocious that I dislike to discriminate. I will send the Senator the bill, and I tell him that every section except the last, in my opinion, violates the Constitution of the United States; and of that last section I express no opinion.

Mr. Baker--I had hoped that that respectful suggestion to the Senator would enable him to point out to me one, in his judgment, most clearly so, for they are not all alike — they are not equally atrocious.

Mr. Breckinridge--Very nearly. There are ten of them. The Senator can select which he pleases.

Mr. Baker--Let me try then, if I must generalize as the Senator does, to see if I can get the scope and meaning of this bill. It is a bill providing that the President of the United States may declare, by proclamation, in a certain given state of fact, certain territory within the United States to be in a condition of insurrection and war; which proclamation shall be extensively published within the district to which it relates. That is the first proposition. I ask him if that is unconstitutional? That is a plain question. Is it unconstitutional to give power to the President to declare a portion of the territory of the United States in a state of insurrection or rebellion? He will not dare to say it is.

Mr. Breckinridge--Mr. President, the Senator from Oregon is a very adroit debater, and he discovers, of course, the great advantage he would have if I were to allow him, occupying the floor, to ask me a series of questions, and then have his own criticisms made on them. When he has closed his speech, if I deem it necessary, I may make some reply. At present, however, I will answer that question. The State of Illinois, I believe, is a military district; the State of Kentucky is a military district. In my judgment, the President has no authority, and, in my judgment, Congress has no right to confer upon the President authority, to declare a State in a condition of insurrection or rebellion.

Mr. Baker--In the first place, the bill does not say a word about States. That is the first answer.

Mr. Breckinridge--Does not the Senator [462] know, in fact, that those States compose military districts? It might as well have said “States” as to describe what is a State.

Mr. Baker--I do; and that is the reason why I suggest to the honorable Senator that this criticism about States does not mean any thing at all. That is the very point. The objection certainly ought not to be that he can declare a part of a State in insurrection and not the whole of it. In point of fact the Constitution of the United States, and the Congress of the United States acting upon it, are not treating of States, but of the territory comprising the United States; and I submit once more to his better judgment that it cannot be unconstitutional to allow the President to declare a county, or a part of a county, or a town, or a part of a town, or a part of a State, or the whole of a State, or two States, or five States, in a condition of insurrection, if, in his judgment, that be the fact. That is not wrong. In the next place, it provides that that being so, the military commander in that district may make and publish such police rules and regulations as he may deem necessary to suppress the rebellion and restore order and preserve the lives and property of citizens. I submit to him, if the President of the United States has power, or ought to have power, to suppress insurrection and rebellion, is there any better way to do it, or is there any other? The gentleman says, do it by the civil power. Look at the fact. The civil power is utterly overwhelmed; the courts are closed; the judges banished. Is the President not to execute the law? Is he to do it in person or by his military commanders? Are they to do it with regulation or without it? That is the only question. Mr. President, the honorable Senator says there is a state of war. The Senator from Vermont agrees with him; or rather, he agrees with the Senator from Vermont in that. What then? There is a state of public war; none the less war because it is urged from the other side; not the less war because it is unjust; not the less war because it is a war of insurrection and rebellion. It is still war; and I am willing to say it is public war — public, as contra-distinguished from private war. What then? Shall we carry that war on? Is it his duty as a Senator to carry it on? If so, how? By armies under command; by military organization and authority, advancing to suppress insurrection and rebellion. Is that wrong? Is that unconstitutional? Are we not bound to do with whoever levies war against us as we would do if he was a foreigner? There is no distinction as to the mode of carrying on war; we carry on war against an advancing army just the same, whether it be from Russia or from South Carolina. Will the honorable Senator tell me it is our duty to stay here, within fifteen miles of the enemy, seeking to advance upon us every hour, and talk about nice questions of constitutional construction as to whether it is war or merely insurrection? No, sir. It is our duty to advance, if we can; to suppress insurrection; to put down rebellion; to dissipate the rising; to scatter the enemy; and when we have done so, to preserve in the terms of the bill, the liberty, lives, and property of the people of the country, by just and fair police regulations. I ask the Senator from Indiana, (Mr. Lane,) when we took Monterey, did we not do it there? When we took Mexico, did we not do it there? Is it not a part, a necessary and indispensable part, of war itself, that there shall be military regulations over the country conquered and held? Is that unconstitutional? I think it was a mere play of words that the Senator indulged in when he attempted to answer the Senator from New York. I did not understand the Senator from New York to mean any thing else substantially but this, that the Constitution deals generally with a state of peace, and that when war is declared, it leaves the condition of public affairs to be determined by the law of war, in the country where the war exists. It is true that the Constitution of the United States does adopt the law of war as a part of the instrument itself, during the continuance of war. The Constitution does not provide that spies shall be hung. Is it unconstitutional to hang a spy? There is no provision for it in terms in the Constitution; but nobody denies the right, the power, the justice. Why? Because it is part of the law of war. The Constitution does not provide for the exchange of prisoners; yet it may be done under the law of war. Indeed the Constitution does not provide that a prisoner may be taken at all; yet his captivity is perfectly just and constitutional. It seems to me that the Senator does not, will not, take that view of the subject. Again, sir, when a military commander advances, as I trust, if there are no more unexpected great reverses, he will advance, through Virginia and occupies the country, there, perhaps as here, the civil law may be silent; there perhaps the civil officers may flee as ours have been compelled to flee. What then? If the civil law is silent, who shall control and regulate the conquered district — who but the military commander? As the Senator from Illinois has well said, shall it be done by regulation or without regulation? Shall the general, or the colonel, or the captain, be supreme, or shall he be regulated and ordered by the President of the United States? That is the sole question. The Senator has put it well. I agree that we ought to do all we can to limit, to restrain, to fetter the abuse of military power. Bayonets are at best illogical arguments. I am not willing, except as a case of sheerest necessity, ever to permit a military commander to exercise authority over life, liberty, and property. But, sir, it is part of the law of war; you cannot carry in the rear of your army your courts; you cannot organize juries; you cannot have trials accorded to the forms and ceremonial of the common law amid the clangor of arms, and somebody must enforce police regulations in a [463] conquered or occupied district. I ask the Senator from Kentucky again respectfully, is that unconstitutional; or, if in the nature of war it must exist, even if there be no law passed by us to allow it, is it unconstitutional to regulate it That is the question, to which I do not think he will make a clear and distinct reply. Now, sir, I have shown him two sections of the bill, which I do not think he will repeat earnestly are unconstitutional. I do not think that he will seriously deny that it is perfectly constitutional to limit, to regulate, to control, at the same time to confer and restrain authority in the hands of military commanders. I think it is wise and judicious to regulate it by virtue of powers to be placed in the hands of the President by law. Now, a few words, and a few only, as to the Senator's predictions. The Senator from Kentucky stands up here in a manly way in opposition to what he sees is the overwhelming sentiment of the Senate, and utters reproof, malediction, and prediction combined. Well, sir, it is not every prediction that is prophecy. It is the easiest thing in the world to do; there is nothing easier, except to be mistaken when we have predicted. I confess, Mr. President, that I would not have predicted three weeks ago the disasters which have overtaken our arms; and I do not think (if I were to predict now) that six months hence the Senator will indulge in the same tone of prediction which is his favorite key now. I would ask him, what would you have us do now — a Confederate army within twenty miles of us, advancing or threatening to advance to overwhelm your Government; to shake the pillars of the Union; to bring it around your head, if you stay here, in rains? Are we to stop and talk about an uprising sentiment in the North against the war? Are we to predict evil, and retire from what we predict? Is not the manly part to go on as we have begun, to raise money, and levy armies, to organize them, to prepare to advance; when we do advance, to regulate that advance by all the laws and regulations that civilization and humanity will allow in time of battle? Can we do any thing more? To talk to us about stopping is idle; we will never stop. Will the Senator yield to rebellion? Will he shrink from armed insurrection? Will his State justify it? Will its better public opinion allow it? Shall we send a flag of truce? What would he have? Or would he conduct this war so feebly, that the whole world would smile at us in derision? What would he have? These speeches of his, sown broadcast over the land — what clear, distinct meaning have they? Are they not intended for disorganization in our very midst? Are they not intended to dull our weapons? Are they not intended to destroy our zeal? Are they not intended to animate our enemies? Sir, are they not words of brilliant, polished treason, even in the very Capitol of the Confederacy? [Manifestations of applause in the galleries.]

The Presiding Officer (Mr. Anthony in the chair)--Order!

Mr. Baker--What would have been thought if, in another Capitol, in another Republic, in a yet more martial age, a Senator as grave, not more eloquent or dignified than the Senator from Kentucky, yet with the Roman purple flying over his shoulders, had risen in his place, surrounded by all the illustrations of Roman glory, and declared that advancing Hannibal was just, and that Carthage ought to be dealt with in terms of peace? What would have been thought if, after the battle of Cannae, a Senator there had risen in his place and denounced every levy of the Roman people, every expenditure of its treasury, and every appeal to the old recollections and the old glories? Sir, a Senator, himself learned far more than myself in such lore, tells me, in a voice that I am glad is audible, that he would have been hurled from the Tarpeian rock. It is a grand commentary upon the American Constitution that we permit these words to be uttered. I ask the Senator to recollect, too, what, save to send aid and comfort to the enemy, do these predictions of his amount to? Every word thus uttered falls as a note of inspiration upon every Confederate ear. Every sound thus uttered is a word (and, falling from his lips, a mighty word) of kindling and triumph to a foe that determines to advance. For me, I have no such word as a Senator to utter. For me, amid temporary defeat, disaster, disgrace, it seems that, my duty calls me to utter another word, and that word is, bold, sudden, forward, determined war, according to the laws of war, by armies, by military commanders clothed with full power, advancing with all the past glories of the Republic urging them on to conquest. I do not stop to consider whether it is subjugation or not. It is compulsory obedience — not to my will; not to yours, sir; not to the will of any one man; not to the will of any one State; but compulsory obedience to the Constitution of the whole country. The Senator chose the other day again and again to animadvert on a single expression in a little speech which I delivered before the Senate, in which I took occasion to say that if the people of the rebellious States would not govern themselves as States, they ought to be governed as Territories. The Senator knew full well then, for I explained it twice — he knows full well now — that on this side of the Chamber; nay, in this whole Chamber; nay, in this whole North and West; nay, in all the loyal States in all their breadth, there is not a man among us all who dreams of causing any man in the South to submit to any rule, either as to life, liberty, or property, that we ourselves do not willingly agree to yield to. Did he ever think of that? Subjugation for what? When we subjugate South Carolina, what shall we do? We shall compel its obedience to the Constitution of the United States; that is all. Why play upon words? We do not mean, we have [464] never said, any more. If it be slavery that men should obey the Constitution their fathers fought for, let it be so. If it be freedom, it is freedom equally for them and for us. We propose to subjugate rebellion into loyalty; we propose to subjugate insurrection into peace; we propose to subjugate confederate anarchy into Constitutional Union liberty. The Senator well knows that we propose no more. I ask him, I appeal to his better judgment, now, what does he imagine we intend to do, if fortunately we conquer Tennessee or South Carolina--call it “conquer,” if you will, sir — what do we propose to do? They will have their courts still, they will have their ballot-boxes still, they will have their elections still, they will have their representatives upon this floor still, they will have taxation and representation still, they will have the writ of habeas corpus still, they will have every privilege they ever had and all we desire. When the Confederate armies are scattered, when their leaders are banished from power, when the people return to a late repentant sense of the wrong they have done to a Government they never felt but in benignancy and blessing, then the Constitution made for all will be felt by all, like the descending rains from heaven which bless all alike. Is that subjugation? To restore what was, as it was, for the benefit of the whole country and of the whole human race, is all we desire and all we can have. Gentlemen talk about the North-east. I appeal to Senators from the North-east, is there a man in all your States who advances upon the South with any other idea but to restore the Constitution of the United States in its spirit and its unity? I never heard that one. I believe no man indulges in any dream of inflicting there any wrong to public liberty; and I respectfully tell the Senator from Kentucky that he persistently, earnestly — I will not say wilfully — misrepresents the sentiment of the North and West when he attempts to teach these doctrines to the Confederates of the South. Sir, while I am predicting, I will tell you another thing. This threat about money and men amounts to nothing. Some of the States which have been named in that connection, I know well. I know, as my friend from Illinois will bear me witness, his own State very well. I am sure that no temporary defeat, no momentary disaster, will swerve that State either from its allegiance to the Union, or from its determination to preserve it. It is not with us a question of money or of blood; it is a question involving considerations higher than these. When the Senator from Kentucky speaks of the Pacific, I see another distinguished friend from Illinois, now worthily representing one of the States on the Pacific, (Mr. McDougall,) who will bear me witness that I know that State too, well. I take the liberty — I know I but utter his sentiments in advance — joining with him, to say that that State, quoting from the passage the gentleman himself has quoted, will be true to the Union to the last of her blood and her treasure. There may be there some disaffected; there may be some few men there who would “rather rule in hell than serve in heaven.” There are such men everywhere. There are a few men there who have left the South for the good of the South; who are perverse, violent, destructive, revolutionary, and opposed to social order. A few, but a very few, thus formed and thus nurtured, in California and in Oregon, both persistently endeavor to create and maintain mischief; but the great portion of our population are loyal to the core and in every chord of their hearts. They are offering through me — more to their own Senators, every day from California, and, indeed, from Oregon--to add to the legions of this country by the hundred and the thousand. They are willing to come thousands of miles with their arms on their shoulders, at their own expense, to share with the best offering of their heart's blood in the great struggle of Constitutional liberty. I tell the Senator that his predictions, sometimes for the South, sometimes for the middle States, sometimes for the North-east, and then wandering away in airy visions out to the far Pacific, about the dread of our people, as for loss of blood and treasure, provoking them to disloyalty, are false in sentiment, false in fact, and false in loyalty. The Senator from Kentucky is mistaken in them all. Five hundred million dollars! What then? Great Britain gave more than two thousand millions in the great battle for constitutional liberty which she led at one time almost single-handed against the world. Five hundred thousand men! What then? We have them; they are ours; they are the children of the country. They belong to the whole country; they are our sons; our kinsmen; and there are many of us who will give them all up before we abate one word of our just demand, or will retreat one inch from the line which divides right from wrong. Sir, it is not a question of men or money in that sense. All the men, all the money, are, in our judgment, well bestowed in such a cause. When we give them we know their value. Knowing their value well, we give them with the more pride and the more joy. Sir, how can we retreat? Sir, how can we make peace? Who shall treat? What commissioners? Who would go? Upon what terms? Where is to be your boundary line? Where the end of the principles we shall have to give up? What will become of constitutional government? What will become of public liberty? What of past glories? What of future hopes? Shall we sink into the insignificance of the grave — a degraded, defeated, emasculated people, frightened by the results of one battle, and scared at the visions raised by the imagination of the Senator from Kentucky upon this floor? No, sir; a thousand times, no, sir! We will rally — if, indeed, our words be necessary — we will rally the people, the loyal people, of the whole [465] country. They will pour forth their treasure, their money, their men, without stint, without measure. The most peaceable man in this body may stamp his foot upon this Senate Chamber floor, as of old a warrior and Senator did, and from that single tramp there will spring forth armed legions. Shall one battle determine the fate of empire, or a dozen? the loss of one thousand men or twenty thousand, of one hundred million dollars, or five hundred millions? In a year's peace, in ten years at most, of peaceful progress, we can restore them all. There will be some graves reeking with blood, watered by the tears of affection. There will be some privation; there will be some loss of luxury; there will be somewhat more need for labor to procure the necessaries of life. When that is said, all is said. If we have the country, the whole country, the Union, the Constitution — free government — with these will return all the blessings of well-ordered civilization; the path of the country will be a career of greatness and of glory such as, in the olden time, our fathers saw in the dim visions of years yet to come, and such as would have been ours now, to-day, if it had not been for the treason for which the Senator too often seeks to apologize.

Mr. Breckinridge--I shall detain the Senate, sir, but a few moments in answer to one or two observations that fell from the Senator from California------

Mr. Baker--Oregon.

Mr. Breckinridge--The Senator seems to have charge of the whole Pacific coast, though I do not mean to intimate that the Senators from California are not entirely able and willing to take care of their own State. They are. The Senator from Oregon, then. Mr. President, I have tried on more than one occasion in the Senate, in parliamentary and respectful language, to express my opinions in regard to the character of our Federal system, the relations of the States to the Federal Government, to the Constitution, the bond of the Federal political system. They differed utterly from those entertained by the Senator from Oregon. Evidently, by his line of argument, he regards this as an original, not a delegated Government, and he regards it as clothed with all those powers which belong to an original nation, not only with those powers which are delegated by the different political communities that compose it, and limited by the written Constitution that forms the bond of union. I have tried to show that, in the view that I take of our Government, this war is an unconstitutional war. I do not think the Senator from Oregon has answered my argument. He asks, what must we do? As we progress southward, and invade the country, must we not, said he, carry with us all the laws of war? I would not progress southward, and invade the country. The President of the United States, as I again repeat, in my judgment, only has the power to call out the military to assist the civil authority in executing the laws; and when the question assumes the magnitude and takes the form of a great political severance, and nearly half the members of the Confederacy withdraw themselves from it, what then? I have never held that one State or a number of States have a right without cause to break the compact of the Constitution. But what I mean to say is, that you cannot then undertake to make war in the name of the Constitution. In my opinion they are out. You may conquer them; but do not attempt to do it under what I consider false political pretences. However, sir, I will not enlarge upon that. I have developed these ideas again and again, and I do not care to reargue them. Hence the Senator and I start from entirely different stand-points, and his pretended replies are no replies at all. The Senator asks me, “What would you have us do?” I have already intimated what I would have us do. I would have us stop the war. We can do it. I have tried to show that there is none of that inexorable necessity to continue this war which the Senator seems to suppose. I do not hold that constitutional liberty on this continent is bound up in this fratricidal, devastating, horrible contest. Upon the contrary, I fear it will find its grave in it. The Senator is mistaken in supposing that we can reunite these States by war. He is mistaken in supposing that eighteen or twenty millions upon the one side can subjugate ten or twelve millions upon: the other; or, if they do subjugate them, that you can restore Constitutional Government as our fathers made it. You will have to govern them as territories, as suggested by the Senator, if ever they are reduced to the dominion of the United States, or, as the Senator from Vermont called them, “those rebellious provinces of this Union,” in his speech today. Sir, I would prefer to see these States all reunited upon true constitutional principles to any other object that could be offered me in life; and to restore, upon the principles of our fathers, the union of these States, to me the sacrifice of one unimportant life would be nothing, nothing, sir. But I infinitely prefer to see a peaceful separation of these States, than to see endless, aimless, devastating war, at the end of which I see the grave of public liberty and of personal freedom.

The Senator asked if a Senator of Rome had uttered these things in the war between Carthage and that power, how would he have been treated? Sir, the war between Carthage and Rome was altogether different from the war now waged between the United States and the Confederate States. I would have said — rather than avow the principle that one or the other must be subjugated, or perhaps both destroyed — let Carthage live and let Rome live, each pursuing its own course of policy and civilization. The Senator says that these opinions which I thus expressed, and have heretofore expressed, are but brilliant treason; and that it is a tribute to the character of our institutions [466] that I am allowed to utter them upon the Senate floor. Mr. President, if I am speaking treason, 1 am not aware of it. I am speaking what I believe to be for the good of my country. If I am speaking treason, I am speaking it in my place in the Senate. By whose indulgence am I speaking? Not by any man's indulgence. I am speaking by the guarantees of that Constitution which seems to be here now so little respected. And, sir, when he asked what would have been done with a Roman Senator who had uttered such words, a certain Senator on this floor, whose courage has much risen of late, replies in audible tones: “He would have been hurled from the Tarpeian Rock.” Sir, if ever we find an American Tarpeian Rock, and a suitable victim is to be selected, the people will turn, not to me, but to that Senator who, according to the measure of his intellect and his heart, has been the chief author of the public misfortunes. He, and men like him, have brought the country to its present condition. Let him remember, too, sir, that while in ancient Rome the defenders of the public liberty were sometimes torn to pieces by the people, yet their memories were cherished in grateful remembrance; while to be hurled from the Tarpeian Rock was ever the fate of usurpers and tyrants. I reply with the just indignation I ought to feel at such an insult offered on the floor of the Senate chamber to a Senator who is speaking in his place. Mr. President, I shall not longer detain the Senate. My opinions are my own. They are honestly entertained. I do not believe that I have uttered one opinion here, in regard to this contest, that does not reflect the judgment of the people I have the honor to represent. If they do, I shall find my reward in the fearless utterance of their opinions; if they do not, I am not a man to cling to the forms of office, and to the emoluments of public life, against my convictions and my principles; and I repeat what I uttered the other day, that if indeed the Commonwealth of Kentucky, instead of attempting to mediate in this unfortunate struggle, shall throw her energies into the strife, and approve the conduct and sustain the policy of the Federal Administration in what I believe to be a war of subjugation, and which is being proved every day to be a war of subjugation and annihilation, she may take her course. I am her son, and will share her destiny, but she will be represented by some other man on the floor of this Senate.

Mr. Baker--Mr. President, I rose a few minutes ago to endeavor to demonstrate to the honorable Senator from Kentucky that all these imaginations of his as to the unconstitutional character of the provisions of this bill were baseless and idle. I think every member of the Senate must be convinced, from the manner of his reply, that that conviction is beginning to get into his own mind; and I shall therefore leave him to settle the account with the people of Kentucky, about which he seems to have some predictions, which, I trust, with great personal respect to him, may, different from his usual predictions, become prophecy after the first Monday of August next.

Mr. Doolittle--Mr. President, in the heat and excitement of this debate, there are one or two ideas that ought not to be lost sight of. Tile Senator from Kentucky seems to forget, while he speaks of the delegated powers of this Government under the Constitution, that one of the powers which is delegated is that we shall guarantee to every State of this Union a republican form of government; that when South Carolina seeks to set up a military despotism, the constitutional power with which we are clothed and the duty which is enjoined upon us is to guarantee to South Carolina a republican form of government. There is another idea that seems to be lost sight of in the talk about subjugation, and I hope that my friends on this side of the Chamber will not also lose sight of it in the excitement of the debate. I undertake to say that it is not the purpose of this war, or of this Administration, to subjugate any State of the Union, or the people of any State of the Union. What is the policy? It is, as I said the other day, to enable the loyal people of the several States of this Union to reconstruct themselves upon the Constitution of the United States. Virginia has led the way; Virginia, in her sovereign capacity, by the assembled loyal people of that State in Convention, has organized herself upon the Constitution of the United States, and they have taken into their own hands the Government of that State. Virginia has her judges, her marshals, her public officers; and to the courts of Virginia, and to the marshals and executive officers of Virginia we can intrust the enforcement of the laws the moment that the state of civil war shall have ceased in the eastern or any other portion of the State. It is not, therefore, the purpose of this Government to subjugate the people of Virginia, or of any other State, and subject them to the control of our armies. It is simply that we will rally to the support of the loyal people of Virginia and of Tennessee and of North Carolina and of Texas, ay, and of the Gulf States too when they are prepared for it; we will rally to the support of the loyal people of these States and enable them to take their Government in their own hands, by wresting it out of the hands of those military usurpers who now hold it, for they are nothing more and nothing less. That is all that is involved in this contest, and I hope on this side of the Chamber we shall never again hear one of our friends talking about subjugating either a State or the people of any State of this Union, but that we shall go on aiding them to do just precisely what the loyal people of Virginia are doing, what the loyal people of Tennessee are preparing to do, what the loyal people of North Carolina stand ready to do, and what the loyal people in Georgia and Alabama and Louisiana, and last perhaps of all, the loyal people of South Carolina will do in reconstructing themselves [467] upon the Constitution of the United States. Mr. President, I have heard the Senator from Kentucky to-day, and I have heard him again and again, denounce the President of the United States for the usurpation of unconstitutional power. I undertake to say that without any foundation he makes such a charge of usurpation of unconstitutional power, unless it be in a mere matter of form. He has not, in substance; and the case I put to the Senator the other day, he has not answered, and I defy him to answer. I undertake to say that, as there are fifty thousand men, perhaps, in arms against the United States in Virginia, within thirty miles of this capital, I, as an individual, though I am not President, though I am clothed with no official authority, may ask one hundred thousand of my fellow-men to volunteer to go with me, with arms in our hands, to take every one of them, and, if it be necessary, to take their lives. Why do not some of these gentlemen who talk about usurpation and trampling the Constitution under foot, stand up here and answer that position, or forever shut their mouths? I, as an individual, can do all this, though I am not President, and am clothed with no legal authority whatever, simply because I am a loyal citizen of the United States. I have a right to ask one hundred thousand men to volunteer to go with me and capture the whole of the rebels, and, if it be necessary to their capture, to kill half of them while I am doing it. No man can deny the correctness of the proposition. Away, then, with all this stuff, and this splitting of hairs and pettifogging here, when we are within the very sound of the guns of these traitors and rebels, who threaten to march upon the capital and subjugate the Government. Mr. President, there is some contrariety of opinion as to the propriety of acting upon the bill pending before the Senate to-day, or as to whether we shall defer action upon it until the next session of Congress. Many of our friends deem it advisable that it should be postponed until then; some of them think it should be acted on now. For myself, I believe, as was maintained by the honorable Senator from Vermont, that where civil war actually exists, where men are actually in arms, in combat, of necessity the laws of war must go with them, and the laws of war are unwritten laws. At the same time, I agree with the honorable Senator from Illinois, that the Constitution of the United States clothes Congress with the power to make rules and regulations respecting the armies of the United States, and that we may extend or we may limit the ordinary rules of war. But, sir, as has been suggested, it is a very important question to what extent they should be limited. Whether it should be done now or at the next session of Congress is not, in my judgment, so very material; but as many of my friends around me are disposed to allow it to pass over until the next session, when the whole subject can be considered and may be matured, I shall join with them in support of that motion, and shall vote for the postponement of the bill; not for the reasons that have been stated by the Senator from Kentucky in denouncing the measure, but because by that time this whole subject may be considered, and whatever rules may be necessary to be adopted in those districts where the civil war is to be carried on, can be adopted at that time. In the mean time, it is true that where war in fact shall exist, of necessity these rules will depend upon the Commander-in-Chief.

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