upon the Constitution of the United States
. Mr. President
, I have heard the Senator
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
, 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
, 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
, 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
, 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
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