was opened with prayer by the Rev. Dr. Minnigerode
, of the Episcopal Church.
The President laid before the Senate a communication from Gov. Brown
, of Ga.
, covering a copy of resolutions adopted by the Legislature of Ga.
, expressing a determination to prosecute the war with vigor.
The communication and accompanying documents were ordered to be printed.
On motion of Mr. Sparrow
, the Senate resolved itself into secret legislative session.
When the doors were reopened the Senate adjourned.
was called to order at 12 o'clock by the Speaker
The Speaker announced the appointment of the following committees: Committee to inquire into outrages committed by the enemy in North Carolina
of N. C.
, Helcombe of Va.
, H. W. Bruce
, and Bell
of Mo.; Committee, authorized by Mr. Foote
's resolution, to inquire into the charge of corruption against a member of the House
— Messrs Lyons
of S. C.
, and Atkins
then took up for consideration, as unfinished business, the bill reported from the Military Committee repealing existing and regulating future exemptions.
, of Miss.
, said that, as the chairman of the committee was absent, he moved to postpone the consideration of the bill to some future day.
signified his intention to move an amendment to the bill by striking out all after the word "repeal," in the fourth line.
He regarded this measure as a most dangerous one, and he would oppose it as he would the armies of the enemy.
, of Florida
, said he thought the fact stated by the gentleman from Mississippi
, to wit: the absence of the chairman of the Committee
on Military Affairs, was a good reason for the temporary postponement of the bill.
But as regards the announcement of the gentleman from Tennessee
) that when its consideration should be resumed he would move to strike out all after the enacting clause, and then propose its recommitment, he would state that he thought the gentleman, who had stated that he never had voted for an exemption bill passed by this House, who took exception to the action of the committee, instead of proposing to refer the matter back, he should himself frame and present a bill.
He doubted whether the gentleman could frame a bill which in all its details would be acceptable even to himself.
At all events, the matter could be as well dealt with in the House
as in committee.
If the gentleman would draft a bill, he would promise him his co-operation in perfecting it.
, of Ark.
, opposed the motion of the gentleman from Mississippi
He thought it due to the Military Committee that this bill should be taken up and perfected.
He certainly thought that, of the number of gentlemen composing the Military Committee, at least one might be found competent to engineer the bill through, even in the absence of the chairman.
, of Miss.
, regretted the absence of the chairman of the Military Committee, but entirely concurred in the views expressed by the gentleman from Arkansas
He could see no necessity for postponing it.
The question was called on the motion of Mr. Welch
, and the House
refused to postpone.
, of Miss.
, offered an amendment to the bill, to come in after the word Governments, in the sixth line, to exempt physicians who have practiced their professions five years previous to the 11th day of October, 1862, and ministers of the Gospel who were in the regular exercise of their calling at the time above mentioned.
, of Va.
, who was entitled to the floor, moved to recommit the bill and amendments to the Military Committee, and said that that committee, at the last session of Congress, reported a bill similar to the one now under consideration.
It was rejected in the House
by a decisive vote.
Let us earnestly hope that this bill may share the same fate.
He had voted against the proposition then, and there was nothing in the condition of the country, or in the reasoning of the honorable gentleman from So. Carolina
, (Mr. Miles
,) that would induce him to change the opinion then entertained.
He (Mr. Staples
) argued at considerable length to show that the Secretary of War
could not perform the duties this bill would impose upon him; that he (the Secretary
) would be compelled to delegate the power to innumerable boards and agents, dispersed throughout the country; that these boards would open new sources of patronage and power; that they would be exposed to all the temptations of personal, political, and family influence, to fraud, corruption, and bribery — creating, by their decisions, dissatisfaction among the people and discontent in the army.
He insisted that the expense of an universal conscription would be enormous; that no man could estimate the injury inflicted upon all the industrial interests of the country by the sudden stoppage of so many callings and pursuits until the Secretary of War
shall determine who shall be detailed, and for what purpose.
The honorable gentleman from South Carolina
says that Congress cannot agree upon a bill — that the Military Committee cannot agree upon a bill.
The gentleman is mistaken.
It may require time, but an actual vote will always test the sense of the House
upon any proposition for exemption.
The same process of reasoning would lead us to commit to the President
the whole subject of taxation and currency.
Upon that question there are wider differences of opinion than any other in the whole range of political economy — differences as to principle and differences as to detail.
But, sir, these difficulties do not relieve Congress from the obligation of maturing such measures of finance as the necessities of the country demand.
The whole subject of conscription and exemption belongs to Congress, and to Congress alone.
It is a legislative power, a legislative discretion, and a legislative obligation.
Congress must declare war, Congress must raise armies, Congress must determine who are to compose the armies, and who are to be exempt from military service.
For the proper exercise of this trust the members are responsible to their constituents, to the country, and to posterity.
Who so capable of discharging this trust as the men upon this floor, fresh from the people, and familiar with all their wants, their necessities, and the diversified interests of an extensive country?
Why, sir, we are sent here for this purpose, and when we acknowledge ourselves incapable of performing this legislative duty we should resign our seats and go back and so tell our constituents.
This bill clothes the President
with the powers of an autocrat.
It invests him with prerogatives before which those of Napoleon
sink into insignificance.
Pass this hill, and no man can pursue a mechanical occupation, no man practice medicine, publish a newspaper, or ascend the pulpit and proclaim the tidings of the Gospel, without crawling to the footstool of power and humbly asking permission from an omnipotent Executive.
Pass this bill, and then commences the scramble for Executive favor and patronage.
We shall have the War Department and the Executive
mansion beleaguered by an innumerable throng of suppliants and beggars for "the thrift that follows fawning." Members of Congress will be expected to swell the host of application we shall be seen, hat in hand, crowding rooms of the War Department and the that lead to the Executive office, humbly asking for the detail of a shoemaker, or tanner, or minister of the gospel, for our constituents.
I will not vote to expose my constituents to influences so demoralizing.
I will not subject myself to the loss of that manly independence so necessary to a representative of the people in his whole intercourse with the Executive
departments of the Government
I will not say that an obnoxious member or an obnoxious editor might not prove as successful in their applications as one who basks in the beams of Executive favor.
But this may be said: ‘"There will be constant temptation to favoritism, to abuse, and in some instances to oppression.
I know the Secretary of War
, and know him to be a man of the most elevated talents and patriotism.
Nothing but the sternest dictates of duty could induce him to encounter the annoyances and labors that belong to his position.
But in the contingencies of war he may be removed or may resign, and I cannot tell who may be his successor.
The liberties of a people are never safe when dependent upon the character or patriotism of one man. Mr. Staples
insisted that the great abuses of the times did not grow out of the Exemption act.--They originated in the system of details allowed by the Government
Here is the mischief, and here the remedy should be applied.
It is this that is destroying the vitalities of the army and the energies of the struggle.--He dwelt at much length upon this point, and said if the detailed men able to do military duty were put in the ranks, the deserters brought back, and the Exemption law-modified in many particulars, we would have an army able to cope with our adversaries.--Unless this was done — unless there was a change in the policy of the Government
, we should have a protracted and bloody struggle — a struggle such as Prussia
shed, when one-sixth of her whole male population perished upon the field of battle, when the authority of her magistrates and laws was suspended, and the horrors of pestilence and famine were added to the atrocities of war. But if the measure he indicated were adopted, he was satisfied the army would be so increased that another year would terminate the struggle; the clouds would pass away, and the bow of peace once more span the arch of the heavens."’
, of Ala.
, also spoke in opposition to the bill, and continued his remarks until the expiration of the morning hour, when the special order was called, and the House
went into secret session for the consideration of the bills reported from the Committee
on the Currency.