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Mr. Sumner looks at the argument of the State forfeiture thus:
But again it is sometimes said, that the States, by their flagrant treason, have forfeited their rights as States, so as to be civilly dead. It is a patent and indisputable fact, that this gigantic treason was inaugurated with all the forms of law known to the States; that it was carried forward not only by individuals, but also by States, so far as States can perpetrate treason; that the States pretended to withdraw bodily in their corporate capacities;—that the Rebellion, as it showed itself, was by States as well as in States; that it was by the governments of States as well as by the people of States; and that, to the common observer, the crime was consummated by the several corporations, as well as by the individuals of whom they were composed. From this fact, obvious to all, it is argued, that, since, according to Blackstone, ‘a traitor hath abandoned his connection with society, and hath no longer any right to the advantages which before belonged to him [450] purely as a member of the community,’ by the same principle the traitor State is no longer to be regarded as a member of the Union. But it is not necessary, on the present occasion, to insist on the application of any such principle to States.

Without going into theories about State suicide, or State abdication, or any of those endless mazes, he asserts the plain fact that, for the time being, in the absence of a loyal government, those States could take no part and perform no function in the Union or in the administration of civil government. The bright spaces once occupied by those governments, were abandoned and vacated. He continues:

That patriot Senator, Andrew Johnson,—faithful among the faithless. the Abdiel of the South,—began his attempt to reorganize Tennessee by an Address, as early as the 18th of March, 1862, in which he made ruse of these words:—

‘I find most, if not all, of the offices, both State and Federal, vacated, either by actual abandonment, or by the action of the incumbents in attempting to subordinate their functions to a power in hostility to the fundamental law of the State, and subversive of her national allegiance.’

In employing the word ‘vacated,’ Mr. Johnson hit upon the very term which, in the famous resolution of 1688, was held to be most effective in dethroning King James. After declaring that he had abdicated the government, it was added, ‘that the throne had thereby become vacant,’ on which Macaulay happily remarks:—

‘The word abdication conciliated politicians of a more timid school. To the real statesman the simple important clause was that which declared the throne vacant; and if that clause could be carried, he cared little by what preamble it might be introduced.’

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