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Scenes in the Federal Congress.
debate on Confiscation — the negro question.

Washington, March 10.


Mr. Wilson (Mass.) offered a joint resolution, tendering aid to the States of Maryland and Delaware, and favoring voluntary emancipation.

Mr. Saulsbury (Del.) objected, and the resolution was accordingly lard over.

On motion of Mr. Wilson (Mass.), the bill to encourage enlistments in the army was taken up.

The question being on the motion of Mr. Fessenden to amend by adding the bill to organize the cavalry, it was adopted.

On motion of Mr. Sherman, the number of cavalry regiments was reduced to thirty instead of forty.

Mr. Wilson (Mass.) said there was a story going abroad in the newspapers that there was something wrong about this bill. The fact was the bill reduced the force by 37 colonels, 37 lieutenant-colonels, 111 majors 450 captains, and 940 lieutenants, making a saving of $2,900,000 to the treasury.

Mr. Fessenden (Me.) moved to amend so that no further enlistments shall be made until the whole number of the army has been reduced to 500,000 rank and file; and the army shall not be increased beyond that number.

After some discussion, Mr. Fessenden withdrew his amendment.

Messrs. Doclittle and Trumbull objected to the provision of the bill which allows a bounty for enlistment from the volunteer to the regular army.

Mr. Chandler (Mich.) said he also was opposed to any recruiting officer going to the Michigan regiments to induce them to leave their colors. All the fighting had, so far, been done by volunteers.

Mr. Wilson (Mass.) did not consider that the measure would have any bad effect on the army, or the volunteers in any way. There were men in the volunteer ranks who wished to go into the regular army. But if the Senate was of the opinion that the effect would he bad, he would move to strike out the provision giving a bounty for enlistments from the volunteers. Adopted.

Mr. Chandler moved to strike out the section providing for enlistments from the volunteers to the regular army. Adopted.

The bill was then passed.

The Confiscation bill was taken up.

Mr. Browning (Ill.) said he assumed that every Senator agreed in the wish that the war should be brought to a speedy and successful conclusion. He also assumed that all wished to keep within the limits of the Constitution, and preserve it in all its parts, for our protection, and for the benefit of posterity forever. We would prosecute the war to a bad end if we only succeeded in conquering the States by the overthrow of the Constitution. Unless we can save the Constitution with the Union, we had better let both go. All the evils the rebels are now enduring are the legitimate fruits of a violation of the Constitution.

The Constitution says: ‘"No bill of attainder shall be passed."’ But it seems to be admitted that this bill is practically a bill of attainder. The Senator from Maine (Mr. Morrill) seems to place the authority of Congress to pass this bill on the ‘"war power;"’ but all the powers Congress possesses are granted by the Constitution, and they were the same yesterday as they are to day, and will remain so forever. The unlimited power of Congress, as advocated by the Senator from Maine, is only a foundation for despotism. The functions of Congress are civil and legislative, and it cannot control unlimited war power. He contended that the supreme Court had settled this question, and decided that the power was in the President.

He cited from the case of Luther vs. Borden, 7th Howard, pp. 43 and 46; also, Martin vs. Mott, 12th Wheatley. If the President abuses the power there is a remedy in Congress, but if Congress usurps the war power there is absolutely no remedy. He cites further the case of Cross vs. Harrolson, growing out of the state of things in California. California was conquered in 1848, but Congress had no power to legislate for it at all, and yet the President instituted a form of Government for it. But this bill relates to property not captured or expected to be captured, and is not restricted to property calculated to aid the rebellion, but is intended to strip millions of persons in private life of everything.

The sure and certain affect of this bill will be to make peace and reunion impossible. He contended that if the rebels were public enemies, we could not confiscate their property by the laws of nations; and if they were not enemies, but insurrectionary citizens, then the Constitution forbids such confiscation.--The bill was as inexpedient as it was unconstitutional. It would only serve to consolidate our enemies and make them desperate.

Mr. Grimes here read a dispatch, announcing the capture of St. Mary's, Fernancina, &c.

Mr. Browning said he thought he could go on with more energy. He was willing, on their return to their allegiance, to grant an amnesty to the deluded masses of the people; but he would have the leaders suffer the extreme penalty of the law on the gallows. He said that slavery was the sole cause of the war — that is, if there had been no slavery there would have been no rebellion or war; and if, by some miracle, slavery was wiped out, the war would not last thirty days. But neither the President nor Congress had the power to proclaim emancipation. If slavery can survive the war, be it so. If it dies, no patriot can complain. Slavery was entirely local and has no right to ask special privileges.

It must take care of itself. He would not have any gallant soldier detailed as a slave hunter. He conceded to a loyal man all the rights over his property that he ever had under the Constitution; but if it should ever come to a question between slavery and Union, then he would be ready to wage a war of utter extermination against slavery. He thought that the loyal men in the South were as ready to yield as much as any party of citizens for the sake of the Government, even, if necessary, to fire up slavery; but, unless necessity demands such a sacrifice, they should be protected in their property the same as other citizens.

In regard to the property of the rebels — the movable property — he thought that it might be taken as the property of enemies under the rules of war. We might take a negro like other movable property, and it needed no further legislation. No law was needed to vindicate the confiscation of the property of the enemy. He said that, in a case of necessity, he would arm the fugitives who came to the army, though there must be an urgent necessity for such a course. In conclusion, he urged that the contest should be waged with vigor, and be brief and fierce.

On motion of Mr. Wilson (Mass.) the bill from the House, providing a new ‘"Article of War,"’ was taken up. It provides that no officer or soldier shall return fugitives, &c.

Mr. Davis (Ky.) offered an amendment that such officers, &c., shall neither detain, harbor or conceal any such fugitive.

Disagreed to.

Mr. Saulsbury (Del.) offered an amendment that the articles shall not apply to Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, Kentucky, or wherever the Federal authority is recognized Disagreed to — yeas 7; nays 30.

Mr. Carille asked, if in case the President should at any time call out the militia to enforce the law for returning fugitive slaves, which constitutional provision would this bill interfere with!

Mr. Wilson (Mass.) replied, that that would be for judicial decision. The question of returning slaves was a judicial and not a military one.

Mr. Saulsbury offered an amendment so as to prevent officers, &c. from enticing or decoying any person held to labor or service from the service of loyal masters. Disagreed to — yeas 10; nays 27.

The bill was then passed — yeas 29; nays 9; being the same relative vote as that on Mr. Davis's motion.

The Senate then adjourned.

House of Representatives.

The House considered the Senate bill providing for the appointment of sutlers in the volunteer service, and defining their duties.

Mr. Blake (Ohio) made an unsuccessful motion to abolish such sutlerships.

Mr. Aldrich (Minn.) favored the motion of Mr. Blake, alluding to what he had heard of the sutlers swindling the soldiers.

Mr. Blair (Mo.) was opposed to legislating against any class of men. If there had been swindling practiced, the fault was with those who had appointed the sutlers, and whose business it was to prevent such practices.

The sutler system was discussed at length.

The bill was then passed, after being amended.

It requires the schedule of the articles permitted to be sold, together, with the prices thereof, to be prominently posted. Sutlers are prohibited from farming out their offices, nor are they allowed to sell to soldiers on account exceeding one fourth their monthly pay; nor shall the sutler have a lien on the same.

Mr. Rascoe Conkling (N. Y.) asked leave to offer the following resolution, as proposed in the President's recent message:

Resolved, That the United States ought to co-operate with any State which may adopt gradual abolition of slavery, giving to such State aid, to be used by such a case in the , to compensate the independence, public and private, produced by such change of system.

The rules were suspended for that purpose. Yeas, 86; nays, 35.

Mr. Roscoe Conkling said this resolution was in the exact words of the President's recent special message. It related to a subject with regard to which nearly every member has made up his mind. Those who had not, would not have their conclusions settled by discussion. He desired, therefore, a vote on the subject.

Mr. Grider (Ky.) said that the had come to no conclusion as to whether he would vote for or against the resolution, but he must be permitted to remark that he saw no necessity for the introduction of the resolution this morning, because the message on which it was suggested had been referred to the Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union.

Mr. Richardson (Ill.) rose to a question of order. It was that, a debate rising, the resolution goes over.

The Speaker overruled the point on the ground that the rules had been suspended for the reception of the resolution.

Mr. Roscoe Conkling said that, for the reasons he had already stated, he demanded the previous question.

The House, by a vote of 59 against 67, refused to second the demand.

Mr. Mallory (Ky.) said that to him and others similarly situated, this measure was more embarrassing than any other class of members. They were most anxious that the question should not be pressed, because they wanted calmly and deliberately to consider as to what their action shall be. He was thankful to the House for refusing the second demand for the previous question, and suggested a postponement of the subject till Monday next, for further consideration.

Mr. Richardson said he intended to make a similar motion. This matter was entitled to the gravest consideration. It was one committing them to a policy on, which their constituents had not reflected. The gentleman from New York (Mr. Roscoe Conkling) had declared that all ought to have made up their minds on the subject; but it was one of great magnitude, and which all gentlemen here had not considered. They had not had time to communicate with their constituents. He was prepared to agree with the message as to the rights of the States, but he repeated that he did not believe the people were prepared for this policy of emancipation. He know they were not prepared to enter upon a system of purchasing slaves to be turned loose upon them.

He had long entertained the opinion that the class of persons known as negroes are not capable of becoming the repositories of the freedom of this Government. When the President, in his annual message, declared himself in favor of procuring some place on side of the limits of this Republic for colonization, he (Mr. Richardson) thought he saw some light breaking upon him, showing him the way by which they might get rid of this institution as soon as possible.

Mr. Kellogg (Ill.) was in favor of the postponement of the resolution, so that the true spirit and purpose of the President's recommendation might be known. It should be considered calmly. In this view he believed that it would meet with the approbation of three-fourths of the members of the Ubuse. There was no occasion for raising questions which could only result in antagonisms.

Mr. Wickliffe (Ky.) while advocating a full chance for the discussion of this measure, said he must have a better commentator than Mr. Bingham to satisfy him of the constitutional power of the Government to purchase the slaves of rebels or any other parties.

Mr. Diven (N. Y.) was in favor of a postponement. Congress should consider such subjects as these like patriots and not partisans. He called the message as a bow of hope and promise.

Mr. Thomas (Mass.) said he was in favor of the resolution, but would vote for the motion to postpone. It was but justice to the gentlemen who were situated very differently from those who came from the North.

Mr. Biddle (Pt.) briefly advocated the postponement of the resolution.

Mr. Roscoe Conkling, while explaining why he had urged the immediate action of Congress on the measure, said he had moved the previous question after consultation with his friends. His purpose had been, from the commencement, to give the Administration an anxious, hearty and unqualified support.

Mr. Stevens (Pa.) thought they ought not to postpone the resolution for so long a period as was proposed. He moved to substitute tomorrow.

Pending which question the House adjourned.

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