Henry Jarvis Raymond.

Restoration and the union party. Speech of Hon. Henry J. Raymond, of New York, on the conditional admission of the states lately in rebellion to representation in Congress online

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Hon. Henry J, RayxMond,



Delivered in the House of Representatives, June 18, 1866.





Mr. Raymond— Mr. Speaker, I regard the ac-
tion which this House may take upon the bill
now before it as of very great importance. The
bill embodies principles which touch very nearly
the fundamental principles of our Government ;
and it proposes measures which must affect m a
very serious manner the peace and welfare of
the country. I ventiire to hope, Sir, that every
member of this House will bring to its consid-
eration a mind unbiased by prejudice and unin-
fluenced by passion, and that he will act upon it
with sole and exclusive reference to its probable
efiect upon the prosperity and welfare of our
common country. I know how difficult it is to
withstand the influence of habit and association,
personal and political, upon our action here ;
but if there ever was an occasion when it was in-
cumbent upon each one of us to do all in our
power thus to emancipate ourselves from undue
and improper influences, I think. Sir, that occa-
sion is offered by the bill which now awaits oiu:

When this Congress met, Sir, now seven
months ago, the war against the rebellion had
been closed for half a year. The President of
the United States, exercising what he beUeved
to be his rightful authority as the chief Execu-
tive of the nation and Commander-in-Chief of
its armies, had set in motion the machinery of
government in the States where it had been sus-
pended by rebellion. He had appointed Provis-
ional Governors, by whom, under his authority.
Conventions and Legislatures were summoned,
and elections were held ; and those Governors,
Legislatures and Conventions,took steps to bring
the States back to theii- normal condition, so far
as exercising the power of self-government v.'..d
concerned. When we met in December last but
little remained to be done to complete the work
of restoration. The temper of the people in the
Southern States was that of submissive and
loyal acquiescence in the results of the war. AH
that remained was to heal the wounds the
war had made, and embody in proper form
the principles it had established. At an
early day of the session, as early as

was proper and convenient, I stated, in the
course of some remarks on the general sub-
ject, what I thought Congress ought to do— tho
specific action it ought to take, to complete the
work of restoration ; and, with the leave of the
House, as it is very brief, I will read the para-
graph in which that statement was embodied :

" In the Urst place, I think we ought to accept the
present status of the Southern States, and regard
them as having resinned, under the President's guid-
ance and action, their functions of self-government in
the Union.

In the second place, I think this House should decide
on the admission of Representatives by districts, ad-
mitting none but loyal men, who can take the oath we
may prescribe, and holding all others as disqualified,
the Senate acting, at its discretion, in the same way
in regard to representatives of States.

I think, in the third place, we should provide by law
for giving to the freedmen of the South all the rights
of citizens in courts of law and elsewhere.

In the fourth place, I would exclude from Federal
office the leading actors in the conspiracy which led
to the rebellion in every State.

In the fifth place, I would make such amendments
to tho Constitution as may seem wise to Congress and
the States, acting freely and without coercion.

And sixUi, I would take such measures and precau-
tions by the disposition of military forces as will pre ■
serve order and prevent the overthrow, by usurpa-
tion or otherwise, in any State, of its republican form
of government."

Nearly all of these points have been covered
by the action which Congress has already taken.
The status of the Southern States has been sub-
stantially recognized by both Houses in their
action and their recommendations. No one in
either House proposes to change or disturb it.
We have provided, not only by law, but by an
amendment ol the Constitution, for giving to
the freedman of the South all the rights of citi-
zens in the Courts of law and elsewhere, and for
protecting him in their enjoyment. We have
also provided by an amendment of the Constitu-
tion for excluding from office the leading actors
in the rebellion. We have adopted such other

amendmenta to the Constitution as seemed to us
wise and essential, and we have now just passed
a resolution directing them to he submitted to
the several States for their ratification.

Congress adopted those amendments because
it beUeved they ought to form a part of the
Constitution, and I voted for them for that rea-
son, and for that reason alone. I discussed them
on their merits. I dechne to discuss them other-
wise. I voted for them on their merits, and not
ae part and parcel of any scheme of reconstruc-
tion or restoration, except to this extent : that
I beheved their adoption here would promote the
tranquiUity of the country, and that their em-
bodiment in the Constitution would restore har-
mony to the Union and aid in securing the fu-
ture safe y of the Eepubhc. Those amend-
ments have now gone to the several States, and
if adopted by three-fourths of all the States— by
three-fourths of the thirty-six States that com-
pose this Union— they will become vaUd to all m-
tents and purposes as a part of the Constitution
of the United States. I deem it highly import-
ant that these amendments should be acted upon
in all the States, by Legislatures chosen by
the people with reference to this very sub-
ject. I do not hold that this is necessary to
their vahdity ; but I do thiak that justice to the
people, justice to the country, and a true and
wise regard for the requirements and spirit ot
the Constitution demand that it should be sub-
mitted to Legislatures not elected without refer-
ence to it, but to Legislatures chosen by the
people for the express purpose of acting upon it.
We must remember that we who have voted
upon these amendments were elected to Congress
without the shghtest reference to the important
question upon which we were thus called to act.
The question of amending the Constitution was
not then before the pubUc, and has never been
pubUcly discussed. The people have had no
opportunity to act upon it, either directly or in-
directly. It does not seem just that important
amendments to the Constitution should be pro-
posed by a Congress and ratified by Legislatures
while not a member of either was elecbed with
any reference whatever to that subject. Cer-
tainly, great moral force would be given to the
amendment if it were adopted by members
chosen by the people with special rreference to
this point.

But, Sir, in my previous remarks, from which
I have already quoted, I insisted that the States,
in voting upon these amendments, should " act
freely and loUhoiU coercion." I regard that, Sir,
as of vital importance. Amendments to the
Constitution forced upon an unwilling people
will never command the respect essential to their
full validity. They will always be regarded as
badges of injustice, as permanent and indelible

marks of inferiority ; and whatever acquiescence
they may command will be reluctant and con-
strained, not the cheerful obedience which a free
people will always yield to constitutions and laws
they have freely made. This bUl, Sir, violates
that fundamental condition. It seeks to coerce
the States lately in rebeUion into the ratification
of these amendments. It denies them represen-
tation unless they do ratify them. The first sec-
tion of the bill, after reciting the amendments
adopted by Congress, enacts :

" That whenever the above-recited amendment shall
have become part of the Constitution of the United
States, and any State lately in insurrection shall have
ratified the same, and shall have modified its Consti-
tution and laws in conformity therewith, the Senators
and Eepresentatives from such States, if found duly
elected and qualified, may, after having taken the
required oaths of ofiice, be admitted into Congress as

Here are three things required as conditions
without which no Southern State shall be admit-
ted to representation in Congress : First, the
above-recited amendment must first "have be-
come part of the Constitution of the United
States" — that is to say it must fii'st have been
ratified by three-fourths of all the States ; sec-
ond, it must be ratified by each of the States
lately in rebeUion seeking representation ; and
third, that State must have " modified its Con-
stitution and laws in conformity therewith."
Now, Sir, the fin'st of these conditions is not
within control of the States upon which they
are imposed. Suppose every Southern State
should ratify these amendments and enough
Northern States should refuse to ratify them to
secure their defeat ; must Southern States be
denied representation for the default of others ?
This provision, Sir, puts it in the power of the
New-England States with three others to ex-
clude the Southern States from representation
forever ; I am sure Congress can never sanction
so gross a wrong.

But my objection to this bill goes further than
this. I hold that we have no right, no power,
under the Constitution of the United States, to
impose such conditions of representation at all.
We sit here as a Congress to exercise, not im-
limited powers, but only such powers as are
delegated to us by the Constitution of the United
States. We have none of the sovereignty, the
omnipotence, that is claimed by the Parliament
of England. It is one of the distinctive features
of our Qovemment that we hve under a written
Constitution, by which the powers conferred
upon the Government and upon each of its de-
partments are expressly defined. All the power
we have comes by express grant ; it is conferred
upon us by the Constitution. The Constitution
' says Congress shall have power to do certain


things, which are enumerated and distinctly set
forth, and then it is expressly declared that the
powers not delegated are "reserved to the States
or to the people thereof." We can, therefore,
do nothing which the Constitution does not em-
power us to do, either in express terms or by
necessary imphcation from the terms employed.

Now, if I am right in this, I ask anyone here
to point me to the clause of the Constitution
which confers upon Congress a right to say that
Eepresentatives from any State shall not be re-
ceived into Congress until that State shall per-
form certain acts, mate certain laws, or do cer-
tain things which we may dictate. Where is it in
the Constitution ? Is it embodied in any Article ?
Is it implied in any clause, either directly or in-
directly? I cannot find it. On the contrary,
I find an express declaration in the Article which
empowers Congress to propose amendments to
the Constitution, an expUcit provision that "no
State shall be deprived of its equal su&rage in
the Senate without its own consent," even by
an amendment of the Constitution. This biU
proposes to deprive States of such equal suf-
frage by a law. It proposes to do by enacting a
l.iw what Congress and the States together can-
not do by amending the Constitution. I must
maintain, until I am shown to the contrary, that
we have no power under the Constitution of the
United States to pass such a bill as this, or to
enforce its provisions if it should become a law.

I am told, however, that the law of conquest
is higher than the Constitution, and that we
may, under that law, exercise over these States
the right of conquerers and dictate to them such
terms as we plea^. I have at previous stages of
this discussion, or of the discussion of this gen-
eral subject, so fully expressed my opinion upon
this point, and my reasons for it, thati will no t
enter into that argument again. In my judg-
ment the war just closed was a war against re-
bellion. I hold that while it crushed the rebel-
hon it did not impair, to any degree or extent,
the validity, force or binding authority of the
Constitution of the United States, or the rights,
duties, or obligations of the States under that
Constitution. On the contrary, it reaffirmed and
reestablished the authority of the Constitution
in all its fullness over all the States and over
every department of the Government of the
United States. That Constitution is to-day for
us, for Congress, for the President, for every
State, and for every Legislature, and for every
court in every State, the " supreme law of the
land." We have crushed the rebellion which
disputed its sovereign authority, but we thereby
only confirmed and reestabUshed its supremacy.
We have achieved no conquest over that, and no
law of conquest touches that in any particular.
We are bound by its provisions, we are restrict-

ed by its prohibitions, now precisely as we were
before the war.

I am told, furthermore, that the law of neces-
sity requires us to impose these conditions upon
the admission of representatives from the States
lately in insurrection, and that the law of neces-
sity supersedes all other laws. Certainly not the
law of military necessity. No one pretends that
any mUitary necessity now exists. I am not pre-
pared to concede that we have ever set aside the
Constitution of the United States, even under
the nuhtary necessity which the war was sup-
posed to create. In my judgment the Constitu-
tion furnished us with power to carry the coun-
try through the war, and we have not violated
its provisions ; we have exercised no power not
included within its permissions, even m the con-
test from which we have just emerged. But the
war is over. Mihtary necessity no longer exists.
Is it, then, a matter of poUtical necessity that we
should exercise the power asserted in this bill ?
I am told that unless we do so the South will
gain by votes what it lost by arms. The joint
Committee of Fifteen, in their report, assert
that if members from the Southern States be ad-
mitted into Congress the rebels will gain by
votes on its floor, by legislative action, by taking
part in the Government, what they lost on the
field of battle.

Now, Sir, I will not stop to remind Congress of
what Congress seems much disposed to forget,
that this is a Government of the people ; that
the people of the whole country and ail the
States of the Union are not only entitled but are
bound by solemn obligations to take part in that
Government ; and that whatever the people gain
by votes they gain legitimately and in accord-
ance both with the Constitution and the princi-
ples that lie at the foundation of our Govern-


But, not dwelling upon this point, I deny the
existence of any such danger. The apprehen-
sion is plausible perhaps. Judging from the
past we may naturally fear that the poUtical
actoin of the South may again be hostile to the
Government, but a very little reflection wiU show
how small is the peril which is thus involved.
There was a time when there was reason to fear
the ascendency of the South in the Government
of the nation. There was a time when the
South, as a separate section, with institutiona
hostile to the general good, seemed likely to
grasp the sovereignty of the nation and
wield it with exclusive regard to its own am-
bition and its own interest. That time of real
danger was when the Missouri Compromise
was repealed, and Kansas was likely to come

into the Union as a Slave State. If she had thus
come in the number of Free and Slave States
would have been equal. But then the South had
elements of political power which made her
formidable. She had wealth. She monopoUzcd
the best cotton of the world. Her cotton, sugar,
rice and tobacco swelled the vast volume of our
commerce, and regulated our exchanges with
Europe. She had for poUtical leaders men of
great intellects, of ii'on will, of towering ambi-
tion, men fit to stiniggle for empu'e, and able to
infuse their own bold and audacious tempers in-
to the great mass of the Southern people, over
whom their influence was absolute and unbound-
ed. She had a niunerous population, active, as-
piring and bold — a generation of young men
trained in the school of Calhoun and McDuffie,
nursed in the doctrine of State rights and State
sovereignty, taught to beUeve in the right of
Secession, and educated in the faith that the
South was the victim of Northern tyranny.
The South had the institution of Slavery, an
institution powerful beyond conception, as a
bond of union to the Southern States. Menaced
and assailed by the North, threatened with de-
Btruction from every quarter, obnoxious to the
moral sentiment of the civilized world. Slavery
gave the South, as a pohtical power, unity of
action, compactness, force, energy and influ-
ence in the National councils such as no other
single instrumentaUty ever gave to any section
of this country from the beginning of its history.
It gave her, too, an alliance with the Democratic
Party of the Northern States, a party powerful al-
ways by its traditions audits popular sjonpathies ;
powerful by the great men who had distinguished
and controlled it ; by what it had done and by
what it had attempted. Slavery enabled the
South to make an aUiance ofifensive and defen-
sive with this Democratic Party of the Northern
States, and the two together wielded the power
of the nation for a long series of years, and but
for the overweening ambition of Slavery would
have continued to wield it for many years to
come. Then, indeed, the Southern States,
as a political power, were formidable ; then
we had reason to fear their permanent
ascendency. The country felt the danger,
and the people came to the rescue. It
was then, when that danger became imminent,
when it pressed itself upon the feeUngs, atten-
tion and fears of the whole nation— it was then
the Eepubhcan Party was formed, and checked
this aggression upon the freedom and liberties
of the Republic. That party was fonned in 1856,
and it fulfilled its mission ; it triumphed and
checked the aggression of Slavery. It turned
back in its career of triumph, not only the insti-
tation of Slavery, but the Democratic Party,
which had become its ally. It relieved the na-

tion from the exacting sway which had been
fastened upon it, and restored our country to the
position where it could again exercise the rights
of a free and independent people.

How is it at the present time ? Has the South
this power now ? Suppose we assume that the
old division still exists, that there are still two
poUtical sections in our country, one slave, the
other free, stUl strugghng for ascendency ; what
' are their relative numbers and strength ? The
, South has been diminishing, while the North
has been increasing. New States have been
added to the North year by year, until now,
while the Southern States — while the Slave
States, if you choose so to designate them still —
the former Slave States, even counting among
them Maryland, Kentucky, and Delaware, num-
ber hut fourteen, the Free States number Iwerdy-
tioo. In 1850, after Cahfomia had been admit-
ted, the Free States were sixteen and the Slave
States fifteen in number. Even ii this old divis-
ion still existed, the Slave States would have
twenty-eight members of the United States Sen-
ate while we of the North would have forty-four.
In this House they would have seventy-three,
while we should have one hundred and sixty-nine.
Thus we should have more than two to one in
this branch of the national Legislatm-e. But I
am told the South is to have an augmented
strength here m consequence of an in-
creased representation growing out of the
emancipation of the slaves in the Southern
States. Well, Sir, this is worth consideration. I
am very glad that we have adopted a Constitu-
tional Amendment which will remedy that in-
equality ; for it is unquestionably an inequality,
though it is one that has existed from the very
foundation of our Government. But, Sir, the
Southern States previous to the war had four mil-
lion slaves, three-fifths of whom were represent-
ed on this floor ; that is to say, they were en-
titled to the full representation of their white
population and of two nulUon four hundred
thousand more. The slaves of the South thus
gave the South ticenty additional members, tak-
ing one hundred and twenty thousand as the
ratio of representation. How is it now ? I take
it to be universally admitted that the war has
proved far more fatal to the colored population
of the Southern States than to the whites. The
testimony of all who are familiar with the statis-
tics of mortality duiing the war is to the effect
that at least one-fifth of the negroes of the
Southern States have perished during the rebel-
lion. Many of those most famiUar with the sub-
ject estimate the ratio at a still higher figure.
Gen. Geant, I believe, thinks that one-fourth of
all the negroes who were in the South at the
opening of the war have perished. Gov»
Aiken, of South Carolina, testifies.

flrom his personal knowledge, that of
his own slaves, who were probably as well
treated and as mucti protected as any portion of
the Southern people', more than one-foiu'th have
perished during the struggle from which the na-
tion has just emerged ; and Jeitekson Davis, 1
see from the pubhc prints, concedes that one
miUion of the slaves, one-fourth of the whole,
have probably disappeared. I think it, there-
fore, a reasonable estimate to assume that one-
fifth of the four miUion slaves who were in the
South when the war broke out are there no
longer. This would leave three miUion two
hundred thousand as the present aggregate of
the freed slaves of the Southern States, and
they are to be represented man for man if this
amendment to the Constitution be not adopted.
That will give them, at the same ratio of repre-
sentation, as any gentleman wiH ascertain by
making the calculation, twenty-six members,
where they before had twenty. The number of
their Representatives, therefore, from this single
source of power, is to be increased by the addi-
tion of precisely six. They will have six more
members on this floor than they would have had
if all their slaves had lived, and the three-fifths
ratio of representation had been preserved.

I do not think, Sir, that this is very formid-
able. I do not think we need apprehend that by
the addition of those six members, the Southern
States will gain by votes what they have lost by
arms. We must consider, too, that they have
lost, by deaths among their white population,
almost as largely as among the blacks
— far more largely in proportion than
the North. Their wealth has disappeared.
They are utterly without resources. There is
not a dollar in their treasuries. They have not
a gun nor a bayonet nor a round of ammunition
from one extremity of their land to the other.
They have none of the elements of aggression.
They have no power to make themselves formid-
able. They have lost all political influence and
standing. Their leaders, who gave direction and
power to their poUtical councils, have disappear-
j ed before the breath of the terrible whirlwind
which they themselves evoked. Their young
men, who, trained in the school of secession,
■were ready and ripe for the contest, Ue beneath
the soil which they deluged with blood. Slavery,
the great bond which kept them together,
has disappeared before the same dreadfiil tem-
pest. They have no longer that great bond and
pledge of united action. Their industrv is utterly
disorganized; their lands he waste and untilled;
iheir railroads are torn up; the waters of their
nvers overflow their lands and destroy the crops
which alone can give them even the means of
Ihing. There is no longer reason or justice in
Bpeakiog of the South as a section: as having

separate interests or separate aspirations or (he
power to act as a unit for any special end.
That which gave it power to act compactly haa
disappeared. It has lost, too, the power of ally-
ing itself with any party in the Northern States,
for in losing its unity it has lost everything
that made such an alhance desirable or possible.
And even if it should attempt such a union for

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Online LibraryHenry Jarvis RaymondRestoration and the union party. Speech of Hon. Henry J. Raymond, of New York, on the conditional admission of the states lately in rebellion to representation in Congress → online text (page 1 of 5)