Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

History of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life online

. (page 30 of 46)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondHistory of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life → online text (page 30 of 46)
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l-u*, " at such times, and in such places, and with regard to
such persons, as in his judgment the public safety may require."
This bill was passed, receiving ninety votes in its favor, and
forty-five against it. It was taken up in the Senate on the 22d
of December, and after a discussion of several days, a new bill
was substituted and passed ; ayes 33, noes 7. This was taken
up in the House on the 18th of February, and the substitute
of the Senate was rejected. This led to the appointment of a
committee of conference, which recommended that the Senate
recede from its amendments, and that the bill, substantially as


it camo from the House, be passed. This report was agreed
to, after long debate, and the bill thus became a law.

The relations in which the Rebel States are placed by their
acts of secession towards the General Government, became a
topic of discussion in the House of Representatives, in a debate
which arose on the 8th of January, upon an item in the appro-
pyation bill, limiting the amount to be paid to certain commis
sioners to the amount that might be collected from taxes in
the insurrectionary States. Mr. Stevens, of Pennsylvania,
pronounced the opinion that the Constitution did not embrace
a State that was in arms against the Government of the United
States. He maintained that those States held towards us the
position of alien enemies that every obligation existing be
tween them and us had been annulled, and that with regard
to all the Southern States in rebellion, the Constitution has
no binding force and no application. This position was very
strongly controverted by men of both parties. Those who
were not in full sympathy with the Administration opposed
it, because it denied to the Southern people the protection of
the Constitution ; while many Republicans regarded it as a
virtual acknowledgment of the validity and actual force of the
ordinances of secession passed by the Rebel States. Mr.
Thomas, of Massachusetts, expressed the sentiment of the lat
ter class very clearly when he said that one object of the bill
under discussion was to impose a tax upon States in rebellion,
that our only authority for so doing was the Constitution of

J J &

the United States, and that we could only do it on the
ground that the authority of the Government over those States
is jnst as valid now as it was before the acts of secession were
passed, and that every one of those acts is utterly null and
void. No vote was taken which declared directly the opinion
of the House on the theoretical question thus involved.

The employment of negroes as soldiers was subjected to a
vigorous discussion, started on the 27th of January, by an


amendment offered to a pending bill by Mr. Stevens, directing
the President to raise, arm, and equip as many volunteers of
African descent as he might deem useful, for such term of
service as he might think proper, not exceeding five years,
to be officered by white or black persons in the President s
discretion slaves to be accepted as well as freemen. The
members from the Border States opposed this proposition with
great earnestness, as certain to do great harm to the Union
cause among their constituents, by arousing prejudices which,
whether reasonable or not, were very strong, and against which
argument would be found utterly unavailing. Mr. Crittenden,
of Kentucky, objected to it mainly because it would convert
the war against the rebellion into a servile war, and establish
abolition as the main end for which the war was carried on.
Mr. Sedgwick, of New York, vindicated the policy suggested
as having been dictated rather by necessity than choice. He
pointed out the various steps by which the President, as the
responsible head of the Government, had endeavored to prose
cute the war successfully without interfering with slavery, and
showed also how the refusal of the Rebel States to return to
their allegiance had compelled him to advance, step by step,
to the more rigorous and effective policy which had now be
come inevitable. After considerable further discussion, tho
bill, embodying substantially the amendment of Mr. Stevens,
was passed ; ayes 83, noes 54. On reaching the Senate it was
referred to the Committee on Military Affairs, which, on the
12th of February, reported against its passage, on the ground
that the authority which it was intended to confer upon the
President was already sufficiently granted in the act of the
previous session, approved July 17, 1862, which authorized
the President to employ, in any military or naval service for
which they might be found competent, persons of African

One of the most important acts of the session was that which


provided for the creation of a national force by enrolling and
drafting the militia of the whole country, each State being
required to contribute its quota in the ratio of its population,
and the whole force, when raised, to be under the control of
the President. Some measure of the kind seemed to have
been rendered absolutely necessary by the revival of party
spirit throughout the loyal States, and by the active and effect
ive efforts made by the Democratic party, emboldened by the
results of the fall elections of 1862, to discourage and prevent
volunteering. So successful had they been in this work, that
the Government seemed likely to fail in its efforts to raise men
for another campaign; and it was to avert this threatening
evil that the bill in question was brought forward for the action
of Congress. It encountered a violent resistance from the oppo
sition party, and especially from those members whose sym
pathies with the secessionists were the most distinctly marked.
But after the rejection of numerous amendments, more or less
affecting its character and force, it was passed in the Senate,
and taken up on the 23d of February in the House, where it
encountered a similar ordeal. It contained various provis
ions for exempting from service persons upon whom others
were most directly and entirely dependent for support, such
as the only son of a widow, the only son of aged and infirm
parents who relied upon him for a maintenance, etc. It
allowed drafted persons to procure substitutes ; and, to cover
the cases in which the prices of substitutes might become ex
orbitant, it also provided that upon payment of $300 the
Government itself would procure a substitute, and release the
person drafted from service. The bill was passed in the House
with some amendments, by a vote of 115 to 49, and the
amendments being concurred in by the Senate, the bill became
a law.

The finances of the country enlisted a good deal of atten
tion during this session. It was necessary to provide in some


way for the expenses of the war, and also for a currency ; and
two bills were accordingly introduced at an early stage of the
session relating to these two subjects. The Financial bill,
as finally passed by both houses, authorized the Secretary
of the Treasury to borrow and issue bonds for $900,000,000,
at not more than six per cent, interest, and payable at a time
not less than ten nor more than forty years. It also author
ized the Secretary to issue Treasury notes to the amount
of $400,000,000, bearing interest, and also notes not bearing
interest to the amount of $150,000,000. While this bill
was pending, a joint resolution was passed by both houses,
authorizing the issue of Treasury notes to the amount of
$100,000,000 to meet the immediate wants of the soldiers
and sailors in the service.

The President announced that he had signed this resolution
in the following


To the Senate and House of Representatives :

I have signed the joint resolution to provide for the immediate pay
ment of the army and navy of the United States, passed by the House
of Representatives on the 14th, and by the Senate on the 15th inst.
The joint resolution is a simple authority, amounting, however, under
the existing circumstances, to a direction to the Secretary of the Treas
ury to make an additional issue of $100,000,000 in United States notes,
if so much money is needed, for the payment of the army and navy.
My approval is given in order that every possible facility may be afforded
for the prompt discharge of all arrears of pay duo to our soldiers and
our sailors.

While giving this approval, however, I think it my duty to express
my sincere regret that it has been found necessary to authorize so large
an additional issue of United States notes, when this circulation, and
that of the suspended banks together, have become already so redundant
as to increase prices beyond real values, thereby augmenting the cost
of living, to the injury of labor, and the cost of supplies to the injury
of the whole country. It seems very plain that continued issues of
United States notes, without any check to the issues of suspended
banks, and without adequate provision for the raising of money by


loans, and for funding the issues, so as to keep them within due limits,
must soon produce disastrous consequences ; and this matter appears to
me so important that I feel bound to avail myself of this occasion to
ask the special attention of Congress to it.

That Congress has power to regulate the currency of the country can
hardly admit of doubt, and that a judicious measure to prevent the
deterioration of this currency, by a reasonable taxation of bank circu
lation, or otherwise, is needed, seems equally clear. Independently
of this general consideration, it would be unjust to the people at large
to exempt banks enjoying the special privilege of circulation, from their
just proportion of the public burdens.

In order to raise money by way of loans most easily and cheaply, it
is clearly necessary to give every possible support to the public credit.
To that end, a uniform currency, in which taxes, subscriptions, loans,
and all other ordinary public dues may be paid, is almost if not quite
indispensable. Such a currency can be furnished by banking associa
tions authorized under a general act of Congress, as suggested in my
message at the beginning of the present session. The securing of this
circulation by the pledge of the United States bonds, as herein sug
gested, would still further facilitate loans, by increasing the present and
causing a future demand for such bonds.

In view of the actual financial embarrassments of the Government,
and of the greater embarrassment sure to come if the necessary means
of relief be not afforded,"! feel that I should not perform my duty by a
simple announcement of my approval of the joint resolution, which
proposes relief only by increasing the circulation, without expressing
my earnest desire that measures, such in substance as that I have just
referred to, may receive the early sanction of Congress. By such
measures, in my opinion, will payment be most certainly secured, not
only to the army and navy, but to all honest creditors of the Govern
ment, and satisfactory provision made for future demands on the

The second bill that to provide a national currency, secured
by a pledge of United States stocks, and to provide for the circu
lation and redemption thereof, was passed in the Senate, ayes
23, noes 21, and in the House, ayes 78, noes 64, under the two
fold conviction that so long as the war continued the country
must have a large supply of paper-money, and that it was also


highly desirable that this money should be national in its char
acter, and rest on the faith of the Government as its security.
Another act of importance, passed by Congress at this ses
sion, was the admission of Western Virginia into the Union.
The Constitution of the United States declares that no new
State shall be formed within the jurisdiction of any State
without the consent of the Legislature of the State concerned,
as well as of the Congress. The main question on which tho
admission of the new State turned, therefore, was whether that
State had been formed with the consent of the Legislature of
Virginia. The facts of the case were these : In the winter of
1860-61, the Legislature of Virginia, convened in extra session,
had called a convention, to be held on the 14th of February,
1861, at Richmond, to decide on the question of secession. A
vote was also to be taken, when the delegates to this conven
tion should be elected, to decide whether an ordinance of se
cession, if passed by the convention, should be referred back
to the people ; and this was decided in the affirmative by a
majority of nearly 60,000. The convention met, and an ordi
nance of secession was passed, and referred to the people at an
election to be held on the fourth Tuesday of May. Without
waiting for this vote, the authorities of the State levied war
against the United States, joined the Rebel Confederacy, and
invited the Confederate armies to occupy portions of their
territory. A convention of nearly five hundred delegates,
chosen in Western Virginia under a popular call, met early
in May, declared the ordinance of secession null and void, and
called another convention of delegates from all the counties of
Virginia, to be held at Wheeling, on the llth of June, in case
the secession ordinance should be ratified by the popular vote.
It was so ratified and the convention met. It proceeded on
the assumption that the officers of the old government of the
State had vacated their offices by joining the rebellion : and it
accordingly proceeded to fill them, and to reorganize the gov


ernment of the whole State. On the 20th of August the con
vention passed an ordinance to " provide for the formation of
a new State out of a portion of the territory of this State."
Under that ordinance, delegates were elected to a convention
which met at Wheeling, November 26, and proceeded to draft
a Constitution for the State of Western Virginia, as the new
State was named, which was submitted to the people of West
ern Virginia in April, 1862, and by them ratified, 18,862
voting in favor of it, and 514 against it. The Legislature of
Virginia, the members of which were elected by authority of
the Wheeling convention of June llth, met in extra session,
called by the Governor appointed by that convention, on the
6th of May, 1862, and passed an act giving its consent to the
formation of the new State, and making application to Con
gress for its admission into the Union. The question to be
decided by Congress, therefore, was whether the legislature
which met at Wheeling on the llth of June was " the Legisla
ture of Virginia," and thus competent to give its consent to the
formation of a new State within the State of Virginia. The
bill for admitting it, notwithstanding the opposition of several
leading and influential Republicans, was passed in the House,
ayes 96, noes 55. It passed in the Senate without debate, and
was approved by the President on the 31st of December, 1862.
A bill was brought forward in the Senate for discussion on
the 29th of January, proposing a grant of money to aid in the
abolition of slavery in the State of Missouri. It gave rise to a
good deal of debate, some Senators doubting whether Congress
had any constitutional right to make such an appropriation,
and a marked difference of opinion, moreover, growing up. as
to the propriety of gradual or immediate emancipation in that
State. Mr. Sumner, Mr. Wilson, and several others, insisted
that the aid proposed should be granted only on condition
that emancipation should be immediate ; while the Senators
from Missouri thought that the State would be much more


certain to provide for getting rid of slavery if the time were
extended to twenty-three years, as the bill proposed, than if
she were required to set free all her slaves at once. The
Senators from the Slave States generally opposed the measure,
on the ground that Congress had no authority under the
Constitution to appropriate any portion of the public money
for such a purpose. The bill was finally passed in the Senate,
but it failed to pass the House.

Two members of Congress from the State of Louisiana
were admitted to seats in the House of Representatives under
circumstances which made that action of considerable im
portance. Immediately after the occupation of New Orleans
by the national forces under General Butler, the President had
appointed General Shepley military governor of the State
of Louisiana. The rebel forces were driven out from the city
of New Orleans, and some of the adjoining parishes; and
when, during the ensuing summer, the people were invited to
resume their allegiance to the Government of the United
States, over 60,000 came forward, took the oath of allegiance,
and were admitted to their rights as citizens. On the 3d of
December General Shepley, acting as military governor of the
State, ordered an election for members of Congress in the two
districts into which the city of New Orleans is divided each
district embracing also some of the adjoining parishes. In
one of these districts B. F. Flanders was elected, receiving
2,370 votes, and all others 273, and in the other Michael
Hahn was elected, receiving 2,799 votes out of 5,117, the whole
number cast. A committee of the House, to which the applica
tion of these cfentlemen for admission to their seats had been


referred, reported, on the 9th of February, in favor of their
claim. It was represented in this report that the requirements
of the Constitution of the State of Louisiana had in all re
spects been complied with, the only question being, whether
a military governor, appointed by the President of the United


States, could properly and rightfully perform the functions of
the civil governor of the State. The committee held that he
could, and cited a decision of the Supreme Court of the United
States, not only recognizing the power of the President to
appoint a military governor, but also recognizing both his civil
and military functions as of full validity arid binding obligation.
On the other hand, it was maintained that representatives can
be elected to the Federal Legislature only in pursuance of an
act of the State Legislature, or of an act of the Federal Con
gress. In this case neither of these requirements had been
fulfilled. The House, however, admitted both these gentlemen
to their seats, by a vote of 92 to 44.

Before adjourning, Congress passed an act, approved on the
3d of March, authorizing the President, " in all domestic and
foreign wars," to issue to private armed vessels of the United
States, letters of marque and reprisal, said authority to
terminate at the end of three years from the date of the act.
Resolutions were also adopted, in both Houses, protesting
against every proposition of foreign interference, by proffers
of mediation or otherwise, as " unreasonable and inadmissible,"
and declaring the " unalterable purpose of the United States
to prosecute the war until the rebellion shall be overcome."
These resolutions, offered by Mr. Sumner, received in the
Senate 31 votes in their favor, while but 5 were cast against
them, and in the House 103 were given for their passage, and
28 against it.

The session closed on the 4th of March, 1863. Its pro
ceedings had been marked by the same thorough and fixed
determination to carry on the war, by the use of the most
vigorous and effective measures for the suppression of the
rebellion, and by the same full and prompt support of the
President, which had characterized the preceding Congress.

While some members of the Administration party, becom
ing impatient of the delays which seemed to mark the progress


of the war, were inclined to censure the caution of the Presi
dent, and to insist upon bolder and more sweeping assaults
upon the persons and property of the people of the Rebel
States, and especially upon the institution of slavery and
while, on the other hand, its more open opponents denounced
every thing like severity, as calculated to exasperate the South
and prolong the war, the great body of the members, like
the great body of the people, manifested a steady and firm
reliance on the patriotic purpose and the calm sagacity
evinced by the President in his conduct of public affairs.





AT the very outbreak of the rebellion, the Administration
was compelled to face one of the most formidable of the many
difficulties which have embarrassed its action. Long before
the issue had been distinctly made by the rebels in the
Southern States, while under the protecting toleration of Mr.
Buchanan s administration the conspirators were making
preparations for armed resistance to the Government of the
United States, evidences were not wanting that they relied
upon the active co-operation of men and parties in the Northern
States, whose political sympathies had always been in harmony
with their principles and their action. As early as in Jan-
. uary, 1861, while the rebels were diligently and actively
collecting arms and other munitions of war, by purchase in
the Northern States, for the contest on which they had re
solved, Fernando Wood, then Mayor of New York, had
apologized to Senator Toombs, of Georgia, for the seizure
by the police of New York of " arms intended for and .con
signed to the State of Georgia," and had assured him that
" if he had the power he should summarily punish the authors
of this illegal and unjustifiable seizure of private property."
The departments at Washington, the army and the navy, all
places of responsibility and trust under the Government, and
all departments of civil and political activity in the Northern
States, were found to be largely filled by persons in active
sympathy with the secession movement, and ready at all times
to give it all the aid and comfort in their power. Upon the


advent of the new Administration, and when active measures
began to be taken for the suppression of the rebellion, the
Government found its plans betrayed and its movements
thwarted at every turn. Prominent presses and politicians,
moreover, throughout the country, began, by active hostility,
to indicate their sympathy with those who sought, under
cover of opposition to the Administration, to overthrow the
Government, and it became speedily manifest that there was
sufficient of treasonable sentiment throughout the North to
paralyze the authorities in their efforts, aided only by the or
dinary machinery of the law, to crush the secession movement.
Under these circumstances it was deemed necessary to resort
to the exercise of the extraordinary powers with which, in
extraordinary emergencies, the Constitution had clothed the
Government. That instrument had provided that " the privi
lege of the writ of habeas corpus should not be suspended ;
unless when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public
safety might require it." By necessary implication, whenever,
in such cases either of rebellion or invasion, the public safety
did require it, the privilege of that writ might be suspended ;
and, from the very necessity of the case, the Government
which was charged with the care of the public safety, was
empowered to judge when the contingency should occur. The
only question that remained was, which department of the
Government was to meet this responsibility. If the act was
one of legislation, it could only be performed by Congress
and the President ; if it was in its nature executive, then it
might be performed, the emergency requiring it, by the Presi
dent alone. The pressing emergency of the case, moreover,
went far towards dictating the decision. Congress had ad
journed on the 4th of March, and could not be again assem
bled for some months ; and infinite, and perhaps fatal mischief
might be done during the interval, if the Northern allies of the
rebellion were allowed with impunity to prosecute their plans.


Under the influence of these considerations the President,
in his proclamation of the 3d of May, 1861, directing the
commander of the forces of the United States on the Florida
coast to permit no person to exercise any authority upon the
islands of Key West, the Tortugas, and Santa Rosa, which
might be inconsistent with the authority of the United States,
also authorized him, u if he should find it necessary, to sus

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondHistory of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life → online text (page 30 of 46)