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Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

Lincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) → online text (page 20 of 42)
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STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 193

we carne out of that struggle ; and the money value in the country now
bears even a greater proportion to what it was (hen, than does the popu
lation. Surely each man has as strong a motive now to preserve our
liberties, as each had then to establish them.

A right result, at this time, will be worth more to the world than ten
times the men and ten times the money. The evidence reaching us from
the country leaves no doubt that the material for the work is abundant,
and that it needs only the hand of legislation to give it legal sanction,
and the hand of the Executive to give it practical shape and efficiency
One of the greatest perplexities of the Government is to avoid receiving
troops faster than it can proVide for them, lu a word, the people wii 1 .
eave their Government, if the Government itself will do its part only
indifferently well.

It might seem, at first thought, to be of little difference whether Hit,
present movement at the South be called "secession" or "rebellion. 1 "
The movers, however, will understand the difference. At the beginning,
they knew they could never raise their, treason to any respectable
magnitude by any name which implies violation of law. They knew
their people possessed as much of moral sense, as much of devotion to
law and order, and as much pride in, and reverence for the history and
Government of their common country, as any other civilized and patri
otic people. They knew they could make no advancement directly in tha
ts-eth of these strong and noble sentiments. Accordingly, they com
menced by an insidious debauching of the public mind. They invented
an ingenious sophism, which, if conceded, was followed by perfectly
logical steps, through all the incidents, to the complete destruction of
the Union. The sophism itself is, that any State of the Union may,
consistently with the National Constitution, and therefore lawfully and
peacefully, withdraw from the Union without the consent of the Union,
or of any other State. The little disguise that the supposed right is to
be exercised only for just cause, themselves to be the sole judges of ita
justice, is too thin to merit any notice.

With rebellion thus sugar-coated they have been drugging the public
mind of their section for more than thirty years, and until at length they
have brought many good men to a willingness to take up arms against
the Government the day after some assemblage of men have enacted thy
farcical pretence of taking their State out of the Union, who could have
been brought to no such thing the day before.

This sophism derives much, perhaps the whole, of itu carrency from
the assumption that there is some omnipotent and sacred supremacy
pertaining to a State to each State of our Federal Union. Our States
have neither more nor less power than that reserved to them in the
Union by the Constitution no one of them ever having been a State out
*f the Union. The original ones passed into the Union even before they
?sat off their British colonial dependence; and the new ones each came
13



194 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND

Into the Union directly from a condition of dependence, excepting Texae
And sjv^n Texas, in its temporary independence, was never designated a
Btate. The new ones only took the designation of States on coming into
the Union, while that name was first adopted by the old ones in and by
ttie Declaration of Independence. Therein the "United Colonies" were
declared to be free and independent States;" but, even then, the ob
ject plainly was not to declare their independence of one another, or of
the Union, but directly the contrary; as their mutual pledge and their
mutual action before, at the time, and afterwards, abundantly show. The
express plighting of faith by each and all of the original thirteen k. tin*
(Articles of Confederation, two years later, that the Union shall be per
petual, is most conclusive. Having never been States, either in substance
or in name, outside of the Union, whence this magical omnipotence of
"State Eights," asserting a claim of power to lawfully destroy the Union
itself? Much is said about the "sovereignty" of the States; but the
word even is not in the National Constitution ; nor, aa is believed, in any
of the State constitutions. What is " sovereignty " in the political sense
of the term ? Would it be far wrong to define it " a political community
without a political superior?" Tested by this, no one of our States, ex
cept Texas, ever was a sovereignty. And even Texas gave up the char
acter on coining into the Union ; by which act she acknowledged the
Constitution of the United States, and the laws and treaties of the United
8tat* naade in pursuance of the Constitution, to be for her the supreme
law of tLe land. The States have their status in the Union, and they
have no other legal status. If they break from this, they can only do so
against law and by revolution. The Union, and not themselves sepa
rately, pnx , isd their Independence and their liberty. By conquest or
purchase t jv vnion gave each of them whatever of independence or
liberty it has, The Union is older than any of the States, and, in fact, it
created them as States. Originally some dependent colonies mide the
Union, and, in turn, the Union threw off their old dependence for them,
and made them States, such as they are. Not one of them ever hud a
State constitution independent of the Union. Of course, it is not for
gotten that all the new States framed their constitutions before they en
tered the Union ; nevertheless dependent upon, and preparatory to, com
ing into the Union.

Unquestionably the States have the powers and rights reserved to them
in and by the National Constitution ; but among these, surely, are not
included all conceivable powers, however mischievous or destructive;
but, at most, such only as were known in the world, at *he time, as gov
ernmental powers; and, certainly, a power to destroy t N e Government
itself had never been known as a governmental as a inert* v administra
tive pov/er. This relative matter of National power and b*ate Kighta,
aa a principle, is no other than the principle of generality aiu*

oouoerns tne wnole should be counded to toe wnoio -to

M* > V J



STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 195

General Government; while whatever concerns only the State should bo
left exclusively to the State. This is all there is of original principle
about it. Whether the National Constitution, in defining boundaries be
tween the two has applied the principle with exact accuracy, is not to be
questioned. We are all bound by that defining, without question.

What is now combated, is the position that secession is consistent with
the Constitution is lawful and peaceful. It is not contended tliat there
is any express law for it; and nothing sb.or.id ever be implied r-f law which
leads to unjust or absurd consequences. Tiie Nation purchased with money
the countries out of which several of these States were formed; is it just
at they shall go off without leave and without refunding? The Nation
1 -aid very large sums (in the aggregate, I believe, nearly a hundred mil
lions) to relieve Florida of the aboriginal tribes; is it just that she shall
now be off without consent, or without making any return? The Nation
is now in debt for money applied to the benefit of these so-called seceding
States in common with the rest; is it just either that creditors shall go
unpaid, or the remaining States pay the whole? A part of the present
National debt w as contracted to pay the old debts of Texas; is it just that
she shall leave and pay no part of this herself?

Again, if one State may secede, so may another ; and when all shall
have seceded, none is left to pay the debts. Is this quite just to creditors?
Did we notify them of this sage view of ours when we borrowed their
money? If we now recognize this doctrine by allowing the secetiers to
go in peace, it is difficult to see what we can do if others choose to go, or
to extort terms upon which they will promise to remain.

The seceders insist that our Constitution admits of secession. They have
assumed to make a national constitution of their own, in which, of neces
sity, they have either discarded or retained the right of secession, as they
insist it exists in ours. If they have discarded it, they thereby admit
that, on principle, it ought not to be in ours. If they have retained it,
by their own construction of ours, they show that to be consistent they
must secede from one another whenever they shall find it the easiest way
of settling their debts, or effecting any other selfish or unjust object. The

^principle itself is one of disintegration, and upon which no Government

, an possibly endure.

If all the States save one should assert the power to drive that one out
of the Union, it is presumed the whole class of seceder politicians would
at once deny the power, and denounce the act as the greatest outrage
upon State rights. But suppose that precisely the same act, instead of
being called u driving the one out," should be called " the seceding of the
others from that one," it would be exactly what the seceders claim to do ;
unless, indeed, they make the point that the one, because it is a minority,
may rightfully do what the others, because they are a majority, may not
rightfully do. These politicians are subtile and profound on the rights of
minorities. They are not partial to that power which made the Constitu
tioii, and speaks from the preamble, calling itself " We, the People."



196 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND

It may well be questioned whether there is to-day a majority of the
legally qualified voters of any State, except, perhaps, South Carol ina, in
favor of disunion. There is much reason to believe that the Union men
are the majority in many, if not in every other one, of the so-called sece
ded States. The contrary has not been demonstrated in any one of them.
It is ventured to affirm this even of Virginia and Tennessee ; for the result
of an election held in military camps, where the bayonets are all on on*
side of the question voted upon, can scarcely be considered as demonstra
ting popular sentiment. At such an election, all that large class who ar
at once for the Union and against coercion would be coerced to vote again**
the Union.

Jt may be affirmed, without extravagance, that the free institutions A\ -
enjoy have developed the powers and improved the condition of our whole
people beyond any example in the world. Of this we now have a stri
king and an impressive illustration. So large an army as the Government
has now on foot was never before known without a soldier in it but who
had taken his place there of his own free choice. But more than this :
there are many single regiments whose members, one and another, possess
full practical knowledge of all the arts, sciences, professions, and what
ever else, whether useful or elegant, is known in the world ; and there is
scarcely one from which there could not be selected a President, a Cabi
net, a Congress, and perhaps a court, abundantly competent to administer
the Government itself. Nor do I say this is not true also in the army of
our late friends, now adversaries in this contest; but if it is, so much
better the reason why the Government which has conferred such benefits
on both them and us should not be broken up. Whoever, in any section,
proposes to abandon such a Government, would do well to consider ill
deference to what principle it is that he does it ; what better he is likely to
get in its stead ; whether the substitute will give, or be intended to give
so much of good to the people ? There are some foreshadowings on tliig
subject. Our adversaries have adopted some declarations of independence^
in which, unlike the good old one, penned by Jefferson, they omit the
words, "all men are created equal." Why? They have adopted a tem
porary national constitution, in the preamble of which, unlike our goo-"
old one, signed by Washington, they omit "We, the People," and sn \
stitute, "We, the deputies of the sovereign and independent States.
Why! Why this deliberate pressing out of view the rights of men am
the authority of the people?

This is essentially a people s contest. On the side of the Union it is x
struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of Govern
ment whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men; to lift arti
ficial weights from all shoulders ; to clear the paths of laudable pursuita
for all ; to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of
life. Yielding to partial and temporary departures, from necessity, this is
the leading object of the Government for whose existence we contend.



STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 197

lam most happy to believe that the plain people understand and appre
ciate this. It is worthy of note, that while in this the Government s hour
of trial, large numbers of those in the army and navy who have been
favored with the offices have resigned and proved false to the hand which
had pampered them, not one common soldier or common sailor is knowu
to have deserted his flag.

Great honor is due to those officers who remained true, despite the ex
ample of their treacherous associates ; but the greatest honor, and most
important fact of all, is the unanimous firmness of the common soldiers
and common sailors. To the last man, so far as known, they have suc
cessfully resisted the traitorous efforts of those whose commands but au
hour before they obeyed as absolute law. This is the patriotic instinct of
plain people. They understand, without an argument, that the destroy
ing the Government which was made by Washington means no good to
them.

Our popular Government has often been called an experiment. Two
points in it our people have already settled the successful establishing
and the successful administering of it. One still remains its successful
maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it. It is
now for them to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry
an election can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful and
peaceful successors of bullets ; and that when ballots have fairly and con
stitutionally decided, there can be no successful appeal back to bullets
that there can be no successful appeal, except to ballots themselves, at
succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace ; teaching men
that what they cannot take by an election, neither can they take by a
war ; teaching all the folly of being the beginners of a war.

Lest there be some uneasiness in the minds of candid men as to what
is to be the course of the Government towards the Southern States after
the rebellion shall have been suppressed, the Executive deems it proper
lu say, it will be his purpose then, as ever, to be guided by the Constitu
tion and the laws; and that he probably will have no different under-
standing of the powers and duties of the Federal Government relatively
Lu the rights of the States and the people under the Constitution than that
expressed in the Inaugural Address.

He desires to preserve the Government, that it may be administered foi
all, as it was administered by the men who made it. Loyal citizens every
where have the right to claim this of their Government,, and the Govern
ment has no right to withhold or neglect it. It is not perceived that in
giving it there is any coercion, any conquest, or any subjugation, in any
just sense of those terms.

The Constitution provides, and all the States have accepted the provi
sion, that "the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union
& republican form of Government." But if a State may lawfully go out
pf tb$ Psion? having done so, it may also diicard tk republican foru> pf



198 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND.

Government ; so that to prevent its going out is an indispensable meant
to the end of maintaining the guarantee mentioned ; and when an end is
lawful and obligatory, the indispensable means to it are also lawful and
obligatory.

It was with the deepest regret that the Executive found the duty of e)y>-
ploying the war power in defence of the Government forced upon him
He could but perform this duty or surrender the existence of the Goverp
meat. Mo compromise by public servants could in this case ^e a curt- j
not that compromises are not often proper, but that no popmar Govern I
ment can long survive a marked precedent that those who carry an elec
tion can only save the Government from immediate destruction by giving
up the main point upon which the people gave the election. The people
themselves, and not their servants, can safely reverse their own deliberate
decisions.

AP a private citizen the Executive could not have consented that these
institutions shall perish ; much less could he, in betrayal of so vast and &o
sacred a trust as these free people have confided to him. He felt that he
had no moral right to shrink, or even to count the chances of his own life,
in what might follow. In full view of his great responsibility he has so
far done what he has deemed his duty. You will now, according to your
own judgment, perform yours. He sincerely hopes that your views and
your action may so accord with his as to assure all faithful citizens who
have been disturbed in their rights of a certain and speedy restoration to
them, under the Constitution and the laws.

And having thus chosen our course, without guile and with pure pur-
pose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward without fear and with
manly hearts.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

July 4, 1861.

Congress imitated the President in confining its attention
exclusively to the rebellion and the means for its suppres
sion. Th<\#ealous and enthusiastic loyalty of the people
met a prompt response from their representatives. The
Judiciary Committee in the House was instructed on the 8th
to prepare a bill to confiscate the property of rebels against
the Government ; and on the 9th, a resolution was adopted
(ayes ninety-eight, noes fifty-five), declaring it to be
"no part of the duty of the soldiers of the United States
to capture and return fugitive slaves." A bill was
promptly introduced to declare valid all the acts of the
President for the suppression of the rebellion previous
to the meeting of Congress, and it brought on a general
discufesion of the principles involved and the interests



STATE PAPERS OF ABKAHAM LINCOLN. 199

concerned in tlie contest. There were a few in both
Houses, with John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, at their
head, who still insisted that any resort by the Govern
ment to the use of the war power against the rebels was
unconstitutional, and could only end in the destructk)])
of the Union ; but the general sentiment of both Houses
fully sustained the President in the steps he had taken.
The subject of slavery was introduced into the discussion
commenced by Senator Powell, of Kentucky, who pro
posed on the 18th to amend the Army Bill by adding a
section, that no part of the army should be employed " in
subjecting or holding as a conquered province any sov
ereign State now or lately one of the United States, or
in abolishing or interfering with African slavery in any of
the States." The debate which ensued elicited the senti
nients of members on this subject. Mr. Sherman, of Ohio,
concurred in the sentiment that the war was " not to be
waged for the purpose of subjugating any State or freeing
any slave, or to interfere with the social or domestic insti-
tutions of any State or any people; it was to preserve
this Union, to maintain the Constitution as it is in all its
clauses, in all its guarantees, without change or limita
tion." Mr. Dixon, of Connecticut, assented to this, but
also declared that if the South should protract the war,
and " it should turn out that either this Government or
slavery must be destroyed, then the people of the North
the Conservative people of the North would say,
rather than let the Government perish, let slavery perish."
Mr. Lane, of Kansas, did not believe that slavery could
arvive in any State the march of the Union armies.
These seemed to be the sentiments of both branches of
Congress. The amendment was rejected, and bills were
passed ratifying the acts of the President, authorizing
Mm to accept the services of half a million of volunteers,
and placing five hundred millions of dollars at the dispo
sal of the Government for the prosecution of the war.

On the 15th of July, Mr. McClernand, a democrat from
Illinois, offered a resolution pledging the House to vote
any amount of money arid any number of men necessary



200 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND

to suppress the rebellion, and restore the authority of the
Government, which was adopted, with but five opposing
votes ; and on the 22d of July, Mr. Oittenden, of Ken
tucky, offered the following resolution, defining the objects
of the war :

Resolved by the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United
States, That the present deplorable civil war has been forced upon the
country by the disunionists of the Southern States, now in arms against
the Constitutional Government, and in arms around the Capital ; that in
this national emergency, Congress, banishing all feelings of mere passiot 1
or resentment, will recollect only its duty to the whole country ; thut thid
war is not waged on their part in any spirit of oppression, or for any pur
pose of conquest or subjugation, or purpose of overthrowing or interfering
with the rights or established institutions of those States, but to defend
and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution, and to preserve the
Union with all the dignity, equality, and rights of the several States un
impaired; and that as soon as these objects are accomplished the war
ought to cease.

This resolution was adopted, with but two dissenting
votes. It was accepted by the whole country as defining
the objects and limiting the continuance of the war, and
was regarded with special favor by the loyal citizens of
the Border States, whose sensitiveness on the subject of
slavery had been skilfully and zealously played upon by
the agents and allies of the rebel confederacy. The war
was universally represented by these in en as waged for
the destruction of slavery, and as aiming, not at the pres
ervation of the Union, but the emancipation of the slaves ;
and there was great danger that these appeals to the pride,
the interest, and the prejudices of the Border Slave States i
might bring them to join their fortunes to those of the,
rebellion. The passage of this resolution, with so great a
degree of unanimity, had a very soothing effect upon the
apprehensions of these States, and contributed largely to
strengthen the Government in its contest with the rebellion.

The sentiments of Congress on this matter, as well as on
the general subject of the war, were still further developed
In the debates which followed the introduction to the House
of a bill passed by the Senate to " confiscate property
used for insurrectionary purposes/ It was referred to



STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 201

the Judiciary Committee, and reported back with an amend
ment, providing that whenever any slave should "be
required or permitted by his master to take up arms, or
be employed in any fort, dock-yard, or in any military
service in aid of the rebellion, he should become entitled
to his freedom. Mr. Wickliffe and Mr. Burnett, of Ken
tucky, at once contested the passage of the bill, on the
ground that the Government had no right to interfere in
any way with the relation existing between a master and
.ais slave ; and they were answered by the Northern mem
bers with the argument that the Government certainly
had a right to confiscate property of any kind employed
in the rebellion, and that there was no more reason for
protecting slavery against the consequences of exercising
this right, than for shielding any other interest that might
be thus involved. The advocates of the bill denied that
it was the intention of the law to emancipate the slaves,
or that it would bear any such construction in the courts
of justice. They repudiated the idea that men in arms
against the Union and Constitution could claim the pro
tection of the Constitution, and thus derive from that
instrument increased ability to secure its destruction ; but
they based their proposed confiscation of slave property
solely on the ground that it was a necessary means to the
prosecution of the war, and rot in any sense the object
Tor which the war was waged After a protracted debate,



Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) → online text (page 20 of 42)