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 25 of 42)
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States of America in Congress assembled: That whenever the President
of the United States shall be satisfied that any State shall have lawfully
. tbolished slavery within and throughout such State, either immediately
ar gradually, it shall be the duty of the President, assisted by the Secre
tary of the Treasury, to prepare and deliver to each State an amount of
fcix per cent, interest-bearing bonds of thfi United States, equal to the ag
gregate value at dollars per head of all the slaves within such State

as reported by the census of 1860 ; the whole amount for any one State
to be delivered at once, if the abolishment be immediate, or in equal
annual instalments, if it be gradual, interest to begin running on each
bond at the time of delivery, and not before.

And be it further enacted, That if any State, having so received any
such bonds, shall at any time afterwards by law reintroduce or tolerate
slavery within its limits, contrary to the act of abolishment upon which
tuch bonds shall have been received, said bonds so received by said State


shall at once be null and void, in whosesoever hands they may be, and such
State shall refund to the United States all interest which may have been
paid on uc/i bonds.

The bill was referred to a committee, but no action wag
taken upon it in Congress, nor did any of the Border
States respond to the President 1 s invitation. The propo
sition, however, served a most excellent purpose in test
ing the sentiment of "both sections of the country, and in
preparing the way for the more vigorous treatment of the-
subject of slavery which the blind and stubborn preju
dices of the slaveholding communities were rapidly ren
dering inevitable.

Two other subjects of importance engaged the atten
tion and received the action of Congress during this ses
sion : the provision of a currency, and the amendment of
the law to confiscate the property of rebels. A bill au
thorizing the issue of Treasury nofces to the amount of
$150,000,000, and making them a legal tender in all busi
ness transactions, was reported in the House by the Fi
nance Committee, of which Hon. E. G. Spaulding, of New
York, was Chairman, and taken up for discussion on the
17th of June. It was advocated mainly on the score of
necessity, and was opposed on the ground of its alleged
un constitutionality. The division of sentiment on the
subject was not a party one, some of the warmest friends
and supporters of the Administration doubting whether
Congress had the power to make any thing but silver and
gold a legal tender in the payment of debts. The same
bill provided for a direct tax, involving stamp duties,
taxes upon incomes, etc., sufficient with the duties upon
imports to raise $150,000,000 per annum, and also for the
establishment of a system of free banking, by which bank
notes to be circulated as currency might be issued upon
the basis of stocks of the United States deposited as secu
rity. The bill was discussed at length, and was finally
adopted by a vote of ninety -three to fifty-nine. In the
Senate it encountered a similar opposition, but passed by
a vote of thirty to seven, a motion to strike out the legal -
lender clause having been previously rejected


teen voting in favor of striking it out, and twenty two
against it.

The subject of confiscating the property of rebels ex-
cited still deeper interest. A bill for that purpose was
taken up in the Senate, on the 25th of February, for dis
cussion. By one of its sections all the slaves of any per
son, anywhere in the United States, aiding the rebellion,
were declared to be forever free, and subsequent sections
provided for colonizing slaves thus enfranchised. The
bill was advocated on the ground that in no other way
could the property of rebels, in those States where the
judicial authority of the United States had been over
borne, be reached ; while it was opposed on the ground
that it was unconstitutional, and that it would tend to
render the Southern people still more united and despe
rate in their rebellion. By the confiscation act of the pre
vious session, a slave who had been employed in aiding
the rebellion was declared to be free, but the fact that he
had been thus employed must be shown by due judicial
process , by this bill all the slaves of any person who
had been thus engaged were set free without the inter
vention of any judicial process whatever. This feature
of the bill was warmly opposed by some of the ablest
and most reliable of the supporters of the Administration,
as a departure from all recognized rules of proceeding,
and as a direct interference with slavery in the States,
in violation of the most solemn pledge of the Govern
ment, the Republican party, and individual supporters
of the Administration. Senator Collator, of Vermont,
urged this view of the case with great cogency, citing Mr.
Sumner s opinion expressed on the 25th of February,
1861, when, on presenting a memorial to the Senate in
favor of abolishing slavery, he had added: "In offering
it, I take this occasion to declare most explicitly that I
do nut think that Congress has any right to interfere with
slavery in a State; and quoting also Senator Fessenden s
declaration in the debate on abolishing slavery in the
District of Columbia, when he said: " I have held, and
T Jxold to-day, and I say to-day what I have said in my


jrace before, that the Congress of the United States, or
thri people of the United States through the Congress,
unclar the Constitution as it now exists, have no right
whatever to touch by legislation the institution of slavery
in th9 Slates where it exists by law." Mr. Sherman* 9
opinicTi, expressed in the same debate, that u we ought
religiously to adhere to the promises we made to the peo
ple of this country when Mr. Lincoln was elected Presi
dent we ought to abstain religiously from all interfer
ence with the domestic institutions of the slave or the
Free States/ 7 was also quoted, and Mr. Coilamer said he
did not see how it was possible to pass the bill in its
present form without giving the Avorld to u-nderstand that
they had violated those pledges, and had interfered with
slavery in the States. Mr. Coilamer accordingly offered
an amendment to the bill, obviating the objections he had
urged against it ; and this, with other amendments offered
by other Senators, was referred to a Select Committee,
which subsequently reported a bill designed, as the
Chairman, Mr. Clark, of New Hampshire, explained, to
harmonize the various shades of opinion upon the sub
ject, and secure the passage of some measure which
should meet the expectations of the country and the
emergency of the case. The first section of this bill pro
vided, that every person who should hereafter commit
the crime of treason against the United States, and be
adjudged guilty thereof, should suffer death, and all his
slaves, if any, be declared and made free ; or he should
be imprisoned not less than five years, and fined not less
than 10,000, and all his slaves, if any, be declared and
made free.

The distinctive feature of this section, as distinguished
from the corresponding section of the original bill, con
sisted in the fact that a trial and conviction were required
before any person guilty of treason could be punished,
either by death, imprisonment, or the forfeiture of his
property. It was opposed, on the one hand, by Mr. Trum-
bull, of Illinois, on the ground that it "made treason
easy" and on the other, by Mr. Davis, of Kentucky



because it set slaves free. Mr. Sunnier offered a substi
tute to the whole bill, which in his judgment did uot go
far enough in giving the country the advantage of the "op
portunity which God, in His beneficence, had afforded
it for securing universal emancipation. Mr. Powell, of
Kentucky, moved to strike out the eleventh section,
which authorized the President to " employ as many per
sons of African descent as he might deem necessary and
proper for the suppression of the rebellion, and to organ
ize and use them in such manner as he might judge best
for the public welfare" but his motion was rejected by
a vote of eleven to twenty -five. While the bill was thus
denounced by one class of Senators as too violent in its
method of dealing with the rebels, it was resisted with
still greater vehemence by another class as entirely de
fective in thai respect. Mr. Sumner was especially
severe in his censure of Senators who proposed, he said,
"when the life of our Republic is struck at, to proceed
as if by an indictment in a criminal court." His remarks
gave rise to considerable personal discussion which was
interrupted by the receipt of a similar bill which had been
passed by the House of Representatives, and which was
decidedly more in harmony with the extreme views of
Mr. Sumner and his friends, than the Senate bill. It
assumed that the rebels were to be treated like a foreign
enemy, without regard to the limitations and require
ments of the Constitution, and that Congress, instead of
the President, had the supreme and exclusive control of
the operations of the war. This bill on coming before the
Senate was set aside, and the bill which had been reported
by the Senate Committee substituted in its place, by a
rote of twenty-one to seventeen, and the latter was finally
passed ; ayes twenty-eight, noes thirteen. The House
did not concur in this amendment to its own bill ; but on
receiving the report of a Committee of Conference which
made some amendments to the Senate bill, it was passed,
as amended, by both Houses, and sent to the President
for his signature.
The provisions of this bill were as follows :


5ECTION 1 enacted that every person who should after its passage com
mit the crime of treason against the United States, and be adjudged
guilty thereof, should suffer death, and all his slaves, if any, should be
declared and made free ; or he should be imprisoned for not less than
five years, and fined not less than $10,000, and all his slaves made free.

SECTION 2 declared that if any person shall hereafter incite, assist, or
engage in any rebellion against the authority of the United States or the
laws thereof, or give aid or comfort thereto, or to any existing rebellion,
and be convicted thereof, he shall be imprisoned for ten years or less,
fined not more than $10,000, and all his slaves shall be set free.

SECTION 3. Every person guilty of these offences shall be forever di-
}ualitied to hold any office under the United States.

SECTION 4. This act was not to affect the prosecution, conviction, or
punishment of any person guilty of treason before the passage of the act,
unless convicted under it.

SECTION 5 made it the duty of the President to seize and apply to the
use of the army of the United States all the property of persons who had
served as officers of the rebel army, or had held certain civil offices under
the rebel Government, or in the rebel States, provided they had taken
an oath of allegiance to the rebel authorities, and also of persons who,
having property in any of the loyal States, shall hereafter give aid to the

SECTION 6 prescribed that if any other persons being engaged in the
rebellion should not, within sixty days after public proclamation duly
made by the President, cease to aid the rebellion, all their property
should be confiscated in the same manner.

SECTION 7 directed that proceedings in rem should be instituted in the
name of the United States in the court of the district within which sucb
property might be found, and if said property, whether real or personal,
should be found to belong to any person engaged in rebellion, it should
be condemned as enemies property, and become the property of the
United States.

SECTION 8 gave the several District Courts of the United States author
ity and power to make such orders as these proceedings might require.

SECTION 9 enacted that all slaves of persons who shall hereafter be en-
gaged in rebellion against the Government of the United States, or who
shall in any way give aid or comfort thereto, escaping from such persons,
and taking refuge within the lines of the army, and all slaves captured
from such persons or deserted by them and coming under the control of
the Government of the United States, and all slaves of such persons found,
or being within any place occupied by rebel forces, and afterwards occu
pied by the forces of the United States, shall be deemed captives of war,
and shall be forever free of their servitude, and not again held as slaves.

SECTION 10 enacted that no slave escaping into another State should
be delivered uj>, unless the claimant should make oath that the owner or


aias-tor of such slave bad never borne arms against tbe United States, or
given any aid and comfort to tbe rebellion ; and every person in tbe mili
tary service of tbe United States was prohibited from deciding on the
validity of any claim to the services of any escaped slave, on pain of dis

SECTION 11 authorized the President to employ as many persons of Af
rican descent as he might deem necessary and proper for the suppression
of the rebellion, and to organize and use them as he might deem best fo*
(he public welfare.

SECTION 12 authorized the President to make provision for the coloni
zation, with their own consent, of persons freed under this act, to some
country beyond the limits of the United Stated, having first obtained tht
consent of the Government of said country to their protection and settle
ment, with all the privileges of free men.

SECTION 1 3 authorized the President at any time hereafter, by procla
mation, to extend to persons who may have participated in this rebellion,
pardon and amnesty, with such exceptions, and at such time, and on such
conditions as he might deem expedient for the public welfare.

SECTION 14 gave the courts of the United States authority to institute
such proceedings, and issue such orders as might be necessary to carry
this act into effect.

It soon came to be understood that the President had
o ections to certain portions of the bill which would
probably prevent him from signing it. A joint resolu
tion was at once passed in the House, providing that the
bill should be so construed "as not to apply to any acts
done prior to its passage ; nor to include any member of
a State legislature, or judge of any State court who has
not, in accepting or entering upon his office, taken an
oath to support the constitution of the so-called Confed
erate States of America." When this reached the Senate,
Mr. Clark, of New Hampshire, offered the following, to
be added to the resolution :

Nor shall any punishment or proceedings under said act be so con
strued as to work a forfeiture of the real estate of the offender beyond
his natura. life.

This provision encountered a sharp opposition: Mr.
Trumbull, of Illinois, insisting that the forfeiture of real
estate for life only would amount to nothing, and other
Senators objecting to being hiiluenced in their action b^


the supposed opinions of the President. Mr. Clark also
proposed another amendment, authorizing the President,
in granting an amnesty, to restore to the offender any
property which might have been seized and condemned
under this act. The resolutions and amendments were
passed by the Senate, and received the concurrence
of the House. On the 17th of July President Lincoln sent
in the following message, announcing that he had signed
the bill, and specifying his objections to the act in its
original shape :


Considering the bill for " An Act to suppress insurrection, to punish
treason and rebellion, to seize and confiscate the property of rebels, and
for other purposes," and the joint resolution explanatory of said act as
being substantially one, I have approved and signed both.

Before I was informed of the resolution, I had prepared the draft of a
message, stating objections to the bill becoming a law, a copy of which
draft is herewith submitted. ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

July 12, 1862.


I herewith return to the honorable body in which it originated, the
bill for an act entitled u An Act to suppress treason and rebellion, to
seize and confiscate the property of rebels, and for other purposes," to
gether with my objections to its becoming a law.

There is much in the bill to which I perceive no objection. It is
wholly prospective ; and it touches neither person nor property of any
oyal citizen, in which particular it is just and proper.

Tho first and second sections provide for the conviction and punish
ment of persons who shall be guilty of treason, and persons who shall
"incite, set on foot, assist, or engage in any rebellion or insurrection
against the authority of the United States, or the laws thereof, or shall
give aid or comfort thereto, or shall engage in or give aid and comfort to
any such existing rebellion or insurrection." By fair construction, per-
ons within those sections are not punished without regular trials in duly
constituted courts, under the forms and all the substantial provisions of
law and the Constitution applicable to their several cases. To this I per
ceive no objection ; especially as such persons would be within the gen-
oral pardoning power, and also the special provision for pardon and am
ucfity contained in this act.

Jt ia also provided that the slaves of persons convicted under these sec-


tions shall be free. I think there is an unfortunate form of expression,
rather than a snbatantial objection, in this. It is startling to say that
Congress can free a slave within a State, and yet if it were said the
ownership of a slave had first been transferred to the nation, and Con
gress had then liberated him, the difficulty would at once vanish. And
this is the real case. The traitor against the General Government for
feits his slave at least as justly as ho does any other property ; and he
forfeits both to the Government against which he offends. The Govern
meut, s- far as there can be ownership, thus owns the forfeited slaves,
and the question for Congress in regard to them is, " Shall they be made
free or sold to new masters?" I perceive no objection to Congress de
ciding in advance that they shall be free. To the high honor of Ken
tucky, as I am informed, she is the owner of some slaves by escheat, and
has sold none, but liberated all. I hope the same is true of some other
States. Indeed,. I do not believe it will be physically possible for the
General Government to return persons so circumstanced to actual slavery.
I believe there would be physical resistance to it, which could neither be
turned aside by argument nor driven away by force. In this view I have
no objection to this feature of the bill. Another matter involved in these
two sections, aivl running through other parts of the act, will be noticed

I perceive no objections to the third or fourth sections.

So far as I wish to notice the fifth and sixth sections, they may be con
sidered together. That the enforcement of these sections would do no
injustice to the persons embraced within them, is clear. That those who
make a causeless war should be compelled to pay the cost of it, is too ob
viously just to be called in question. To give governmental protection
to the property of persons who have abandoned it, and gone on a crusade
to overthrow the same Government, is absurd, if considered in the mere
light of justice. The severest justice may not always be the best policy.
The principle of seizing and appropriating the property of the person em
braced within these sections is certainly not very objectionable, but a
justly discriminating application of it would be very difficult, and, to a
great extent, impossible. And would it not be wise to place a power of
remission somewhere, so that these persons may know they have some
thing to lose by persisting, and something to gain by desisting ? I am
not sure whether such power of remission is or is not in section thirteen.
Without any special act of Congress, I think our military commander*,
when, in military phrase, "they are within the enemy s country," should,
in an orderly manner, seize and use whatever of real or personal prop
erty may be necessary or convenient for their commands ; at the same
time preserving, in some way, the evidence of what they do.

What I have said in regard to slaves, while commenting on tt& first
and second sections, is applicable to the ninth, with the difference tliat no
provision is made in the whole act for determining whether a particular


individual slave does or does not fall within the classes defined in that
section. He is to be free upon certain conditions ; but whether those
conditions do or do not pertain to him, no mode of ascertaining is pro
vided. This could be easily supplied.

To the tenth section I make no objection. The oath therein required
seems to be proper, and the remainder of the section is substantially :den-
tical with a law already existing.

The eleventh section simply assumes to confer discretionary pc *ea
upon the Executive. Without the law, I have no hesitation to go as far
iii the direction indicated as I may at any time deem expedient. And I
am ready to say now, I think it is proper for our military commanders
to employ, as laborers, as many persons of African descent as can be
used to advantage.

The twelfth and thirteenth sections are something better than unobjec
tionable ; and the fourteenth is entirely proper, if all other parts of the
act shall stand.

That to which I chiefly object pervades most part of the act, but more
distinctly appears in the first, second, seventh, and eighth sections. It, is
the fctim of those provisions which results in the divesting of title forever.

For the causes of treason arid ingredients of treason, not amounting to
the full crime, it declares forfeiture extending beyond the lives of the
guilty parties; whereas the Constitution of the United States declares
that u no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture
except during the life of the person attainted." True, there is to be no
formal attainder in this case ; still, I think the greater punishment can
not be constitutionally inflicted, in a different form, for the same offence.

With great respect I am constrained to say I think this feature of the
act is unconstitutional. It would not be difficult to modify it.

I may remark that the provision of the Constitution, put in language
borrowed from Great Britain, applies only in this country, as I under
stand, to real or landed estate.

Again, this act, in rem, forfeits property for the ingredients of treason
without a conviction of the supposed criminal, or a personal hearing
uriven him in any proceeding. That we may not touch property lying
j within our reach, because we cannot give personal notice to an owner
who is absent endeavoring to destroy the Government, is certainly satis
factory. Still, the owner may not be thus engaged ; and I think a rea
sonable time should be provided for such parties to appear and have per
sonal hearings. Similar provisions are not uncommon in connection with
proceedings in rem.

For the reasons stated, I return the bill to the House in which it origi

The passage of this bill constituted a very important
step iii the prosecution of the war for the suppression of


the rebellion. It prescribed definite penalties for the
crime of treason, and thus supplied a defect in the laws
as they then existed. It gave the rebels distinctly to un
derstand that one of these penalties, if they persisted in
their resistance to the authority of the United States,
would be the emancipation of their slaves. And it also
authorized the employment by the President of persons
of African descent, to aid in the suppression of the Rebel
lion in any way which he might deem most conducive to
the public welfare. Yet throughout the bill, it was
clearly made evident that the object and purpose of these
measures was not the abolition of slavery, but the pi\^er-
vation of the Union and the restoration of the authority
of the Constitution.

On the 14th of January Simon Cameron resigned his

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 25 of 42)