Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

Lincoln, his life and times : 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, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and times : 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, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) → online text (page 7 of 41)
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Government, the navy of the United States will receive in-
structions to pursue these enemies into the ports which thus,
in violation of the law of nations and the obligations of neu-
trality, become harbors for the pirates?" Before the receipt
of this dispatch, Mr. Adams had so clearly presented the
same views, of the inevitable results of the policy the
British Government seemed to be pursuing, to Lord Russell,
as to render its transmission to him unnecessary — Mr.
Seward, on the 13th of August, informing Mr. Adams that
he regarded his "previous communications to Earl Russell
on the subject as an execution *of his instructions by way
of anticipation."

Our relations with France continued to be friendly; but
the proceedings of the French in Mexico gave rise to repre-
sentations on both sides which may have permanent im-
portance for the welfare of both countries. Rumors were
'circulated from time to time in France that the Government
of the United States had protested, or was about to protest,
against the introduction into Mexico of a monarchial form
of government, under a European prince, to be established
and supported by French arms; and these reports derived a
good deal of plausibility from the language of the American
press, representing the undoubted sentiment of a very large
portion of the American people. Various incidental conver-
sations were had on this subject during the summer of 1863,
between Mr. Dayton, our Minister in Paris, and the French
Minister of Foreign Affairs, in which the latter uniformly
assured Mr. Dayton that France had no thought of conquer-
ing Mexico or establishing there a dominant and perma-
nent power. She desired simply to enforce the payment of
just claims and to vindicate her honor. In a conversation
reported by Mr. Dayton in a letter dated August 21, M.
Drouyn de l'Huys took occasion again to say that "France


had no purpose in Mexico other than heretofore stated — that
she did not mean to appropriate permanently any part of
that country, and that she should leave it as soon as her
griefs were satisfied, and she could do so with honor." "T- :
the abandon of a conversation somewhat familiar," adds Mr.
Dayton, "I took occasion to say that in quitting Mexico
she might leave a puppet behind her. He said no; the strings
would be too long to work. He added that they had had
enough of colonial experience in Algeria; that the strength
of France was in her compact body and well-defined bound-
ary. In that condition she had her resources always at com-

In a dispatch dated September 14, Mr. Dayton reports a
conversation in which the French Minister referred to the
"almost universal report that our Government only awaits
the termination of our domestic troubles to drive the French
out of Mexico." He said that the French naturally con-
clude that, if they are to have trouble with us, it would be
safest to take their own time; and he assured M. Drouyn
de l'Huys that, "relying on the constant assurances of
France as to its purposes in Mexico, and its determination
to leave the people free as to their form of government, and
not to hold or colonize any portion of their territories," our
Government had indicated no purpose to interfere in the
quarrel, not concealing at the same time our earnest solici-
tude for the well-being of that country, and an especial sen-
sitiveness as to any forcible interference in the form of its

On the 21 st of September, Mr. Seward instructed Mr.
Dayton to call the attention of the French Minister to the
apparent deviations of the French in Mexico from the tenor
of the assurances uniformly given by the French Govern-
ment that they did not intend permanent occupation of that
country, or anv violence to the sovereignty of its people.
And on the 26th of the same month Mr. Seward set forth
at some leneth the position of our Government 8 " upon this
question, which is mainly embodied in the following ex-
tract ; —

The United States hold, in regard to Mexico, the same principles
that they hold in regard to all other nations. They have neither a
right nor a disposition to intervene by force in the internal affairs oi


Mexico, whether to establish and maintain a republic or even a do-
mestic government there, or to overthrow an imperial or a foreign
one, if Mexico chooses to establish or accept it. The United States
have neither the right nor the disposition to intervene by force on
either side in the lamentable war which is going on between France
and Mexico. On the contrary, they practice in regard to Mexico, in
every phase of that war, the non-intervention which they require all
foreign powers to observe in regard to the United States. But not-
withstanding this self-restraint this Government knows full well that
the inherent normal opinion of Mexico favors a government there
republican in form and domestic in its organization, in preference to
any monarchical institutions to be imposed from abroad. This Gov-
ernment knows also that this normal opinion of the people of Mexico
resulted largely from the influence of popular opinion in this coun-
try, and is continually invigorated by it. The President _ believes,
moreover, that this popular opinion of the United States is just -in'
itseif and eminently essential to the progress of civilization on the
American continent, which civilization, it believes, can and will, if
left free from European resistance, work harmoniously together with
advancing refinement on the other continents. This Government
believes that foreign resistance, or attempts to control American civ-
ilization, must and will fail before the ceaseless and ever-increasing
activity of material, moral and political forces, which peculiarly be-
long to the American continent. Nor do the United States deny that,
in their opinion, their own safety and the cheerful destiny to which
they aspire are intimately dependent on the continuance of free re-
publican institutions throughout America. They have submitted
these opinions to the Emperor of France, on proper occasions, as
worthy of his serious consideration, in determining how h'e would
conduct and close what might prove a successful war in Mexico.
Nor is it necessary to practice reserve upon the point that if France
should, upon due consideration, determine to adopt a policy in Mex-
ico adverse to the American opinion and sentiments which I have
described, that policy would probably scatter seeds which would be
fruitful of jealousies which might ultimately ripen into collision be-
tween France and the United States and other American republics.
. . . The statements made to you by M. Drouyn de l'Huys con-
cerning the Emperor's intentions are entirely satisfactory, if we are
permitted to assume them as having been authorized to be madeby
the Emperor in view of the present condition of affairs in Mexico.

The French Minister, in a conversation on the eighth of
October, stated to Mr. Dayton that the vote of the entire
population of Mexico, Spanish and Indian, would be taken
as to the form of government to be established, and he had
no doubt a laree majority of that vote would be in favor of
the Archduke Maximilian. He also expressed a desire that
the United States would express its acquiescence in such a
result, and its readiness to enter into peaceful relations with
such a Government, by acknowledging it as speedily as pos-


sible — inasmuch as such a course would enable France the
sooner to leave Mexico- and the new Government to take
care of itself. In replying to this request, on the 23rd of
October, Mr. Seward repeated the determination of our
Government to maintain a position of complete neutrality in
the war between France and Mexico, and declared that while
they had not "the least purpose or desire to interfere with
their proceedings, or control or interfere with their free
choice, or disturb them in the exercise of whatever institu-
tions of government they may, in the exercise of an absolute
freedom, establish," As we do not consider the war yet
closed, however, we were not at liberty to consider the ques-
tion of recognizing the Government which, in the further
chances of that war, might take the place of the one now
existing in Mexico, with which our relations were those of
peace and friendship.

The policy of the President, therefore, in regard to the war
in Mexico, was that of neutrality; and, although this policy
in some respects contravened the traditional purposes and
principles of the Government and people of the United
States, it is not easy to see what other could have been
adopted without inviting hazards which no responsible
statesman has a right to incur. The war against Mexico
was undertaken ostensibly for objects and purposes which
we were compelled to regard as legitimate, and we could not
ourselves depart from a strict neutrality without virtually
conceding the right, not only of France, but of every other
nation interested in our downfall, to become party to the
war against us. While we have to a certain extent pledged
oursleves to hold the whole continent open to republican in-
stitutions, our first duty was clearly to preserve the existence
of our own Republic, not only for ourselves, but as the only
condition on which republicanism anywhere is possible. The
President, therefore, in holding this country wholly aloof
from the war with France, consulted the ultimate and per-
manent interests of democratic institutions not less than the
safety and welfare of the United States, and pursued the only
policy at all compatible with the preservation of our Union
and the final establishment of the Monroe doctrine. Neither
the President nor the people, however, indicated any purpose
to acquiesce in the imposition of a foreign prince upon the


Mexican poeple by foreign armies ; and on the 4th of April,
1864, the House of Representatives adopted the following
resolution upon the subject, which embodies, beyond all
doubt, the settled sentiment of the people of this country : —

Resolved, That the Congress of the United States are unwilling by
silence to leave the nations of the world under the impression that
they are indifferent spectators of the deplorable events now trans-
piring in the Republic of Mexico; therefore, they think it fit to
declare that it does not accord with the sentiment of the people of
the United States to acknowledge a monarchical government, erected
On the ruins of any republican government in America, under the
auspices of any European Power.

The Senate, however, took no action upon the resolution.
But in consequence of a statement by the Paris Moniteur,
that the French Government had received from our authori-
ties "satisfactory evidence of the sense and bearing" of the
resolution, the House on the 23d of May called for the ex-
planation which had been given to the Government of France.
In answer to this call, the President transmitted a report of
the Secretary of State, enclosing a dispatch to Mr. Dayton,
in which the Secretary, while saying that "the resolution
truly interprets the unanimous sentiment of the people of
the United States in regard to Mexico,'' added, that "it was
another and distinct question whether the United States
would think it necessary or proper to express themselves in
the form adopted by the House of Representatives at this
time," — "a question whose decision rested with the President,
and that the President did not at present contemplate any
departure from the policy which this Government has
hitherto pursued in regard to the war which exists between
France and Mexico."

The action of Congress during the first of the session was
not of special interest or importance. Public attention con-
tinued to be absorbed by military operations, and Congress,
at its previous session, had so fully provided for the emer-
gencies, present and prospective, of the war, that little in
this direction remained to be done. Resolutions were intro-
duced by members of the opposing parties, some approving
and others condemning the policy of the Administration. At-
tempts were made to amend the Conscription bill, but the
two Houses failing to agree on some of the more important


changes proposed, the bill, as finally passed, did not vary
essentially from the original law. The leading topic of dis-
cussion in this connection was the employment of colored
men, free and slave, as soldiers. The policy of thus employ-
ing them had been previously established by the action of
the Government in all departments; and all that remained
was to regulate the mode of their enlistment. A proviso was
finally adopted by both Houses that colored troops, "while
they shall be credited in the quotas of the several States or
subdivisions of States wherein they are respectively drafted,
enlisted, or shall volunteer, shall not be assigned as State
troops, but shall be mustered into regiments or companies
as 'United States Colored Volunteers.' "

The general tone of the debates in Congress indicated a
growing conviction on the part of the people of the whole
country, without regard to party distinctions, that the de-
struction of slavery was inseparable from the victorious
prosecution of the war. Men of all parties acquiesced in the
position that the days of slavery were numbered — that the
rebellion, organized for the purpose of strengthening it, had
placed it at the mercy of the National force, and compelled
the Government to assail its existence as the only means of
subduing the rebellion and preserving the Union. The cer-
tainty that the prosecution of the war must result in the
emancipation of the slaves, led to the proposal of measures
suited to this emergency. On the 6th of February, a bill
was reported in the House for the establishment of a Bureau
of Freedmen's Affairs, which should determine all questions
relating to persons of African descent, and make regulations
for their employment and proper treatment on abandoned
plantations ; and, after a sharp and discursive debate, it was
passed by a vote of sixty-nine to sixty-seven.

The bill, however, did not pass the Senate, and nothing
final was done in this direction until the next session.

The most noticeable of the measures in reference to slav-
ery which were before Congress at this session was the reso-
lution to submit to the action of the several States an amend-
ment to the Constitution of the United States, prohibiting
the exisence of slavery within the States and Territories of
the Union forever.

The opposition which this proposition met was wonder-


fully little considering the radical nature of the change pro-
posed, and showed that the experience of the last three years
had left but little inclination in any quarter to prolong the
existence of slavery, and that the political necessities which
formerly gave it strength and protection had ceased to be
felt. At the commencement of the session, resolutions were
offered by several me ibers in both Houses, aiming at its
prohibition by such an amendment of the Constitution. This
mode of accomplishing the object sought was held to be
free from the objections to which every other was exposed,
as it is unquestionably competent for the people to amend
the Constitution, in accordance with the forms prescribed
by its own provisions. One or two Southern Senators, Mr.
Saulsbtiry, of Delaware, and Mr. Powell, of Kentucky, being
prominent, urged that it was a palpable violation of State
rights for the people thus to interfere with any thing which
State laws declare to be property ; but they were answered
by Reverdy Johnson, of Maryland, who urged that when the
Constitution was originally framed this prohibition of slav-
ery might unquestionably have been embodied in it, and that
it was competent for the people to do now whatever they
might have done then.

A prominent feature of the debate on the resolution in the
Senate was a strong speech in its favor by Senator Hender-
son, of Missouri, whose advocacy of the measure surprised
even its friends, and was a striking proof of the progress-of
anti-slavery sentiment in the Border States. The resolution
passed the Senate on the 8th of April, 1864, bv the strong
vote of thirty-eight to six. It then went to the House, where
it was taken up on the 31st of May. Mr. Holman, of In-
diana, objected to the second reading of it, and this brought
the House at once to a vote on the rejection of the resolu-
tion, which was negatived by a vote of seventy-six to fifty-
five. It was debated at a good deal of length, but without a
tithe of the excitement which the mere mention of such a
change would have aroused but a few years before. The
vote on the passage of the resolution was taken on the 15th
of June, and resulted in its rejection by a vote of ninety-four
in its favor to sixty-five against it, two-thirds being neces-
sary. Mr. Ashley, of Ohio, changed his vote to the negative,
for the purpose of moving a reconsideration; and the motion


to reconsider having been made, the matter went over in this
position to the next session.

A more successful effort was made to repeal the notorious
Fugitive Slave Law. The bill for the repeal was introduced
in the House, where it was passed on the 13th of June, by
a vote of eighty-two to fifty-eight. On the 15th it was re-
ceived in the Senate, when, on motion of Mr. Sumner, it was
referred to the Committee on Slavery and Freedmen, who
immediately reported it favorably, without amendment; but
a vote on it was not reached till the 23d, when it passed by
a vote of twenty-seven to twelve.

The action of Congress during the session, relating to
questions connected with taxation and the currency, does
not call for detailed mention in this connection.

Some incidental matters which arose excited full as much
controversy as more important matters of legislation. One
heated controversy was had over a resolution introduced on
Saturday, the 9th of April, by the Speaker, Mr. Colfax, for
the expulsion from the House of Alexander Long, a mem-
ber from Ohio, for language used by him in a speech before
the House. Mr. Colfax's resolution was as follows : —

Whereas, on the 8th day of April, 1864, when the House of Rep-
resentatives was in Committee of the Whole on the state of the
Union, Alexander Long, a Representative in Congress from the
Second District of Ohio, declared himself in favor of recognizing
the independent nationality of the so-called Confederacy, now in
arms against the Union.

And whereas, the said so-called Confederacy, thus sought to be
recognized and established on the ruins of a dissolved or destroyed
Union, has, as its chief officers, civil and military, those who have
added perjury to their treason, and who seek to obtain success for
their parricidal efforts by the killing of the loyal soldiers of the
nation who are seeking to save it from destruction.

And whereas, the oath required of all members, and taken by the
said Alexander Long on the first day of the present Congress, de-
clares that "I have voluntarily given no aid, countenance, counsel, or
encouragement to persons engaged in armed hostility to the United
States," thereby declaring that such conduct is regarded as inconsis-
tent with membership in the Congress of the United States :

Therefore resolved, That Alexander Long, Representative from
the Second District of Ohio, having, on the 8th day of April, 1864,
declared himself in favor of recognizing the independence and nation-
ality of the so-called Confederacy, now in arms against the Union,
and thereby given aid, countenance and encouragement to persons
engaged in armed hostility to the United States, is hereby expelled.


The resolution was followed by a sharp debate, in the
course of which Mr. Benjamin G. Harris, of Maryland, dur-
ing a furious speech against the resolution, used the follow-
ing words : —

"The South ask you to leave them in peace, but now you say you
will bring them into subjection. That is not done yet, and God
Almighty grant it never may be!"

These words added fuel to the fire which was already rag-
ing. On motion of Mr. Washburne, of Illinois, the language
of Mr. Harris was taken down by the Clerk of the House.
The resolution for the expulsion of Mr. Long was postponed
till the following Monday, and a resolution was immediately
introduced for the expulsion of Mr. Harris, which, under the
operation of the previous question, was brought to an im-
mediate vote. The vote resulted in yeas eighty-one, nays
fifty-eight; and the resulution was lost, a two-thirds vote
being requisite for the expulsion of a member. A resolution
I was then introduced that Mr. Harris, "having spoken words
(this day in debate manifestly tending and designed to en-
courage the existing rebellion and the public enemies of this.
I nation, is declared to be an unworthy member of this House,,
i and is hereby severely censured ;" and this resolution was
(adopted by a vote of ninety-two yeas to eighteen nays.

The resolution for the expulsion of Mr. Long was debated
| for four days, when the mover, being satisfied that a suffi-
cient vote could not be obtained for the expulsion, adopted
[as his own a substitute of two resolutions, introduced by
[Mr. Broomall, of Pennsylvania. The first resolution, declar-
ing Mr. Long an unworthy member of the House, was
iadopted by a vote of eighty yeas to seventy nays. The sec-

Iond, directing the Speaker to read the first resolution to Mr.
Long during the session of the House, was also adopted.

Considerable time was also consumed, and a good deal of
ill-feeling created, by a controversy between General F. P.
Blair, Jr., of Missouri, whose seat in Congress was con-
tested, and other members of the Missouri delegation. Gen-
eral Blair was accused by one of his colleagues of very dis-
creditable transactions in granting permits to trade within
the limits of his department, from which he was, however,
completely exonerated by the investigations of a committee


of the House. After this matter was closed, General Blair
resigned his seat in the Ho.nse and returned to his post in
the army. The House, by resolution, called upon the Presi-
dent for information as to the circumstances of his restora-
tion to command, and received on the 28th of April the fol-
lowing reply : —

To the House of Representatives:

In obedience to the resolution of your honorable body, a copy of
which is herewith returned, I have the honor to make the following
brief statement, which is believed to contain the information sought :

Prior to and at the meting of the present Congress, Robert C.
Schenck, of Ohio, and Frank P. Blair, Jr., of Missouri, members elect .
thereto, by and with the consent of the Senate held commissions from !
the Executive as major-generals in the volunteer army. General |
Schenck tendered the resignation of his said commission, and took
his seat in the House of Representatives, at the assembling thereof,
upon the distinct verbal understanding with the Secretary of War and
the Executive that he might at any time during the session, at his
own pleasure, withdraw said resignation and return to the field.

General Blair was, by temporary agreement of General Sherman,
in command of a corps through the battles in front of Chattanooga,
and in marching to the relief of Knoxville, which occurred in the
latter days of December last, and of course was not present at the
assembling of Congress. When he subsequently arrived here, he
sought and was allowed by the Secretary of War and the Executive
the same conditions and promise as was allowed and made to Gen-
eral Schenck.

General Schenck has not applied to withdraw his resignation; but
when General Grant was made Lieutenant-General, producing some
changes of commanders, General Blair sought to be assigned to the
command of a corps. This was made known to General Grant and
General Sherman, and assented to by them, and the particular corps
for him was designated. This was all arranged and understood, as
now remembered, so much as a month ago; but the formal with-
drawal of General Blair's resignation, and the reissuing of. the order
assigning him to the command of a corps, were not consummated at
the War Department until last week, perhaps on the 23d of April

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and times : 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, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) → online text (page 7 of 41)