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Cu. XII.] ACTION IN CONGRESS ON SLAVERY QUESTION.
sident, the next day, appointed a thanksgiving for the "signal victories of the land and naval forces engaged in suppressing an internal rebellion," and called upon the people to "invoke reverently the Divine guidance for our national counsels." Beauregard, on his part, endeavoring to make the best of matters, issued an address to his soldiers, in which he spoke in exalted terms of their bravery and their great success.
Halleck, directly after the news reached him of this important victory, set out from St. Louis, and on his arrival at Pittsburg Landing, took command of the army. On the 2 2d of April, Gen. Pope with his division, numbering 25,000, arrived at the Landing, from New Madrid . The army was thus increased to 108,000 men, and ITalleck, placing Grant on the right wing, Buell in the centre, and Pope on the left wing, made preparations for an immediate advance upon Beauregard at Corinth; the narrative of which, however, we shall defer to a subsequent chapter.
Meanwhile, amid the din of war and the terrible lessons of the battle field, Congress (see p. 105) had been pursuing its work with an earnest purpose rightly to fulfil its high mission in the existing crisis. The war, of course, in its various aspects and relations, formed the main subject of discussion; and Congress, as expressing the voice of the nation, gave clear evidence that, whatever differences there might be on minor, 6ubsidary questions, whatever sacrifices there might be demanded, one result alone would be satisfactory to the
people, viz., the suppression of the re belliou, and the restoration of the supremacy of the Constitution and laws of the United States.
We shall not attempt to go into details; we have no room to quote from the speeches of the members of Congress on the all-engrossing topics of the day; we can but sum up the chief results, and refer the reader, who is curious as to what was said, to the volumes containing the debates in Congress during the present session. The republicans, being largely in the majority, never seem to have lost sight of the anti-slavery portion of their avowed political principles. The members from the border states, being slave-Jaolders themselves, and convinced of the lawfulness of the institution and its necessity to the interests of the South, resisted strenuously every movement looking towards interference with, or extinction of slavery. Senator Trumbull's bill for the confiscation of rebel property, and giving freedom to their slaves, was a decided step forward ; and before the session closed, it was followed by others still more significant.
A bill for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia was introduced into the House, early in the session, and having been referred to the committee on the District, was reported favorably upon, March 12th. The Senate also took up the same subject, which was referred to the committee on the District, who reported a bill with amendments, in February. This was discussed during the following month. The usual arguments on both sides were gone over; the border state members opposed it' vigorously; efforts were made to fasten on to the "bill a compulsory colonizing of the negroes, but to no purpose; the majority were resolved upon their course, and would not agree to any such restriction.* The bill passed the Senate, April 3d, by a vote of 29 to 14; in the House discussion was not protracted, and on the 11th, it passed by a vote of 92 to 38. As thus adopted by both Houses, the bill declared the immediate abolition of slavery in the District; provided means for the colonization of the free blacks, if desired by them; and appropriated $1,000,000 to compensate the owners of slaves, at a rate not exceeding $300 for each.
On the 16th of April, President Lincoln seut a brief message to Congress, expressing his approval of the act or bill, and especially "that the two principles of compensation and colonization are both recognized and practically applied in this act."f
Following upon emancipation in the District of Columbia, was the passage of an act removing slavery from the territories of the United States. It was introduced into the House, March 24th, as a measure to
• For Senator Sumner's " Resolutions declaratory of the relations between the United States and the territory once occupied by certain states, and now usurped by pretended governments, without constitutional or legal right," offered, February 11th, see Appleton's "American Annual Cyelopmdin," 1862, p. 345.
f Action was speedily taken for the benefit of the negroes thus made free in the District. Educational measures, especially primary schools, were organized, as soon as possible, thero being more than 3,000 children to be provided for. Every thing which was proper was done, on a liberal scale, to secure them the advantages which the blacks had long enjoyed in the free states. See McPherson's "History of the Rebellion," pp. 811-212.
render freedom national, and slavery sectional; and was taken up for discussion, May 9th, in the midst of exciting, encouraging news from New Orleans. Pro-slavery sympathizers, like Cox of Ohio, groaned over "the whole negro business. Heaven is sick," he exclaimed, "and earth is weary, of this damnable and dangerous iteration." On the 12th ©f May, the bill passed the House by a vote of 85 to 50; the Senate passed the bill, January 9th, by a vote of 28 to 10. As finally adopted it was "An act to secure freedom to all persons within the territories of the United States."
President Lincoln, feeling deeply the pressure of the slavery question, and as yet not being able to see his way out of the difliculty, was anxious to make trial of a system of compensated emancipation, especially in the border states, in the hope that through them a powerful influence might be brought to bear upon the states further south. It was his hope also, that the war would sooner come to a conclusion by adopting such a course. On the 6th of March, he sent a message to Congress, asking the following resolution to be passed: '-'-Resolved, That the United States ought to co-operate with any state which may adopt a gradual abolishment of slavery, giving to such state pecuniary aid, to be used by such state in its discretion, to compensate for the inconveniences, public and private, produced by such change of system." The resolution was adopted in the House, March 11th, in the Senate, April 2d, by large majorities.
At the close of the month of January, the bill authorizing the president of the
United States in certain cases to take possession of railroads and telegraph lines was taken up and debated. It was strongly urged, on the one hand, as a military necessity, essential in the present juncture; on the other, it was resisted, as giving the president a despotic power dangerous to place in any man's hands. The bill, however, passed, January 31st, and became a law.
On the 17th of January, the bill for the issue of treasury notes came up in the House. This was, and was felt to be, a very important measure, and it was Ion? and ardently discussed by some of the ablest members of the House. Many denied entirely the power of Congress to make paper money a legal tender, and much eloquent declamation was bestowed upon the unconstitutionality of giving the treasury notes this character and value. But the majority in the House thought otherwise, and they argued, just as strongly, that the measure was a wise, judicious and excellent one; and, moreover, as the government could not be carried on without money, it was a necessity to give it the power sought for in this bill. The bill was accordingly passed by a vote of 93 to 59. In February, the Senate took up the bill. A motion was made to strike out the legal tender clause, but it did not prevail; and the bill finally passed, February 25th, by a vote of 30 to 7.
By this important financial measure, there was authorized the issue of $150,000,000, of United States notes of denominations not less than five dollars each, not bearing interest, and creating tho same a legal tender in payment of
all debts public and private, within the United States, except duties on imports, and payments by the government of interest on bonds and notes, which was required to be paid in coin. This new "circulation" was to be received by the government in payment for any loans which might be negotiated by the secretary of the treasury. To fund the debt thus created and enlarged, the issue of coupon or registered bonds, to the amount of $500,000,000, bearing six per cent, interest, and redeemable at the pleasure of the United States after five years, and payable twenty years from date, was authorized. All bonds, stocks, and other securities of the United States, held within the country, were, by the act, to be exempt from taxation by or under state authority.
In connection with the proceedings of the national legislature, we may briefly note here what the Confederate Congress, at Richmond, was doing at this time. The ten states actually in rebellion were represented; there were also persons professing to represent Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri. Vice-president Stephens presided in the Senate; Mr. Bocock, of Virginia, was elected speaker of the House. All the important measures in this and subsequent sessions of the Confederate Congress were discussed and determined on with closed doors, and no reports of speeches or votes were made public. Occasionally, however, an open session was held, and the views and opinions of some of the members became more or less known.
Some members of the rebel congress urged the "carrying the war into