網頁圖片
PDF

On the very first day of the session, •esolutions were introduced denouncing the course of the government in regard to the suspension of habeas corpus, and the arbitrary arrests of persons suspected of complicity with the rebels or the rebellion. Men like Cox, Vallandingham, Pendleton, and others in the House, and Powell, Davis, Saulsbury, etc., in the Senate, were actively engaged in efforts to thwart the plans of the majority and oppose the administration; but it was to little purpose. They rarely accomplished anything except to ventilate their opinions, and with hardly an instance to the contrary, their propositions were quietly laid on the table or summarily rejected.

On the 4th of December, Mr. Morrill, of Vermont, offered the following resolution in the House: "Mesolved, That at no time since the commencement of the existing rebellion, have the forces and materials in the hands of the executive department of the government been so ample and abundant, for the speedy and trinmphant termination of the war, as at the present moment;

1S62 an(^ ^s °*u^ o^ a^ 1o}^ American citizens, regardless

of minor differences of opinion, and especially the duty of every officer and soldier in the field, as well as the duty of every department of the government ■—the legislative branch included—as a unit, to cordially and unitedly strike down the assassins, at once and forever, who have conspired to destroy our Constitution, our nationality, and that prosperity and freedom of which we are justly proud at home and abroad, and which we stand pledged to perpe

tuate forever." This resolution indicated clearly the sentiment which prevailed in Congress, and in the loyal states generally; it was adopted by a vote of 105 to 1 (W. J. Allen). .

Although it is a little in advance, we give here a brief summary of the action of Congress during this its last session. The bill authorizing the suspension of the writ of Iwheas corpus, and indemnifying the president and others, was elaborately discussed in the Senate as well as in the House; very great varieties of opinion were expressed, and the bill was finally passed by large majorities. Other measures, such as the enlisting negroes as soldiers, the enroling and drafting the militia, the authorizing the president to issue to private armed vessels letters of marque, the admission of the state of Western Virginia, eta, were warmly debated during the session, and afforded abundant evidence of the spirit and determination of the majority in Congress, and the lengths to which they were ready to go in support of the policy of the government.

The report of the secretary of the treasury, Mr. Chase, was an elaborate and carefully prepared document, setting forth the previous financial history of the war, and the policy by which it was proposed to regulate its burdens in the future. The expenditures of the year were in excess of previous estimates some $350,000,000; and the public debt, it was stated, would, by the end of the next year, amount to $1,700,000,000. The secretary urged the organization of banking associations under a general act, as proposed the previous j! Cu. XXV ]

year. The central idea of the scheme was "the establishment of one sound, uniform circulation, of equal value

1S62.

throughout the country, upon the foundation of national credit combined with private capital." Its advantages in absorbing the public securities, pro

j viding a home market, and giving steadiness to their value, were obvious, while the measure was free from the objections of government interference formerly urged against a national bank. It

, would be voluntary, gradually come

| into use, and meet the necessities of the times. Nor would its least recommendation be that it would supply "a

j firm anchorage to the union of the states. Every banking association I! whose bonds are deposited in the treasi ury of the Union; every individual who holds a dollar of the circulation secured by such deposit; every merchant, every manufacturer, every farmer, every mechanic, interested in transactions dependent for success on the credit of that circulation, will feel as an injury every attempt to rend the national unity, with the permanence and stability of which all their interests are so closely and so vitally connected."

The action of Congress on the subject of the finances of the country was prompt and important. On the 17th of January, 1863, there was authorized the issue of $100,000,000 in United States Notes, for the immediate I payment of the army and navy; such n<»tes to be a part of the amount , provided for in any bill that might be passed during the session. The amount just named, was included in

VOL. IV.—34.

265

the act passed at the close of the present Congress.

During the month of February, the subject of providing a sound and reliable currency for the country came up, and was fully discussed, in both the House and the Senate. The result was, the passage of "An Act to provide a national currency, secured by a pledge of United States stocks, and to provide for the circulation and redemption thereof." * The vote in the Senate j was ayes, 23, noes, 21; in the House, ayes, 78, noes, 64.

By an act, approved March 3d, 1863, there was authorized a Loan of $300,000,000 for the current fiscal year, and $600,000,000 for the next fiscal year; for which bonds were to be issued, running not less than ten nor more than forty years, principal and interest payable in coin, bearing interest at a rate not exceeding six per cent, per annum, payable on bonds not exceeding $100 annually, and on all others semi-annually. The secretary was also authorized to issue $400,000,000 of six per cent, Treasury Notes, not exceeding three years to run, to be a legal tender for their face value, excluding interest, and exchangeable for and redeemable by United States Notes, for which purpose alone an issue of $150,000,000 of the latter was authorized; also, a further issue, if necessary, for the payment of the army and navy and other creditors of the government, of $150,000,000 in United States Notes, including the $100,000,000 authorized in January;

* This act was approved, Feb. 25, 1863. For the Act in full, see Appleton's "Annual Cyclopedia," for 1863, pp. 296-304.

FINANCIAL MEASURES OF CONGRESS.

the whole amount of "bonds, treasury note? and United States notes issued under this act not to exceed the sum of $900,000,000; also, to issue $50,000,000 in Fractional Cubbency, in lieu of postage or other stamps, exchangeable for United States notes, in sums not less than three dollars, and receivable for any dues to the United States less than five dollars, except duties on imports; also, to receive deposits of gold coin and bullion, and to issue certificates therefor; and to issue certificates representing coin in the treasury in payment of interest, which, with the certificates of deposits issued, were not to exceed 20 per cent, beyond the amount of coin and bullion in the treasury. A tax was also imposed on the circulation of state banks of one per cent, half yearly.

By a comparison of the recommendations and appeals of the secretary of the treasury with the matured action of Congress, as above given, it will readily be perceived to what extent the legislature adopted his views and suggestions; and the reader will find it equally interesting and profitable to note the progress and results of the system of finance now inaugurated, during the years immediately following. It was evident that, so long as the rebels continued their efforts, the country must have a large supply of paper money, and Congress, representing the sober convictions of the people at large, endeavored to place matters on such a footing that this money should be national in its character, and rest on the faith of the government as its security. The history of succeeding

years of trial and perplexity demon strates in how far success attended their action.

Together with his message, Mr. Lincoln submitted a large volume of cor respondence relating to foreign affairs, and accompanied it with various pertinent statements and remarks. Speaking of the political excitements in the old world, he said: "In this unusual agitation, we have forborne from taking part in any controversy between foreign states and between parties or factions in such states. We have attempted no propagandism and acknowledged no revolution. But we have left to every nation the exclusive conduct and management of its own affairs. Our struggle has been, of course, contemplated by foreign nations with reference less to its own merits than to its supposed and often exaggerated effects, and the consequences resulting to those nations themselves. Nevertheless, complaint on the part of this government, even if it were just, would certainly be unwise.'"

The correspondence, as conducted by Mr. Seward, the secretary of state, and our ministers abroad, especially Mr. Adams, at London, aud Mr. Dayton, at Paris, was marked by superior ability, and manifested the spirit and determination of the government, neither to allow foreign interference in our country's affairs, nor to suffer other nations, particularly England, to suppose that we would submit to any infraction of our rights and immunities. The course pursued by the English government was of a kind to arouse deep feeling in the United States—a

[merged small][ocr errors]

feeling of mingled indignation and contempt; of indignation at the positive wide-spread injuries inflicted upon our .commerce by the piratical cruisers built and fitted out in English ports; and of contempt for a government professing friendliness and neutrality, and at the same time conniving at palpable violations of law in order to favor the cause of the rebellion. Two flagrant instances of unhandsome conduct, which occurred during 1862, may here be noted.*

Early in February, 1862, our vigilant minister at London called the attention of Earl Russell to the fact that a steam gun boat, called the Oreto, and afterwards the Florida, was being built in a Liverpool ship-yard, under the supervision of agents from the rebel states, and evidently intended for the rebel service. The answer returned was, that the vessel was intended for the use of parties in Palermo, Sicily, and that there was no good reason to suppose that she was meant for any service hostile to the United States. Mr. Adams furnished evidence to show that the claim of being designed for Sicilian service was a mere pretext;

I but he did not succeed in inducing Earl Russell to take any steps for the vessel's detention. Her clearance being adroitly made out for the island of Sicily, she was permitted to leave the

I harbor without interruption, at the end of March. She succeeded in getting

* For some account of tho injuries inflicted by rebel cruisers upon American commerce, the vessels destroyed, the extent to which tho carrying trade of New fork suffered, etc., see Appleton's " American Annual Cyeloixrdin," for 1803, pp. 660—062.

into Mobile in September, and, at the close of the year, she made her way out in safety, as a rebel privateer, under command of J. N. Maffit, formerly of the United States navy, to enter upon a series of depredations upon Northern commerce.

In the month of June, 1862, the American minister directed Earl Russell's attention to another powerfu war steamer, then in progress of con. struction in the ship-yard of a member of the House of Commons, and evidently intended for the rebel service. This vessel, known at first as the "290," and afterwards as the "Alabama," became the subject of correspondence between Mr. Adams and Earl Russell. The complaint went through the usual formalities, and was referred to the "Lords Commissioners of her Majesty's Treasury," who reported, in due time, that while it was apparent that the vessel was intended for a ship of war, there was not sufficient evidence of her destination to warrant detention. Further evidence was produced, which the British government could not ignore; but before the necessary formalities could be gone through with, and in consequence of delays caused, as Russell afterwards explained the ig62 matter, by the singularly malr a-propos and "sudden development of a malady of the Queen's advocate, totally incapacitating him for the transaction of business,'' the steamer, on tho 29th of July, while an order for her detention was on its way to Liverpool, suddenly slipped out of port without register or clearance. She took her departure with \ party of ladies and gentlemen, osteiisibly for a trial trip, dismissing her visitors and well-wishers on getting out of the Mersey,

Mr. Adams thereupon telegraphed to Captain Craven, in command of the United States steamer Tuscarora, at Southampton, to intercept the " 290" at sea, a risk of capture which the rebel vessel avoided by taking the channel to the north of Ireland, while her pursuer lay in wait in St. George's channel. She then proceeded,undisturbed,to one of the Azores, where, according to a previous arrangement, she awaited the arrival of a bark from the Thames laden with her stores and armament. Soon after having obtained, in this way, the stores and supplies, the British screw steamer Bahama made her appearance, bringing the notorious Captain Semmes and the late officers of the Sumter, and an additional crew and armament. Being thus equipped, Semmes mustered the crew on deck and read his commission, together with the order from Jeff. Davis to take command of the sloop of war, Avhich was now named the "Alabama." Thus, in defiance of law and of international obligation and comity, this piratical cruiser was launched upon her career of mischief and destruction. Before the close of the year 1862, twenty-eight vessels, mostly owned at New York and in New England, fell into the Alabama's hands, the greater part of which were burned to the water's edge. Plundering and burning marked her course, and though occasionally a vessel was allowed to depart on giving heavy bonds for the ship and cargo, ye£ the usual practice was rob bery and destruction.

A course of proceeding such as this naturally excited the vehement indig nation of the merchant sufferers of New York and elsewhere, who were loud in their remonstrances at the neglect or indifference of the British authorities in permitting the fitting out of such an enemy to civilization. The home government sent one vessel of war after another in fruitless search of the adroitly managed cruiser, while her successive depredations, and the advantages which she obtained as a recognized " belliger ent," were brought before the British cabinet, and a distinct warning was given, that England would be held re-! sponsible for the damage which this vessel had inflicted, or might hereafter inflict, on American commerce.

We have already alluded (see p. 64) tn the general sentiment in Great Britain with regard to the rebellion and its probabilities of success. This senti ment continued to have swav during the present year, and men of eminence, like Mf. Gladstone, chancellor of the exchequer, ventured to speak of our affairs as if the matter was settled beyond doubt, and the Great Republic broken into fragments. "There is no doubt," Mr. G. said, in a speech at Newcastle, Oct. 7th, "that Jeff. Davis and the other leaders of the South have made an army; they are making, it ap- '. pears, a navy; and they have made what is more than either, they have made a Nation. . . . We may anticipate with certainty the success of the southern states, so far as regards their departure from the North. I, for my own part, cannot but believe that that event is as certain as any event yet futiuv ami I

« 上一頁繼續 »