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The democratic party, which had delayed its convention to the end of the month of August, was encouraged by 1864 ^e -ex's'mS condition of political and othor affairs, to go forward and secure the present favorable opening for making its nomination for the presidency. The National Democratic convention met at Chicago, on the 29th of August, and was organized by placing Gov. Seymour, of New York, in the chair. His opening speech was strongly denunciatory of the government, and called imperatively for a change. "The democratic party," he said, "will restore the Union, because it longs for its restoration; it will bring peace, because it loves peace; it will bring back liberty to our land, because it loves liberty; it will put down despotism, because it hates the ignoble tyranny which now degrades the American people This
administration cannot now restore the Union if it would. It has, by its proclamations, by vindictive legislation, and by displays of hate and passion, placed obstacles in its own pathway which it cannot overcome. It has hampered its own freedom of action by unconstitutional ties."
The platform of the convention was contained in a number of resolutions, which were adopted. The second of these set forth the spirit and object of the democratic party, as follows:— "Hesolved, That this convention does explicitly declare, as the sense of the American people, that after four years
injurious and Bo false should no longer prevail." See also, Appleton's "American Annual Cydopaedia," for 1861, pp. 780-783.
of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war, during which, under the pretence of a military necessity, or war power higher than the Constitution, | the Constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty j and private right alike trodden down, and the material' prosperity of the country essentially impaired, justice, humanity, liberty, and the public welfare, demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a view to an ultimate convention of all the states, or other peaceable means, to the end that, at the earliest practicable moment, peace may be restored on the basis of the Federal Union of the states." The other resolutions were strongly condemnatory of the government, on the ground of its military interference with | elections, its arbitrary arrests, suppression of freedom of speech and of the press, denial of the right of asylum, shameful disregard of duty in respect to those who were prisoners among the rebels, etc. The final resolution extended "the sympathy of the democratic party to the soldiers of our army and the seamen of our navy," and promised that, in case this party came into power, they should " receive all the care, protection, and regard that the brave soldiers and sailors of the Republic have so nobly earned."
Gen. G. B. McClellan was nominated for president, and G. H. Pendleton for vice-president, and the party expected to be able to carry the election in their favor. McClellan, in his letter accept- j ing the nomination, gave expression to j sentiments in respect to the war, etc., ] which were far from agreeable to men
of the Vallandingham type and the ultra peace democrats; yet, as he was the most available candidate they could secure, they determined to push forward the canvass with the utmost vigor and skill,—with what success we shall see by and by.*
In a previous chapter, (see p. 388) we have given an abstract of the opening proceedings and the general tone and tendency of the action of Congress. The session was a long one, reaching into July, 1864, at a period of the deepest interest and importance in the history of the war. The opponents of the administration were diligent in striving to ward off the penalties of confiscation, and to impede and defeat the various anti-slavery measures, which were steadily gaining ground in public estimation, as our armies moved onward in the work of suppressing the rebellion. Several resolutions, offered at different times, in the nature of overtures of "peace negotiations" with the rebel authorities at Richmond, were promptly laid on the table by a decided and decisive vote. Though much time was spent in discussion over the preservation, to the states in rebellion, of their
* "The action of this convention was eminently sheering to the friends of the administration. It was more open and honest than they had anticipated ; it avowed sentiments which, though entertained, it was feared would he concealed. The whole tone of the Mnvention had been in opposition to the popular feeling on the war. The ultra peace men had been prominent in its deliberations. Vallandingham, Harris, Long, Pendleton, men who had done their utmost to help on the rebellion and hamper the government, had been its ruling spirits. The tone of its speeches had been in entire sympathy with the rebels, for whom no words of reproof were uttered, while they were unmeasured in their denunciation of Mr. Lincoln and his administration."—Raymond's " Life of Abraham Lin'dn:' n. 503
former rights under the Constitution, and the policy of arming and freeing the negro population, yet in the end the result was substantially the same. The government was sustained in its various measures for pushiLg forward the war, and adequate means were provided for carrying out these measures in the field.* Relying upon the support and confidence of the national legislature, and of the people of the loyal states, there was a disposition, on the part of the government, to relax a portion of its severity against those who opposed and vilified its action and purpose; and it was deemed not only safe, but every way proper, to allow large and comparatively full liberty to such as desired to express sentiments, and even indulge in action, hostile to the principles and policy of Mr. Lincoln and his supporters. The men who advocated loudly and persistently "peaceat-any-price," were not disturbed in any efforts they chose to make in order to carry out their views; and when the notorious Vallandingham (p. 340) saw fit to venture upon a return to Ohio, and enter upon his former work of enmity to the administration and its course, he was tacitly permitted by the authorities at Washington to pursue the path which pleased him best, without let or hindrance on their part.
The action of the preceding Congress had provided liberally for the prosecution of the war, leaving but little for the first session of the Thirty-eighth Congress to do, except to continue the
* For several resolutions adopted by Congress, and strongly in support of the government and its policy, see pp. 303, 394.
course of action marked out, to amend its legislation, where necessary, etc. The additional measures entered upon were for securing increased revenues, granting new facilities for enlistments, and sanctioning the policy of the administration in regard to slavery. An jg64 ample appropriation bill, meeting the demands of the secretaries of war and the navy, was passed; newr loans were authorized; a new tariff act largely increased the duties on imports, and an internal revenue law augmented licenses and taxes. Various special taxes were imposed on manufactures and articles of luxury, and the annual assessment on incomes was increased from three to five per cent, on returns between $600 and $5,000; from five to seven and a half per cent, on returns between $5,000 and $10,000, and to ten per cent, on all excess over the last sum. A special war tax of five per cent, in addition to the three per cent, already levied, was ordered on the incomes of the year 1863. This last item, it was subsequently calculated, would produce $35,000,000.
A new enrollment act, approved July 4th, 1864, supplementary to an amended enrollment bill, passed in February, had placed the whole population of the country, between the ages of twenty and forty-five, not physically or otherwise disqualified from bearing arms, at the disposal of the president. He was authorized to call, at his discretion, for any number of volunteers for one, two, or three years, and in case the quotas assigned to the several districts were not forthcoming at the end of fifty days, 'he was directed then to order a draft
for one year, to fill such quota or any i deficient portion of it. In case of such draft no payment of money was to be received as commutation for the service; but a substitute might be provided by the person drafted. Volunteers, under j this act, were to receive government bounties of $100, $200, and $300, according to their term of service of one, two, or three years. Clergymen were not exempted, but conscientious and consistent members of religious denominations, whose rules prohibit the bearing of arms were, according to the provisions of the act in Febru
ary, when drafted, to be considered non-combatants, and assigned to hospital or other duty, or released on payment of $300. The distinction of classes, with respect to age and married and unmarried persons within the pe-' riod exposing to service, was abolished by the act of February. By the last mentioned act, all able bodied male persons of African descent, between the ages of twenty and forty-five, resident in the United States, whether citizens or not, were order*.d to be enrolled. If a slave of a loyal r jaster was thus drafted, the bounty of $100 was to be paid to the master; on the latter freeing the slave mustered in/,o the service, he was to be awarded a sum not exceeding $300. The supplementary act made it lawful for the executive of any other state to send recruiting agents into any of the states declared to be in rebellion, except the states of Arkansas, Tennessee, and Louisiana, and to recruit volunteers to be credited to the state procuring such enlistment.
Various steps were taken with refer
ence to the final extinction of slavery, which was now considered by the whole country to be doomed to destruction as the inevitable result of the war. The most noticeable measure on this subject before Congress, at its present session, was the proposition to submit to the action of the several states an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, prohibiting the existence of slavery within the states and territories of the Union forever.
On the 8th of April, 1864, the joint resolution proposing this amendment for the ratification of the state legislatures (three-fourths being necessary to give it effect) was passed in the Senate, bv a vote of 38 to 6. It was taken up in the House on the 31st of May, and discussed with much earnestness during the following two weeks. The vote was taken on the 15th of June, and resulted in ayes 93, nays 65. Less than two-thirds being in favor of the joint resolution, it failed to pass the House, and the matter went over to the next session.
On the 13th of June, a bill was passed by the House to repeal the odious fugitive slave law. The vote was 82 to 58. Two days later it was introduced into the Senate and referred to the committee on slavery and freedmen. A vote was reached on the 23d of June, and the bill received 27 ayes to 12 nays.
The question of state reconstruction,
as the states in rebellion might be
brought under the national authority,
was much discussed in Congress, and
the views of the majority in both Houses
were finally expressed in the passage of voi,. iv.—
a bill on this subject, on the last day of the session. This bill provided that the president should appoint, for each of the states declared in rebellion, a provisional governor, who should be charged with the civil administration of the state until a state government should be organized, and such other civil officers as were necessary for the civil administration of the state; that as soon as military resistance to the United States should be put down, and the people had sufficiently returned to their obedience, the government should make an enrollment of the white male citizens, specifying which of them had taken the oath to support the Constitution of the United States, and if those who had taken it were a majority of the persons enrolled, he should order an election for delegates to a constitutional convention, to be elected by the loyal white male citizens of the United States, aged twenty-one years, and resident in the district for which they voted, or absent in the Army of the United States, and who had taken the oath of allegiance prescribed by the act of Congress, July 2d, 1862; that this convention should declare, on behalf of the people of the state, their submission to the Constitution and laws of the United States, and adopt the following provisions, prescribed by Congress in the execution of its constitutional duty to guarantee to every state a republican form of government, viz :—" First—No person who has held or exercised any office, civil or military, except offices ministerial, and military offices below the grade of colonel, state or confederate, under the usurping power, shall vote for or be a member of the legislature or governor. Second—Involuntary servitude is forever prohibited, and the freedom of all persons is guaranteed in said state. Third—No debt, state or confederate, created by or under the sanction of the usurping power, shall be recognized or paid by the state."
The bill further provided, that when a constitution was formed and adopted by the popular vote, the governor should certify the president of the fact, who, after obtaining the assent of Congress, should recognize the state government as established, and from that date senators and representatives, as well as electors for president and vicepresident, should be elected in the state. Further provisions were made in case any difficulty should occur in carrying out the measures above ordered, for the administration of the state government in the meantime, for the abolition of slavery, etc.
This bill, as passed by Congress, was received by the president just at its close, and as he did not affix his signature to it, it failed to become a law. Mr. Lincoln gave his reasons for not signing the bill in a proclamation issued on the 8th of July *
A few days before the adjournment of Congress a resolution was passed, requesting the president, in view of the state and condition of the country, to appoint a day to be observed throughout the land as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer. The president accordingly appointed as such day, the first Thursday in August, which received at the people's hands its due and proper consideration.
* This proclamation of Mr. Lincoln .-.ailed forth as energetic protest, emanating from Senator Wade, chairman of the Senate Committee, and H. W. Daris, chairman of the House Committee. They held thai Mr. Lincoln had exceeded his powers and dealt unfai: ly and unhandsomely by the supporters of the admin istration. For the protest, see Appleton's "Amt\vxA Annual Cyciopadia" for 1864, pp. 307-310.