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stances of the hour and the good sense of the people. Mr. Lincoln said to me, after his nomination for a second term, “I do not pretend to be without ambition; yet I have 110 mean ambition for a re-election: but having carried this burden of war for four years, and been often compelled to act alone, I should like to feel that my countrymen approve my course."
I replied, “Mr. President, you may count upon an indorsement now in quarters where you had least expected it. I have just returned from the service of the Christian and Sanitary Commissions in Gen. Sherman's army in Tennessee and Georgia. One day I said to a knot of soldiers who were off duty, · Boys, what are you fighting for?' Their answers were a touching and beautiful testimony to their patriotism, and loyalty to the Union. One of them was an Irishman; and his answer is worth repeating in detail. What I'm fighting for, shure? It wasn't meeself that made Misther Lincoln President. De'el the bit of it! I'm a Dimmycrat, shure, an' I voted for Douglas. But, you see, Misther Lincoln was elected, an' so was the President by the laws. With that they sez down here in the South, “Be jabers! he sha'n't be the President: we'll break up the Union first." Sez I, “ Is it that yer afther, me boys! It's meeself'll be tayching ye better manners.” So I shouldered mee musket; an', by jabers ! I'll stay here till every man of them sez Misther Lincoln's the President.'
66 • Well, Pat,' I said, you'll soon have an opportunity of voting for President again. I shall go to Washington soon, and see the President: what shall I
to him?? 66. Would you be afther giving him mee compliments, an’ say that it wasn't I that made him President, but it's meeself'll do it this time; for it's jest mee opinion that the jontlemon that begon this job is the one to go through with it?'"
1 I notice it is made a merit in Gov. Hayes's letter of acceptance that he pledges himself not to be a candidate for a second term; but I confess this seems to detract from the average manly dignity of the letter. It is like saying, “I fear to trust myself, and fear you would not trust me, to the temptations of a second candidacy,” But, if Mr. Hayes is going to reform and reconstruct the civil service, he will have more than a four-years' job on his hands, and may be just the gentleman to go through with it. He should rather have said, “I have not sought this nomination; but I accept it at the call of my countrymen. If elected, I shall reward no partisan, and shall dismiss no faithful and competent officer for political opinions. My administration shall be directed to the restoration of specie payments, the reduction of the tariff, the reform of the civil service, the protection of liberty, the establishing of confidence and peace. Should the people ask me to serve them again, I must reserve till then the right of deciding whether I can give any more of my time and strength to the public service.” Once fix the civil service so that it cannot be a political machine, and the bugbear of terms vanishes. What the people need in candidates is men who cannot be ennobled by office; but having such men in Mr. Adams, Mr. Evarts, and a hundred more, the people do not yet feel the want of them, and so amuse themselves with pledges and other conceits about terms of office (October, 1876). 1 I had this anecdote from the late
Mr. Lincoln laughed heartily at the story; then his great tender eyes filled with emotion as he said, "I am glad I have such friends among the plain people, and glad the country can trust in such friends and defenders.” Yes, he was “the gentleman to go through with the job” he had begun. His countrymen testified that they had as much need of him as he of them ; yet the greatness of the Constitution was shown in that it could do without him, and meet his death without a shock.
The Constitution of the national legislature was discussed by the convention in all its aspects; many being in favor of a single house, such as the Continental Congress and the Congress of the Confederacy: but the result was that admirable composition of two houses, which has made the United States a model for all other peoples. attempting republican institutions. Years after, Jefferson, while taking tea with Washington, contended for the advantages of a single house. “Mr. Jefferson, said Washington, “ you have just furnished the best argument for two houses: your tea being too hot, you poured it from the cup into the saucer.” 1 It has been attempted to prove that Washington was linked to our common humanity by having once got angry, and so angry as to utter an oath. That link is not quite made out; but here we have a surer link with our human nature, in that Washington did once utter a joke, - a bit of philosophical wit worthy of Franklin.
Judge Daggett of New Haven. The Constitution of the German Empire, it is true, provides for only one house of parliament. But the Bundesrath, which is composed of councillors who represent directly the several governments of the empire, is a check upon the parliament; and the ministry do not, as in England, feel called upon to resign in case of an adverse vote of the house. As yet, this mixed system is an experiment.
Without going further into detail, let me fix your attention upon two points in which the wisdom of the framers of the Constitution was conspicuous in that which they rejected. First, at a time when slavery, or serfdom, was still a common usage of Christian nations, they rejected every proposal to introduce the term “slave
slavery” into the Constitution; and it is a curious anomaly that these words were first brought into the Constitution through amendments proposed by abolitionists after slavery had ceased to exist. The Thirteenth Amendment declares that " neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction ;” the Fourteenth Amendment provides that “neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; " and the Fifteenth Amendment declares that " the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Here we have “slave,” “slavery," "servitude,” in the Constitution, words that never before were there, but were purposely kept out of the instrument by the men that framed it. Pending the conflict on slavery, the extrenze wing of the abolitionists denounced the Constitution as “an agreement with hell," and called for a dissolution of the compact and of the Union under it; that is, they would have had the North do, for getting rid of slavery, the very thing that it finally fought the South for attempting to do to preserve slavery. On the other hand, the extreme wing of the conservatives held that "the compromises of the Constitution " recognized slavery, guaranteed it against invasion, and by consequence warranted all measures necessary to the protection and preservation of the system. Neither party read the Constitution in the spirit or the letter of its framers. Entering into public affairs just when this controversy was at the hottest, in starting “ The Independent” I took ground with my colleagues that the Constitution was throughout an instrument of liberty; that its framers designed it to protect and perpetuate liberty alone, but its meaning had been overlaid by traditions and interpretations that had become more current and potent than the organic law. That this was the true view waz proved by the fact, that after slavery was abolished, though amendments were added to the Constitution to fortify it against the re-establishment of the system, not one word required to be expunged, nor has been expunged, from the Constitution as it had stood from the beginning.
This view is sustained, also, by the debates and doings of the Federal Convention. The convention found itself in face of slavery as a domestic institution in most of the States, and of the slave-trade participated in by some States, though prohibited by the majority. Again and again it was declared by the delegates of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, that those States would never assent to a constitution that should prohibit either slavery or the slave-trade. Here, then, was a dilemma, the gravity of which it is not easy for us at this day to estimate; or, I may rather say, would be hard to overestimate. Together the Colonies had fought the war of the Revolution, and won their independence as United States. Together these States had framed the existing Confederation; and, now that the Confederation was dissolving for very weakness, they had come together to devise some method of preserving the liberty and union of the country under an appeal that declared the situation of the United States so delicate and critical as to call for an exertion of the united virtue and wisdom of all the members of the Confederacy.”3 They were met in the capacity of equal and sovereign States: they saw clearly that their strength and perpetuity as a Union would require the surrendry by each State of some portion of the sovereignty it so clearly prized, and this surrendry must be acquiesced in by the people of each State in accepting the proposed Constitution. Had a bare majority of States in that convention insisted upon terms of union that must have excluded one-fourth of the whole, this would, indeed, have dealt a final blow to the Confederacy as it then was, but have also defeated the possibility of a stable and united nation. If South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia had been excluded from the just nascent Union because of slavery, it was highly probable that Virginia and Maryland would have made common cause with them, though these two States had already prohibited the slave-trade, and many leading statesmen of Virginia favored the abolition of slavery. In that event there would have been two rival confederacies, both weak, and both likely to be distracted with the strife of democratic and monarchic tendencies. Moreover, the three most southerly States had not yet ceded their surplus lands to the public domain; and Virginia might have reclaimed her territory ceded in 1784, if the partnership of the States had been dissolved. These two rival confederacies of States, already exhausted by war, and utterly bankrupt in finances, would have sought to outbid one another in alliances with European powers; and can any man believe, that, after twenty years, there would have existed on the soil of North America a union of free and independent States? Our fathers saw this peril to their own work and the hopes of humanity; and with a wisdom true to the higher instinct of universal freedom, dwarfing an incongruity of the actual with the ideal, they made sure of the possible, and so secured a continent to Liberty and Man. And this they did by making the Constitution an instrument of liberty, and refusing to tarnish it with the name of slavery.
1 This was the view of that stanch abolitionist and consistent patriot, Dr. Joshua Leavitt, with whom I had the honor to be associated for só many years in the conduct of the Independent. His philosophic mind saw how to use the Church and the Constitution as instruments for the overthrow of slavery. He gave of his wisdom to pastors and to legislators, and was far more deserving of an honorary testimonial as the leader of emancipation than they who in fact received it.
2 Massachusetts and Pennsylvania adopted measures of emancipation in 1780, Connecticut and Rhode Island in 1784. New Hampshire followed in 1792, New York in 1799, and New Jersey in 1804. But the household slavery in the Northern States had little in common with the plantation slavery of the South. The forwer treated the slave as a person, the latter as property. At the period of the Constitution, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia were the only States that had not already prohibited the importation of slaves from foreign countries.
3 Report of Col. Hamilton: Madison Papers, ii. 702.