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Union What is now combatted,
is the position that secession is consistent with the Constitution—is lawful and peaceful. It is not contended that there is any express law for it; and nothing should ever be implied as law which leads to unjust or absurd consequences. The nation purchased, with money, the countries out of which several of these states were formed. Is it just that they shall go off without leave, and without refunding? The nation paid very large sums (in the aggregate, I believe, nearly a hundred millions), to relieve Florida of the aboriginal tribes. Is it just that she shall now be off without consent, or without making any return? The nation is now in debt for money applied to the benefit of these so-called seceding states, in common with the rest. Is it just, either that creditors shall go unpaid, or the remaining states pay the whole? A part of the present national debt was contracted to pay the old debts of Texas. Is it just that she shall leave, and pay no part of this herself? Again, if one state may secede, so may another; and when all shall have seceded, none is left to pay the debts. Is this quite just to creditj ors? Did we notify them of this sage view of ours when we borrowed their money? If we now recognize this doctrine by allowing the seceders to go in peace, it is difficult to see what we can do if others choose to go, or to extort terms upon which they will promise to remain The principle (of secession) is one of disintegration, and upon which no government can possibly endure. If all the states, save one, should assert the power to drive that one out of the Union, it is presumed the
whole class of seceder politicians would at once deny the power, and denounce the act as the greatest outrage upon state rights. But suppose that precisely the same act, instead of being called 'driving the one out,' should be called 'the seceding of the others from that one,' it would be exactly what the seceders claim to do; unless, indeed, they make the point that the one, because it is a minority, may rightfully do what the others, because they are a majority, may not rightfully do."
In concluding his message, Mr. Lincoln, aware of the prospect before him at so eventful a crisis, used words of solemn earnestness: "In full view or his great responsibility, the executive has, so far, done what he has deemed his duty. You will now, according to your own judgment, perform yours. He sincerely hopes that your views, and your action, may so accord with his as to assure all faithful citizens, who have been disturbed in their rights, of a certain and speedy restoration to them under the Constitution and the laws. And . having thus chosen our course, without guile and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward without fear and with manly hearts."
The accompanying reports, from the secretaries in the several departments, gave full and accurate information as to the position of affairs, and the demands which were to be made upon the country in the emergency
then existing. The entire army force was thus computed: regulars and volunteers for three months and the war, 235,000; regiments of volunteers accepted and not yet in service, 50,000; new regiments of the regular army, 25,000; making a total of 310,000. Deducting the 80,000 three months volunteers, 230,000 would he left for the effective national army for the war, and the speedy crushing out of the rebellion.
Secretary Welles, of the navy, reported, that, on the 4th of March, there were 69 vessels of all classes, in the navy, mounting 1,346 guns. The vessels in commission were mostly on foreign stations, with about 7,500 men, exclusive of officers and marines. The home squadron consisted of 12 vessels, carrying 187 guns, and about 2,000 men; added to this, was the demoralization among navy officers (259 resigned or were dismissed the service between March 4th and July 4th), although to their honor be it recorded, the crews, like brave and loyal men, stood by the flag of the Unioi ( and were not to be seduced into betraying or deserting it. Necessity compelling immediate action, the navy department had, previous to the meeting of Congress, secured transport steamers, and given out contracts to build 23 gunboats, each of about 500 tons burden, as well as larger vessels. Eight sloops of war were put in forward uess at the navy yards, and seamen were being actively recruited. The effective force, at this date (July 4th), consisted of the squadron on the Atlantic coast, under the command of Flaw-Officer S. H.
Stringham, consisting of 22 vessels, 296 guns, and 3,300 men—and the squadron in the Gulf of Mexico, under the commaud of Flag-Officer William
Mervine, consisting of 21 vessels, 282 guns, and 3,500 men *
The secretary of the treasury, Mr. Chase, in view of the vast increase of expenditures consequent upon the crisis into which the country had fallen, estimated the coming year's outlay at $300,000,000. To meet this expenditure, custom duties, direct taxes and loans were recommended; and the secretary set forth at large that, in his judgment, the people would sustain the government in its call for funds to crush the rebellion. Startling as was the prospect of passing from the ordinary outlay of $60,000,000 a year to five times that amount, the government found by experience, that the loyal supporters of the Constitution and laws were fully equal to the demands then, or at any time, to be made upon them.-f
Congress addressed itself to its duties with energy and determination. It was a fixed fact, that the Union must be maintained, and the legislature, by its votes, proved what was the spirit of the people on this subject. The army was increased by authorizing the enlistment of 500,000 volunteers; the navy received its proportional increase; a
* To assist the secretary in the labors of the department, the president was directed to appoint an assistant secretary of the navy. This office was con ferred upon Lieutenant G. V. Fox, a gentleman of great practical experience and sagacity, and at the time chief clerk in the navy department. His promotion was hailed with pleasure as a promise of increased vigor in the service. See Dr. Boynton's "History of the Nary during the Rebellion," vol. i., chap, in., pp. 56-69.
\ About a month after the adjournment of Congress, Mr. Chase issued a circular, appealing to the citizens of the United States for subscriptions to the two hundred and fi.'ty million loan. The appeal was promptly met, and the secretary's circular did good service in setting forth the ability and resources of the country for so critical a condition of affairs as the present.
loan of $250,000,000 and $50,000,000 issue of treasury notes were authorized; import duties were increased; taxes were laid, collectable at a future day; etc. Here and there, there were men like Vallandingham of Ohio, B. Wood of New York, Burnett of Kentucky, and such like, who made every sort of opposition to the means proposed in order to sustain the government; but they were a small, and on the whole, insignificant minority, and Congress went on vigorously with its work, despite their efforts to the contrary.
Without attempting to go into details, we may notice a few of the prominent points of interest at this extra session. On the 9th of July, Mr. Lovejoy of Illinois, offered the following resolution, which was adopted by the House: "Resolved, That in the judgment of this House, it is no part of the duty of the soldiers of the United States to capture and return fugitive slaves." This bore more or less directly upon the views set forth in Gen. McClellan's proclamation in May, (see p. 43, note), on the subject of slavery and insurrection of the slaves, and what he and the army would do in such a state of affairs. On the 10th of July, Mr. Clark of New Hampshire, moved the expulsion from the Senate, on the ground of their being engaged in a conspiracy against the Union, of Messrs. Mason and Hunter from Virginia, Clingman and Bragg from North Carolina, Chesunt from South Carolina, Nicholson from Tennessee, Sebastian and Mitchell from Arkansas, Hemphill and Wigfall from Texas; which was accordingly don**
The army bill was very ably and warmly debated in the Senate, on the 18th of July, and it is interesting to note the sentiments and views expressed by eminent men in Congress, just before the humiliating repulse at Bull Run, and when, on the loyal side, there was a general and confident expectation that the rebellion would speedily be subdued. Mr. Sherman of Ohio, avowed that, in his view, there was no intention of subjugating any state, or interfering with slavery. Mr. Dixon of Connecticut, declared emphatically, that if the question was, either let the government or slavery be destroyed, then of course slavery must perish. Mr. Browning of Illinois, uttered words of similar import: "If the South force upon us the issue, whether the government shall go down to maintain the institutions of slavery, or whether slaver)7 shall be obliterated to sustain the Constitution and the government, for which our fathers fought and bled, and the principles that were concentrated in their blood,—I say, sir, when the issue comes, if they force it upon us, that one or the other is to be overthrown, then I am for the government and against slavery, and my voice and my vote shall be for sweeping the last vestige of barbarism from the face of the continent." Other senators, who took part in the debate, while they held that slavery did not produce the rebellion, and deprecated sentiments like those just noticed, were still ready and willing to give heart and hand to the putting down disunion and rebellion.
In the House, Mr. Crittenden, of Kentucky, on the 19th of July offered a
resolution declaring, that the present war was forced upon the country by southern disunionists, and that Congress, disclaiming all intention of interfering with the rights, or institutions of the states, and all purpose of conquest, would prosecute the war to defend the Constitution and preserve the Union. The resolution was laid over till Monday, the 22d, and then passed almost unanimously. The same resolution was adopted by the Senate, July 24th, on motion of Andrew Johnson. It may be set down to the credit of the national legislature, that, notwithstanding the gloomy and disheartening condition of affairs, on this memorable Monday, the members went on steadily with their work; and the House, unanimously:
"Resolved, That the maintenance of the Constitution, the preservation of the j Union, and the enforcement of the laws, are sacred trusts which must be executed ; that no disaster shall discourage us from the most ample performance of this high duty; and that we pledge to the country and to the world the employment of every resource, national and individual, for the suppression, overthrow, and punishment of rebels in arms." Three days later, the Senate adopted a resolution to the same effect, which lacked only one vote (Breckenridge of Kentucky) to render it unanimous.
On the 24th of July, the Senate considered a bill to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes by persons engaged in rebellion, to which Mr. Trumbull moved an amendment: by this, slaves, if employed by their masters to aid in rebellion, were thence
forward free, any law to the contrary notwithstanding. It was opposed by some senators as irritating and alarming; but it passed by a large vote. In the House, this bill was earnestly debated. It was opposed by the venerable Mr. Crittenden and others, as unconstitutional and dangerous; but it was strenuously and forcibly advocated by various members, as needful in the present state of affairs, and as perfectly within the province of the legislature to determine upon. The bill was finally agreed to by a vote of 60 to 48.
On the last day of the session, on motion of Mr. Wilson of Massachusetts, a clause was added to the bill increasing the pay of soldiers, by which it was enacted, "That all the acts, proclamations and orders of the president of the United States, after the 4th of March, 1861, respecting the army and navy of the United States, and calling out or relating to the militia or volunteers from the states, are hereby approved, and in all respects legalized and made valid, to the same intent, and with the same effect, as if they had been issued and done under the previous express authority and direction of the Congress of the United States." The bill was agreed to by the House, and Congress adjourned on the 6th of August, after a session of only thirty-three days.*
* Just at tho close of the session a joint resolution of the two houses was unanimously adopted, asking the president to call upon the people to supplicato God's mercy and forbearance towards our country. The president acted upon the recommendation of Congress, and on tho 12th of August issued a very earnest proclamation, appoindng September 26th as a national fast day. The people observed the day in every part of the loyal states.
The Confederate Congress (see p. 43) met for the first time in Richmond, July 20th, the day before the battle of Bull Run. The message of Davis was of the usual length, but characterized by an acrimonious, irritable spirit against President Lincoln, and what he had said in his message to Congress, July 4th. Davis's language indicated quite clearly, though undesignedly, that he as well as his co-workers in rebellion were not at all pleased at the energy and determination manifested by our government and people; and whether he intended to deceive the people of the South, or make capital abroad, he stopped at nothing in order to accomplish his purpose. A passage or two may be quoted as illustrating the chief rebel's views and statements. "The rapid progress of events, for the last few weeks, has fully sufficed to lift the veil behind which the true policy and purpose of the government of the United States had been previously concealed. Their odious features now stand fully revealed. The message of their president, and the action of their Congress during the present month, confess their intention of the subjugation of these states by a war, by which it is impossible to attain the proposed result, while its dire calamities, not to be avoided by us, will fall with double
severity on themselves These
enormous preparations in men and money, for the conduct of the war, on a scale more grand than any which the new world ever witnessed, is a distinct avowal, in the eyes of civilized man, that the United States are engaged in a conflict with a great and powerful
nation. They are at last compelled to abandon the pretence of being engaged in dispersing rioters and suppressing insurrections, and are driven to the acknowledgment that the ancient Union has been dissolved. They recognize the separate existence of these Confederate states, by an interdictive embargo and blockade of all commerce between them and the United States, not only by sea, but by land; not only in ships, but in cars; not only with those who bear arms, but with the entire population of the Confederate states. Finally, they have repudiated the foolish conceit that the inhabitants of this confederacy are still citizens of the United States; for they are waging an indiscriminate war upon them all, with savage ferocity, unknown in modern civilization.''
Davis announced his purpose and plan of retaliation on account of the privateersmen captured by the United States, and on trial for piracy. With congratulations at having escaped all connection with the loyal states, he called for increase of the army, lauded the devotion of the people of the South, and wound up with a glorification of the "calm and sublime devotion" displayed on all hands.
Various measures were adopted by the rebel congress, principally looking to financial difficulties, which already began to press heavily upon the secessionists, and were among the most perplexing to manage iu the existing state of affairs. Beside the "produce loan," treasury notes were authorized to the extent of $100,000,000; a war tax was imposed ; etc. The army was reported