« PreviousContinue »
It is enough, that, for the time being, and in the absence of a loyal government, they can take no part and perform no function in the Union, so that they cannot be recognized by the National Government. The reason is plain. There are in these States no local functionaries bound by constitutional oaths, so that, in fact, there are no constitutional functionaries; and since the State government is necessarily composed of such functionaries, there can be no State government. . . . Therefore to all pretensions in behalf of State governments in the Rebel States I oppose the simple FACT, that for the time being no such governments exist. The broad spaces once occupied by those governments are now abandoned and vacated. . . .
. . . It is enough that the Rebel States be declared vacated, as in fact they are, by all local government which we are bound to recognize, so that the way is open to the exercise of a rightful jurisdiction.
And here the question occurs, How shall this rightful jurisdiction be established in the vacated States? Some there are, so impassioned for State rights, and so anxious for forms even at the expense of substance, that they insist upon the instant restoration of the old State governments in all their parts, through the agency of loyal citizens, who meanwhile must be protected in this work of restoration. But, assuming that all this is practicable, as it clearly is not, it attributes to the loyal citizens of a Rebel State, however few in numbers, it may be an insignificant minority, a power clearly inconsistent with the received principle of popular government, that the majority must rule. . . .
. . . The new governments can all be organized by Congress, which is the natural guardian of people without any immediate government, and within the jurisdiction of the Constitution of the United States. Indeed, with the State governments already vacated by rebellion, the Constitution becomes, for the time, the supreme and only law, binding alike on President and Congress, so that neither can establish any law or institution incompatible with it. And the whole Rebel region, deprived of all local government, lapses under the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress, precisely as any other territory; or, in other words, the lifting of the local governments leaves the whole vast region without any other government than Congress, unless the President should undertake to govern it by military power. . . .
If we look at the origin of this power in Congress, we shall find that it comes from three distinct fountains, any one of which is ample to supply it. . . .
First. From the necessity of the case, ex necessitate rei, Congress must have jurisdiction over every portion of the United States where there is no other government; and since in the present case there is no other government, the whole region falls within the jurisdiction of Congress. This jurisdiction . . . can be questioned only in the name of the local government; but since this government has disappeared in the Rebel States, the jurisdiction of Congress is uninterrupted there. The whole broad Rebel region is tabula rasa, or “a clean slate," where Congress, under the Constitution of the United States, may write the laws.
Secondly. This jurisdiction may also be derived from the Rights of War, which surely are not less abundant for Congress than for the President. . . . It is Congress that conquers; and the same authority that conquers must govern. . . .
Thirdly. But there is another source for this jurisdiction which is common alike to Congress and the President. It will be found in the constitutional provision, that "the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion." . . . If there be any ambiguity, it is only as to what constitutes a republican form of government. But for the present this question does not arise. It is enough that a wicked rebellion has undertaken to detach certain States from the Union, and to take them beyond the protection and sovereignty of the United States, with the menace of seeking foreign alliance and support, even at the cost of every distinctive institution. . .
. . . When a State fails to maintain a republican government with officers sworn according to the requirements of the Constitution, it ceases to be a constitutional State. The very case contemplated by the Constitution has arrived, and the National Government is invested with plenary powers, whether of peace or war.
But there are yet other words of the Constitution which cannot be forgotten: "New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union." Assuming that the Rebel States are no longer de facto States of this Union, but that the territory occupied by them is within the jurisdiction of Congress, then these words become completely applicable. It will be for Congress, in such way as it shall think best, to regulate the return of these States to the Union, whether in time or manner. No special form
is prescribed. But the vital act must proceed from Congress. Charles Sumner, Our Domestic Relations, or How to Treat the Rebel States, in Atlantic Monthly, October, 1863 (Boston), XII, 518-526 passim.
147. Adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment (1865)
FROM THE NEW YORK TRIBUNE
The Senate passed the amendment, by a vote of thirty-eight to six, on April 8, 1864. In the House of Representatives the vote on June 15 was ninety-three to sixty-five, not the necessary two-thirds. The measure was made a prominent feature of the political campaign in 1864, and when it was reconsidered in 1865 it passed. The account given below is taken from the telegraphic reports to the New York Tribune. — Bibliography: Channing and Hart, Guide, § 214.
WASHINGTON, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 1865.
HE hour has come ! The proposed Amendment to the Constitution immediately abolishing and forever prohibiting Slavery comes up for final decision. An anxious throng of witnesses pours into the galleries; there is an air of confidence rising almost to exultation on the Union side, while a sullen gloom settles over the pro-Slavery benches.
Archibald McAllister, Dem., of the XVIIIth Pennsylvania District, reads a beautiful paper, in which he justifies his change of vote, and casts his ballot against the corner-stone of the Rebellion. Alexander H. Coffroth, Dem., of Pennsylvania, XVIth District, follows in an unanswerable and manly argument, to show the power to amend and the policy to amend. Applause on the Republican side greeted these new accessions to Freedom.
12:45. William H. Miller of Pennsylvania, XIVth District, (who was beaten at the last election by Geo. F. Miller, Union,) espouses proSlavery Democracy, and insists on keeping his party foot on the niggers. The galleries are getting crowded, the floor of the House filling up. Anson Herrick, Dem., IXth District of New-York, next gives frank and statesmanlike reasons why he has changed his views, and shall change his vote.
In the midst of the speaking, and that buzzing which always characterizes a critical vote upon a great question, it is whispered that three Rebel Peace Commissioners, Stevens, Hunter and Campbell, are on their way here that they were at City Point last night. A few believe, but most people say "gold gamblers' news."
1:30 p.m.-The crowd increases. Senators, Heads of Bureaus, prominent civilians and distinguished strangers, fill the spaces outside of the circle.
The interest becomes intense. The disruption of the Democratic party now going on is watched with satisfaction and joy upon the
Republican side of the House; anxiety and gloom cover the obstinate body-guard of Slavery, whose contracting lines break with the breaking up of their party.
James S. Brown, Democrat, of Wisconsin, spitefully indicates his intention to vote against freedom. Aaron Harding of Kentucky, a "Border State Unionist," bless the mark! makes a melancholy effort to poke fun at young Democratic converts, and rams the struggling nigger back under the protection of the sacred Constitution.
Martin Kalbfleisch, Democrat, of Brooklyn reads a long pro-Slavery composition which excites little attention and no interest.
3 p. m. The hour for voting has arrived, and the fact is announced by the Speaker. Mr. Kalbfleisch is only at the 22d page of his composition, and begs to be endured through six pages more. This request is granted, with much reluctance.
The galleries are wonderfully crowded, and women are invading the reporters' seats. The Supreme Court and the Senate appear to have been transferred bodily to the floor of the House.
3:20 p.m. A motion to lay the motion to reconsider on the table assumes the character of a test vote. The most earnest attention is given to the calling of the roll. Division lists appear on all sides, and members, reporters, and spectators devote themselves to keeping tally. Of course the attempt to table the amendment will fail; but there are not votes enough to pass the bill. Absentees drop in; one "aye," one "no." The roll is called over by the Reading Clerk, but the count has already been declared in whispers through the House - 57 ayes, 111 noes. It is not tabled.
3:30 p.m. Question is taken now on the motion to reconsider the vote of last session by which the proposed amendment was lost for want of two-thirds. The House vote to reconsider, Ayes 112, Nays 57.
Now commence efforts to stave off the final vote. Robert Mallory (Dem.) of Ky., with a menace as to what course he should decide to pursue, appeals to Mr. Ashley to let the vote go over till to-morrow. Other Democrats clamor for this delay.
Mr. Ashley refuses and stands firm, this being the accepted time and the day of salvation.
The final vote begins. Down the roll we go to James E. English (Dem.) of Conn., who votes "aye." A burst of applause greets this unexpected result, and the interest becomes thrilling. The Speaker's hammer falls heavily, and restores silence.
Clerk-"John Ganson." "Aye." Applause again, repressed again by the Speaker. Angry calls among the Democrats and great irritation
Clerk "Wells A. Hutchins." "Aye." A stir of astonishment in the reporters' gallery.
"Aye." A movement of satisfaction all over
"John B. Steele." "Aye." Wonder and pleasure are manifested. "Dwight Townsend.” "No." "Ah, if Harry Stebbins had been well enough to stay that vote had not been given," said a Senator. Clerk-"Schuyler Colfax." "Aye."
The voting is done. Swift pencils run up the division lists. hundred and nineteen to fifty-six!" Hurrah! Seven more than twothirds!
The Clerk whispers the result to the Speaker. The Speaker announces to the House what the audience quickly interpreted to be THE MIGHTY FACT THAT THE XXXVIIITH AMERICAN CONGRESS HAD ABOLISHED AMERICAN SLAVERY.
The tumult of joy that broke out was vast, thundering, and uncontrollable. Representatives and Auditors on the floor, soldiers and spectators in the gallery, Senators and Supreme Court Judges, women and pages, gave way to the excitement of the most august and important event in American Legislation and American History since the Declaration of Independence.
God Bless the XXXVIIIth Congress!
The work done in securing the passage of this bill has been immense. It has taken the labor of an entire month, night and day, to secure the majority which to-day so delighted the friends of freedom and of humanity, and so astounded the allies of Slavery.
To two Republicans in particular does the nation owe a debt of gratitude to James M. Ashley of Toledo, Ohio, and Augustus Frank of Warsaw, New-York. They held the laboring oars.
The Democrats were sure of defeating the measure by a large majority up to this noon; indeed, they felt sure of it up to the final voting. The Republicans were not sure of success till last night.
Three batteries of regular artillery have just saluted the grand result with a hundred guns, in the heart of the city.
New York Daily Tribune, February 1, 1865.