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cept to execute the laws of the land as Chief Magistrate. These laws gave him no authority over the subject of reorganization; but by the Constitution he was commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. These Confederate States embraced a portion of the people of the Union who had been in a state of revolt, but had been reduced to obedience by force of arms. They were in an abnormal condition, without civil government, without commercial connections, without national or international relations, and subject only to martial law. By withdrawing their representatives in Congress, by renouncing the privilege of representation, by organizing a separate government, and b levying war against the United States, they estroyed their State constitutions in respect to the vital principle which connected their respective States with the Union and secured their federal relations; and nothing of those constitutions was left of which the United States were bound to take notice. For four years they had a defacto overnment, but it was usurped and illegal. T ey chose the tribunal of arms wherein to decide whether or not it should be legalized, and they were defeated. At the close of the rebellion, therefore, the eople of the rebellious States were found, as tie President expresses it, “deprived of all civil government." Under this state of affairs it was plainly the duty of the President to enforce existing national laws, and to establish, as far as he could, such a. system of government as might be provided for by existing national statutes. As commanderin-chief of a victorious army, it was his duty, under the law of nations and the army regulations, to restore order, to preserve property, and to protect the people against violence from any quarter until provision should be made by law for their government. He might, as President, assemble Congress and submit the whole matter to the law-making power ; or he might continue military supervision and control until Congress should assemble on its regular appointed day. Selecting the lagter alternative, he proceeded, by virtue of his power as commander-inrhief, to appoint provisional governors over the revolted States. These were regularl commissioned, and their compensation was pai ,as the Secretary of War states, “from the appropriation for army contingencies, because the duties performed by the parties were regarded as of a temporary character; ancillary to the withdrawal of mili_ tary force, the disbandment of armies, and the reduction of military expenditure; by, provis‘ ional organizations for the protection of civil rights, the preservation of peace, and to take the place of armed force in the respective States." It cannot, we think, he contended that these governors possessed, or could exercise, any but military authority. They had no power to organize civil governments, nor to exercise any authority except that which inhered in their own persons under their commissions. Neither had the President, as commander-in—chief, any other than military power. But he was in exclusive possession of the military authority. It was for him to decide how far he would exercise it, how far he would relax it, when and on what terms he would withdraw it. He might prop
erly permit the people to assemble, and to initiate local governments, and to execute such local laws as they might choose to frame not inconsistent with, nor in opposition to, the laws of the United States. And, if satisfied that they might safel be left to themselves, he might withdraw t 6 military forces al gether, and leave the people of any or all of t ese States to govern themselves without his interference. In the language of the Secretary of State, in his telegram to the provisional governor of Georgia, dated October 28, 1865, he might “ recognize the people of any State as having resumed the relations of loyalty to the Union," and act in his military capacity on this hypothesis. All this was within his own discretion, as military commander. But it was not for him to decide upon the nature or effect of any system of government which the people of these States might see fit to ado t. This power is lodged by the Constitution in t e Congress of the United States, that branch of the government in which is vested the authority to fix the olitical relations of the States to the Union, wiiose duty is to guarantee to each State a republican .form of government, and to protect each and all of them against forei n or omestic violence, and against each other. 6 cannot, therefore, regard the various acts of the President in relation to the formation of local governments in the insurrectionary States, and the conditions imposed by him upon their action, in any other light than as intimations to the people that, as commander-in-chief of the arm ,
e would consent to withdraw military ru 0 just in proportion as they should, by their acts, manifest a disposition to preserve order among themselves, establish governments denoting loyalty to the Union, and exhibit a settled determination to return to their allegiance, leavin with the law-making power to fix the terms oft eir final restoration to all their rights and privileges as States of the Union. That this was the view of his power taken by the President is evident from expressions to that effect in the communications of the Secretary of State to the various provis~ ional governors, and the repeated declarations of the President himself, Any other supposition inconsistent with this would impute to the President desi ns of encroachment upon a co-ordinate branch 0 the government, which should not be lightly attributed to the Chief Magistrate of the nation.
When Congress assembled in December last the people of most of the States lately in rebellion ha , under the advice of the President, organized local governments, and some of them
ad acceded to the terms proposed by him. In his annual message he stated, in general terms, What had been done, but he did not see fit to communicate the details for the information of Congress. While in this and in a subsequent messa e the President urged the speedy restoration 0 these States, and ex ressed the opinion that their condition was sue as to justify their restoration, yet it is quite obvious that Congress must either have acted blindly on that opinion of the President, or proceeded to obtain the information requisite for intelligent action on the subject. The impro riety of proceeding wholly on the judgment 0 any one man, how
ever exalted his station, in a matter involving the welfare of the republic in all future time, or of adopting any lan, coming from any source, without fu ly un erstanding all its bearings and comprehending its full effect, was apparent. The first step, therefore, was to obtain the re uired information A call was accordingly m e on the Presiden for the information in his possession as to what had been done, in order that Congress might judge for itself as to the grounds of the belief expressed by him in the fitness of States recently in rebellion to participate fully in the conduct of national affairs. Thisinformation was not immediately communicated. When the response was finally made, some six weeks after your committee had been in actual session, it was found that the evidence upon which the President seemed to have based his suggestions was incomplete and unsatisfactory. Authenticated copies of the new constitutions and ordinances adopted by the conventions in three of the States had been submitted, extracts from newspapers furnished scanty information as to the action of one other State, and nothing appears to have been communicated as to the remainder. There was no evidence of the loyalty of those who had participated in these conventions, and one State alone was any proposition made to submit the action of the cenventions to the final judgment of the people. .
Failing to obtain the desired information, and left to grope for light wherever it might be found, your committee did not deem it either advisable or safe to adopt, without further examination, the suggestions of the President, more especially as he had not deemed it expedient to remove the military force, to suspend martial law, or to restore the writ of habeas corpus, but still thought it necessary to exercise over the people of the rebellious States his military power and jurisdiction. Tliis conclusion derived still greater force from the fact, undisputed, that in all these States, except Tennessee and erhaps Arkansas, the elections which were hel for State officers and members of Congress had resulted, almost universally, in the defeat of candidates who had been true to the Union, and in the election 0; notorious and unpardoned rebels, men who could not take the prescribed oath of office, and who made no secret of their hostility to the Government and the people of the United States. Under these circumstances, anything like hasty action would have been as dangerous as it was obviously unwise. It appeared- to your committee that but one course remained, viz: to investigate carefully and thoroughly the state of feeling and opinion existing among the people of these States; to ascertain how far their pretended loyalt could be relied upon, and thence to infer whet er it would be safe to admit them at once to a full participation in the Govern~ ment they had fought for four years to destroy. It was an equally important inquiry whether their restoration to their former relations with the United States should only be granted upon certain conditions and guarantees which would effectually secure the nation against a recurrence of evils so disastrous as those from which it had escaped at so enormous a sacrifice.
To obtain the necessary information recourse
could only be had to the examination of witnesses whose position had given them the best means of forming an accurate judgment, who could state facts from their own observation, and. whose character and standing adorded the best evidence of their truthfulness and impartiality. A work like this, covering so large an extent of territory, and embracing such complicated and extensive inquiries, necessarily required much time and labor. To shorten the time as much as possible, the work was divided and placed in the hands of four sub-committees, who have been diligently employed in its accom lishment. The results of their labors have been ieretofore submitted, and the country will judge how far they sustain the President’s views, and how far they justify the conclusions to which your committee have finally arrived.
A claim for the immediate admission of Senators and Representatives from the so-called Confederate States has been urged, which seems to your committee not to be founded either in reason or in law, and which cannot be passed without comment. Stated in a few words, it amounts to this: That inasmuch as the lately insurgent States had no legal right to separate themselves from the Union, they still retain their positions as States, and conse uently the people thereof have a ri ht to immediate representation in Congress wit out the imposition of any conditions whatever; and further, that until such admission Congress has no right to tax tlilem for the support of the Government. It has even been contended that until such admission all legislation afi'ectin their interests is, if not unconstitutional, at Toast unjustifiable and oppressive.
It is believed by your committee that all these propositions are not only wholly untenable, but, if admitted, would tend to the destruction of the Government.
It must not be forgotten thatthe people of these States, without justification or excuse, rose ininsurrection against the United States. They deliberately abolished their State goverernments so far as the same connected them politically with the Union as members thereof finder the Constitution. They deliberately renounced their allegiance to the Federal Government, and pros ceeded to establish an independent government for themselves. In the prosecution of this enterprise they seized the national forts, arsenals, dock
ards, and other public propert . within their borders, drove out from among t em those who remained true to the Union, and heaped eve imaginable insult and injury upon the United States and its citizens. Finally they opened hostilities, and levied war against the Government.
They continued this war for four years with the most determined and malignant spirit, killin in battle and otherwise large numbers of loya people, destro ing the prriperty of loyal citizens on the sea an on the lan , and entailing on the Government an enormous debt, incurred to sus
tain itsrightful authority. Whether legally and I
constitutionally or not, they did, in fact, withdraw from the Union_and made themselves subjects ofanother government of their own creation. And they onlyyielded when, after a lon , bloody, and wasting war, they were compelle by utter exhaustion to lay down their arms; and this
they did not willingly, but declaring that the
ielded because they could no longer resist, afi'or mg no evidence whatev r of repentance for their crrrne; and expressing-6 regret, except that they had no longer the power to continue the desperate struggle.
It cannot, we think, he denied by any one, having a tolerable acquaintance with public lawI that the war thus we ed was a civil war of the greatest magnitudev he people waging it were necessarily subject to all the rules which, by the law ofnations, control a contest of that character, and to all the legitimate consequences following it. One of those consequences was that, within the limits prescribed by humanity, the conquered rebels were at the mercy of the conquerors. That agovernment thus outraged had amost perfect right to exact indemnity for the injuries done and security against the recurrence of such outrages in the future would seem too clear for dis
ute. What the nature of that security should
e, what proof should be re uired of a return to allegiance, what time shoul elapse before a people thus demoralized should be restored in full to the enj oymentofpolitical rights and privileges, are questions for the law~making power to decide, and that decision must depend on grave considerations of the public safety and the general welfare.
It is moreover contended, and with apparent gfiavity, that, from the peculiar nature and e aracter of our Government, no such right on the part of the conqueror can exist; that from the moment when rebellion lays down its arms and actual hostilities cease, all political rights of rebellious communities are at once restored; that, because the people of a State of the Union were once an organized community within the Union, they necessarily so remain, and their right to be represented in Congress at any and all times, 'and to partici ate in the government of the country under al circumstances, admits of neither question nor dispute. If this is indeed true, then is the Government of the United States powerless for its own protection, and flagrant rebellion, carried to the extreme of civrl war, is a pastime which any State may play at, not only cer‘tain that it can lose nothin in any event, but may even be the gainer by de'eat. If rebellion succeeds, it accomplishes its pur ose and destroys the Government. If it fails,t e war has been barren of results, and the battle ma be still fought out in the legislative hallso the country. Treason, defeated in the field, has only to take possession of Congress and the cabinet.
Your committee‘does not deem it either necessary or proper to discuss the question whether the late Confederate States are still States of this Union, or can even be otherwise. Granting this profitless abstraction, about which so many words have been wasted, it by no means follows that the people of those States may not place themselves in a condition to abrogate the
owers and rivileges incident to a State of the nion, and eprive themselves of all pretence of right to exercise those powers and enjoy these privileges. A State within the Union has oblitions to discharge as a member of the Union. izmust submit to federal laws and uphold fed
eral authority. It must have a government republican in form, finder and by which it is connected with the General Government, and through which it can discharge its obligations. It is more than idle, it is a mockery, to contend thatapeople who have thrown off their alle
iance, destroyed the local overnment whichv Sound their States to the nion as members thereof, defied its authority, refused to execute its laws, and abrogated every revision which gave thempolitical rights wit in the Union, still retain, through all, the perfect and entire ri ht to resume, at their own will and pleasure, all their privileges within the Union, and especially to articipate in its government, and to control t e conduct of its affairs. To admit such aprinciple for one moment would be to declare that treason is always master and loyalty a blunder. Such a principle is void by its ver nature and essence, because inconsistent wit the theory of government, and fatal to its very existence.
On the contrary, we assert that no porfion of the people of this country, whether in State or Territory, have the right, while remaining on its soil, to withdraw from or reject the authority of the United States. They must obey its laws as paramount, and acknowledge its ‘urisdiction. They have no right to secede; an while they can destroy their State governments, and place themselves beyond the pale of the Union, so far as the exercise of State privileges is concerned, they cannot escape the obligations imposed upon them by the Constitution and the laws, nor impair the exercise of national authority. The Constitution, it will be observed, does not act upon States, as such, but upon the people; while, therefore, the people cannot escapeits authority, the States may, through the act of their peo le, cease to exist in an or anized form, and t us dissolve their political re ations with the United States.
That taxation should be only with the consent of the taxed, through their own representatives, is a cardinal principle of all free governments; but it is not true that taxation and representation must go together under all circumstances, and at every moment of time. The people of the District of Columbia and of the Territories are taxed, althoughth representediu Con ress. If it is true that the people of the so-calle Confedrate States had no ri ht to throw off the au— thoriti of the United ‘tates, it is equally true that t ey are bound at all times to share the burdens of government. They cannot, either legally or equitabl , refuse to bear their 'ust roportion of these burdens by voluntarily a dicatin their rights and privileges as States of the nion, and refusing to be represented in the councils of the nation, much less by rebellion against national authority and levying war. To hold that by so doing they could escape taxation would be to offer a premium for insurrection, to reward instead of punishing for treason. To hold that as soon as government is restored to its full authority it can be allowed no time to secure itself against similar wrongs in the future, or else omit the ordinar exercise of its constitutional power to comps equal contribution from all towards the expenses of govern
ment, would be unreasonable in itself and unjust to the nation. It is sufficient to reply that the loss of representation by the people of the insurrectionary States wast eir own voluntary choice. The might abandon their privileges, but they cou d not escape their obligations; and surely they have no right to com lain if, before resuming those privile es, and whi e the people of the United States are evisin g measures or the public safety, rendered necessary by the act of those who thus disfranchised themselves, they are compelled to contribute their just roportion of the general burden of taxa. tion incurred by their wickedness and folly.
Equally absurd is the pretense that the legislative authorit 'of the nation must be inoperative so far as they are concerned, while they, by their own act, have lost the right to take part in it. Such a proposition carries its own refutation on its face.
While thus exposing fallacies which, as your committee believe, are resorted to for the urpose of miQeading the people and distracting t eir at .tention from the questions at issue, we freely admit that such a condition of things should be brought, if possible, to a speedy termination. It is most desirable that the Union of all the States should become perfect at the earliest moment consistent with the eace and welfare of the nation ; that all these tates should become fully represented in the national councils, and take their share in the legislation of the country. The possession and exercise of more than its just share of power by any section is injurious, as well to that section as to all others. Its tendency is distracting and demoralizing, and such a state of affairs is only to be tolerated on the ground of a necessary regard to the public safet . As soon as that safety is secured it shou d terminate.
Your committee came to the consideration of the subject referred to them with the most anxious desire to ascertain what was the condition of the people of the States recently in insuiTectiou, and what, if anything, was necessary to be done before restoring them to the full enjoyment of all their original privile es. It was undeniable that the war into whic they had plunged the country had materially changed their relations to the peo le of the loyal States. Slavery had been abolis ed by constitutional amendment. A large proportion of the population had become, instead of mere chattels, free men and citizens. Through all the past struggle these had remained true and loyal, and had, in large numbers, fought on the side of the Union. It was impossible to abandon them without securin them their rights as free men and citizens. T e whole civilized world would have cried out against such base ingratitude, and the bare idea is offensive to all right-thinking men. Hence it became important to inquire what could be done to secure their rights, civil and political. It was evident to your committee that adequate security could only be found in appropriate constitutional provisions. By an original provision of the Constitution, representation is based on the whole number of free persons in each State, and three-fifths of all other persons. When all become free, represen
tation for all necessarily follows. As a consequence the inevitable effect of the rebellion would be to increase th olitical power of the insurrectionary States, encver they should be allowed to resume their positions as Statesof the Union. As representation is by the Constitution based upon population, your committee did not think it advisable. to recommend a change of that basis. The increase of representation necessarily resulting from the abolition of slavery was considered the most important element in the questions arising out of the changed condition of afiairs, and the necessity for some fundamental action in this regard seemed imperative. It appeared to your committee that the rights of t ese persons by whom the basis of representation had been thus increased should be recognized by the General Government. While slaves, they were not considtred as having any rights, civil or olitical. It did not seem just or proper that all t 1e political advantages derived from their becoming free should be confined to their former masters, who had fought against the Union, and withheld from themselves, who had always been loyal. Slavery, by building up a ruling and dominant class, had produced a spirit of oli archy adverse to re ublioan institutions, which 'nally inaugurate civil war. The tendency of continuing the domination of such a class, by leaving it in the exclusive possession of political power, would be to encourage the same spirit, and lead to a " similar result. Doubts were entertained whether Congress had power, even under the amended
Constitution, to prescribe the qualifications of
voters in a State, or could act directly on the subject. It was doubtful, in the opinion of your committee, whether the States would consent to surrender a power they had always exercised, and to which they were attached. As the best, if not the only, method of surmounting the difficulty, and as eminently just and roper in itself, your committee came to the cone usion that poitical power should be possessed in all the States exact] in proportion as the right of suffrage shouldy be ranted, without distinction of color or race. is it was thought would leave the whole question with the ieople of each State. holding out to all the a vantage of increased political power as an inducement to allow all to participate in its exercise. Such a 'provision would be in its nature gentle and persuasive, and would lead, it was hoped, at no distant day, to an equal partici ation of all, without distinction, in all the rig its and privileges of citizenship, thus affording a full and adequate protection to all classes of citizens, since all would have, through the ballot-box, the power of selfprotection.
Holding these views, our committee prepared an amendment to the onstitution to carry out this idea, and submitted the same to Congress. Unfortunately, as we think, it did not receive the necessary constitutional su port in the Senate, and therefore could not be proposed for ado tion by the States. The principle involved in that amendment is, however, believed to be sound, and your committee have again proposed it in another form, hoping that it may receive the approbation of Congress.
Your committee have been unable to find, in the evidence submitted to Congress by the President, under date of March 6, 1866, in com liance with the resolutions of January 5 and Fe rnary 27, 1866, any satisfactory proof that either of the insurrectionary States, except, perhaps, the State of Tennessee, has placed itself in a condition to resume its political relations to the Union. The first ste towards that end would necessarily be the esta lishment of a re ublican form of government by the people. It ,as been before remarked that the provisional governors, appointed by the President in the exercise of his military authority, could do nothing by virtue of the power thus conferred towards the establishment of a State overnment. They were acting under the War epartment and paid out of its funds. They were simply bridging over the chasm between rebellion and restoration. And yet we find them calling conventions and convening legislatures. Not only this, but we find the conventions and legislatures thus convened acting under executive direction as to the provisions required to be adopted in their constitutions and ordinances as conditions precedent to their reco nition by the President. The inducement he d out by the President for compliance with the conditions imposed was, directly in one instance, and presumably, therefore, in others, the immediate admission of Senators and Representatives to Congress. The character of the conventions and legislatures thus assembled was not such as to inspire confidence in the good faith of their members. Governor Perry, of South Carolina, dissolved the convention assembled in that State before the suggestion had reached Columbia from Washington that the rebel war debt should be repudiated, and ave as his reason that it was a “revolutionary b0 y." There is no evidence of the loyalty or dislo alty of the members of those conventions and egislatures except the fact of pardons being asked for on their account. Some of these States now claiming representation refused to adopt the conditions imposed. N0 reliable information is found in these papers as to the constitutional provisions of several of these States, while in not one of them is there the slightest evidence to show that these “amended constitutions," as they are called, have ever been submitted to the people for their adoption. In North Carolina alone an ordinance was passed to that effect, but itdoes not appear to havebeen acted on. Not one of them, therefore, has been ratified. Whether, with President Johnson, we adopt the theory that the old constitutions were abrogated and destroyed, and the people “ deprived of all civil government," or whether we adopt the alternative doctrine that they were only suspended and were revived by the suppression of the rebellion, the new provisions must be considered as equally destitute of validity before adoption by the people. If the conventions were called for the sole purpose of putting the State governmentinto operation, they had no power either to adopt a new constitution or to amend an old one without the consent of the eople. Nor could either a convention or a legis ature change the fundamental law without power previousl conferred. In the View of your committee, it fol ows, there
fore, that the people of a State where the constitution has been thus amended might feel themselves justified in repudiatin g altogether all such unauthorized assumptions of power, and might" be expected to do so at pleasure.
So far as the disposition of the people of the insurrectionary States, and the probability of their adopting measures conforming to the changed condition of affairs, can be inferred from the pa ers submitted by the President as the basis of is action, the prospects are far from encouraging. It appears quite clear that the anti-slavery amendments, both to the State and FederalConstitutions, were adopted with reluctance by the bodies which did adopt them, while in some States they have been either passed by in silence or rejected. The language of all tne provisions and ordinances of these States on the subject amounts to nothing more than an unwilling admission of an unwelcome truth. As. to the ordinance of secession, it is, in some cases, declared “ null and void," and in others simply “re ealed;" and in no instance is a refutation of t is deadly heresy considered worthy of a place in the new constitution.
If, as the President assumes, these insngreotionary States were, at the close of the war, wholl without State governments, itwould seem that, before being admitted to participation in the direction of ublic afl‘aii's,such governments
should be regu arly organized. Long usage has established, and numerous statutes have
ointed out, the mode in which this should be
one. A convention to frame a form of govern~ ment should be assembled under competent authorit . Ordinarily, this authority emanates from ongress; but, under the eculiar circum-~ stances, your committee is not isposed to criticise the President’s action in assuming the power exercised by him in this regard. The convention, when assembled, should frame a constitution of government, which should be submitted to the people for adoption.. If adopted, a legislature should be convened to ass the laws necessary to carr it into effect. Ithen a State thus organize claims representation in'Congress, the election of representatives should be provided for by law, in accordance with the laws of Congress regulating representation, and the proof that the action taken has been in conformity to law should be submitted to Congress.
In no case have these essential preliminary steps been taken. The conventions assembled seem to have assumed that the constitutions which had been repudiated and overthrown were still in existence, and operative to constitute the States members of the Union, and to have contented themselves with such amendments as they were informed were requisite in order to insure their return to an immediate participation in the Government of the United States. Not waiting to ascertain whether the people they represented would adopt even the proposed amendments, they at once ordered elections of representatives to Congress, in nearly all instances before an executive had been chosen to issue writs of election under the State laws, and such elections as were held were ordered by the conventions. In one instance, at least, the write of election were signed by the provisional gov