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chise the colored soldier. The two powers are coincident, and from the same source.
It is assumed that Congress may enfranchise the colored soldier. This has been done by solemn statute, without reference to the conduct of his pretended owner. If we are asked the reason for such enfranchisement, it must be found, first, in its practical necessity, that we may secure the best service of the slaves, and, secondly, in its intrinsic justice and humanity. In brief, Government cannot be so improvident and so foolish as to seek the service of the slave at the hazard of life, without securing to him the boon of freedom. Nor, if Government were so bereft of common sense as to forego this temptation to enlistment and efficient service, can it be guilty of the unutterable meanness of using the slave in the national defence and then returning him to bondage. Therefore the slave who fights is enfranchised.
But every argument, every consideration, which pleads for the enfranchisement of the slave, pleads also for the enfranchisement of the family. There is the same practical necessity for doing it, and the same unspeakable shabbiness in not doing it.
There is no principle of law better established than this, that an acknowledged right carries with it all incidents essential to its exercise. I do not employ technical language; but I give the idea, founded in reason and the nature of things. It would be vain to confer a right or a power, if the means for its enjoyment were denied. From this simple statement the conclusion is irresistible.
In conferring upon Congress the power to create an army, the Constitution conferred therewith all the
powers essential to the exercise of the principal power. If Congress can authorize the enlistment of slaves, as it indubitably can, it may at the same time authorize their enfranchisement, and by the same reason it may authorize the enfranchisement of their families, and all this from the necessity of the case, and to prevent an intolerable baseness.
A Scottish patriot, nearly two centuries ago, exclaimed in memorable words, which I am always glad to quote, that he would give his life to serve his country, but would not do a base thing to save it. If there be any value in this declaration, it may be invoked, when it is deliberately argued that the National Government can create an army, and in this service can enfranchise the slave it enlists, but is impotent to enfranchise his family. I know not how we can use his right arm and ask him to shed his blood in our defence, and then hand over his wife and child to bondage. The thought is too vile. The human heart rejects the insufferable wrong.
But it is said the slave has no family. Such is the argument of Slavery. For all that he has, as well as all that he is, even wife and child, belong to another. Surely this unrighteous pretension will not be made the apology for a denial of rights. If the family of the slave be not designated by law, or by the forms of legal marriage, then it must be ascertained by the next best evidence possible, — that is, by cohabitation and mutual recognition as man and wife. And any uncertainty in this evidence can only be regarded as a natural incident of Slavery. As men cannot take advantage of their own wrong, so slave-masters cannot take advantage of Slav
1 Andrew Fletcher, of Saltoun: Preface to Political Works (Glasgow, 1749), p. viii.
ery. Any other rule would practically unite with Slavery in denying to the slave wife and child.
There is a well-known French maxim, that “it is only the first step which costs”; and here permit me to say, it is only the first stage of the argument which merits attention. Concede that the soldier may be enfranchised, and then by the same constitutional power his family may be admitted to an equal liberty. Any other conclusion would be illogical as inhuman, discreditable alike to head and heart. There is no argument, whether of reason or humanity, for the enfranchisement of the soldier, which does not plead equally for that of his family. Nay, more, - I know not how we can expect a blessing on our arms while we fail to perform this duty
I cannot close without declaring again my opinion, that Congress at this moment is complete master of the whole subject of Slavery everywhere in the United States, even without any Constitutional Amendment. It can sweep all out of existence, precisely as it can remove any other obstruction to the national defence, and all this by virtue of a power as indisputable as the power to raise armies or to suspend the Habeas Corpus. Future generations will read with amazement, that a great people, when national life was assailed, hesitated to exercise a power so simple and beneficent; and this amazement will know no bounds, as they learn that Congress higgled for months on the question whether the wives and children of our colored soldiers should be admitted to freedom.
January 9th, after further debate, the joint resolution passed the Senate, – Yeas 27, Nays 10. February 22d, it passed the House of Representatives, Yeas 74, Nays 63 ; and March 3d, it was approved by the President.
MASSACRE OF THE CHEYENNE INDIANS.
REMARKS IN THE SENATE, ON A Joint RESOLUTION RELATING THERETO,
JANUARY 13, 1865.
JANUARY 13th, the Senate considered a joint resolution reported by Mr. Harlan, froin the Committee on Indian Affairs, in relation to the massacre of the Cheyenne Indians. It proposed to direct the Secretary of War to cause the suspension of all pay and allowances to each of the members of the Third Colorado Regiment, officers, privates, and employees, and all others engaged in the recent attack made on the Cheyenne Indians in their village near Fort Lyon, in the Territory of Colorado, under the command of Colonel Chivington, until the conduct of the colonel and the regiment, and all others engaged in that attack, should receive the approval of the Secretary of War; and he was to cause all ponies, blankets, money, jewels, furs, and other property captured from the Indians, to be seized and held for the use of the United States, or for restitution to the Indians, if it should hereafter appear that the attack was unjustifiable.
In the debate which ensued, Mr. Sumner said :
R. PRESIDENT, - Exceptional crimes require exceptional remedies.
Here is an exceptional crime, - one of the most atrocious in the history of any country. There must be a remedy commensurate with the crime. And, Sir, the remedy, in order to be anything but a name, should be swift. It cannot wait the slow ceremony of ordinary proceedings. It must have promptitude such as can be imparted by the proposition now under consideration. I thank the Senator