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MR. HENDERSON. Then I desire to ask the Senator, if the loyal men in one of those States acquiesce in the Constitution presented here, are they not entitled to govern the State under it?
MR. SUMNER. If the loyal men, white and black, recognize it, then it will be republican in form. Unless that is done, it will not be.
Mr. HENDERSON. Now, Mr. President, I desire to ask the Senator if the Congress of the United States can interfere with the right of suffrage in one of the American States of this Union. I put the question to him as a constitutional lawyer.
MR. SUMNER. I answer at once, as a constitutional lawyer, that at the present time, under the words of the Constitution of the United States, declaring that the United States shall guaranty to every State a republican form of government, it is the bounden duty of the United States by Act of Congress to guaranty complete freedom to every citizen, immunity from all oppression, and absolute equality before the law. No Goverument failing to guaranty these things can be recognized as republican in form, when the United States are called to enforce the constitutional guaranty.
In the course of the speech of Mr. Henderson, this further colloquy occurred.
MR. HENDERSON. To secure national supremacy, you must have the aid of State authority. For legitimate State authority you must rely upon the loyal voters.
MR. SUMNER. There is where I agree precisely with the Senator ; and I should like to hold him to it. He says the loyal men must form the Government, and we should recognize that Government; and yet he insists upon a mere oligarchy forming it, and an oligarchy of the skin.
MR. HENDERSON. The Senator says he agrees with me in my position, but insists that I am in favor of an oligarchy. If I am in favor of an oligarchy, and he agrees with me, then he also wants an oligarchy. (Laughter.]
MR. SUMNER. The Senator plays upon words.
Mr. Henderson continued at length, answering various objections to the Louisiana State Government on account of irregularity in the proceedings. Upon his statement that the failure of the Rebels to vote did not harm the great principles of Republicanism, the followlowing passage occurred.
MR. SUMNER. was the failure of loyal citizens to vote that did the damage.
MR. HENDERSON. I answer that by asking, What loyal men did General Banks prevent from voting?
MR. SUMNER. AU the colored race.
February 25th, the Senate proceeded with the resolution, when Mr. Sumner sent to the Chair resolutions which he proposed to offer as a
substitute, declaring the duty of the States to guaranty republican governments in the Rebel States on the basis of the Declaration of ludependence, – being the next article in this volume.
Mr. Howard, of Michigan, made an elaborate speech against the resolution, and Mr. Reverdy Johuson, of Maryland, for it. The latter asked : Are these States to be governed as provinces ? That is the idea of the honorable member from Massachusetts. ... Will the honorable member deny that it would be in the power of Massachusetts now to exclude the black? I suppose not; and yet, if by an Act of Congress you place it out of the power of the seceded States, when they come back, under the authority of that Act, to change the qualifications of electors, they will not come back as the equals of Massachusetts.” Then ensued a colloquy.
MR. SUMNER. Allow me to ask the Senator, whether, in his opinion, the Ordinance governing the Northwest Territory, prohibiting Slavery, and declared to be a perpetual compact, could be set aside by any one of the States formed out of the Territory now.
Mr. Johnson. I certainly think they can, except so far as rights are vested.
MR. SUMNER. The Senator, then, thinks Ohio can enslave a fellow-man?
Mk. Johnson. The United States Constitution, or your State Constitution?
MR. SUMNER. Yes, Sir, in our State Constitution.
MR Johnson. But it is not in the constitution of your people. You sometimes do, or have done, acts of injustice. What I mean to say is this, - and I am sure the honorable member will not be able successfully to controvert it, certainly not by authority, - that there is no difference between the State of Massachusetts and any other State in the Union with reference to its State powers. That is what I mean to say.
MR. SUMNER. I mean to say that the State of Massachusetts has no power to do an act of wrong, – no power constitutionally, morally, politically, or in any way.
Mr. Johnson. What is an act of wrong? Who is to judge of it?
Afterwards came the following question and answer.
MR. SUMNER. Does the Senator from Maryland, who now calls in question the validity of the Proclamation of Emancipation, question that the Supreme Court of the United States, with its present Chief Justice, would affirm the complete validity of that Proclamation everywhere within the Rebel States strictly according to its letter?
Mr. Johnson. If I am perfectly satisfied, as I am, that the Chief Justice is abundantly capable of filling the high office he has, I do not think he would; but whether he would or not does not settle the question, what the Court would do. He is but one of ten.
At the close of Mr. Johnson's speech, Mr. Sumner offered the fol. lowing proviso, to come at the end of the resolution :
“ Provided, That this shall not effect, except upon the fundamental condition that within the State there shall be no denial of the electoral franchise, or of any other rights, on account of color or race, but all persons shall be equal before the law. And the Legislature of the State, by a solemn public act, shall declare the assent of the State to this fundamental condition, and shall transmit to the President of the United States an authentic copy of such a sent, whenever the same shall be adopted; upon the receipt whereof, he shall, by proclamation, announce the fact; whereupon, without any further proceedings on the part of Congress, this joint resolution shall take effect."
Mr. Sumner remarked, that he desired to call attention to the precedent on which this proviso was modelled, and he was induced to do so from the very elaborate way in which Mr. Johnson had seemed to anticipate it. He has announced that it would be futile ; but those who preceded us did not think so; and Mr. Sumner then read the resolution for the admission of Missouri into the Union on a certain condi. tion, where is a proviso, as he insisted, similar in character.
Mr. Henderson moved to amend the proviso by inserting after the word “race" the words “ or sex.” Meanwhile occurred a desultory debate, in which the proviso was opposed by Mr. Henderson and Mr. Johnson, — also by Mr. Pomeroy, of Kansas. The latter said : “I usually vote for everything that the Senator from Massachusetts brings forward on the Antislavery question ; but I am opposed to this amendment, in the first place, because I do not suppose that we have the right to say what shall be the qualifications of voters in any State in the Union. I shall vote against all amendments that look like dictation on the part of Congress to any State, whether they will let the right of suffrage be enjoyed by a whole or a part of the people."
After some time, Mr. Wade, of Ohio, remarked, that it had “ got now to be pretty late in the evening,” and he moved that the resolution be postponed till the first Monday in December next. While this was pending, Mr. Wilson, of Massachusetts, moved an adjournment, which was lost, Yeas 11, Nays not counted. After debate, the question was put on the motion of Mr. Wade, which was lost, Yeas 12, Nays 17. Mr. Howard, of Michigan, then moved an adjournment, which was lost, — Yeas 12, Nays 19. Mr. Howard then inoved that the whole subject be laid on the table, which was lost, Yeas 12, Nays 18.
MR. SUMNER. I agree with the Senator from Michigan in the impropriety of pressing a measure of this importance. Perhaps it is the most important measure we have had before us. I shall regard its passage as a national calamity. It will be the political Bull Run of this Administration, sacrificing a great cause and the great destinies of the Republic. I will not go into debate at this time. I think the Senate is not in a condition to vote finally upon it. There are many who would unquestionably like to record their names upon it who are not here. We ought to give them an opportunity. We ought also to give an opportunity for further discussion. It never has been the habit of the Senate, except in those days which we ought not to imitate,
Mr. Foster (of Connecticut). Will the honorable Senator allow me to ask him a question ?
MR. SUMNER. Certainly.
MR. FOSTER. I will ask the honorable Senator if he is not fully prepared to vote on the question.
MR. SUMNER. I certainly am prepared to vote on it.
I think, on his account, it would
be well that the question should be postponed for another day. It is never too late to mend; and it is not impossible that even the Senator, coming from New England, representing, as I doubt not he does, liberal ideas, devoted as he must be to the cause of Human Freedom and of his country, may think there is something in this question to justify the most mature consideration, — something on which the Senate ought to deliberate carefully, without rushing precipitately to a vote. Sir, this question ought not to be closed to-night, and I therefore move an adjournment; and on that I ask for the yeas and nays. .
The motion was lost, – Yeas 11, Nays 18.
Mr. Trumbull then appealed for a vote, saying: “The Senator from Massachusetts has fought it day after day to prevent it coming up; and when a large majority of the Senate has overruled him time and again, and decided that it should come up, he stands here, at half after ten o'clock on Saturday night, making dilatory motions.” He also protested against what he called “manifestations of a determination to browbeat the Senate on the part of a minority.” Mr. Sumner followed.
The Senator from Illinois draws upon his imagination, which, on this occasion, is peculiarly lively. I know not that anybody has undertaken to brow beat. Certainly nobody on the side with which I am associated has done any such thing, or, I believe, imagined doing it.
I heard it said that there should be no vote to-night.
MR. SUMNER. Well, Sir, is that browbeating?
MR. TRUMBULL. I think it is undertaking to decide for the Senate.