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and the defeated leaders had yielded up the sword and political traitors were fleeing from the land or seeking quiet away from public life, such did appear to be the well-founded hope of loyal men and the promise of the near future. But it began to be soon apparent that treason, defeated and disarmed, was to have one chance more to retrieve its fortunes. Under the provisions of an act of Congress entitled to be and designed as an act to suppress rebellion, but conferring, in one of its sections, power upon the President, before conviction had, or charge or complaint made, to grant amnesty and pardon, the people of Louisiana found that pardons were granted and properties restored to rebels who had held high office, military and civil, and that a policy was being pursued which discountenanced punishment and looked to speedy restoration to political favor and offices of trust of the men who had been active in field and in council in support of the rebellion.
There were at this time large bodies of men returning to their homes in Louisiana, who were, when the Constitution of 1864 was ratified, in the armies of the rebel government. There were at home large numbers of men who had in different ways supported the rebellion. Among both of these classes were many men who would have been found and would have remained loyal if it had not appeared to them that the Chief Executive Magistrate was disposed to pardon and to honor by office and political favor their military and civil leaders. And the effect of this policy became apparent in the language and deportment of the people. At first willing to yield and to return to true allegiance, they became assuming, bold and defiant. Under the Constitution of 1864 these men claimed to be restored to political rights and to vote at the polls; and so it came to pa§s that substantially all governmental authority, most of the offices in the State, and all legislative and municipal power have been conferred upon 'returned rebels' and are now controlled by them. This is eminently true in the city of New Orleans, where known and distinguished rebels, and only such as they, occupy the chief places of trust and power. The Mayor, confessedly a bold and bad man, who was also mayor during the rebellion and marked for violent and bitter hatred of the government of the Union and of men who loved the government, both white and black, of southern or of northern birth, is now Mayor of the city by the choice of the people of New Orleans. The High Sheriff, General Hays, was an active officer in the rebellion. He was in service at the time of the surrender in April, 1865, and has filled his present office since the early part of 1866. All the appointees of the Mayor, the whole constabulary and police force, with almost no exception, are composed of men who have rendered efficient service against the United States Government. There have been more than ninety witnesses examined, who speak of the condition of affairs in Louisiana, and of the sentiment toward and treatment of Union men, known to be such in the community where they live. Of these forty-seven were called at the request of the committee of citizens, who desired to vindicate the character of their city and to establish the loyalty of the State. On the part of these witnesses there was a general expression of satisfaction with the policy of the President. It was stated by most of them that the fact of being a Union man was no hindrance to success in business. Mr. Jacob Barker said that 'men of every party and description patronize my bank. I do not think there is any difference.' The opinion was given by most of these witnesses that it would be safe and judicious to withdraw the military forces and the Freedmen's Bureau and to admit Representatives to seats in Congress.
We have examined with care and weighed the proofs on either side. We have come to clear conclusions, which we believe to be accurate and just.
THE LEGISLATIVE REMEDY REQUIRED.
In view of the facts proved we are constrained to say that the time has fully arrived when Congress should intervene and should so legislate as to secure to the people of Louisiana a republican form of government. The condition of things existing there cannot continue consistently with the safety, security, or peace of loyal men.
Since the surrender of the rebel armies rebellion has assumed another form, and now controls the government through the same agencies that led those armies in time of war.
During the rebellion there were large numbers of men who remained steadfast to the government. In the midst of treason they were found loyal. While armed traitors were in the field contending with loyal armies and struggling to destroy the nation, these men, at personal peril, and despite of obloquy which construed loyalty to the Union to be treason to the State, continued firm in their allegiance.
These men are now made to feel the vengeance of unrepentant although it may be, pardoned rebels, and in person, property, and life are exposed tc continual attack. Nothing but the pressure of military power at this moment measurably protects them from injury. It does not protect them from insult, from social ostracism, or the supercilious arrogance of men accustomed to own the labor they employed.
If the government ought to protect its constant friends against men who were its constant enemies, the obligation is disclosed to adopt and enforce such legislative action as the facts existing in Louisiana require.
When men are driven from their homes and their lives threatened and their property destroyed; when, in business, they are proscribed; when recent rebels hold all places of trust, and, having power, use it to oppress and punish loyal men because they are and have been loyal; when the whole body of colored men, who have never flinched from duty as radical loyalists when the days were gloomiest and the dangers greatest in the time of war, are persecuted by system, hunted like wild beasts, and slaughtered without mercy and with entire impunity from punishment; there is no room left for doubt that some legislative remedy should be applied.
These are matters of fact and not of opinion; and, in our judgment, but one course is open, and that should pursued without hesitation or delay.
According to the judgment of all who have felt the pressure of rebel rule, and have stood firmly and fearlessly for the Union when treason was nearest to success; whose judgment, given upon oath, is based upon facts within personal experience; who give opinions resting on knowledge, and speak of what they have seen and know; the present civil government of Louisiana, existing without sanction of national law, should he superseded hy act of Congress, and a provisional government, established and maintained by military power until the time has come when Louisiana is controlled by loyal men, and may be restored to her former i practical relations to the Union' without endangering its security and peace.
The war was conducted on the part of the Government to prevent her from permanently disuniting the States of the Union. Now, the end of war is peace, and the peace to be established must be secured in view of the requirements of the Constitution itself.
Until a loyal State of Louisiana exists in full political accord with the United States, and the demand of the Constitution is complied with that a government republican in form shall be guaranteed to the State, the objects of the war will not have been attained.
To accomplish that end the condition of affairs in Louisiana requires the temporary establishment of a provisional government.
By the loyal people of Louisiana such constitution must be ordained and such civil government formed as will assure to the Republic a loyal and free State, worthy of a place within the Union.
In the mean time the safety of all Union men within the State demands that such government be formed for their protection, for the well-being of the Nation, and the permanent peace of the Republic.
Thomas D. Eliot.